Monday, December 20, 2010
Of course we had to take some self-portraits with trees in the background (Phil's most natural habitat). We did get some pretty funny ones, but alas, this one squeaked by. It becomes painfully obvious why even photographers should hire photographers, what with all the awkward posing and weird angles and funny hair going on in all the other pictures. But this one managed to make the cut, and we had such a short timeframe in which to get it done, this really was our only option. (Thank goodness for tri-pods).
Now, if we can only co-write a Christmas letter and get it out before Christmas, THAT will be a Christmas miracle.
In the meanwhile, I am hoping your week is very happy and full of lights, good food, excellent music, and your favorite people.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I am really starting to see the upsides of being a minimalist.
If you have nothing, then it can't be stolen from you, and then your life doesn't get flipped on its head for a day or more in the event someone smashes your car windows in (2 blocks from Starbucks), and runs away with your purse, briefcase, work computer, portable hard drive, and legal files.
Yeah, thats right, in the middle of the day. On Friday. At Greenlake.
I have recently described life to someone as a series of losing and then finding your joy again. That's just how it feels sometimes. For various reasons, things can get us down (weather, life transitions, losing a loved one, poor health, bad relationships, etc.). But then things come around again, too, and sometimes in a major way, and hope and joy are restored. We are returned to our standard "happiness set point."
Well, on Friday, I experienced this cycle beginning to end all in a matter of hours. I lost faith in the human race, only to have it restored bit by bit throughout the day by complete strangers. It started with me meeting up with my friend at Greenlake, on my way into work. We chatted at the Greenlake Starbucks for a bit, and then walked the lake. When we returned to our vehicles (we were ironically, parked one behind the other), the glass in my rear passenger door was missing. It turns out, so was my briefcase with my whole legal life in it, and my purse, with the rest of my life in that. They had both been under a blanket behind my passenger seat.
Gulp!! In a matter of minutes, my sweet friend and I had called 1) the police, 2) Wells Fargo to shut down my bank cards, 3) and Phil to let him know lunch was not happening on this day. Phil arrived moments later and within a few minutes, my remaining cards were closed. (Later in the day I would put a security alert on my credit with Equifax, who then automatically sends the same information to TransUnion and Experian. I also filed a claim with GEICO, my insurance company who I love).
Anyhow, by the time I called my bank, the perpetrator (aka jerk, petty thief, low down dirty dog, hereinafter "perp") had already been on a spending spree to a tune of over $1,000 dollars! Best Buy, check, chevron, check, QFC, check, Redbox, check (really, guy? Redbox? You couldn't even sport a few bucks for your own movie rental? Oh that's right, you don't plan to return it.)
I passed my card and the purchase information to the officer so he could collect videos. The officer that met with us at Greenlake then went immediately to Best Buy to review video and do an initial investigation. I was quite sure that is where it would stop. After all, there were no injuries, it was a "small" crime compared to others (although it still totaled over $5,000 in losses and damage).
As soon as the officer left, I received a phone call on my work phone from a number I did not recognize. Katherine was on the other end, reporting that she had my purse after it had been dumped at the side of the road on Aurora. She found my name and googled me, and voila - tracked me down. (This is when you love the Google). Long story short, my sweet friend accompanied me to Aurora, where we talked with the postman who actually found my purse and delivered it to Katherine's business. Then we chatted with Katherine, who actually helped me look around the area for my briefcase! She went so far as to interview neighbors about any suspicious activities or vehicles alongside the building that day. (What a sweetie!) Then she gave me her contact info and said she would call if they found anything else.
Then we got a return phone call from the Detective assigned to the case! What? He was already investigating?! He said that if he was provided all the details from my bank, including exact times of purchase, he could likely have video and possibly a match by the end of the day. Throughout the afternoon we swapped emails and phone calls as I passed him all the information I began collecting. My bank, Wells Fargo, and specifically Robert, at Wells Fargo, was Johnny on the Spot with investigating and reporting on their end all the charges and attempted charges.
Phil made numerous phone calls to schedule an appointment to have my glass repaired, and by the time we had visited my bank, Phil's work, and a few other places as we sorted everything out, we were both hungry and tired, so Phil treated me to a wonderful little meal on the water. It was perfect, except for one interruption: another phone call from a number I did not recognize. Turns out Ted was on the other line. I had hoped against hope that I would receive a phone call from someone who had discovered my briefcase with my paper legal files intact at the very least. Ted reported that he had found my briefcase alongside a parking lot and bus stop on the other side of Greenlake and that it had my laptop and what appeared to be some important papers still inside. Wha!!!!!!! One more bit of hope restored with Ted's phone call. He gave me his number and address when I asked whether I might come by after our meal. So Phil and I went and met Ted in person when he graciously returned my legal life to me. My hard drive appeared to be the only thing missing, but for whatever reason, the laptop remained! Could have been so much worse, so I didn't have to shed a tear even though the loss of the hard drive was devastating. (160 gigs!)
I received yet additional calls from the Officer (Brad) who had visited both Chevron and Best Buy and gotten preliminary looks at their videos. Prior to his visits, he had had me make some phone calls, which I did, to match store I.D. numbers (as they show up on your bank statement) with actual locations. Turns out that is a bit of a chore, but we figured all of them out, even the Redbox, where the perp attempted to "rent" a Michael Jackson Wii game that I'm sure he had no intent of returning. Luckily I had locked down my account at this point so the transaction was declined. As the Redbox lady told me, "Well, you're lucky - this could have been much worse - that game costs $50!" - what she didn't know is that that would have been the smallest charge of the day even if it had gone through! But she's right, at least I don't owe $50 for a Michael Jackson Wii game that I didn't even get to play. Look at the bright side!
Officer Brad made several additional phone calls and sent emails and kept me in the loop the entire day. Phil and I ended up meeting with him the following day when he came by to take prints off the laptop and provide us with a copy of the Best Buy video. I was so impressed! He was clearly a master of working with people to get the information that he needs - even some of these stores were not the most helpful, but it is obvious he has studied human nature and communications as a natural part of his job for years, which makes him very good at it and gently nudging people into cooperating with him.
The end result was that it could have been much much worse - a huge thank you to Katherine and Ted for being such upright, honest, folks, and to Robert and Brad for being good at their jobs. We'll see where things go from here. I could be a minimalist next week with no purse, or maybe I'll just start wearing clothing covered in pockets to carry all my stuff, or maybe I won't walk Greenlake any more, or maybe Brad will catch the guy and myself and everyone else at Greenlake or around the city affected by the perp's bad behavior will see justice ... whatever the result is, my faith in people was restored as quickly as it was lost.
P.S. The new automobile security plan being devised by my boss, an adventurous soul, involves lock boxes, tear gas, and insanely loud car alarms that are triggered by the sound of breaking glass. I will report on how that goes as well. :)
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
This past weekend, we had a big family work weekend in Pendleton, Oregon at my brother's house. He's been remodeling his house, but now with wife and new baby, it was time to jump him forward a few notches (i.e. past the demolition, dust, noise, toxic mold, and other joys created and/or discovered in a remodel). With 8 people and approximately 140 man-hours over the course of a weekend, to say it simply, we GOT A LOT DONE.
Phil and I demo'ed what will be the bathroom on the main floor, and tore out all the tile on the walls, the wall board and the shiplap (like lathe and plaster). It only took 6 or 7 massive bins to haul out the debris from that room. Phil was a trooper and has scratched up hands, a black lung, and goopy eyes to prove it. That was really the worst of it for Phil and I, about three hours of breathing dust and choking on the absence of air in that room. Once we got it cleaned up, the breathing of everyone throughout the house improved. But Phil gets the demolition award for the weekend.
The other main things accomplished by everyone over the course of the weekend: ceiling board in the kitchen installed, walls and ceiling in kitchen and dining room primed, massive leaky dining room window caulked with about 10 lbs of caulk, remainder of the countertops tore off and replaced, new granite tile countertops installed, tin ceiling tiles installed in part in the kitchen, trim installed in upstairs master bath and bedroom, tub surround finished, tile countertops and top of tub surround grouted, tile backsplash installed, slate tile installed on fireplace and wood trim installed and finished, ending with a massive clean-up effort throughout the whole house. Aside from several tons of debris deposited at the dump, thousands of pounds of materials and fixtures were either installed or moved out of the house and put in the garage or in the basement for the remainder of the project. When we left, the house was actually LIVEABLE and clean. Hurray!
Now, from a distance again, we are just sending Justin all the mojo he may need for finishing up some of these projects over the course of the next week before wife and baby return to the house! Merry Christmas, Kristen and Gracelynne! Hopefully it feels a little more like home when you return!
From this (above), with all the supplies spilling out everywhere in the living room throughout the house ....
The room that Phil and I demo'ed ... this is actually massively clean compared to the 'before' or 'during' stages!
Dustin, showing us that his hands are still alive despite cutting tile outside on the tile saw during freezing weather!!
We need YOU!
Did I already say that I LOVE MY FAMILY?!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
It's the little things that add up to feeling like a puzzle piece that has finally found its home.
There is nothing like finding love and friendship in someone with similar values, goals and interests. Exploring Seattle restaurants, running together (even up hills and in the freezing cold), talking (we can never get enough), reading, turning a collection of squash and pumpkins into soup, exploring nature and new places on foot and with our cameras ... it's the little things that fill our days and in the end make our lives so rich and full.
I am so thankful for beginnings, for joy and to be sharing all the little things with someone!
It reminds me to share a fabulous quote that was on a recent Thanksgiving card I received from a colleague:
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. - Albert Schweitzer