Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sale is Coming!

The sun was setting over at Menno church tonight when I went over to help getting stuff ready for Saturday's Mennonite Country Auction --

Our Master Food Coordinator Diane confers with her Right Hand Didi about what order to start tomorrow's prep --

We'd already put together seven roasters of green bean soup and stuck them in the walk-in cooler --

Along with all the other grocery items awaiting cooking the next two days --

Today's batch of apple butter made in a copper kettle was cooling on the side table. We could hear the soft "ping" of the jar lids as they cooled and sealed --

Boxes of serving wear, cups, plates, tableware, gloves all labeled for the various food booths are waiting in the Fellowship Hall.

It's always surprising to me to look around at the quiet church and grounds on Thursday and realize how busy it will be on Friday with people getting things ready to go. And then to think that there will be close to a thousand people there on Saturday! It's amazing how quickly everyone steps in and does their part and all of a sudden it's happening.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Signs of Fall at the Ranch

When I was out walking this afternoon, I could not help but notice all the signs of impending Fall on the ranch. The grass that was still green around Auntie Violet's parking place when we left is dry and sere --

Looking down the lane, the sagebrush is yellow with blooms --

The wheat fields that were golden with ripening grain are now stubble --

The cheat grass is gray and feathery, the salt grass is dry --

Spider webs cover many of the weeds --

The sagebrush blossoms have turned into balls of fluff --

And the Russian thistles have begun to turn red and purple --

While the sun was shining today and the temperature was in the mid-eighties, it is all too evident that summer is over. I just hope that this lovely weather holds for the Mennonite Country Auction on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

It was warm today! It was a beautiful day, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. Forry had dumped the gray and black tanks last night and washed Auntie Violet's windshield. This morning we pulled in the slides, pulled up the jacks, disconnected the water and power and we were on our way.

For us, it was a short driving day. It's only ninety miles from where we were parked at Ponderosa Falls RV Park to Tree Heart Ranch. We exited the freeway at Ritzville and drove downtown where Forry parked by the courthouse while I walked over to the post office to pick up mail that Daughter Mary Mae had sent before they left on vacation last week.

We were a bit surprised by how windy and gusty it was when we got to the ranch. It was 85 degrees, but didn't seem that warm with the wind. We got the lawn mower out of the storage shed and Forry mowed the area where we park. That way there will be less risk of fire -- or of getting cheat grass seeds in my shoes!

I always forget how dicey getting the Internet is down in this coulee. Hopefully this will post okay!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Washington State Veterans Cemetery

We've been seeing new road signs near the turn-off to Ponderosa Pines RV Park for the Washington State Veterans Cemetery. I had remembered seeing an article earlier last spring in the Spokane paper (on my Kindle) about the dedication of this new cemetery. Being the curious souls that we are, we went to take a look. Once again, I didn't have my camera with me because we had only gone into Group Health to get our flu shots... These pictures were taken with my iPhone.

The cemetery is located on the other side of West Medical Lake. It is HUGE! I have no idea how far in the future they have planned and built for, but it covers several acres. This eagle is one of two matching ones at the gate.

As you can sort of see from this photo, there are already several graves with the same kind of markers we've seen at Arlington.

Today was a loose-ends day. We got our flu shots, filled a prescription, got the new lenses for my glasses, and made a Costco stop as well as one at Dry Fly distillery. When we got back to the RV park, Forry emptied both the gray and black tanks. Tonight we took Son Sean out to dinner at IHOP. So, I think we are pretty much ready to move down to the ranch tomorrow in preparation for the Mennonite Country Auction on Saturday.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Momentous Occasion

If my body had had its way this morning, I would have buried my head under the covers and slept for SEVERAL more hours! But, we did want to be in church this morning to witness and celebrate the licensing of our new pastor. This is Pastor Matthew's first pastorate, so it indeed was a very special occasion. To add the the specialness, his grandfather, an ordained minister, was with us to preach the sermon.

So, we were on the road by 8:30 in order to be down at Menno by 10 AM. It was a pleasant drive. I had sort of planned to sleep, but started reading the Sunday School lesson to Forry as he drove. We ended up discussing it almost all the way.

I would have liked to stay this afternoon to watch the crew erect the big tent for the Mennonite Country Auction this coming Saturday, but I was just too tired! I did take a nap when we got home. And I did stick several loads of clothes in the washer. Since I had been gone all week, the laundry basket was FULL. Otherwise it's been a pretty lazy afternoon -- we even decided to have popcorn and grapes for supper as I really did not want to cook...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Home, Home, HOME!

It felt so good to walk into Auntie Violet! Forry had been doing some house cleaning while I was gone, so she looked especially nice.

My flight from Pittsburgh (via Denver) got in a few minutes before eight, but I'm functioning on East Coast time, so it was really late by the time we stopped for something to eat and came home.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another Long Day of Meetings

I left our room in time for an 8 AM meeting and got back about 10:30 tonight -- truly a long day. We are meeting with all of the leaders of Mennonite Church USA; all of the Board members, the agency heads; staff members; conference folks, etc. Quite an amazing group!

It is awesome to listen to all the wisdom in the room. I feel honored to be counted as part of the group!

It's been a long time to be in a hotel. I am anxious to get on the plane tomorrow afternoon and see Auntie Violet -- and Forry!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Adventure In the Dark

Or should I say ON the Dark Side?

We were in a meeting yesterday afternoon in a room that faced the swimming pool courtyard. When the meeting started in the morning, the sun was shining. By a little before four o'clock, a huge set of thunderclouds had built and rapidly advanced across the hotel. We had a tremendous downpour with lots of lightning and thunder. There was NO time interval between the incredibly bright lightning and the thunder claps. And then, the power went out!

The storm quickly blew through, but the power did not come back! We heard later that 44,000 people were without power and our hotel (The Radisson) was right in the midst of it. We could see street lights later that night a couple of blocks away. We finished our meeting and then waited around a bit longer to see if it would come back on.

Of course, with no electricity, the elevators don't work! Our room is the 16th floor. The thought of all those stairs! But, then someone told me that the tower we were in was only seven floors high! It seems when the hotel built the addition, they didn't want to re-number rooms, so just started over with 1200 on the second floor. But still six flights of stairs with a heavy bag and a long day was a daunting prospect. Slow but sure -- and a stop or two on the way -- I made it back to our room and took a nap.

When I woke up it was getting dark. I ended up sitting out in the hall (with lots of other folks) and reading my Kindle for an hour or so using the emergency lights that were in the hallway. While I was there, a fellow from the hotel staff came by and handed out flashlights! My room mate had picked up a couple of glow sticks downstairs and between them and the flashlight we were able to get to bed and then into the shower this morning. Thank goodness we had water -- even hot water for showers. It's amazing how DARK the bathrooms were.

The hotel staff was even able to fix breakfast for us and they had candles in the meeting rooms to work by. The lights came back on -- to cheers! -- about ten AM. They went off once more, but only for a couple of moments.

Who says life is not an adventure!

Yesterday's Non-Blog

With NO power in the whole hotel after yesterday's thunderstorm, AND no way to charge my dead cell phone, I was unable to write anything!

The power came on about 10 AM, so at least my cell phone is charged...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A L-O-N-G Day!

I'm writing this from the Radisson Hotel in Pittsburgh -- many, many hours after I left the Spokane Airport! I had a 6:20 flight, so was up at 4 to get showered, finish packing and get to the airport by 5:15. At first the day started out really well. There was only a short line at the counter where I dropped off my bag, and when I went through Security, I discovered the new machine was up and running. This is the one that takes a "picture." No more making the machine alarm go off because of my knees; waiting for a female TSA staffer; getting the full pat-down, etc. I always allow an extra fifteen minutes for me to go through Security. Most of the time it's not too bad, but every once in a while I'll get a new trainee or a staffer that;s having a bad day...

Flight loaded nicely, we were pushed back on time, then we sat there. And sat there. Finally the pilot came on and said that his "yaw control" light was on and they couldn't get it to go off. They had determined that the control was working fine, but couldn't take off until they could get the light off. Finally the "maintenance crew" in Chicago told them to shut everything down and reboot the airplane's computer system (sound familiar?). They did, the light went off and we were able to leave.

With our nice late start, we got into Denver just in time to watch my flight to Pittsburgh pulling away from the terminal! And of course, the Service Desk that is only five gates away is unmanned with a sign saying go to the one at the OTHER end of the terminal! But, when I got there the woman was very nice and got me a seat on Skywest (United Express) that left three hours later. (Would you believe almost 5 inches more leg room and a much newer, nicer plane then the regular United flight?) Needless to say that I didn't arrive at the hotel until 8 PM, just in time to get in on the last few minutes of my 5 PM meeting.

With the three hour time change, I'm going to have to get up almost as early tomorrow morning as our meetings start again at 8 AM.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Turn!

Today it was my turn to enjoy Cherie's ministrations!

I had a WONDERFUL massage this afternoon. I swear, Cherie has magic hands and fingers! She is both strong and gentle at the same time. If you are ever in Spokane and would like one of the very best massages you've ever had, call South Hill Massage and ask for an appointment with Cherie.

Forry got another massage as well and hopefully he can get another one in while I am gone. He's feeling so much better -- and now he's out-walking me!

My flight to Pittsburgh leaves at 6:20 tomorrow morning. It's with United, so that means I'll need to be at the airport by 5 AM! Guess maybe I'd better go get my packing done

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Wonderful Day!

It's Sunday evening and we've had an absolutely wonderful day! It's always a good day when we are close enough to worship with our Menno family. We left Ponderosa RV Park at 8:30 this morning in order to be at Menno by 10 for the start of the worship service. We had not yet met the new pastor Matthew Yoder, so it was great to have the opportunity to do that.

It rained most of the way -- sometimes quite hard. We stopped by the ranch to look at the newly sowed winter wheat. It is up nicely and seemed to be enjoying the rain!

In order not to spoil tonight's dinner, we picked up soft ice cream cones for lunch in Ritzville on our way home. After a bit of reading and a nap, we drove out to the Five Mile area to my Nephew Jared's new home. The last time we were there early this summer, the house was sitting in the middle of a dirt lot. Now the lawn is in, a fence has been built and the flower beds have been mulched. What a lovely change -- and evidence of a lot of hard work! (I am really annoyed with myself as I totally forgot my camera!)

Nephew Jared, his wife Becky and my delightful little great-niece Ellie went out to dinner with us at one of our favorite Spokane restaurants, Wild Sage. Ellie was 10 months old today. We were at the restaurant for a good two hours and she was unbelievably well-behaved! Dinner was delicious and the company was even better!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hooray for AHECers!

This is the entryway to my friend Cathi and Dave's house. It was the scene of a wonderful evening of talk and laughter with my former colleagues from the Eastern Washington Area Health Education Center (EWAHEC). Since I retired a few years back, we have gotten together once a year for lunch when Forry and I have been back in Spokane. This year Cathi suggested we have a potluck at her house instead -- that way Kaarin could bring her little girls (4 and 18 months).

Cathi is a Master Gardener and she and Dave always have a gorgeous yard.

This is part of our group enjoying visiting after dinner. The others were in the kitchen...

I hate to admit that I was so busy catching up with everyone that I didn't remember to take pictures!

Judy, Bettie, Cathi, Kaarin and Helen of our AHEC team were able to attend along with their spouses. Steven and Christy also stopped by for a few minutes before they had to go to Temple. The only one we didn't get to see was Bonnie and her little Addy. I hope we get a chance to see them before we leave Spokane.
It was a wonderful evening!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Quiet Day at Ponderosa RV Park

It was a quiet day today. We did not leave the RV Park at all!

Forry did have to go check out what was going on with our neighbors from British Columbia --
Seems they have a leak -- somewhere! It only shows up with a wet spot on the floor near the front door --

All you generally have to do in an RV park is open the hood of your vehicle or some of the bays in your basement and take out a few tools. Immediately, you will have all sorts of "help" and advice... I don't think these folks ever figured out where the water was coming from -- not that they didn't hear a WHOLE lot of theories and possibilities!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Celebrating Cherie!

One of the very special tips my friend Mary gave me when I was a working woman was to invest in weekly massages. And I took her advice for many years. Then I retired. And then we moved into a motor home. And then we moved around the country for the next three years. And I only got a massage on rare occasions -- like when I facilitated at Sundance or my daughters bought us both massages as a combination birthday/Mother's Day/anniversary gift.

Somewhere along the line Forry also became a convert. At first very hesitant, he discovered that his sciatica pain disappeared after a few sessions with Cherie. Over time Cherie actually became the massage therapist for most of the AHEC staff. First recommended to me by Cathi, several others of the staff utilized her talents as well.

Lately Forry has once again been experiencing some sciatica pain when we are out walking. I began to think that maybe while we were in Spokane I should try to get him in to see Cherie a couple of times. I called her Tuesday and she was able to work him into her schedule this morning.

I went with Forry this today because I wanted to see her new digs (she had moved a couple of years ago after we had left Spokane.). It was so good to see her! The suite that she and Beth have moved to is gorgeous. And the best thing of all is that she was able to fit BOTH Forry and I into her schedule next Monday!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spending the Day at Group Health

This morning started with showers and a drive into Spokane from Ponderosa RV Park to Group Health. Between my initial forgetting of the blood glucose sheets I'd printed out last night which caused us to backtrack about a mile to the motor home and with all of the construction going through downtown Spokane, we were actually a bit late. And of course, this would be the one morning the doctor was right on schedule! But we got through the appointments okay and found everything working well.

A break for lunch -- Polish dogs at Costco -- and then back to Group Health for our annual eye exams. There too, everything seemed to be going well. I did order new lenses for my glasses as mine have gotten very scratched.

By the time we got back to the RV Park this evening, we were both wore out. Definitely an evening for a quick dinner from the freezer!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back in Spokane

It was warm today (78 degrees) and dry in Spokane. (Although there was a brief thunderstorm late this afternoon that dropped a few -- very few -- drops of rain.) After all of the damp chill on the west side of the mountains, it is nice to be back in shorts and sandals -- and not have achy joints!

I had a 9 AM conference call with the other facilitators for next month's Health Sector Assembly in Sundance, then we went into town to Group Health to get our blood drawn before tomorrow's MD appointments. We picked up some lunch at the drive-in and then went to Manito Park to eat at the pond. The duck pond is end-of-summer green. For the first time ever we did NOT seen anybody feeding bread to the ducks. The signs they have posted all over must finally be getting through to people?

It doesn't seem to matter what time of year you visit the park, there are always flowers in bloom. I don't know what this is, but it is pretty --

A few loads of laundry; a nap; a salad, scallops in white wine and sweet potato fries for dinner; and a bit of TV. That pretty much sums up our day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back Over the Mountains

A last good-bye to daughter Mary Mae and Scott and G-children Varick and Claire this morning, then we put stuff away, packed things up, brought in the slides, pulled up the jacks, picked up the pads, and backed down the lane to the cul de sac. We hooked up the Toad and were on our way. We took I-5 south until we met up with I-90 and ended east. The further east we went, the bluer the skies became.

There were signs all over the freeway warning of blasting this evening and/or potential long waits during the day. As we approached the construction areas, we could see there is a lot of work left to do -- and winter isn't that far away!

It was a long day. Much longer then we usually drive. We left Mount Vernon right around noon and arrived at Ponderosa Falls RV Park near Cheney about six. It was actually warm -- no need for sweat shirts! A quick supper, a little TV and I think we'll be early to bed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meet Serenity!

This afternoon we went to meet Serenity, our friends Bill and Leslie's new motorhome. She is gorgeous!

Serenity is a 40 foot 2008 Tiffin Allegro Bus QRP.

She was parked at the Tulalip RV Park about an hour from Mount Vernon.

We didn't get a very early start this morning as Forry and SIL Scott were working on the outside faucet on the house. They weren't able to get the part they needed to shut the water off at the curb, even after a trip to Lowes, so they finally gave up on it. Then Forry and I went to meet the new RV. We had dinner at Burger Bob's with Leslie and Bill. The avocado burger was good, but the tomato-basil soup was wonderful! (Forry doesn't like tomato soup, so ended up with a guacamole burger and onion rings.) NONE of us had any room left for dessert.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Japanese Dogwoods

This pretty tree sits alongside the driveway at Daughter Mary Mae's house. The leaves looked sorta like dogwood blossoms, but I didn't recognise the berries. When MM got home, she said it is a Japanese Dogwood, one of her favorites because it provides color most of the year.

Some of what look like flower bracts are varying shades of pink and reddish brown.

Many of the green berries are starting to turn --

And some of them are already glorious red!

From what I understand, the bright berries remain after the leaves have fallen. I'll bet it makes quite a show in winter -- especially if they get snow.

MM and I went shopping with G-daughter Claire this afternoon to get paint for her bedroom. We bought both paint and curtain rods and then ended up with a Costco run. Scott and G-son Varick went on an all day (left at 6:30 am) Boy Scout hike today, but Scott was home in time to barbecue salmon patties for supper. We decided they were really good with peach salsa...

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Building Project

Grandson Varick came flying into the motorhome after school looking for Grandpa to come help him start working on the play structure renovation. Forry is only acting as the designer/consultant on this project, Varick's doing the work.

I did get him to stop long enough to look up for a picture. He's putting a floor into the play structure that Grandpa and his Mom built a few years ago.

After they got some of the stringers in, Varick moved the rest of the lumber off of the grass.

Because I was taking pictures, Grand daughter Claire had to get into the act --

Tonight, Daughter Mary Mae brought home pizza for supper. Claire and I made a salad to go along and we sat in their TV room and watched a movie. We had not seen the movie "UP," so MM picked it up for us to watch. Son-in-law Scott got home from his two-day seminar in Seattle just in time to join the party.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fir Island -- Skagit Valley

We took a drive this noon to go bird-watching on Fir Island. The island is formed by a split in the Skagit River. We saw several flocks of starlings and one blue heron, but that was about it as far as birds went. We saw several fields like this -- and had no idea what they might be.

I couldn't stand it anymore and walked out into to the edge of a field to see what it was. What a surprise to see these beautiful heads of broccoli. It was sort of funny to not be able to decide what they were until I was right on top of them.

When we returned to Auntie Violet, the g-kids were just getting home from school. Forry and Daughter MM and Grandson Varick went to Lowes to get lumber. Varick wants to build a floor in the play structure that Grandpa and MM made in the back yard several years ago. Grand daughter Claire and I stayed home so that she could do her homework and practice her piano lesson.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is This FALL Creeping Up?

I couldn't figure out what was on the hood of the Toad this afternoon when we went out to go to town. Where did the leaves come from?

They're all over the ground as well --

As I looked around, I realized that many of the leaves have turned!

I am NOT ready for summer to be over! But, it's beginning to look like it doesn't matter what I think or what I want. It was twenty degrees cooler on the bank sign in Mount Vernon then it was just last week.

It is definitely time to think about traveling south! We will be here at Daughter MM's until next Monday when we will head back to Spokane. We have some doctor and eye exam appointments PLUS a gathering on Saturday afternoon of the AHECers I worked with when we lived there (I can't wait to see how much the little ones have grown!). After our two weeks in Spokane, we will head down to the ranch. The Mennonite Country Auction is the first Saturday in October, but after that we definitely plan to be on the road to warmer country.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Major Laundry Day

Daughter Mary Mae had to go to work this morning and the g-kids don't start school until tomorrow, so I said I would stay with the kids today. I had been wanting to do some major laundry -- my bedspread and the throw rugs are a bit much for the Splendide washer/dryer combination in Auntie Violet.

MM had recently got a new front-loading washer and dryer -- they are huge! Especially compared to my little Splendide. Since I was going to be spending the day at her house, I had Forry carry over the rest of the laundry as well.

As long as I was there, I decided to pull a chuck roast out of the freezer and make pot roast for dinner. I added the usual carrots, onions and potatoes, then added some chunks of the squash G-daughter Claire picked out at the fruit stand the other day. It's been another overcast, dark, showery day -- a perfect day to fix comfort food.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A VERY Rainy Day -- AND a New Toy!

As you may have noticed, the pictures lately on my blog have been taken with the camera in my iPhone. While I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality, it's been frustrating to not to have my camera. Thursday, I got an email back from the Nikon factory saying that the cracked view-finder was not covered under warranty... The price they gave me for an estimate to repair it was almost a third of what the camera had originally cost!

Well, after some discussion and some looking around, Forry bought me a new Nikon D5000! It has detachable lenses (comes with two) and can be used with the big lenses he has for his camera. (This picture taken with my iPhone!)

It began to rain during the night last night and has rained off and on all day. It was a chilly Labor Day. I did take a few pictures outside to try the camera out, but it was so wet, I didn't want to get damage it. Daughter Mary Mae started the first fire of the season in their wood stove today. The damp makes it feel even colder then the actual temperature. It actually made me feel a bit warmer to see the smoke rising from their chimney.

Hmm, looks like I need to work at keeping the camera level! The road in front of MM's house really doesn't go downhill...

This is the first picture I took as soon as I got home with the new camera -- Forry's always a good subject. This was just taken with the regular auto setting. There is a portrait setting I read about later that I will have to try.

We sure didn't do anything very ambitious today. I read through the camera manual and watched a DVD about using it that Nikon had produced. It was a good day to stay inside. MM made some delicious black bean and corn soup for supper that really hit the spot on a wet night.