The Shortest Vacation (in Photographs) & Buckets of Bliss (Of the Wedding and Spring Flower Variety)

And so we have returned to our tiny, humble abode, after a fleeting yet immensely-packed weekend of driving to-and-fro Sacramento and San Francisco.

An important thing to do upon returning home: Walk by the flower shop and find two of my favorite things! Anemones and mini gerber daisies to brighten our neglected apartment.

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And they smell as lovely as they look!

Floral diversion complete. Resuming the news from this weekend.

WOW. What a weekend it was! My beyond beauteous friend, Clare, married her best friend, Michael at the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Cathedral (the old one) in San Francisco. I was honored to be a bridesmaid and had the absolute best time being there in support of her. It was, of course, quite a struggle physically, and I unfortunately could not participate in every single event. Such is life when your Crohn’s Disease is out of control and unmanageable. (Let’s not forget, however, that my first Remicade infusion is on Friday).

It is positively official that I could not be more elated for Clare and Michael. There are couples out there that just give you a certain feeling. That feeling of: God, you’ve proven yet again that You know what You’re doing. This couple is meant to be. And it’s awesome.

The wedding was breath-taking, and I had such fun being with the other bridesmaids and Clare’s family. And Adam did too! He hung with the girls all weekend and served as our bag-carrier, valet, and concierge. (You had to be there). And he was always good for a laugh. What an angel that man is.

As much as I am dying to share photos of the wedding, I think I will wait for the professionals. (Fun fact, the photographer was the same one who shot Adam’s and my wedding. He and his wife are just the dearest people and we had a blast seeing them again. Anyone need a fantastic Orthodox wedding photographer? I’ve got a referral for you.)

It was also an especially enchanting trip because it was Adam’s first to San Francisco! (Which just so happens to be basically my favorite city.) He was blown away by both cathedrals (particularly the new one, of course, with Saint John the Wonderworker’s relics). But that part was a given! We knew he’d love all the Orthodox activities. But you know what else? He dug the city. He really did. In his words: “I have to admit, San Francisco is a pretty cool place.” Says the Montana country boy! Love love love it.

Saturday night, before the wedding, we stayed at The Chateau Tivoli Bed & Breakfast, which is an absolutely stunning (albeit, somewhat creepy) old Victorian mansion in the heart of San Francisco, just a couple blocks from the Old Cathedral. Gee whiz, this place was nifty. Adam and I stayed in the Isadora Duncan room. We were on top of the world with excitement. It was our first stay in an exciting new place since our honeymoon! We took some Clue-esque photographs and laughed an awful lot. (Being married is so much fun.)

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It was hard to see an end to the wedding festivities. It meant leaving San Francisco, saying goodbye to new friends, and saying goodbye to my dearest Clare. But alas, the reception was over and it was time to go….
….to my parent’s house outside of Sacramento!

It was such a quick “hi and goodbye” kind of a visit, but even that is better than nothing. We just barely got to spend time with my little sister, Teresa, and my dad. And we spent only slightly more time than that with my mom. But it was a merry and welcomed visit, nonetheless.

Here is a short summary of our visit, in photos.

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My mom is growing some stunning roses.

And it was so good to be back with Teresa’s charming and hilarious goats.

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And the cats.

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And especially my mom.

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And I gotta say, there’s still something so magical and surreal about having Adam in California.

And last but not least, let’s not ignore my dad’s shenanigans and his rebellious (and conscious) choice to proudly hang the California Republic flag, without an American flag.

I will never stop appreciating my family’s eccentricity.

Adam and I are now back in Washington with our beloved kitty who seems to truly be as overjoyed to see us as we are to see him.

No matter how short and how enchanting a trip is, it always always always feels good to come home.

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Imaginary Authors, Indefinable Characteristics, Spring, the Female Protagonist, & Wedding Bliss.

Spring has sprung and the inspiration and drive to be inspired have leapt out of the sprung spring just as Jack leapt out of his box.

Too much?

But really. There’s something about the changing of seasons (whatever season it may be) that just demands attention. It calls out to any creative juice that flows through your blood stream and says “HEY, it’s time to get rolling!” Weather is incredible that way. I’ve always been of the opinion that weather is the ultimate dictator of senses, moods, emotions, atmosphere, perspective, thought-process. You name it. Weather affects. And it affects me greatly.

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That being said, the wonderful world of Bellingham has been hypnotized by the spring fairy. The weather is warming up, the sun is almost always out, the tulips are a’bloomin, and it truly seems that there is a constant sparkle of pink flowers floating in and out like a breath with every breeze.

For Pete’s sake, I can’t tell you how liberating it feels just to walk outside in a pair of jeans and a plain white tee-shirt. Or dare I say, even a dress. Without the tights underneath. Sixty-four degrees and sunny, I think I love you.

I wish I could say that I’ve been madly taking advantage of this desire to be inspired by actually creating things (crazy notion?). But sadly, I can’t claim much of anything.

What I have actually been doing is simply quite a lot of thinking. The Plight of the Thinker. That’s what I call it. Does it resonate with you? I guess the definition would be this:
The faultiness of being simply a thinker is that thoughts get in the way of actions. Thinkers are driven wild by the idea of things. The idea of being inspired, the idea of inspiration, the idea of doing things, the idea of thinking things, etc. And so, driven to madness by these inspiring thoughts, the thinker does nothing at all. Only thinks.

I suffer from the plight.

The thought that I’ve been spellbound by as of late is that of the female protagonist. Or any protagonist really, but for me, the female. The idea of character. True character. And that every person is their own character. Not has character, but is a character. And there’s such a level of choice in the matter, too. Making a conscious decision to embrace your character is pretty exciting. When do you hear the word “character” most often? Well, when it’s in reference to a book, a movie, a made-up tale. If you were a character in a book, how would you be described? What kind of indefinable qualities do you have, that are just dying to try to be defined?

I guess you could just say that I’ve been thinking a lot about character development. But in real people. Developing your own character as if you were developing a character in a story. It just leads to some interesting thoughts. (There I go with “thoughts” again.) Qualities of an individual are just so enticing. From small, superficial details (she had short, dark hair that curled at the ends and she always had on a smearing of red lipstick), to the more complex details (she suffered from The Plight of the Thinker).

Anyway, I don’t know if any of that made any sense at all. But it’s what the inside of my brain has been looking like lately. (When it’s not bowled over by a migraine.)

I have due credit to pay for some of these thoughts. My discovery of a little something called “Imaginary Authors” triggered many of these musings.

They make perfume. Seriously. I’m not a perfume-person, but since I discovered Imaginary Authors, I find myself pining for some perfume.

They make perfumes (quite interesting scents, actually) based off of made-up authors and their made-up books. I kid you not. I find the whole thing wildly intriguing and mesmerizing and exciting. Their website doesn’t actually contain too many words, but this tidbit from it says an awful lot: “Like a good book, these scents are meant to inspire you. In these bottles are layered narratives that are sure to generate stirring conversation, fragrances that might be capable of changing the course of your own personal story. The hope is that they not only invigorate and intoxicate, but also take you to new places.”

I love it. Darnit, I just think it’s the niftiest thing. Now, being “not a perfume-person” like myself, I can’t ever imagine spending $85 on a bottle of perfume. Even for something this cool. But they do have sample vials for only $6. Now that is maybe something I would do. Just to add a little spice to my character.

My body is not feeling terribly well right now so I’m going to wrap things up. Let’s step back into the real world for a moment.

On Thursday, Adam and I leave Juvenaly behind (thank God for good church friends/cat lovers/cat babysitters) and board a plane to Sacramento. We’ll be spending a long weekend driving back and forth and back and forth from Sacramento to San Francisco. Why, you ask? Well because one of the most beautiful girls in the whole world (and one of my dearest dearest friends) is getting married to her partner-in-crime!! AND I get to be a bridesmaid! (Brides-matron?) I could not be more thrilled for the sweetest of sweets, Clare and Michael. We’ll be celebrating the wedding in the unbelievably beautiful Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Cathedral in wonderful San Francisco. This cathedral just happens to be where the blessed and beloved Saint John Maximovitch (the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco) served. And we’ll also be spending time at the newer cathedral that he helped build AND where his holy relics reside. Glory to God for all things!!

(And a sidenote, the wedding day, April 26th, happens to be Adam’s and my 6-month-iversary!)

SO this weekend we get to spend a bit of time with my parents and sister in Sacramento, we get to be near Saint John, we get to celebrate our 6 months of marriage in my favorite city, and most importantly and excitedly we get to be there to see and support Clare and Michael being united eternally to one another in the Church!

Life is good, and I am happy to be alive.

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Sorry Juvenaly. You can’t come to San Francisco.

How Daylight Enlightens Me and MR-enterographies Enlighten Doctors About What’s Inside Me

Hello Reader.
With the exception of yesterday’s stormy weather here in Bellingham, these past several days have been as sunny and enchanting as anyone could ask for in early March.


And what does that do for our moods, you ask? Well, it makes us extra adventurous, of course. (Bear in mind, “adventurous” to Adam and me might probably have a different definition from yours. We are not bungee-jumpers in this household.)

Instead, we do things like try to suck every last bit of daylight out of the sky when Adam gets home from work. I think we still are recovering from living in Alaska (or at least I am, anyway) where daylight was scarce and sometimes literally non-existent.

Monday morning was my MR-enterography. It was very trying on my body and my mind. I spent the rest of the day recuperating, but when Adam got home, we decided it was high time that we saw some sun and got inspired by something.

And so, we loaded up Juvenaly in the car and embarked on one of our favorite activities: discovering cute old neighborhoods and oggling the houses and deciding which one we want to live in.

But before that, photo-shoot on the parking garage, yes?

Look at Juvenaly’s big rabbit feet. It kills me.

A quick intermission of boring stuff:
I’m still waiting on confirmation from my doctor, but it appears now that I have four strictures in my intestines instead of three. That there is some fierce scar tissue. Clearly this is not pleasing news, but we’ll know more after the rest of my procedures this month.

Also, I got another migraine. (And subsequently a chance to try out my new migraine meds. Result: Inconclusive and frustrating.)

Symptoms started Tuesday evening but I naively did not think it was going to turn into a migraine. I’m still learning about this migraine game. By the quite-early hours of Wednesday morning, I was desperately fumbling in the dark for the migraine pills. I was still essentially incapacitated until about 1:30pm or so, but it was definitely not the worst migraine I’ve had. It eventually turned into more of a dull pain, so I decided “Why not? Of course I should go to Pre-Sanctified Liturgy tonight at church.”

We were about halfway there (20 minutes into the drive) when I realized that I had perhaps made a terrible mistake. By the time Liturgy started, the pain was so bad and so debilitating; I don’t even know how to explain how I felt. A deep concern that I would be carted out of there in an ambulance? I was really scared, honestly.

(Have I mentioned lately that Adam is a saint for taking care of me?)

The point of all this: Who the heck knew that migraines existed. I mean, of course everyone knows what a migraine is and that people get them. But I had no understanding and no appreciation for what a migraine was until I started getting them myself. How is it that this is a thing for people? When it comes to my weakling body, migraines feel like the entire right side of my brain and neck are simply shattering. Completely breaking down. It’s terrifying and surreal. Using the charming term my mom suggested: I have now decided to be prayer warrior for every sick person and migraine-ridden person in the world. Just let me know, and I will wage a prayer war for you.

Intermission over and back to fun stuff.
Adam and I also spent a lovely Saturday afternoon browsing our local bookstore, Michael’s Books. It’s one of those huge used bookstores that looks like a tornado hit the place and that every book is a precarious domino that is about to cause the entire store to come falling to the ground.

That’s a tad exaggerated. But Adam and I love the place. They also have boxes and boxes of free books that sit outside the store everyday. That’s right; I said free.

We scored with these lovelies.

All but the top book were freebies. They have an endless supply of freebies, it seems, so we don’t feel too bad about leaving with five!

We don’t really know what A Touch of Danger is yet, but Adam insisted on it.

I’ve wanted to read The Elegance of the Hedgehog for a while now, so when I found it at Michael’s for cheap, it was a no-brainer-purchase. I’m about a third of the way through. It’s translated from the French, so it’s written kind of oddly. But in an amazing way. The language is so bizarre, so thoughtful, so whimsical, and often an enigma.

The story itself is incredibly cynical right now, and it’s all about social classes (which isn’t my favorite topic, but it’s French so I can forgive it. heh heh…). But I happen to know from a very good source (my librarian-mother who knows exactly what kind of books I like) that I will love this book. So I’m excited to see where it goes. I do enjoy it already.

So, to end this post in a way that it seems many bloggers do, I will leave you with this:

Currently Reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, also Jane Eyre (gosh darnit, I love it so much it hurts), and reading out loud to Adam as a bedtime story: Coraline (a favorite of mine, and I’m telling you, Adam suggested that I read it to him. I didn’t force it!)

Currently Listening to: a heck of a lot of Sharon Van Etten (click name for a great song!) and Frightened Rabbit (click name for another great song!)

Currently Watching: Let’s just say I am now obsessed with the film, The Hours. Let’s be real, this is probably going to get its own blog post, so I’ll leave it for now.
Also, Adam and I are still making our way through the Wes Anderson films (I only have 2 left to show him!), and the Hayao Miyazaki films. More on that later!

Happy Thursday! Many blessings to all.

On Avoiding the ER–and unrelatedly–Exposing Adam to the Works of Wes Anderson

Well Reader,

It’s been a difficult week of doctor appointments and other less-than-pleasant things.

Yesterday, we nearly went to the Emergency Room, but praise the Lord, my amazing gastro got involved and ordered me all the tests and x-rays needed (as well as prescribing meds) to keep us from spending the night in the ER.

I guess I should explain.

One of the many gifts my Crohn’s Disease has granted me are three strictures throughout my intestines. Basically, due to so much inflammation and excess scar tissue, three areas of my intestines have narrowed into such teeny openings that oftentimes, food cannot pass through. Many people wonder why I can’t eat things like berries, nuts, popcorn, most raw vegetables, etc. That’s why.

Sometimes, it seems that it doesn’t matter what I eat; this stricture blockage will still occur. The pain is unquestionable. When this starts happening, I know what it is. I also know that it will typically last up to 12 hours. My usual reprieve includes hospital check-ins and morphine through an IV. The pain is truly unbelievable and unbearable.

I also know what the doctors always tell me: You have to go to the ER when this happens to make sure nothing is rupturing.

And/or other less-than-ideal things.

Let’s speed things up a little bit…I contacted my gastro who saw me immediately and ordered x-rays and blood work to be analyzed stat. (No morphine though…sigh). I did not end up having a full-blown blockage. Praise the Lord (again). The pain was debilitating, but not as bad as I have experienced, and since I didn’t have a blockage, we managed to avoid the ER. By the eleventh hour of pain (10pm), it stopped. Thank God for a peaceful bedtime.

I describe the pain as “contractions”. Yesterday, for example, it would come about every 5 minutes, last for about five minutes, give me a 5-min break, and so on. It’s been my experience before that the “contractions” will start to get closer and closer together, and that is when it seems that morphine will indisputably be a part of my imminent future. Luckily, we didn’t get to that point yesterday.

Today, it is so peaceful. Like the aftermath of a storm, I say, acknowledging the cliche. My abdomen is quite sore, but really that is nothing at all.

I feel that’s enough medical-talk for today. I won’t bother going into detail about this past week’s appointments. I do feel I should mention that I have an MR-enterography on Monday. It is one of my least favorite things. I have to drink 3 bottles of barium and lie in a ridiculously claustrophobic machine for 45 minutes while I hold my breath to the beat of ear-splitting beeping. ‘Nuff said. Prayers always welcomed.

On a more exciting note:

Adam is finally seeing all of the Wes Anderson films! Huzzah!
Some have questioned how I am married to someone who has never seen even one of my dearly-esteemed Mr. Anderson’s movies. To that I say: Who cares. He’s seeing them now.

We are going in no particular order. We watch one, I witness his reaction and take it into account, and I then choose what I deem to be the next appropriate one to watch.

It has been exceedingly helpful to have this great place next door:

Some may say that I can look a tad like a tourist when we go on walks with my Instax camera. Said unnamed person mentions this fact with love. To which I respond “Well, Adam, what the heck else is this for?”

Anyway, Film is Truth is a really excellent local movie store in Bellingham. We’ve been frequenting that place like crazy lately. They also happen to have every Wes Anderson film ever made. I sadly only own The Darjeeling Limited and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which may or may not be but probably are my favorites.

It may be possible that the reason I never insisted on Adam watching any of the Wes Anderson films before is because I kind of thought, just maybe that he wasn’t going to like them. Perhaps I was thinking that these films do not contain quite enough plot, and a bit too much whimsy, clay, and kind-of-unlikable-characters-who-still-manage-to-be-sort-of-likable for my dear husband.

Turns out, I was wrong. Drum roll. He does like them.

We have three films left for him to watch. This has been the order so far:

I tell you with a certain level of surprise that his favorite thus far has been Moonrise Kingdom. Who woulda thought that the one about the boy scout and the girl in the cute dress with the imaginary books would be his favorite?

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We’ve still got The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Bottle Rocket. We’re both kind of thinking he’ll like Steve Zissou the best. We’ll see.

We also rented one of Adam’s favorite movies since childhood, Princess Mononoke. Considering my absolute disinterest in anime, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this. People have told me that I would like Spirited Away (same director), so I was definitely intrigued. Incredibly enough, I liked Princess Mononoke a lot. It certainly had it’s slightly-obnoxious, cartoony tendencies, and it was even a bit gory for my tastes, but it was made beautifully. I couldn’t believe how much I loved some of the scenes. They were really quite endearing.

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I think I’ll say goodbye for now. I’ve just realized that my hands are feeling rather like icicles, and this apartment has gotten much too cold AND quiet. Quiet? That’s suspicious. What is that little Juvenaly doing… (Honestly, quiet is good. The cat is probably finally sleeping and done terrorizing things. I better go find the sleepy thing and bury my face in his soft belly.)

I hope that everyone is having a beautiful day.
Until next time!

Days of Quiet Typing, Pen-scratching, and Yelping in Pain, or “How Doughnuts Don’t Actually Solve All Your Problems”

Hello Readers and other figments of my imagination,

Today has been a day of pain, and for what seems like the first time in this relationship, it wasn’t even mine. (Well, I guess that’s kind of a lie because I still had my Crohns-y stomach pains this morning, and I still had my typical afternoon-headache.) But alas, my unexpecting poor husband is suffering a very unexpected pain.

This morning, Adam threw his back out. Oh gee whilickers, I’m sorry to say it’s true. He was getting ready for work and came out of the bathroom looking like an 80-year old man who slipped on a wintery ice patch. (Sorry for that morbid image. I sincerely hope said make-believe man is okay.)

My poor dear subsequently did not go to work today. “Adam, rest. You’ve hurt yourself, and you’ve been so busy, and you need a day of rest.” I thoroughly believe all of those things, but apparently Adam does not, because he has spent the whole day thus far writing his papers for the Saint Stephen’s Course. But I can’t fault him for that, because as of this morning he still had three papers to write and only one week to write them in. Oh well, at least he’s in the comforts of home.

And also the comforts of…doughnuts. Rocket Donuts, to be exact.
If you’ve ever been to Bellingham, then you must know of Rocket Donuts. At the very least, you’ve seen the giant Rocket at the corner of W. Holly and Bay.
If you’ve never been to Bellingham: let me tell you about Rocket Donuts. And you should know, there’s a giant rocket on the corner of W. Holly and Bay St.

As much as I wish it were so, I’m not going to pretend that Rocket Donuts makes the best doughnuts in the world, or that they are impressively inexpensive or anything like that. In reality, they are good doughnuts that are slightly over-priced. But you can’t argue with their marketing. The rocket theme is pretty darn exciting. And don’t get me wrong, the doughnuts taste pretty good too.

At any rate, after Adam got established at the dining room table this morning with his laptop and books to start a-writin’, I decided to put a smile on his face and dissolve his problems by getting him a Rocket Donut.

I threw on my Alaska sweatshirt and my green corduroy jacket with the “Bear Friend Society” patch I ironed on the pocket, and went on a walk for some doughnuts.

I snapped a photo of the famous rocket with my Instax. As you can see, it was a drizzly, overcast morning.

I got Adam a giant doughnut with white icing and multi-colored sprinkles, and I got myself a little red velvet doughnut with icing and pink drizzles. They really hit the spot.

But unfortunately, the doughnut did not actually solve Adam’s problems. He still consistently felt (and periodically yelped with) back pain, and still had many, many words to write. But I must say, he’s gotten quite a lot done and his spirits seem to be in the upwards direction. So job well done, sprinkled doughnut. And thanks to you too, Ibuprofen.

I got to enjoy my red-velvety delight with a mug of great English tea while I edited Adam’s papers. We’ve got a resident spelling/grammar adviser in this apartment. And it’s me.

But I think Juvenaly might try to claim that title for himself.

Feel free to please send your prayers Adam’s way. He really can’t be having back issues right now. (Though when is it ever convenient?) Also, it just hurts him a lot, and that makes me terribly sad.

In other news:

I got another “Letter In The Mail” today.

The Rumpus is a really wonderful website for writers and readers. They do reviews for great indie books, they do interviews with authors, they post comics, and a lot more too. But what I think is the coolest thing they do is this: Letters In The Mail. It was something I wanted to partake in for a while, and my dear husband subscribed me to it as a Christmas present! Basically, they get various authors to write letters to readers, and you get copies of said letters in the mail twice every month. I love it because A) letters from writers are inspiring, and B) it’s literally always fun to get something special in your mailbox.

I keep a nifty binder of all of mine.

Also, the Rumpus does Letters In The Mail for kids too! How sweet and cute is that?

Looks like the husband is awaking from his writing-coma. The evening is still young! What will be in store?

Happy Friday to all! Have a lovely weekend.