Whew! I'm now waking up to thoughts about Sunday's wedding event. We stayed this weekend here in Portland instead of departing for Rodger's annual family reunion at the Almond Blossom Festival in Ripon, CA to participate with the great Smith Family in this blessed event, and it promises to be quite an adventure. At least Mark made some headway......someone at the Church gave him his own "Key" to the Steinway (ok, for a couple days)..........and today will be the last official practice session. I just hope these fingers are working on Sunday. Tomorrow is the Wedding Rehearsal, and Rodger had to explain to me a little about protocol at standard American Weddings since I've been to so few I don't remember much. The Mormon weddings that happened all the while I grew up I was not privy to since they were usually held in the secret temples where I was too young, unworthy, or uninvited to go..... I don't mean that in a bad way, I'm happy to have gotten out of that belief system....in fact don't think I began to really grow spiritually until I did. We're BOTH really looking forward to this exciting event for Liz and Jason.
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Friends Paul & Kristin OFTEN take gargantuan (to me) hikes up mountain and into ravine. They thought nothing of hiking up to the top of Multnomah Falls and on to the summit with puppy Porter in tow! I have never been up to the top of that steep incline, but luckily won't have to, here's the picture they took from the top:
and one more showing the snow-capped Cascade range up in Washington as seen from the Oregon side of the Gorge (again, from above Multnomah Falls):
So, hopefully, we've saved you the steep climb up there to see what they got to enjoy live.
Mark went along with Paul & Kristin, and of course, the pups, Mac, Porter & Quinn, to the mighty Columbia for a swim on a cool but bright sunny day last week. Those dogs had nothing but two hours of excitement, tug-o-war, and fun. This is the picture where the beach is, and no, it's not a huge lake, it's simply how wide the Columbia is at this point below us. The dogs are ever oblivious to the picturesque scene:
This still shot shows there's rapid action going on when these pups get on the beach (if the ears are the indicator of movement):
Once again, this was great fun when all three dogs would attach themselves to one stick for tug-o-war:
Mac has deepened his attachment to water. If something isn't continually thrown into the water for retrieving, this dog just jumps in and starts swimming way out into the current....we kept having to call him back.
Paul is thinking of entering Porter in those Hunting Dog Jump/Dive competitions as Porter is fun to watch when he does ANYTHING. He's like a Springbok Antelope, jumping and leaping everywhere. He jumps off the edge of our hill not even looking in front of him when he's retrieving.
So we're having fun when these three musketeers play together.
MAC ALSO had an adventure in SALEM ! ! ! Sonya Smith used to work with Rodger at OHSU.....she's now in a Beauty Salon in Salem with her cool Mom....their own business, and a great one I might say. Rodger and I along with Mac drove down to get Rodger a cool "do". That was followed by a Pizza Dinner at Pete & Sonya, and daughter Taylor's house...along with Mike & Janice Stewart (Janice works with Rodger, her husband Mike is the wonderful Vet who helped us with Mac).....that was a great evening and Mac spent the whole time playing with their English Lab, "Wesley"..........even though the drive back was in solid fog, it was well worth the effort..........Pete & Sonya are great folks............
Although, we're having these tremendous sunny days, it's a serious matter that we're getting NO water out of this. Snowpacks are pitifully low, and I believe California has all our water supply this year. Is it another plot by the now powerful Governor Schwarzenegger? Hm.....................
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Once again, the Smiths have hosted a fabulous to do, the annual "Wok-Luk" Dinner at their home was last Saturday afternoon lasting well into the night. The idea? ALL attendees (12 this year, 6 couples) are all to bring an unprepared Chinese Recipe (a favorite, or untried) with ingredients and any special eqpt required for preparations. Guests should arrive anytime after 3:00 pm and begin to share grating, chopping, dicing, slicing tasks.... Here's Lisa with goggles on because she's allergic to onions ready to begin preparations for her Chinese Cucumber Salad:
In the 6 Courses of 12 freshly prepared dishes, The Menu Included:
* Shau Mai Dumplings, *Steamed Pork with Water Chestnut Wontons, *Peking Style Roast Duck, *Stir-fried Shrimp with Lemon and Almonds, *Ha Toe See Shrimp Toast, *Salad Rolls, *Inari Zushi, *Cucumber Salad with Peanuts & Chili, and finally, Mandarin Orange Slices & Ginger Moon Cookies.
Huey and Duey, the ducks and Baird looked fabulous:
The work in progress gets busier than this, but you get the idea:
In fact, after preparing Dee-Licious Salad Rolls for 12 (I think there were two each person), Joy takes a little time to relax:
Here was the beautifully prepared table Karen did all by herself before anyone arrived, and with help from her OWN yard in February, she made the floral centerpiece:
And, dear reader, YES, it is an achievement to even finish this entire meal even if every dish is perfectly fabulous and just freshly prepared. Efforts have been made to ease the task by making the event more like a dim-sum affair, but some of these dishes are so good, when you're really hungry at the start of the meal, you just may indulge a little more than you should. This year was without a doubt the most convivial, warm, fun social event of the year for all of us.
So, dear reader, the lesson for you? You should really try this with your friends, it's GREAT fun, and if you do it once, our bet is you'll do it EVERY year. Gung Hay Fat Choy !
We got a tree from IKEA unassembled, but lost the instruction manual:
SO, we gave up on putting it back together. Actually, neighbor Ed cut the tree Wednesday, Mark bucked it up and moved to our driveway Friday. Now, it's ready to be split and stacked in the woodshed. Yea, we have the beginning of a wood supply for winter of 2005.
Actually, Ed giving this tree was a harbinger of future events that impact our property. Ed says he's going to develop the 3 acre lot next to ours, build a nice home on the lot and sell it. Yikes! We'll have a Yuppy couple....I know, SOME of them are nice. BUT THIS WILL MEAN...............all those trees will come down, and no doubt the blackberries will be removed. What? NO JAM? We've seen him out there twice this week talking to a builder.................
If the reader is curious, this blissful couple will be marching down the aisle accompanied by my piano playing next Sunday evening. Liz and Jason are a great couple, are already buying a house and have begun remodeling and landscaping on the place even before they're married:
The ceremony will be at the Smiths' home Church, Valley Presbyterian at 6:00 PM and that's where I have been practicing the mighty Steinway. It's all quite exciting.
We have had two hail storms today, and the ground out there is still whitish with marble sized ice....some excitement, eh? But I still think California has taken all our rain this winter. All the landslides have been down there for onace, and we're not complaining.
I kept hearing a chain saw in the field next to us.......... that meant neighbor Ed was out there probably dropping a tree or trimming up growth getting ready for spring maybe ? I put aside what I was doing inside (polishing the taxes, making bread, checking the home loan, learning the new cell phone mess-o-data manual, (I still have to practice the piano) and wandered over because.....I thought he just may be a little perturbed with me after brushing him off at the neighbors new-years day party about wanting me to go in with him on his greenhouse business he'd wanted to site in the field next to our house. As usual, he was not upset at all and was dropping a maple he said had died last year so was cutting up the dead wood for fires. Out of our conversation, I learned this:
1) He would still "drop a tree" anytime for us when and if we needed firewood. I explained we were using the last of our wood to finish out this season, so he immediately picked out a tall alder that was already sick and cut it down saying I can come over, buck it up, load and move to our place anytime. Yea! Now that will probably be enough for half a winter. So, now in our ninth year here, we've yet to have to buy any wood.
2) He has given up on the greenhouse business idea.....he's a little older and just doesn't want all the responsibility of that. Ok, Great, but what's the "new" replacement idea? He's going to site and build a nice house on that 3 acre field and sell it. . . . . . . . .When that's done I would imagine our blackberries will be gone and most of the trees, i.e., we will no longer have that huge 3 acres between us and Ed's place. We will have someone who will afford probably what will become a 1.5 to 2 million dollar place. I guess we can't worry about it until it happens.
That change in that field is something we knew would happen "some distant day" when we bought here. We didn't plan on our protector and great friend, Nancy, leaving there and moving on so Ed's not so environmentally protective. And.........yes, he IS older....I would think 66 now or so and probably trying to lighten up things for himself. He will build one home on our side of his house and one home on another site the other side..... He DID say he'd prefer that HE do the planning and building then he can make sure the house will fit into the property environs and landscape.
I'm not sure, but I think I KNOW why I'm a little thoughtful and quiet this afternoon now.
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While the Southwest drowns in massive Rain storms and mammoth snow storms bury mountains from the Sierras to Utah's Uintah Range .....where all have beeen IN a drought for 7 years, the pitiful little Portland area continues to dry out and warm up. Some Ski resorts are still closed.....no snow at lower slopes and although there's enough humidity to let heavy fog continue (fog usually finishes around here in late November), days are getting more and more sunny, temps getting into the fifties and now, summer is beginning to look very dry. The lands east of the Cascade Mountains depend heavily on the snow runoff for farming water, and in SE Oregon, reservoirs are not looking good. Although there's a mountain of evidence that Global Warming is bringing these weather changes to our planet, our current Administration keeps repeating their successful mantra about EVERYTHING they tell you......(the philosophy has worked for the war, the EPA, Social Security, etc etc etc.....and that is: "Keep repeating it until they believe it"......) The Mantra for environmental changes is, "There's NO proof that there is damage being done to the planet yet"............."We need more study".
Oh well. The Good side? We both were outside this past weekend and cleaned up flower beds around the house and began to turn soil up in the flower garden, replanted bulbs along the front, and enjoyed feeling "warmth" from the sun, in JANUARY!!!! The dogs had a blast.
Speaking of dogs, Mac went with Mark, Kristin and Paul to the Columbia with their dogs Porter & Quinn for a possible swim. Mac has finally reached his water dog roots. In the old days with Tucker, when you didn't keep throwing the stick out into the river, he sould squirm, moan, and bark until you would do it. MAC now retrieves continually when sticks are thrown out as far as I can throw, and if you do NOT continue throwing, he just goes back into the river and starts swimming toward the other side (about a half mile away). We made him stop after about 45 minutes NOT because he was tired.....because he was shaking from being cold. Poor Quinn has VERY short hair and was shaking not long after we started. Paul had a camera and I can't WAIT to see a couple of pics where all three dogs were paddling back to us with ONE stick between them........some of that was fun. Oh, yes, you recall the nude beach story last fall? Well.....THIS day, not a soul was anywhere and we just did all this at the fishing stretch of beach, so no exciting tales to tell this time, hah hah.
Wedding practice sessions continue quite happily. It's becoming LESS fun to practice at home and the sound from the electric toy piano we have seems worse everytime I return from the Church after playing the big Steinway. This weeks session brought Rodger and friend Janice from OHSU to hear progress and even father-of-the-bride Baird came along because of something he wanted to do at the Church. That was great....when you "Know" someone is there, it's great practice for the upcoming real event with 175 guests. Whew. I'm still making some mistakes on a couple of pieces......but I am thrilled when I see that with a little work, I still can play some of the beautiful pieces I was taught in high school. Sad to think nothing new was learned since then, but really, lots of enjoyment has been there along the way playing while friends sang and learning to just enjoy music.
Mark attended a memorial service at the Church for the Mother of Carol Powers. Frank Powers worked with me for years at CF, and I truly still believe he was one of the most dedicated and truly loyal, professional, ethical man in business I ever met. Carol is part of a renowned bell choir, the "Covenant Bell Choir". They've toured Europe, and several places here. Carol's mother played with them also, so this entire group was there for the service and played an astounding piece of music, "Meditation on Beautiful Savior". If you ever get a chance, this group is well worth taking time to see. The service was also great for Mark because the regular Church Organist played both the piano and organ. I could see where the complaints of parishioners come from when she played the organ....she absolutely has NO feeling or idea what to do with an Electronic Church Organ. Everything is LOUD and she's using mostly the Diapason and horn stops.... HOWEVER, on the piano, she was quite astounding, played with expression, and technically perfect. Too bad she just doesn't use the piano for everything. The service was a real tribute to Carol's Mom, and it sounds like I missed getting to know someone very interesting. Frank's thought on her knowledge was expressed at the service, "She's a biological Google"........
The Kitchen. When we found out Mark's getting punished tax wise so badly since he's not using the deductions we have. Most deductions are going to Rodger since his income is really the breadwinning side of things now, and Mark just did NOT calculate really how much tax liability he'd have. He made a faulty assumption, "IF I'm going to be POOR, I surely won't have to pay much in taxes." Wrong. Withdrawals from the IRA for the roof and a couple other things this year, took a solid chunk straight to the government and in our county, they passed that county tax and there's NO way around that. So. That brought our minds to decide to pursue a home line of credit. Corporate Financial Institutions in this country have things SO rigged toward keeping you in debt, it turns out it's cheaper for me to borrow money and pay interest, get the writeoff, than it is to stay out of debt. So we're going to remodel the kitchen. WE first thought a simple re-alignment of existing worn out cabinets wouldn't be so much.....and the more we walked around and talked, drew up plans, talked, went to a couple of kitchen cabinet places, we're now thinking more of re-alignment of things, new cabinets and a new stove. It's been exciting to get worked up in the planning (which will continue for a couple more months probably)... We'll be using any knowledge from friends we can use. Dave and Deborah Saylor down at the corner are building a new home, so they have first hand experience about making plans.......... So keep an eye out for news hopefully by the end of the year about a NEW looking home here.
Ah. that's just the highlights of the past two weeks.......Tucker continues to plod along, Mac continues to grow even though he's now on a diet. We visited his breeders Marj and Janice at the Portland Dog Show and they're not sure he's going to end up being a show dog (probably to our relief)...but they DID say right off the bat that he's overweight. So both he and Tuck are now on a diet. So sad to see them still hungry after meals. And although I KNOW Tuck gets along better with less food, it's hard when he's so old not just to give him everything he wants. BUT..........on the plus side, he seems to be happy. When we're in the yard now, he does move around quite a bit, but seems to really be happy sitting in the sun watching Mac run and us work.
Ah. Signs of spring, as we post this message.......................is there more of them than just feeling warmth of the sun in the yard? Song Sparrows have begun their beautiful calling songs, owls are hooting at night, getting families going so they'll be ready to feed on baby birds in early summer, daffodils are about 6-8 inches high, camelia buds are about ready to pop, Canadian Geese are flying north, calling out even at night as they pass over the house to Sauvie Island. On the island we heard the gorgeous Cranes calling in a field although we couldn't see them. Some fields are being plowed for cultivating and planting. Mark even has reviewed our little Fingerling Potato Supply and almost all of them are still in great shape, little shoots starting, so they'll be planted by March along with lettuce ! ! ! Chives, oregano, and thyme, are sprouting....... The very few starts we began on our berm have almost all survived and are beginning to get buds.
We won't be committing everything to the yard this year, the kitchen project will require learning and work through the year..... but we'll things a tile at a time, eh? HAPPY Groundhog Day!
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