operation 16

I am in the middle of my fifth annual scholarship drive.  In an effort to spread the word, I am posting the specifics here today.


On August 15, 2002, Scott Hanan and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.  As gifts to each other, we created lists, “Things I Want to do Before I Die.”  Scott’s list of 72 goals was sprinkled with the obvious—be 100% debt  free , drive a car on a super speedway, learn to fly fish.  There were also a few that surprised me—take three college-level history courses for fun, read the Federalist Papers.  There are items on the list he accomplished—build part of an addition to our house.  And unfortunately, many he did not, including number 16—Put someone, other than our kids, through college.

Scott and Cole 2005partial list from 2002


Scott died in 2005 and over the past eight years I have come back to the list.  For all the goals and dreams, number sixteen has always tugged at my heart with the most force, perhaps because it is something that Scott’s spirit can still accomplish—with just a little help.  Every bit counts and I would appreciate your donation.

The Scott Hanan Memorial Scholarship Fund

Checks should be made out to:  Auburn Community Scholarship Fund

please write “Scott Hanan Memorial Scholarship” on the memo line and mail to:

Judy Lutton

Auburn Community Scholarship Coordinator

Auburn High School

800 Fourth St NE

Auburn, WA  98002

For your reference, the Non-profit 501(c)3 Tax ID # is 916001640.  Don’t forget to have your company match your donation!!

Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would like to help with this effort.

On June 30th, 2005, my life took a drastic turn.  I believe the lesson to be learned is to balance missing Scott without missing life.  Help Scott check number 16 off his list, and in doing so, help a student take a drastic turn, a turn toward the future.


Scott and Cole 2005


When I was five, I asked my dad how we knew that Jesus was born on December twenty-fifth.  He said, “We don’t know for sure, but it is a day that people have agreed upon to celebrate.”

I thought a lot about this, and that night I started saying happy birthday Jesus at the end of my evening prayers.  At five, I was concerned that perhaps Jesus was born on May fifth, or July twenty-third.  What if the actual day went by and no one acknowledged it?  I decided I would wish Jesus a happy birthday every single night for a full year, that way I would be sure not to miss it.  A year passed, and I kept wishing Jesus happy birthday.  It became a habit, a ritual that lasted thirty-one years.

The night of June 30, 2005, I found out my husband had died in a motorcycle accident.  That night, I stopped praying.

I realize that makes me sound petulant and melodramatic.  Grief, with its soup of anger and fear, forced me to reevaluate and create a new relationship with God.  It was a slow process.  Eventually I acknowledged three things.  One, God has a plan for me and my children.  Two, Scott’s energy was and always will be a force in our lives; his spirit is safe, and I believe, blissfully happy.  Three, I had an opportunity to rebuild and create.  This opportunity was a remarkable gift, unmistakable proof of God’s pure grace.

It is coming up on the eight-year anniversary of Scott’s death.  I still don’t pray.  I’m not bragging about this.  I realize this is, perhaps, not ideal, but I don’t ask God to keep my children safe.  I don’t ask God to guide me toward joy or peace.  I don’t ask God to take care of people who are hurting.  I believe He will do his job and carry out his intentions without me pointing out the people who need help.  My goal is to remind myself daily to have faith in his plan; complete faith that when things make the least sense to me, they somehow make the most sense to God.

In the wake of the bombings in Boston, I am staying focused on three things I believe to be true.  One, God is up to something.  He is working in the lives of the victims as well as the perpetrator(s).  Two, the darkest moments are disguised opportunities to rebuild and create, proof of God’s pure grace.  Three, Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, and Lingzi Lu are safe and blissfully happy.

winter weight

I am not the kind of woman who obsesses over her weight.  In general, I am pretty lucky, with a fairly fast metabolism, and tend to gain weight slowly, if at all.  I rarely weigh myself but did hop on the scale yesterday, and discovered I had gained three pounds (FINE! I gained five pounds, you’re all so critical.)

When I told my husband I gained three (or five) pounds, he brushed me off by saying, “You hide it well.”

YOU HIDE IT WELL!  You hide it well is like saying, “Yes, your are an enormous elephant, but clothes camouflage your heft.”

So I said, “Yeah! Well, you have a receding hairline, and you can’t hide that AT ALL!”

Ok, I didn’t actually say that because I didn’t think of it until right this minute, damn!  What I did was take a Hershey’s bar from the cupboard, sit down next to my husband on the sofa, and proceed to slowly eat the candy.  perhaps not the best strategy in hind sight.

This conversation reminded me of a similar event with my first husband.  Those of you who follow my blog know that Scott died in 2005.  I remember a time when I told him I had gained three pounds.  His response was to laugh and say, “Three pounds?  I can poop three pounds.”

OK, I know that’s gross, but it totally made me laugh, although it did not make me feel better about my weight gain.

So, I am going to try to lose my three (or five) pounds during the month of March.  Exercise is not my issue; I go to the gym all the time.  My issue is a rather serious candy adiction.  In the past when I have decreased my candy intake, I simply increased my brownie intake, but this time I am going to attempt to eat only one serving of candy a day; that equates to five chocolate Dove Promises.

I will keep you posted on my progress, but if I fall short, you have to support me, and I don’t want to hear that all my followers had a party and placed bets on my failure.  That would hurt my feelings and force me to down a bag of chocolate.

I’m entitled to a cheeseburger

In my twenties, I did a lot of hiking and camping.  Once my kids were born, I decided hiking and camping with children was a dirty chaotic experience, and I packed up my sleeping bag until my babies were old enough to pitch their own tents.  In 1993, my first husband, Scott, and I took a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana.  We spent a week in the mountains, and I have great memories from that trip.

One night, I shifted restlessly in our tent.  I was hungry, I couldn’t get to sleep, and I really really really wanted a cheeseburger.  Sometimes when you are twenty, and it’s a random Thursday night in August, and you’ve been hiking all day, you need a midnight cheeseburger, and nothing else will fill the void.  The problem was I am historically terrible at starting campfires, so I wanted Scott to get up and make me the burger.

Now, I know this sounds like a diva-move on my part, but I would like to note here that we had a very successful thirteen-year marriage, and I did lots of nice things for him, including delivering his son who weighed over ten pounds.  Personally, enduring two pregnancies and giving birth to a semi-truck entitles me to a cheeseburger retroactively.  (So, stop judging me!)

Scott finally agreed to make me the burger.  He left the tent, started the fire, dug out a pan, cooked the meat, found a bun, (“Don’t forget ketchup and mustard,” I yelled from my sleeping bag) and he brought me the finished product.  It was as delicious as any burger I have ever eaten.  Full and satisfied, I hunkered down for bed, but I kept smelling the delicious burger, and I kept thinking about all the bear warnings posted, and I made the connection that if I could smell the delicious meat in the air, surely Smokey the Bear could smell it too.

To make a long story short, I made Scott drive me all the way back to the main area in the park where we could both take a shower and rinse away any left-over cooking smells.  While we were gone, we aired out the tent, and decided that if bears had not torn it to shreds in the hour it took us for our round-trip shower expedition, it would probably be safe to fall asleep.

Me hiking in Montana, 1993.  BTW, I bought the boots I am wearing in this photo at REI.  I swear; I not lying about this.

Me hiking in Montana, 1993. BTW, I bought the boots I am wearing in this photo at REI. I swear; I not lying about this.

This is a long way around to the main intention of my story, but I was thinking about this Montana trip yesterday while I was on the treadmill watching CNN.  Obama nominated Sally Jewell as his new Interior Secretary.  I took note of this because I am a Washingtonian and Sally is a Washingtonian, the CEO of REI.  To be clear, I don’t know Sally; we have never gone hiking together; I’ve never asked her to cut me a deal on a water-proof tent.  Still, I am happy to know a local woman will now be in charge of the national parks across the country and surely will monitor the bear activity in Montana.  And, you know, if she wants to hook me up with some discount gear, that would be totally appreciated.

 Obama's pick for Interior Secretary: Recreational Equipment, Inc. CEO Sally Jewell in 2006. IMAGE

Sally Jewell, REI CEO and nominee for Interior Secretary

all you really need to know is how to dial 9-1-1

My husband often travels for work and when he has a trip scheduled, he throws a suit in a bag, packs an assortment of blue button-down shirts, socks, underwear, a tie.  He gives me a hug, and a kiss, and walks out the door.

I am going away for the weekend with my girlfriends.  We have been taking this annual get-away for twelve years.  I will be gone for two days, and I have already prepared three pages of notes so my family will not crumble in my absence.

The notes include directions to my daughters soccer game, what color uniform she needs to wear, what time she should arrive.  I also have a lengthy section for my son who needs to teach snowboard lessons this weekend and can’t forget to pack himself a lunch.  Then I list what this meal should entail less he wake up Sunday morning, stumble to the kitchen, turn to my husband and say, “What am I supposed to eat for lunch?”

On the rare occasion I go away, my family has a difficult time feeding themselves.  My husband is an ivy league graduate, but when told he should eat the leftover enchilada in the frig, he will stand with the door open and proclaim, “I can’t find it.”

My dinner notes for the weekend include:

1.  make turkey burgers

2.  you will find the burgers in the freezer in the garage.  Not the freezer above the small frig, the deep freezer

3.  The burgers are in a blue plastic bag on the left-hand side of the freezer.  The bag says, “Jennie-O” on it and is right next to a bag of tater tots.

4.  Buns are in the bread drawer.

I will give my family ridiculously specific instructions.  Still, when I return my daughter will say, “We couldn’t find the burgers, so we ordered pizza.”

I envy my husband and his ability to walk out the door with no concern.  He never has to board and plane and wonder, “Will they eat while I’m gone?  Will the baby get a bath?  With they remember to feed the dog?  Will anyone pick up the mail?”

My mother used to say, “All you really need to know is how to dial 9-1-1.”  Perhaps she’s right.  God, I hope if something goes wrong they can find the cordless phone.

three pages of notes and I haven't even talked about homework yet.

three pages of notes and I haven’t even talked about homework yet.

one old truck

My first husband, Scott, had an old Ford, F-150.  The truck is not so old that it has become collectible or in any way unique.  No power windows, no power door locks, no CD player; but she is strong, dependable, and reliable in a crunch.  That old truck reminds me a lot of my husband.

When Scott died, I kept the pick-up.  In the days after the loss, I would climb into the front seat, sit alone, and let the numbness wash over me.  Other times I would slam the door and cry or curse depending on my mood, but I rarely drove it, and as the months and years passed, the truck sat mostly vacant and idle in the driveway.

When I met my second husband, Tim, he bonded with the truck.  He changed the oil, bought new tires, had the dent fixed where the mailbox had T-boned me one hectic morning years prior.  He washed her, waxed her, steam-cleaned the interior, and he drove her (apparently it is not good to let a vehicle sit too long without being run. Who knew?)

That old truck has hauled dirt, and gravel, and camping gear.  Furniture, dogs, and children.  She is a one-ton pick-up but one miraculous afternoon, Tim loaded her with a ton and a half of flagstone, and she carried it without complaint.

I like to think that the two men I love most have bonded over that old Ford.  They have gotten to know each other through that truck, created a relationship, and an understanding.  They both saw her value and her beauty.  They both cared for her, admired her.  Both of these amazing men have repaired her and me.

fool-proof tree stand

Growing up, my parents would occasionally splurge on things.  We took a couple trips to Disneyland; I remember shopping with my mom for a new sofa, but for the most part, my parents squeezed each penny.

To other suburban families, a Christmas tree stand was an inexpensive necessity, but to my parents, a tree stand was an unnecessary extravagance.  Instead of a traditional stand, we had a coffee can.  We never replaced the coffee can; the same one was used year after year.

“But,” you ask, “didn’t the weight of the tree tip over the can?”

That is an excellent question.  Normally, a tree would tip over a can, but Ed Fallon had a fool-proof method for securing the tree–wire and nails.  Dad would wrap wire around the tree trunk, make a small loop in the opposing end of the wire, and use that loop to hold a nail.  He would then NAIL the wire to the floor and repeat this process with several more lengths of wire until the tree was tightly fastened down and unable to tip over the can.

“But, wait!” you exclaim.  “You’re telling me he hammered nails into the floor every year?”

Yes, my followers, that is what I am telling you.  If one pointed out that there may be other ways to hold a tree upright, my father would comment, “We have shag carpeting.  You can’t see nail holes through shag carpeting.”

All of this is true; you couldn’t see the holes through the carpeting, but some years he miscalculated the distance and wire stretched halfway into the room.  You had to be very careful where you stepped or the wire would trip you and slice into your shin.

Ah, holiday memories!