Sunday, November 22, 2015

Testing, testing!

I can't post from Live Writer anymore (sob!) and I can't seem to fix the issue, in spite of endless hours of research, lots of finger-crossing, password and setting changes, etc. So it looks like Blogger and I are going to have to get acquainted. But Blogger isn't WYSIWYG, so I can't imagine ever falling in love... or even like. Blogger, you'll be lucky if I end up tolerating you!

The problem seems to arise when I post multiple photos. So I'll do just that (masichist that I am) and see what happens on Blogger.

But which pics should I post?

Have you ever seen the back side of water - anywhere but Disneyland, that is? Well, here you go!

 This is Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, where you can actually walk behind gorgeous waterfalls. It's a very cool place!

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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Insane ot not? We drove to Salt Lake City and back in one weekend - just to buy a trailer!

Last summer, just a week or so before Tom's cancer scare, we bought a cute little travel trailer.

It seemed like the perfect size for two empty nesters and two Golden Retrievers, who would sleep on the collapsed dinette. Once Tom felt better and we learned that, although he has very early stage 1 prostate cancer, we can take a "wait and see approach," we went on our first camping trip, to Fay Bainbridge State Park.
The trailer was a perfect fit... but we had left the dogs at home.

Fast forward to this summer and after just two camping trips, it became quite apparent, as the four of us attempted to squeeze by each other - people and dogs moving (or being moved) aside so others could pass, that the cute little trailer we bought was just too small.

As we looked into a bigger trailer that would be a better fit, we settled on  Keystone Cougar 21 RBS (code for 21 feet, rear bath, with a slide).

Now all we had to do was find one nearby for a good price. Easy, right?

Not so easy. Downright difficult, in fact.

We found a couple around the country, but the one we liked the best at the best price was in Salt Lake City, Utah of all places.

Utah's not THAT far from Seattle, is it?

Turns out, it actually is! But we didn't really wrap our heads around "2000 miles in a weekend" until we were just about... here.

In 105 degree heat. Without air conditioning. Eight hours in. (Why no air conditioning? Because our truck was "unproven" in such heat, with or without a tow load, and the last thing we wanted was a break-down out there! Turns out, our Chevy Avalanche is a work horse and did great!)

We left our house at 4 AM on Friday morning and actually had a quite enjoyable ride -- well, other than the heat. Thank goodness we had decided to leave the dogs home with a pet-sitter! They would have hated the entire weekend!

At about 8:30 PM, after stopping only briefly for breakfast and lunch, we arrived in Salt Lake City.

It's a beautiful area and because the heat is so dry, it was less bothersome than the humid heat in Seattle, at 20 degrees less!

Once we checked into the hotel and enjoyed dinner at a local Thai restaurant, we made the mistake of heading down the street to take a peek at "our" new trailer. (Well, ours if a $500 deposit constitutes ownership.)

That was a big mistake! Trailers, like problems, seem much bigger at night! We pretty much freaked out at how big it looked!

 What should we do now? Forfeit the $500 deposit, not to mention the cost of the trip (well over $500, with gas, lodging, meals, and pet sitting) and drive back home? Would it fit next to our house? Could we tow it? Would my mother call it a "monstrosity" if she were alive? (Fourteen years later, and I still hear her opinion -- er, I mean her voice!)

We went back to the hotel a bit stymied. I think we were both thinking the same thing, but afraid to admit it to each other: We made a mistake. We were too hasty. The trailer was too big.

Tom fell immediately asleep, exhausted from 15 hours of (shared) driving, but I tossed and turned and pondered and rationalized and questioned and, at some point I must have fallen asleep.

The next day, we headed to our "official" appointment to pick up the trailer. It had been moved since the evening before and Tom and I reacted exactly the same way at exactly the same time: "It doesn't look as big this morning..." PHEW!

Before we knew it, we were enthusiastically signing papers, and by noon we were headed back through the 105 degree desert, again without AC, this time towing our 21 foot trailer. About an hour into the trip home, Tom commented that the trailer wasn't as hard to haul as he thought it might be, and we both relaxed a little. But we both were still crossing our fingers that we'd make it back to Seattle without incident - especially as we passed more than a few people stranded with overheated cars on the side of the highway. We simply didn't have time for an incident of any kind!

While we drove the full 15 hour stretch to get to Salt Lake City in one day, we split up the return trip with our maiden camping trip with this trailer at Farewell Bend State Park, right on the Oregon/Idaho border. It was named by the pioneers on the Oregon Trail as some headed north and some headed south. THIS is where we both confirmed that we had definitely done the right thing. We loved our spacious and cozy new camper!

The next day we were on the road again by 6 AM ("breaking camp" is a matter of pressing a button to bring in the slide!), just in time for a beautiful sunrise.

 Within the first few minutes of leaving our campsite, we came upon numerous abandoned and dilapidated structures - and not much else.

 By this point in our "quick weekend trip," we were getting downright giddy!

 "Mountain Home"? Really, where is either one around here?!

We cracked up at the sign proclaiming Washington to be "The Evergreen State." Poor Eastern Washington - constantly overshadowed by the more popular Washington everyone knows about - the lush, green, beautiful western part of the state.

By this point, only a few hundred miles from home (and still morning, since we'd left the campsite so early), we were starting to see familiar territory. What are those things way off in the distance? Why, they're mountains!

Our Cascade Mountains! Aaaaaaah...

If we lived in Suncadia already, we'd be home by now.

And look! We were even greeted by the fanfare of the Blue Angels! We must be home now!
Were we insane to travel almost 2000 miles in not even three days? Yes. Yes, we were. But we do love what we brought home! The trailer fits all of us beautifully - and the dogs love it.

 We can definitely be considered "trailer trash" now, with the way our driveway looks...
...but the little guy should be gone soon. Know of anyone who wants a cute little trailer, perfect for two people?

In three days we'll bring our new trailer to Deception Pass for a few days of camping, and I have a feeling we'll love it! (And if I can find a better blogging platform than what Blogger offers -- I so miss Live Writer! -- I might even blog it.)

And hey - added bonus: when the Big One hits Seattle, we'll just head out to our second home and hunker down!

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Home, next Home

We are in escrow!

Behold, our next home, here:


What? You don't see a home? Tom sure does! He has it all designed in his head - complete with a babbling brook and waterfall (he says this one was "just practice"), a tree house for (future) grandkids, and another gorgeous garden shed. All this won't happen until about 2018, though, so he will just have to keep designing and re-designing until he retires.

Imagine something somewhat similar to this, except with the garage actually a separate structure, placed at a wide open "V" angle to the house. Now imagine total silence, except for those birds singing...and more trees. Oh, and imagine our elk friends coming by for a visit.

Nice, eh?

Of course, the design will change many times between now and when we retire, partly because Tom absolutely must obsess about everything - orientation on the (1.2 acre!) lot, model and floorplan, etc. -- and one cannot obsess unless one is at least somewhat undecided.

I will obsess once it becomes more of a reality (first step: close escrow!) and I can actually place furniture and design rooms.

And just to keep ourselves from completely freaking out -- have we already decided where we will live out our lives?! -- we can just look at this whole lot purchase as a simple real estate investment, breathe, and move on.

But why would we? Tom gets his big, quiet, very private property and his dream house in a climate with four times as many sunny days (and way more snow) than Seattle, I get all that plus a real sense of community, and we both get miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, great recreational facilities, a river and a lake nearby for boating and fishing activities, and great restaurants and wineries.

I'm thinking we might be able get used to the whole idea! What do you think?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Aging and the passage of time: A weekend of perpectives

Most of us don't really ponder the concepts of aging and the passage of time until they thrust themselves forcefully upon us.  I haven't been able to escape the reality of aging lately - though I'm lucky that the reminders have been pleasant. Some have even been downright joyful!

Last week we made an offer on a 1.2 acre lot in the Tumble Creek neighborhood of Suncadia. Tom is pretty much over the moon about planning for our retirement there, mostly because he gets to build (or at least be involved in building) a house. I am finding my way over the moon as well and think it'll be a really good place for us to spend our "golden years." We'll both get what we want: Tom will get to build a house on a quiet, large, secluded lot where it doesn't rain most of the year (though it definitely snows) and I will get my dream house in an active community with lots to do. I'll blog sepearetly about that endeavor once escrow closes and it's a done deal. But here's a little tease:

The day after our offer was accepted and went under contract ("You are Getting Old, Event #1), I woke up at 3 AM to get on a 6 AM flight to the Bay Area to visit with Elisabeth and to attend my aunt's annual wine tasting party.

 My parents and my aunt met a group of people in Germany when they were in their early 20s, just after the war. These friends not only immigrated to America together, they raised kids together in the same Berkeley community in the 50s and 60s, and have been extremely close all along.  What started as a big group of loud, feisty, fun, slightly crazy young whippersnappers is now a very small group of slow, quiet, reflective old people. It's actually hard to watch. ("You are Getting Old, Event #2.) But I'll get to the wine tasting later.

Elisabeth went to the Bay Area to go to graduate school at Samuel Merritt University, where she's training to be a Nurse Anesthetist.

It's an incredibly intensive two and a half year program and she has very little time off during the entire program, but she just happened to have a few days off now, between semesters, so we had lots of time together this weekend. (God, I miss that girl!!) We started our time together in the cadaver lab at her school, of all places! ("You are Getting Old, Event #3?!)
I wasn't allowed to take photos in the cadaver lab, but it looked a lot like this, with a cadaver under each sheet. It took some getting used to, but is actually fascinating, and Elisabeth LOVES her chosen profession. She promised to come back to Seattle to practice after she graduates, but she and Danny really love the Bay Area. It's really selfish that I want her back, isn't it?

Our visit to the cadaver lab really gave us appetite (not... but it was time to eat!), so we headed to Rick and Ann's, which is in the Berkeley neighborhood where I grew up. Then we walked around the neighborhood in which almost all my childhood memories were formed. ("You are Getting Old, Event #4.)

Many of those memories were formed at John Muir Elementary School - which happened to be in session!

Just walking down the path toward the school, which I must have done hundreds of times in my youth, brought back a flood of memories! (You are getting old, event #5.)

Those poor tenants behind that door (which used to be red)! Did we really think "ding-dong ditch" was funny day after day?

The stairwell leading to the cafeteria  is full of memories for me and I swear, I could hear hundreds of school children chattering and I could smell those 40 cent school lunches being prepared! The bumps on the railing were to keep us from sliding down to our lunches. They weren't much of a deterrent!

My favorite part of the school has always been the classic Craftsman auditorium with the beautiful green velvet curtains! Many a nervous child spent time on that stage!

John Muir's library was moved when the school was retrofitted about 20 years ago, but the beautiful "Mother Goose" wall painting were salvaged and now grace the new school library. I'm so glad to see that these were painstakingly saved! It is so worth it!

After I filled Elisabeth's ears with memory after memory ("On my birthday in fourth grade, I brought a stuffed snake to school and wore my new after ski boots." "I learned that Walt Disney had died in that classroom on a hot Spring day." "The principal's office was in there. Mr. Ventor had a paddle that he used to swat naughty kids - always boys!"), we decided to take a quick walk to the house I grew up in.

I noticed right away that the porch outside my bedroom (from which I could see the Golden Gate Bridge straight ahead!) had been expanded.

There used to be a walkway straight through from the main road to the pathway behind our house and I wanted to show Elisabeth that path... but it was no longer a straight path and we had to trespass in order to get to the path.

As we walked along the path, a man appeared. "Hi! We're trespassing!" I explained. Then I quickly added that I grew up in the house. While we had lived in the house for the entire first 13 years of my childhood, the current owners, who bought it from us in 1970, still live there!

"Just knock on the door," the man (a tenant who lives in the ballroom -- yes, we had a ballroom!) suggested. So we did!


For the next two hours, we were given a tour of what has become of my childhood home! ("You are Getting Old, Event #6.) The current owners are a doctor and an artist. I didn't see a great deal of evidence of "doctor," but "artist" was everywhere -- and I mean everywhere!

 Remember this photo of my mom and me in her dressing room?
Well, that room currently looks like this:

And the fireplace that looked like this?

 That now can be seen here:
I'm glad some of the things I remember so well are still there! The beautiful dining room built-ins, the original farmhouse sink, the claw foot tub, the mother-of-pearl push-on-push-off light switches, the classic bathroom tile, and even the same tub we all took baths in way back when!


It was so great to hear the stories about the sale of the house from my parents to the current owners! They even called the rooms by OUR names as they showed us around! "Here's Chris' room... the "little living room... the ping-pong room...")

 And we ended with a photo, of course! Thanks so much, Steve and Marian! What a treat!

After we visited my old house, we got to visit Elisabeth's NEW house... or rather her's and Danny's studio. So cute!! ("You are Getting Old, Event #7.)

Speaking of "cute," my dear cousin (where I was staying, as Kat and Morgan would stay with Elisabeth when they arrived on Saturday) just added this new cutie, "Percy,"  to the family!

On Saturday, Kat and Morgan arrived and we played tourist in the City. What fun!

The new Bay Bridge

Lombard Street
The real tourist attraction is the tourists!

Stately San Francisco homes...

Elisabeth and Danny (and the Golden Gate)

Kat and Morgan (and the Golden Gate)
Mom and her girls (and the Golden Gate) ("You are Getting Old, Event #7.)

The Golden Gate!

When we got back from the City, we were exhausted! ("You are getting old," event #8.)We chilled a bit in Elisabeth's yard...
 ...and across the street on one of North Berkeley's huge rocks, from where we watched the sunset.

Then we headed back to the cousin's to have a delicious Thai dinner -- and to wear out one very large dog and one (currently) small puppy.

The next day was the wine tasting. To be honest, tasting wine played very little role in my day. Mostly I just reveled in being with family... and friends from waaaaaay back, before I was even born -- who have gone from young and feisty and unstoppable to old and tired and slow. (See "You are Getting Old, Event #2.)
Claudia and Ulli

Dad and his two youngest ("the little ones," we were called)

Some people actually did taste wine!

"Mickey" and Ray

Elisabeth and my cousin Marcus

The four Heumann "kids"

...with Dad

Kathy and Ray

Ulli and Thomas, sister and brother

Sister and brother and spouses

 What great fun the weekend was, from start to finish!

I tried my hardest to keep my eyes open on the plane ride home, but could barely capture my favorite views through sleepy eyes,
Mt. St. Helens
Crater Lake
Mt. Rainier

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