10th Wedding Anniversary

10th Wedding Anniversary

My best friend, Dee, was helping me lace up the bodice of my wedding gown when we heard the sounds coming from another bathroom on the other side of the house. Dee looked confused, but I just smiled. I knew that sound. I knew that voice. That was my soon-to-be husband, singing his heart out in the shower just an hour before our wedding.

I took so much comfort in hearing him sing like that. Here he was getting ready for this monumental step and his heart was full of joy.Judy Schwartz and Aaron Haley Wedding 2004

Ten years later, it still fills my heart with comfort and joy to hear him sing in the shower – and it takes me right back to our wedding day.

We packed a lot into these ten years: 3 degrees, 5 apartments, a bout with cancer, and  longer period of healing from that battle, 14 emergency room visits, too many hospital overnights to count, and the most amazing little girl.

Today was our 10th wedding anniversary, and it was like a snapshot of the entirety of our marriage: It was a crazy day that included me being sick, taking Gem to school, picking her up from school, going back to the school for a conference with her teacher, going out to eat to celebrate our family, and stopping by the party  at her school on our way back home. A busy, and at times overwhelming day full of ups and downs, love, illness, school, celebrations, learning, communicating, and just being happy being together.

10th Wedding Anniversary DinnerIt’s a beautiful life.



St. Paul Outside-the-Walls

He had just completed two flights from Seattle to Newark, then JFK to Rome, and he had just a few hours in Rome before hopping another flight to Istanbul. Somewhere in his rush to see as much of Rome as he could, he zagged when he should have zigged, and found himself in front of St. Paul’s Basilica (also known as the Papal Basilica St. Paul Outside-the-Walls) instead of  the the more popular tourist destinations.

He said it wasn’t even all that much to look at from the outside, deserted even, but once he entered the gates – wow.

Sometimes that’s how it works. Sometimes it’s the errant zags that lead us to the magic – magic we wouldn’t have found if we weren’t in motion in the first place.





I’ve been googling all morning, and I still haven’t figured out why “Outside-the-Walls” is so important that it became a crucial part of this basilica’s name. If any of you know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Above photos are all by Aaron Albert Haley. 

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

My husband just returned from a quick trip to Istanbul, where he presented a paper at the International Society for Iranian Studies conference. If you ever wanted someone with whom to discuss the Gothic Sublime, and repetition and imagery in Sadeq Hedayat’s The Blind Owl, I’ve got your man. Also, here’s some pictures he took of Istanbul.

Unfortunately, he had no time for sightseeing, but I think he got some great shots.

istanbul - Aaron Albert Haley

screen - Aaron Albert Haley

alley - Aaron Albert Haley

mosque - Aaron Albert Haley

cityscape - Aaron Albert Haley

inscription - Aaron Albert Haley

gate - Aaron Albert Haleymosque - Aaron Albert Haleydowntown istanbul - CoffeeJitters.Net

window - Aaron Albert Haley

cat - Aaron Albert Haley

Above photos are all by Aaron Albert Haley


Check out Walking on Travels for more adventure tales from bloggers.

The Day My Husband Threw Up and Saved Our Relationship

The Day My Husband Threw Up and Saved Our Relationship

I’ve been procrastinating on writing a blog post for a very long time now.  It’s Christmas. It’s the end of the year.  It’s the beginning of the new year.  So much pressure to write a deep, meaningful, soul searching, profound piece that sums up the meaning of life, and what I’ve learned this year.  Or at least pull together a humorous and/or touching year in review post.

This year I learned I have cancer.  I endured two surgeries, 6 months of chemo, and I’m currently on radiation.  I survived.  My family survived.  I haven’t completely messed up my daughter. yet.

This year was too deep, and too long, for me to sum up in one pretty, little post.  Maybe one of these days, when I’ve put some distance between me and what I endured, I’ll be able to write something meaningful about this year, and my experience.  For now, I don’t want to think.  I don’t want to plumb the depths of my soul.  I don’t want to share what’s in my heart.  I haven’t processed it yet.  That will take some time.

Besides all that, I’ve been sick.  I don’t mean cancer sick;  I mean coughing, sneezing, mucus like rubber cement, don’t you dare turn on the lights, throbbing sinuses, and it feels like a mile-long hike just getting to the bathroom sick.  I’m feeling much better, and starting to dig my way out of the haze now, but this has been lingering since before Christmas.  To all of you waiting on a return email, or phone call, I’m sorry.  I’ll get back to you soon.  If you’re waiting on a Christmas card…  ha ha ha.  giggle. snort. Yeah, right, it’s been years since I was organized enough to send those out – even when I was healthy.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy.  I’m afraid the first few paragraphs of this post may have led you to believe I’m bitter and pouting about this year.  Not so much.  I just don’t understand how I feel about it all yet.  I need more time to sort it out.

Early last month, I started the Reverb10 project with such enthusiasm, but found myself avoiding my computer for the month of December, because I knew each new reverb prompt would lead to more thinking.  Shudder.  I still plan on continuing the Reverb10 project, but on my own timeline.  It may take me the remainder of 2011 to finish, and I may not make public all my responses, but I think it’s a wonderful way of reviewing where I’ve been, and making plans for the future.

You still want to know about the day my husband threw up and saved our relationship? Gross. Ok, just kidding, that would have piqued my interest as well.  Earlier today, my husband reminded me of this moment in the history of our relationship.  That memory is what brought me back to my computer to write, and thus, the reason the title of this post is dedicated to that moment.

Long before we got married, and about 6 months after we met, I decided that falling in love with Aaron would be terribly inconvenient.  I wasn’t ready to be in love (this after years of “looking for love in all the wrong places”). I went around the house and gathered up the items of his that had accumulated (CDs, a hat, a shirt…  ) and placed them next to the door, ready to send them and him on their way when he arrived at my place after work.

When he showed up, he brushed past me, rushed to the bathroom, and spent what felt like forever in there puking.  Monstrous, earth shattering, roaring, I’ve never heard anyone puke like that. By the time he was done, cleaned up, and passed out in my bed, I had given up on thoughts of breaking off the relationship. I grabbed his possessions by the door and redistributed them back around the house.  It was too late.  I was already in love.

Instead of fighting what is, I needed to accept it (good or bad), and then decide how I was going to respond to it.

I got a little deep there, didn’t I?


My Family - CoffeeJitters.Net

You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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PNW Highland Games 2009

PNW Highland Games 2009

As it turns out, I have a lot to learn about packing my daughter up to go anywhere more than 5 minutes away from home.  This weekend was the PNW Highland Games in Enumclaw, Washington.  We go every year. Every year we get sunburned, eat greasy food, and listen to really loud music – and complain about the unrelenting heat. This year was no different, except we brought along Uncle Timmy, and my daughter, and the stroller, and sunblock, and a cooler with ice packs to keep bottled water and her teething toys cool, and plenty of toys, and plenty of diapers, and several changes of clothes, and oh, good grief I don’t even remember what all we brought. But it wasn’t enough, even though most of the items we did bring were not used.  What we should have brought were a bunch of chairs, a canopy, and a solar powered personal air conditioning device (has anyone even invented one of these yet? if not, get on it stat!).

By far the coolest thing that happened in that 100 degree weather was the discovery of a booth selling electric bagpipes. Electric! Bagpipes! Meaning they have volume control, or you can even plug in headphones and the old man can pipe away without making a peep. But that’s not the cool part. Aaron was trying out the pipes, rocking out on a song by the Wicked Tinkers when in walked Aaron Shaw with a huge smile on his face. “Great Job!” he said when my husband stopped playing. Who is Aaron Shaw? He’s the piper for the Wicked Tinkers and he wrote the song my husband was playing.  How often does an artist get to perform a work (and perform it well) in front of the person that created it?  My husband was riding that high for the rest of the day.

I don’t have much in the way of pictures from the games – nobody tells you how much harder it is to take photographs when you’re trying to keep tabs on a little one.  I shouldn’t complain too much, I even had two helpers with me. But in lieu of photos, I will leave you with the Wicked Tinkers on Craig Ferguson. This performance focuses more on the drums for obvious reasons, but these guys are fun

Three years ago: Alibi Room