Sunday, August 31, 2008

Just one more.

This is why I love summer. In the immortal words of Zeus, it just doesn't get better than this!

One final post about the end of summer and then I will quit whining. Yesterday was our last day at the pool for the year. We could go tomorrow but since the highs are predicted to be in the 60s I think we will pass. Even yesterday was a little bit chilly.

My swimming suit and towel have been washed and put away. The cooler has been rinsed out and will be stashed in the back of the closet. All of our sun-darkened skin will gradually fade away, although the age spots and wrinkles that I have added this summer will most likely stay as a daily reminder of how much fun we have had. The kids are all back in school and we will shift our focus to soccer games and awards ceremonies.

Now it's time to get back to business. I have made my mental list of to-dos, and in fact got a good start on them this weekend while Zeus and the boys were out playing at the ranch. The list is long. There are scrapbooks waiting to be filled and strips of fabric that need to be sewn together. Walls and doors need to be washed at waist-height (how does that happen, anyway?). The shorts will be put away in a few weeks and be replaced with jeans that are still too tight. Sweaters and sweatshirts will come down off the top shelves. Time to go back to cooking real meals and eating more healthy foods.

I am done whining now.


Some last-day photos are at the Shooting blog.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quiet, but no peace

My backyard has been as quiet as a morgue for the last few days. Maybe that's because it has become one. There have been no birds chirping early in the morning to let me know that the feeders are dangerously low and the bird bath is out of water. The two seed feeders had required filling every day (using one 25 pound bag a week) and sometimes there would be over a hundred birds of all kinds either perched in the wild roses or eating the spilled seeds off the ground.

It all came to a screeching halt three days ago. Instead of finding empty feeders I found two piles of feathers. My first instinct was to blame the cat that has been lurking around and has been the target of my chucked rocks. (Yeah, I... love... cats....) But that gray cat escaped the dreaded trap when a neighbor told me he had seen one of these guys out hunting for lunch, probably to take home to it's babies. It is a sparrow hawk and the photo was taken last year before the fence was taken down.

I know it is the "natural order" of things but it doesn't make me feel any better or not miss the sounds of my little friends. This morning I saw one brave finch but he seemed to be looking around nervously. The hummingbirds are still here but I think they are pretty safe from this predator.

So for now I will sit on the deck and mourn the absence my little friends. Hopefully they will return soon. The quiet is deafening.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday in Boston!

Happy Birthday to the Duchess and Duke!
It is her birthday today and the Duke's was last Thursday. (Yes, I know that one is late.)
It's now been six (?) years since they became part of our family. They transplanted here from New York around that time. I first heard about the Duchess when she was one of Eris' professors. The two became friends and soon we became their Utah family.
Grandparents can never have too many grandchildren. At least I haven't reached that point yet. We have been delighted in the last year to add the Princess to our collection.

Here's hoping that you have a great birthday! Celebrate with some Boston Cream Pie tonight. Then let me know what kind of birthday cake you want on Sunday!
We miss you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ratted out

To celebrate Little Ms. Eris' beginning of school we took a trip to the large city to the south. The rest of the kids started school on Monday but she doesn't start until Thursday so we took our last official Grandma Tuesday and had some fun.

The day included a Trax ride downtown to meet Eris for lunch and then some more Trax rides to the Gateway Center where we played around at the Discovery Museum, a place where children can get hands-on experiences with all kinds of things. After two hours there we headed over to the outdoor water fountain for some end-of-summer splashing around. After about 30 minutes and totally soaked clothes the breeze picked up and she was soon freezing. We quickly headed back to Trax again, stopping for a lengthy visit at the fudge store while she agonized over which kind of chocolate to eat on the way home. Ahh, mint fudge was the final choice!

It was a short ride to the car and she had just finished changing into some dry clothes when a man came walking by asking for some money, something about the bus station, etc. etc. My reply was "I'm sorry, I don't have a dime". Immediately from the back seat the ever-honest Little Ms. shouted "THAT'S A LIE! YOU HAVE MONEY!". He mumbled something that thankfully I couldn't understand and wandered on down the street. I was ratted out by Little Ms! If we had been in a better part of town or if Zeus had been with us the man probably would have received enough to at least get a burger at Wendy's.

It's always fun with Little Ms. and I will miss our weekly Grandma Tuesdays (plus others). She is full of curiosity and energy and will do well in school.

After talking to the older grandkids last night we were delighted to hear that they are all very happy with the new schools and new teachers. All three had homework to complete on the first day. Way to go teachers, start them off right!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New backpacks

Everyone has new backpacks that are stuffed and ready to go in the morning. Eris has meticulously packed little emergency kits for Little Ms. and Mr. Eris, Jr. to go along with the mechanical pencils and fancy binders. Bubba not only is headed for high school (how can that be?) but he is also an official student of WSU to go along with his engineering program! Jubee's PAL program this year is held at her neighborhood school so she is excited to be back with her old friends.

Even Zeus has a new book bag to take to USU for his class. Eris has been packing and unpacking her book bag for a couple of weeks now and was bubbling with excitement a few days ago as she showed me her new pencil cases made out of juice boxes! (This from a PhD student?) Not to be left out, Littlest Ms. has a new backpack ready to go to preschool, also a new experience for her.

Tomorrow morning Athena will carry her lunch bag to the office and I will spend the day at home with the Princess while the Duke and Duchess will also begin their new semesters. It will take a few weeks to get used to all of the new schedules as they are all so varied this year. "Grandma Wednesday" will be with Littlest and the Princess.

Do you remember your first day of school or the name of your teacher? I don't remember the actual event but I am sure that my mother jumped for joy when she dropped me off. I had Ms. Wright for kindergarten at Lynn Elementary. It was a very small class of 14 in a small school. Being only four years old I was always the youngest in my class. My first report card shows clear evidence of a discipline problem and also why Mom was probably anxious to finally get me into school. I even remember the principal, Mrs. Bushell, most likely because I spent a little time in her office! Oh my, in the photo I even look like trouble! Uncross those arms!

Zeus' first few years were at the Sacred Heart Academy. He was a cute little stinker!

Stay tuned... I am armed with more photos of youngsters! You might see some other familiar faces here soon!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Technical difficulties

Please stay tuned... We are experiencing technical difficulties... hmmm.... Please stay tuned... We are experiencing technical difficulties... hmmm....

This is where I am working, at least for the next few days. The wireless on my laptop decided to vanish this morning and after trying everything my ungeeky brain could think of I have given up. Tomorrow I will gird up my loins and call HP tech support where I will listen to "Andrew" speak in his foreign accent. Hopefully he will perform a miracle and remove the stick that has crawled up my laptop's USB port. There will be a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke and hopefully some chocolate jelly rings at my side to help get me through what could be a long ordeal.

Fortunately, just last week Zeus finally got a new computer. The old one, which happens to be my favorite one at the moment, was refurbished and upgraded to wireless. Please listen now as I publicly apologize to my wonderful husband for questioning his wisdom in doing this. I am truly sorry I gave you a hard time and am VERY grateful to have this computer. The kids can use it later after mine is cooperating again.

Medical report: Cracked rib? Probably, it hurts when I move wrong. Also, I have a nice bruise above my mouth that looks like Hitler's moustache, except that it is on the side and is dark purple. I ran yesterday morning and was much more cautious when I reached the dreaded sidewalk. Would somebody out there fix that? Please?


Update: The laptop has to return to the HP Hospital for a new mother board. This is the
second time! Thank heavens for the extra one that seems to be running very well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sidewalk 1, Numismatist 0

This is my left knee. This is also what happens when a knee comes in contact with a sidewalk. A collective "oh, so sad" now would be appropriate.

In four years of running I have avoided any major accidents. Stumbles, yes. Hard falls, no. This morning at the end of one of the best runs in a long time a cracked sidewalk (thanks OC) put an abrupt end to my endorphin high and replaced it with road rash, sore muscles everywhere and a bruised lip that looks like Zeus backhanded me. My right side took the brunt of the fall and for a few minutes there was a fear that my arm was broken. Luckily I hadn't eaten breakfast or Colonel Sanders would have had a mess to clean up in his parking lot.

A couple of Tylenol and I'll be back on the road again Friday, this time watching for the broken, uneven sidewalks that lurk in this city.

$.62 (and a band aid)

P.S. Sorry, no photo of the lip or bruised arm. Use your imagination.
P.P.S. You know that sound? Well, I made it, loud and clear!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Snout to Snout

A few weeks ago Eris and I took the kids to the County Fair. It was a quick trip to check out the quilts and the photography. The quilts were excellent and we got to see ribbons hanging on all of Karen's entries. Congratulations!

While we were there we took the city kids for a stroll over to see the farm animals. Little Ms. isn't afraid of anything and got really close to the sleeping pig. Before any of us saw it coming that big pink sow turned over and gave her a kiss right on the lips! Most kids would have screamed and then wet their pants but Little Ms. just laughed and rubbed the pig slobber off her face!

A first kiss to remember.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Toughest week of the year

Today begins one of the saddest weeks of the year for me. While most parents are rejoicing in the fact that next Monday is the first day of school I am mourning the end of mostly carefree summer days.

Zeus figured out years ago that when June 1st arrives I will be at the pool as often as possible with the kids, soaking in the sunshine and listening to the non-stop laughter of my grandchildren. There is always a plentiful supply of red licorice, crackers and granola bars to munch on. This year Eris was the parent at home so we were able to spend many hours solving the problems of the world from our lounge chairs.

It seems that water plays a large part of summer for us. A few weeks ago I went with Athena, Bubba and Jubee for an afternoon of water skiing with Jenn and Derek. It is times like this that I realize how quickly the kids are growing up. Bubba is pretty awesome on a wake board!

Life in general kind of gets put on hold for these three hot months. Cleaning the house is wayyy down on my list of priorities. The basics get done, reluctantly, but anything else can wait until the leaves change colors. My cupboards and drawers are getting close to needing a Hazmat Warning sign posted on them. I worry that someone will open one and give me that Martha Stewart look when they see the crumbs all over the pantry floor. When September arrives (wahhh) I will tackle the house once again, one room at a time, including those drawers that are crammed full of papers and whatever else I didn't put in it's proper place because I was in a hurry to get to the pool.

This morning it was still dark at 6:15 when I left the house, a sure sign that my summer is fading fast. Until the Winter Solstice arrives I'll be losing precious coinage time in the mornings and bird watching time in the evenings. *long sigh*

We have one more week before everyone dons their backpacks and goes back to the business of over-achieving and getting their education . Even Zeus is taking a class at USU this year. After that I guess I will start cleaning out those cupboards. Maybe I might even venture down into my Lair and start cutting up all that fabric that has been neglected.

To see more of our summer photos, including those taken at the annual Pool Party, go to the Shooting blog.


Note: Jodi and Jan, we will be up there on Thursday. Why don't you join us?

Lacing up the shoes!

This morning Athena laced up her new shoes and joined me this morning for a walk/run. It was really fun to have her along and it gave us a chance to talk about THIS!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Obon Festival

A few weeks ago our local Buddhist Temple held their yearly Obon Festival. This is a celebration to honor those who have departed, kind of like Memorial Day. There is a tasty dinner of Japanese foods available as well as tours of the temple. In the evening everyone goes outside in the parking lot to watch the amazing Taiko Drummers. I've had the opportunity to see the drummers three times before and they still keep me spellbound. We were delighted when Eris and her gang joined us this year.
Japanese dancing is also part of the celebration, complete with exquisite costumes. It is performed by participants from many different Buddhist churches in the area. At the end the public is invited to participate in the dancing. Of course, Eris and I had a fun time joining in with Little and Littlest. Mr Eris, Jr. was content to pay close attention to "that girl". Oh yeah, she was cute!

It was a fun evening. To see more images of the Obon Festival go to my Shooting Blog.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fear of flying

Keep in mind that I dislike flying. Near-panic sets in while I am sitting inside that huge piece of metal and my common sense tells me it is just too heavy to get up in the air and stay there. I usually get around my unease by reminding myself over and over that many thousands fly each day with no problems and that flying is safer than driving on the freeways. So we boarded the plane yesterday to come home. All was fine, on time, good seats. We taxied a little ways towards the runway, stopped and then headed back to the gate. Uh oh. Once there the pilot came on the intercom:

"Folks, we have a little problem. One engine started up just fine but when I tried the other one it wouldn't start. I have spoken to maintenance and they say it is a valve that won't close. They are sending someone over to hit it with a rubber mallet and then we will be on our way."

Was he kidding? Well, the rubber mallet didn't work. We deplaned and wondered for a few hours if we would be spending the night again in Seattle. Four hours later they found another plane and we boarded again.

Sitting right behind me was an older couple who chatted non-stop throughout the entire flight, even though the flight attendant made it clear that due to the late hour the cabin lights would be dimmed so that passengers could sleep. They started out during the taxi by loudly discussing the crash of a 737 in SLC back in 1967 and debating how many hundreds of people were killed. About that time I was wondering if the guy with the rubber mallet was flying with us. Probably not.

It's good to be home. The Northwest is beautiful and we are hoping to return again soon.
(A crumpled $20 bill found on the floor in a deserted gate area at the airport! Yippee!)
Photos were taken in the morning at Pike Place, an incredible Farmer's Market in Seattle. We could have spent hours there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back in the USA

Tired. Long day. Apparently a woman went psycho at the Canadian/US border this morning. Tight security closed the gates and kept us waiting to enter for 60 minutes. Grrr.

Supper tonight was a McD cheeseburger, a banana and Wendy's milkshakes.

$.13 Canadian

$.18 American

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Checking in, Checking out

This morning was spent at the beautiful Butchart Gardens. The 100 year old gardens cover 55 acres of ground and defy description.
We got there early so I was able to get this image of the Sunken Gardens before anyone else was there. By the time we left three hours later it was shoulder to shoulder people down this sidewalk.
Karen, these images are for you. I thought about you all day while taking 140 shots. What a learning experience! I think I have finally come to terms with aperture and depth of field. By the way, the water on the rose above is real! It rained last night so early this morning everything had dew on it!

Tomorrow morning we board the ferry again and sail back to the USA.

$.09 Canadian

(plus 11 shower caps)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

All "Aboot" Butterflies

(Yes, they really say it that way.)
The Butterfly Gardens were incredible. One very large atrium that was filled with lush tropical foliage and butterflies of all colors and sizes flitting all around.

It rained this afternoon but that didn't stop us from exploring Victoria and a few other towns around the area. A side benefit from the rain was a double rainbow directly over the Parliament Building. This photo was taken from our room.
Eris, a loonie (Canadian dollar coin) is worth two cents more than an American Dollar. Mostly they are just exchanging straight across. A toonie is a Canadian two-dollar coin. Worse than the poor exchange rate is this: for lunch this afternoon I ordered a Diet Coke. Price: $2.79. Water from now on.

Miss you all.

$.09 Canadian (equals $.08 American)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Forks report

Yeah, creepy, with a Capital C. We drove over to Forks this morning, about a 1 1/2 hour drive through the Olympic National Forest, which by the way is breathtakingly beautiful. Lake Crescent is by far the prettiest I have ever seen. But the entire day was weird, like I had been here before. Huge trees lined both sides of the road with occasional green meadows. It was very overcast with some fog and mist. Ewww, spooky.

We drove right through Forks and went to the Hoh National Park and Rain Forest. Now that was a treat! I was able to take a one-mile hike by myself through the quietest rain forest I've ever been in. The moss hung from the trees and ferns were growing everywhere on the ground. Occasionally I would hear a noise from the trees. Werewolf or vampire? (shivers) Never did see another living thing for the entire 45 minutes, but I know there were "things" out there!

After Hoh we went back to Forks to take some photos. Man, that place is crazy! Twilight stuff everywhere! The Chamber of Commerce was handing out maps to Twilight Landmarks so it was easy to find them. (Go to my Shooting page to see photos.) The only problem I had was at the Forks Hospital. We had to ask for some directions and this tall, dark, young, handsome, hairy, muscular Quilluite guy was very helpful. I was so awestruck that I totally forgot to ask him if I could take his picture. Damn it. I'm sure it was Jacob.

It's very hard for me to believe that the author didn't go to Forks before she wrote the book. The similarities are uncanny. It was extremely creepy to drive through the town and feel like I had been there before. All through the forests today I kept expecting to see creatures darting in and out of the trees or Volvos speeding past. Or some dopey girl driving an old pickup truck down the street.

Oh, one more thing. Yesterday Zeus somehow cut his leg and had some small spots of blood on the back of his pants. One our way back to Port Angeles he confessed that last night he had a nightmare that he had been bitten by a vampire. When I tried to explain that if that were true he would now BE a vampire he just looked at me with a blank stare. Werewolf? Nah.... Never mind....

I am so done with those books.

We are now in Victoria where it is warm again. Not sure what our plans are for the next few days but I do know that I already love it here.


$.01 (lucky penny found in Forks)

$.08 Canadian pennies

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A few words.

Canadian Geese on coast of Puget Sound

1. Finished the book at 1:20 AM. Damn book.
2. Late to the airport because of traffic, went to wrong gate, RAN to right gate, FLIGHT DELAYED by two hours. Sat in front of a woman who talked non-stop. Non-stop.
3. Seattle is as beautiful as I remember and drivers here are courteous. Amazing.
4. Arrived in Port Angeles and had a wonderful dinner overlooking Puget Sound.
5. Now going to get some sleep. It is chilly and the heat is on in our room. Nice.
6. Tomorrow, going to see some incredible scenery, shoot a thousand photos and then ride the ferry to Canada.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cruisin' in the Corvair

This wasn't Zeus' first car but it certainly was a classic. He drove this 1958 Corvair for quite a few years. His first car was a black Volkswagon Bug. He also talks lovingly about a Karmen Ghia and a Fiat. I believe the Fiat was a convertible that he says he drove for five or six months one year without having to put the top up. Of course, Eris and I will always have a soft spot in our hearts for Preludes....


No More Shake, Rattle and Roll

The year was 1971 and that Driver's License was finally in my wallet. Dad was a whiz at keeping cars running and it was easier to get me a car than to take me to my job or to hear the begging to take Mom's all the time.

The 1960 Plymouth Belvedere. I don't think an uglier car was ever made. Unless you have actually seen one of these monstrocities you can't appreciate the size of the tailfins coming off of the rear quarter panels. The body was white and the top was a seafoam color. Well, at one time it was that color but had long since faded to a tie-dyed mix of peeling paint and rust. (Ah, seafoam, still my favorite color!) The interior had long, blanket-covered bench seats, both front and back, just perfect for jamming an unsafe number of kids into it. It boasted a three-speed standard transmission on the column and a huge gas tank that I could fill during the "gas wars" for as little as 19 cents a gallon. At that price who cared about mileage! I remember buying as little as a dollar at a time. The trunk was huge, perfect for sneaking friends into the drive-in. Oh yeah, the trips up and down the vard' and up the canyon to the dam were non-stop.

Those of you who have ever been in one of my cars know that a tidy auto is not one of my top priorities (understatement of the year?). That car could hold mountains of school papers, pop bottles and gum wrappers. My guess is that it also had spots of Arctic Circle fry sauce on the seats and chocolate smeared on the incredibly HUGE steering wheel.

I drove that car all through my junior and senior year in high school. After I moved away Dad sold it for $25 to a junk yard.

My birthday is coming up. Hint, Hint.

Okay Athena and Eris (and everyone else). Show us your photos!

BONUS: Click here to see this marvelous piece of machinery in action!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Heart of Gratitude

Today my Zeus was given another name, Houjin, which translates to Heart of Gratitude. His proud family was there to watch as he was certified as a Ministers Assistant in our local Buddhist Temple. The ceremony was performed by Socho O., the head of the Buddhist Churches of America and assisted by Reverend H, with whom he will be working closely.

In the last few years as Zeus has advanced to this stage I also have read books and had many discussions with him about the beliefs and philosophies of the Jodo Shinsu. It is a fascinating philosophy, one that I look forward to learning more about.

Yesterday we spent four hours at a Naikan retreat (no, not the camera, that's Nikon). One of the exercises involved answering these three questions:

1. What has someone done for you in the last 24 hours for which you are grateful?
2. What have you done for someone else in the last 24 hours for which they are grateful?
3. What have you done in the last 24 hours to hurt someone else?

The lists were minutely detailed and very revealing, leaving me with some very chewy food for thought. And that was only for the previous 24 hour period! Try doing that for a lifetime!

We love you, Zeus! Congratulations!