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Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Memory

I don't remember how old our middle daughter was when she learned a Dutch song from an elementary school teacher at Christmas time.

We didn't know what the words meant, but we enjoyed listening to her sing the verse as she skipped around the house that year.

We sang many of the familiar holiday tunes in the car as we drove over the mountains that Christmas Eve to celebrate with family at my brother's house in Gig Harbor.

We stopped to have lunch at a little restaurant when the road made us hungry and weary.  In passing, I noticed that the pretty young woman who took our dinner requests had an unusual accent.  However, we were distracted by our young daughters and entertaining them while we waited for our meal and hadn't chatted with her.

It wasn't too long before the little song was forming once again on the lips of our little singer.  She sang it out clear and sweet:


Sinterklaas, kapoentje
Gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
Breng wat in mijn laarsje,
Dank je Sinterklaasje.

It was not until after she finished the verse that we noticed that our waitress had walked over to our table and was standing close to our daughter.  Tears were rolling down her cheeks.

"How do you know this song?"  She sniffed.

Our daughter proudly responded, "From my teacher!"

"I am from the Netherlands," the tearful server explained, "and, this is the song I sang so much as a child. You have made me remember my home and how much I miss my family."

Then she asked our daughter to sing it once more time.  She got down on her knees and sang the words along with her.

"Oh, thank you!" she exclaimed. "What a wonderful present you have given me today."

Then, she rushed away to get our food.

***
Hope everyone of you get to remember something special this beautiful Christmas season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Conversations with Grand Children

At lunch time today the conversation took a strange turn when we began talking about cows.


Grandma:  When I was a little girl we raised cows.
5 year old Z-bub:  Who won?
Grandma (confused):  Who won what?

Z-bub:  Who won when you raced cows?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Tis the Season

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Leavenworth Washington is a small village that has “reinvented” itself as the place to visit to get into the spirit of the season. 

I was enchanted by this magnificent Percheron, Jackson, that took Santa on a tour and was also available for tourist’s rental as well.

One hundred years ago there were lots of horses and wagons still carrying the majority of people on their journeys to and from town, as well as handling the freight and agricultural demands.

My mama told me about riding to school on a buckboard behind a horse called Old Nell.  Grandma would take rocks heated on the old wood stove and place them in rags around mama and her siblings feet to keep them warm.

Her other memories of the ride include a loud and effusive burst of gas escaping from the old mare every couple of clip clops. 

Mama said that one day on the way to school she herself was guilty of a small aromatic ester.  Even in her early 70s my mama would blush when she told me that her social blunder earned her the nickname “Old Nell.” 

I thought of that story when Jackson clopped past me later that day.  Pugh!  Jackson was quite the stinker!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pink Boots


The sled has Mizellie, Z-bub, and Dinkum on it.  My boots have horses on them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day - and a post revisited

I wrote these thoughts several years ago ---  and I thought they were appropriate for this Veterans Day.  

Three of our grandchildren’s dad is in the Air Force. (He has served in Iraq twice. He is no longer my son-in law. However, those little faces that I love, love him.)
Alex, you are in my prayers.

Prior to our meeting, my husband served four years in the late sixties as a submariner. His dress whites are in a storage box. Pictures of his “Boats” hang at the end of the hallway.
Hubby, you were a handsome sailor. I love you.

The army drafted my youngest brother, a conscientious objector, about the same year that my future husband signed. I was in high school and cried as he reported for duty and climbed into the waiting bus. The nightly news was all about Vietnam. Nick was one of the lucky ones who stayed in the States. He never carried a gun, but served in a medic position. He became a respiratory therapist after his stint was complete. 

Billy, my cousin, lived with us his last year of high school before being drafted by the army. Also a conscientious objector, He was wounded in Vietnam when he stepped on a land mind while carrying a comrade off the battlefield. In the following years, he often complained of tasting Agent Orange in his mouth.  He died in his twenties from a brain tumor.

My eldest brother graduated from College in the late fifties and received his “Greetings”in 1958. “The White Coats” in Maryland was his military family. They were eager to use Ron's degree in Biochemistry.
Big brothers, - You made our family proud.

The hubby’s dad (1925-2002) was yet a teen when assigned to a sub chaser in the South Seas during World War II. That is why he was still young enough for call back during the Korean Conflict. In 2001, I asked him to share his story at our Memorial Day Barbecue. The hubby and his sister heard their father’s narrative for the first time that day. His memoirs included the execution of his favorite cousin who was captured during a battle. The handwritten pages smeared by his tears are neatly folded and stored. It will be a post on my blog some day.  

Two of my mom’s brothers, George and Wilmer, served in World War II. One was in the European theater. They are both gone, and as far as I know their knowledge of their experiences with them. 

Gram's cousin Victor was entombed in the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor on that fateful December 7.
You were indeed -The Greatest Generation.
 
Tecumseh, my dad’s 23-year-old brother, died of pneumonia while serving in World War I. Dad spoke of him with quiet admiration.
Uncle Tecumseh, I knew you because dad told me about you. Now my kids will know about you, too.

During the Civil war, Typhoid fever killed my maternal Great Grandfather George. My paternal Great Grandfather Elisha, lost his arm in battle. Great Great Grandfather Ambrose on the hubby’s side was a cavalry soldier in that uncivil War, as well. He returned home safely. You can read about them in my post One Wore Blue.
You men came home and mended a broken nation.  May your sacrifices and forgiveness remind us about unity and greater good.

The Revolutionary War included my Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather Titus Travis, who was on the “Muster Roll of New York Provincial Troops,” and his son George, with four greats. George escaped after being captured by the Redcoats. Through your commitment I am a "Daughter of The Revolution."
Thousands of children are your descendants. Thousands more have arrived here to share in the dreams that you had. I like to think my grandson has your smile.

The best Veteran's Day ever would be the one where there were no more Veterans in the ranks  because there were no more wars.  

In the meantime, in the real world, I need to say thank you from my heart to all the Veterans and their families.  Why does thank you just not seem like enough.    



Saturday, October 30, 2010

October's Fuchsia


Here it is, the end of October and the Fuchsia on my patio continues to provide some color and some distraction from the other things of the world.  Will it be tonight that the frost nips it away?


There is a beautiful dogwood tree several blocks away that has various colors of green, yellow and red.  Will I'll remember to take my camera next time I drive past?

We're having some cool rainy fall days.  I noticed that leaves on the driveway left behind their shape in silhouette after I swept them into the dust bin.  I wonder how long the stain will remain?

Tomorrow is Halloween and the only decorating on my porch has been done by the hungry spiders.  Oh! And the birds have done a little splattering, too.  I wonder how many little creatures will grace our doorway tomorrow night?

Trick or treat?

(I am hoping for treat, how about you?)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tailgating on I=205


Sort of disconcerting driving down the freeway at 65 mph

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Favorite Photos for Fun Monday


I don't have a favorite photo.  But Faye, acting on her duty as Fun Monday Host, asked that we share our favorite old family photo.  So here I am and this is the one I have chosen.



The one above is a favorite family photo from when I was a little girl. Favored because my mom, dad, and all my brothers and sisters were together for the pose.

In the upper left is my sister Nelda who died from leukemia in 1994. She was always beautiful.  The two oldest brothers, Ron and Tom, are wearing identical suits.  No. They are not twins. Interestingly, they appear much the same today. They look pretty fantastic in their suits at the ages of 74 and 75.

My sister Sandra is wearing a dress that I loved.  She is also wearing a Lauren Bacall expression. Today, Sandra is my favorite breast cancer survivor! And, she still has that Bacall attitude!

On the lower left, Mike has a mischievous grin on his face and I suspect he is poking Trish in the back of her best blue dress.  He would do the same thing today if you stood in front of him in a photo.  Trish is the one who has the grace and forgiveness to stand in front of him and believe that he won't do it again.

On the opposite side you can see Nick is wearing a silly bow tie and a more solemn expression.  If he'd have poked me in the back I would have turned around and decked him.  Don't let that peculiarly shy act in that dainty little pink dress with lace trim fool you.

My mother was wearing a familiar style of dress.  All the years that she and dad were married, mom wore polka dots because dad was fond of them.

And Dad?  He was just worried about getting back to milk the cow.

I'd love to see your old black and whites.  Post them and check in at Summit Musings

Monday, September 20, 2010

Finding a Quiet Place



Fun Monday is still alive and kicking and Sayre Smiles asked today's bold question:  Where is Your Quiet Place?

My answer:  Bird watching. There is nothing more peaceful and relaxing then to walk through nature to listen and observe. 

I had an opportunity to go out on a raptor watch on Saturday -  there were fields south of town filled with Swainson's Hawks on their migration to their winter home in Argentina.  I had my camera along, but spent too much time with my binoculars.

I did, however, capture this bullfrog who was waiting patiently for his next meal.  Now, this little amphibian knows all about quiet places.

Shhhhhh. Tip toe on over and see who has joined Sarah for Monday Fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Care Packages



Thank you Sandy.  (Myanderings)

Yes my Cyber friend.  You made me feel special.  I love the tea. It smelled so wonderful when I opened the box.  You and I are going to get together sometime.  Outside of this  LCD Monitor and  into some fresh country air.  Yours or mine.  And soon.  I've only flown through Texas once, with grand kids in tow.  Houston was lovely from the air.  So now I'm ready for a tour of your part of Texas.


I've had some other pick-me-ups recently, too.  One of my more recent friend-making moments was when I met Iggy (Intense Guy.)  One day I read his blog and I was hooked.  Is it sexist for me to say HE IS such a nice guy?  Last year he sent me some great tourist info on a local bird and wildlife area where he wanders.  I visited Pennsylvania in 1995 - and fell in love with the southeastern corner, including Philadelphia.   Iggy's posts and photos of his current travels, plus his childhood memories  stir me to travel there again.  Last month he sent me his Summer 2010 issue of Invention & Technology.   Don't laugh.  He knows I'm not an engineer.  The  "Hoover's Miracle Dam Celebrates its 75th" article prompted him to think of me (and my Dam Post.)   He just didn't know how much I needed the patio time with some tea and a special read.  Thank you Iggy.

And then there was The Church Lady. I'd forgotten about entering a caption contest on her blog, Living Life in Pennsylvania, back in early August. (Hey!  Another reason to see PA)  She sent a little email asking about claiming my prize when I didn't come back to chortle about my clever entry.  Actually, her husband's caption won the most votes, but she gave him a big kiss.  I got the Wal-Mart gift certificate for coming in second and not being related.  I'd like to be related, though.   

And thank you to all the rest of you for the little notes and words of encouragement.  The world is full of wonderful people, and I am blessed to know so many.

**Update
I was so excited opening it I didn't realize it was all packed with crossword puzzles from the newspaper !!!  What a gal!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adjustments

Today I opened Bloglines to see how v-e-r-y far behind I am on visiting and commenting on my favorite blogs.   Instead of seeing my page full of unmarked and unread links, I saw a notice that Bloglines will officially shut down on October 1st.

Although that deadline is over two weeks away, I knew I better act upon it immediately.  I've overlooked and forgotten many small AND large things the past two months. I don't want to wander away and lose my feeds.

Maybe I'm losing my edge, or maybe I'm just tired.  Either way, I couldn't follow the instructions that Bloglines offered to expedite my list to a new provider.  As a result, I sat down and opened two windows and began opening each of my blog subscriptions, sifting, and resubscribing in my new reader.  Throughout the day I stopped by my computer and continued this task. It was eye opening.

I've subscribed to a lot of blogs in the past 4 1/2 years. Several of my blogging buddies had moved their blogs through two or three blog hosts.  Many of my friends now post rarely. Others have just faded into oblivion. I felt nostalgic when I opened a dormant feed and saw the last correspondence from so long ago.  Not many goodbyes.  Many have moved on to other things without much adieu.  Some had actually closed their blogs and left their personal addresses at the mercy of web advertisers.  Or worse.

 
It was difficult to leave behind some of the inactive feeds.  One was "Living with Leukemia."  Another was "Gwen's Den," the homes of two bloggers who lost their earthly battle.  I took one last look at those two titles that hadn't lit up in a long time and moved on.  Yesterday I was shocked to hear that Lori, the Barn-goddess, died suddenly in July.  I could not leave her "Ramblings From The Reservation" behind.  So I clicked and carried it.  Maybe I'm hoping her husband or son will post a final note to give us closure.
 
Some of you know that there has been a plethora of events in our personal world the last two months that has consumed time and energy.  Posting on my blog and reading your blog went to the bottom of my list of priorities.  That doesn't mean you all aren't important to me.  Nor does it mean that my blog is going to fade away.

Right now it just means I miss you.  Lots.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Anemones Still Bloom


I am encouraged by the tenacity of the Anemones pink blossoms that bend and decorate the old log that WR placed near the pond.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti

Just when I needed some kitchen inspiration … I WON!  I WON!
All Right.  So… everybody who commented on  a recent post by Swampy  (Anecdotes, Antidotes & Anodes)  won, BUT…that didn’t make it any less sweet.   Especially since I’d been standing in Barnes & Nobles just recently admiring the great success of Ree, The Pioneer Woman.

So – here is my prize! ! A personally autographed Pioneer Woman Cooks!

pioneerCook pioneerCook2003

When I started blogging over four years ago the Swamp Witch and Ree (Confessions of a Pioneer Woman) were two of my very first cyber friends.  I think there was a group of about 10 of us who got linked up through  “blogging chicks;” not to mention a clever and cynical cyber Aussie hunk.  Swampy and I can talk about him later…..

I keep track of Ree’s success.  I still read her blog (it’s like a three ringed circus) and now I’ve even watched her television appearance on THE VIEW!! 

Swampy continues to blog on her broom; a trick I admire.  She keeps that  sonic sweeper in constant motion and I just am always tagging along in the comment section.

And me?  Well, I’m just going to get up tomorrow and cook. We need some semblance of normalcy right now, and a good pan of chicken spaghetti just seems to fit the bill.

ps.  Thanks Ree and Swampy.  Hugs and damp lashes.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Hummer Dummer


This is the HUMMER. (She joined me for breakfast this morning on the patio.)

The DUMMER is me. 


I accidentally deleted a part of my cell phone contact list.

I got a new DROID.  The yearly contract says I can upgrade my phone for minimal costs.  Of course, there is always more expense than meets the eye.  Insurance. Data Feed.  Yada Yada Yada.  But in the end the actual phone only cost $50 because of a rebate.

When the technician transferred my information from the old antiquated phone to this new "Beam Me UP Scotty" gadget,  she briefly mentioned that the info was shared on my Google contact list.  These young geniuses forget that some of us are technically challenged.  She just rattled off some facts and threw the owners manual at me.

I rarely used Google so only had four contacts on there.  That is why I was initially confused yesterday when I opened Google on my PC and noticed all sorts of cell phone contact numbers listed.

"Whaaaa?"  I thought.  "There is no reason to put my friends telephone numbers out here where someone might hack them!"

And, then I started deleting them.  Fortunately I stopped before completing the task.  The sudden and acute memory of "Droid talks to google" hit me like a full salt shaker to the head. 

So, if I don't call you, it's because I'm embarrassed.

And, I don't have your number anymore.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Passing the Windmill Sail



Other Wordless Wednesday participants signed up here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Fun in the Sun



Almost 14-month old Smurfella running through the sprinkler. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tubing

video

Our girls loved to go tubing on the Snake River when the weather was fine.  Now their children say "Grandpa, take us tubing!"

(Warning! That video I took while riding in the boat might make you sick!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's All About Friendship

























The last one  --  Fern is 101.  But her best friends, her sisters, are still very close to her heart.
Fun  Monday is being hosted by Mariposa today.  And, It's All About Friendship.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Or Black & White Flamingos.

While six grandchildren were visiting this weekend, we had an opportunity to go for a short walk on the creek. Just turned 8-year old Goober Evalina and I were doing a little bird watching.

Goober:   OH!  Grandma!  Look at those!

Grandma:  Uh huh.  Two Canadian Geese.

Goober (Sighs, and in a disappointed tone):  I thought they were short Ostrich.

Then she walks ahead of me and I hear her add quietly, "Or Black and White Flamingos."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When's the next Rest Stop?

Traveling the 3500 miles in June, we never once thought to check the Garmin to see if it could locate rest stops.  We were always looking.

The Interstate Highways provided full service stops at regular intervals until we got into Arizona.   According to the locals, the state is out of money. Most of the rest stops are barricaded.

Fortunately the main gate facilities at Grand Canyon National Park (south rim) had restrooms with all the right stuff:  running water, sinks, and toilet bowls.  And, on the backs of the stall doors you could read the details of how the water got there (from the north rim) and an intricate drawing to explain how it is recycled back to your next flush.  (A few of the particulars confused me, but ..oh~ never mind.)

Farther into the park, where no water is available, there are outdoor chemical latrines with huge black vent pipes.  I don’t know the physics involved, but I can tell you this:  when the wind is blowing 40 mph over the topside, your bottom side gets the picture.





Where's the River?  No no no!  I want to know: Where is the Rest Stop?


Many of our miles were on side trips where there were no official state maintained rest areas.  We saw signs that made it clear to road warriors that the restrooms in the stores were "for customers only."    So, we dutifully bought water or juice, which only guaranteed that we would soon be looking for another potty break down the road.
 


Gotcha!  Not some weird old toilet.  But that crossed my mind with some "gotta go" discomfort when I saw this shift change whistle at the old Copper Mine in Jerome, Arizona.  




I already posted, with guest help, about  The Forty Mile Desert.    The photos display uninhabitable country where highway 80 and highway 95 intersect mid Nevada.   Since there is no water, but plenty of travelers,  you get the deluxe version of the single outhouse.   Don't take me wrong.  I  didn't complain when we rolled into the parking lot, raced to the doors, and didn't have to stand in a queue!   Eight of them all hooked together under one roof.  Each room with a luxury opaque window so you can see  ...  uh ... without taking off your sunglasses?  

No P.  No Way!


Once you cross the border into Oregon you kiss two things goodbye:  the 70 mph speed limit and outdoor toilets.  Actually there were NO TOILETS until we reached Interstate 84.  Two-hundred and fifty eight miles of mostly sagebrush from Winnemucca, NV to Ontario, Oregon.      That may sound innocuous to the twenty-something traveler, but I was traveling with a charter member of the *IBB Club and am on the cusp of joining it myself. 

Somewhere in the picturesque outback of southeastern Oregon I was the one who announced that I absolutely had to make a rest stop.  The sagebrush was still green and many of them were nearly as tall as I am.   (Wider, too.  No snide remarks from the gallery.)   I insisted on carrying my camera  in case a car or a trucker drove by.  ( "Who me? I'm just out here taking pictures!")  There was also the part about forcing WR to accompany me so we could stomp loudly through the rocks and brambles to scare away any snakes that might be lurking.    Shortly after handing off the Canon Powershot to WR and taking position,  the sage in front of me began to rustle.  Squatting near the ground with your jeans snug on your boots is a very precarious position to be in when you hear adjacent noises in rattlesnake country.  Even with your husband standing guard.    Fortunately for me, out from its hiding place in the fragrant gray-green foliage fluttered a Sage Thrasher. 

"TAKE A PICTURE!  TAKE A PICTURE!"  I cried.  He removed the lens cap and pointed.
  I covered my face.  "ARGH.......... of the the bird!  Not me!" 

He snapped a quick shot.  Then the thrasher quickly found cover.  So did I.




Hey! What a polite little feather pot.  He closed his eyes!


And now you know the "rest" of the story.
  



*itty bitty bladder club





Sunday, July 18, 2010

Feathers in my Cap

Bird watching was another entertainment I pursued on our recent road trip,   I documented and added  twenty-one new sightings to my 'Life List."  I also saw many familiar birds along the way.
A Western Kingbird in Eastern Oregon.

 
I've seen many  Kingbirds during my bird watching excursions....but never so many at once.  We stopped at a rest stop where the trees were full of them and the yellow feathers were especially vibrant.  ♪♫♪♫♪♫  "Yellow bird, high up in banana tree..."  ♪♫♪♫♪♫



A first sighting!   Rock Wren on Antelope Island, The Great Salt Lake.
I yearn to return  ---  with insect repellent.  Antelope Island is a sanctuary where, during migration, birds find plenty of flying insects to fulfill their energy requirements for the rest of their journey.  In the meantime, those pesky bugs thought I was on the menu.  Pamela Cream Pie.



Another first!  Broad-tailed Hummingbird.  Flagstaff, Arizona.

They were buzzing around so fast that I was hard pressed to get a photo that wasn't blurry.  Hope you can pick him out right there in the center.  We were informed that the nights had been so cool that the hummingbirds were just returning.  The next day a  wild fire  (perhaps the one we had observed from Grand Canyon National Park) forced evacuation of parts of the city.  I hope this little jet fighter and his buddies found someplace safe to hide.


An Eagle Owl?

While attending Tsunami on the Square  (don't know why it was called that) in downtown Prescott, AZ we encountered a man carrying this fine owl specimen.  It's eyes, ears, and beak gave it a very fierce appearance.  I believe it is a native of central Asia.  I don't count birds in captivity on my list.



A Broad-billed Hummingbird.  Tucson, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden



 Another one I can't count on my life list, but I sure can take a photograph and post it on my blog.  This small thumb-sized bird was defending a nectar feeder.  Although there were many buzzing freely in the hummingbird aviary, there were only six species represented.  I sat down and waited for one to take a breather.  Waiting in the heat for this stolen moment was worth it!   He was all ruffled up and ready to rumble.


 My first Cactus Wren.  Tucson Arizona

These wrens were everywhere; especially visible on the saguaro cactus  It may have been eating the red juicy pulp of the cactus fruit as well as insects.



Sky Bird, somewhere in Nevada.

WR tells me that I have too much imagination.  I swear I see a beak and tail feathers through our dirty windshield. 

Did I ever mention that I love birds?



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Dee Ho

When I was a kid, my Mama and my Aunt Myrtle talked about a far away land called I Dee Ho.  When I grew older I realized they were really talking about a state...the one squeezed into the shape of a big fat L,  between Washington and Montana.

Over the years, I’ve crossed the border into Idaho at times to visit Lewiston or Coeur d'Alene.  I’ve also had the thrill of a jet boat tour through Hells Canyon on the Snake – the  river that cuts a huge smile from Wyoming, all across Idaho, and into Washington.  (It spills into the Columbia River about 40 minutes from my house.)

In June we had the opportunity to see more of the beautiful and not so far away I Dee Ho country. 

Near Twin Falls, ID, the Snake River tumbles over a rocky 212 foot Shoshone Falls and flows through the Snake River Canyon.      I was reminded of when I was very young and that crazy stuntman Evil Knievel attempted (unsuccessfully) to jump the canyon on his motorcycle.

If you are afraid of high bridges and deep canyons  -  this is certainly the place for you.  Not.  I can only imagine how awesome it would be to see the river flowing freely. 

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My only disappointment was that there were houses built so close. 

We also passed through Owyhee Country, a serene and appealing place that day.  I was intrigued with the story and pleasured by the signs color coordination with the hills and sage.
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But what a killjoy to peer over over the guard rail and see someone's garbage.  (Grrrrr….. I detest litterbugs.)   Thanks to the clouds, I got my groove back when I saw a Salmon flying in the sky.

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We didn’t see nearly enough of Idaho.  I guess that means we have a wonderful excuse to head east - and explore another day.