Nov 232015


I’ve had a sad heart lately. Last weekend a coworker and friend passed away unexpectedly (she was only 46). The same day I got the news, I found out another friend was moved to hospice care and even though I knew his time was coming soon, it was still on the forefront of my mind every day.

Our friend Chad was diagnosed with cancer at 46 earlier this spring. We’d just seen him and his lovely wife for dinner and board games at our place, then there were some cryptic posts on facebook about doctors and…then Michael got the phone call from Dawni. It was cancer. Stage 4. It was a huge shock. He was so young and vibrant and healthy.

A few years ago Chad had gotten serious about his health and was working out a lot and looked fabulous. Him and I would talk about fitness a lot and I was proud of his progress. This news was such a shock I don’t think either Michael nor I really comprehended what it meant.


He did some treatment. Surgery wasn’t an option but it seemed like the treatment was helping. It was slowing down the growth of the cancer and the updates in the facebook group seemed hopeful and positive.


In April they threw a celebration of life party. It was so wonderful! Tons of Chad’s friends and coworkers were there for a buffet lunch at a space they rented at McMenamin’s and people got up and shared hilarious and touching stories of Chad. I know it was hard for him, but Michael got up there and shared some stories, too. It was a positive, upbeat experience, not a sad one. Still, the updates following this event seemed positive and I was hopeful that he’d have more time than the doctors predicted.


Summer came and they were going to throw a birthday BBQ for Chad but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute when he had to go back into the hospital. Even though we were all prepared for the inevitable ending, when it was clear it was getting close I was still in denial I think. I kept hoping and thinking that he’d get better and have a little more time. That’s what I kept thinking and wishing–just give him and his wife a little more time. More time was always on my mind.

Here is an adorable picture of Chad and his wife in the photo booth at our wedding last year:


Love it! :)

I know it’s been a hard road for them both. Selfishly I related to Dawni and her pain, thinking about how it would feel if it were me in her shoes. It broke my heart. I couldn’t imagine everything she was going through. And to potentially becoming a widow before she was 40.

In October we had the chance to see Chad for the last time. He was home from the hospital finally. We took dinner for Dawni and prepared ourselves to see Chad in a hospital bed at home. But he wasn’t! He was up and moving around and came downstairs and the four of us hung out talking and sharing stories. It was fun and positive and uplifting–not the sad visit we had been preparing for. I’m so thankful we were able to see Chad, in good spirits and on a good day, and tell him in person how much we care.

I know this was really hard for Michael. They’ve been good friends a long time and it was a shock for him. It’s hard not feel sad and helpless when something like this happens.


I’ve known Chad for about 7 years. In the beginning it was just at the Brewfest every year. He came out and met up with us, whatever group we were currently with, and we’d all spend the day drinking and talking and laughing. Chad was an awesome, fascinating human being that was intelligent and could have a conversation about anything. I loved talking to him about beer, books, movies, pretty much anything. He was so smart on so many topics! And had a dark, sarcastic sense of humor.

Then him and his wife joined my book club for a little while–I’m not sure they were into the same books that the group liked (they both liked sci-fi best) so I understood when they stopped coming. We read some pretty weird books as a group! But when they were part of the group I loved Chad’s insight into whatever novel we were reading. I think part of that was that he was a writer himself.

He published his book a few years ago and I remember feeling so proud of him! I was impressed he went out and did the hard work to publish it himself, instead of being discouraged by the publishing industry (like I was). He was courageous and put himself out there.

“Brothers in Darkness” by Dalton Chad Everett:


Here is my review from 2011:

“This was a good book! I’m not really a fantasy/sci-fi book reader but this was a good middle of the road type of book that would appeal to non-fantasy readers too. The story is interesting and fast paced. I read it in a day. The main character is likable and the ending set up the continuation for another book–maybe two more? I enjoyed the local flavor since I live in Portland. The details were accurate, the writing solid. I enjoyed the Joseph Campbell-esque journey of the hero that came to play in this book. That was really well done.”

I encourage all my readers to check out his book and give it a read. It was a really good book and I’m so glad he has this legacy!

Since we saw Chad in October I’ve been checking the facebook group frequently, and every morning I logged in I held my breathe just a little bit, expecting to get the news. It’s such an odd thing to be watching for news like this. This past week was hardest, when we all knew the time was coming very soon. He was moved to hospice care and the family gave frequent updates on the facebook group of Chad’s progress to the other side.

There were funny tidbits, stories of lucid moments, and the outpouring of love and memories of everyone in the group was sometimes overwhelming to read. But at the same time, wonderful. Chad had clearly touched many people in his short life. Then late Saturday night, the final update. :( I’m glad he was surrounded by his family and people who loved him, and could help him pass on in comfort and peace.

I’m really sad for everything that has happened; I’m sad for his wife; I’m sad for Michael losing a good friend. I wish I could find something more eloquent to say but…words aren’t coming to me for some reason. They aren’t having a funeral or memorial; his Life Party was it and I get it. He’s donating his body to science at OHSU, which is commendable. I guess this is my tribute to someone who was taken too soon.

All of my personal experiences with death have been sudden, unexpected death. Living with regret for not having that one last opportunity to say how you feel to that person. That kind of grief is hard to find closure for. I’m glad everyone got a chance to say their final words to Chad and tell him how much he meant to them, before he passed.

I wanted to share what Michael posted about Chad because it was so sweet and heartfelt and pretty much summed up a good man that the world lost too soon:

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing some of the things that Chad taught me in person with him. We were able to reflect on them together.

Chad was the first man that I can remember that really let me know that it was Ok to admit that you weren’t good at something – even if it was something relatively simple and mundane that we all take for granted. Chad told me that he didn’t like driving a car because he wasn’t good at it. I remember being dumfounded when I heard this because prior to this statement, I just thought there were two kinds of people in the world – those that can afford cars and those that cannot. Chad could afford a car but he chose not to drive whenever possible. To put it another way, his ego was strong enough to deal with whatever you thought of this decision that he made. As a result, I just tell people how I feel about things now and I’m not concerned about what the reaction is because I know I can handle it.

Chad also taught me that it was Ok to like comic books as an adult. Chad always liked comic books and I mean always – long before they were all turned into blockbuster films by Hollywood. And he wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed about it. Chad taught me that it was Ok to like whatever you like and you didn’t need to hide that from others. Years before it became a TV show, Chad turned me on to The Walking Dead books which I have stayed current on. I love the series and would recommend it to anyone.

And most importantly, Chad taught me that you could have fun at a job that you didn’t like. People and the relationships that you develop there are bigger than the job you’re doing. You can make friends with your manager and you can remain friends with them after you leave the job.

Chad may be gone but he is not forgotten.

I’m writing this post because I needed to say something. I feel like everyone should have met Chad because he was such a cool guy. Hug your loved ones, tell them you love them and appreciate them. Let the petty shit go and try to live in the moment. No one really knows when that time will end. And do me a favor, read Chad’s wonderful book. You won’t be disappointed.

Nov 032015

My reading goal for 2015 was to read 140 books! As of now I have about 15 books to read before the end of the year in order to reach my goal. I think it’s doable. I’m not putting pressure on myself to reach my goal, but I think it will happen just naturally.

Here are my previous goals:

As you can see, my goal increases a little bit each year now that I’m religiously using GoodReads. It’s been really helpful to keep track of books I’ve read (because I forget). Here are a few books I’ve read and enjoyed lately:

1 ) How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims

This book was so good I ended up buying it to I could really sit down and read it without feeling rushed, highlight and make notes and make Michael read it too. :)

This book was SHOCKING and horrifying and really sad and gross in a lot places. It’s all about the kids growing up with “helicopter parents” who are growing into adults who have had no adversity, have no life skills and cannot do anything for themselves. The stories that were told in this book were extreme, but they sure opened my eyes and made me think “I do NOT want to do this!” I mean a 20-something who has her first review at work and it isn’t great review so her MOM calls the HR department to complain?! The kids who are at college and their parents GO TO COLLEGE every weekend to do their laundry?!

It’s about how somewhere parenting changed from preparing kids for life to protecting them from everything. These kids don’t have street smarts, don’t know how to do basic things…it is so sad. The author calls it “invasive parenting” and that is growing a “nation of wimps.” Kids need to make mistakes, then need to learn from them and “they also need to be prepared for when things go wrong.”

“Millenials have been called the ‘Everyone Gets a Trophy’ generation for good reason.”

“Moms seem so over-involved in solving problems for their children instead of letting the kids learn to work it out.”

The book is written by the Dean of Stanford admissions. Sometimes it was a little heavy on the college-prep aspect, which didn’t interest me as much, but the book was well-written, well-researched and easy to read. And boy was it eye-opening.

I’ve seen it with friends who have kids–their kids are so over-scheduled the parents are frazzled, have no time, the kids have no down time and it certainly doesn’t sound like something I want for our little family. Somewhere parents have stopped allowing free play and expression of creativity, or allowing their kids to struggle and figure things out. Play is narrated (something I also read about in the book “Bringing Up Bebe”, which is also great), parents step in if there’s any disagreement between kids on the playground. The kids aren’t taught to solve their own problems. “They (parents) grasp for control in every way, and don’t allow their children to figure it out.”

“Having things done for you and having no control over those outcomes can also lead to a kind of ‘learned helplessness.” Instead we should be teaching  “self-effacy, which is the belief in your abilities to complete a task, reach a goal, and manage a situation.”

After reading it I talked to a friend of mine with older kids (like 7 and 9) and she said her kids each have one night that they plan the family meal, buy the groceries and cook it. That’s so awesome! The book does give ideas on how to fix/avoid the trap of over-parenting and teaching kids, even little kids, how to be self-sufficient, questioning and problem-solving. I loved the examples (broken down by age groups) on little things you can do to grow their self-effacy, self-esteem and teach them life skills.

I loved this book and like I said, I will be reading it again and making more notes. I agreed with so much of it and found it really helpful to break it down, spell out what to do and there were a ton of other books and articles that sounded interesting in the appendix. Recommended!

(I speak a good game and sincerely hope I can avoid being a helicopter parent but at the same time…reality can be different. I find myself sometimes being a helicopter dog parent to Bella. :) )


2 ) At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen 

I didn’t like this book at first. The main characters weren’t likeable at ALL. The story premise seemed a bit silly too–socialites from Philadelphia in WW2 going to Scotland to find the Lochness Monster. Silly. But…..I kept reading. Similar to “Water for Elephants”– I almost gave up on the book and then about 40% through it, it took a turn for the better.

I realized there was more to the story and I grew to like Maddie, the main character, loathe her husband Ellis and his friend Hank (well-written villains) and her story of self-discovery. It ended up being a good book!


3 ) Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I like this “alternate” reality type stories. One of my favorite movies is “Sliding Doors”–if you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s a little dated, but a cool and interesting twist on “what if.”

In this book the main character, Georgie, is a sitcom writer who gets a huge break for a project she’s been working on. It’s nearing Christmas time and the original plan was for the family to go to Omaha for the holidays to be with in-laws. Except this is an opportunity of a lifetime. Georgie and her husband Neal are already struggling, but this tips it over the edge. He takes their two daughters to Omaha and she stays behind to work.

Distraught and seeing her marriage unravel, she goes home to her mom’s house and uses the landline to try and call Neal, who won’t answer her texts and phone calls. Except it turns out when she’s calling him on the landline they are going back in time to when they were first together and going through a possible break-up that ended up leading to their engagement. Can Georgie fix their marriage by going “back in time”? Or was this opportunity supposed to show her they weren’t meant to be together?

It was a good, fast read and not as “chick lit” as it sounds. I liked the book a lot.


4 ) Still Waters (Sandhamn Murders Book #1) by Viveca Sten

First book in the series and it’s a great start!  Thomas Andreasson is a police detective in Sweden, getting over a recent divorce after the death of their daughter from SIDS. A body is found on the shore of his childhood island and he goes to investigate. Soon other bodies are stacking up and he’s immersed in the investigation–with the help of his best friend Nora and the other police in his department. Despite the dark subject matter it’s a quaint book with well-developed characters. I was slightly annoyed by the ending but that didn’t deter me from wanting to read the second book when it comes out.


5 ) My Life in France by Julia Child

I fell in love with Julia Child after reading Julie & Julia years ago and then seeing the movie. I hadn’t known much about Julia Child and that book was a good little teaser. Since then I’d been interested in reading more about her and finally read her book. What a delight! The book was an easy, fast read and the voice was so engrossing! I’ve never seen her TV shows but now I want to see if I can find them. Her personality jumped off the pages of the book.

The book is a memoir of her marriage, life in France, Germany and Norway, and how she learned how to cook. When her and her husband Paul arrived in Paris she immersed herself in the culture and learned the language (as she did everywhere she lived–even at advanced ages!).

“It’s easy to get the feeling that you know the language just because when you order a beer they don’t bring you oysters. [pg 34]”

The book is humorous and just wonderful. I can’t get over it. It was fascinating to read about how she learned how to cook, how she fell in love with French cuisine, and went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

“Of course I made many boo-boos. At first this broke my heart, but then I came to understand that learning how to fix one’s mistakes, or live with them, was an important part of becoming a cook. [pg 104]”

She made friends and eventually fell into cookbook writing, almost by accident. This was the most fascinating part of the story, I felt. It took nearly a decade for “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” to be published (there were many trials and tribulations leading up to it!). Her and her coauthors diligently created recipes and Julia tested and re-tested each recipe in her own kitchen to perfect the recipes AND also make them “Americanized”. Basically, she was discovering that a lot of the ingredients the French used weren’t the same as the ones available in America. She did tons of research to find equivalents. Even basic things like flour–the kind of the French used to make these amazing recipes didn’t quite translate the same way with the American version. So she had to test and change things and figure out different quantities and types of ingredients so the recipes worked. The book was a true labor of love.

“Our goal was to eat well, but sensibly, as the French did. This meant keeping our helpings small, eating a great variety of foods, and avoiding snacks. [pg 262]”

She writes beautifully about the French lifestyle and approach to food and every time she described dishes she created my mouth was watering. It was an inspiring, uplifting, amazing book and I’m so glad I finally read it!


6 ) Faceless Killers: A Mystery (Kurt Wallander Mystery Book 1) by Henning Mankell

You may have seen this show on Netflix, in fact I tried to watch the series and couldn’t get into it but after reading the first book and enjoying it so much I will try again! Kurt Wallander is a detective in Sweden, estranged from his daughter, recently separated and soon to be divorced from his wife, and his father is going senile. He gets a big case that seems to have a lot of twists and turns and no real solutions, and the bodies keep adding up. First, an elderly couple are murdered in their farmhouse–discovered by their elderly neighbors. It’s a brutal scene that just gets worse. Then a Somali refugee is murdered. How are these two cases connected?? The story is good and has a lot of twists and turns. I really like the main character and the other supporting characters. Good start to a series!

6 ) The Dogs of Riga (Kurt Wallander Book 2) by Henning Mankell

This was a fascinating story! In this one, Wallander is leading an investigation in Sweden then ends up taking him to Latvia. The time period is 1991, just after the Berlin Wall comes down and the European countries are still feeling the effects of the Cold War. The Latvian investigator who came to Sweden to help Wallander with his current case, goes home and is murdered. Wallander goes to Latvia to assist them with the investigation and soon he’s deep in the thick of Cold War-esque espionage. Spies and everything! It was a good story and I liked it even better than book 1.


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