Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dot and Dash

Regrets.  I have many.  It's true.

One big regret is not having taken more pictures of Dot when she was a puppy.  Especially when she was a little, bitty brand new puppy.  I didn't take a lot of digital pictures then and the few that I did take were lost when an old hard drive crashed.  I literally have no pictures of Dot during her first year.  It makes me sad because she was such a cute, cute, cute little Dotopotamus.  100% mutt.  To this day I change my mind daily when trying to figure out her dominant breed.  Sometimes I think schnauzer, sometimes poodle, sometimes dachshund.  I suspect a real Heinz 57 blend of everything.

It was December 2003.  I was finally ready for my own dog and I was looking hard for her at all of the area animal shelters and pounds around Austin.  I wasn't sure what kind of dog I wanted, but I knew that would be revealed in due time.

Christmas that year was rare because all of my family was together at the Last Stop.  Matt and Shana were there and Mason was 8 months old.  On December 22 we all went together and visited a few different shelters in the small towns around Eastland.

Needless to say,  some of these small town shelters are a bit grim.  Old, cramped, depressing.  Lots of big dogs - basically your pit bull mix.  Sad.  This was the case when we arrived at the Brownwood shelter, about 40 miles from Eastland.

Unrelated side note, I LOVE BROWNWOOD.  Home of Underwoods Barbecue.  THE quintessential cafeteria that can instantly transport me back to childhood when I was visiting my grandparents in Eastland and we would drive here to eat ribs and  peach cobbler.

So, there I was, alone in the Brownwood shelter trying to convince myself that the sickly, sad looking little white dog with the drippy eyes that I was petting might be my girl when I heard the rest of the family around the corner in a commotion.  My brother Matt came jogging back to me and said, "We found her.  We found your dog."

Sure enough.  I rounded that corner and there was 3-month old, 7-pound Dot in my sister-in-law Shana's arms.  Weirdly, I didn't even really spend time with her at that point.  I just knew in my heart by looking at her that she my dog and I had to get her adopted right that minute or someone else might beat me to it.  So Dad and I hot footed it up front and completed the paper work and paid the $25 adoption fee.  When all of that was complete, I came back around and that's when I really held Dot for the first time.  She made little baby Mason giggle and I knew that was a good sign.

The thing  about Dot that was so funny was her high energy personality.  You could tell that she was a little bit wild, with one paw over on the crazy side, but she was so adorable.  She didn't look sad or abandoned or concerned about a thing.  She just wagged her tale and had that "come on, let's play!" look about her.  I took her home that night and the rest, as they say, is history. 

That was seven years ago this December.

So where is the regret? 

Well, Dot had a brother there in the pound with her.  Another 3 month old little dude that looked almost exactly like Dot except he had longer legs, so he was a little bit taller.  But super cute and just as playful.  However, at that time I knew I wanted a female and it just wasn't in my realm of possibility to get two dogs.  Today?  Heck yes, I'm a seasoned dog owner who loves the little buggers like crazy and I would have snapped them both up right away.  But I couldn't do it then.

So we left "Dash" (that's what I would have named him...Dash) behind and I just crossed my fingers that some other person or family would come along and adopt him.  I honestly have wondered over the last seven years what might have become of that little guy.


Check out this coupon advertisement I received in the mail today from Pottery Barn! 

Can you believe how much this dude looks like Dot?  The only difference is he has a longer beard.  I keep Dot's face trimmed shorter so she'll look a little bit more like a girl, but this big daddy has a beard and I THINK IT'S DASH!

Well Dash has done alright for himself, hasn't he?  Since he left Brownwood with that fancy couple from California, Dash has obviously moved up in the world and now works in the big leagues for Pottery Barn!  He poses sweetly on fleece blankets on distressed leather chairs by the fire!  I bet he gets a great employee discount, too!

When I saw this, I had to waive it around a little bit and ask Dot WHAT UP?  Why couldn't this be you?  Why don't you get out there and get a high-profile job?  Why aren't you selling fleece blankets and distressed leather chairs?  You need to get a j-o-b little mama!  You owe me $25!

I figure if Dash can do it, Dot can too.

Ah, well.  It's just nice to know that little Dash made good.

And besides.  Dot is too preoccupied to work at the moment.  She is STILL confused by that strange little hole in the door going to the garage in our new house.  She sits and ponders it deeply.  She knows it somehow has something to do with her, but she just can't quite figure it out.  Which is probably a good thing because should the light bulb ever go on and she actually try to get through that doggy door I highly suspect she would high center and be stuck like a cork in a bottle.

That's my girl!


Monday, November 15, 2010


What do you do when you get that slightly "blue" feeling?

Job searching is hard.  And scary.  And intimidating.  That's left me a little bit blue feeling today.

Randy is out of town.  That's left me a little bit blue feeling today.

It gets dark here now beginning at 3:30.  By 4:30 it's completely dark.  That's left me a little bit blue feeling today.

It's rainy and cold.  That's left me a little bit blue feeling today.

Now don't get me wrong, it's nothing bad, just feeling a little bit blue and a little bit homesick today.   To be expected.

So, to keep myself occupied tonight after a long day of job searching I decided to unpack more boxes.  We're making progress!  And what did I open tonight?  Some of the beautiful things that people gave us for our wedding.  I will never be able to thank people enough for their kindness.  Just seeing those things and thinking of those people has made me feel so much better.  Everyone was so nice!

But when I got to our pretty new Riedel wine glasses I realized I was in waaaaaaay over my head. 

Friends, the Riedel Wine Glass Company makes BEAUTIFUL wine glasses but I am completely intimidated by them!  We have two of them.  Two perfect wine glasses.  I found myself flicking the rim with my middle finger just to hear their pretty crystal ring.  I've never had stemware so nice.

But to keep these two glasses perfect I learned that I need to follow these instructions as outlined on the box:

1.  Wash under warm water, detergent is not necessary.
2.  Place on linen to dry for the time being.
3.  For extra shine, steam over boiling water.
4.  To polish use 2 microfiber crystal towels.
5.  Hold glass by base and polish.  NEVER twist the base and the bowl.
6.  Use left hand to cradle the bowl and polish with your right hand.
7.  Perfect result.

What?!  WOW!  Sticking these babies in the dishwasher is apparently out of the question!  That's a lot of work!  Don't get me wrong.  These glasses were on our wish list and I am so honored to have them, but I HAD NO IDEA!

For some reason these detailed instructions struck me as hilarious so I just sat in my kitchen cracking up at the complexities of life.  From job searching to learning your way around a new marriage and a new community to dealing with physical changes to taking care of your wine glasses.  It's all a process that can sometimes feel really, really big and heavy.  But what can you do?  This is life and sometimes life is hard.  You just have to do your best, follow the rules, make the best decisions you can, and hope for a #7.  

Feeling a lot less blue, I filled my beautiful wine glass with milk and had some dinner.  And I managed to clean the wine glass just fine, afterwards.


Then Turn Right at the Taxidermy Shop on the Corner

Well this is a new one for  me.

Good to know, given how close we live to Mount St. Helens. 

Problem is, in an effort to be fully prepared should she blow, I tried to follow the Eatonville volcano evacuation route for a little ways, but after this particular sign...nothing.  No  more signs.   There's a big arrow on this sign pointing in the direction I'm supposed to go, but after that, what?  Which street, twist, turn or general fork in the road past this sign is the right way to flee the steaming ash plumes and molten lava? 

I need a more detailed map!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You!

Happy Veterans Day and a big thank you to all who have served in the military.

You are all real heroes.

And if you are a certain C-17 Loadmaster, you are my very favorite veteran of all.  Thanks for what you do.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Who Was That Masked Man?

Winged cuteness prevailed in the Holliday household this Halloween! 

Mason was a beautiful peacock.

Maybe she was inspired by this mask I brought her from New Orleans last year.

Ruby was a flamingo.  Just kill me now with those adorable, long striped legs.  And the hat! 

I think the pink sweater on Ruby was the one she wore in my wedding and I absolutely, positively cannot believe that I DIDN'T THINK OF ADDING THE PINK FEATHERS MYSELF!  How much more adorable would that have been? 

It is apparent that Ruby takes after her great grandmother and namesake Ruby Jo Lewis.

But how can my girls be so grown up?

Shouldn't they still look more like this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or this?

Little Frog

Or this?  Another bird!

Little Chicken

Or this?

 Oh my goodness where has the time gone?

Randy and I couldn't decided what to be for Halloween this year.


Banana bowl?

Queen?  (Everything's better with Blue Bonnet on it...)

Greek tug boat captain?

Carmen Miranda?

We couldn't decide so we settled on goof balls. 

But Dot knew that for the fourth year running she wanted to be La La!

I think that we should wear  more costumes.  Casual Friday becomes Costume Friday from now on. 


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Scenes From Home

I love this little flower stand that is just below our house.  This lady grows really beautiful flowers in her rustic, wild garden and then she puts sweet little bouquets together in jars, places them on her stand where there is an envelope to leave money and a note asking you to bring back her jars.

Randy knows how much I love flowers so he has left his money in the envelope a few times.  Her dahlias are so beautiful.

The other day I noticed she added some gourds.

I'm hoping this winter she will leave plates of homemade cookies and thermoses of hot chocolate!

But here's the big news.

Randy got home from his mission on Saturday.  Yay! 

But that's not really the big news.

Saturday night Randy says, "Lori, come here, there's something I want to show you."

And then I fainted.

Randy sets up game cameras in the woods and it's fun to see those pictures to check out what's roaming around out there during the dark hours.  So, guess what was roaming around out there last week 80 YARDS FROM MY FRONT DOOR?

Okay, in my OKC neighborhood the occasional stray dog was one thing but this is crazy! 

And look at the time stamp...the dude hung around there for hours.  Awesome! 

Here's the thing... this was when Randy was overseas, so if I had been eaten by this bear during my leisurely nature stroll no one would have heard me or found me for a week.  I can't tell you how this has freaked me out because I really like the idea of exploring the woods around our house.  I had grand designs on becoming a birder!  Now?  Not so much.  BECAUSE I HAVE BEARS LIVING 80 YARDS FROM ME!

I am telling you, living in the wild woods of Washington is something.  If it's not the vampires it's the bears.  (Go Team Edward!). But we do have pretty dahlias.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Greetings from Eatonville

Hello!  Can I go ahead and add a P.S. at the beginning of this post instead of the end?  

I have finished writing and am about to publish, but I want to offer fair warning.  This long, rambling missive basically goes something like this:

1.  Whine, whine, whine, poor me, poor me, whine, whine, whine
2.  Here are some pictures!

I guess I needed the cathartic experience of writing about everything that's been going on, so thanks for humoring me, but if I were you I'd skip #1 and go straight to #2!

 Oh my gosh, I've missed you!

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be here today.

Because I disappeared for six weeks.

Now I didn't plan on disappearing.  I planned on transitioning smoothly into my new home in the Pacific Northwest with excitement, humor and ease, sharing lots of blog posts, pictures, Facebook updates, and emails.  This was going to be a lot of fun and I wanted to share my journey with friends and family.

Seriously.  That's what I envisioned.

So what happened?

Basically, intention and reality did not sync up AT ALL.

It will take a number of posts to fully explain, but in an effort not to bury the lead any deeper I'll begin by saying that the last six weeks have been the most ________ of my life.

Okay, I've been pondering that sentence for a few minutes and I can't decide on THE word to use.  I've considered:


Where are the happy words?  Where are the words like Exciting or Adventerous or Amazing or Incredble?

Well, here's the thing.  While those might not be the words I'd choose to describe my last six weeks I can say that this weekend I have for the first time finally felt a glimmer, a modicum, a teeny tiny ray of hope that things might...MIGHT...begin to even out soon.  Just knowing that things might be evening out (note that I didn't say "back to normal"...I'll just settle for "evening out" at this point) has had a calming effect on me like nothing else has in the last month.

Dramatic, much?

But you know what has made me feel the most encouraged?  I FINALLY  HAVE THE INTERNET, A LAND LINE, A CELL PHONE THAT WORKS, AND TV!  All of these glorious, precious things finally came together for us last week and the fact that I can easily communicate with the outside world again is a wonderful thing.  I have stories to share about what life has been like without technology but for now I'll explain by saying that my inability to communicate easily has been because I live 10 miles outside of Eatonville, Washington.

Yes, Eatonville.  You should check it out on Google Earth.  You will see that it is a teeny tiny town in the woods about 45 miles from Tacoma.  AND THAT'S THE THING.  I kept telling people I was moving to Tacoma!  Of course I knew that our house was out in the country.  But I had only seen it once and in my excitement during that short visit it didn't really register with me how very rural we really were.  And how long it takes us to get to Tacoma (about an hour).  However, I knew that the Air Force base was in Tacoma and that is why we were moving in the first place so I just told people I was moving to Tacoma.

I figured it was like saying "Oklahoma City" instead of "Edmond" or "Austin" instead of "Pflugerville".  Everyone has heard of Oklahoma City and Austin.  I figured everyone had heard of Tacoma and Seattle so that was the point of reference I used when telling where I was moving, never thinking that there was that much difference between Tacoma and Eatonville.

There is a difference.

Oh but yes, there is a difference.

Let's just say that the harsh reality of how very rural we really are hit me so hard when we arrived here four weeks ago that I had a serious panic attack for the better part of three days.  (The first two weeks of my last six week were in Texas - more on that another time.  We've been here for a month.)

Living 10 miles outside of Eatonville, in the woods, in a house surrounded by nothing but 100 foot fir trees and country roads has meant no cell phone service, no TV, and no Internet.  Pretty much complete isolation from news, information, and contact with family and friends.  Off the grid!

But that's just the beginning of it.

For the first two weeks, Randy and I lived in his trailer (oh, the stories) and during that time we were racing against the clock to get our home prepared before our furniture and things arrived fourteen days later.

We don't have a mansion by any means, but we have a 2,100 square foot, two story house, and in two weeks just the two of us had to completely tear out every bit of carpet, prep and paint every single inch of the inside the house, install wood floors in every single room, replace blinds, light fixtures, and doors and get the land directly around our house reswailed because of a drainage problem!  (Hey, did you know it rains in the Pacific Northwest?) 

What idiotic chumps who have no idea how to even begin to install wood floors or sliding closet doors or paint at lightening speed think they can do all of this in two weeks?

Here!  Right here! The chumps are right here and we are the Culvers!  It's all HGTV and Home Depot's fault - oh they make it look so affordable and manageable and doable.  I have learned that HGTV and Home Depot are for chumps like us!

Anyway, I'll be sharing more about the home improvement projects soon, but here are a few highlight pictures of the action.

Every single thing had to be covered, removed or taped off before the paint gun could be used.  The prep work before painting and putting everything back together after painting was much harder than the painting itself.

I don't know how I will be able to convey how hard it was laying the floors.  Randy became a master at it, however, while I pretty much cursed and cried my way through the rooms I did.

Having to get the land work done was completely unnerving and not at all what was expected.  And hey...nothing like trying to figure out a way to keep your brand new dark wood floors clean when you are now living in a mud pit until spring when you can put in a yard!  Because, did you know it rains a lot here?

Dot was a big help, however.  She could pull up carpeting like a pro! Oh wait a minute, that is she could SIT on carpeting like a pro.

So somehow we got it all done.  We were so tired, sore and beat to a pulp by the time our household goods arrived that I thought we weren't going to make it.  But the good times had just begun.  We got to unload not just my house full of stuff but Randy's house full of stuff, too!  Since we didn't live together before we got married we had never combined our stuff.  Wow.  Talk about stressful!  That's a future Dotopotamus post for sure.

By now it was week three and Randy had to go to work and I had to start the job search process while we were also trying desperately to deal with the mountain of boxes and furniture that were out of control.  I had to come off the mountain and out of the woods and figure out how to get to Tacoma and find my way around and all I can say is thank goodness for TomTom.  But the hammer came down so hard that week we were just pummeled.  Highlights include such things as having to saw down 7, 100' fir trees, finding emergency treatment for Dot, me having to get a tetanus shot, trying to figure out why my mail hadn't been forwarded in some way that didn't involve being able to call or email, having to get my car inspected (long story), and Randy suddenly having to go to Oregon for two days.

But best of all?  Finding out we were going to be moving to New Mexico in six months!  Yeah, that punch to the gut almost killed me.  And then after getting to process and deal with that emotional burden for almost a week finding out "just kidding!  You're going to stay here Randy but we're going to give you a really great job in this different squadron and you are going to have to fly a lot now and by the way, your first 10-day mission leaves on Tuesday!"

And through it all, no cell phone service that worked at home, land line, TV or Internet.  I would do laundry in Eatonville on Sundays and could sometimes get cell phone service there so would call my mom and dad.  They told me that concerned people were calling asking where I was!  I am so sorry everyone.  If you called my cell or sent me a text, chances are I didn't get it and email has been out of the question until this weekend. 

So finally last week when we drew the line, said "enough", and figured out how to get those things.  Our new cell phone service still isn't great because it's hard to get service when you live in the middle of the woods, but the land line works well.  And after taking down 7, 100' trees we were able to get satellite TV service!  And thanks to the phone company in Eatonville finally installing fiber up our way, we can get some Internet.  It's slow as Christmas, but it's the Internet!

So that brings us to the present.  Randy is somewhere in Africa tonight and will be gone for another week, but Dot and I are here in the middle of nowhere Eatonville, Washington on a mountain in the woods trying to regain some perspective and find my sense of humor that I lost a couple of weeks ago.  And because I'm missing my friends and family, my colleagues, my job, and familiarity with my surroundings, I have stopped unpacking boxes and putting things away so that I can reconnect to everyone.  I'm afraid to open Facebook for the first time in six weeks for fear it might explode!

I apologize for the length of this missive.  I guess it's been cathartic for me so thanks for letting me get it all out.  I think the thing that still surprises me the most is how DIFFERENT this experience has been from how I thought it would be.  Major life changes are a younger person's game!

In an effort to be more positive, I'll give you a brief tour of my drive to Eatonville.  The countryside here is absolutely stunningly gorgeous and I am in awe of its glory every time I set foot outside.  Mt.  Rainier is just amazing and I get to see her first thing when I leave the house.

Here is the meadow down from our house, the first time I get to see this gorgeous sight.

Then she comes into full view.  I can't imagine ever getting used to seeing this.

I turn the corner and I pretend I am driving straight to the top of the mountain.

Then I drive through lots of woods on a hilly, twisty road.   It's beautiful.

After about 8 miles, I get to the Eatonville turn.  I love this sign.  You can see that my little town has food!  And fuel!  And espresso!

But once I make the turn I have to slow down to 25 mph for the last two miles.  Why so slow, Eatonville, why so slow?  Sometimes I feel like telling Dot to take the wheel and meet me at the grocery store because I can get out a walk faster than we are driving.

But then Mt. Rainier comes back into view and I know I'm close. 

When I get into town I first pass the library, the police station and the post office on the right before getting to main street. 

Here's the cute bakery in town with the as advertised espresso.

We have the Roxy movie theater that is open Friday and Saturday nights showing one flick.

This is the restaurant Bruno's but it's the building with the mural that I will always hold near and dear as it has a teeny tiny laundromat in it that I got to know well those first few weeks. 

And this is the one stop light in town.  It's not even a real stop light.  It's just a blinking red light that creates a four-way stop.  But you can see the grocery store from here.  I LOVE the grocery store.  Super small and right out of 1972.  A future blog post, for sure.

And by the gas station, I saw this sign.  I didn't have time to explore, but my curiosity was definitely piqued!

So hopefully this ends my communication black out and I look forward to catching up with everyone and hearing what's going on with you!  I'll be posting frequently now because there is a lot to share. 

Even though I've whined and cried my way through this post I have to say that underneath all of the anxiousness and stress, I do feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to live life with Randy.  I look forward to exploring this beautiful part of the world, finding a job, making some friends, and making it our home.  Hopefully you all will come up for a visit!  In the meantime, I just wish I could find in what box I packed my blow dryer.