Ten Years Ago Today…

… I walked into Intel Folsom on my first day with the company.

It’s not often I blog about work, but I am pretty proud of this accomplishment. And I’m so happy to be with a company that has treated me so well, for so long, while encouraging me to grow and change. I honestly can’t believe it’s been 10 years… it seems like just yesterday!

Over that time, I’ve bought a house, got a dog, fell in love, married the man of my dreams, went on an awesome honeymoon, went on an amazing sabbatical, and bought a horse. I’m extremely happy to have a company that has supported me through all of the life changes and that has offered perks like sabbatical!

I have also made some truly amazing friends in my time with the company… friends that have been there through hard times, good times, run marathons with me, completed triathlons with me, and shared a zillion other great memories!

Here’s to another fantastic 10 years with Intel!

My First (And Only) Tattoo!

Waning friends and family… this post one is a long one!

This weekend I got a tattoo. My very first one. Mike was a trooper and hung out for the whole time (I even offered for him to go get a beer). He held my hand at the very beginning when I didn’t know how bad it would hurt.

Me & My Artist, Eli
Me & My Artist, Eli

Eli at Iron Crown Tattoos did it… and let me tell you, if you’re every looking for a place to go, I recommend this one! The very first thing I noticed when I walked in was the music… it was a mix of jazz, the Eagles, blues, and just generally chill music. I mentioned that to Eli at one point and he responded with “Why would you want to get a tattoo to death metal? I don’t get that – some people are scared or getting their first tattoos… the music should be mellow!”. How perfect is that? The whole experience was awesome… they were welcoming and patient!

My tattoo is of a seahorse. Why a seahorse you ask? Many ancient cultures revered the seahorse: the Ancient Greeks & Romans (symbol of strength and power), ancient Europeans (safe passage & protection), and Chinese cultures (power and good luck).

The seahorse represents many things:

Patience & Contentment: their bodies are geared to just sort of cruise through the ocean; they tend to be happy where they are and are not in a hurry to get anywhere. They are considered to be content to be who they are – their bodies have not evolved since they were discovered. I feel like I’m getting better with this as I get older… but it’s definitely something I need to remember to keep working on!

Inflexibility & Stubbornness: this one sounded a bit out of character with all of the other symbols, but I find it really interesting. In addition to being in no hurry to get anywhere, the seahorse wraps its tail around the nearest object to anchor itself in turbulent waters. In case you didn’t know, one more than one occasion, I have been called stubborn. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. My reminder here is to continue to be stubborn when it’s necessary and to have the wisdom to know when it’s not!

Perception: seahorses can move their eyes independently and as such have excellent eyesight. They can actually look forwards and backwards at the same time! I love the concept of looking to the future but remembering the past.

Personally, the seahorse reminds me to continue to focus on these attributes, but it also has a deeper personal meaning. In 2012, I decided to run my first marathon (that’s 26.2 miles). I chose the San Diego Rock & Roll marathon because I had gone to college there and absolutely love San Diego and the beach.

The marathon was a disaster. My worst fear came true.. I had some serious stomach issues and basically ran crouched over for the last 17 miles (along with stopping at every blue porta potty).

It was terrible. But I finished. I am so proud of my 5+ hour marathon because the worse happened and I survived. I pushed through pain and mental demons to get myself across that finish line. Almost immediately after, I wanted to get a seahorse tattoo with 26.2 somehow incorporated. The seahorse to represent San Diego (along with the fact that I’ve always been fascinated with them).

Flash forward to this weekend. We were in Monterey and I thought “you only live once”. I decided not to try to incorporate the 26.2 because the tattoo means so much more than the accomplishment of running a marathon. Of course, I now own a horse, so I like that symbolism too… I put it on my right ankle for several reasons – it’s the foot I broke so badly that I needed surgery to remove the bone and it happens to be the same ankle that Mike has his tattoo on.

Here’s how the whole tattooing process works. First, he drew my seahorse and transferred it onto my ankle (it’s on paper… ends up like a temporary tattoo so you can check placement, size, etc).

The Template
The Template

Next, he started inking the outline. I was nervous about how much it was going to hurt. I won’t lie, it did hurt, but after a while I felt more vibration than anything. It did hurt a little more when he got down to the tail (I think because it’s close to the bone). And lets be real, it didn’t hurt like running for 5 hours and 45 minutes with the worst “tummy troubles” of my life.

The Outline
The Outline

After the outline was done, Eli started on the color. I had wanted blues and greens – he asked if he could add some gold for contrast… which turned out really well!

Adding The Color
Adding The Color

Here’s the finished product!

The Finished Product!
The Finished Product!
I Did It!
I Did It!

I am seriously so happy with it… I have always said that if I got a tattoo it would be very meaningful, and this one covers so many aspects of my life!


One of my friends from CERT moved back to New Jersey a while ago… but we’ve stayed friends on Facebook. She loves her pup the same way I love Shadow and has been super sweet about commenting on my rambles about Sue.

She has a friend at work who lives on a farm and loves to tell her about his horses. She mentioned that she had a friend who just bought a horse (me!) and showed him one of Sue’s pictures on Facebook. A few days later, he came into work with a beautiful hand painted horseshoe that a friend of his makes, saying he thought I might like it. Daniela popped it in the mail and here it is!

Painted Shoe
Painted Shoe

It is really beautiful! I am so touched that people across the country that are crazy about horses want to share that horse love with me! Equestrians rock!!!

Ride Off Into The Sunset

If my father-in-law had his way, retirement would have gone something like this: quietly turn in the keys to the truck, head home, enjoy the rest of life with the family. He is an extremely private and humble man. Unfortunately for him, the family was not about to let him ride off into the sunset without some sort of spectacular sendoff last weekend.

You see, my father-in-law spent the last forty-three years as a firefighter. Not just any firefighter at that – he helped shape much of the system as it is today in Amador County. He’s sort of a big deal. And it runs in the blood – both of his sons are firefighters, as is his son-in-law. Needless to say, there were a lot of people who wanted to come out and help celebrate Raymond. Right around three hundred, to be exact.

In true Blankenheim style, we roasted a pig. And made tri-tip. And barrel chicken. Because it’s not really a party unless you have at least three types of meat. Probably one of the highlight of the nights was the Great Pig Fire of 2013. I’ve been a part of this family for five years now and have seen many a pig roasted… never have I seen one actually ignite…

Flaming Pig
Flaming Pig

Apparently no one else in the family had either… about twenty firefighters stood and watched in awe before springing into action.


When all was said and done, it was a great party for a great man. I can only hope that someday I discover I’ve had a positive impact on the lives of half as many people as Raymond has. Congratulations Raymond!

Leap Of Faith

Today was a pretty mellow day in the Blankenheim household… mostly spent recovering from my father-in-law’s retirement party. Stay tuned for a post on that once I feel a little better. This cold is still kicking my booty, so I tried to do some relaxing today. That said, I needed a little movement, so I headed out to a much neglected section of my yard to fix some sprinklers and move a few leaves. It turned out to be a pretty big pile… hard to tell in the picture because Mike was on the deck when it took it, but they came up to just above my waist.

Big Pile 'O Leaves
Big Pile ‘O Leaves

And, once you rake up a pile of leaves, there’s only one thing left to do:

Leap Of Faith
Leap Of Faith

Now, mid-leap of faith, Mike yelled out something along the lines of “it might not be as soft as you think”, so I decided against the face plant. Instead, I landed feet first.

The End.
The End.

Sometimes, even when you’re sick, you need to take some time to indulge your inner child! Happy Fall everyone!

Words of Wisdom

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and as I started to read through them I realized what amazing advice this is. This is a high school teacher’s list of 100 wisest words. It’s a bit long, but well worth reading!

1. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs are not one of them.

2. Never cancel dinner plans by text message.

3. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

4. If a street performer makes you stop walking, you owe him a buck.

5. Always use ‘we’ when referring to your home team or your government.

6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

7. Don’t underestimate free throws in a game of ‘horse’.

8. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

9. Don’t dumb it down.

10. You only get one chance to notice a new haircut.

11. If you’re staying more than one night, unpack.

12. Never park in front of a bar.

13. Expect the seat in front of you to recline. Prepare accordingly.

14. Keep a picture of your first fish, first car, and first boy/girlfriend.

15. Hold your heroes to a high standard.

16. A suntan is earned, not bought.

17. Never lie to your doctor.

18. All guns are loaded.

19. Don’t mention sunburns. Believe me, they know.

20. The best way to show thanks is to wear it. Even if it’s only once.

21. Take a vacation of your cell phone, internet, and TV once a year.

22. Don’t fill up on bread, no matter how good.

23. A handshake beats an autograph.

24. Don’t linger in the doorway. In or out.

25. If you choose to go in drag, don’t sell yourself short.

26. If you want to know what makes you unique, sit for a caricature.

27. Never get your hair cut the day of a special event.

28. Be mindful of what comes between you and the Earth. Always buy good shoes, tires, and sheets.

29. Never eat lunch at your desk if you can avoid it.

30. When you’re with new friends, don’t just talk about old friends.

31. Eat lunch with the new kids.

32. When traveling, keep your wits about you.

33. It’s never too late for an apology.

34. Don’t pose with booze.

35. If you have the right of way, take it.

36. You don’t get to choose your own nickname.

37. When you marry someone, remember you marry their entire family.

38. Never push someone off a dock.

39. Under no circumstances should you ask a woman if she’s pregnant.

40. It’s not enough to be proud of your ancestry; live up to it.

41. Don’t make a scene.

42. When giving a thank you speech, short and sweet is best.

43. Know when to ignore the camera.

44. Never gloat.

45. Invest in good luggage.

46. Make time for your mom on your birthday. It’s her special day, too.

47. When opening presents, no one likes a good guesser.

48. Sympathy is a crutch, never fake a limp.

49. Give credit. Take blame.

50. Suck it up every now and again.

51. Never be the last one in the pool.

52. Don’t stare.

53. Address everyone that carries a firearm professionally.

54. Stand up to bullies. You’ll only have to do it once.

55. If you’ve made your point, stop talking.

56. Admit it when you’re wrong.

57. If you offer to help don’t quit until the job is done.

58. Look people in the eye when you thank them.

59. Thank the bus driver.

60. Never answer the phone at the dinner table.

61. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.

62. Know at least one good joke.

63. Don’t boo. Even the ref is somebody’s son.

64. Know how to cook one good meal.

65. Learn to drive a stick shift.

66. Be cool to younger kids. Reputations are built over a lifetime.

67. It’s okay to go to the movies by yourself.

68. Dance with your mother/father.

69. Don’t lose your cool. Especially at work.

70. Always thank the host.

71. If you don’t understand, ask before it’s too late.

72. Know the size of your boy/girlfriend’s clothes.

73. There is nothing wrong with a plain t-shirt.

74. Be a good listener. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk.

75. Keep your word.

76. In college, always sit in the front. You’ll stand out immediately.

77. Carry your mother’s bags. She carried you for nine months.

78. Be patient with airport security. They’re just doing their jobs.

79. Don’t be the talker in a movie.

80. The opposite sex likes people who shower.

81. You are what you do, not what you say.

82. Learn to change a tire.

83. Be kind. Everyone has a hard fight ahead of them.

84. An hour with grandparents is time well spent. Ask for advice when you need it.

85. Don’t litter.

86. If you have a sister, get to know her boyfriend. Your opinion is important.

87. You won’t always be the strongest or the fastest. But you can be the toughest.

88. Never call someone before 9am or after 9pm.

89. Buy the orange properties in Monopoly.

90. Make the little things count.

91. Always wear a bra at work.

92. There is a fine line between looking sultry and slutty. Find it.

93. You’re never too old to need your mom.

94. Ladies, if you make the decision to wear heels on the first date, commit to keeping them on and keeping your trap shut about how much your feet kill.

95. Know the words to your national anthem.

96. Your dance moves might not be the best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun then sitting on the bench alone.

97. Smile at strangers.

98. Make goals.

99. Being old is not dictated by your bedtime.

100. If you have to fight, punch first and punch hard.

Monumental Decision

I hope that twenty years from now I’m talking with my children and they say (with horror) “Wait, there was a time people were not given equal rights because they didn’t have the right colored skin, didn’t have male genitalia, oh, I mean they didn’t love the right people?”. Yes, I liken today’s decisions to both the civil rights movement and women’s suffrage.

Change is never easy. There are always going to be people who disagree. But as a country we cannot let our disagreements lead us to infringe upon the rights of fellow human beings. Will things suddenly be magically easy for the LGBT community? No, I don’t think so. It takes a long time to change generations of thought – the same way that we haven’t truly moved past the racism of the 1970s (um, hello, Paula Deen?). But this is a giant step forward and I am so happy and excited for my LGBT friends.

Those of you who are firmly against gay marriage, I have to ask why? How is your own marriage/relationship impacted? Remember that not so long ago, we had issues with interracial marriages – something that is considered commonplace in today’s society.

I heard this song on the way home from work today – not sure if they played it specifically because of what happened, but I was really moved by it.

Both Ends Of The Spectrum

I had the coolest weekend – I got to celebrate two ends of the age spectrum – a first birthday and a 90th birthday. Yesterday I went to Brigitte and Dan’s house to celebrate Aspen’s first birthday. First of all, I honestly can’t believe it’s already been a year… it seems like just yesterday that we were at our Easter brunch and I was getting the call from Brigitte! Secondly, I can’t believe how cute that little girl has gotten! She had the time of her life… at first she didn’t know what to do with her cake, but as you can see from the picture below, she figured it out pretty quickly!

Aspen's First Birthday
Aspen’s First Birthday

Today we celebrated Grandma Jeanette’s 90th birthday (Mike’s grandma). She had an open house style party and a lot of people came by to visit and wish her well! I hope that by the time I’m 90 years old I have as many friends as she does and that I’m as energetic as she is! It was a great time and the weather was absolutely beautiful!

Grandma's 90th Birthday
Grandma’s 90th Birthday

I got to hang out with my awesome nieces today too… I’ve missed seeing them lately! Aren’t they adorable?!

Katie, Skyler and I
Katie, Skyler and I


The Dream

Every year on Martin Luther King, Jr. day I like to reflect on his momentous “I Have A Dream” speech. If you haven’t already, take some time to read through the text below. In seventeen minutes, he managed to eloquently reflect on the dreams of many people. In fact, these dreams still ring true today, whether it is because you’re black or gay or just “different”. What I love the most about MLK is that he preached tolerance, love, and acceptance. In some ways our society has made great strides and in others it feels like we’ve taken great steps backward. My hope today is that everyone that reads this gains a little inspiration from it.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”