Friday, July 31, 2009

Cooler in Western Washington

The thermometer (it's in the shade) at Auntie Violet read 107 degrees when we left her about one this afternoon! It was 90 degrees on the reader board at the top of Snoqualamie Pass and only a bit above 70 when we arrived at daughter Mary Mae's in Mount Vernon about 8 this evening. Much, much nicer!

We'd have been here an hour sooner, but the traffic through Everett was moving between 0 and 20 miles an hour most of the way. They've added a whole other lane to the freeway during the time MM and Scott have lived here and it hasn't seemed to make any difference at all -- it's always extremely slow from north of Seattle until you get past Everett.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lunch at Manito Park

We spent the night in Spokane last night as I had an appointment with the podiatrist this morning and didn't want to turn around a drive back up again.

It's a bit cooler in Eastern Washington today, only in the mid-nineties. Auntie Violet was still very warm when we got home this afternoon, though!

Forry had picked up a fishwich at Burger King (I had a Starbuck's caramel frappachino) and we decided to go up to Manito Park to eat lunch at the duck pond. After the intense three digit heat we've had the last week, it was quite pleasant in the shade.

The water in the pond is definitely green! There are signs all over -- even painted on the sidewalk -- asking people to please not feed the ducks. But, everytime we stop by there's always a family or group of kids with bags of stale bread.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is NOT my favorite thing! I had an MRI two years ago that the doctor wanted to repeat to see how much change there had been in my back. They certainly haven't improved the experience, in fact, I think the machines have gotten louder! The tech said I wasn't imagining it, the more powerful the machines are, the noisier... It was a l-o-n-g 25 minutes this afternoon.

It will take at least two days for the MRI to be read by the radiologist, then I guess the surgeon will call to discuss what happens next.

Today our oldest daughter turned 50! I'm really not sure how that happened -- it hasn't been that long since MM was just a baby with the biggest blue eyes! We will head over to Mount Vernon sometime on Friday for the big party her husband has organized for Saturday afternoon (something about belly dancers?).

We talked with both of the girls and Sean today. Lots of bittersweet stories about Phyllis, lots of fun memories about our Flying Farmer days, and stories of time spent working for Vic.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rest in Peace

My beloved friend Phyllis passed tonight. We went into Moses Lake this afternoon and were blessed to be with Phyl and her family this evening. She's had a fifteen month courageous battle with brain cancer. It is good to think about her being in heaven -- chatting up a storm.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Still HOT!

It was still 85 degrees at 8:30 this evening! We don't turn the air conditioning on when we're gone, so it was VERY HOT in Auntie Violet when we got back from Spokane this afternoon. I immediately put my swimsuit on and went over to Diane's pool. She had been playing in the pool this afternoon with her grands, but was happy to get in again and do some exercising with me. I was glad that I had brought home more than half of the portobello sandwich that I had at lunch at Isabella's, so I didn't have to cook tonight. Forry had a large reuben sandwich for lunch, so he was content to nibble on chips and guacamole.

The doctor took some more x-rays of my back this morning. It looks like the vertebrae that are causing the stenosis have shifted over another 1/8th inch or so from the x-rays taken earlier. He wants me to get another MRI to see what the changes are there from the one two years ago...

Here's some more of what's blooming in the coulee:

They are camomile daisies -- I understand they are what is dried and used to make camomile tea...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In Farrier Coulee...

The home place of Tree Heart Ranch Ltd. is located in Farrier Coulee which runs through the middle of the farm. We don't know if the man who bred and raised horses up by the big springs was named Farrier or if that was his occupation. There are still remnants of the stone corrals where he kept horses. Forry says that he turned his domestic stallion loose with the wild horses, then caught and trained the ensuing colts. All of the many springs that used to line the coulee are long gone, victims of the dropping water table due to the deep wells used for irrigation. When we were first married, we got our domestic water from a now-defunct spring across the coulee that was piped into a cistern in the house yard.

When Forry was a boy, he found lots of arrowheads along the creek (which has long since been dry except for spring run-off) and his older brother talked about finding an area where it looked like the Indians had chipped rock for arrowheads.

There are about four hundred acres of unfarmable land in the coulee. We used to raise about twenty head of cattle here. Along with the farmland that is in the Conservation Reserve Program, Forry spends a great deal of his time in the spring spraying out the noxious weeds in the coulee.

It's been interesting to see all the varities of wild flowers that bloom in the coulee. There are lots of yarrow plants that bloom in amongst the sagebrush:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Good Visit

It was another miserably hot day today. It was up to 98 degrees before noon. There were lots of thunderheads off to the east which gradually moved this way, but there was no moisture with them. Our tenant has started harvesting wheat, so that's probably a good thing.

I had wanted to go into Moses Lake this morning to visit Phyl, but we decided to wait until late afternoon and see if we could get Vic to go out to dinner with us. Phyl was restless when we got there, but after she had her meds she seemed calmer. She did not ever open her eyes while we were there.

We went with Vic over to Denny's. Forry had their shrimp skewers, but Vic and I settled for breakfast. It seemed a bit strange not to have Phyl there with us. After dinner we visited a bit with Pam, Curt and Sarah and heard a great story about Vic teaching Phyl to drive before they were married.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Time in the Pool

It was a bit cooler today with STRANGE weather. It was sort of overcast, then clear skies, then lots of thunderheads around, then a short shower, then clear skies. Now it's sort of hazy and still overcast looking.

I spent most of the day reading, then went over to Diane's this afternoon to swim. My back is feeling much better (I can walk without the cane...), but I still took it easy. We just jogged in the water and treaded water, nothing very engergetic or aerobic.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Lazy Day...

Today was a very lazy day. It was really too hot outside to want to do much of anything. I'm certainly enjoying having the Kindle. Today I was reading another of the Sheriff Brady books. I like the way JA Jance lays out her plots -- she's hard to out guess!

Tonight it's very smokey and hazy outside. We drove to the top of the hill and drove a ways to see if the fires were anywhere close. It's pretty smokey all the way towards Moses Lake, but we didn't see anything close.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another Hot Day...

We came up to Spokane this morning so that Forry could see his orthopaedist about his knee. We had a few errands to do, but Forry's main intention was to be sure and get his Costco polish dog for lunch!

We had been invited to dinner this evening at the home of one friends who worked with me at the AHEC. Helen and Jerry had also invited Ginger, another of our former co-workers, who we haven't seen for a couple of years.

It was a very pleasant evening. We started out with a glass of wine and a veggie and shrimp plate while we listened to the last of President Obama's press conference. Jerry had made a Hot Chili Bean Salad that was really great (I had to ask for the recipe -- it will be a good one for potluck dinners!).

I'm not sure how warm it go today -- I saw a couple of thermometers that read 97 and 96 as we were driving around.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It was 102 degrees Fahrenheit when we left the ranch this noon to head for dentist appointments in Moses Lake. The really nice thing about getting our teeth cleaned is that my niece Becky is the dental hygienist! She's such a sweetheart! (not that I'm at all prejudiced...)

It's not been a real good week. I had gotten a steroid shot in my back before I left to go to camp knowing that it would be sore for a day or two, but then it should be great and I could walk without pain again. (I've been getting the shots every six-eight months for a couple of years.) NOT this time! I had to resort to finding some heavy duty pain meds left from my knee surgeries almost four years ago... When I finally got a hold of my doctor (we had played telephone tag last week as there is no cell phone reception at Camp Camrec), he said he had reviewed both the recent C Arm X-rays and the original MRI and is beginning to think that there has been enough change that he'd like to have one of the surgeons look at them and get a second opinion re possible surgery...

Not what I wanted to hear! Sister Sherry had given me a purple cane when we were visiting her earlier (to wade through the dogs when they all crowd around) and I've been putting it to use.

Naturally I am cranky 'cause it hurts and my crankiness is greatly increased by my inability to access the internet at the ranch! I miss keeping track of people's blogs and Facebook comments.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back From Camp

We finished up with Junior Camp about 10 AM yesterday. I took one of the boys with me as far as Moses Lake where we met up with Pastor Terry at Vic and Phyl's, then he rode the rest of the way home with Pastor as he lives not too far from the church. I stayed at Phyls for a while, visited with Pam and Vic and just held Phyls hand for a bit. Pam says she hasnt been very responsive the last few days...

I stopped at the grocery store for milk and juice, headed home and shelled! I had gotten a steroid shot on the Monday before I left for camp. Usually I am sore for a day or two, but not this time. It's been pretty miserable.

Friday, July 17, 2009

At Leavenworth City Park

We're at the city park in Leavenworth just long enough to read email and upload a note. We'll be done at camp tomorrow morning at ten and will head back to the ranch after that.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lake Wenatchee

It's a hot summer afternoon and what better place to spend it but at a lake? The Camp Director hired a local school bus, complete with driver, and brought all of the campers and counselors to the State Park at Lake Wenatchee. I'm sitting at a table in the shade under a pine tree overlooking the beach.

We've got a nice group of kids -- there were eight boys (one was so homesick his mother came and got him this noon) and seven girls with three counselors and two counselors in training. The campers are all fourth and fifth and six graders.

What happens when you have four boys in a cabin when their counselor steps out to go to a meeting? And if said boys have a can of bear (pepper) spray -- brought in case they run into a bear while hiking? The boys do need to check it out, of course! One inhaled a good mouthful while the other three mainly escaped without ill effects. So my first crisis was a frantic boy coming to the lodge with his mouth burning. I put him to work rinsing his mouth out with water over and over -- while warning him NOT to swallow. When the can of bear spray was confiscated it turned out thankfully that rinsing was the recommended -- and only remedy...

Later that evening, Grandson Varick came in complaining that he'd gotten in to some stinging nettles on the palm of his hand. While he's rinsing the hand off and I'm looking for StingEze, he started saying the back of his hand was now burning. We found a 1 1/4 inch black and yellow caterpillar stuck to the side of his shirt that he had brushed his hand against. He had some nasty welts from it that were fortunately gone this morning. After I got the caterpillar unstuck from his shirt with a paper towel, I flicked it into the toilet. I wish now that I had saved it so that we could figure out what kind it was!

Since then I've had one girl with a couple of small slivers -- I hope that is the extent of it, or it could be a L-O-N-G week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I getting ready to leave to be the "first aid person" for the Junior age camp at Camp Camrec, which is the camp that Washington Mennonite Fellowship owns between Leavensworth and Plain, Washington.

I don't know what the wi-fi situation is up there, but I may not be able to post my blog every day. I will try to write something every day and post it when I get an opportunity and will be back at the ranch on Saturday, the 18th.

My oldest grandson Varick (who will be ten in a couple weeks) will be one of the campers. It will be great to be able to spend a little time with him!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Storm Damage!

Yesterday evening's wind and the blowing dust finally slacked off a bit and we could occasionally hear rain drops. As we were getting ready for bed, (Forry was already undressed...) I thought I heard someone yelling. After I put my shoes on and went outside, I could hear voices from over by the lane (Auntie Violet is parked by the windbreak about 200 feet from the lane) and lots of high bright lights. I hollered at Forry to come out and see what was going on. He quickly realized that linemen were over working on one of the electric poles. They had three lit-up trucks over there, one with a big bucket. As we watched, they brought down the bucket, turned their rigs around and left. When we went back inside, Forry checked and sure enough, we were running on battery power, Power flowed from the batteries through the inverter as the power from the lines was off. But it wasn't too much later when the power came back on.

Auntie Violet's setup is such that she switched over to motorhome power without us even noticing it -- there wasn't enough of a glitch to mess up the clock on the microwave oven! And the refrigerator automatically switches over to run on propane instead of electricity.

We had a rain then off and on through the night. The ground was actually wet this morning! Later when we left for Spokane, we could see that there were ropes attached to the pole in the lane (which was sagging), being used as guy wires to hold it upright. Then when we got to the top of the hill and headed east on Rosenoff Road, this is what we saw:

The one pole was completely snapped off. The one behind that you can see in the distance, just had the top part of the pole hanging from the wires -- with no sign of the bottom portion of the pole! There were two more poles like this within the next mile.

This evening when we returned, there were new poles lying on the ground beside the four snapped poles on Rosenoff and another lying beside the leaning pole here in the lane.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thunder and lightning and DUST!

We had a storm move in late this afternoon. There was lightning and thunder and it really got dark. The wind came up with an old-fashioned dust storm. I could not see the shelter belt from Auntie Violet's windows! (about sixty feet away...) We got a few drops of rain with it, but I can imagine that the car and motor home windows are going to be filthy when the sun comes up tomorrow. I was just outside trying to see if I could see any stars, but it must still be clouded over. But, it does smell good outside -- there must have been enough rain to settle the dust.

When I was a kid, dust storms were not that uncommon. But there have been so many changes in farming practices, that they just don't happen that much anymore. The field above us that is fallow (in this dry country a piece of ground is only planted to a crop every other year, on the odd years it lies "fallow" in order to store up moisture) was recently weeded and I'm sure that's where much of the dust was coming from.

We had a full house in church at Menno this morning. There are families visiting on vacation plus the Jantz clan was having a reunion on the church grounds this afternoon. It was neat to see so many little kids in church!

I talked with a friend yesterday who I have not seen in many years. She has been reading this blog for a while, so knew what was going on in our lives. It was good to catch up with them and hear what they have been doing.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sunsets and rabbits and Kindles...

It's been sporadically cloudy with lots of thunderheads building all around us, but we haven't had any measurable rain. It has made for some gorgeous sunsets.
I'm not sure if there is only one, but we've had the cutest little rabbit hanging around Auntie Violet the last several days. He thinks we can't see him if he's behind the clumps of grass. He holds very still as we walk by him -- I'm sure he thinks he is invisible.

I went up to the top of the hill this afternoon to see if I could get reception on my new Kindle DX, but no luck. I drove a few miles further to a hill overlooking the freeway (there now is wireless capability along all of the freeways!) and it worked! I was able to download a couple of the new Mercedes Lackey books as well as a copy of The Fixer Upper that I had almost bought at the airport in Columbus last week. It was very quick. When you rotate the Kindle, the text automatically moves from vertical to horizontal. It makes for a nice change as you're holding it and reading. I did sit out in the sun for a while when I came back and it was just as easy to read in the bright light as it was inside the motorhome. I think I may really like the thing...!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Kindle is Here!

Daughter Mary Mae stuck the package containing the Kindle DX in with the Fixed Rate box with our mail she sent to Moses Lake today. The package really wasn't very big and neither is the Kindle, even though it's the larger one of the two they make. It's plugged in right now getting charged. I will most likely have to go up on top of the hill tomorrow to download anything with it as it does not seem to be getting reception down here in the coulee.

I've finally gotten caught up with the laundry! And between loads today, I was even able to get several months of finances entered into Quicken. I am caught up as far as May. When I lost the mother board on my computer last winter, the computer shop was able to back-up my files for me. But, during the fiasco of the lemon Dell, I lost everything. In a way it is kind of nice to start over again from scratch -- there's a lot less stuff now then there was when I was working.

We stopped to visit Phyl for a few minutes while we were in Moses Lake. It is hard for her to say more than a word or two...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And Yet Another Trip to Spokane...

The 90 miles between the ranch and Spokane are getting longer every trip! Though, for me the trip today turned out pretty nice. The new lens for our glasses were in and when I called Sarah, I was able to get in this afternoon for a bang trim.

For Forry, it was another story. He wasn't in at the dermatologist's office very long, but the doctor sure worked him over! He has bandages on both elbows and one knee. Sounds like the doc is trying a couple of different strategies on his persistent psoriasis.

I broke down this time and got the photo gray lenses which I have been resisting for years. But it has gotten to be such a hassle to keep switching between my regular glasses and my sun glasses. I seem to be perpetually misplacing my glass case! So far I'm not to pleased with the new lens for driving though. With the tinted glass on the Jeep windshield they do not get as dark as my sun glasses did -- there was definitely more glare.

And I even convinced Forry that we did NOT have to go to lunch at Costco for $1.50 polish dogs! We shared a great albacore tuna sandwich at the Rocket Bakery up on 18th by Manito Park. It's the only place I know of that makes as good a cherry pie as I do -- you can actually see and taste the cherries instead of that awfull canned filling stuff!

We were back at the ranch by 4:30 and I started back at work on the stacked up laundry. The pile in the hallway is beginning to look less intimidating...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday and it IS Laundry Day...!

At least today it is! I (started to say we, but that definitely would be incorrect!) have emptied all of the suitcases and piled up the dirty clothes. It's is amazing how many two people can accumulate in seven days away from home! We got back to Auntie Violet just a little after 1 AM, crashed and slept in until almost 9.

I got a few loads of clothes done this morning before we went into Moses Lake to see Phyllis and Vic and to pick up groceries. Now I have another load in the washer with several more lined up to go.

I got a weak "Hi, Hap" from Phyl when I first came in, but that was about it. She's much less alert than she was before we left...

Forry was able to make an appointment for tomorrow morning in Spokane with his dermatologist. He has to be there at 11, so I guess we'll be leaving here by no later than 9:30. It seems to take a good share of our time doing maintanance on the bodies when we are back in eastern Washington!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Aw, the joy of sleeping in!

What a wonderful feeling to lie in bed and know that there is NO reason to get up and get going early this morning! After a week of getting up at 6 AM (which is really 3 AM our time!), it is delightful to be able to roll over an go back to sleep.

We have a late check-out (1 PM) and then will go find someplace to eat brunch before we head for the Columbus airport. Our flight home isn't until 7 PMish, so we have no reason to hurry for anything today! The downside though is we will not get back to Spokane until after 11 this evening, with an hour and one-half to drive yet back to the ranch.

After spending most of our time together 24/7, it's been interesting to be in one place for almost a week with only occasional time together. I've mostly been in delegate or board meetings, while Forry has been going to seminars and?

After six days, you would think you would have seen everyone you know, but with 8000+ people in attendance, we were still running into people last night -- and getting more hugs! Life is GOOD!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Do You Realize It's Already JULY?!!

I was checking my bank statement last night and was surprised by the balance. Then I realized it was a new month and our social security had already been deposited! It's pretty bad when the city was celebrating the fourth of July yesterday and it hadn't dawned on me that we'd moved into another month... I am sure it's because I've been so busy, not because there is any mental deterioration on my part.

It was another busy day today, starting again with a delegate session at 8 AM and ending up with us back at the hotel by 11 PM. With Iris, I gave the report on the Spanish Language Intiative to the delegates this morning. It was going well until I looked down and could see myself in the TV monitor right in front of the podium (they were showing events on the stage over two large TV screens on the front walls). It momentarily startled me, but I think I recovered okay -- I just made sure that I didn't look down again!

Our flight back to Spokane doesn't leave until 7 PM tomorrow night (we won't get back to the ranch until way after midnight!), so we should have a quiet day tomorrow. We've been talking about going to the zoo, but we'll wait to see how ambitious we might be tomorrow.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Red, White and BOOM!

35 minutes of fireworks tonight -- thousands of people downtown! Columbus has a tradition of celebrating on the 3rd of July -- no one seems to know why, they just do.

It didn't start until 10 PM. We finished my last meeting a little before nine, so decided to go back to our hotel and watch it on TV. I'm sorta glad we did as the cloud of smoke over the city looked like it might make for some pretty tough breathing.

Today was a pretty good day. I think we've gotten adjusted to the early mornings and long days. Like anything else though, you just get acclimated and it's time to return home.

Two more delegate sessions tomorrow, then we're done. I've got a report to give with Iris on our Spanish language initiative program. We're supposed to do it in 7 minutes -- or less!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mennonite Assembly -- Day Three

We got back to our room at 11:30 PM! We had a meeting of the church-wide Anti-Racism teams this evening that was supposed to start at 9:30, but everything else was running late, so it didn't get started until 10 PM. But it turned out to be a really good meeting.

Today was another long day, but a good one. There are some fun pictures on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day Two of the Mennonite Convention...

Well, no sleeping-in this morning -- and after a VERY short night too!
Son-in-law Todd missed his first flight out of Portland to Houston/Columbus yesterday, so he didn't get in until just after midnight. Then we had to be up by six to be showered and dressed and over to the convention center in time for a 7AM breakfast and Delegate sessions that started at 8 AM!

We got back to our hotel tonight at eleven after waiting until 9:30 PM for the "farewell reception" for Executive Director Jim Schrag and Asst. Director Ron Byler. We had two delegate sessions today. I had to go "on-stage" with the rest of the Executive Search Committee to be introduced, but didn't have to say anything. I seem to have a good group of people (7) at the table that I am the table leader for.

I did go to the Women's Dinner tonight, but left early in order to take in the Ted & Co. play. Ted is caring on his comedic skits with a couple of new actors. (His long-time partner died just before conference two years ago.) They put on a very funny "history" of the church and service.