Sunday, December 30, 2007


We woke to a beautiful heavy frost under clear skies. The sun is a very welcome sight after the last three weeks of rain! Everything is saturated.

The frost was so heavy at first I thought it was snow.
No such luck, but still a beautiful way to end 2007.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Whack It With A Hammer

The tried-and-truest solution to so many home problems chalks up annother win! We'd been having a bit of trouble with the front door not latching properly. If you didn't hold and turn the handle a little bit when you pushed the door closed, the latch struck the strike plate in such a way that it didn't depress and allow the door to close; rather, it ricochetted off and the door bounced open again. This was particularly obnoxious if you had your hands and arms full of stuff coming through the door. It wasn't always like that, it developed gradually over the last year. I'm guessing that the doorframe has swollen just a teensy tiny bit with the wet weather. Or maybe the house has settled a tad to the left. Who knows? In any case, it finally got to the stage of annoyance where I starting thinking about trying to fix it.

At first I thought I would have to take the strike plate off, use a chisel or a file to remove a milimeter or so of the doorframe, and then replace the strike plate. Simple, but... the holiday season being what it is, still much too complicated of a project to complete. (I'd need, like, three tools! TNFW!) So I spent the last two months mentally pushing it back to the top of my to-do list every time I carried something in through the front door, and then immediately displacing it with the half-dozen Pacific Arts projects that I needed to do first.

Luckily, during the course of the lovely Christmas Eve dinner we enjoyed at my Grandma Joy's, I happened to ask my Uncle Fred what he thought I should do about it. "I'd try giving it a few good whacks with a hammer, before I did anything else," he said. "Right on the edge of the strike plate, where it bends out."

Now why didn't I think of that? Sure enough, when we got home I took the hammer, gave the strike plate a couple of solid whacks, and voila! The door now closes easily, smoothly, perfectly, and best if all, hands free. I alternatly feel like a hero for fixing the door and like an idiot for not doing it sooner. But mostly I'm just glad I had a good whacking hammer handy. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Yay for presents!

The aftermath:

I love giving gifts. Getting them isn't bad either. :)

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and Happy Solstice to all!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pacific Arts ate my weekends!

It's true! But it's not a bad thing. I enjoy working at the market, chatting with people and working on new stuffies between customers. Just one more weekend to go...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Making Babies*

Check these cuties out:

These dolls are the new addition to my regular stuffed animal "product line" for this year's Pacific Arts Holiday Market. I think they turned out very nicely. I have a bunch more cut out that need to be embroidered, coifed, stuffed and dressed.. I'm not sure how many I will have ready by Friday 12/7 for the show's opening, beyond these four. At least four are a good start!

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much lately, which is largely due to the fact that I'm slaving away in my own little sweatshop making goods for the market. Here are some of the other items I've finished:








teddy bears

Big & Little Bears
It's so hard to take a group shot without someone closing their eyes!

Having a dedicated space for sewing and crafting (in the laundry room) is really great. It's wonderful to be able to leave everything strewn about in the midst of a project, stop, and come back to it later - as opposed to having to share space on the kitchen table. I can even close the door to keep the cats out! Kitties love nothing more than to come in the house all wet & muddy and curl up in the middle of a pile of freshly cut pattern peices... which is not ideal. The countertop is just the right height, and the lighting couldn't be better. It's nice to be able to look out the window and watch the snow falling. The only thing that would make it a better workspace is a radio...

*Not that way! Geez. I'm not that kind of blogger.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


It's really snowin' and blowin' this morning. Winter is here!

We're warm & snug inside though. It's amazing to live in a house with NO drafts!
Guess I better go put another log on the fire...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snow + Flash

It looks like a galaxy of stars, but this is actually snowflakes hit with the camera flash.
Yes, that's right, it's SNOWING! Woo! Its sticking and starting to pile up, there's a little over an inch as you can see on the railing behind me:

It is pretty heavy and somewhat wet, but it seems like it means business. It's cold out, and it has been for several days so the ground and everything is well chilled. I dumped a a four-inch thick slab of ice out of the big green wheelbarrow yesterday.

Oh, and, er... look, more snow! In a tree this time.

Pretty impressive, no?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

We hosted both our families for our first Thanksgiving here. I was a little nervous, but everything turned out great. I did a bunch of planning & prep work beforehand, so it wasn't too hectic to get everything finished in time for a 3 pm feast.
I'd never roasted a turkey before, but thanks to Cook's Illustrated's instructions my bird turned out beautifully. I brined it overnight (noone in my family had ever brined a turkey before, and everyone was impressed with the results), then air-dried it in the fridge for four hours, stuffed it with rosemary, thyme & sage and put it in the oven at noon. I basted it occasionally with melted butter. It cooked at 400F breast-down for the first 45 minutes, then flipped it over and put it back in for another 1 3/4 hours. Stuffed only with herb sprigs, it didn't take nearly as long as a traditionally stuffed bird would to cook, so despite the fears of a few doubters it was ready to come out of the oven at 2:30. As you can see, it was gorgeous. I was feeling pretty proud of it. :)

Here's the full feast spread on the table, ready to eat! There were 9 of us (Dave, Anita, Grandma Marjorie, Cary's Cousin John, Mom, Dad, Grandma Joy, Cary & I) and way more than enough food. Leftovers are a wonderful thing.
In addition to the turkey, I made:
Bacon & Apple Stuffing
Herbed Vegetarian Stuffing
Carrots roasted with maple syrup
Brussels sprouts braised with garlic & pine nuts
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy and Cranberry Sauce
Grandma Joy brought the butter-flake rolls
Dave brought Roasted squash
Mom & Anita each brought apple pies.

And as if that weren't enough, later in the evening Nick & Tombi & Moira stopped by with some of Tombi's pumpkin cheesecake, and then Bo & Charlotte came out and brought Charlotte's chocolate-ammarretto mousse. I'm sure it's completely unrelated, but the pants-shrinking gnomes hit in the middle of the night and made my pants tight. :)

We are so blessed. What a wonderful day, what a wonderful life!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things I'd Change

The house is wonderful, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. But a common question I get is "So, what would you have done differently?" And I must admit, after living here for nearly a year, I've noticed a few things that aren't quite as wonderful as they could be, such as:

#1 - The door to the sunporch opens directly into the inside-corner pillar supporting the porch roof. There's plenty of room to open the door, but it does rather spoil the view out the window in the door, and it makes it a bit tight if you are carying something large through the doorway. There's no structural reason the door couldn't have been located 3 feet or so further to the right, putting it squarely between the two support pillars... we just didn't notice until it was done.

#2 - We shouldn't have run the radiant heat into the pantry, it gets really warm in that little room when the door is closed. It doesn't really need to be heated, but when we were laying the floor we just didn't think about leaving any spaces unheated. It's not really a problem for dried goods or canned foods, but I've stopped keeping garlic, onions, potatoes, apples, squash and the like in there because they tend to go bad. (On the other hand, the sun porch being unheated makes it a great storage area for that sort of thing. In the future when we have bumper crops of fruits and vegetables out of our garden & orchard, this space is going to be filled to the brim with harvest bounty.)

#3 - The upstairs bathroom door opens right next to the sink/vanity, making the space tight and awkward, right where you want to stand to use the sink or look in the mirror. It's cramped enough that the right-hand drawer on the vanity won't open if the door isn't closed completely: There's also the wierdness of having the closet door open right behind the main door. I should just close the door to the bathroom before opening the closet door, which but I seem to be incapable of remembering to do that. I'm forever banging the closet door into the bathroom door. Both of these issues would have been solved by using a pocket door for the bathroom door. Unfortunately, it's too late to change that. I don't even know if its possible to retrofit a pocket door into an existing, load-bearing wall, but if it is I bet its a real hassel.

#4 - No overhang on the kitchen countertops. They are faced flush with the cabinet fronts. It looks really nice, and I'm not even bothered that it makes clean up slightly more difficult because you can't catch the crumbs in your hand as easily when you wipe off the countertop. No, the real problem is that whenever a liquid spills and runs over the edge, it somehow suctions itself into the crevase between facing and the cupboard or drawer. Sometimes I don't notice the spill right away, only to later find a little puddle in the silverware drawer, or a half-dried sticky dribble down the inside of a cupboard door. What makes this worst of all, though, is that my little brother accurately predicted that this would happen. When he first visited the house, shortly before we moved it, he took one look at the countertops and said exactly that would happen. Of course I argued with him at the time, declaring it preposterous to think that having flush-fronted countertops would make any difference at all. It pains me greatly to admit, Jon, but you were right. I hope you'll be up for helping us redo the countertops - with an overhang this time - in a few years!

That's it so far - and it's really very minor stuff. There are also a few light switches and outlets that could be in better spots, but I don't really think you can ever get that sort of thing 100% right.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Clawfoot tub, how I love thee

Instant home spa: fill tub with really, really hot water. While the tub is filling, light candles, find a book, make a cup of tea, and inflate the bathtub pillow. Bath salts are optional. Make sure you have some nice clean towels on hand. Then get in the tub, shut the world out and relax...

Seriously, I do love this bathtub. It's so wonderfully deep compared to standard modern tubs. I could wish for it to be slightly longer (it's only a 5-footer) but since it was free (a family heirloom) I'm not going to complain. Before this tub I only rarely took baths because in a regular tub its just not worth the time it takes to transform the utilitarian shower area into a comfy soaking environment. I'm actually glad we didn't try to install a shower fixture for the clawfoot, and not just becuase it would have been difficult and expensive - it means that this space is always 100% ready for a relaxing bath. There's really nothing better to restore the spirit on a dark cold night after a long day at work. Having this tub is worth every minute I spent restoring it to good condition.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oooh! I get a tiger!

Thanks Keely... this is fun. I've only read the first book of the series but I really enjoyed it, and look forward to reading the sequels. I didn't know they were making a movie, but it looks really neat.

UPDATE - Whoa, it changes the animal when you answer the questions! Note - You have to click in the brown half circle in the lower right of the picture, just above - but not on - where it says "More" on the bottom bar, to get the next question.

Electricity is Nice

Well, as of this morning, the power is still out at home (has been since about 10 am yesterday morning) and may not be turned back on until late afternoon or evening. On my drive to work this morning I counted 7 places, just on Everson-Goshen road, where large branches or fallen trees were tangled in or leaning against the power lines. It was quite a windstorm:

Clallam Bay reported a gust to 92 mph, while Bellingham had an official gust to 74 mph, and an unofficial gust of 97 mph from a trained spotter six miles northeast of the city (that might have been a localized effect.) Anacortes recorded a gust to 73 mph, while on the coast, wind gusts were between 70 and 79 mph, including 71 mph at Hoquiam. Source: KOMO news Emphasis added.
Other than not being able to work on the pacific arts advertising again*, it was actually kind of fun to be without power all night. We lit about a million candles, made a fire in the fireplace, cooked some soup (the propane burners work, we just had to light them manually) and played board games until bedtime. The only real problem was not having water, but luckily we had plenty of half-full water bottles around the house and in our cars, so we were able to brush our teeth and make tea. I'll pick up a couple gallons of water and maybe a bag of ice or two on the way home today, just in case our power still isn't restored.

Well, there was one other problem. I set the alarm on my cell phone before going to bed, and was awoken by it's beeping in the middle of the night. "Urghhh... no... can't be... not 6:30 already?" I thought. Nope, when I looked at the phone I found out it was beeping to tell me that it was running out of batteries. So much for that attempt at a back-up alarm clock! Luckily our feline alarm clock went off about 7 am, so I was only about a half-hour late to work.

*I'm starting to think the universe has something against PAHM advertising.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Catastophic Hard Drive Crash

This week my hard drive died. My IT guy says he's never seen such total destruction - "nuclear winter" is how he described the condition of the drive when I brought it to him. At least it was quick and painless; it didn't suffer - just a sudden and eternal bluescreen of death.

Nothing is recoverable. Which means that this blog now contains 100% of the existing photos of this past year moving into our house. I never thought my semi-obsessive blogging would turn out to be so useful! The wedding pictures are all safe on disc, but I just never got around to backing up anything else. Luckily I have a print-out of the wedding address list, I'd sure hate to have to start from scratch tracking down all those addresses again as I send out the thankyou cards.

The biggest immediate loss is the graphic design work (Ads, Posters, Handbills, and even a Billboard!) I have been doing for
Pacific Arts Holiday Market. Luckily I still have all the raw materials (files) that I need to recreate everything, but it's a major frustration and REALLY bad timing - several of the ads deadline on Monday. Still, as you can see, I am now back up and running. It'll all work out.

The moral of the story is, Back Up Your Computer Today! And also, it's probably not a good idea to set your CPU on the floor if you have radiant heat. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend Chores

We finally started on the mega-project that is cleaning up and organizing the shop. Between our moving into the house, friends storing their stuff, the pottery studio, and the general craziness getting everything ready for the wedding, things've been piling up willy-nilly in there for a couple of years, and you can see the result: It's a big space with plenty of room for everything we've got in there, but we needed to organize to a higher degree beyond "heap on the floor" so that there'll actually be room to move around and work on projects. We didn't finish cleaning it up this weekend, but we made a great deal of progress. One more solid saturday and we might even be able to park inside!

In addition to working on the shop, we also cleaned the chimney in preparation for winter. Last year we burned a lot of green wood, so it seemed like a good idea to scrape out the creosote before we started firing the stove. Brushing out the stovepipe turned out to be the easy part of the job, Cary had no trouble getting up on the roof with the chimney brush and working it down the pipe. Vaccuming out the creosote flakes from the bottom turned out to be really complicated, because there are all kinds of crazy baffles between the firebox and the stovepipe. They make the stove burn nice and clean and efficient, but they sure do hamper efforts to get the shop vac nozzle where it needs to go! Eventually after much cursing I managed to get the baffles out, and then with Cary's help was even able to get them back in afterwards.

The cats had a productive weekend too, as you can see: Iggy and Sprout really enjoy the picnic table. Sanford prefers to lounge ontop of our cars. Marcel prefers to stay low to the ground, although he actually climbed up onto the observation platform - without any human help - for the first time this weekend, which is quite a milestone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

This year, I dressed up as a telecommuter. Actually, as some of my co-workers pointed out, I'm a bit overdressed for working from home, so I revised my costume description to be "working from home and the UPS guy just came to the door".

OK, sure, it's a bit of a cop-out, as halloween costumes go. But it's also
extremely comfortable. What's not to like about wearing your PJs all day? I could just doze off, here at my desk, at any momen..... zzzzzzzzzzzz....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For Ted

I Did, in fact, eat a real Philly Cheesesteak. I had it 'wit' onions, mushrooms, and peppers. I was surprised to find out that the cheese is under the meat, not on top of it. It seems doing it this way helps keep the bread from getting soggy. The sandwich was really tasty and VERY filling. I wasn't offered any hot sauce, so maybe that's not considered an appropriate condiment for a true cheesesteak, but I think a bit of Tapatio would be an excellent addition. (Hopefully I didn't just commit heresy by saying that!)
The place was called Tony Luke's, and I was told it was one of the two original cheesesteak places in the city. They still have the sidewalk stand, but since it was cold and rainy we chose to eat in the nice warm dining room instead of outside under the freeway overpass. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Philly Blogging

Yep, I'm in Philadelphia! I don't mention my work much on the blog here (because this is supposed to be about my house) but it involves the international shipment of organic produce, much of which enters the US through four ports on the Delaware river: Tioga, Packer Avenue, Holt and Wilmington - collectively refered to as "Philly" in the trade, even though two of them are technically in New Jersey and Delaware. Despite having worked in this position (Import Coordinator) for nine years (whoa!) I had never, until this week, actually VISITED the area! And it's not like I only occasionally talk to folks out here - we're talking daily bossing around of these guys. So it's been a real pleasure to actually meet, face-to-face, people I've gotten to know over the phone throughout the last several years. Really, they're an all-around great bunch of guys (and I do mean guys, there don't seem to be many women in this field. But then, I grew up around loggers, so that doesn't really faze me.)

Philly itself seems really neat. I have not yet had a chance to check out any of the museums or historical attractions, but I hope to have some time either tomorrow or Friday to do so. For now all I can say is that it's rained steadily the whole time I've been here, which I'm sure is just to make me feel at home.

I have not yet eaten a Cheese Steak. (I'm not sure I'm up to it, frankly.) I did have some kick-ass cuban food though...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Double Baby Poker

My Tuesday Night Ladies' Poker group has recently celebrated the birth of not one but two babies! Both little guys were born the last week of September, just days apart. This week for the first time both new moms were back in the game, so we all got to check out the new kiddos.
From left to right: Silas, Charlotte, Annalise, and Hank.

Here's Hank chillin' at his first ever poker game, in Marcy's beautifully painted and super comfy rec room. He didn't seem too impressed by the game, but I'm sure he was actually watching closely so that when we DO deal him in (in a few years), he'll be able to read us like books. Silas wasn't so into hanging out with the poker ladies, so he went and played PS3 with his papa instead. :)
Left to Right: Marcy (Silas' mom), Iris (Hank's mom), and Jeny.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rose Hip Jelly

Freshly picked Rose Hips:
Now Jelly!
It looks and tastes great. I sure hope it sets. The pectin I used was expired, but I didn't want to run to the store to get a new box. It took a long time cooking to start to jell, and it still seemed a bit on the syrupy side when I ladled it into the jars. Oh well, even if I get syrup instead of jelly we'll still use it!

Berry planting

Today we took advantage of the clear sunny weather and planted some more raspberry and blackberry plants. We've still got a lot of plants living in pots in our nursery spot, but we've set ourselves a goal of getting them all in the ground before winter. We made good progress today, planting 5 raspberries along the driveway, and 5 upright blackberries along the edge of the lawn near the pergola.
This little blackberry seems to be confused as to what season it is!
We have another 5 or 6 raspberries in the nursery, as well as blueberries, lilacs, daylillies, coral bells, and lavender plants. We should be able to find places for all of them before the ground freezes up though. It's perfect for digging and planting right now, not too wet yet but not dry and hard either. It felt good to get out in the yard and get dirty - we've been resting since the wedding (which was wonderful) but I'm ready to get back into some projects. :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Appraisal Success!

I got the results from the bank today. Modesty prevents me from naming a figure here on the blog, but the appraised value is vastly higher than I had dared hope for. Not only will we be able to refinance the loan without paying PMI, we have equity! Wooo!!

I guess all that primping and cleaning paid off. Or maybe it wasn't necessary at all, I guess it depends on your point of view. I'm a glass-half-full kind of girl though, so I'm going to choose to beleive that our efforts were crucial to getting the results we did. :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Appraisal Ready

Whew. We spent the entire weekend getting ready for the appraisal tomorrow. We are in the process of refinancing from the 18-month construction loan to a regular 30-year mortgage. The appraised value of the house will determine the loan-to-value ratio, and could make a big difference in how "comfortable" a monthly payment we end up with. So we went all out spiffing up the house to hopefully get a nice high value.
Here's what we did:

  • Repainted the stairway walls,

  • Washed the windows,

  • Vaccumed and swept all the floors,

  • Deep cleaned both bathrooms, including scrubbing the hard water deposits off the shower wall and polishing the fixtures,

  • Cleaned the kitchen & did all the dishes,

  • Unpacked the remaining boxes from the move,

  • Cleaned & rearranged the office,

  • Cleaned & organized the sunroom,

  • Cleared everything off the porch except the bench, the big planter, the BBQ & the firewood,

  • Put away all the shovels, rakes, ladders, flower pots, hoses & sprinklers,

  • Mowed the lawn,

  • Cleaned up the garden,

  • Straightened up the mechanical room,

  • Cleaned the main entry room,

  • Took down the rest of the wedding lights & signs,

  • Washed, dried and folded all the laundry,

  • Cleaned & rearranged the spare room,

  • Cleaned & decluttered the TV room,

  • Bought & installed a blind in the TV room window,

  • Uncluttered & dusted all the windowsills,

  • Swept the ceilings for cobwebs,

  • De-cat-haired the living room furniture,

  • Put a new shower curtain in the upstairs bathroom,

  • Hung curtains in both bathrooms,

  • Hemmed the bedroom curtains (finally!),

  • "upholstered" the bedroom window seats with blankets,

  • Hung pictures & decorated empty walls,

  • Put a clean tablecloth on the dining table,

  • & put a bouquet of flowers in the living room.
All of this to make a good impression on a stranger who will be here tomorrow at 9 am, and probably only stay for half an hour. I'm exhausted, but I'm confident our effort will pay off. I'm also really anxious to have it done & over with...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fazon Lake

Yesterday Cary and I took our new* inflatable kayak, paddles, pumps, binoculars and a picnic over to Fazon Lake and spent a lovely fall day exploring. Fazon Lake is about 1.5 miles from our house, we've walked by it but we'd never really been able to check it out before because it's in the middle of a brushy swampy area with no trails. There is a parking area and a little boat launch, between a blueberry field and a cow pasture - that's all you can see on foot at least. From the water, it's a different story: Beautiful! Fazon Lake.
The view across the lake from just beyond the boat launch - can't be seen from the launch itself though, because you have to paddle out through a channel in the cattails. The whole lake is like that, there isn't a shore so much as increasingly thick growths of water lillies and cattails defining the edge of the open water.
We paddled all around the edge of the lake. This poor heron thought we were chasing him, he kept landing just 100 feet or so ahead of us, and then flying off again when we got too close.

The inflatable kayak is pretty sweet, if a bit cramped for two adults (well, one normal-sized adult and one tall lanky one) and a bit tough to paddle in a straight line. I wouldn't want to have to race in it! It's not very heavy, so Cary's already making plans to hike it into the back country next summer for some alpine paddling. It's perfect for a fall afternoon paddling picnic.Ahhhhhhh.....
We saw a few other boats with fishermen in them, aparently the lake is full of bluegill. One boy showed us his catch, he had two nice stringers of the tasty little panfish. Now we just need to get some fishing gear together and we'll be able to paddle, picnic AND catch supper the next time we have a sunny afternoon free. :)

* wedding presents!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The many uses of cedar fences...

The other day I noticed that the rails in our cedar split-rail fence had little scrapes all over them. The silvery weathered top-layer of wood had been peeled off, leaving the fresh, blond wood underneath exposed. This afternoon I figured out why: the yellow jackets are preparing their nests for the winter. All afternoon they came, landed, chewed off a small strip of the silver surface wood, and then flew off to wherever their nests were located. It was fascinating to watch them. I never really thought about where they got the wood to make their paper before... and I never really thought of yellow jackets as industrious. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Attack of the Worms

Yesterday I was shocked to discover that one of our gooseberry bushes had been completely defoliated, and the other one was in immenent danger of sharing the same fate. The culprits, known as gooseberry or currant worms, are the larvae of an innocuous-looking small fly called the Gooseberry Sawfly (Nematus ribesii). We've had smaller hatches of them earlier in the summer, and managed to stay on top of hand-picking the larvae off of the leaves (and squishing them) as soon as we noticed the damage. Then they seemed to stop hatching out, and I stopped checking up on the plants as we got more busy with wedding preparations. Well, it appears we weren't out of the hatching season just yet!

According to what I've read, we could probably control these with a dusting of pyrethrin or spraying with neem, so I might have to make a run to Bakerview and pick something up. For now though, we're just picking them off by hand (Cary prefers squishing them in place on the leaves) since we only have two bushes - and only one of them still has any leaves left to save! I just hope that the plants aren't too stressed by this, they were doing so well before the attack.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rest In Peace, Uncle Pete

Pete Christensen 1919-2007My Uncle Pete Christensen passed away last Saturday (my wedding day) after a long and eventful life. A benign family consipiracy kept the news from me until they day after the wedding, but even if I had known it would not have troubled me - I know for a fact that Pete was ready to move on and start a new journey, and there is no great sadness in that for me. He had been in failing health for some time, battling cancer, and although there is of course greif and a very real sense of loss aflicting those of us who knew and loved him, we all knew that the time was near and understand that death is simply a part of life. Yesterday I attended Pete's memorial service at his church in Wenatchee, and afterwards a family potluck in his honor, complete with Pete's favorite cookies: Scotch-a-roos (peanutbutter rice crispy squares with milk chocolate on top) and Snickerdoodles. We have such a great family!

The thing I will remember most about Pete is his sense of humor. Bawdy jokes and cards were his speciality. You could always count on getting two separate cards with any gift from Pete and Patty; she would pick out a nice, heartfelt one, and Pete would give an off-color or sometimes just plain ridiculously funny one. Even when the years started to weigh heavily on him, he always had that twinkle in his eye that let you know he was getting ready to tease a Norweigian (he was very proud of his Danish heritage) or to crack a joke.

Pete married my Aunt Patty (my Dad's sister) in 1981, so although he was only step-father to my cousins he was really my uncle; I don't have any memories of Patty's first husband. For most of my childhood I wasn't very curious about Pete's early life and experiences (16-year-old me: "Duh, boooorrring!") but luckily a few years ago I got a chance to get to know Pete better and listen to some of his stories. Pete was a pilot, amd during WWII he was a pilot instructor with the Army Air Corps and also served in the 7th Division Ferrying Group which flew airplanes from Montana to Alaska which were then transfered to the allied Russian airforce.

I spent just a few evenings (after dinner at family gatherings) chatting with Pete about his piloting and wartime experiences. He was a great storyteller. One of the last times I saw him at his house on Orchard Street (just before he and Patty moved into their condo) he showed me some pictures from those days, and I have to say he was a really sharp looking guy in his flight suit! :) He gave me a couple of his keepsakes: his parachute-silk pilot scarf, and a dashboard hula girl whose skirt flips up when you pull a string. I am really honored to have them both.
she's not wearing any panties, either!
Most of Pete's wartime piloting stories include him getting into trouble for buzzing the tower or some such practical joking. He once buzzed some unsuspecting fishermen on Hood Canal, coming in so low to the water that both men jumped from their boat. He felt a little bad about scaring them that badly, once he stopped laughing. Ferrying planes to Alaska (and flying back) meant landing and refueling at many airfields along the way, both military and civilian. Pete loved to buzz the towers and otherwise lively-up the days of the airfield personell. He was a likeable guy, and when his charming personality failed to get him out of trouble he was ready with a bottle of whiskey or two to give to the miffed airfield managers by way of appology. He even managed to get into the good graces of the commanders of some airfields they weren't really supposed to land at, by means of always leaving a bottle behind.

Pete loved to socialize, and after his retirement in 1984 he and Patty traveled all over the US in an RV. Thanks to a geneology done by one of his Danish cousins he was able to locate a number of relatives in the US and western Canada, with whom he and Patty shared a lot of good times. Pete was active in his church too, even teaching Sunday School according to the program from his memorial service (I cannot imagine Pete as a Sunday School teacher!). He was a great guy, and he will be remembered fondly.

This memorial essay is dedicated to my Aunt Patty. I love you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


We are officially married now... pictures can be found at 9-8-07. Wooo!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Busy Day

Moira helped Cary and her Dad calculate the bracing angles necessary to re-inforce the observation tower to withstand an onslaught of wedding guests.

Dave came out also and made good progress on the railing. The observation platform feels really safe and sturdy now. :)
I fertilized the lawn, worked over all the container plants, and then put my signpost up at the branching of the trail between the house and the parking pasture.

In the evening a fellow from Lynden came and delivered the hay bales we bought from him, and Cary and Nick stacked them at the edge of the yard. We got a really good deal on them because they are three years old - no longer good for feed, but perfect for seating around a bonfire.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Aimee tagged me over the weekend, but I didn't have time to respond until now - so here goes!

RULES - Post rules before giving the facts - Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves - People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules - At the end of your post you need to tag six people and list their names - Leave them a comment on their blog, telling them they have been tagged and not to forget to read yours.

Eight Random Facts about Me

1. Until I was about 7, we lived in a small cabin without indoor plumbing. "Toilet" was at the top of my birthday and christmas gift list for several years. I love indoor plumbing.

2. I went to a one room school for the first and second grade. The school (Winton)was about 15 minutes from our house in Plain, and had students up to the 10th grade, with about 25 students in all. My first grade class had 6 or 7 kids in it, making it by far the largest class. When my brother started school my mom decided to move me to Osborne Elementary for third grade, since Winton didn't have a kindergarden and she wanted us to be at the same school to keep things simpler for her. Osbourne was the "big" school in Levenworth, with two 3rd grade classes of about 25 students each. It was a very traumatic move for me - I have never really forgiven Jon for it. :P

3. My first pet of my very own was a cat named Bootsie that we got from an animal rescue place. She was one of 3 surviving kittens that had been put in a sack along with their mom and dumped alongside the highway near Wenatchee. She was always a little weird about strange people and loud motor noises, but she was a great cat. She lived to a ripe old age, even surviving several strokes in her later years which left her unable to walk in a straight line but otherwise healthy and happy to curl up on a warm lap and demand pets.

4. I didn't learn to tell time on a round-faced clock until I was 17. I'm really not stupid, and normally I learn things very quickly, but I just didn't get it when we had that lesson at school. And once you're over about 9 years old, everyone assumes you already know how to read a clock, so I was too embarassed to ask anyone to explain it again. I hid my ignorance by wearing a digital watch or by asking other people what time it was.

5. I bite my nails, especially when I am stressed. When I was younger, I used to also bite my toenails. That's pretty much the only bad habit I've ever kicked (the toenail biting) but it's mostly due to reduced flexibility, not willpower. Thank god I never started smoking!

6. I love to travel. I have been to Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil (sorta - popped across the border from Leticia, Columbia & got un helado), Ecuador, Chile, and England. Someday I really want to go to Iceland, Venezuela, and New Zealand, and I'd love to visit some african and asian countries as well. However, the truth is that now that I have a house and land we're probably going to be sticking closer to home and doing more budget travel - backpacking, road trips and the like. Which is just fine, because I haven't really explored the US and there are a lot of great sites to see.

7. When I was a kid, I loved to play fort. My brother and I and the two neighbor boys had a fort complex consisting of 5 or 6 different buildings nestled in the trees by the creek that ran through our property. We would play out there all summer long (including lots of sleep-outs), and on weekends during the spring and fall. The buildings were made out of scavenged materials; logs, sticks, old apple bins, scraps of tarps, old boards, chicken wire and old tin roofing. The main building was the Kitchen, which had a gabled roof made from the protective bracing that an upright fiberglass shower insert is shipped in. The walls and roof were made from scraps of plywood and a truly ancient canvas tarp, nailed down to a framework of scrap lumber and sticks. It also had an attached dining room made from an old apple bin turned on its side, and a palisade fence enclosing a little courtyard outside. I planted tulip bulbs and johny-jump-ups in a flower bed next to the door, and spent hours out there "cooking" whatever I could out of the ingredients Mom let me abscond with. I'm sure to the untrained eye the fort looked like a homeless encampment, but we saw it as a beautiful little village and we took pride in building and maintaining it.

8. I can belch really really loud. I learned how from my friend Sara Lacross when I was in 4th grade. She was a true master. With her expert teaching and many hours of practice I acheived a level of proficiency that has served me well for years. It's good to have skills!

Ok, so now to tag some other folks.
I guess Keeley, Dan and Ted are it! I think they are all on summer vacation though, so it may be a while before there's any responses.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hog Fuel & the Dingo

A few weeks ago we had 20+ cubic yards of "hog fuel" delivered in the form of a gigantic pile in our front yard. Hog fuel, for those of you who don't know (I didn't) consists of shredded trees, shrubs, stumps, yard waste, and the like. It's MUCH cheaper than wood chips, and also much dirtier & irregularly sized and shaped. It's commonly used by farmers to fill in a wet corner of a pasture or as bedding material for dairy cows. This is what the pile looked like this morning:
That machine parked in front of the pile is a Toro "Dingo", which I rented for the weekend from Hardware Sales. It was a pretty impressive little machine, really fun to operate once I got the hang of it. Here Tombi and Moira watch as I back away from the pile with a full bucket...
Gabe & Cynthia really helped a lot too, pushing wheelbarrow loads (the dingo fills the wheelbarrow fast!) in addition to the Dingo-loads out to the various dumping sites and raking out the hog fuel once it had been dumped. We got a nice early start in the morning, and worked until about 10 am while Cary & his brother Eric fixed us all a delicious pancake breakfast! :)

It took a lot of trips with the machine & the wheelbarrrows to move all that material and spread it around where we wanted it. The finished product looks pretty spectacular, as Kess models below:
That's the path through the bushes from the parking pasture above. Below is the new & improved rope swing landing area, complete with a path leading up to it.
It finally decided to start to rain, so we called it a day at about 4:30 pm with the pile reduced to a mere sliver of it's former self. Tomorrow, assuming we're not all too hungover after the bachelor & bachelorette parties tonight, we'll quicky finish it off.
All in all, a good day's work! I'm pretty impressed with the Dingo. It's a really odd machine, not like any other I have operated, but it really made this job go a LOT faster than it would have with shovels & wheelbarrows alone. All the extra labor by people who thought they were just coming up for a party weekend didn't hurt either! :)