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Monday, July 31, 2006

Fast Freight

As I listen for the whistle, lie awake and wait. Wish the railroad didn't run so near, 'Cause the rattle and clatter of that old fast freight keeps a-makin' music in my ear.

The Kingston Trio, a famous folk group from the fifties, made that a very popular tune. They must have camped at “Fishhook Park,” on the Snake River in the site furthest from the entrance and nearest to the where the rails curve.

(Buttercup waving at a regular)

I would say the train went by at least every 70 minutes.

Day and Night.

Maybe we’ve never camped so close to the tracks in years past.

Maybe there has been an increase in rail traffic.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

(The Snake at Sunset)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Honor our Veterans, Korean Armistice 7-27-1953

My hubby's late dad was a World War II and Korean War Vet. Here are some excerpts from a letter: Korea, December 1950. It was onion skin paper, written on both sides, and the writing shows through when I scan it.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, guess I better write you a letter, as I haven't done so in quite some time. I don't have any excuse, except that we have been fairly busy. As you'll probably have heard by now, we evacuated Hung Nan. That was really a deed to see, no fooling. Such an array of ships, boats, soldiers, gunfire, and Koreans, I've never seen. It took us just about 4 days of continual work (24 hour days) to get 30,000 troop, and God only knows how many trucks, jeeps, tanks and artillery. Then, while the last G.I's were being taken off the beach, the V.D.T. men, along with some of us from the Begar, carried in and set T.N.T. and dynamite all up and down the dock and industrial area. Then at 2:15 p.m., the whole works went up. Well, we were about 1000 yards from the beach, and it blew some of the guys helmets off. The ones without chinstraps, I mean. If it hadn't been destructive, it would have been a pretty sight.........................................

By the way, Mom, save all the Life Magazines from now until this is over, will you? The signal corps and Life photographers were over on the beach while we were setting charges and I had my picture snapped by a movie camera and regular one, along with some other guys. Can't tell, maybe it'll come out in Life. I know the pictures of most of the deal will be in there..........................

Are Joan and the kids all right? I guess they are, but I get worrying every once in awhile. I know it's hard on her, and I know she is being true to me, at least I hope so, but guess I just won't feel at ease until I get home again........................

We are giving our Xmas program tomorrow night. Three other guys and myself have got up a little orchestra. I wrote some music out, and it doesn't sound bad.....................

Take it easy now, tell everyone hello, and don't worry, because I'm going to be all right.

Your Loving son,

The Piper

It didn’t take long for the small caravan of cars in the funeral procession to reach the cemetery after leaving the church. Arlington, Oregon is a very small town that is nestled within the path of a steep canyon that drops in to the Columbia River. The graveyard is set on a high bluff with a vertical drop overlooking the town and the rocky outcroppings into which it has slowly stretched over the past few years.

The mourners moved toward the burial site accompanied only by the sounds of their shoes in the gravel and a breeze whistling down from the higher cliffs. The preacher held his Bible for a moment of silence. At that instant, the familiar strains of a bagpiper's Amazing Grace began to waft over the hills. As though merging with the survivor’s tears, the continuous notes poured over them and on down into the slow churning water of the mighty Columbia. The family members nodded their gratitude to each other for the thoughtful tribute.

About fifteen minutes before this scene unfolded, the hubby and I were sitting and enjoying time with dear friends and admiring their recently purchased retirement home. They constructed it in on a high sloping meadow chosen because of the grand vista. To the north, you can see across the ravines that curve and meander to form the wide gulch where the town meets the river. The quiet solitude and the lofty view cultivate a feeling of contentment.

As we sat on the deck bringing each other up to date in our lives, Kari turned to her husband and said, “Hon, why don’t you play the bagpipes for Pam?” He had started lessons a few years earlier and his performing skills were already well known at community events. My hubby was intrigued when she suggested that he dress for the part. So Michael kilted up…. in the real deal….right down to the sgian dubh in his sock.

He lifted the blowpipe, started filling the bag, and was soon expelling the reedy notes of the hymn Amazing Grace. The mournful piping flowed like water over the hills and through the rocky crevices, as have thousands of years of streams that carved out the Columbia River Gorge, the only sea level route through the Cascade Mountains. We sat in silent awe as the final notes echoed across the miles to the river’s Washington side.

It was the sincere thank you they received a few days later that made them aware that in a moment in time a piper’s melody had intertwined two stories... one of welcome and one of farewell.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Elephant in the Garlic

My neighbor grows elephant garlic. I've never seen an elephant there to claim it, but I'll take his word for it.

Perhaps the next time my grandchildren visit, we will put on our hats and safari shoes and go on Pachyderm Patrol. (To the music from The Jungle Book.)

Maybe there is one hiding in there right now. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Morning sunshine

I woke up early with thoughts engaging my mind like a secretary thumbing through a rolodex. (Which is the T-rex of Address Books for those gen-x minds who want to know.)

It was either lie there and be miserable, or brew an early pot of coffee, some new hummer nectar, then sit on the patio and sigh.

The camera went with me and there were some fantastic photo ops.

The sun shining between the cedar fencing highlighted a gazillion gnats swarming inches above the green and freshly watered sod. A hummingbird checked out the fresh beverage closest to the patio and then buzzed on its way. I was reminded of some poem about crows when three landed on the farthest posts and eyed me as though I was an interloper. My camera was pointing and clicking. None of the pictures were inspiring. Even the pictures I snapped of some spider webs caught in the dawning rays were dreary. I put the camera away.

After enjoying some alone time on the patio, I was joined by the hubby and we discussed his project over coffee. He has been coming home each day from work to work hours more building a "water feature" in our back yard. That will be the final saga in "The Chronicles of Yardia." Oh just kiddin.... I've actually been chronicling it as THE BACK YARD. We were amused that we already had a water skipper enjoying the pond.

I showered, ate some breakfast, dressed as cool (temperature cool not hip-cool) as I could and stopped once more to gaze out the sliding doors.

And there it was.... the picture I had been waiting for: A Quail cock and hen, and their nine little chicks walking in single file across the lawn. They stopped first under the platform feeder and indulged in a feeding frenzy where I had purposely spilled an assortment of seed. Then they scurried over in a crowd to check out the fall from the finch feeders. The cock then jumped up on the fence to scout out the next yard for predators.

I fought the urge to run for the camera and possibly frighten them away. Instead, I just stood there quietly and allowed the scene to soften my face with a smile. Maybe they'll come back tomorrow and I'll have the camera ready.

(Late for work again.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

who ARE you ???

The last three years we've enjoyed a flight of doves that have made their home in our neighborhood. Did you know that their family could also be called a dole of doves? I think I heard my dad once mention a piteousness of Doves. Perhaps that was an old word to describe the mournful little melody you hear as they survey the ground from a high tree limb.

When the Mourning Doves take flight - a shrill chirping sound is made as the air passes through their wing feathers.

The Contessa, our cat, made her first contact last month with several dove in the flower bed. One became aware of her approach and flew up suddenly in noisy response. So did The Contessa. After scoring a "10" in a reverse flip she rushed back to the house to hide under the couch. (She doesn’t get out much!)

Our little flight sit in the maple tree and ask "who ARE' you" in the early morning and then again, later in the evening. No matter how often I answer them, they just keep on asking.

Short memories, I suppose.

Hummingbirds and Heat

It's been in the triple digits here! So, every morning I have been diligent and cleaned my hummer feeders and made fresh nectar.

If you want to see a fantastic picture buzz on over to Subtle Oak Flavor and see the hummingbird with it's tongue out ready to drink.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Blogging Chicks Carnival #6 SUMMER THEME

Don't forget to read the Summer Theme Carnival.

(There's even some entry's by some of us old chicks, too.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Summer Haiku

Bird calls before the alarm rings
The window opened wide

The sun peaking over the eastern mountains
The reflection on the patio table
Morning coffee

Window shades up in my parked car
Sunglasses perched on my nose

The silhouettes of the buildings next to my office
Shadows moving in opposition to the sun
Sidewalk simmers

Abundant fields, brown and gold
The combines dance in the distance
Harvest music

Kids cannonball in the neighbor’s pool
A barbecue wafts enticing invitation
Warm friends

Dark clouds rolling like monster trucks
Lightening and thunder tracks in the valley
Smell rain

The western horizon painted crimson and mauve
Smoke from forest fires burns eyes
Beauty from ashes

Crickets and frogs in competing chorus
The open window an orchestra seat
Summer lullaby

In Sweet Memory 1975-2005

In Sweet Memory

of Richie,

lost to cancer

at age 29

one year ago.

Love, Aunti Pam

Friday, July 21, 2006

Remembering an old dog

After the little episode with our new cat Tessie, I found myself thinking back to all the pets to which we have belonged.

My most devoted sovereign was the late Karl Von Schwartz. I purchased him during the Gulf War and had considered naming him Schwarzkopf, after the General. My daughters thought he should be named Schwarzenegger, after The Terminator. We compromised.

All of us remember the first day he was at our house and the hubby was miffed at me. “We don’t need another dog!” he’d huffed. “Freebea” was our “dee-oh’-gee,” a mixed breed female that the kids and I had brought home 5 years earlier in somewhat the same fashion. “Isn’t she cute, can’t we keep her?” That was the similarity; the difference was that Freebea was free and Karl had a price tag. Maybe I was especially persuasive or maybe he just couldn’t resist the cute little black and brown ball of fuzzy bear fur? Okay, he gave in.

The coddled runt of the litter, Karl was ‘not for sale’ said the breeder. The entire tail was gone from a docking mishap so he could never be best of show. I didn’t want a show dog! “Why not one of the other puppies?” she encouraged. I did not acquiesce, she caved, and the little guy came home.

I am sure that he must have puddled on the floor and chewed on the daughter’s underwear. Those things were eclipsed by all the good times that we shared with the small one who grew to be a gentle giant.

We first acknowledged his astounding growth when our eldest daughter was playing fetch with both dogs. They jumped in unison, hit heads and Freebea was knocked out cold. We were all more careful after that.

Rotty’s have a bad reputation, but Karl only chased squirrels. Freebea, a sweet mutt, may have influenced his behavior as she mothered him during his formative “puppy” years. Even as an adult he deferred to her in new situations. (We lost Freebea to a sudden onset of doggy dementia. I hope that head bonking wasn’t a prelude.)

I thought Karl would be a ferocious Guard Dog. Heck, he wasn’t even a Watch Dog. My brother and his wife arrived for a visit one Friday night after we were all put to bed. They opened the unlocked door, crept down the hallway where Karl lay asleep by the bedroom door. The monster opened his eyes, groaned, then rolled over so as not to be bothered

Usually he slept on the floor by my side of the bed. I was never sure whom to hit with the pillow when snoring disturbed my beauty sleep. Sometimes it was stereo: the hubby sawing wood on one side and Karl on the other.

I spent a few weeks away for a new grand baby. The hubby said that every morning, after a potty break, Karl would race back to the bedroom to see if I was in bed. When I returned home he held me to the floor with his front paws and licked my face.

He never adjusted to the fake wood floor we installed. Once he came running through the kitchen to greet me, lost his grip and slid sideways into the kitchen table, which hit the wall and made a sizeable hole. Oooops.

Saying “Walk” was equivalent to ringing Pavlov’s bell. It wasn’t long before spelling 'walk' put him on alert as well. He trained on a short leash, which evolved to being held by his mouth. All the people on our walking route knew him as the rotty that walked himself. One morning we passed a neighbor sitting on the curb and Karl walked over and sat on his lap.

He also processed loud and aromatic esters. (He farted!) Most dogs will treat their owners to the occasional misdeed. Karl, on the other hand, made it his mission in life to be impertinent at every opportunity. When he was small, he cozied up to the freestanding fireplace and sent echoes up the metal chimney. As he grew older, he found more open spaces surrounded by astonished faces. The last year of his life he walked into our family room to mingle with members of our church home group. Our leader brought the meeting to a close by bowing his head for prayer, but it was Karl that brought us all to our knees. We think he “ripped” a sizeable hole in the ozone layer.

“No, he’s not growling at you!” Karl shared his “Rotty Rumble” when he approved of something – especially a nice rub. He loved his weekly bath and was ecstatic when I pulled out my blow dryer. I taught him how to say “Ma Ma.” He sounded like something from the Exorcist and the neighborhood kids always appreciated an impromptu performance. People intimidated by Karl’s size and tough guy walk soon realized that a temperate spirit dwelled within him.

I still cry when I think about taking him to our caring “doc” and having Karl look up at me with such trust as he went to his rest. That was the day I came home from work to find him in the exact same position as when I had left. His back legs would no longer push him up because of a neurological deficit that had been slowly depriving him of his mobility. He was twelve.

It is too easy to be sad when remembering those days that are gone. Instead, I should realize how blessed we have been by our wonderful companions and should thank God for his Hand in bringing each one into our lives.

I think all dogs go to Heaven.


A big thank you to Michele for suggesting a Pannasmonta Template, and for all her input and expertise.

Also, the hubby helped some too. He gets kisses.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why The Contessa was mad

The Contessa is the cat I knew that was mine when I convinced the hubby to stop at the animal shelter some months ago. They gave her a clean bill of health, and they gave me an adoption fee.

We were told that her elderly owner had passed away and none of the family wanted Tessy.

I wanted her.

We’ve enjoyed the times she has crawled into our laps and chest to press faces – I’m sure to say thank you. On the other hand, she has not been very receptive to our stroking or petting her. Sometimes she has seemed angry.

Several times we thought something was wrong with her belly, but she wouldn’t let us roll her over and inspect it. This week the hubby said, “I’m taking Tessy in to see the docs, I just think something isn’t right.”

The “docs” are actually two semi-retired veterinarians who have added four young new ones to fill in the ranks. To those two ‘old’ docs we have trusted every dog or cat that has owned us before we ever met, and all during our soon to be 30 years together.

We were shocked by the diagnosis. Whoever spade Tessy (however many years ago) did not have the sutures removed. Tessy’s body has attempted to deal with the foreign material. The young woman vet told me that her body had only been able to alter the color of most of the suture material. Scar tissue of some sort had grown in and around the stitches. If indeed her previous owner was elderly, perhaps she didn’t understand that she needed to take her back to have the job finished. How much discomfort has this 8 year old kitty cat endured.

Last night she came home with shaved belly, new incision, new sutures and a sappy face (kitty drugs.) This morning the anethesia had worn off and she realized that she was different. I tried to get down on the floor and take her picture but she insisted on rubbing on the camera and rubbing on me. I pretended to do some housework and then snuck back and surprised her with a quick snap.

Don’t let her scowl fool you. She’s one delighted puss.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


It Came. Today It Came. The Sister Study Kit Came Today.
Toenails are history.

But something else in the letter has made me delightfully delirious. They are sending someone over to pick up, and I quote: " completed questionnaires and your urine specimen, toenail clippings ....AND DUST SAMPLES."

Please join me in my little flight of fancy -------

Come on down to the dust cellar. 2006 was a bumper crop. However, we had some other years that might intrigue you. Our 1975 label was very nicely balanced, because there were only three sets of stomping feet. How about a sample from 1977; that was when we added the "snoop" dynamic. Oh! Try this sample from 1980 - it will give you a hint of Mt. St. Helens. The 81 variety was a nice crush from all the 'walking the floor' with "the cakers" in arms. Now this nice blush was produced when the top half of my two-piece came off on the water slide. Another tempting decanter we can open and let breathe is a '96 when the skunk got in the house. Definite musky overtones. This little selection here may have the same quality of a claret, but is distinctive reed carvings from an oboe.
Awww, yes, we had our little Fete de la Fleur, which in French has nthing to do with having feet on the floor, on a regular basis. Just set a spell, brush yourself off when you've made your choice and we'll wrap it up for you.
*The dust will wait.
daughters reminded me of the dee-oh-gee and see-a-tee varieties -- in case you get a wild hair for something with a little more tickle. They just kind of waft around as the ceiling fans keep our climate controlled inventory optimized.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Toenails for a Cause

I'm going crazy because I haven't trimmed my toenails in several weeks.

The excuse that my round belly gets in the way and I can't bend over is logical. A pedicure at the salon would handle that nicely.

But, I can't do that.

My toenails are growing for my sisters and for my daughters.

Last year I signed up for The Sister Study. A month ago I became an official participant, and committed the next ten years to the cause.

My eldest sister Nelda died of cancer in 1994. My sis who just lost her husband, is a cancer survivor: Breast cancer and Melanoma. Those are not good odds for me or my third sis, Trish.

Plus, I have three beautiful daughters. If ANYTHING I could add to this wonderful campaign can reduce the menace of cancer in their lives, I am willing. Lord, I am willing.

So, here I sit, growing toenails because the Sisters Kit was suposed to be here two weeks ago. In addition to toenail clippings, all kinds of samples are required for the study. Someone will even come to my home to collect blood. Then my life will become a book in someone's laboratory.

Come today kit !!! I'm starting to look like Rasputin.

Monday, July 17, 2006

One Zuccini

One Zuccini
Two Zuccini
Three Zuccini

I've gotten to the
point I just cannot
eat any

ps. Karmyn, if you can GUESS this is a zuccini - then you win.....

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Saturday, July 15, 2006

They weren't dreams (Blogger Chicks Carnival #6)

I was reading Notes from the trenches as she commented on the continuing, but probably unintended, cruelty of peoples remarks about her large family.

I found myself dreaming back to many years ago and what I experienced as the youngest of eight.

I didn't know we were poor.

I thought people stared at us 'cuz we were so good looking.

My sisters and I sang when we did dishes. There were loads - and we were the closest thing to automation in the house. Mom activated us by pointing her ‘don’t start with me” finger.

I shared a bed with my just older sis until I was eight. Even after that, there was always someone to crawl in bed with when I had a nightmare. My sis tells me I was the nightmare when she woke up in my occasional accident. (Sorry, sis.)

My two oldest brothers picked me up and threw me back and forth between them when they got home from school. It never occurred to me that my friends never had the pleasure of being a wiffle ball.

We ALWAYS sat around our old wooden table as a family. Our food was simple, but Mom did her best with what the garden produced and what she canned and preserved. We all shared in the weeding and harvesting. In the summer months, Mom kept us busy husking corn, shelling peas, and snapping beans.

Dad would be up at 4 a.m., light a fire, put a pot of cereal on to cook, and head down the hill to start milking. Now when I smell a 'just lit' match it reminds me how I would wake up just a little, take a sniff, and then snuggle down in my blanket. I knew the house would be cozy by the time I crawled out of bed several hours later. (I also remember the rubbery cream-of-wheat that would be waiting for me when I arrived at my breakfast bowl. Argh!)

We walked to school every day. I was never alone until I was the last one in elementary school.

Mom's hands were so rough from her hard life that she had to use gloves to pull on her nylons before we went to church. But I remember them only as having the softest most tender touch when I needed a hug.

Most peoples dreams consist of wants, wishes, and deepest desires for what may come.

Not mine. My dreams take me back to when I never knew I didn’t have it all.


I read my daughters blog Dreaming What Ifs........ and took the bait to do this quiz.

so TAG if you read this!!

1. The book nearest me –
A Catholic Woman’s Book of Days (Amy Welborn)
I’m not Catholic, but it was recommended by The Anchoress and she doesn’t steer you wrong. Wonderful daily devotional to get your mind turning and your heart yearning.

2. Stretch out your left arm, what do you touch? –
A stream of sunlight coming through the glass sliding doors. Oh, look! The little floaters sparkle like pixie dust.

3. Last thing watched on television? –
Tour de France. The hubby is our avid cyclist and he was starting to snore. I snuggled over against him for a moment just in time to watch several riders dressed like peacocks tumble. It gave me an idea about my next watercolor.

4. Without looking what time is it?
Time to kiss a grandchild.

5. What is the actual time?
8:01a.m Do you know where your (groan) children are?

6. With the exception of the computer what can you hear?
The hubby making toast. (Connie gave us strawberry-rhubarb jam as a thank-you for the basket of rhubarb we gave her. Oh, we got the best end of the deal!)

7. When did you last step outside?
Last night about 11 pm when I realized I’d left my sketch pad on the patio.

8. Before this survey what did you look at?
Tessy, teasing the squirrel over by the fence. Reminded me that she needs hairball treatment.

9. What are you wearing? –
My favorite worn out pj’s. My youngest daughter gave them to me for Christmas several years ago covered with iron on pictures of grandchildren. The pictures have washed away. Nothing could wash away the essence, though.

10. Did you dream last night? –
“I dreamed I was the premier blogger in my maidenform bra.”
Just kidding. I think that was a 60’s campaign. That was when libs were burning them. I wasn’t, I didn’t, and still look what happened. \./.\./ (visualize middle dot as naval) The other night I did dream about farting on demand, which is odd that my daughter would mention something similar.

11. When did you last laugh?
When I saw my daughters comment on farting on demand.

12. What is on the walls in the room?
The pastels of my daughters when they were each six. Photo’s of family and grandkids. A round clock from a conventional submarine. Firefighter memorabilia; all the hubbys framed badges and the brass hatchet he was presented at retirement. Now he has a 2nd career - teaching. He likes it but the 9-5 routine sure had him stumped for awhile.

13. Seen anything weird lately? –
My mom looking back at me in the mirror when I woke up this morning. Gee. Every day I look more like her. My husband told me that one time he even saw "THE FACE." (Read I've Named IT for clarification.)

14. What do you think of this quiz?
It gave me some extra computer time and it’s waking me up. In that Saturday morning sort of way.

15. What is the last film you saw? –
The Sand Lot with the grandkids.

16. Tell me something we don't know
I took a heart stress test two weeks ago. Apparently I still have one.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do.
I would have slapped that damn apple right out of Eve’s hand.

18. Do you like to dance?
Yeah ---but I can’t indulge in alcohol anymore, so dancing is serious business.

19. George Bush?
Underrated, misunderestimated.

20. Imagine your first child is a girl –
She is. I remember when she was ‘3’ and she played hide n seek behind a clothes rack at a big department store. I thought someone had abducted her. (refer to #16)

21. Imagine your first child is a boy
My first grandchild was a boy. Diaper duty with him was how I learned the "duck or cover" routine.

22. Would you consider living abroad? –
I’m already a broad. I’d like to try living one day (only 1) with a penis.

23. What would God say to you when you reach the pearly gates? –
I hope he says “Well Done. ” And, I hope He is referring to my life and not how I’m gonna cook when the devil gets his due.

23. 6 people who will do this quiz
I just learned that REAL bloggers call their readers Peeps.
So I’m feeling quite certain that peep, peep, peep, peep, and peep will do this quiz.

Tag. You are it.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Tonight a little nose peaked up through a crack in the brick facade as I was talking to a friend on the phone.

I grabbed the camera and asked him to say cheese:

Where's that cat?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Allie (Our neighborhood Lassie)

Allie belongs to my neighbor Bill. In actuality, Allie is the neighborhood dog.

She sits on her porch and watches all the activity on our street. She knows who belongs and who doesn’t.

Not only is she aware of the mailman’s required arrival time, she also supervises when a new kid takes over the newspaper route. She knows which dog or cat belongs at which house and how many times she can chase the sparrows from the Quince bush to the juniper shrub before they quit flying. Squirrels are another game entirely.

Every car engine she has in her ear memory is matched to the owner’s house. By the time the car turns down our extra long street Allie is already at the garage door ready to greet the owner and get her pat on the head, or if she’s lucky - and she usually is - a dog biscuit.

Allie even knows the flight pattern of the local airport traffic. She only reacts to something off schedule or out of the ordinary. The full moon fascinates her. She used to cower and peak from beneath the bushes as if she expected it to fall on her. Now, checking out the moon is part of her daily routine. We have a Hot-Air Balloonist in the area and Allie is on the alert when it takes to the clouds.

Bill’s son found Allie abandoned in a wilderness area around the Columbia River. He knew his dad was lonely, so he trapped the little dog and brought her in hopes that his dad could tame her. She was at first agitated, afraid, and unfriendly. She began to thrive as Bill began tending to her heart as well as her tummy.

Bill is in his mid 80’s, a widower, and deaf. That makes Allie an even more essential part of his life. She has trained herself to be his ears. If she is inside the house with him and someone knocks on the door, she runs to wherever he is and nudges him. If he is out in his garden or behind the house, a neighbor can say, “Where’s Bill?” and Allie will escort you around the property, peering sideways often to make sure you are still obeying her lead.

One day last winter the electricity went off while I was dressing for work. I added a little extra lipstick in the darkness, hoped I was presentable, and headed out to the garage. That was before I remembered we had an electric door opener. (Doesn’t everybody flip the light switch when they are hunting for candles?)

Once that realization sunk in, I hunted in the dark for the step-stool. Using it, I was able to reach and unlock the mechanism that moves the door. Things became distressing for me soon after that. I pushed the door up and it fell back at once. There is a small hook that is alleged to support it, but for my benefit that day it wasn’t cooperating. I persisted in my efforts: up, down, up, down, up down. Down! After 20 minutes of frustration and sweat, I was ready to call a Taxi. I was late for work!

That is when I heard Allie’s familiar bark. I looked up and saw her prancing across the street with Bill close behind. Allie was smiling. Bill was looking confused.

“Ah......…..” Bill acknowledged, once he became aware of my predicament. “Now I know why Allie kept coming around back and nudging and pulling on me.”

With Allie’s supervisory skills, Bill was able to hold the door up and I was able to get my little car out to the driveway.

Allie got an extra pat on the head that day. And, from that day forward, we’ve made sure that on Barbecued Rib’s night the hubby
leaves a little extra meat on the bones just for her.

Oh, yea…..Allie knows which night that is, too.

Swallows and Sprinklers at Sunset

The Bank Swallows wouldn't pose. We went out last night to watch them off cottonwood road at dusk.

They nest in the dirt banks where the road cuts through the rolling fields. The wind was blowing and the birds were riding it like surfers catching the waves; the wheat fields were ebbing and flowing in breezy harmony. (The insects come out in hordes in the cool of the evening.)

Because I got discouraged with the birds, I turned my new little digital camera towards this farm equipment. It's probably taking a well-deserved rest at the end of the season.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Challenge

We spent weeks removing rocks from our back yard.
And then the hubby went out and bought more rocks !

A truck with a dump bed delivered that 1000 pound rock one day last week and left it on our driveway.

The hubby contemplated several plans that would transport it around to THE BACK YARD. He's so very good at making plans.

His final strategy was to employ a pallet dolly and the muscles of several of his former co-workers: the firefighters. He stopped in at the fire station and dropped some hints about trying to move this BIG rock. There didn't seem to be much enthusiasm for his project and he heard nothing more. No response, no pallet dolly. Now what?

What a suprise when the doorbell rang at 7:30 on The Fourth of July and there stood seven firefighters, muscles flexed. With their challenge juices rolling they said, "We're here to move your rock."

The hubby said, "I don't have a pallet dolly!"

They said, "We'll figure it out."

They looked around the carport where we've stacked our construction materials and found the tool of choice: a 4 x 4 piece of lumber.

The firefighters rolled the rock onto the 4 x 4, two at each end, and the others positioned themselves to keep the rock balanced.

Halfway to THE BACK YARD destination, they had to set it down. It was just too hard to balance. Instead, they decided to pick up the rock. And that is exactly what they did.

They carried it to its final resting place, grunting, groaning and encouraging each other all the way. That's what firefighters do.

The hubby has been retired for eight years and has missed the 'family' he was part of for 26 years. He was overcome with emotion by having four former co-workers and three new recruits show up to help him. There is true camaraderie among those who risk their lives for others.

(Me? I enjoyed the grunting and the groaning.... I'm not that old!)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Anger, Grief, Goodbye

I’ve been reluctant to talk about death because it makes me so angry.

My brother in law B.R. died on May 18. My sister, and her three adult children knew his death was imminent, yet knowing doesn’t ease the horrible pain.

BR’s battle against pancreatic cancer was fought on two fronts, his and my sis. Together they took the three-month prognosis and stretched it into sixteen. That last day, my sis, in her strength and dignity, lay on the hospice bed beside her love and companion of 44 years. She whispered memories of the life they shared, promised him that she would see him in a better place, and gave him permission to seek the peace that was beckoning him.

There in her arms he died.

B.R. had a big dog named Kodiak. There is an odd thing about dogs, especially a companion of many years. They seem to take on their owner’s dispositions, quirks, and even their health issues. Yes, Kodiak had cancer. He’d been fighting it for about the same amount of time as B.R. My sis had spent the last 18 months accompanying one or the other to the medical center or the veterinary hospital.

Sis told me that the day B.R. died, she watched Kodiak back away, out the door. He was never himself after that.

He slept on the bed beside her in the master suite every night the following two weeks. Then, on Sunday before dawn, she was aroused from badly needed sleep by odd sounds he was making. In agony she came to the realization that he was partially paralyzed and struggling to move and to breathe. In those wee hours, she spoke softly to him, and whispered memories of the life they had shared, promised him they would see each other in a better place, and gave him permission to seek the peace that was beckoning him.

On that day, Kodiak laid his head in her lap and died.

I picture B.R. and Kodiak playing fetch on a wave-swept beach, backpacking up a trail in the high mountains, and sharing lunch beneath a towering rock cliff.

Writing these things has been good for me. It has eased my anger.

Now I will grieve with my sister.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


B...U... Buckle,
H...U...Huckle, Hi

Huckleberry Pie

How Now Brown Cow .....................bird

This very shy and nervous little bird has a nest in the Euonymus shrub on the gate leading to our neighbor’s yard. The shrub is under three towering maple trees that are well over 100 years old. It's very secluded and shady.

I sat quietly on a step-stool and got cramps in my bum in order to capture this picture. (Yes – we bought a new camera after I dropped the old worthless out of date prehistoric model that the lens clicked about a second after you pushed the button and I don’t feel so mad at myself anymore.) She was camera shy and faster than the shutter speed. Sorry it isn't very clear.

My contact at the Audubon Society has confirmed it is a Song Sparrow. They are supposedly a very common bird across the country, but they have physical differences depending on where you live. That is probably why I thought it was a Lincoln’s Sparrow. (The native birds are not as common as are the imported house sparrows and Starlings. Bullies)

What attracted me to this bird, besides the dainty flitting and sweet singing, was the presence of a larger bird that was acting like a baby. Baby Huey didn’t fly very well, and would hide inside the branches chirping oddly until the petite mother would come and feed it. I have several feeders in the back yard so it wasn’t hard keeping track of her grocery list.

Enquiring minds wanted to know – and mine was not the least bit happy when Mr. Audubon told me that the other bird was “the great nest parasite known as the Brown-headed Cowbird.” His words not mine.

I recalled seeing a few cowbirds hanging around my feeder earlier this spring. They are notorious for laying one big egg in some little birds nest that will hatch and drop kick the true offspring out.

Mommy seems unaware of the difference. She is unwavering in her singing, and he responds in a squeaky gurgle. She is persistent in the gathering of nourishment, and the little doppelganger is relentless in his feeding frenzy.

I almost wish I hadn’t noticed.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My Favorite

Today I need to start sketching my redheaded girl. It’s part of my plan to do a watercolor portrait of each of my grandchildren. I never knew that something so much fun could be so difficult. Or, is it the other way around?

Little Buddy was my first grandchild. His was also the first (and only, so far) portrait that I have completed, signed, and framed. At ten, he can beat me at every video game, but still wants to be cuddled at bedtime and be told, again, the story that you made up just for him. (He has it memorized.) I often recall his first moment of life, as I was there. Wish I could have been there this summer when he hit his first home run. Because he is my favorite, I want to be there for every first.

Lttle buddy & My Red-Headed Girl a few years back

My Red Headed Girl is probably going to grow up to be an attorney. We talk about serious things of which most 9 year olds are clueless. We also talk of fun things, and she can match me eyebrow for eyebrow for sarcasm and puns. She likes to watercolor, too. She’s long and lanky and has the thickest mane I’ve ever had the opportunity to brush and braid. She’s my favorite because we are friends, and we love each other more than a poo poo platter. It’s a Bugs Life.

Ben jammin’ knows he’s my favorite. His brain is like an energizer bunny hidden under a blond bobble head. He blushes like his mom and when he graduated from preschool this spring announced he was destined to become a firefighter just like grandpa. He is very artistic. At five he doesn’t save me many kisses, but I’ll survive with a snuggle and a book at bedtime. The surprise there is that he reads it to me.

When I held Goober in my arms, hours old, she already looked just like her mom. A perfect complexion, the bone structure of a Goddess, soft blond tresses and a contented little smile carved from a cameo made it easy to choose her as my favorite.

However, she is perfection in deception. At four, she can keep up with "the hole in the wall gang," send the Rottweiler to the corner, and bravely face a terrifying asthma attack. Bless her little heart.

The Buttercup looks the most like me of all the seven. That in itself is enough to make her my favorite. But there is more - by the time she was six month old her budding personality hinted she had also inherited my impishness, imagination and somewhat inspiring naughtiness. She’ll be three in October; a Libra like me. I predict she will be beautiful and a talented actress and be the one to take care of me when I am old - and feed me blueberries.

You just can’t help but smile when you are with 2-year-old Curly Mop. She has this enchanting little elfin face wrapped in ribbons of ringlets. When she giggles, which is often, you are quite sure you can hear it echoing in a distant zephyr as it wafts along its way. She shares all her secrets (in a constant babble) which she acts out with hand gestures and body wiggles. Moreover, she shares all her toys when you come to her corner to play. Her invitations are too sweet to decline. She plays hard, sleeps well and wakes up happy. She’s my favorite

There is a lot of his great grandma’s Guatemalan ancestry apparent when Peanut looks at you out of those dark eyes. At 10 months, he loves to say “HI,” to me on the phone in his husky little voice, and then giggle when I say "Hi" back. I am told he then kisses and slobbers on the phone. I can hear the sloppy noises and I love special noises. A bond with me is his amazing love for food. And, just like me, he can't seem to get through a meal without making a mess. Especially when wearing white. You can see why he’s my favorite. He is growing so fast and so far away in Sacramento.

An when the next one comes along, I am positive he/she will be my favorite.

I had better go set up my painting table. This will require my favorite colors.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Digiree dood it

Guess who dropped the digital camera and broke it?

Let us play the 3 guesses game.

I'll give you one hint: It was one of the 2 skinny women inside of me always fighting to get out.

No ice-cream for her tonight.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

End of the day, End of the street

It was just a quiet walk at the end of the day, then a desperate run back to the house to grab the digital camera.
We missed capturing the most magnificant part of the sunset, but you can see some of the interesting pattern still remained in the right quadrant. As a painter I recognized the brush strokes pulling in the color from behind the gold edges. Don't you wonder what causes the sky to look like someone's canvas? I've tried to duplicate that gilded edge and the shadow behind it on 140 cold press. I've failed - but as Scarlet O'Hara said, "There's always tomorrow!"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth !!!

From our house to yours.

Memories from Independence Day past.
Hey grandkids, this is grandpa, and the USS Ray. He was stationed on this nuclear submarine out of Norfolk, VA. (No, grandpa doesn't really walk on water, only in grandma's eyes.)

Today we're blessed with a short visit from our California grandkids who are here in town with their dad. We played some video games,

donned our sunhats to walk down to the end of the road to feed the neighbors horse some cut up apples ---------------------->

and dressed up for fun



We watched The Sand Lot, one of the best movies ever.

Later their dad is picking them up to take them to the celebration in the park and then do their own fireworks display at their other grandma's house.

Thanks to all who made our country free.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Green Door ---

THE BACK YARD was all prepped and ready for …… what? Seed? Hydro-seed? Sod? We needed to hasten our decision for two reasons. 1) We wanted grass, soon! 2) The weatherman said summer was roarin’ in hot, dry, and fast.

We immediately discounted planting seed. Too hot. It had to be either Hydro seed or $od. That dollar sign was the deciding vote. Hydro-seed it was. We called the company and they were scheduling appointments 3 days out…. Monday morning was our turn.

Midnight, one more night without sleepin.' Watchin' till the mornin' comes creepin.' Green door, what's that secret you're keepin'?

Monday morning.
“Ring Ring Ring. Hello. Oh. Wednesday? Afternoon? I guess if that’s the best you can do.” A delay because another job was taking longer than anticipated.

The hubby understands all the pitfalls of landscaping. He would be the last person to speak disparaging words to someone who was trying his best to do a job. “Wednesday would be fine,” he told them.

There's an old piano And they play it hot behind the green door. Don't know what they're doin' But they laugh a lot behind the green door. Wish they'd let me in So I could find out what's behind the green door.

By Wednesday, the mercury on the patio thermometer was threatening to reach triple digits. “We are cutting this to close,” I commented before I left for work. “Yeah,” responded the hubby, "if we get into the high 90’s then I’ll have to be here 24/7 to make sure the sprinklers cover all that sprayed on seed.” At 5 pm, THE BACK YARD was still not hydro-seeded. “They called,” the hubby grumbled. “The equipment broke down.” Postponed until Friday.

We looked at the weather forecast: high 90’s, low 100’s. The hubby and I looked into each other eyes in a long silent dialogue. (When you’ve been together 30 years, words are superfluous.)

Knocked once, tried to tell them I'd been there. Door slammed, hospitality's thin there. Wond'rin' just what's goin' on in there

First thing Thursday morning the hubby called a sod company (about 50 miles away). “We have our yard all prepped and we’re looking at a weekend too hot for seed. Can you help us?

The guy that answered the phone wasn't encouraging. “The earliest is Monday,” he responded. The hubby and I went back to the silent dialogue, each thinking through the pro’s and con’s of switching horses in mid stream and what would be the consequences of doing so.

Minutes later.....Ring Ring Ring. “Hey,” the excited guy at the sod company exclaimed, “We’ve had a cancellation and a fully loaded semi-truck is coming your way first thing tomorrow morning. How much do you need?”

Saw an eyeball peepin' Through a smoky cloud behind the green door. When I said Joe sent me Someone laughed out loud behind the green door. All I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the green door

They had exactly what we'd ordered when the two-trailor semi pulled up Friday at 7:30 a.m. sharp. The driver lowered a ramp, revved up his little hyster, and lifted the first of 8 ½ pallets of rolled up green. After he unloaded them side-by-side on the parking strip he manuevered the hyster back on the truck and headed for his next customer about 6 blocks east of us.
The teenaged son of one of our friends showed up for about 3 hours to help cart sod into the back yard. Nevertheless, the majority of the work was on the hubby’s shoulders because it happened to fast to find more help; plus, it was my friday to work late. I got home at 6:30 p.m. to find him about 2/3 of the way done and still chugging. I changed my clothes and helped for 2 hours and then dragged him by his collar into the house for food. We would have to finish up tomorrow.

Midnight, one more night without sleepin.' Watchin' till that mornin' comes creepin.' Green door, what's that secret you're keepin'

Saturday wasn’t going to be a good sod-laying day. The hubby had already committed to an early 63-mile memorial bicycle ride. I had an obligation that morning as well, although not physically demanding. AND......it was just plain HOT.

We both returned home about 2 p.m, knowing we needed to get the remainder of the sod rolling. The hubby looked like a salted old sailor from his long hot bike ride, and I get sunstroke just taking out the garbage. However, I mustered up some sod-wrangling skills, and a big jug of RELIV Innergize for us both and kept the cart moving to THE BACK YARD just fast enough to keep up with him. Finally, with all the sod down, he started pushing the ‘prehistoric’ lawn roller to press it firmly to the dirt. I got the cushy job of manually watering all the sod (and myself) with a long hose and a gentle refreshing spray.

Several hours later we’d removed our filthy clothes in the utility, and stood partially disrobed inside the darkened room. We were so happy, we just couldn't help it and we laughed out loud behind the green ….door.

The Green Door -Artist: Jim Lowe
-peak Billboard position #1 for 3 weeks in 1956

Curly Mops Birthday

Curly Mop (one of our 7 grandchildren) turned two years old this week.

Her smile and giggle can cure the gloomiest of days. Pour that and the excitement generated by a birthday into a bottle and we could sell it and become millionaires.

The party was at a park in Portland, so it was a long drive, both ways :)

Our gift, a doll house, was purchased during a spring close out sale at Toys R Us , then hidden in a closet until the big day. It took both grandpa's and a tool box to put it together - - - - - - - - - - -

and a somewhat overwhelmed mommy to find a home for it in a tiny apartment.

That done, we chowed down a 6-foot Sub Sandwich and a 7-layer birthday cake. The layers were separated by heavenly fruit compotes of marionberry, rasberry and strawberry. It was sinful. Curly mop got her very own two-year old size cake that was topped with Bert. You can see which got her attention.

Sesame Street rules in her toy box. She owns at least two copies of every muppet that ever appeared on that show and probably 5 or 6 stuffed or plastic replicas in various sizes of the more popular characters like Big Bird and Cookie Monster. They could be driving cars or they may be appliqued on pillows or play clothes. They sing, they dance, they even potty train! She knows all the characters names and will recite them to you as she fills your lap with them one by one. Then you have to read the books that tell you how to get to Sesame Street. I've been given special priviledges at times because I can sing Elmo's World and sound just like him.

This little guitar was quite a hit. Elmo plays on one side and cookie monster on the other. I see Ben-Jammin' (another grandchild) pointing out the quickest and most effective noise making properties.

There is so much to do,

when you just turn two.