Friday, July 28, 2006

Here, again....

....safe and sound (sorta) in the Northwest, and things have been busy since the plane touched down. Brett's girlie Cora retrieved me from the airport, and we stopped and had a bite of lunch and a little shopping at University Village. Once at Mom's, we went to the store for flowers (for today's events) and a couple other little things. Probably one of the more important things we purchased was "Off," which saved us last night while we watched Brett play soccer (they won 8-6---nice, since they were playing two palyers short). When the boys were young, I was the classic "soccer mom," Brad and I even did a little coaching. In recent years, Brett has played both indoor and outdoor, most recently on recreational co-ed teams. Last week was the first game of this new season and they got their arses handed to them. This week, they were in fine form, and it was good fun to watch. Today began with a burial service, for my Aunt, south of where my Mom lives. The weather here in the Northwest has been almost unbearably hot the last week or two, but today was bloody cold. Of course, I hadn't brought, shall we say "funeral attire," for cold, so I was quite uncomfortable. What (who??) saved me was my cousin Darrell, whom I backed up against for warmth while the service was in progress. During "intermission," my mom, an uncle and I met up with Alex, at The Keg for something warm and yummy---then it was off North for the memorial service. Many, many people stood and spoke of what my aunt had meant to them, how she had blessed them, helped them and so on. It was clear that she was a huge part of her community and church, and she will be sorely missed. Thanks to all of you who have expressed your condolences over the last couple days. Tomorrow is the annual family picnic---back at the lake. In a way, I really lucked out, getting to come back in time to catch it. Sunday, Mom and I will join the boys and the rest of the gang at the Scottish Highland Games, another lucky break since I love the games. Aside from spending the day enjoying the site of men in kilts, the highlight is the bagpipe competition and the massing of the bands at the end of the day----hundreds of pipers all on the field and playing at omce, the ground almost quakes with the sound! One of the best pipe bands in the world is from British Columbia and is always there to compete---I can hardly wait. And now, mostly because I think a blog without pictures is boring, I'll sign off for now. More soon :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

......and back again

Let's see, where did we leave off? We left Lynden, with a full car and some fresh berries and headed back to Seattle. Brad had dropped off his dissertation at the U for a formatting check and as they were not open over the weekend, we needed to retrieve it before close of business on Friday. It was not ready. Drats. We bought a jumbo envelope, postage and returned to the office, then decided to capitalize on fact that we were in the city and headed to the Pike Place Market for a bite to eat (fish and chips, of course).

We bought flowers, and fruit.....

......then headed north a bit toward my Mom's house. We stopped by Brett's bike shop and then enjoyed an impromptu dinner with he and Cora (again at The Keg) before getting to Mom's and crawling into bed. Sunday morning we took off toward Portland, where Brad's sister J lives. Brett, Cora and a couple others from the shop were mid-way through the annual Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic----204 miles in 2 days---and we were slated to drive Brett's car down so they had a way home. Alex came along to drive them back. They made really good time, and beat us to the finish line; when we caught up with them at the finish line festivities, they were tired, but excited to have made it. No injuries, one flat tire. About 9000 people participated this year, some doing all 204 miles in one day, one guy doing the entire ride on a longboard (skateboard). The kids are excited to participate in a ride for MS in the fall. Keep your eyes open for a chance to donate! Here are Brett, Cora and Blair....three out of four of the team.

After pizza and beer (ample amounts of both), and lots of hugs, the kids left us in Portland and headed home.

Portland, Oregon, is a great city, one made up of neighborhoods, each with a slightly different flavor. J had just moved into a brand new home in December.....and what a house! This is a new generation of home, very "green." The house (and the other three on the block just like it) have mostly concrete construction, concrete floors and wall create thermal mass, and the floors incorporate radiant heating. Rainwater is collected on the roof and driveway to provide outdoor water and water to flush the toilets. Hot water is made using solar energy, and solar panels generate electricity for the local utility company. Any hardwood is bamboo. The interior is sleek and urban, and J had done a great job of decorating it will new furniture and linens. The guest room/suite was heavenly, and J goes out of her way to make guests comfy. We had a great time. Thank you J! We checked out a fantastic newish yarn shop, which was everything a yarn shop should be, including a cafe. I met the owner, Pat Thom, at camp last year, just before she opened the store, and I've wanted to see the store since then. Even Brad was impressed. From there..........well, you'll just have to wait for later. Now, a New Word (did you miss this??). Today's word is convoke, a verb which means: to call together a meeting. What intrigues me about this word is it's origin and how it relates to so many other words. Here's what my little calendar says:

The Latin noun vox ("voice") and the related verb vocare ("to call") have given rise to many English words, including "convoke." Other English descendants of those roots are usually spelled with "voc" or "vok" and have to do with speaking or calling. Thus a "vocation" is a special calling to a type of work; an "evocative" site or smell calls forth memories and feelings; and a "vocal" ensemble is a singing group. "Provoke," "irrevocable," "equivocate," and "vociferous" are just a few other vox/vocare derivatives.
When I started this post I was yet to extract myself from my bed; between the travel, the return to altitude after 3 weeks at sea level and the busy days since our return....I'm pooped. Today, there were errands to run and packing to do so I can hop on a plane in the morning. I had the news on (Iraq's Prime Minister was speaking to congress), and the computer was in my lap, as I completely resisted the pull of the morning, and the events of the day. But Blogger being blogger, I could not get my pictures to load (ya'll want pictures, right?), so I headed out to run the errands and now I'm in a bit of intermission between the errands and picking up the doggie friends from the groomer. That's all for now---I may or may not be around for the next few days, but I'll pick things up where I've left off when I can. TaTa for now!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What are the odds.....

......that I would just get home, and have to turn around and go back again?? Word came yesterday afternoon that one of my aunts, a woman of strong faith, had passed away. She'd had a long history of heart trouble---her mother and brothers died very young---and we had actually visited her the evening before open heart surgery a couple weeks ago, while we were there. Honestly, I had strong doubts that she would survive the surgery, but survive she did, until Monday morning. It's rather hard to be too sad; she had confessed to her family that she was ready to go, and had had a good life. When a person with firm Christian beliefs dies, they are off to their reward, and it's tough to mourn that. I do feel badly for my uncle, who will miss her terribly, and her two sons, both younger than I. Having lost my own dad when I was just 18, I can understand what they will be going through. Needless to say, I will join my extended family as they celebrate her life at the end of the week. 'Nuff said. As promised, our next installment in the vacation wrap-up takes us North to Lynden, and what we affectionately (well most of the time anyway) call Harveyville. This plot of ground was first cleared and tamed by Brad's grandfather, Frank Harvey, and his brother Glen. For many years they farmed the 60 acres, planting crops, and then growing cattle. As Frank and Aggie's daughters grew, one settled on a corner of the property, and in later years, her daughter planted a house next to her mother's. On the other side of Grandpa and Grandma's house, Brad's twin brother built a lovely home and garage/shop, and twice, their sister lived behind them in a mobile home. Brad's mother has just moved to the homestead, planting a beautiful modular home in the middle of the berries. Truly a family "compound." Most of the land is now leased to a raspberry farmer who pays us almost enough to cover the taxes each year. One of the first things I did after we arrived was check out the two spinning wheels living with my mother-in-law. The first was an Ashford Traditional, that came to her by way of her cousin. No telling how old it is; it still has leather fittings and I can only discern one ratio. It was missing its brake band assembly, but with my nephew Em holding onto the bobbin, I got it to work.

The other wheel, the one I was really anxious to try, was built by Grandpa Harvey when he was nearly 90. He had a pattern, of sorts, but really had no idea how a spinning wheel worked. The wheel he built is lovely----I had seen it before, long before I new anything about spinning.

Here's a shot of Brad and Emory giving it a good once over. Upon close inspection, I found that the hooks were attached to the wrong side of the flyer, but with a little fiddling, we got it threaded with the hook Emory and I had fashioned out of a coat hanger and we were spinning.

Even Emory took it for a whirl..

....check out his first attempt ever!

As our visit drew to a close, I took the sock on a trek through the raspberries (these are actually on our acre).......

....... and then we had a short chat with the heifers next door.

As we said goodbye to Lynden for this visit, this is what the car looked like.......

.......snug, with the Ashford safely stowed. Emory figured if he kept Uncle Brad's backpack on his lap, he could stow away, and while I would have happily brought him home, his parents had other plans for him.

On a side note, PBnJ asked in the comments yesterday if it was a felted clog I was working on at the lake. Yes indeedy, and they were intended for Emory. Emory, who loves hand knit slippers and has duct taped over the holes in the last pair I knit for him was quite anxious to have his new clogs. Sadly, I ran out of the light blue wool two rounds before the end. Em was okay with me fudging it by finishing it up with the dark blue. I started to do that, but then we had to leave (I had at least a couple hours of knitting left to do). Now I figure if I'm going to have to send them to him anyway, I might as well order more light blue wool (knitpicks) and do it right (it was bugging the tar out of me).

Tomorrow, a new word, and a bit more of the slideshow :)

Monday, July 24, 2006

There.......

I was laying in bed last night thinking about how to do a vacation wrap-up, when I thought about Bilbo Baggins putting the finishing touches on his adventure. Frodo is looking over Bilbo's shoulder as he closes the book and reads the title, "There and Back Again." An appropriate title for Bilbo's adventure, and our vacation. Here are some highlights. On our way through Utah, we decided to check out Margene's favorite spot, Silver Lake. We didn't see any moose (drats) but the scenery was spectacular.

With "home" in site, we took a road over the Cascades that we had never driven before, landing in one of our favorite spots. Can you guess where it is??

Many years ago now, the little town of Leavenworth, WA was about to go under. The city leaders came up with a plan to turn around their economy by turning their town into a Bavarian Village. Every store, business, hotel and even McDonald's has a Bavarian theme.....the village is packed with tourists. Oompa bands play in the park while artists show their work. In May there is a May Pole festival, in October, Oktoberfest, and over Christmas this little Alpine village is THE place to be, with horse drawn sleighs and ringing bells. Unfortunately, my camera's batteries died after taking just two pictures, so you'll have to close your eyes and imagine....or better, check out their website!

We met up with the kids at one of our favorite haunts, The Keg, where son Alex serves tables. Brett and girlfriend Cora met us for dinner and we all had a blast before picking up some groceries and heading to the Lake. The kids beat us there and already had a fire going and marshmallows roasting (as well as wine flowing). I reminded myself that I had only a short time with the kids and there extended family of friends----I could sleep when I got home :) During our stay at the cabin, there was a fairly steady stream of 20 somethings, and more laughter than you can imagine. Here are a few pics:

And there was even some knitting!

Cora's little sister Amelia cuddled up for a lesson.......

.......and did amazingly well!

My view from my 'knitting spot' on the deck....

......and signs of progress!

I always love spending time at this little cabin, it has been in my hubby's family for probably more than 60 years now. It was first owned by his great aunt and uncle, and after they died, my father-in-law purchased it, 'round about 1984. Brad and I went there as teenagers, I met my future in-laws around a campfire there. In the archives, I have pictures of Brett, a pot- bellied 2 year old, standing on the end of the dock with a fishing pole. It is where I learned to row a boat, where we've spent Valentines Days and anniversary's, and for many years we've spent July 4th there, watching fireworks explode all around the lake. Someday I hope to see my grandbabies learning to swim there, jumping off the end of the dock into the arms of a waiting grampa or uncle. I'm always sad to leave.

tomorrow we'll talk about spinning wheels and raspberries.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Whew!

Just now home.....about 4500 miles over 23 days, and I'm pooped. I have tones of pictures, lots of stories and souvenir yarn to give away at some point. But for now, I've poured an adult beverage and I'm heading to bed. Any of you who may be chomping at the bit will have to wait a wee bit longer. Nighty Night!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A wee vacation update

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.....but the little cabin at the lake doesn't even have a phone, let alone internet of any sort. You'll just have to be patient, I'll share details and photo's when we make it home. In the meanwhile, I'm testing my Mom's new computer and internet service, and I'll see how I do loading a picture to tide you over. This is what the lake looked like first thing this morning----pretty, no? I have pictures of knitting going on, pictures of cannonballs off the dock and pictures of the Puget Sound, but they will just have to wait until I have access to WiFi, or some such. Tomorrow, I'm planning an excursion to Seattle, a visit to a couple yarn shops, and sometime this week I want to stop by the Alpaca farm, to see what I can see. But now, it's about time to head back to the lake for some ice cream and fresh raspberries (Have I mentioned that we have an acre of land leased out to a raspberry farmer??)