Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sometimes it just hits out of nowhere

...and sometimes there's a trigger.

It's been nearly 2 months since that awful day at RHS.  In that time, I've dealt with my feelings - feelings of fear, guilt, shame, many feelings, all rolled up into one big jumbled mess.  The biggest thing I've had to deal with is survivor's guilt or, more aptly, "I was never in any danger so why the heck do I feel like this?" guilt.

I've been in the building many times this summer.  Going inside was not a huge deal.  My room is back to normal, I've seen my kids and had great times with them (we won a prize for our entry in the parade!) and in general life is back to normal.

And then, when you least expect it...

Ricky and I like to choose a show to watch together.  Because of our crazy, erratic work schedules, it's easiest if we choose something we can watch online on our own timeline.  Recently we started watching Six Feet Under.  Tonight we started season 3.

The show is the story of the Fisher family, who own and operate a funeral home.  Each episode starts with the death of someone who will then be taken to Fisher and Sons funeral home for embalming, viewing, funeral, - whatever the family wishes.  Each episode chronicles that particular family, deceased and death and how it's affecting the members of the family.  It's pretty brilliant, actually.

But season 3...well, episode 2 of season 3 starts with deaths caused by a shooting in a workplace, similar to what we went through.  I made it through that part though I had to focus on my breathing, but I did make it.

Later, two of the funeral directors were meeting with the family.  When one funeral director realized that they were meeting with the family of the shooter, he started to refuse to have the funeral there.  Later, talking with the other funeral director, he said "maybe if they had raised him better...."

And with that, I said, "I can't."  I can't watch this anymore, I can't handle it, I just can't.

It wasn't just the attitude.  The entire thing was bringing back everything we went through.  How awful the media was, how they lied to parents, saying they were the FBI, in an attempt to get the kids' phone numbers.  How they interviewed our kids, who were clearly in shock.  How they stood across the street, because they weren't allowed inside the church, and took paparazzi-esque photos of my students, my babies, in tears as they entered the funeral of their friend.  How Oregon Live - yes, I'm calling you out - LIVE TWEETED the funeral of one of our students.

The disrespect, the inability to grieve in all came back in that instant. That they got their information from Twitter when they couldn't get information any other way because we all sat in lockdown.  That a news person out of New York called the spouse of one of our administrators and lied about being the police so that he could call the administrator and try to interview that person while most of our school was still locked inside a building.

I get that the world wants news.  I understand that.  You all wanted answers.  So did we.  But really, after it's all said and done, isn't it enough?  Can't you just leave us alone??

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

I thought we'd get to see forever
But forever's gone away
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday
--Boyz II Men

We had a candlelight vigil tonight as a way to get together with our community and begin our path to healing from the horrible event at our school one week ago.  A week of questions, anger, fear, exhaustion, and yes, sorry and tearful good-byes, it's been a tough one to say the least.

But one of our recent graduates read this poem tonight, and it spoke to me instantly.

Death is Nothing at All
by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I, 
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other, 
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, 
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval, 
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

There are no words

It's been nearly two years since I've written.  For that, I am immensely sorry.  Tonight is not a time for catching up though, it's a time for getting thoughts out.

There was a shooting at my school today.  I am safe, the students who were in my room are safe, and in fact 99.9% of the students at my school are safe.  One student was killed, one gunman is dead, and one teacher was injured.  Given that the shooting occurred just minutes before school started, we had potentially 2200 students and 150+ staff on campus.  That there were so few casualties is incredible, but the fact that we lost even one life to a gunman is tragic.

Sometime soon I will record the events as I know them.  I was across campus so I don't know much, but I would like to record my thoughts.  Tonight, though, I want to focus on the good.

Todd Rispler, my coworker, was grazed by a bullet in the hip.  Even so, he ran to the office and alerted them that we had an active shooter.  This initiated the lockdown, and it all happened within minutes of the shooter walking into the gym area with a gun.  This undoubtedly saved lives.

All of the students and teachers  responded as prescribed to the lock down.  I can't speak for every classroom, but I know my room was quiet and calm.  Of course students were upset, but they were under control and compliant, which is a huge feat given that we had very little information and lots of rumors were swirling via social media.

The area law enforcement agencies who came in to help us were professional and authoritative but also gentle and sensitive to the situation.  They were thorough but efficient, which meant we weren't stuck inside without any knowledge longer than we had to be.

The church across the street opened their arms to us.  They let us gather in their parking lot to await transportation away from school.  They opened their restrooms to us, they brought us water, and they made sure we had what we needed.

Trimet arrived with buses to take students and then staff away to the staging area, where we could reunite students with their families and begin to figure out what next.

Wood Village Fred Meyer cordoned off an area of their parking lot for us.  That area was used to reunite students with parents.  It was also the place for staff to gather to get food, water and information.  Fred Meyer employees brought us lots (and lots and lots and lots) of water, cookies, veggies, chips...all kinds of things that we hadn't realized we needed.  By that point it was 1 or 1:30 pm and we were all suddenly starving.  None of us had eaten since the lock down started.

Subway provided sandwiches.  Buffalo Wild Wings brought out chicken.  I saw burgers or something though I'm not sure where they came from.  The Salvation Army was there to lend a shoulder, an ear, and make sure we were all staying hydrated.

One of the middle schools in our district, my former school in fact, let us gather in the cafeteria so we had a private indoor place to meet and debrief.  When we arrived there, we had more water, bananas, apples, other food items that didn't really register, and Starbucks had provided coffee.

My friends and family from across the country, who texted and messaged me to check in, sending love and prayers, and who understood when I was short with them and very light on answers.  Knowing you were thinking of us, being able to stay connected to the outside world, meant so much.

My sweet friend Chrissy, who has offered me her car if I need it, as mine is still stuck at work (along with my wallet and keys).  She continued to check on me throughout the day and updated our other friends so I didn't have to.

And of course my incredible parents, who were there the minute I called.  My dad drove out to our area when I knew that I wouldn't be able to take my car and waited in a nearby coffee shop for about an hour until I was able to leave, all so that the minute I was able to leave I could, instead of having to wait for him to make the 30-45 minute drive out there.

Yes, today was awful, but out of the ashes the Raiders and our community will rise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Farewell, My Sweet Pup

Dear Jackopea,

It is hard for me to imagine what life will be like without you.  For six years, you have been an integral part of my life.  You have become a part of me, and now that part is missing.  I am devastated, to say the least.

We picked you up from Family Dogs New Life Shelter on June 10, 2006.  I had been wanting a dog for ages but Ricky didn't.  When he saw your picture he told me he'd be happy to get a dog, as long as it was THAT dog - meaning you.  I'll be honest, you weren't my first pick.  I was hoping for an older, mellower dog, and mellow was not at all a word I'd use to describe you in those early years!  But I wanted a dog more than anything, so home we went.

It took a while for us to all adjust to each other.  I was frustrated with you in the beginning.  You followed me everywhere and got into everything.  I thought about taking you back to the shelter.  I even talked to Ricky about taking you back.  I talked to the shelter about what a difficult time I was having and Lisa gave me some ideas.  And then...I read your file.

You were found on the street as a puppy in October of 2005.  You estimated birthday was May of the same year.  The family that found you took you home and named you Spaz.  Then, in December of 2005 they took you to Multnomah County Animal Services and Shelter.  They said they couldn't handle you anymore.  You were too barky and you knocked over the kids.  We found out later from Lisa that they kept you outside all the time and put you in your kennel for punishment.

Sometime between December and February you were transferred to Family Dogs.  A new family adopted you.  They kept you for 4 months, then brought you back.  The woman showed up at the shelter and said "here, you take him" and left, leaving you standing in the lobby.  Is it any wonder you had an aversion to the place and would run past it as fast as possible on our bike rides?!  That second family changed your name from Spaz to Jacko, and the name stuck.

By the time we came along, you were one year old.  We were your third family in 8 months.  After reading your story, I knew there was no way I was going to take you back to the shelter.  Somehow, someway, we'd work it out.  In fact I looked into your eyes and told you that I wouldn't give you up.  Six years later, I still mean it - I won't give you up, my sweet, sweet pup.

We had a lot of great times together.  You loved bike rides - so much so that we couldn't even say the words around you until we were ready to go!  I'll never forget when we realized you knew what the phrase "bike ride" meant.  I'll also never forget when I realized just how much you could understand.  I told you I was tired and that we weren't going for a bike ride today.  "Not today," I said, and you proceeded to mope around the house like you'd lost your best friend.  "Tomorrow," I said, and sure as shootin', the next day you danced around the bike until I finally took you.  That was also the day I learned that the theory that dogs don't remember things was wrong, at least in your case.

Sometimes we'd take you for a run downtown.  We'd go to the fountain at Salmon Street and you'd play.  You loved that fountain, but only one of it's settings.  When the other settings were going, you couldn't care less about playing, but as soon as the "hose" setting of the fountain came on, you were giddy with excitement.    Of course, it was a long way for a pup to run to get to that fountain, and the first time we took you we thought we broke you!  You hardly moved for the next two days!

Ricky and I took you lots of places.  We took you to the Starlight Parade and to the Milwaukie Daze parade.  We went to lots of different dog parks - you even got to play in a really cool dog park in Bend once.  One time we went to Lew's Dari-Freeze with Mom and Dad, and you got your very own soft serve ice cream cone.

You knew a lot of words, and a lot of tricks.  You came to us knowing sit, lay down, and shake.  Ricky taught you to speak - and then you never shut up again!  Boy, did we regret that one.  We also taught you left and right, wave, jump, sing, go around, off, and I'm sure there were others.  Of course, our favorite trick to show off was "bang!"  We'd point our finger at you like a gun and say "BANG!" and then you'd fall over and play dead.  Everyone loved that trick and you loved to show it off.  Of course, you could only pretend to be dead for a few seconds before your tail would start thumping.  You sure loved that attention!

When we first bought this house, we brought you here a lot while we worked on it.  Each day we'd come to the house, do some work, play in the backyard and then go home.  The first night we stayed here for good, you started whining in the evening.  We couldn't figure out what was wrong.  Finally we realized - you thought it was time to go home.  It took a few days for you to realize we WERE home.

In March 2011 we brought Cody home.  He's a crazy, spastic dog who must be slightly ADD.  Ok, more than slightly.  You loved him and loved to play with him, but sometimes you got frustrated with him.  Cody, for his part, followed you everywhere (hey, payback, right?!).  When you wanted time away from Cody, you'd trick him.  If you went to the door as if you wanted to go out, Cody would too.  As soon as Ricky or I opened the door, Cody would head outside while you bolted back to the bedroom.  You always were too smart for your own good.

There were so many great times, and this has already gotten too long.  Mostly I want you to know that I loved you so, so much.  You were my first baby, and you'll always be my favorite (don't tell Cody).  I miss you more than I can tell you.  Coming home tonight was hard.  Not hearing your tail thumping against the wall of your kennel sent me into a tail spin.  I don't know how I'm going to do life without you, my companion.  The unconditional love, the complete trust and total adoration you showed me has been ingrained on my heart forever.  You were well loved, pup, and now you are sorely missed..

Bedtime won't be the same without you, Jacko-pea.  No one to snuggle, no one to sneak in between Ricky and me, no one to growl at me when I wake him up by changing positions in bed.  My heart is aching, but I am glad you were able to live a full and happy life.  You got to go for your last bike ride with Ricky just a couple of weeks ago, and for that I am so thankful.  You looked so happy flying down the road, and I have to believe you knew how much we loved you.

Goodbye, my faithful friend.  You were so much more than a dog, and you will be missed for always.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, Ricky and I realized we needed to get out of town for a couple of days.  We were a  point where we couldn't relax at home anymore - there's too much to do and anytime we sat down to rest we were thinking "Oh boy, I should be doing _____________."  So we decided to head out of town.

We both love the beach and find it to be one of the most peaceful, relaxing places on earth.  We also enjoy camping.  An added bonus of camping is that it's not nearly as expensive as hotels at the beach during the summer.  So, we packed up our stuff and headed to Cape Lookout State Park in Tillamook, Oregon.

It was a wonderful, relaxing time.  Sleeping outside with the sound of the ocean from just over the berm was delightful.  Cooking over the fire always tastes better than cooking on a stove.  And of course, there was the general fact that we had no place we had to go, no schedule to keep, nothing we had to do besides sit around the fire and relax.

Unfortunately, our vacation was short lived.  We only got to be away for two nights.  However, it was exactly what we needed to refresh and re-energize.  We're back home now, much more able to cope with the things that daily life throws at us.  We're also planning another beach escape for later in the summer!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Workin' 'Round the Ol' Homestead

We've been doing a lot of work around this place!

Yesterday I pressure washed our picnic table in preparation of painting it and making it nice and new looking.  I don't know how old it is - it was a hand me down from a family friend - but it was showing some age so I decided to give it a makeover.  I'll post photos once I'm done.

We also built a new fence yesterday.  The neighbors got new dogs and Jacko had been going crazy trying to get to them.  He figured out that if he pushed hard enough on the fence slats, he could pop them off the rails and get his fat butt into the neighbor's yard!  We had to remedy that as quickly as possible, so we built a fence on our side that is both stronger and with rails facing out, so he can't push his want into the neighbor's yard anymore.

Today was another productive day.  Ricky pressure washed and resealed our beautiful stamped concrete.  With all of the rain, mud, and wrestling that goes on, the seal was wearing quickly and we wanted to preserve the beautiful look of our concrete.  Now it looks as good as the day it was first sealed, nearly a year ago!

Our patio the day it was finished, September 2011

As if that weren't enough, we took the dogs to the dog park.  Once the patio is sealed, no one can walk on it for 24 hours, which means the pups can't go in the backyard except on a leash and out the side door.  We took them to the park so they could run around and have fun as a break between a morning and evening of cooped-up-ness.  Fearful of what a bike ride would do to Jacko's heart, I drove him while Ricky took Cody on the bike.  Apparently we should have been more concerned for Cody!  He was pretty shaky and worn out when they got there, so when it was time to go home we switched.  Cody rode in the truck with me and Jacko got to go for a (slow) bike ride home.  As you can imagine, he was in hog heaven.  Bike rides are few and far between for him now, so this was an extra special treat.

Add to that the 1 million loads of laundry I've done and it's been a pretty good weekend for us!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Ch-ch-ch-chia pet pudding!

I stumbled on a recipe for coconut mango "tapioca" the other day and had to try it.  Instead of tapioca, this recipe uses chia seeds.  Yes, the same chia seeds that you use to grow a chia pet.  Turns out these seeds have a high nutritional value.  They're full of omega-3 fatty acids and loaded with fiber.  Awesome!

The pudding, which can be found here on Skinnytaste, is pretty tasty.  It makes quite a bit - maybe 1.5-2 cups worth? - and serves 2, so you get a good amount in a portion.  I prefer warm puddings, so when I tried it right out of the fridge I didn't like it.  I tried warming it in the microwave but it got too runny that way.  Instead, I let it sit out and come to room temp.  That was perfect.  Sweet, creamy, delicious.

Next time I am going to put more coconut in it.  My mom also had the idea of layering it with various fruits for a fruit parfait.  I'm thinking pineapple, mango...what other tropical type fruits could I use?  Anyway, for a 3 points plus treat it was quite delicious!