Archive for April, 2007

On Inheritance

I don’t want my parents to leave me any inheritance. They earned it and I want them to spend every dime! In the best of all possible worlds we want them to break even at the end of the day.

They worked very hard to provide for our family when my sister and I were children, to live comfortably as empty-nesters and prepare for retirement in later years. They made sacrifices and invested hard work, and owe us nothing of those resources – except the knowledge that they’re using them to enjoy life to the fullest.

My dad is gone now, but my mom is healthy and thriving. I wish her many more years of adventure – all the travel, RVs, yard tractors, new computers, home projects and dog events her heart desires. I’d like her to be just a little spendthrift at this point in her life!

We’d sure prefer she got to spend every dime she has enjoying every day to the fullest, not on colonoscopies, dental work and long-term care – we’ll help with the latter, if it comes down to it.

If I see any money at the end of the day I’ll be quite cranky.

In the same spirit, I plan to earn my own resources, support my children well while they’re in my home, and then do my best to spend the rest throughout my lifetime.

Posted on Monday, April 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: consumers, family | 1 Comment »

Spring means Work

Today was an absolutely beautiful spring day in the Northwest – sunny, warm, slight breeze – heavenly. The thermometer hit 60 mid-afternoon and I put on sunscreen.

Bryan was stuck inside teaching a class today, but Zach and I spent the day on yardwork.

First we went and picked up stone from a local landscape supply place to edge Zach’s pond & waterfall project – his “personal swampland”. We chose about a half ton of mica-spangled slate, plus some additional chunky sandstone for building the waterfall. My back will not be speaking to me again for some time.

Then he mowed, and I worked on getting our in-ground irrigation system ready for the season. I moved a sprinkler head, installed some new higher power sprinklers where the standard ones weren’t reaching well enough, and capped one sprinkler off where we’re getting too much water.

The dogs were fascinated by my digging – if they could figure out how to use a shovel without opposable thumbs, they would! They ate dirt, chased worms, bugs and shadows, and had a great time supervising.

I planted tomatoes and pansies (one of my favorite flowers) in containers – and liberally sprinkled edges and shady areas with Slug-go. We should have beautiful iris and hostas this year if I can keep the slugs out of them. I weeded a couple of garden beds, a never-ending battle.

Then I helped Zach with his pond. I started by making him clean up his jobsite! What is it about teens and projects? They don’t seem to mind working among chaos, and making more as they go. I started setting up his waterfall, building a low retaining wall to back it and aligning the weir with the pond. Our pond liner should arrive Monday and we want to be completely ready to lay it.

At that point, my back went on strike, protesting every time I bent or lifted, so I called it a day. Middle age sucks.

I got a hunk o’ meat ready for the grill along with some fresh asparagus, and we fixed a great barbecue dinner when Bryan got home.

I’m so glad it’s spring!

Posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: garden, home | Comments Off

Non-Hollywood Heroes

Lately I’ve been thinking about who my heroes are, and why they inspire me. They have all worked to make our world a better place. Some are leaders, and some accomplish noteworthy feats alone. Most are brilliant thinkers. Diversely people of faith, politics, science and the arts, and in no particular order, my list includes:

Mother Teresa – Nobel prize winner, humanitarian leader and candidate for sainthood.

Martin Luther King Jr – Brilliant, charismatic leader and Nobel Prize winner for his work in the civil rights movement.

Susan B Anthony – Early suffragette; was instrumental in establishing the 19th amendment.

Sally Ride – Now a physics professor, Dr. Ride was the first American woman astronaut in space.

Paul Allen – One of the founders of Microsoft, he has retired, started up a number of enterprises including venture capital funding and a charitable foundation, owns two pro sports teams and has dated a pro tennis player.

John Muir – Early preservationist and environmentalist; founded the Sierra club.

Ann Lamott – Insightful author and writing teacher who overcame alcoholism and drug addiction to write about her liberal faith, politics, motherhood and hope.

Elizabeth Dole – Influential political leader and senator for North Carolina; displayed immense integrity as a presidential candidate’s wife and a potential vice-presidential candidate.

Leonardo Da Vinci – 15th century artist, engineer, scientist, mathematician, inventor and writer. Some call him the genesis of the term “renaissance man”.

Lynne Cox
– Noted distance swimmer who uses her hazardous cross-border swims, e.g. Alaska to Russia, to draw attention to global peace.

They have made the world a better place, and I am grateful.

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: inspiration | 4 Comments »

Bryan’s Babies

Bryan and DoggiesZach captured this great, completely unstaged picture last night right after Bryan got home from work. I don’t think he needs anything else in the world to make him happy at this point… he’s in dog heaven. (Except maybe a lint brush!)

Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: dogs | 3 Comments »

Why I Blog

I’ve borrowed a blog meme for today. Without further ado… what are the top five reasons why I blog?

Develop a daily creative discipline
I enjoy writing, but I’m not as faithful as I’d like to be about pursuing creative activities on a regular, disciplined basis. Blogging is my commitment to writing daily, 6x a week, just like daily meditation or walking. Sometimes it’s tough to make time or find a topic that appeals. Sitting down and filling a blank page with 250+ words, and often an accompanying image, is a great way to exercise my creative capabilities and keep them limber.

Build my writing skill
My apologies for making a fairly vain statement, but I have pretty decent writing skills. I have a degree in writing, have taught college business writing, and 20 years experience doing a significant amount of business and technical writing. (Except I detest tech writing and find it pretty dang boring!) My blog gives me the chance to build on that writing skill, explore a variety of styles and subjects, and teach myself other approaches to the written word.

Have a platform for learning, philosophies, opinions and news
The probloggers recommend that blog authors pick a primary subject and stick to it to make a blog successful and more widely read. First, I’m not really doing this to gain a wide audience, although I certainly enjoy it when folks read and respond to what I write. I’m doing it for myself; see reasons 1 and 2. Second, I would also be really bored if I were writing about only one subject area. I’d have a whole lot more difficulty coming up with daily topics! I like having my very own platform, audience or no, to talk about my life lessons learned, philosophical insights, thoughts & opinions, current events, and family (and doggie!) happening.

Theoretically the subject for this blog is: “Updates on a Type A driver’s quest to downshift and live an interesting, creative, balanced life. I’ll figure out the journey step by step. My guides are the smug puppies, who think I’m wonderful just for being there.” In reality, the subject is whatever appeals to me after I’ve had my first cup of coffee.

Embrace Web 2.0 technology
I’m a hopeless geek. Learning and using interesting new technology tools is appealing to me. I’m also a big believer in the Web 2.0 trend; the web is becoming user driven. Web 2.0 is a technical/social phenomenon, a new approach to generating and distributing web content itself. It’s characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use multimedia content, and “the market as a conversation”. Blogging is my way of participating in this renaissance. My challenge is making myself remain on the same blog platform and publishing toolset, and not jumping to newer, cooler technology when I learn more about it, or it becomes newly available.

Stay in touch with family and friends
My blog helps me to stay in touch with family and friends. We have both all over North America, spread from Alaska to the Midwest. I have to admit that I don’t publish a whole lot of family news in this platform, only what I consider to be either thought provoking or of general interest. I do, however, have some blackmail pictures of Ben and Zach that I threaten to publish every now and again, just to keep them on their toes.

Are my top five reasons narcissistic? Maybe. My freedom of speech doesn’t dictate a requirement for anyone else to listen, though. ☺

Most of my blog-friends are rugged individualists – as am I – and typically are not very happy about being tagged with blog memes. So, if this subject appeals to you and you’re looking for a subject to write about – consider yourself tagged! And if not, then carry on.

Thanks to Chris at Nomad4Ever for this blog meme. His is a cool blog – a guy who downshifted, walked away from it all and just… travels.

Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: blog meme, communication, writing | Comments Off