Take the Day Off, America!

According to a US Travel Association Study released in August, Americans left 768 million (Yes, million!) vacation days on the table last year.  They found that 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation days last year (https://www.ustravel.org/press/study-record-768-million-us-vacation-days-went-unused-18-opportunity-cost-billions).  That is mind boggling. I am not proud of this fact, but I have to admit […]

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Seeing Through the Memories of Your Heart 

Our book club recently read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Less by Andrew Sean Greer.  It was a strange and beautiful story.  Toward the end, the main character is reflecting on giving up a younger lover as he grapples with the disdain he has for his aging body. One of his friends points out that this lover did […]

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I’ll see it when I believe it.

Beliefs are an amazing thing.  Though intangible, they have a weight and power all their own.  They can propel us to great heights or they can keep us chained to the ground.  What is a belief after all- it is just a thought you have over and over until you take it to be the […]

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Empathy Gap – Don’t Fall In

As soon as I shut the door, I knew. I heard the click of the lock and my stomach sank to my feet. I collapsed forward. My forehead hit the top of the window giving me an unobstructed view of my purse and both sets of my car keys sitting prominently on the passenger seat […]

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A Girl’s Best Friend

Girl and boxer pups sleeping on a sofa

I remember when we picked him up. After months of looking, we found him at a breeder in Omak.  My husband has a knack for tracking down the best pups.  Dog-less for a year or more, we finally decided it was time for our daughter to have her own dog.  After much negotiations on breed, […]

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Making Memories Under the Big Sky

Icicle River Leavenworth Washington

The summer before 5th grade, my father took me on a week-long backpacking trip in Glacier National Park. We planned the trip over the spring on our every-other-weekend visits.  My dad pinned a map to the wall in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment. Back then, the map shifted from grey to a deep […]

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Have You Thanked a Teacher Lately?

I have a confession to make.  I have a box in my garage that I take out every time I am wondering about whether I am making a difference in this world.  It’s not full of trophies.  There are no framed awards in the box.  Nothing is engraved or embossed.  It is a box of […]

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I Got This, Mama!

In a couple of weeks, my daughter will begin her senior year. Stamped in my mind and on my heart is a picture of her decked out in pink from head to toe; smiling from ear to ear; proudly carrying her backpack filled to the brim with fresh school supplies on her first day of […]

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Two Sides of the Same Girl

When I was a little kid, I felt strangely like two different people.  In retrospect, I imagine that other children of divorce felt the same way. But it was the 70’s and divorce was rare in our Catholic community, so I didn’t have anyone to compare my experience with. You see my parents were diametrically […]

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Stronger Than I Thought

Colonial Cemetery Savannah GA

It was a spring, Saturday morning in Georgia.  My father must have been away on business because, had he been home, I would never have realized my own true power.  It was just my stepmom and me.  Our blended family was new and more like a salad than soup. Still getting to know each other […]

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Finding the Purpose of (My) Life

small brown mammal in a pasture

I’m starting with the really big questions this week, which always seems to coincide with the end of a vacation in which I get a little breathing room to think big thoughts.  This particular vacation was riddled with laughter and that, too, breaks up the log jams that clog my thinking.  I read a beautiful […]

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The Magic of Motherhood – Part One

Being a mom is a humbling experience.  I have learned more from my daughter in the last 18 years than I learned in any classroom. And I have spent 28 years of my life in a classroom learning, just saying.  But I don’t think I ever felt more ignorant, incompetent or unprepared as I did […]

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Just Beneath the Surface

Intaglio

I have been reminiscing a lot lately.  I am not sure if it is the passing of my father, my daughter’s impending senior year or just the end of the school year. Whatever it is, I find myself smiling – a lot.  I have such great memories.  Rebuilding our fire pit reminds me of all […]

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Change is hard but not changing is harder…

Sometimes things just happen, good and bad, that you just can’t predict. Despite my propensity for planning and my natural tendency toward being a hunter, I have learned that sometimes you have to roll with the punches and trust there is a lesson you need to learn. I didn’t always feel this way. No, this […]

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Evidence of a Well Spent Youth

mountain valley

This morning I awoke before my alarm.  I rolled onto my right shoulder and felt that familiar ache from the base of my clavicle to my shoulder joint.  I knew once I got moving, it would loosen up.   I’m at that age where I swear I can pull a muscle while asleep.  It’s disconcerting.  Of […]

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Never Pass Up A Birthday Party

baby

I was invited to a birthday party yesterday.  I never pass up a birthday party.  I would not have missed this one for the world.  The grandmother of the little Sweet Pea, who was turning one, is an old friend of mine. Although I have to say that she and I might have different time […]

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Grandpa’s House

Greek man working at fishmarket

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things was spending the night at my grandparents’ house. They lived in a small house on Queen Anne Hill. Though back then, from my tiny eyes, it was an enormous mansion.  It was so different from our cookie-cutter suburban rambler in north Seattle.  When we […]

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My Heart

My daughter is a junior this year. She is our only child. The good Lord blessed us with only one child but, in so doing, He blessed us every single day after.  In just over a year, she will leave us to go off to college and start this new adventure. The part of her […]

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The Truth Will Set You Free

grave marker from famine in Annagh Ireland

I was two months into my first year in a new school when I found myself hunched over a lunch table in the staff room praying for an earthquake. Not a big earthquake. Loss of life and limb was not necessary. I didn’t even want property damage. I just wanted everyone to get stuck in […]

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Making Things Right

girls talking on a ferry

When I was a new teacher, I applied for a job in a small town in northwest Washington. I remember driving into town wearing my most professional skirt suit, firmly ensconced in my big old pickup truck. It was a beautiful drive from my house 52 miles away on country roads they brazenly labeled highways. […]

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A Life That Fits

Great Blue Heron on shore

In the fall of 1988, I started my teacher training at Seattle University.  Armed with a newly printed Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Alaska, I enthusiastically set off to change the world – one sophomore at a time.  Every morning I drove my 1984 Dodge Ram pickup in rush hour traffic […]

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Do It For A Friend

Alaska wilderness

As I was driving home from work tonight, Corey Hart’s Never Surrender came on. You probably will only know this song if you were embroiled in teenage angst or young adult drama in the mid-1980s. It was the theme song for that.   I remember it because I recorded it on cassette tape and sent it […]

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Don’t Cry Over a Chipped Tooth

little girls 1967

My daughter missed her dentist appointment this week.  In general, she is a very responsible teenager. I only bring it up because every time I hear the word dentist, I can’t help but run my tongue over the edge of my top right front tooth.  You see, I have a chip in my top right […]

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First Love

Little girls 1971

My first was Charlie. You always have a soft spot in your heart for your first. He was a blonde who had the subtlest hints of caramel. I loved running my fingers through his hair. He was short, a bit overweight and not at all athletic but he made up for that in enthusiasm. He […]

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Get Some Perspective

Eagle Skagit River

I had a very rocky start to my Tuesday morning. Keep in mind, I am a morning person. I jump out of bed no matter how early it is and greet my dogs (I even named one of my dogs Buttercup just so I could say “What’s up Buttercup?” every morning- that’s how happy I […]

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There’s Something About Sticking with It

Young Eagle Skagit Washington

I am going to preface this post with “No children were harmed in the making of the story” (well not permanently anyway).  If you were a child of the 1970s or before, you will appreciate this story. If you are a Gen Xer or a Millennial, there is a chance you might be horrified- at […]

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Looking at Life Through the Keyhole

Grandpa having tea party

Over the course of this week, as we prepare to celebrate my dad’s life, we have all been poring over pictures.  And I remember so much of what I forgot.  And I see things I didn’t know but they are so obvious to me now.  We know our family members because we have these long […]

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Lean In

Dad with girls 1967

I was sitting on a plastic couch in a hospital waiting room sobbing in that heart wrenching way you do when you are racked with grief. I had just finished making those difficult phone calls to friends and family, when one of my sisters sat down beside me. She put her arm around me as […]

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It’s the Little Things

Dad with daughter 1960s

I think at the end of a life, it is the little things you remember most. The seemingly inconsequential moments become indelibly written on our minds and hearts.  Oh sure, every relationship has big moments.  There are marriages and births, graduations and new homes.  And every relationship has good times and challenging ones – even […]

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Old Year’s Reflection

Catherine Matthews Images Trademark

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions.  I think it might be my very well-hidden but absolutely well-developed rebellious side. Oh, I keep it in check for the most part but a rule with no meaningful basis, even if self-imposed, brings it out in me. (Don’t get me started on the Don’t walk […]

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Like Looking in the Mirror

Greek woman

A couple of years ago, all of my sisters descended upon the eldest’s home in the sweltering heat of mid-July in Arizona.  We came to sort through boxes of pictures my mother had kept. Though I offered to collect and digitize them for all of us, I am grateful for my eldest sister’s wisdom in […]

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Picture Books

Career woman 1940s

Before the digital age of photography, we printed our pictures and mounted them in albums. We had wedding albums, graduation albums, christening albums and vacation albums. We made scrapbooks chronicling every detail of our child’s life (I only got to age three and it took nine albums, so I entered a 12-step scrapbook recovery program […]

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Seeing the River for the Rocks

Skagit River with boulders and trees

I think people fall into one of two categories naturally. Oh sure, people can change. People can even change back and forth. But we all have a fall back type we are most comfortable with. I think people are either hunters or gatherers. I’m not talking about actually hunting (although I am not opposed if […]

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Growing A Family

Girls hugging Grandma at Christmas Party

Last night I went to my favorite Christmas party.  I have been attending this party for 26 years, though it has been going on for much longer than that.  In those years, I have missed it twice: once when my daughter was only three weeks old and once when that same daughter got sick (on […]

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Redefining the Win

Girl with basketball

I am a very competitive person. Now, I know what you are thinking. You’ve heard that before usually from someone who is really nice and says it with a slightly self-deprecating laugh as if they are trying to warn you that Mr. Hyde’s appearance is imminent. So, no. I am competitive like one of those […]

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Living in the Shadow of the Mountain

Mount Baker and Puget Sound from Mukilteo Beach

I have lived in the shadow of the Cascades for most of my life. Slogging through traffic on a clear day, I am struck by the deep blues of the sky framing Mount Baker in the distance.  Shadows across the white peak shimmering in glacial blue.  Snow dusting the foothills and highlighting the rocky crags. […]

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So Much to Learn, So Little Time

Books about photography

I love school. I love it so much in fact I have spent 42 years of my life in school and another 6 supporting schools so far. Basically, I was 4 the last time a whole year went by and I was not in school.  When I was a babysitter, I even used to hold […]

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A Gift

Child's painting

On the walls in my office hang three signed limited edition Judi Rideout prints, one signed limited edition Jon Van Zyle print and an original watercolor by an artist who shares my last name.  Guess which one I love the most. If you guessed the water color on construction paper, double matted in peach and […]

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Standing in the Middle of a Bridge

Eagles landing on a deadhead on the Skagit River Washington

Last weekend, I found myself once again standing in the middle of a bridge at dawn.  My youngest sister was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and I took her up to see the Eagles on the Skagit river.  There was a brief misunderstanding wherein she thought we were going to see Joe Walsh at […]

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It Really is the Thought That Counts

Birch Trees on the Skagit River Washington

When I was a little girl, my father gave me a copy of Marguerite Henry’s All About Horses.  He worked for a publishing company and loved books so it wasn’t unusual for me to get one for my birthday or Christmas.  I loved this book. In fact, it is sitting on my own daughter’s bookshelf […]

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Gratitude: It’s not just for Thanksgiving

Mom and daughter in corn maze

Twenty-nine years ago, I was a student teacher in my home town.  As you can imagine, I was so enthusiastic.  I vibrated with idealism.  I waltzed into my first Biology class ready to dazzle them with my knowledge, certain that I would hold their attention easily for 55 minutes.  It was science after all. Who […]

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Love in Black and White

Greek old man

I think this is my very favorite picture and that is saying a lot given the sheer volume of my collection. I didn’t take this picture but when I look at it I truly wish I had met the man who did. When I look at it, I wish I could give him one of […]

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Live Your Passion

Osprey taking off from nest on Everett Waterfront

I think in just about every situation we can learn something.  It has been my experience that it’s usually something we need to learn right when it is time to learn it.  It is not always something we want to learn. It has also been my experience unfortunately that the universe is ready when it’s […]

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The Eye of the Beholder

field covered in frost

When I was a kid, my dad gave me Masterpiece for my birthday.  It was a board game in the mid 1970’s much like Monopoly except that players bought and sold artwork in an auction.  I don’t remember playing the game even one time.  But I remember the game.  I remember the cards.  Each had […]

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Lighten Up!

Rowers on the Montlake Cut passing a seaplane

I’ve always wished that I could be one of those women who goes through life with nothing more than their cell phone in their back pocket ensconced in one of those really cute Kate Spade cases with a sleeve for their drivers license and debit card. A quick swipe of mascara and lip gloss, hair […]

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A Different Light

Field recently plowed in Skagit County Washington

Last Sunday morning at 0530, I found myself next to an empty field on the outskirts of Concrete, Washington.  No, I was not deposited there after an alien abduction.  Also I am too old to pull an all-nighter (debauchery-filled or otherwise) so I was not in the clothes I wore the day before, if you […]

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Picture Meaningful

oars on the water

I like really old stuff. I have so much antique glassware my husband recently told me he thought we might have to fortify the foundation of our house. Hyperbole not withstanding, I have a lot. I like drinking out of glasses my grandparents drank out of. I like eating off of plates that were used […]

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Confessions of a Closet Artist

Rusting Crane on the Snohomish River

Confession time. I was a science major. There, I said it. It’s out.  What a relief!  Does that mean I am not also an artist?  Well frankly, I sure thought so.  In fact, I could make you a chart quantifying my non-artistic characteristics. (My friends are shaking their collective heads right now both in exasperation […]

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