Category Archives: Tim

Semicentennial Photoblog

Every once in a long while, a person reaches a milestone of importance. People graduate from various schools, achieve promotions, invest in important relationships, and generally press ‘further up and further in’ (as C.S. Lewis would say) as they make their way through life.

I've always liked Lewis' Last Battle, in spite of the troubling theological implications.

I’ve always liked Lewis’ Last Battle, in spite of the troubling theological implications.

For all my seeming potential, my life has been somewhat lacking in distinction. I graduated from college after nine years and only by the skin of my teeth, and I’ve achieved only modest promotions in my career. I did manage to acquire a beautiful and talented (trophy?) wife and five awesome children, but it is hard to say how much of that redounds to my personal credit. If there has been any consistent pattern to my life, it is that I’ve generally benefited from the achievements of others and stood on their shoulders.

You've got to admit, I did have lots of potential, if nothing else.  (That's me on the right.)

You’ve got to admit, I did have lots of potential, if nothing else. (That’s me, stalwart, on the right.)

But the relentless march of time ensures that certain milestones come to every person, if they can manage to simply survive, and so yesterday I celebrated my 50th birthday. There are many who were surprised by this, since I was voted “Most likely to be killed by a low-flying blimp” in several student publications.

My ancient foe, seeking another victim.

My ancient foe, seeking another victim.

Since Kathy is away in Michigan, caring for her Mom in her convalescence, I was left to my own devices to celebrate the big day (or so I thought). Little did I know that Kathy’s arm is as long as her minions are resourceful.

Not Kathy's actual minion horde.

Not Kathy’s actual minion horde.

The day started in a promising way — Tina R. offered to drive the JNROTC boys both ways, as a birthday present. Since David and Will’s Drill Team meets at 0-dark-30, this was a significant sacrifice, and it allowed me to sleep in for an extra 3 hours of burrowed bliss. Eventually, I showered and rushed off to church to pick up a meal that Nicole O. made for David and me, since it is a known fact that neither of us can do much more than boil water. En route, I received a cheerful call from my oldest daughter, who wanted to be the first to officially wish me ‘Happy Birthday’. It was so good to hear from her, and to be encouraged by the way God is blessing her ministry among the freshmen, there at college.

Arriving home, I discovered that Kathy’s minions had made a breakfast delivery in my absence. Breakfast biscuits, hash browns, Diet Coke and orange juice … and (most importantly) a goodly stock of Nutella!

Breakfast of Champions, albeit not especially long-lived champions.

Breakfast of Champions, albeit not especially long-lived champions.

As David and I happily munched our breakfast sandwiches, I confided: “This is going to be a good day, I can tell.” (Some people probably think that my intuitive prescience is legendary.)

I decided to open the huge birthday present that had arrived the day before. It turned out to be a really nice pressure-washer, just what I had wanted (but had not really expected or hoped to receive)!

My actual pressure washer, rated at a respectable 2030 PSI.

My actual pressure washer, rated at a respectable 2030 PSI.

Soon I got word that my namesake nephew and his bride and toddler would be joining me for dinner — a dinner that I was now able to host, thanks to Nicole’s generosity! Next, I heard from Peter, who wanted to take me out for a birthday lunch. I managed to persuade him and John to come to my house for lunch instead, since I hoped to draft them into assembling my pressure-washer.

I even put out a tablecloth to lend a certain dignity to this auspicious day.

I even put out a tablecloth to lend a certain dignity to this auspicious day.

Whipping up a salad, sharing the Shepherd’s Pie that my Mom made for me, and breaking out the Black Forest birthday cake she thoughtfully created, we sat down to enjoy a hearty and delightful lunch. Determined to treat me to some kind of lunch, Peter kindly brought me take-out Panang Curry from a nearby Thai restaurant, which I lovingly stored in the fridge for a rainy day. Rainy Fall days come pretty often in Western Washington.

John needed to build up his strength for the upcoming engineering work in assembling my power-washer.

John needed to build up his strength for the upcoming engineering work in assembling my power-washer.

Once Peter and John had successfully assembled my pressure-washer under my critical eye, I leapt into action on the driveway. Although ten years of moss and embedded grime cannot be easily erased, I feel that I made some significant difference with my first pass. I’m excited to try it on the back patio, which is covered in moss.

One of these sides is different from the other; I hope you can tell which.

One of these sides is different from the other; I hope you can tell which.

Exhausted from my labors, I sat down and spent more than an hour reviewing Facebook birthday wishes including a particularly amusing and touching video presentation by Daniel, and a sweet email from Sarah, my youngest daughter. Then I briefly played my computer game until it was time to drive David around town. (David seems to require a lot of transport, these days; I think it is a plot to incentivize us to allow him to drive as early as possible.)

How many cake decorators can spell out the age of the celebrant in sweet cherries?  Pretty much only my Mom, I think.

How many cake decorators can spell out the age of the celebrant in sweet cherries? Pretty much only my Mom, I think.

Timothy, Sunny and John Mark arrived around 5:30, and we sat down to a delightful meal of pineapple chicken and stir-fry, followed by more Black Forest cake. Noticing our sink full of dishes, Sunny kindly emptied and then refilled the dishwasher, while Timothy vainly tried to keep pace with John Mark as he dashed around, looking for trouble. I looked on with my best “I’m helpless and besides, it’s my birthday” facial expression.

I’ve been practicing that facial expression for days in the mirror, and I must say, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Somehow I neglected to get a picture of Timothy and Sunny and John Mark -- here is one from earlier this Summer, instead, with a bonus cameo of my brother and his lovely bride.

Somehow I neglected to get a picture of Timothy and Sunny and John Mark — here is one from earlier this Summer, instead, with a bonus cameo of my brother and his lovely bride.

With John Mark loudly declaring he was ready for bed, Timothy and Sunny decamped, and were soon replaced by Don, Jeff, Peter and John, who came for games (and more Black Forest cake). In a surprising burst of birthday generosity, they even permitted me to win the game (we played Chaosmos).

Round up the usual gaming suspects.

Round up the usual gaming suspects.

It was a pretty good day. It makes one almost want to live another 50 years, if only in hopes of securing another such celebration.

Truth be told, I am very thankful. Thankful to so many who helped to make this a memorable and satisfying birthday, and thankful to my Sweetie for engineering much of it from afar. Most of all, I’m thankful to my God, who has given me breath and sheltered me in His hand, all these years.

Project 365, Day 282
Tim

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Birthday Compromise

Over the years, I’ve discovered that things are not always black and white, ones and zeroes. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn, since by nature and by vocation I tend to be very definite and decisive. Much as I would prefer otherwise, sometimes truth lies in the synthesis of disparate ideas.

This was brought home to me by the celebration of my birthday. Yesterday, while I was at work in the city, my parents showed up here at home with a Shepherd’s Pie* and a Black Forest Cake to commemorate my 50th birthday.

You can imagine David’s puzzlement, as they insisted that my birthday is on the 6th of October.

“But, Grandma, Dad’s birthday is on the 8th.”

“No, we celebrate his real birthday,” my Mom scolded him. “Not two days late, like the rest of you.”

At some point in my early teens, my Mom forgot which day was actually my birthday and accidentally celebrated it on the 6th. Unwilling to admit she made a mistake, Mom has steadfastly insisted on her birthday conspiracy theory, ever since. My birth certificate, my passport, and early childhood memories all agree that my birthday is on the 8th. But my Mom casually dismisses all this. “That doctor didn’t know what he was writing, as drunk as he was. Who would know better, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or me?”

Poised for action, but dare I celebrate my birth on a spurious day?

Poised for action, but dare I celebrate my birth on a spurious day?

There is really no answer to such a claim. Clearly, I dare never run for President, lest I spawn my own birther movement.

But if there is anything that I enjoy nearly as much as Nutella, it is my Mom’s delectable beef stew pie and exquisite Black Forest Cake. So when David and I got home from AWANA this evening, the thought of that pie and the cake in the fridge was almost more than we could bear.

“Tonight we should taste one or the other, of the pie or cake,” David demanded.

“But it isn’t my birthday, yet,” I wailed, weakening in the face of our mutual hunger.

Then an idea struck me. If my Mom (who made the pie and cake) insists that my birthday is on the 6th, and all other documentation shows it on the 8th, then what can I do but compromise and celebrate on the 7th? We agreed to save the cake for tomorrow, but to break out the Shepherd’s Pie* tonight. It seemed a reasonable synthesis.

Mmmmmmmm.

Mmmmmmmm.

Project 365, Day 280

Tim

* I know that the true definition of a “Shepherd’s Pie” is quite different from the beef pie that my Mom makes, but this is the name by which I have always called it, and I’m not about to start changing now. There are limits to my ability to compromise, after all.

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The Sound of Change

This was a very strange day at work. My employer has decided to stuff an extra 60 people into the office building floor where I work, and so we were all told to box up our stuff and get ready for the corporate equivalent of a Fruit Basket Upset. When the dust settles, I will occupy a somewhat smaller cubicle on the northwest side of the building, rather than the northeast side which I have occupied for the last seven or eight years.

Ordinarily, the only time (at work) that you hear people putting stuff in boxes is if they have been laid off, or are quitting. It is a sound full of negative emotional impact, especially if you’ve ever been laid off (which I have) or worked for a small company which was bought out or which closed its doors (which I haven’t). So, all day long I kept hearing the sound of people packing and would subconsciously tense, before remembering to tell myself that it was only a move.

Around four p.m., the moving guys showed up, and began hauling away the belongings of those who had already left for the day. I tried to look alert and actively productive, for fear of being mistaken for furniture, and hauled away to some dark storage closet. As I was leaving, I decided to take a quick ‘cubie’ (less narcissistic than a ‘selfie’) to remember the otherwise insignificant beige cloth-covered box in which I have spent so many of my waking hours, since we moved upstairs in 2007 or so.

I was able to put all my junk in four boxes, which I thought was pretty good.

I was able to put all my junk in four boxes, which I thought was pretty good.

I can’t say I’ll miss that cube. It faced onto a hallway leading to a high-trafficked conference room, and I was constantly being disturbed by the comings and goings of people with nothing to do but stand around outside conference rooms, conferring noisily. I can’t wait to move into my (admittedly-smaller) digs, where I’ll be on a cul-de-sac that is en route to nowhere (hopefully not a metaphor for my career).

Project 365, Day 246
Tim

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A Sequoia Side Detour

Sarah and I got a call from Tim and Daniel this afternoon.

Tim: “We’re looking for the Sequoia National Park. We don’t have good coverage, so can you look it up online and tell us where to go?”

Me: “Wait, where are you? I thought you’re taking Daniel to school.”

Tim: “There’s time for that later. We’re driving away from the coast now. That’s why I’m calling you. Help us out.”

Me: “Um, okay, what do you want to know?”

Tim: “We want to see big trees. Something impressive, but we only have a few hours, so we’re not too picky.”

LOL! No problem. I’ll get right on it.

Google Search – Big Trees, Sequoia National Forest.

Daniel knows how to pose.

General Sherman tree is 275′ and weighs 4.1 million pounds. Yikes!

Tim - a tree hugger wannabe.

Tim – a tree hugger wannabe.

Looks like they found something worth seeing.

Impressive.

Impressive.

As Tim says, there's just no way that a picture can really do justice to these amazing sights.

As Tim says, there’s just no way that a picture can really do justice to these amazing sights.

Daniel – you are heading for greatness!

Living Large!

Living Large!

Tomorrow they’ll try to fit in something mundane like college.

Project 365 – Day 235
Kathy

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Conquering Landscaper

We made great progress on the overgrown bushes and trees in the front yard on Sunday. But there’s always more work to do, and it’s amazing the life lessons you learn from gardening. Two things I’ve thought about recently:

- Weeds can be easily plucked out or deeply entrenched and require serious work to remove them [Like the sin, struggles, and temptations in my life)

- Some plants are pretty (like ivy) or produce delicious fruit (like blackberries), but they can grow with abandon and often destroy things in their path. [There are so many "good" things in life that can become idols if I place them ahead of the Lord and my role as a wife and mother.]

We’ve been clearing out some greenery from the side of our house. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to feel any ownership of the landscaping in the yard.

Me: “It looks like we’re going to stay here a little while longer, I think we should plant some flowers we like.”
Tim: “After 10 years here, you’re just now feeling settled?”
Me: “Um.”
Tim: “Well, I guess you decluttered the garage and reorganized most of the house, it was time to move to the yard.”
Me: “Yes. That’s it. Or maybe I was just too busy trying to keep track of 5 rascals (homeschooling, housework, and life) and never got around to actually looking at the yard.”
Tim: “You’ll have 3 kids in college in the fall. Plenty of time to work on new things.”
Me: SOB!
Tim: “I’m going inside now.”

After cutting down two little trees that had grown up alongside our lovely Birch by the mailbox, I began to cast my eye around at what else we could get rid of. There was a tall shrub on the one side of the garage that came to my negative attention. Not particularly attractive, not helping with privacy, constantly needing pruning but dead inside, it needed to GO.

Of course, deciding a big tall (read thick roots and stump) bush needs to be removed and actually doing it are two different things. Another life lesson! Daniel and I did some sawing at the base of the bush before he reluctantly (or was that cheerfully) left me to go off to work. I started to work on the branches since I could tell there was no way I could saw through the thick base myself. Pretty much all I did was make a big mess on the driveway and destroy the bush.

The kids: “Mom, if you thought that bush looked bad before…”
Me: “Quiet and grab some hedge trimmers. We can do this!”
Kids: “Sure thing, we’re just gonna go call Dad first and see when he’s coming home.”
Me: “Traitors!”

I never think to take Before or even Middle pictures. It always looks so bad, I am embarrassed to document it on film. Later, I wish I had captured the “Oh Dear” of the befores.

When Tim got home, I begged him to help me cut down this stupid bush.

Tim: “Really, Kathy, you could easily do this yourself with the saw.”
Me: “Great, so you’ll help me?”
Tim: “If I do this, will you stop bugging me?”
Me: [crossing fingers behind back] “Of course, dear.”

15 minutes later.

Tim: “Man, this saw isn’t even touching the trunk of this bush. Bring me some rope.”
Me: “Thank you so much!”
Pause, pause.
Me: “So the, ‘Kathy you could have easily done this yourself’ was NOT totally true.”
Pause, pause.
Tim: “Harrumph.”

LOL! I had to go pick up the kids at their middle school lake day, so I slipped away while Tim was working. When I came back the bush was cut down, and Tim was victorious!

Got muscles, will prune.

Got muscles, will prune.

Very thankful to get that ugly shrub out of there. Still have some roots and stump to deal with, but that will wait until later.

"I will step on you, little bush."

“I will step on you, little bush.”

Project 365 – Day 217
Kathy

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