Great White North

Whew! I tell you what, sometimes life just seems to fly by. Things have been pretty crazy; we recently went to Canada. Having family there makes for a great little vacation without the hotel expense unless of course you want to venture further than having a place to sleep at night.

In Mexico, Dia De Muertos celebrates the lives of people who have died. It is a true celebration of life, gathering friends and family to remember their loved ones who have passed. While we were in Canada I got to experience the Ukrainian version of this. Blessing of the Graves, starts around Easter and mostly ends up on Mother’s day. (I still do not really know how the date is picked.)

Sunday we went to two different cemeteries where some of my deceased in laws rest. The first being  much smaller than the second. Thorhild is small, a few friends of family who are also burried in the cemetery came. I just loved seeing people Alex grew up with and the elders* and the great memories they share. Before the Priest blesses the graves, the families place food on top of the graves and it gets blessed too when the Priest makes his round. Some people walk and sing with him, some congregate around their deceased family members grave. Then after the Priest is done, everyone eats the food that the Priest blessed. Yum!


I must say, as a kid I always felt punished for not being an actual Catholic. When I would attend church with my grandma I felt like they were selfish and didn’t want to share their bread with people who weren’t apart of the clan.** So being able to enjoy these treats made me feel special and a tad bit more welcome, especially being a Texan and a total outsider in Canada with a gazillion questions.

After we finished at the first cemetery we headed to the second which was really the whole reason for this trip. Gido passed away last year and this was the first blessing. (Gido is Ukrainian for Grandfather.) Weasel Creek is a much larger cemetery, it isn’t owned by a church so it’s a community cemetery. Not only is there good food for everyone to eat but they also place this really cool bread roll with a candle in the middle that goes on the grave as well, Kolachy. It gets blessed then given to someone who was special to the deceased.The day is filled with sweet memories, good laughs, a few tears, but all in all a wonderful experience. I love when cultures celebrate the lives of their loved ones. We all mourn and can be sad that they have left this life but imagine what’s beyond this. I don’t care what you believe in, but to think that there’s something else or an afterlife and someday we will see them again. It gives hope that this isn’t all there is in life. We aren’t just here working our tooshies off to just let it all end when we go in the ground.

Until we meet again, Gido we sure love you,

Tara

* I really just like the word elders to describe older adults, like grandparents or parents of us adult kids. Nothing really Mormon related except the jingle from the Book of Mormon Musical really made the word elder stick in my head. It won a Tony, it must be pretty catchy!

** Not to be offensive by any means! I get it, I am an outsider, I am ok with that. This is all in good fun and humor. Teaching kids to share then not letting them eat your bread made me really just rethink this whole sharing thing. Probably still where my lack of sharing comes from.

Dynamite!

Remember that old show where the guy says DYNOOOO MITE!? Boy was he excited. If I yelled that every time I used essential oils, people would think “that girl is crazy.” Sometimes, I am a little crazy. If you know me well enough to smell me, you know that I smell like DYNAMITE! A little too early for dynamite joke? I am an avid oiler. I use them in the morning, smell them in the afternoon, and use them in the evenings. Eat sleep oil repeat. (If you catch that funny phrase, let me know.) I don’t want this to turn into one of those conversations where you start thinking ~when will she ever shut up?  So I’ll try and keep this short. Thieves Essential Oil is a blend and it originated from a really cool story. A long time ago, before cellphones & fax machines there were plagues. A group of thieves were robbing wealthy families with the plague on their death beds, boom valuables gone. This dates back to the 14th Century in France. There was a bounty to have these thieves captures. What were they using to protect themselves from not catching the Bubonic plague? Once caught and brought in front of the Queen and King, the thieves were offered a lenient sentence if they shared their secret. And thats how dynamite was created! I have been pretty healthy my entire life but in the past few years I have been sick more often and its terrible. I even got the flu. I have never had a flu shot and after getting all the medication from the doctor, they told me that from here on out I was going to need the flu shot. Let me tell you what I am not getting. Let me tell you what I still have not gotten. The flu shot. I knew there had to be something out there to help me stay healthy and I found it. I didn’t have to go through a bunch of hokey pokey stuff and eventually find this, I had a great friend that was using it and she gave me some. Thats how dynamite was introduced into my life. I drink it in hot tea if I really feel cruddy or think I’m coming down with something. I put it on the bottoms of my feet before bed. Also if I think I’m getting sick. When I have been a little sick, I smear it on like chest vapor rub. I have yet to over do it, I have yet to get to that point where I don’t want it anymore. I do not use it every day like drinking water but at that moment that voice in my head tells me I could be coming down with something, I indulge. A lot like people take a bazillion vitamins. I am dynamite!

Did you meet her? She’s a murderer.

You know those moments in life when you lay in bed and can’t go to sleep? Not from stress or thoughts of things you could be doing instead of sleeping. The one thing that recently kept me awake was pure excitement, like the first day at a new job or the first night when you adopt a new dog. Something fantastic is going to happen and you just can’t wait for it.  This past weekend I went to camp. You know it, we went as kids in the summers, we sang songs, roasted marshmallows and sometimes snuck out to see how scared we would get trying to go down to the lake. This was a little different, I’m a grown up now. Plus, it isn’t about learning to tie knots or picking out which leaf is poison ivy. Luckily I know how to do both of those. Camp this time around was completely different yet it was at an actual Girl Scout Camp outside of Austin, Texlake. There were speakers, lectures, workshops, and some really cool sponsors that offered their services to all the campers. The Texas Style Council rented out this little gem and it was just a few hours from home. I left Friday afternoon, I really could have used a boat with all the rain but that did not stop me from paddling. I’m so thankful it was convenient, especially after getting smores wasted and driving home Sunday. The weather actually cleared out late Saturday & Sunday was beautiful. There was this one moment after yoga Sunday morning where I really stood there in this euphoric moment, standing in a little bit of sunshine grazing me through the trees and staring at the lake. Embracing that moment. Even though I was in my pj’s, hadn’t brushed my hair, let alone my teeth, I really was embracing this. It was early and we just bonded over yoga. There was no yoga when I was here last.    TXSC is technically a conference. In past years they were what I would call more swanky, in comparison to camping. It’s a conference, for the internet world, for us gals exploring the world and sharing it through social media… CAMP is short for ~Create a meaningful presence. Friday started with taking some actual head shots, fancy, eh? There was dinner with a keynote speaker followed by a mixer. Even though there wasn’t a bonfire there was a mixer with lots of small talk. I felt like everyone told everyone that they were bloggers. There were some other people in the mix, photographers or specific type bloggers… all & all how am I supposed to remember everyone if we are all bloggers. This is where I thought I would be a comedian. Saturday morning at my early bird class I decided to respond about what I do with, “ya know what, I think Im going to tell you I am an axe murderer. How great & scary would that be?” … We giggled a bit then I used it a couple more times later on, until someone pointed out how terrible it actually sounded coming from someone else. Did you meet Tara, she’s a murderer. Thats horrible! Holy crap what a terrible idea. So I opted for something a little more mellow, I decided to go with professional skateboarder like Tony Hawk minus the skateboarding. Ha. I tried saying professional roller skater but then someone said responded with, “Oh like a derby girl”. Pffft, I would love to be a derby girl and kick some roller ass but Im not a fake so I opted to just keep telling my murderer story. It seemed murder-memorable.   I feel like there are so many good stories I could share but maybe I’ll save those for a different post. When I got home, I’m certain that I smelled like a Girl Scout who was just at camp all weekend. A lot like that younger brother smell when they played outside all day. Regardless of what it was, I felt accomplished and motivated. Inspired to continue this journey we call life. Now, to work on my murderer pitch. These last two photos were from the jamboree Saturday night. It was inspired by Troop Beverly Hills and all the actual chicks that were Girl Scouts. I wish I could tell you my favorite patch but all of them were so awesome. Im a Pepper.

Everything is bigger in Texas

Well it’s March and deep in the heart of Texas we all know what that means. It’s time for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. It is the biggest Rodeo in the world. There is also the Stampede up in the great white north (aka: Canada) but it can’t compete with the size of our HLSR. I forget what the exact number is but last year the number of volunteers that make this thing function was 26,000. Don’t quote me on that but it is definitely way up there. Why am I sharing this with you?

I am one of these crazy 26,000 people that donates my time to help the kids. The HLSR isn’t just for fun or the concerts but it is also an opportunity for lots of high school kids to get scholarships for college. Since 1932 when the Rodeo began, it has committed an estimated 375 million to scholarships. It’s really cool when we have previous scholarship winners attend our volunteer meetings and share their story. It really warms my heart to see what we do is going to something so true and real. You actually see these little humans grow and become a part of society and turn into awesome adults. These kids are grateful, we need more of these people in this world. For the month of March I give my time out there, not with cows or the sheep but on the Wine Garden committee. I also volunteered with the School Art Committee. When I was in grade school my art was actually picked and showcased at the Rodeo. I did not win a scholarship but I still have the art and the ribbon I received. The difference with these 2 committees is that the Art committee actually raises money for the artwork that is auctioned off. Fun fact about Tara, I am a terrible sales person. The wine garden committee donates proceeds from the wine we sell back into the agricultural side of the scholarships. Didn’t think about that did you? Wine being agricultural and all. We are fancy, aren’t we, ha!

While I type this, I might be a little on the tired side. I’m very fortunate that my schedule is pretty flexible and I can donate my time to what I like to call participating not just volunteering. Since March 2nd I have already donated almost a weeks worth of time. However there are no paychecks, we joke that we all get paid the same.  There’s actually so much work that goes into creating such a grand event, we even have something called the “no fly zone”. Basically this just means it’s a really busy area on the grounds and there are no deliveries during certain times or golf carts zipping around. But when things get stressful or the weather is downright nasty, the best phrase we all say is “its for the kids.” To be continued…



Here’s Lara checking out some momma cows & my girlfriends under our umbrella hut. Cowboy hats, friendship, & wine. 

Where in the world…

Every place we travel, Alex always falls in love & always wants to live there. He is a true Aquarian, he has forever wanderlust. Well this time, I have to admit… Lake Tahoe, you won my heart. We’ve been on the road for over a week. Attended an event called Ellismania in Vegas that’s going to require its own post because it’s just too crazy & goofy to try explaining here. Now we are exploring Lake Tahoe then heading in the direction of home but with a very exciting put stop in Page AZ.
Lake Tahoe is beautiful, nestled right at the edge of Nevada & California what I would call “up north”. There’s some cool Marilyn Monroe stories & friendly people in the bustling South Lake Tahoe. We stayed down south, ate our way around & enjoyed the trees & views. Alex also loves the trees. We were going to take a Gondola ride to the top of the mountain but it’s 50 bucks a pop & since we are both pretty jewkranian neither of wanted to splurge on it. I even tried asking for the geriatrics discount but the man behind the glass ticket window didn’t buy into it.
We opted for lunch at a quant little place called Driftwood cafe. We should have tried this place yesterday… We went somewhere else & Alex did not enjoy his meal at all. I felt bad. Mine was ok, nothing special, but I like food & when I’m hungry, I don’t care what it is as long as it’s edible. Let’s go to China!
So with our 100 bucks saved, we’ll spend it somewhere else. Who wants to ride a gondola anyways when they use the word “epic” in there advertising. I swear it’s used to create hype towards foreigners. What American do you know that used the word epic? I don’t know any, only commercials & Canadians. You know what else I got instead of the gondola ride…. This awesome photo of a fountain & a gondola in it. Notice something pretty perverted too?

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Laughter scissors and wine.

You know the story of the ugly swan with no friends who never gets invited to swim in the cool pond? Growing up I struggled with being that ugly duckling. I didn’t really keep in touch with many childhood friends but over the years I have kept the best ones. I also think that the relationships I have had really prepared me to be the best Swan I could be today. I have created more adult friends than I think I ever had in my adolescence. These friendships have truly made for the best friendships.

I have always been a really late bloomer. I didn’t really develop my lady goods until my early twenties. I didn’t have my first serious breakup until then either. It seems like the trend was lots of things happened to me in my twenties that lots of other girls experienced before they were even legal to drink. Then when all these young ladies started getting married I wondered what it was like to participate in the craft work of a wedding. The movie with Katherine Heigl came out and she was in 27 weddings! Thats when I realized that I was actually thankful I hadn’t been around that block already. Holy cow! Except the Hindu wedding she was in, I totally want to participate with one of those. They are so beautiful and fascinating, I guess I need a Hindu friend first.

In an adult fashion, I have a girlfriend and her boyfriend who recently purchased their first home. Erika is beautiful and bubbly, she’s like a ray of light but not in the Madonna way. She and Jennifer are childhood friends and I admire the sisterly bond they share. Jennifer is who introduced us. Jennifer is planning a wedding and I recently was invited to her shower which was the coolest shower you could imagine. It was with a chef and a long rectangular table, there was some stations for cooking and great wine. So last night Erica invited Jennifer and myself over to see the new place and help her decide where to hang stuff. What fun, totally my cup of tea. Erica tried to persuade me with wine but little did she know I was more excited to do some decorating and giving my opinion on where to hang stuff, wine was just a bonus.

I tried to surprise Jennifer and when she text me about joining them, I simply replied “possibly.” I like surprising people. Little did I know she too had a surprise for us. Jennifer brought all of her wedding invitations and the little things that go in them. She is the epitome of creativity. I love anything that come out of Jennifer’s hands. When she pulled everything out for us to see and help her, I squealed with delight. Im sure these two girls think I am such a goober for being excited about helping with sometime so simple but I don’t have 20+ weddings under my belt.

Last night was fun, I loved the conversations we shared and picking on Erica for having cats. Being a dog person its always fun to ruffle a cat ladies feathers. I told her one of her cats had a look on his face like he would lick her face off when she dies. Another cat looked like it was tripping on acid with its cool big green eyes. Then there was another but wait, was that the first cat? It looked like the first cat but I thought that maybe there were more than 2 and they were taunting me. Did she say she had 3 cats or 5 cats? One is one too many, whew. Where is a dog when I need it to protect me?

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It’s only just begun.

Life flies by doesn’t it? If you disagree you’re probably about 23 and haven’t experienced this blur feeling.

Just like a lot of Texans, my day job is slanging oil and gas but by night I’m a gypsy. I love yoga, painting, essential oils, horoscopes, Mercury , podcasts, jewelry, the list is actually really really long. My time gets divided between my hilarious husband, three dogs, our 5 acres deep in the heart of Texas, and all the things I love, whew! Time management isn’t my strong point either but I am a great list maker. Alex laughs that I can do around 18 things all at once but at any second when one more thing tries to weizel it’s way in, it throws off my whole system.

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