Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hello December

When December arrives, that means the holiday party season gets started.  Over the years, Bill and I have usually had a relatively packed December of various holiday celebrations.  Some have remained constant over the years, some no longer happen and occasionally new ones get added.

Last week I had three different events.  I think Bill attended a few other business related ones without me.

This one was business related but I went along too.  Jim West invited us to go to the Southwest Washington Contractors Association Holiday Dinner.  The theme was really fun this year-Christmas Around the World.  There were lots of costumes worn by the volunteers that represented a lot of different countries as well as aviation and train related costumes like airline pilot uniforms.  They even had Chinese Dragon Dancers and drummers for entertainment before dinner.  Bill had to get a photo with Delano who was dressed as Santa.  He said he looked like an elf next to Santa.

On the way back from the beach, we stopped in Aurora, Oregon to go to the Wine and Chocolate Walk there with the Oerdings and the Gustafsons.  Several businesses in town had local wineries offering tastings in their stores as well as local chocolates.  There are a lot of antique stores in Aurora so most of the stops on the walk were antique stores but there was also a winery at what used to be one of the banks in town and a hazelnut factory store.  We had lunch at the Aurora Colony Pub so we had something on our stomachs for more wine tasting and stopped at the White Rabbit Bakery to have some cookies and coffee before heading home.  It was pretty much an all day event.  Bill and I weren't much interesting in doing shopping but Jeff and Julie spent quite a bit of time looking at various antiques.

Thursday night I was invited to our friend Shannon's home for a wine, appetizer and white elephant gift exchange party.  We live pretty close to her--just a few blocks away-but most of the women at the party are her close neighbors and I don't really know any of them even though we only live a few blocks away.  It was a fun to talk to a few of the women and the gift exchange was a hoot.  I took a true white elephant gift of Snoopy Christmas glasses so I got a little worried when the first few gifts opened were really nice gifts.  As the night progressed, I relaxed a little given that my gift was at least tame compared to what some of the others were getting.  We had a lot of laughs over some of the things that people came up with for gifts.

We have a few more events over the next few weeks between now and Christmas but here is a glimpse into what our last week of parties was like.  Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasonal parties as well.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lincoln City Weekend

I've been itching to go to Lincoln City for awhile now.  I think going to Cannon Beach with Tom over Labor Day weekend started it.  Gave me a taste of being at the beach but we weren't able to be there for very long.  With our anniversary this week, I thought it might be nice to go.  Even if the weather wasn't great, it would be a nice little getaway.  When we were at the beach during a bad storm several years ago, it was fun to watch the ocean from our room in that wild state.  I knew no matter what the weather was, we would enjoy it.

Even though there were some awesome off-season deals to be had, I splurged a little bit and got a room right on the beach at the Best Western Motel.  There is something about watching the ocean that is so fascinating and mesmerizing.  I can just sit and watch it all day long and being able to do it from one's hotel room is so worth it.

As luck would have it, it did rain a fair amount.  Bill wanted to stop at Spirit Mountain on the way there for lunch.  He had been there once on a tour but I had never stopped before.  Once we got to Lincoln City, we went shopping at the outlet malls for a short time before we went to see if we could check into our room.  Bill needed to buy some clothes.  Having lost all that weight, we have had to start buying clothes so that he has things that actually fit him.  Luckily it stopped raining about that time so I went out to enjoy a walk on the beach.  I climbed around on the rocks a bit hoping to see some starfish.  No luck on the starfish but I did see a few hermit crabs and some anemone-at least that is what I think they are called.  It started raining again as I headed back to the room but was thankful to get some actual time on the beach to explore and take photos.  We got to see an awesome sunset before we walked down to Kyllos for dinner.  We both had the crab stuffed halibut and prawns for dinner and peanut butter pie for dessert.  Awesome anniversary dinner.

We had to head back toward Portland relatively early as we had made plans with friends in Aurora (that will be another post).  We soaked in our last few moments with the beach and got to see a double rainbow before we left.

Bill wasn't sure why I wanted to go (he indulged me) but having been there, he is now thinking we might need another winter getaway to the beach in a few months.  We'll see.  It was a nice trip to spend some time together and celebrate our anniversary though.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Bill and I were looking at spending Thanksgiving on our own this year.  Tom would be celebrating with friends in Wichita and Chris had to work.  Cindy and Jim decided not to celebrate with family this year so I invited them to have dinner with us.  They have included us in a lot of family and holiday celebrations the last few years so we were more than happy to reciprocate this year.  It was also the first time that they were going to be seeing the new kitchen since they have had to miss a couple invitations in the last couple of months.

I got started with my preparations the day before.  I always try to get my baking out of the way the day before to leave the oven available for the turkey and sides that need to go in.  Bill wanted to start his day with a 25 mile hike in Forest Park so that he could eat guilt-free.  We got up about 0330 in the morning to head over to Portland and get to the trail head.  When we got there, it felt kind of spooky with it being so dark and a little foggy.  I felt like I was stepping into an episode of "Grimm".  When I told Bill that, he came back with "they probably filmed it here".  I know that they certainly would have done some filming in the park itself.

I got home at 0500 and got straight to work cooking and cleaning and didn't have a chance to sit down and take a break until noon.  Bill was ready for his pickup at about 1430 and literally just got done showering when our guests arrived.

We had a lovely meal and enjoyed the company.  Definitely beat celebrating the day by ourselves.

Christopher came down from Bellingham after work on Friday so he got here in the wee hours Saturday morning.  When I asked him how he wanted to celebrate the holiday (reminding him that I had a lot of leftovers), he wanted to make Leftover Turkey Curry to use some of our leftovers.  That is so him!  He has never really liked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner anyway and he had already had five turkey dinners at the mission this week so he wasn't up to having another one.  I got the ingredients together and bought some naan and Indian Thanksgiving is what we had.  He also wanted Turkey Cranberry Quesadillas on Sunday before he headed back home.

We hadn't seen Chris since before his birthday three months ago so I was really happy to see him.  We didn't do anything too exciting.  Walking at Salmon Creek Park Sunday morning was about as exciting as it got.  Enjoyed our visit and will look forward to seeing him again for New Years Weekend.

We definitely have a lot to be thankful for.  I didn't do a 30 Days of Gratitude project but I did devote a week of my journal this year to what I am grateful for.  

Hoping all my family and friends had a great Thanksgiving and are looking forward to a joyful holiday season.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Veterans Day Celebrations

I am proud to be a veteran and come from a family with many veterans.  Our son, Tom, is currently serving and it is a great source of pride for us.

I braved the cold and the rain yesterday to go to the Veterans Day ceremony and parade.  The ceremony was at The Academy which was a new venue for this year.  In the past it has been outside the Marshall House on Officers Row.  It was nice to be warm during that portion of the celebration anyway.  The weather elements could not be avoided for the parade but at least it wasn't pouring.  More like a heavy drizzle.  Always interesting to see all the different veterans organizations and all the Boy and Girl Scouts.  I think there were 45 different scouting groups in the parade.

In the evening, Bill and I joined our friends Jeff and Julie who host a Veterans Day dinner every year.  Our numbers have dwindled over the past several years.  This year it was just 8 of us all together.  Jeff's mom and dad live in an assisted living community on the Willamette River so we had dinner at the restaurant there this year.  It was actually quite lovely and the food was really good.  So it was an evening with good food and good company.  It was a great way to celebrate "our day".

What a Difference a Year Makes

This is the second year that Bill was a Pink Brigade guy for the Girlfriends Run for a Cure race to raise money for breast cancer causes.  Last year he walked the half marathon with Jim West.  This year he ran the quarter marathon.

The real story is Bill's successful weight loss this past year.  When you look at the photos from last year, it really is a "wow" moment.  He has lost 90 pounds since the end of January and he looks and feels great.  He has taken his health seriously and really stuck to his diet through the hospital's Weight Loss for Life program which is part of the HMR program.  I also had put on several pounds and needed to lose weight so while I didn't join the program officially, I also stopped drinking alcohol, started having the shakes for breakfast and at the same entrees as he did in the evening.  I have lost nearly 25 pounds which I have been thrilled with as well.

We have entered more of a maintenance phase so I have started cooking more meals but trying to emphasize few carbs, less meat and lot of veggies.  I am hoping that we can maintain our weight now that we have worked so hard to get it off.  Time shall tell but for now-we are very happy with our new selves.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Meeting Tucker

My dear friend from my Army days had a grandson in May.  This last weekend was the first opportunity to go see him.  He was so sweet and cute.  I haven't held a baby in a long time so it was fun to play with him and read to him.  I am in no hurry to have grandchildren by any means but it is nice to have access to a baby every once in a while.

Suzi, Terry, Timothy, Sam, Tucker and I all went to the zoo together in the afternoon.  We drove around the five mile loop around Point Defiance before heading to the zoo.  I hadn't been there since I lived there more than 30 years ago and definitely don't remember much about it.  We must have seen at least 15 raccoons along the drive.  They hear cars and come up to the road hoping for people to feed them I guess.  I thought those critters were nocturnal so that surprised me that they were out during the day.

I don't ever remember going to the zoo.  It is not very big but it is nice.  The aquarium in particular is wonderful.  It amazed me how Tucker could follow the fish and animals if they were close enough to him at four months old already.  Suzi tried to get him up close to see the goats but one got in his face so he got scared and we had a hard time getting him calmed down. Wondering if we have scarred him for life now.

We all went back to Suzi and Terry's house to have dinner together too.  And Tucker got to sit up at the table.  His doctor wanted him to start out on some veggies so it was his first time eating anything other than formula.  He seemed to like the carrots and did really good for his first time.

Always good to see my buddy Suzi.  Until next time.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Birthday Festival

It has been a couple of years since I have been home and Bill hasn't gone with me for five years so we thought it was probably time that we did.  I tried to get together with my college freshman roommate who lives in Eau Claire last time since I was going to be in town for my nursing school's 50 anniversary gala but she was out of town visiting her daughter at the time so we weren't able to link up.  I hadn't seen her since January of 1985 when I went to the Twin Cities to visit her.  She was so disappointed that we couldn't get together last time that she told me that the next time we were in the state, I was to let her know and she would drive to see me if she needed to.  This trip it worked out and we got to see each other.

Bill and I flew into Minneapolis and drove to Eau Claire.  We got there mid-afternoon and we talked for eight hours straight I think--catching up on our families and their news.  Once her husband got home, we went for a drive around town to show us some of the new things going on and the changes since we were there going to school.  We had dinner at a new restaurant on the patio by the river and then went back to her house and she surprised me with a birthday cake.  It was a wonderful homemade chocolate cake that she said her mom had always made for their birthdays so that made it special.  So much fun seeing her.  We were both giddy like school girls to see each other again.

The next morning, we had breakfast with Joan and then headed to our next destination in Wausau. We had lunch with Aunty Joanne and Uncle Dwight and then Uncle Dwight took us up to Rib Mountain and downtown Wausau for a drive.  It has been a really long time since I had been downtown--sure a lot of changes there.  Everyone else started rolling in that evening to have supper with us.  Good to see everyone that came.  I got two more birthday cakes that night.  Aunty Carolyn made me an angel food cake that Mom would have made for my birthday.  Aunty Joanne made a chocolate cake with marshmallow and fudge frosting that great grandma and grandma used to make so it was a nostalgic birthday with all the things that having a birthday at home with family means.

After breakfast, Bill and I headed to Tomah to see my family.  Darren and Tess had to work for most of our time there so we had dinner at their house the first night and I had another birthday party.  Tess made me a yummy banana cake and Dane and Carla got me a confetti cake.  So two more cakes for a total of five for the week.  Score.

We got to meet Mallory's newest rabbit as well as seeing all the other critters at their house.  Friday night, we went out for a fish fry at a place I had never been to before-Evergreens between Millston and Cataract.  My old standby fish fry places no longer exist and it was fun to go to a new spot.  I drove and we saw one deer along side the road in the ditch.  Glad we didn't see any on the road.  That is always the scary part about driving at night there.  The night before there was a really freaky accident in which one car hit a deer and threw it into a car driving in the opposite direction.  They had to life flight some people to the hospital in La Crosse.

We pretty much just hung out in Tomah the first few days but Dad always likes to go somewhere for a drive so I thought maybe it would be a good day to go to the Dells and go on an Upper Dells boat tour.  I can't even remember the last time I went--probably more than 40 years ago.  I have taken Bill and the boys on Duck tours on the Lower Dells before but not the Upper Dells.  Mallory decided to come with Dad, Shirley, Bill and me.

It was really hot the whole time we were in Wisconsin-record high temperatures in the 90's-and our day in the Dells was no exception.  We enjoyed our two stops on the tour.  Going into Witches Gulch in particular was pleasant because it was at least 10 degrees cooler in there.  And the rock formations are really cool to see.  The stop at Standing Rock was also fun to see the dog jump the chasm to get to it.  We had lunch at a pub in the Dells before we headed back home.

That night Uncle Ray, Aunty Karen and Chrissy's family came to see us at Dane's and it was our last chance to see everyone and say goodbye before we left to head back to Minneapolis to catch our flight back home.

I have recently been curious about how old the home I grew up in is.  I think it was probably built in 1897 but not positive.  Some members of the family that lived there when the photo was taken in 1907 said that the residents at that time didn't move to town until 1907 but I found a history of the family online that said it was in 1897.  So the house is somewhere between 110 and 120 years old as best as I can figure out.

As always, it is nice to go back home to see family and wonder around town to my old haunts.  Hoping to go back next summer to see family again.