What I Love About My Town Walla Walla (Day 5 Slow Down Plan)

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Walla Walla, the town so nice they named it twice. It’s my town. I wasn’t born here, but the second I saw it, I knew it was home. Walla Walla has community spirit, and it was voted one of the friendliest cities AND one of the most charming small towns in America. It’s no wonder I chose Walla Walla as the location for Rocking Autumn!

So why do I love Walla Walla?

  1. Food Truck Night!

Every first Monday of the month from spring until late summer, all the food trucks converge to one beautiful location. It’s a feast you cannot miss out on! Expect to see everyone you know there!

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2. Downtown Farmers Market. Fresh local produce and handcrafted items. Score! (expect to see everyone you know here too)

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downtown-walla-walla-farmers-marketMarket photo taken from City Hall fire escape  by Donna Lasater

3. The picturesque Blue Mountains. In spring when the rolling hills are covered in grass, it looks like something straight out of Middle Earth. (expect to see no one here)

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4. Balloon Stampede Night Glow. It’s magical. (more than half the town will be there)

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6. Downtown Walla Walla, Main Street. Quaint charm meets upscale. Amazing food, eclectic bars, and wineries. Local businesses and upscale shopping.  Swing by Public House 124 for some truffle fries, stroll main street lined with trees wrapped in sparkling white lights, browse through vinyl records at Hot Poop and maybe even grab a giant ice cream cone at Brights. (Everyone you know is here – probably at Starbucks or Coffee Perk)

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7. Macy’s Parade of Lights! It’s a holiday festivity that you can’t miss out on! (half the town will be here)

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8. Walla Walla Public Transportation. Repurposed cable cars. Score! They’re cute…and they ding!

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9. The gazebo at Pioneer Park. It’s simply beautiful and peaceful.

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10. The Walla Walla Sweets!

An amateur but professionally managed baseball team in the West Coast League located in Walla Walla. It’s an absolute blast to take in a baseball game on a warm summer night with the family!

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20 Random Facts About Me

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  1. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a secretary. Specifically, a secretary named Diane. The whole thing just seemed the height of glamour to me.
  2. I have an obsession with organization
  3. One day when I was a kid I decided to make orange my favorite color because orange had no friends. It’s been my favorite color ever since.
  4. I can touch my tongue to my nose
  5. I’m curious about veganism and I want to try it for a year
  6. I’m a shopaholic when it comes to clothes
  7. I like being single, mostly
  8. My favorite number is 17, but it has absolutely no significance. I just like it!
  9. I’m terrified of fish in lakes and rivers
  10. I’m ambidextrous. I broke my right arm three times when I was in grade school. It took into my early adulthood to stop using my left hand to hold a fork.
  11. I was a huge tomboy as a kid
  12. Despite my peppy and outgoing seeming personality, I’m actually quite introverted. I taught myself to be extroverted, but it drains me.
  13. I use the word like more often than I should
  14. I lived in Yakima, WA when Mt. St. Helens blew. I was nine. It’s a day I will never forget from the loud boom that Sunday morning, to the dark, black skies hours later in church and all the ash…piles and piles of it. Because the technology was basically nil back then, it was assumed we were dead in mine and other towns.
  15. I have a hardcore resting bitch face. Until people get to know me well, it’s usually assumed I’m in a bad mood or angry. I tried walking around with a little smile, but I felt like a psycho.
  16. My mom is my best friend
  17. I’m mildly obsessed with cats
  18. I love playing video games
  19. I’ve had my nose pierced twice in the last ten years and lost the piercing both times – due to taking them out to get jobs
  20. I prefer sherbet over ice cream

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60 Before 60

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Have you ever really sat back and thought about the things you want to do and accomplish in your life? Really take stock of all the adventures and goals you have and made them into a tangible list?

The bucket list. There are all kinds of them. Summer bucket lists. Fall bucket lists. Before I die bucket lists.

Mine is the sixty things I would like to do before I turn 60 list. So here we go.

  1. Go skydiving (super cliche, but it’s true)
  2. Zipline through the jungle
  3. Find the person I want to grow old with and/or have an epic romance
  4. Eat a deep-fried Twinkie
  5. Visit Bali
  6. Eat pasta in Italy
  7. Take a photography class
  8. Write a best-selling novel
  9. Visit a hot spring  with the love of my life and sit in it unabashedly naked together
  10. Take a cooking class
  11. Have a picnic in Central Park
  12. See the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York
  13. Listen to jazz in the French Quarter
  14. Vacation alone
  15. Live on the beach
  16. Befriend a complete stranger
  17. Visit a castle
  18. Go clam digging
  19. Eat Boston Baked Beans in Boston
  20. Eat pizza in Chicago
  21. Kiss a beautiful man on top of The Empire State Building
  22. Spend an entire week in a cabin unplugged from the internet and cell service
  23. Learn how to make soap
  24. Be on someone’s bucket list and help them make it happen
  25. Build a Habitat For Humanity House
  26. Go vegan for a year
  27. Go to a silent retreat
  28. Attend a book signing, as an author
  29. Order one of everything off a menu
  30. Have a super fancy dinner party
  31. Watch a play on Broadway
  32. Learn to homestead
  33. Perform at a slam poetry reading
  34. Be a bridesmaid
  35. Learn to sew
  36. Kiss in the rain
  37. Hold an otter
  38. Learn how to make candles
  39. Eat something bizarre in a foreign country
  40. See Manchester Orchestra perform live
  41. Visit Greece
  42. Visit Ireland
  43. Visit Germany
  44. Get my palm read
  45. Try fire cupping
  46. Stay in a 5-star resort
  47. Eat a meal cooked by a celebrity chef
  48. Enter a food challenge at a restaurant
  49. Learn how to make a killer cocktail
  50. Cuddle a koala bear
  51. Hold a monkey
  52. Watch my boys turn into men
  53. Plant a thriving garden
  54. Press my own apple cider
  55. Make a completely home-grown meal
  56. Go to a floating lantern festival
  57. Name a star
  58. Go ghost hunting
  59. Pay for a stranger’s groceries
  60. Own a home

So that’s it. That’s my 60 before 60 list. What’s on yours?

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Starting a Youtube Channel

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As a single mom of two, who has a full-time career and is an aspiring full-time Romance author – finding time to do it all is difficult. Sometimes it’s downright draining. The one thing I’ve loved since I decided to take this journey is the connections I’ve made along the way.

I’ve cherished the advice given to me, and I’ve tried to pass it along to other people I meet.

I’d like to take this process, this journey, to another level. A more personal one. I’d like to share this road I’m traveling with you – on video. I’d like to share my ups and downs, my daily life, some of my tips and tricks, how I manage my time and the things that I learn as I go. And I’ll do it all with my weird sense of humor and a smile!

I’ve started jotting down a few video ideas to get started with, I’ve found myself some official “vlogger” music and I will sit down and take the time to create a channel! I have every Monday off, my children are in school, so what better way to enjoy my quiet time, then chatting with you!

I look forward to sharing with everyone, and if there are specific videos you would like to see, I am always open to suggestion.

Until then,

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I Miss You Dad

I was thinking about my Dad last night. Actually, I think of him every day, but pretty hardcore last night. It was something about the way the air smelled and the color of the sky – it reminded me of him and me when I was a kid.

My Dad was my hero.

He was smart, funny, kind, goofy, generous and so full of life – honestly, you’ve never met anyone with a verve for life like he had. He had this smile that was so infectious and a way of making everything fun. He could charm the pants off anyone (or at least get free stuff at the deli) with his wit, smile and the twinkle in his light blue eyes.

As far as my Dad was concerned, the sun rose and set according to where I was.

When I was a kid he and I did everything together. He took me on business trips, we grocery shopped together, we did art and read Tolkien together. We went fishing and had our own little language, just he and I.

Some things never fail to make me laugh when I think of them. He and I had just completed a rather miserable early morning fishing trip at Lake Wenas. It was cold, foggy and the fish weren’t biting. We’d forgotten the hot cocoa and I can imagine I was being a bit of a pill. On our way home we stopped at a little market and grabbed some sandwiches to eat on the way home – now I can’t remember clearly how bad they were – but those sandwiches were BAD. My Dad rolled down his window and tossed his sandwich out. Now imagine me, wide-eyed, always having been taught to not litter and my Dad looked me dead in the eye, straight-faced and shrugged, “Sometimes your sandwich just falls out the window.”

I laughed so hard, I didn’t know when I’d stop. My sandwich fell out the window too.

One cold November night he came into my room and woke me up, wrapped me in his coat and carried me outside. He held me in his arms in the back yard and we watched in awe as the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis for you word snobs) danced above us in the sky. He didn’t wake my mom or my brother, just me. It was something we shared together.

When we had no money, instead of buying me a Barbie Dream Castle, he built a totally amazing Barbie condo himself in my Gramp’s shop, complete with a carpeted living room, tiled kitchen and loft style bedroom.

As I got older he was still him, and I was a teenager and appalled by his goofy behavior. Waltzing and singing in the grocery store, embarrassing me in front of the bag boy I had a massive crush on, questioning my first boyfriend…literally sixteen years old and he sits the guy down on the couch and the first words out of his mouth were, “So, Roy, do you have a job?” I was beyond mortified.

But these are the things I will never forget. I will never forget surprising him on Christmas Eve when I traveled unannounced from Tucson to Yakima when he first got diagnosed with liver cancer. When he saw my face in the car and he fell to his knees in the snow…there are no words for that. In return, he surprised me by showing up at the hospital for the birth of my first child.

When we had a falling out – and that’s putting it lightly – it was the worst time of my life. So grounded in my need to be right, and so stubborn about making amends – I missed years of time with him. I spent close to three years without speaking to him, just wallowing in anger towards him.

A few posts back I mentioned a night when a wave of calm ran through me. Something was happening here at home, the details aren’t important. But I was having a bad night. Sobbing so hard I couldn’t breathe, I was choking on tears and cries. Something made me call out to my grandfather who had passed a couple years before that – I don’t know, I’ve never done something like that before – but I was desperate for comfort and love. Say what you will, I really don’t care – but a wave of warmth ran over me. A feeling of being surrounded by him came over me and I felt peace. I couldn’t have kept crying if I wanted too, they literally just stopped in their tracks and dried up. I sat on the sofa relishing being wrapped in that warm feeling.

And something else happened. The thought popped into my head that I needed to make it right with my Dad. I needed to suck it up and apologize, profusely, despite what I felt was right or wrong, despite what I held to be truthful. I had to make it right.

I read a study that was done by some psychology researchers, and did you know that we are more likely to apologize to strangers than we are to family? Like the coward I am, rather than call I emailed him. The year that followed was spotted with short, punctuated conversations via email with him. Things seemed to be progressing a bit between us, and then the bomb dropped.

My father was a hard working man. Intelligent beyond comprehension without a lick of college on his resume. However that didn’t stop him from being a teacher at a technical college in a field not many at the time understood, it didn’t stop him from starting his own company in the field of telecommunications, or from designing wine labels for Chateau St. Michele or from writing computer software that literally changed how the fruit packing companies worked forever. It didn’t stop him from starting a new company of just software design for the fruit market. In all that time, he never took a vacation. That man worked.

When he told me that he and his wife were randomly going on a trip to Cozumel, I knew, my stomach knew…something was wrong. Something was indeed so wrong that they left their vacation just days into it and returned home because he was in so much pain.

Terminal. And can I just insert a loud, FUCK CANCER.

The ugly cancer that he had been battling for eleven years was finally winning. Before the vacation, he’d been told that no more surgeries could be done. He had too much scar tissue to cut through after all his other surgeries. The specialized chemo wasn’t working anymore. Cancer was winning.

He thought he had time. Something told me he didn’t. A gut instinct maybe? And off I flew to see him not even knowing how I would be received.

I spent three amazing days and nights with my father that March. We spent hours (despite constant warnings from his wife to rest and not get too riled up) talking and discussing. We talked about everything from my kids to family history to quantum physics (for real) to alien life forms on earth. His wife forced him to bed, asking if we’d finally unlocked the secrets of the universe…we watched horrible B rate movies and screamed at the tv, laughing hysterically. We dug around in his “junk collections” and books and treasures and photos.

I didn’t let him see me cry. But I did…in my bed when we all finally called it a night. Driving to my mom’s the next day – I cried. He was thin, tired and looked old. Far older than he should. He still had that smile and that twinkle and that charm. But he looked sick.

After that, I called often, emailed often. He died just three months later in June.

I’ll never call him and hear “hey babydoll!” on the other end again. I’ll never crack a joke and hear him chuckle and say, “oh gosh.” again. I’ll never see him in that red apron, cooking up a feast at his grill or playing with his grandkids in the yard and the way he started all his sentences with, “well, ya know…” I still feel him. I have felt him around me. I’ve felt his hand on my shoulder, ruffling my hair and cupping my own hand. I know he see’s me, I know he visits and keeps an eye on me. I used to email him even after he passed. I never did delete his phone number off my phone.

I’ll never get him back. But I carry with me everything I learned from him. To persevere. To be positive and full of light. To laugh. To see the beauty in things. To not take myself too seriously. To love my family. To say I’m sorry and to forgive.

I love you Dad.

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