Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Seattle Lovin'

Over the weekend my best girlfriend and I traveled to Seattle for our good friend Tony's wedding. He is someone we have both known since middle school, having been very close friends with his older sister who passed away in 2004. He tied the knot last Saturday to his love, Brianne, and their wedding was phenomenal. She is deeply Catholic and he was baptized as such as a baby, so they chose to get married in a Catholic church. It was so welcoming and bright, unlike my childhood memories of my Grandparent's church. The ceremony, though long, was lovely and I have never seen him so exuberant.
Their reception took place on a boat-turned-banquet facility, with a breath taking view of the Seattle skyline off the bow. It was fun, festive and so welcoming, once again. I could not have been happy for the two newlyweds and wish them all the goodness life together can possibly offer.
Isn't this the sweetest photo ever? I love Brianne smiling at her teary-eyed dad.
Exchanging their vows. (On a side note: I love the photographer's dress!)
Could the view be any better? Incredible.
Most adorable couple. They are both so playful and lighthearted.
And her dress! I loved it.
Myself and Brittney, congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Discerni.

Bill Cunningham

If you have the ability, I strongly recommend the documentary, "Bill Cunningham New York." I just finished this fascinating movie and absolutely loved it.
I used to consider my intrigue with fashion and clothing something of vanity or narcissism, however, Mr. Cunningham put it into perfect perspective for me while answering questions in the documentary:
Fashion is the armour to deal with the reality of everyday life. You can't do away with it. It's like doing away with civilization.
Fashion is not necessary to life, but it makes it more colorful, pleasurable and bright.
On another note, this 80 year old man's fervor, passion and sheer joy towards his job is inspiring. I hope one day to feel the same way.
"He who seeks beauty will find it." - Bill Cunningham

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Loving Memory

A dear friend and mentor of mine passed away two days ago in a bicycle accident. She had been riding on a bike path that weaves its way past farm land and Dorena Lake, near Cottage Grove, when she crossed the highway and was struck by an oncoming truck. I learned of her passing yesterday morning, as I was getting off work. Unfortunately I know of tragedy occurring to young people all too well, but for someone her age to pass away like this is more startling; something I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around. I think a lot of 'Grovers' are trying to do the same thing. This woman was the one who would console us as we mourned losses and tragedies. She was not supposed to become one.
My wonderful husband came home from work to be with me after I had called to tell him what had happened. For some reason her death deeply impacted me (in a way I wouldn't have expected) and I was so thankful to have his comforting presence with me. He drove me to get some flowers, which we delivered to her doorstep, and then he drove me out to the lake to just sit. I explained to him as we walked out on the dam how I find myself drawn to large bodies of water when something difficult or tragic occurs. Its like this primal desire or need to be near something bigger than myself. We sat for an hour or so, letting the sun warm us and the breeze caress our faces as we each gazed at the lake before us and were silently lost in our thoughts.
My thoughts pranced from memory to memory; recalling service projects, ASB duties, leadership conferences, back yard BBQ's, and numerous other high school moments spent with Michele. I thought of my friend Erika, who lives in Austria, and was Ms. Portmann's exchange student my senior year. I wondered if she knew yet. I thought of my 'second mom', Linda, and the upcoming wedding of her son, an occasion Michele and I had spoke about just a few weeks ago. The excitement and joy in her voice as we both reflected over the monumental significance of the wedding for Linda, and how excited we each were for her, but how we also understood her jitters. I thought of Tillamook ice cream: Brown Cow was a staple at ASB gatherings, and an ongoing joke. I thought of our mutual love for Oregon State and how I appreciated Michele's exuberance for the Beaver's, as I identify with that team as well. I thought of friends and classmates and other mentors who would be in tearful sorrow over the passing of this woman. And I cried.
But, I also thought of the immense joy I saw on her face the last time I spoke with her. I thought of how, quite unexpectantly for me, we had bonded in recent years over a mutual and intense love of traveling. I thought of how she had given me tips about my upcoming trip to Istanbul, and how there is a place just outside the city that was a deeply spiritual experience for her as a Catholic. I thought of how she had always made immense effort to be there for people, regardless of what they were going through. I thought about how her legacy is deep and wide, and extends much further than what anyone would probably even imagine. I thought about how deeply she had impacted my own life, without me being consciously aware of it. And I thought, again, about how precious life is.
Its times like these that I realize who I have around me and how much I hope they know I love and cherish them. And I also realize how much I want to give of my own life in order to follow such an example. All we really have to give in life is ourselves, our time. I am reminded again to not waste the minutes that make up my life.
Thank you, Michele, for all you offered all of us and all you gave. You will be dearly missed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday Surprise

I love birthdays. As well as surprises. In fact, if I know a surprise is coming (sort of an oxymoron, but completely possible) I will specifically ask to not be told any of the details. I want to experience the surprise.
Well this week afforded me the opportunity to surprise someone very dear to me.
Landon's birthday is just a few days before mine so it is completely normal for us to do things 'together' for our birthdays. This year was the same. Last week I asked if we could go out to eat for our birthdays. "Sure. Where do you want to go?" he asked. I gave a few options, one of which was Cafe Soriah, a nice Mediterranean restaurant neither of us had ever had dinner at. He chose that one.
Little did he know that a few days before I had e-mailed as many 'favorite people' of his in the general area as I could and invited them to dinner as well. A few couldn't make it (a lot of our friends have children and plans are harder to make when child care is a necessity) but a group said they could. Perfect. You all show up at 6:30pm and we'll get there at seven.
And it was perfect. We were taken back to our table in the garden by the host and as we walked through the back door chatting, Landon all of a sudden exclaimed, "Wait! No way!" Laughter erupted and the surprise was a success.
Our dinner was lovely and delicious, and the company was phenomenal. So glad it worked and he felt special on his special day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Once again, the Fendall camp out was wonderful. Instead of a long, wordy post about the weekend, here are my favorite photos. Enjoy!
Even our vegan relative at the Baron Bacon. Score!
Finnegan. Brushing his teeth. Smart kid.
Stella, Finn's sister, doing the same. Smart family.
Ford tractor.
Great Uncle Roger 'leveling' the wood shed posts. Using a chain saw.
The girls inspecting 'Inch.' A little inch worm we found in the sand box.
Stella, Lucia and Margot. I played for hours with them in this sand box. It was lovely.
Ezrita, with his great grandma Bev in the background. We call her 'GG.'
Four generations and spouses.
Back: me, Ezra, Landon, Steve. Front: Neil, Kelsey, Elliott, Janelle, Dave and Bev.
The Cantrall boys playing in the sand with 'Bapo'
We paused from the goofiness and fun to honor Lolly, Roger's wife, who passed away earlier this year.
Lonnie Fendall, 'bowling' for water bottles as Janelle looks on.
Elliott and Finn. They're something like 5th cousins. Doesn't matter.
The sweet tooth is strong in this one.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Itty Bitty Coffin

I went to a funeral yesterday. The coffin sat on its perch, looking much like a small cooler on a picnic table as it awaited its final resting place. Surrounded by the memorials of other infants lost to death too soon, the yellow rose topped box was an ominous and tear provoking symbol. In deafening quietness it spoke of disappointment, pain and haunting questions. It reminded myself and other on-lookers that the much anticipated little boy was now someone we would have to wait to meet until we are reunited in eternity. That little white box represented my dear friends' dreams being once again submitted in faith and not being returned to them fulfilled in the manner expected and hoped for. It was heart wrenching to witness.
But there seemed to be something else that was represented by that little white, yellow-rose-covered coffin. Amongst all the pain, it still represented love. It still represented hope. And that little body that laid inside impacted more people through death than it might have ever through life. Every onlooker was forced to truly realize that life is precious. Every attendant came face to face with the reality that to love deeply and passionately is to be vulnerable, but it also the only way to satisfy our need to do so. Souls were broken and awakened in the same moments while gazing upon that coffin, and deep appreciation for life itself was experienced.
I would have much rather met Ethan James on this side of Heaven, but I don't know that I would have learned what I have already from him if I had.