Thursday, December 31, 2009

Smoked BBQ Ribs!

Um, they were good! Tom put the ribs in a brine solution early this afternoon and soaked them for four hours, then into the smoker for another 4-5 hours. Boy, they were falling off the bone delicious! (I even had to call Brother Pat just to rub it in a bit...)

After all the running around yesterday done by all of us -- the guys getting Auntie Violet's oil changed and Juni and I shopping -- none of us were moving very fast this morning. We had some of the gargantuan Costco muffins that we had picked up yesterday for breakfast, then Juni and I went out again to Trader Joe's and Sam's Club to get the things we didn't yesterday. I've had "Two Buck Chuck" at the neighbors and enjoyed it and we've been drinking it while we've been here in Albuquerque. I had never been to a Trader Joe's before, just heard about it from lots of folks. Now that I've been in one, it won't be the last time! I came home with a case of "Two Buck Chuck" red table wine (even if it's now $2.99 a bottle instead of $1.99...).

While we were gone, Forry introduced Tom to Sudoku puzzles. Tom's spent the evening playing it on the computer, Forry's playing it in a puzzle book, Juni is playing Party Poker on the computer and I've been dealing with my farming on Facebook. Quite a subdued New Year's Eve gathering, but we're all too stuffed to do anything more energetic. I had fixed some brie wrapped in pastry with apples and pears this afternoon while we were waiting for the ribs which hasn't helped either!

I do hope this note finds everyone ready for 2010! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Today -- And Yesterday! -- Were Ladies' Days

Yesterday we drove up to Santa Fe with Tom and Juni. We had a wonderful lunch at the Santana Cafe -- the lunch specials were all mushrooms. Forry had an omelet with portobello mushrooms while Tom and I had some homemade linguini in a wild mushroom sauce that was fabulous (Juni had a plain old Reuben, but she said it was really good.).

It was lightly snowing most of the day and all of the luminara (paper bags on roofs and walkways with lit candles or battery driven lamps in them) on the roofs were very pretty (which is the main reason I had wanted Forry to see it during the holidays). We took a walk around the Plaza. There were quite a few Native Americans sitting in front of the Governor's Palace selling jewelry, but not nearly what there had been when we were here in the summer time.

We asked several of the artists about repairing jewelry and everyone we asked told us to "go see Bobby." Juni had a stamped silver bead necklace that needed to be re-strung as well as a concho bell that needed a new leather belt. I have an old (I bought it at least 45 years ago) petit point bracelet that had lost a silver roundel (small disk) between the parts of the turquoise and a petit point ring that Forry had given me last year that had lost one of its turquoises.

We followed directions and found Bobby's stall "Walk in Beauty" down in the rear bottom of one of the malls. He wasn't there, but his two sons were and they said all our items could be repaired, but that we needed to go see "The Fast Draw" in another mall to get a new piece of leather for the concho belt.

So by the end of the day, we managed to get everything fixed. Bobby was quite impressed by my bracelet, said they "just weren't made like that anymore." He said I could have ruined the value if I had let someone who really didn't know how to carefully and with real low intermittent heat to solder the new roundel (which he made). They would have either cracked the adjoining turquoise (0r they would have had to remove them). And if we had been able to find the roundel and glued it in, that would also have devalued it. I am so glad we were able to get it fixed properly and it looks wonderful!

We had a long wait (after six PM) to get everything finished (Juni's beads needed to be re-strung on a new chain which someone had to go after -- the original wasn't strong enough which is why it broke in the first place). We got back to Albuquerque after eight and had a late seafood dinner.

Today Tom and Forry took Auntie Violet to an RV dealer here in Albuquerque and had the oil in her engine, generator and transmission changed. They had to be at the dealers by 8 AM, so left here a bit after seven. They came back after they had delivered her and both of them went back to bed...

Juni and I took advantage of the fellows' absence to spend the day running errands. We ended up at Coldwater Creek (she had to return some items). They just happened to be having a sale. I ended up with two new pairs of jeans and Juni found a couple of outfits as well. Then we went to a place called Sephora which sells makeup so Juni could buy some eye shadow. It turned out that they sold Clinique as well, so I was able to restock my supply.

Truly a great couple of days for the ladies!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Day in Sante Fe

We left early this morning for a day trip to Sante Fe. A very successful day! Both Junie and I got our silver Native American jewelry repaired by an excellent Navajo silversmith who had been recommended by everyone we talked to.

It's late, so I tell some stories about our trip tomorrow!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Few Things Accomplished...

Well, I feel better. We actually got a few things done today (my Puritan complex can just go right back to sleep now!). It took most of the afternoon, but Tom and Forry researched and found a store that could replace the bad tire on the Toad -- and they actually went there and got it done.

In the meantime, I took advantage of Junie's generosity with her washer and dryer and got all of my laundry done! I also did some work on the household books. I had finally decided -- after much fretting about it -- to go ahead and allow Quicken to do an automatic download of my accounts from the credit union. But then I couldn't make it work! I guess I'll have to give them a call and see what else I have to do...

Tonight we watched football with the Bears and the Vikings. It was a lackadaisical first half, but the second half was really exciting, ending up with an overtime win by the Bears. The guys had picked up Papa Murphy's pizza while they were out, so we had an easy supper.

Tomorrow we are hoping that the weather will cooperate so that we can take a day trip to Santa Fe!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Can We Get Any Lazier?

What a blissfully lazy day! Of course, after staying up until 4 AM because we had worked on getting that darn puzzle finished until 3:30, no one was moving very fast or very early this morning.

Junie and Tom had gotten a terribly complex "Country Music" puzzle as a Christmas gift. I tried to count the number of faces of stars on it this morning, but gave up after 150 or so. What is impressive is that Junie can identify just about every one of them -- and the songs they made famous! She says it's 'cause she grew up in Tennessee.

Today this lovely woman made Green Chili Stew with beans and ham on the side. I think I've found a new favorite cold weather dish. Junie was kind enough to make the main pot pretty mild with extra green chilies and red sauce on the side. She served it with flour tortillas crisped over the gas stove. Umm, it was all so good!

We lazed around most of the day watching football and reading the Sunday papers. I think the only constructive task any of us did (other than Junie cooking!) was to get the garbage ready for tomorrow's collection...

I can't believe that I know anyone crazy enough to stay up until 3:30 AM so that we could finish the 1000 piece puzzle that Tom & Junie got for Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

And a Blessed Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas! Although here you are as likely to hear "Feliz Navidad!"

Even with filled stockings awaiting us in Auntie Violet's living room, we had a tough time getting going this morning! 2 AM is a bit past our normal bedtime! To say nothing of the amount of holiday libations our hosts kept pouring...

After we got our gifts opened, I did go over to help Junie with Christmas dinner. She had made a great deal of it ahead of time, but there is still always quite a bit to do towards the end. Junie fixed both a turkey and a ham, cornbread dressing, a scrumptious pecan encrusted yam casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, corn, rolls, cranberries! I'm not quite sure how many people we ended up with for dinner as they sort of came and went from both Junie and Tom's families. The hit of the day though was Cyrus, their 9 month old great-grandson. He entertained everyone!

We didn't have dinner until about 3 PM, thinking we would have a light supper of leftovers tonight. But, by evening we were all still feeling too stuffed to eat any more!

It's been really unseasonably COLD here! It's already 25 degrees and predicted to drop at least another ten tonight. I think we need to begin to think seriously about heading further south! Forry does want to get Auntie Violet's engine, transmission and generator oil changed while we are here and we're going to need to replace the front tires on the toad. We also want to take a day trip to Santa Fe with Tom and Junie, so it may be the end of next week before we get headed to warmer country!
New Mexico Christmas Eve

It's 2 AM and we just got home from a wonderful Christmas Eve party! We had pozole sopa, three kinds of tamales, queso and lovely people!

Wishing a very blessed Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow in Albuquerque!

This morning's snow on the cholla cactus across the street from where we are parked:

About 1 AM this morning, I heard a clap of thunder. I got up and looked out the window and here came the snow! It was snowing pretty hard and the ground was covered when we got up this morning. But, by 10 AM, it was already melting away. And then it snowed again for over an hour, but by then it was too warm and it melted as soon as it hit the ground.
Tom had heard yesterday that Walgreens was now giving HINI flu shots to the general public. He called to check and they told him that they had vaccine and were giving shots on Wednesday afternoons from noon until six. Since we are older than the age restrictions that they have had on the vaccine, Forry and I had not been eligible to get the shots until now. Junie suggested that we wait until 1 PM so that the working people would be back in their offices from their lunch hours. Which is what we did -- and there were only a couple of people in line. Of course, it took longer to fill out the paperwork than it did to get the shots from the pharmacy intern!
Tonight Junie fixed baked potatoes, brussels sprouts, a green salad and grilled rib-eye steaks for dinner. Plus the guacamole she had made for appetizers earlier! We are going to waddle out of Albuquerque if we keep eating like this! But it all tastes so good...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Beautiful City of Albuquerque

Once again it is late, but I promised I'd tell you about our trip here and why it took us so long...

We had planned to stay at Meteor Crater RV Park for two nights, spend a day exploring the crater and then head to our friends house in Albuquerque to spend Christmas. But how quickly plans can change! Tom called us early Monday morning wanting to know if we had looked at the weather forecast? He said there was a weather warning out for a freezing rain and then a snow storm that was supposed to come in that evening and make for treacherous driving and roads on Tuesday when we had planned to travel.

Not wanting to deal with those kind of conditions, we decided to go ahead and leave that morning. We dumped the black and grey tanks and got everything stowed, then stopped at the office to let them know we were leaving a day early. I was VERY surprised when the lady gave us a cash refund for the night we were not going to be there!

About half way to the Arizona border, there was a sign over the freeway saying that Interstate 40 was closed 100 miles ahead. We called Tom to see if there had been anything on the news about why they had closed the freeway. He checked the New Mexico DOT website which said there had been a truck accident at the Continental Divide with a chemical spill. The east bound lanes were closed and west bound had only one lane open. The map on the website showed a short four mile detour around the accident site using the frontage road.

When we got to New Mexico, we stopped at the Welcome Center to get a new map of New Mexico to replace my rather tattered one. The lady there said they were recommending that people leave I-40 at Milepost 20 and take Hwy 503 south and then rejoin I-40 on milepost 53. Well, we looked at the map and saw that it was a detour considerably out of the way and a lot further then the 4 mile detour the DOT map showed.

So we pressed on -- but not for long! At Milepost 26 the eastbound traffic was pulled off the freeway and routed down through NM 11 & 371. The first hour or so was interesting as we were in gorgeous back country that we normally would not have seen. Lots of cliff and red rock and eroded spindles to see as well as many farmsteads with hogans near the main house. But after it began to get dark, it was just long and boring. The road was rough and bounced Auntie Violet around pretty good, even only going 4-5 miles an hour.

We kept in touch with Tom whenever we could get cell phone reception (remember this is NM and cell towers are few and far between at best!) and the Department of Transportation website NEVER did change its four mile detour map! We finally got back onto the freeway about 7:20, but didn't meet any traffic coming from the west for a long while. When we got to the spot where they were being diverted, we saw two lanes of traffic backed up for three miles before they even got onto the detour!

Our 2 1/2 to 3 hour trip to Albuquerque ended up taking us over eight hours! The gorgeous lights of the city were a very welcome sight when we reached Nine Mile Hill and could see it sprawled out below us.

To add insult to injury, the storm is stalled to the north and still hasn't got here!

It's very late, so this will only be a short note. I'll explain tomorrow how our 3 hour trip to Albuquerque turned into an 8 hour odyssey!
But we are here safely and have had a wonderful shrimp (spicy!) soup and several glasses of wine and good company!
So to all, a good night!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Beautiful High Desert Country

Here is our campsite last night at Blake Ranch RV Park. I love this gorgeous high desert country! (Note Auntie Violet's new satellite antenna on the roof.)

This RV park has small pea gravel at each of the sites and is landscaped with natural desert plants. It has corrals for traveling horses and fenced areas for dog runs, plus a store that carries a good selection of both food and RV necessities.

I was going to take my turn driving on some of these straight Arizona highways, but a quick "sit" in the driver's seat made it real clear that it wouldn't work well with the back brace I am still wearing for another few weeks. I guess I'll have to let Forry be the designated driver until next year!

As we drove along today, we came to the long stretches of juniper forests. They're not very tall trees, but they are a deep green with lovely shapes...

And in the drier country, sagebrush in bloom!

We were definitely in some of my favorite parts of this country today. It's hard to compete with the beauty of Arizona's high desert country.

We had a short run today as Forry wanted to get to Meteor Crater RV Park and stay for a couple of nights. He stopped to visit the crater with his parents when they were traveling cross-country when he was a young lad of seven or eight. Every time we have gone by the crater as we've traveled, he's wanted to stop. So this time we are.

We settled in here at the park fairly early in the afternoon and spent time doing some badly needed cleaning, vacuuming and laundry. I wish I had taken a picture of the shattered top of my new full hairspray can which wasn't securely tucked away when we started out from Spokane. After the top broke, the entire contents of the can poured out onto the floor beside the bathroom sink! What a mess! It had dried by the time we stopped and discovered it, so definitely did not wipe up! Today I took some soapy hot water and a brush to all the areas of the floor of the bathroom that were lacquered and finally got it up. In the corners, I could literally scrap it off after the hot water had softened it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Onward To Kingman, Arizona!

The walls around the Sun and Fun RV Park in Tulare, California:

Forry disconnecting the electric this morning at our site on the end of the row:

We had a good day's run today. We decided to stay on the road a little longer and make it to Blake Ranch RV Park thirteen miles east of Kingman, Arizona instead of stopping at Needles as we had originally planned.
We had stayed here back in March of 2008 (they still had our information in their computer). Blake Ranch is a bit different than most RV parks in that they also provide stabling for traveling horses.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Old Orchard RV Park

Forry as he pulled out into the center of the circle this morning...

And starts the drive around...

And goes along the backside of the inner circle road until he's back at the entrance:

We've stayed at the Old Orchard RV Park in Orland, California several times. It's nice traveling distance from Seven Feathers and it's a nice size. It truly has an orchard in the middle of it. It's the only RV park we have ever seen that is laid out in a circle. You pull into your RV site from the road on the outside of the circle and when you leave you pull into the road on the inside of the circle, go around and out (therefore every site is a pull-through!). It's run by a couple of very nice people. You can walk from the RV Park to a nice restaurant or to a TacoTime.
Today we drove on Interstate 5 as far as Sacremento, then switched over to California Highway 99. We've discovered on previous trips that both diesel and RV parks are hard to find on this stretch of I-5, most of them are over on 99. It's a four lane road -- occasionally six -- but isn't a freeway as there is access across it quite frequently.
When we drove through this area last May, the oleanders in the center median were gorgeous in their array of pink, red and white blooms. This time of year they are looking a bit worn and tattered. And a good share of the miles we drove today could certainly use some crews of litter gatherers -- or else a lot less litterers!
We came as far as Tulare, California this afternoon. We're staying at a place called Sun & Fun RV Park. It's again a small RV park with about 60 sites. In contrast to the grass and trees of last night, this place is all asphalt and cement with a large cement fence surrounding it. The further south you get in California, the pricier the RV parks seem to be. This one is costing us twice as much as last night even with our Escapee discount. Its brochure talks about its pool and spa -- but like most we've seen down here, the pool is outside and NOT heated!
I'm cranky anyway! It was almost five when we got settled in and fairly dark (and the light on the post behind our RV is burned out...). Darned if I didn't discover that somewhere in the hooking up the electric process, I had stepped in some dog doodoo! I intensely despise lazy dog owners who don't pick up behind their pets! It really made my day to have to clean up dog excrement from inside of Auntie Violet -- and she wasn't happy either!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And Off We Go!

The first sight of Mount Shasta as we entered California:

It was definitely time to be back on the road this morning! We had everything ready to go and pulled up in Auntie Violet to the office at Seven Feathers RV Resort waiting for the mail to arrive this morning. Unfortunately the package of prescriptions I had ordered from the Group Health pharmacy still hadn't arrived -- so the 7 Feathers staff said they would forward them to our friend's house in Albuquerque. It was sort of funny when the lady at the desk said that since we had stayed for six nights, we could not stay one more night for free -- but it didn't take more than a minute for us to say "Thank you, but no thanks!"

This is the view going south down Interstate 5 right after we left Seven Feathers:

We ended up this evening back at Old Orchard RV Park in Orland, California, a place we've stayed at several times before. Not wanting to unhitch the Toad, we walked a couple of blocks to a restaurant at Portuguese Plaza for dinner. We shared an entree of very nicely spiced pork cutlets along with a piece of real cherry pie (not canned pie filling!) for me and some pumpkin pie for Forry.

We've left the front slides in on Auntie Violet and have just put out the bedroom slide as we want to keep going early tomorrow now that we're finally on the road again!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Very Special Birthday!

This is a week of birthdays for us -- Sister Roxy's yesterday and today is Daughter Dawn's! The nice thing about the timing is that she is finished with her classes for this semester and could really enjoy the downtime. According to her post on FaceBook, she had pomegranates as part of her breakfast in bed (her family's birthday tradition). I had to chuckle as I remembered trying to send her pomegranates many years ago when she was in college in Kansas. I made the mistake of putting them in a plastic bag -- in which they got very moldy before they ever got to North Newton!

We really enjoy our adult children -- and their families. When they were little there were so many other immediate things to think about that I cannot recall ever spending much time speculating about what they might be like as grown-ups. Nor did I ever think about them as being "friends" with their parents (or each other!) when they grew up. We were fortunate enough to spend time at our older daughter Mary Mae's in Mount Vernon this summer while her husband was getting things ready for her 50th birthday party. While I was recuperating from my back surgery, we had time in Spokane with Son Sean. Then recently we were able to spend a few days in Hubbard with Dawn's crew.

Each one of the "kids" has a very different personality. Sometimes I wonder how they could be siblings! Then again, they have so many things in common. All three are very devout and have a strong faith. Each of them has an interesting sense of humor and a very strong sense of family. I marvel at the way their minds work and the way they approach life. We have indeed been blessed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Raining Cats and Dogs and Buckets!

It started during the night and continued off and on all day today. It wasn't light showers that came through, it was drenching, pouring ones!

We were going to leave this morning, but were waiting for my prescriptions to come in the mail -- and they didn't make it today. With the rain and fog, it was easier to decide to stay here for another day.

I just finished reading Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell. Sister Roxy (who's celebrating a very special birthday today!) said she couldn't put it down when she read it. It's a page-turner! I've started reading To Ride Hell-s Chasm by Janny Wurts, another Roxy recommendation. I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy, rainy wet day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Touch of Christmas and Wildlife Safari

One of the traditions established by Daughter Mary Mae's children every year at Thanksgiving is to decorate Christmas swags for all of the relatives. MM gave this year's to my Brother Pat who delivered it to us when he brought our mail to Sister Sherry's in Touchet. I hadn't had a chance to take a picture of this year's swag until this morning (turn your head for the best admiring!):

Auntie Violet always preens a bit when she acquires her Christmas swag:

This morning we drove the Toad back north up to the Safari Game Park near Roseburg. We toured it last May when we were in the area and had really enjoyed it. This time of year it is not nearly as nice. The animals are pretty active, but many of them are not out at all. The admission price allows you to drive through the park twice, but today we decided once was enough.
We stopped at the Post Office in Canyonville on the way and picked up a nice fat box of forwarded mail from Mary Mae. She can pack more into once of those flat-rate boxes than anyone else I know!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Seven Feathers RV Resort

We are once again enjoying a stay at Seven Feathers. We walked over to the office this morning to pick up our complimentary Sunday paper and have a cup of hot cider. We also bought a pair of discounted tickets for the wild animal park that we will go to tomorrow.

Tonight we took the shuttle up to the casino and ate at the buffet. When you trying to watch what you eat, buffets are both easy and hard. There's a lot of temptation, but also a lot of choices...

I had a chance to chat with both Sister Sherry and Brother Pat today. It's warmed up at Sherry's, though she said it's still pretty nasty in Walla Walla. Brother Pat and his family have spent the weekend celebrating with my niece Ashley as she graduated from the nursing program at Washington State University and the Intercollegiate College of Nursing Education in Spokane, They had ceremonies both in Pullman (for WSU) and Spokane (for ICNE -- which is my alma mater as well!). Ashley will be taking her Nursing Boards in January and will most likely be working at one of the Seattle hospitals.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Laundry Today...

It was foggy today, but it was fun to see puddles of water, NOT ICE, on the ground! It's been in the forties all day. So nice, after the last week of COLD, COLD, COLD!

We made it a bit of a lazy day today, reading and playing on the computer (me) and sudoku (Forry) and listening to Christmas CDs while I ran several loads of laundry. We had done laundry once at Daughter Dawn's when we first got there, but it's been piling up ever since. There's a lot more to wash when it's cold; there's layers and layers -- long johns, sweaters, sweat shirts, etc.

This evening we took the shuttle over to the Casino for supper. Forry had BBQ pork ribs and I had their 10 oz rib steak special ($8.99) which we've had here before. We both had enough left for lunch tomorrow! I forget from time to time how smokey casinos always are. I did remember not to wear my leather jacket -- I've had to hang it outside to air before.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Finally -- On The Road Again!

Auntie Violet all hooked up to the Toad and ready to roll:

A picture of 1-5 Uhlman RV in Chehalis where work the wonderful guys who took such wonderful care of Auntie Violet and have her all fixed up and ready to head south:

I am writing this at the Seven Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville, Oregon! And it is actually ABOVE freezing here! We got out of Chehalis about an hour later than we should have (also had a stop at Wilsonville to pick up a few things at Camper World and meet with Daughter Dawn who delivered our ladder) and therefore had about an hour of white knuckle driving in some freezing rain! We drove out of the storm somewhere after Eugene. The rest of the drive was just long!

We will be here at Seven Feathers until at least Tuesday which will give our mail a chance to catch up with us.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And Still in Chehalis!

This is the fountain in front of a bank on the corner where we drive into the Holiday Inn Express where we have been staying:

I think that the idea is that if they shut the water off at this point, everything will freeze up and break, so they're letting it run!

When we talked with Uhlman RV earlier this morning, it sounded like things were moving along pretty good. They should be finished early in the afternoon and we could be on our way. We went ahead and checked out of Room 402 that has been our home for the past couple of days and headed over there after lunch.

At that point, it didn't look as good. The part for the refrigerator had come in, but they had to completely defrost and thaw the freezer in order to install it. And that was not going very fast. Also Clayton was concerned that the sealant he had put on the roof around the new Winegard TV antenna wasn't quite cured. So reluctantly, we decided that we'd stay over another day. That way they could finish the two jobs without feeling rushed.

We are now resettled back at the Holiday Inn Express in Room 300. The bad thing about it is that we are missing GD Havela's Choir Concert tonight in Canby...

This is the view the people of Chehalis have of Mount St. Helens:

We will hopefully get an early start south in the morning....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Still in Chehalis...

We spent a lazy day in Chehalis while Auntie Violet is getting her fixes taken care of. After sleeping in and showers, we went over to Uhlman RV to see how she was faring. The new satellite dish was here and Clayton was getting it ready to install on her roof. The fellow who was working on the refrigerator was out to a late lunch, so we never did find out if the parts for it had come in... Guess we'll have to wait until we go over there tomorrow. We are hoping they get all the parts and get everything put back together by early afternoon so that we can get back to Hubbard in time for Havela's choir concert.

After we had stopped in at Uhlman's, we took a drive around the countryside. It is amazing how densely populated the area is. It's just one little "farm" after another. Most of them are just a few acres, and some are almost as close as in a subdivision. We came back through the little town of Napavine. I remember them playing Ritzville in the "B" basketball tournaments!

While we were over visiting Auntie Violet, I got the chargers for my iPhone and the Kindle, Forry's phone and my computer. We had packed clothes and toiletries, but hadn't thought about all of the electronic stuff. It is still terribly cold here, but at least we are at a warm motel and Auntie Violet is inside a warm shop!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To Chehalis

We got going fairly early this morning and headed north. (I know, I know, wrong direction!) We had an appointment with Uhlman RV to have a couple of Auntie Violet's problems dealt with. She's had an ERR code flashing in her refrigerator intermittently the last month as well as a leak somewhere in her front roof area. AND once again the TV Kingdome is not licking on to the satellite...!

After everything was checked out, it was decided that the refrigerator needed a new part that won't be in until Thursday. Which means we will be here in Chehalis for a couple of days.

It was bitterly cold again today!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Brr, It's COLD!!

And it's cold all over the western United States! I understand there was snow in San Antonio and Dallas! It got down into the teens here -- it was long john weather for sure. (I'm glad I didn't pack them into the storage unit at the ranch...)

We slept in this morning, then got organized and went into Wilsonville to the Costco store there. I had wanted to take Daughter Dawn's family out to dinner tonight as it will probably be our last night here. BUT, Dawn had other ideas! It is so cold and miserable outside, she just wanted to stay home. (She's done with her clinical and classroom schedule for this semester, but still has one more paper to write.)

GD Havela has been hungry for t-bone steaks, so Dawn suggested we get some of those for supper instead of going out. Would you believe that Costco does not carry t-bones? We checked out the neat meat store in Hubbard, but the ones they had were frozen (by now, it was after four...), Son-in-law Todd called another meat store he knew, but they were closed! We ended up going to the Safeway store in Woodburn and bought the last five they had...

It turned out to have been a wonderful idea of Dawn's. We had baked Yukon Gold potatoes, artichokes with Hollandaise sauce, and barbecued steaks -- what a feast! (And GD Havela ate an entire steak all by herself!)

After dinner the GDs and I played triple solitaire to the accompaniment of many giggles. Multiple solitaire is a tradition among the women in my family and Havela remembered watching "the aunties" play -- and remembered hands getting slapped for two handed play...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A WINDY Sunday!

The wind came up with a vengeance during the night -- a COLD wind at that! It was not a lot of fun to open the motorhome door to go outside and get into the car for church this morning! The church is less than a mile away from Daughter Dawn's house and they have breakfast there every Sunday morning before Sunday School. There is usually some kind of hot egg casserole, then some sweet yeast rolls, juice and coffee. It's a nice social way to start the morning.

It was an enjoyable service this morning, lots of good music and singing. Music always helps to put me into a worshipful mood!

I was checking out my camera card with GD Havela and found these two pictures that I had wanted to post! This darling little llama was born at Sister Sherry's earlier this summer, but this is the first time I had seen her. (By the way, the brown llama is NOT her mother, her mother is white with similar speckles to the baby, but this "auntie" was babysitting every time I tried to get a picture!)

Isn't she just the cutest thing?!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


We frosted cookies off and on all day today! We were using Royal Icing which really needs to dry between coats when you want to put something on the background color. There is neat coloring in the boxes of stuff from Martha Stewart, but there were also jars of different colored sugars which make it fun to put sparkles on spots and manes...

Everyone pretty much got into the act. Grandson Micah's cookies and his ark have multiple layers of frosting and sugars on them. His Mom said they almost look like batik.

Granddaughter Kyra is now quite a bit taller than her older sister Havela! Kyky really stuck with the baking and decorating. She's quite artistic and made some pretty detailed animals with spots and stripes.

Havela, on the other hand, does not have a sweet tooth and is not terribly interested in baking. Her ark has a strip of chocolate colored frosting on it -- the rest of the ark and her animals are plain ginger cookies!
This afternoon while Dawn and her family were at the wedding of one of her nursing school classmates, Forry and I went to the Bose shop at the Woodburn Mall and I got my Christmas present early! Last year, he had gotten me a Bose radio (which I love!) and the year we added the CD stack which can go on the bottom of it. It now plays four CDs in a row and Auntie Violet has been filled with Christmas music all evening.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Noah's Ark and New Moon

The grand kids didn't have school today, but Daughter Dawn did and Son-in-law Todd had to work, so we were on our own most of the day. During the night it occurred to me that it would be a good day to start making Christmas cookies and then go shopping later in the afternoon after DT got home from school.

The kids were game, but wanted to make the ginger animal cookies that go with the Noah's Ark set I had gotten from Martha Stewart many years ago. So that's what we did. The set has a recipe for ginger cookies that is really very good -- it should be: it calls for a tablespoon of ginger, a tablespoon of cinnamon, a half tablespoon of cloves, a cup of molasses AND a teaspoon full of black pepper!

We spent most of the morning making the dough, chilling it, rolling out the dough, cutting out the animals, chilling it again, and then baking the cookies. We were going to start the royal icing, but neither Dawn, nor the neighbor, nor Auntie Violet, not the little Whiskey Hill Store next door had any powdered sugar!

While the girls and I were making cookies, Forry took GS Micah birding. Micah needed to do a project for Scouts. They had a pretty successful afternoon with Micah spotting and identifying fourteen different birds -- including eight blue herons!

Since we didn't have the powdered sugar to do the frosting, we took a break (badly needed on my part!) until Dawn came home a little after three. After she got here -- all bubbly and happy about the wonderful evaluation she got from her nursing instructor! -- we took the girls and went over to the Goodwill store to look for some new jeans for GD Kyra. She has been growing so tall, so quickly, that everything she owns is definitely "high water" pants! She lucked out and not only found several pair of jeans that fit, but a couple of skirts as well.

We met the guys at the Thai restaurant in Canby and had a quick, but very delicious dinner before we headed for the new show house. Grandpa made major brownie points by taking Micah to see Planet 21 while the rest of us went to see New Moon (the 2nd time for Dawn and Havela and the THIRD time for Kyra!). Great movie -- I can't wait until the next one comes out in June!

(And we did remember to stop at the store and buy powdered sugar on the way home...)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another Lazy Day...

It's so nice to have a succession of lazy days. I did accomplish a couple of things; getting my bills paid and downloading December's bank statement, but that's pretty much it.

I've been on a kick of reading Amish books. The nice thing -- or not so nice thing about Kindle -- is that when you read one book in a genre, they have lots of suggestions about other books in the same genre...

This afternoon, I did go over to Zion Mennonite and visited with the ladies who were quilting. I got caught up with my friend Margaret who has had six new great-grand babies since I had seen her last -- five of them boys!

It's always fun when the kids get home from school. GD Havela had her weekly practice session with the Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Portland tonight, so she and her Dad headed in that direction. Forry was going to watch the "Civil War" football game (Oregon Ducks vs Oregon Beavers) tonight with GD Kyra and GS Micah (who were rooting for opposite teams), but it was blacked out on their TV.

The Gkids don't have school tomorrow, so they have lots of plans for us -- including taking me to see New Moon...!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Did We Do Today?

It's always a sign of a very lazy day when I sit down to write and have to think about what it was we did today!

We had an early morning visit from GS Micah and GD Kyra while they waited for the traffic safety guard to allow them across the street to 91 School. GD Havela's bus had already left for the high school in Canby at 7 AM!

When Daughter Dawn got back from her short day of classes today, we decided to have tacos for dinner. With everyone pitching in, it didn't take long to get the meal on the table.

Tonight we listened to GD Havela practice her violin and GD Kyra practice her flute, then watched TV with the GKids while their folks were at a meeting. Like I said, a pretty lazy day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On Whiskey Hill Road...

Evidently there was once a bootlegger/distillery/liquor store on the road the kids live on. There are always lots of snickers about the name Whiskey Hill Road -- there are two Mennonite Churches and a school with that address!

We were true RVers this morning -- slept in until quite late and enjoyed VERY much not having to pile on lots of blankets. It is quite warm here compared to eastern Washington and the sun was even shining this afternoon.

I have long been a fan of the Pioneer Woman's blog. The other day she had a recipe for Turkey Pot Pie that made me want to try it. So tonight after Daughter Dawn got home from clinical (nursing school), we went over to the store for a few things (she was out of flour) and then put two varieties (one with and one without celery) together. Dawn made the pie crusts (I think I had the best job!) while I made the fillings.

Tonight the kids and I spent some time in the hot tub -- NICE!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Off to Oregon!
It took us all morning, but we finally left Sister Sherry's ranch on the Touchet River about one pm. It was hard to say good-bye to all the mastiffs, especially dear Deacon, but harder still to say good-bye to my sis.

It was foggy when we left, but it rapidly cleared off and we had a nice drive down Hwy 12 into Oregon and then down the Columbia Gorge. We certainly timed it right (HA!) hitting Portland at 5:20 pm just in time for rush hour traffic!

We got into Hubbard a little before seven where Daughter Dawn had turkey dinner waiting. Grandson Micah and GD Kyra have both gotten quite a bit taller since we've seen them -- GD Havela is definitely going to be the shortest one!

The girls were quite insistent that we watch the first of the vampire movies with them so that they can take me to see New Moon while we are here... So after Micah went to bed...

We haven't been up this late for quite a while!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Quiet Day...

We had thought that Sherry's mastiff breeder friend Anita would be here late last night, but she had brake trouble in Ellensburg and ended up staying there to get her truck fixed on Monday. This is a disappointment as I was looking forward to meeting her. Anyhow, we didn't go into the VA Chapel this morning, just hung out here at the ranch and read all the Sunday papers.

I miss Napua! I cut and wrapped Niece Daphne's caramels this morning. I didn't cut them as small as I did mine yesterday, but they still took a long time to wrap. We also made a second batch of divinity today as the one we did yesterday didn't set up. After the rain we had, I think it's still a bit too humid for divinity making. We beat this batch for over 20 minutes and it looks pretty good.

We will be getting organized in the morning to travel on down the Columbia Gorge to Daughter Dawn's in Hubbard, Oregon. We haven't had much of a chance to spoil those grandkids this year, so I am really looking forward to seeing them!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Brother Patrick was playing mailman today. Daughter Mary Mae stopped by his place in Moses Lake this morning on her family's way back home to Mount Vernon after they had spent Thanksgiving with Scott's family in Cheney, and gave him our mail. Patrick and Sister-in-law Cindy came down to the farm here at Touchet and brought my Niece Becky and Great-nephew Carter with them! He is such a delight and at almost two is all boy! The picture above is one of the few quiet moments he spent looking at dinosaur books with Mommy. Most of the rest of the time he was out at the sand pile playing with the trucks or driving the dump truck as fast as he could run!
Since Napua left early this morning, I got to cut up the caramels today. I wanted mine more bite-size, so cut them about half the size he had been. By the time I had finished wrapping all of them, I knew there was a good reason why you don't want to make them too small -- it's a lot to wrap!

Friday, November 27, 2009

An Early Christmas Gift!

It rained almost all night last night and sometime in the middle of the night, the power went out. Sister Sherry says it was out about seven hours. We did not notice it in Auntie Violet until early this morning, as we were running off the batteries with the inverter. But we have been running the electric heaters for supplemental heat and about 6:30 when I woke up, they had run the batteries down. It didn't take long once the power came on to get them full again, thank goodness!

By the time I got a shower this morning and got over to Sherry's, the caramel brigade was hard at work. Napua (my sis's good Hawaiian friend from Shelton) was busy cutting and wrapping yesterday's last batch and Sherry had another batch going on the stove:

Before Forry and I left for Walla Walla for my pedicure appointment, Sherry had finished another batch of caramels, made a bunch of pound cakes to freeze for Christmas gifts and stirred up some refrigerator logs of lime cookies to bake tomorrow.... Originally, she and Napua had planned to go into town with us, but she was on a baking roll and wasn't about to stop.

Forry and I went into Walla Walla for my noon appointment with Yoko, my sister's pedicurist. I was delighted when Sherry was able to get me an appointment as the one I had scheduled when we were in Sundance before my back surgery had been cancelled as they were redoing the floors in the spa. Since I am not allowed to bend over, I cannot reach my toes! And then when I went to pay Yoko, she told me "Merry Christmas, your sister has already taken care of it!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This is Corin --

And this is my buddy Deacon and one of the few toys the girls have left him (which the girls had destroyed by the time the day was over):

This is what the girls do -- that's Corin and Lara playing tug-of-war with one of Deacon's toys:
Happy Thanksgiving to friends and family, close and far away! We have so much to be thankful for -- and best of all is being able to spend time with family!

Most of us have had sort of a lazy day, but Sister Sherry has been cooking all day! She's been making batch after batch of scrumptious caramels! She's been playing with adding Grand Marnier to some and using Napua's Hawaiian salt on top of some batches. Napua had one of the first batches put away in his suitcase, but as each new batch has come out, he's deciding he likes that one better -- and exchanges it for the previous one. Napua is the cutter and wrapper -- he has the patience to sit and wrap each caramel individually. Usually Sherry's caramel making is limited by her ability to find good cream. They have a new neighbor (about two miles away as the crow flies) who has a small dairy with Jersey cows -- organic and grass-fed. So now she has a plentiful supply of nice thick rich cream and everyone is going to have caramels for Christmas this year!

Earlier this afternoon, Sherry made Hollandaise sauce that we enjoyed with artichokes while the turkey was finishing roasting. Later we had roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and dressing followed by goblets of tiramisu. Now we're all sitting around feeling STUFFED!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cooking and Baking and...?

As usual when we are at Sister Sherry's, a good share of our time is spent cooking, or baking, or talking about what we should be making! So far today Sherry has made tiramasu (for Thanksgiving), flan (for dinner tonight), a pork roast with onions, carrots and potatoes for tonight, and cranberry chutney (which we had with the pork roast and will have as a side dish with the turkey tomorrow). We also made the brine today that we'll put the turkey in tonight.

I was going to bring the camera over today to get some pictures of the mastiffs, but forgot all about out it until just now... I guess I'll just have to do it tomorrow.

Forry spent some time today working on the hydro-hot system. Most of the issue seems to be with the float in the reservoir (just like it was in our first Alpine), so he bypassed it and now everything seems to be working well. We'll see how it continues to work through the night... It's clear tonight, so it's liable to be chilly!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At My Sister's in Touchet...

We made it! We finally have gotten out of Spokane! We finally got out on the highway about one o'clock this afternoon. I felt bad that Forry had to do so much of the prep work himself, I did what I could without bending, but that still means he did most of the work.

We went over to the Petro store for diesel and could only get $75 worth on our credit card on the pump, so I had to take the card into the store so that we could keep pumping. Another $200 later we were finally out of there!

We have had trouble with a slow leak on one of the inside rear duels, so had to go into the shop to get air added to it. Finally got that done and then finally were on our way. It was a nice day for traveling, the roads were bare and dry and the sun was shining off and on. It was good to be back out on the road again!

We arrived at Sister Sherry's a little before four o'clock, just as Sherry and Napua (her Hawaiian friend from Olympia) were out doing chores. I will have to take pictures of the mastiffs in the morning. In addition to Deacon, the almost two year old male, Sherry has two female mastiffs staying with her -- Lara and Corinne plus Maggie, the stray hunting dog who showed up a year or so ago. There are dog beds all over the living room...!

It's good to be here!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Trip to the Ranch

We made a quick trip down to the ranch this morning (roads are clear and dry with no snow!); found the old family pictures that were stored in the storage unit to take to Oregon with us; and got the van started and moved in from of the storage unit doors.

When we leave Auntie Violet, we shut off and unplug the two portable electric heaters that we use to keep the temperature up to 70 degrees inside (we're concerned about potential fires while we're gone). We leave the hydro-hot coach system running which usually keeps the temp in the low 60s. This afternoon when we got home, it was COLD in Auntie Violet, the temperature was down to 52! Forry found that one of the fuses in the 12 volt panel in the bathroom was actually melted, though it had not kicked out...

He's replaced the fuse and has been trouble-shooting the hydro-hot system, but has not been able to figure out why he cannot get it restarted. We've sent an email to Mark Harrah, the consultant who is on-call for the Alpine Coach Association. We're hoping he will call soon with some ideas about what to do next!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Snow Storm!

We were dressed and ready to head for Menno this morning and were surprised when we opened the curtains and stepped outside. There was already 2-3 inches of snow on the ground and it was coming down hard. We went ahead and started out, but the closer we got to the freeway, the harder it was to see.

We looked at each other and I don't know which one of us said first that we didn't want to be out in this kind of a storm! We had wanted to go to Menno to say good-bye to our church family and then to go over to the ranch and get a few things out of the storage unit and move the vehicles in front of it.

So we ended up spending a quiet day at home. Later in the day, the snow turned to rain. The roads are clear, but the snow is now very wet slush. Forry did take a trip over to the recycling place late this afternoon and got rid of all we had stacked up here.

This evening I roasted an acorn squash, filling it with a diced pear and dried pie cherries with butter and maple syrup -- GOOD!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Visitors -- and a Costco Trip

Pastor Terry and Jerilee stopped by to visit this morning. Jerilee had not been in either of our motor homes, so it was fun to let her see it. It's too bad that I am forbidden to do any housework, because Auntie Violet has looked better... Pastor Terry will be finishing up his term at Menno next June, he has been at Menno for 12 years now. He's been a good pastor that we have greatly enjoyed and appreciated.

Later this afternoon we headed into Spokane. Stopped at Auntie's Bookstore to pick up the book I had ordered for Sister Sherry -- and naturally they could not find it! (It was supposed to have come in yesterday!) After conferring with another staffer, the book was finally found. I never did hear the reason it was not on the shelf with all of the other ordered books...

We didn't have that problem at Costco. Forry's hearing aids were not only there, but the tech had already made all of the adjustments needed and updated what she had done in the manual. This pair is smaller than the previous ones he had before (the ones he had lost one of...), you certainly cannot see them. He commented how noisy it was in the store when we were checking out -- so I guess they are working!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Her Name is Ellie Jane!

My new great-niece officially has a name -- Miss Ellie Jane! So pretty! We've seen several pictures of her by now and she is a petite little cutie! Brother Patrick says there's a good chance Jared and Becky and the baby will be coming to Moses Lake for Thanksgiving, so we may get to see her in person before we head south.

Today was a pretty quiet day -- I think yesterday wore me out! Forry made a trip into town to pick up W-2 & W-3 forms, but I stayed home and rested. We did go into Spokane this evening to take Son Sean out to dinner one last time before we leave the area. He wanted to go out to the Old Country Buffet out on north Division. NOT my favorite place! It was busy, but I think from the look of most of the patrons, it is just an open invitation to over-eat...!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Day Full of Happy News!

What a wonderful day! It started off with notice of the birth of my first new great-niece early this morning to Becky and Nephew Jared over in Seattle! The little one does not have a name yet, but they are calling her "Tink" for Tinkerbell at the moment. (They'd best be careful, that just may stick!).

Next I had an email from my primary care physician saying that the results of the kidney ultrasound that I had yesterday were in and there was no change in the size or shape of the cyst from the initial films 3 months ago! Of course, she wants me to have another follow-up ultrasound in another three months... But she did say she could make arrangements for me to have it done in Arizona somewhere.

I had a 9:45 appointment at Dr. Power's office this morning as a follow-up to my back surgery. He was running late this morning and his office was BUSY! It was good to see as he is the newcomer in the NW Orthopedics office (I had been his first surgery at Sacred Heart Medical Center). He had been heavily recruited to come to Spokane from Michigan. He seemed very pleased with my progress -- and perhaps with himself..? Anyway, he saw no reason for us to continue to remain in the area -- though I am to come see him as soon as we get back in the spring!

After that we went looking for a rear wiper for the Toad. We had gotten new wipers all around at Les Schwab last month, but the rear one very quickly had come loose and flown off somewhere. The downtown Les Schwab place did not have a replacement blade, so sent us to their store out by University City. They didn't have the right size either so actually gave us our money back. Since we were already close, we went on over to the Jeep dealer and sure enough, they had one the right size and fit!

Since we were already so far out, we stopped at Williams Fish Market and bought a nice Dungeness crab for dinner. They are pretty pricy this time of year, but Forry and I each had a half for dinner (though I did save back enough to make crab omelets for breakfast...) along with the first tossed salad I've made since my surgery -- can you tell I'm getting MUCH better?!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

5:15 AM?!

Whose crazy idea was it to take the 6:45 appointment for the follow-up kidney scan? I don't know what in the world I was thinking! Anyway, I was up at 5:15 and into the shower. Forry got granola, blueberries, orange juice and coffee around and we were out of Auntie Violet by 6 AM!

We over-estimated how long it would take us to get to the Inland Imaging over on Cowley. It's actually a straight shot into Spokane on the freeway and then a quick off and a couple of blocks and there you are. We were there in the waiting room by 6:30. but the tech didn't come to get me until 7:15!

The test itself didn't take long -- it's just all of the lovely gel they use for the ultrasound that's all over your abdomen...

Later this afternoon we went back into town and ran a bunch more errands as we try to get ready to pack up and move south. We picked up some prescriptions at Group Health, got Forry a new box for his farm records, picked up a couple more small tools, mailed some more notes, and resupplied the stock of dishwasher soap.

I put a small pork roast and a large sweet potato in the oven for supper tonight. It sure tasted good. I must be getting better -- I actually felt like cooking!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Busy Day...

We put some miles on the Toad today. We've needed a new sewer hose for Auntie Violet and Forry's needed a new pair of shoes. He had checked for sewer hoses at the RV places in Spokane and couldn't find one the length he wanted, so we went out to Liberty Park to R&R RV and they did have what he wanted.

From there we drove on out to Post Falls, Idaho (just across the border) to the new Capela's store there. Shoe buying with Forry is usually like the cartoons you see of ladies buying shoes with boxes stacked up all over as he tries to find a pair he likes and that fit well. This time, he checked the shoes he had on for a number, walked into the shoe department, looked for a box with that number, got the right size and was ready to go! I did make him open the box to make sure both shoes were the same size and one was right and one was left...

It's always fun to look around at a Capela's store, both at all of the stuffed animals and the big aquariums of game fish. The amount of merchandise that goes out the doors is pretty impressive as well.

We drove back into Spokane, stopped to get Costco gas, then went downtown to Auntie's Bookstore to get a book I wanted for my sister. I was surprised they didn't have it, but they ordered it and it should be there by Friday afternoon.

By then it was late enough to start thinking about dinner. We had not been to Herbal Essence for a couple of years, but remembered how good the food was, so decided to go there. We split an order of Beef Wellington with an extra house salad. Instead of dividing the finished beef in half, the chef made each half an individual portion wrapped in puff pastry. It was still more than I could eat, so I have a nice portion for lunch tomorrow.

I had emailed my primary care physician yesterday to see if I could arrange for the follow-up ultrasound of the kidney cyst that they had recommended three months ago when I finally got the clearance for my back surgery. Would you believe that the only appointment I could get this week is at 6:45 AM tomorrow morning?! Otherwise I would have had to wait until next week and we really want to leave by this weekend if the surgeon turns me loose on Thursday and the weather cooperates...

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Monday Again!

And hopefully it's the start of our last week here! I have an appointment with the surgeon on Thursday, so keep your fingers crossed that he will let us depart...!

I am a bit tired tonight. We took a fairly long walk around the campground today -- even went up the hill to the paved road and around. I tried to take a brisker pace than the leisurely stroll I've been using. It felt good, but I could feel it by the time we got back to Auntie Violet. There's been a bit of a light rain/drizzle off and on last night and today that has pretty well taken care of the last of the snow. Though you can still see it on the north slopes.

We drove into Cheney this afternoon to mail the thank you notes I had finally gotten written and to pick up some groceries. The Safeway store there has a great selection of fresh produce -- Forry says he can tell I am feeling better because I was buying stuff to make fresh salads with again. But by the time we got back home I was too tired to fix anything...!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Down to Menno...

We did it! Made the hour and one half trip to Menno for church this morning! It was tough getting up when the radio came on this morning to get into the shower. Most mornings we just turn over and snuggle a bit longer while we listen to NPR's latest news.

The drive down to Menno (about 90 miles) wasn't bad. The Toad was warm and the seats are comfortable. I can't say the same for the pews, though! I realize that for the last month or more, I have either been sitting cradled in a nest of pillows on the couch or in my very comfortable office chair at the computer. I don't think I have sat in a straight chair during all that time!

I am still wearing the wrap-around molded plastic back support that goes pretty much from my groin area halfway up my back when I am not in bed. It wasn't too happy about the hard wooden pew either!

BUT, it was worth it just to see everyone! And to revel in the smiles of greeting! And to worship and enjoy Sunday School with the beloved members of our church family! And to see how much all of the little ones have grown!

We made a quick stop at Taco del Mar in Ritzville on our way back to Spokane. We had not stopped there before, usually going to the Starbucks store next door instead. It's a great place to eat. Most of the staff were very young clean cut male teenagers with lots of poise and delightful manners -- and the food was good too!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What Happened to Yesterday's Post?

I know (I think!) I wrote it... I was griping about the >1 inch of snow we got at Ponderosa Falls RV Resort yesterday... Or was that just on Facebook?

I usually do a load of laundry in our washer/dryer combo in Auntie Violet every day or so, but Forry doesn't really like doing laundry all that well to do it that often. The laundry basket was full and the sheets on the bed needed changing and the bedspread needed washing as well. So we decided the easiest thing to do would be to load everything up and take it over to the laundromat here at the RV Park and do it all at once. We were lucky that we got there that there was no one else there and no one else came until we had all of our stuff out of the washers and in the dryers. It was nice as that way, we were able to use every washer in the place all at the same time.

While we were at the laundry, it started to snow. Light fluffy stuff that didn't seem to be sticking. OK, I can handle that. And then it seemed to quit -- NICE!

But, as we were finishing up, it decided to start getting serious and started coming down -- and sticking -- with a vengeance! By the time the bedspread was finally out of the dryer, there was just about an inch of the white stuff on the ground! Forry had fun trying to keep all of our nice clean clothes dry as he brought them into Auntie Violet from the Toad parked behind her, maybe 40 feet from the front door.

It's been cold all day today. Usually it's been warming up enough during the day that our water hose thaws out. It never got that warm today. Forry had to roll it up and put it in one of the heated basement bays to warm up and thaw out so that he could fill up the fresh water tank.

We seriously need to be thinking of moving SOUTH! I have an appointment with my surgeon next Thursday -- I sure hope he gives us the OK!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Hearing Aids

Forry lost one of his hearing aids somewhere either in the RV or where we were parked on the ranch a couple of months ago. He also bent the battery compartment door on the other one enough that Costco had to send it back it for repair. Today, he had an appointment at Costco for a new hearing test. He picked up the repaired hearing aid and then had to decide whether to get a replacement for the one he lost or just order a new pair. After lots of discussion, He decided to go ahead and get a new pair ($$$!). They should be here next week.

By the time we got finished there, it was DARK! I really dislike this time or year when everything gets dark so early and it stays so dark in the morning...!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moses Lake

We took a road trip to Moses Lake this morning. Cleon had the ranch taxes done, so picked them up, signed, wrote a check and got them into the mail. One more task checked off.

We drove back on Rosenoff Road so that Forry could stash more stuff in the storage unit at the ranch -- including the walker! I'm glad I've been able to get by using a cane -- it's so much easier!

Talked with Brother Pat and Neice Becky who were on their way to Spokane with the family and little Carter to see The Lion King. He's a bit young, but I'll bet they'll have a great time!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Quiet Day

I didn't sleep well last night, so spent a quiet day today. Worked on books a little bit and spent the rest of the day reading.

Sister Roxie sent as email that she and Rich were going to Las Vegas later this week to join Cousin Cathy for her wedding. All kinds of interesting things going on.

Forry made a recycling run into Spokane this afternoon as the cardboard, plastic and glass etc. were overloading the back seat of the Toad. It's always amazing how much just the two of us manage to accumulate!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quiet at Turnbull

We've had a flurry of Oregon Juncos here at the RV Park checking out the weedy area over by the perimeter fence. They are so busy!

This afternoon we decided to take a drive out to the Turnbull Nature Reserve to do some bird-watching. We didn't see much! We took the 5.8 mile auto trip around the reserve and it sure was quiet. We saw a family of magpies in the trees, the flit of a squirrel's tail going over a log, and one pond that had a couple of merganser ducks --that was it!

Just outside of Cheney, we did see a bunch of Canada geese eating in a field. I guess all of the migrating birds have made it south and everything else is hunkered down for winter. The state highway folks closed two of the northern passes over the Cascades this weekend (one had three feet of snow already!) and I'm sure the North Cascades Highway will be closed soon as well.

It was a good day for mail. We got a copy of Windows 7 from Leslie and Bill plus a big box of mail forwarded by daughter MM. Lots of magazines to enjoy.

I was so tired when we got back from our drive that I had to lie down and have an hour's nap. (As though that was something new...!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One More Day...

That seems to be what I am doing these days, just marking off one more day at a time, letting my body heal. I suppose it is good discipline for me -- I cannot remember a time when I didn't have something going on, something I just had to get done, or something else that was keeping me busy!

We had thought earlier in the week about driving the 90 miles to Menno this morning for the Harvest Homecoming service. As the week went by, we realized that I was not ready for that long a trip nor did I have the energy to interact with people for 3-4 hours over the service and dinner. But, it would have been nice to see everyone! And we have never been around in the Fall during the past several years to meet Charles Duplessis, the pastor of Mount Nemo Baptist Church in New Orleans that Menno has partnered with the past couple of years.

I did take a fairly long walk around the RV park this afternoon. It's been quite cold here all day. I don't believe it got above 43 degrees.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is It Naptime Yet?

It must be! I have been so sleepy all day. I just feel like an observer, not a participant in life these days. I am not in pain (haven't had any pain meds or muscles relaxants for two days), just an achy back. I woke up late this morning, had breakfast (thanks, Forry!), and went right back to take a nap. Took another one early this afternoon, then another later while Forry went into town to return the heater that he couldn't use on the hose.

I did rouse enough to read some of the RVing blogs I haven't looked at for a while, and catch up with my farming on Facebook. But other than that haven't done anything but nap and read.

Good night!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Brother Pat Comes to Visit

My brother Patrick was on his way home to Moses Lake from a conference he's been at in Wisconsin all week. He stopped by to visit this afternoon with a beautiful orchid plant in hand. He stayed for a couple of hours to visit, then we all went back in to Spokane to have dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory with my neice Ashley. Ashley has just one last clinical rotation to do in Seattle at UW and she is finished with all the work for her BSN. Today was her last lab rotation and yesterday she had her last actual class. It's an exciting time for her!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What a Grouch!

Don't know who wrote yesterday's short blog, but it couldn't have been me! I don't know anyone that grouchy...!

Last night and today have been much, much better. It's been almost 40 hours since I've had any pain down my left leg -- what a relief! Let's just hope it stays that way.

It was another overcast day and it finally started to rain a bit a half hour or so ago. We had gone into Cheney late in the afternoon to mail a letter and to pick up some blueberries for breakfast with our granola. Forry want to get a heat strip for the water hose, but had to stop at a couple of different places to find one. Then when we got home and he got it out of the package, he found that the instructions said it was to only be used on pipes, not hoses!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Blah Day....

You can't say much about a day like today. It was just blah.

We've been listening to the last game of the World Series. Too bad the Phillies couldn't repeat last year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Haircuts, Company and Dinner Out!

We were up early this morning getting organized in order to get to Sarah's by 9 AM. She trimmed my hair and bangs, but she CUT Forry's hair! I had suggested he get 4-5 inches cut off, but I think she cut off more like 8-10! It's about as short as I've seen it in several years! The nice thing about it is that it just curls...
Our accountant Cleon stopped by this afternoon to copy the work Forry's been doing on the ranch books so that he can get our taxes done. We went into Spokane to Anthony's in time for their sunset 4 course dinner (arrival before 6 PM), but I could NOT eat it all. I got through the crab, shrimp and artichoke dip appetizer and the Caesar salad, but had to get a take-home box for the main course (Idaho trout admondine) and Forry got to eat most of the Creme Brulee I had for the dessert 4th course!
It's been a busy day and I am tired. I did not sleep well last night (Full Moon?), so am hoping for a good night's sleep tonight!

Monday, November 2, 2009

My SMALL World

I was pondering today how my world has shrunk. I have very little interest in anything beyond my own existence these days. It seems so strange to listen to the news on NPR --even about health care reform -- in a very detached manner. Like "that's interesting, but has little to do with me" instead of being concerned about the minute detail.

I had obsrerved this phenomenon before with both my father and my father-in-law after they had had major surgery. It's as though all of their energy was focused on themselves and the healing process and there was none left for anything else.

It's a bit scary to feel this way. I am normally insatiably curious about what is going on around me and what's happening in my friend's lives and families. The past couple of weeks, it's like "who cares?"!

I was pleased yesterday to note how impatient I was to see the pictures of Leslie & Bill's wedding. It felt "more like me!"

I know that a great deal of the "cloudiness" has to do with the amount of muscle relaxent and pain medication I've been taking. As I take less and less of them, I am hoping that my window into the larger world will continue to grow!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Quiet Day

It's been a very quiet day. I went outside to take a short walk, otherwise moved from bed to couch to bed. If it wasn't for the pain in the irritated left leg nerve, I think I'd be feeling pretty good.
Forry has been working on his ranch bookwork muttering with every month he enters into QuickBooks that "next year he's going to do it every month so that he can remember what those entries were about!"
Got the SmugMug pictures today of Leslie and Bill's wedding yesterday at Voodoo Doughnuts. Pretty amazing that you can see all the fun in less than a day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Out For a Walk

It sounds like such a little thing, to just go for a walk. But when you've been restricted from doing so for a couple of weeks, it becomes a BIG thing! The sun was even out most of the afternoon, so it was quite pleasant. I didn't go very far -- just out to the garbage bins (less than a 1/4 mile) and back. Ponderosa Falls RV Resort is currently not terribly busy, so we are not crowded in near anyone. The roads throughout the Resort are not paved, so you do have to watch some of the rough spots.

This is my little corner of Auntie Violet:

Do note the posture! It's amazing how straight I sit with the brace on.

We slept in this morning as yesterday had been a really big day. Our good friends Leslie and Bill were married this noon at the Donut Shop in Portland, Oregon. We had seriously thought about driving down for the festivities this noon, but decided it was a bit too soon in the recovery process to take that a road trip. But, we are waiting to see the pictures!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Busy Day

It's been a busy one! I had an appointment for my two-week follow-up post-surgery check-up with Dr Powers this morning. He had another set of x-rays taken to compare with the ones they took the morning after surgery. Boy, those are long screws holding the rods in place! He also had the pre-surgical ones. The tech burned a set onto a CD for us to have as well when we're traveling. It's interesting that he does not want me to resume taking aspirin or any oher NSAID (Advil, naproxen) for another six weeks. Evidently the inflammation actually helps with the fusion.
All of the males in my life are telling me that now that I've got the new iPhone, I can tell Forry where I hid the old one! They all think alike!
After the flurries of snow yesterday, the weather was actually pretty nice today -- and much warmer .
Our friends Bill & Leslie are getting married tomorrow noon in Portland at a doughnut shop. We were thinking sort of seriously about driving down, but as tired as I get from just a trip to the doctor's, I guess we'll just have to enjoy it vicariously!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New iPhone!
With no sign of my missing iPhone all week, we finally decded to go ahead and buy a new one. I had the old one long enough that it was out of contract, so we were able to get a new 3Gs for a pretty reasonable price.
It's been a good day today with out recurrance of the awful pain of Tuesday night.
Stopped at Red Robin and had a bowl of onion soup -- I was even able to eat almost half. ;-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Painful Night, Quiet Day

I was restless when we went to bed last night, tossed and turned, couldn't find a comfortable spot etc. Then about two am my incision area started to hurt and I had pain all down the left leg (the side that didn't hurt before surgery...) into the calf. I quickly took some pain meds, then in an hour took some more along with the muscle relaxant, got all caught up with what I could legally take. Didn't seem to even faze it. Finally called the on-call doc for the Ortho group about six AM. He didn't seem to think there was anything more that I could do and suggested that I wait until the office staff arrived at 8 AM and call again.

Managed to get back into bed, but at an angle and didn't want to move again. Poor Forry ended up sleeping the rest of the night on the couch as there was no room for him in the bed...

Finally talked with Dr. Powers, ruled out anything having gone wrong with the surgery area or incision. He suggested that today should be a VERY quiet day and that I keep the pain meds up to maximum dosage all day. So that's what I've done. It was easy to sleep a lot because I hadn't slept much last night. Might not be as easy tonight. I feel as I've turned my nights and days around.

Pastor Terry stopped by on his way from Spokane for a short visit. Bonnie and Terry were going to bring the babies by after work, but they all woke up with snotty noses and (thankfully!) decided I didn't need to be exposed to colds, so they're going to try again next week..

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 11 Post Surgery

I keep checking the days off and each day things seem to have improved a bit. I noticed tonight -- when I thought there had been NO change today -- that I did not need any help to lift my left foot into the Jeep. A little thing, but another sign that I am stronger.

We were awakened before seven this morning with a phone call from Fed Ex wanting to know how to find us. They had only the General Delivery PO address in Cheney and didn't think that would get them to us with the box they had to deliver. They actually showed up about 2 PM to deliver a box of the most gorgeous pears -- looks like maybe four different varieties. They are all colors from a pale yellow to a bright red. Thank you to my youngest (all be it taller) sister Roxy and her husband Rich! We will certainly enjoy them!

We decided to go over to the nearby Iron Skillet this evening for dinner. It's kind of a shame in some ways as I only seem to be able to eat 5-6 bites before I'm full. But, now I've got a nice take-home box of leftover chicken-fried steak for lunch tomorrow. And I got outside for a short bit!

Monday, October 26, 2009

From Miserable to Great...

Woke up miserable, chilled and hurting this morning! Amazing what a hot shower & drugs can do for one's disposition...
Have laid low the rest of day, just healing.... Forry went into Cheney and picked up the mail. Lots of cards and a care package from Sister Sherry -- NICE!
It rained most of the night and a good share of the day. I sure hope the ranch is getting a good share of it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Foggy Sunday Morning at Ponderosa Falls

It was sunny but partly cloudy when we got up this morning, then the fog came creeping down the hill into the park. It's lifted a bit, but still has that hazy Fall look.

I had wanted badly to go to church this morning, but re-thought the idea after reflecting Dr. Powers comments about just spending my time resting and healing. I'll catch up my farming on Facebook this AM, read for a while (started an interesting new series with a book (The Patriot Witch) that Curt and Sarah brought by when they came to visit at the hospital. I started writing "thank you" cards yesterday, but couldn't seem to even get one finished without falling asleep..) I am getting very good a dozing off mid-sentence!

I actually had a pretty good night's sleep. Forry had bought me a frozen Mac and Cheese dinner that he doctored up a bit with crumbled saltines and pepper. I was actually able to finish almost half of it, so will have the rest for lunch today.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hard day today (I keep picturing that old ad with frying egg that says " this is your brain on drugs") that seems to be what today was like...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's Try It Again!

Well, let's see if my fingers and my brain are a bit more coordinated this evening. They certainly haven't been up to this point! I've tried various times to write in my blog, but it just has NOT worked!

On Friday, October 16th I had a Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. I was in the Operating Room at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane a little over five hours... (Part of the soreness I am currently having is across the front of my body when the various portions of me rested facedown for this long spell on this fancy table with its cutouts for body parts.) Basically Dr. Powers made an incision atop my lower spine, inserted wire cages to hold apart the vertebrae of lumbar 4 and lumbar 5, then fused them together with sacral 1. Next he put titanium rods from L4, L5 and S1, holding it all together. Then he harvested bone marrow from my hip bone used it to "paint" over the whole contraption in order to promote new bone growth.

I've stuck in a couple of pictures at the end of this blog that show what it looks like. If you've a squeamish stomach, you may not what to look there!

I came home to Auntie Violet on Monday afternoon with some pretty potent pain meds I'm taking every three hours. It's been tough trying to keep the pain under control without becoming so zonked I can't walk or talk.

The stitches are almost internal -- what you see on the outside are steri strips which will gradually peel off.

Can't seem to keep my eyes open -- guess I better quite while I'm ahead.