Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Skidboot the Dog

A heart-warming segment from Texas Country Reporter, with Bob Phillips.
For more information visit or

Monday, October 30, 2006

Altered: Father, How Wonderful You Are

I returned Friday night from a trip to California to visit my parents.  My father is ninety years old and has prostate cancer that he has been battling for fifteen years.  He sleeps more than he is awake and part of this is due to the pain medications he takes.  My mom has always laughed about my dad singing in his sleep but she told me now he only sings or hums a few bars of his favorite hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” One afternoon I was curled up reading a book in the living room and he was asleep in his recliner chair when he began to hum.  This was the first time I had ever heard my dad do this and I found it comforting to listen to him.  His faith in God has never wavered even in his failing health.

On Sunday morning I attended church with my mother.  Dr. Fermin Whittaker who is the Executive Director CA Southern Baptist Convention was the guest speaker.  He told us we are not a burden to God.  We are imperfect, we must confess, we must believe in Jesus as God’s son, and we will be saved and we will find peace.  He said sometimes we are so busy being Christians, for us to be a Christian.  During the sermon I became annoyed because someone behind me kept whispering and I was having a hard time concentrating on the message.  I turned around but the whispers continued.  Then I listened to what they were saying behind me.  Someone was translating the sermon from English to Spanish so the other person could hear the message.  I realized I was that Christian--too busy listening to the message and being annoyed to be a good Christian to others in the same service.  I asked God to forgive me and just let me concentrate harder to hear a message that obviously I was meant to hear.  Dr. Whittaker had a way of lacing personal stories into his message and at one point asked us all to say, “Amen.”  We did.  He said we sounded like a group of Episcopalians and asked us to say Amen again like Southern Baptists.  We did much better the second time.  I called my husband Larry after church to tell him about our Amen’s and he laughed because he was raised in the Episcopal Church.  At the end of the service they asked everyone to join hands and sing Better Together.  

I was telling my dad about an issue I have on forgiveness that I am working on; one God requires of me in order to be fully forgiven myself.  My dad listened and gave me some advice.  Then my dad smiled at me and said, “you’ll be in mine.”  My dad is dying from cancer and he is praying for me.  I can’t explain how this made me feel.  When my sister Sharron was dying she also prayed for me to return to God and church.  The power of knowing someone is praying for you is almost overwhelming and comforting at the same time.

My mom is my best friend and using her as a role model my daughter has begun calling me her best friend.  My mother is my father’s caregiver.  Anything he needs or wants, she takes care of.  She also does all the small things around the house to keep it running--fixing a leaky sprinkler head, tightening a lose pipe, and for bigger things she calls my nephew and he takes care of it or he finds one of his friends who can do it.  Her outlet is gardening since she can no longer quilt do to arthritis.  One afternoon my dad was sitting in his wheelchair and I watched my mom lovingly stroke the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair.   This is the kind of love everyone looks for and longs to find.  After almost sixty-eight years my mom and dad are still in love.  

My dad likes to tell us family stories.  He was living in California, working and saving enough money to return to Oklahoma and move us all out west to the Promised Land with warmer weather and a better life for his family.  At night my dad would stop by the side of the road and read his bible from the light of his truck headlights before going to sleep.  His road map for life came from the bible.  

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff'ring and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain. (Chorus) So I'll cherish the rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down' I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown. Oh, that old rugged cross so despised by the world Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left his glory above, To bear it to dark Calvary. (Chorus) In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see; For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me. (Chorus) To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then he'll call me some day to my home far away, Where his glory forever I'll share.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Altered: Blank Canvas

My husband Larry has been on a sabbatical for the last year.  During this time we slept in late in the mornings, read the paper and discussed the news at our leisure, alternated between watching the today show and CCN, shared a pot of coffee, and just spent time together.  With no children in the house, this was the first time it has just been the two of us in eight years of marriage.  Well, if you don’t count the cat child, better known as Ally the queen, and Deuce the dog we are all alone.

Now Larry has gone back to work and I am all alone.  I began thinking about what I would do with this blank canvas of time several months ago.  When I am painting or working on a collage I cover up my canvas or blank page with paint or glue colored papers just to get rid of the plain white unimaginative and boring starting point.  I guess I could cover myself with paint; get a little messy with the glue, paper, and embellishments but it would be a little hard to explain when I needed to leave the house.  The artistic part of my brain has taken a break making this transition time even harder for me.  

Patience.  I keep telling myself this over and over.  Maybe I just need a short rest from everything to regroup and recharge.  I can’t sleep at night but I can’t work.  I watch a favorite craft show on television during the morning but it doesn’t inspire me.  I wander into and out of craft and scrapbook stores but, again, I am not inspired.

Three weeks after starting this blog entry I finally have an idea:  I am making mini memory quilts for my sister Sharron’s four children, Bryon, Chuck, David, and Kim.  They are all grown with babies of their own and one with a grandchild.  I have old photos of my parents and each of my siblings when we were small children that I have transferred to fabric.  I am using luxurious textured upholstery fabrics in reds, dark gray wool, ribbons, netting, embellishments, eyelets, and twisted wire to hang them.  I will machine quilt them since I didn’t inherit my mothers ability to quilt by hand.  I just wanted my nephews and niece to have a special handmade memento just for them.  

Monday, October 16, 2006

Altered - making a difference in a child's life and your own

My friend Art is the Whatcom County, WA, Toys for Tots coordinator. He is a former marine, a husband, father, grandfather, a Christian, a community leader, a business man, property owner, and drives a big four wheel drive truck when he is not on his Harley Davidson Softail motorcycle.  He wears many different hats but is always looking for ways to help others in need

There is just over two months until Christmas day.  Some of you may have been shopping for bargains since the day after Christmas last year and some of you haven’t even thought about it, waiting until the day after Thanksgiving this year for those 5:00 AM sales.

I shopped for months when my children were little to fulfill their most wanted items on pages of written notes and bent pages in the toy catalogs.  I never gave them everything they wanted but tried to select what I thought would bring them the most joy on Christmas morning along with some more practical items like the surprise “Christmas Eve pajamas” they didn’t know they were going to get, new shirts, pants, and books.

I taught my children early that not everyone was as fortunate as they were.  That some children would wake up on Christmas not even to find a decorated tree, much less presents, or a turkey to feast on for dinner.  We collected and bought stuffed animals and toys to donate to local charities knowing we were making a small difference in someone’s life.  

The first Christmas after I filed for divorce I worried about how I would buy presents for my children when I didn’t own a car and barely had enough money to get by.  I was fortunate because my family stood by me.  My sister filled my pantry and freezer with food, bought enough wood to burn in my woodstove all winter, my brother gave me money to buy gifts and extras, and my parents provided food, the loan of their car, and all of them supported and loved me.  My children and I were lucky.

When we give to others we are making a difference in their lives and the lives of everyone they know.  Helping a young family or a single parent provide a toy for their child will affect their outlook on life.  Someone cared about them.  Someday maybe they will be in a position to help someone else in need.  The child that is to young to understand and only has tears on Christmas day because they didn’t experience the joy they have seen and heard on television, school, and even church, will be changed by a simple toy.  The child that is old enough to understand all the advertising understands that their friends will have a Christmas they can only imagine, will be changed with a small gift.  A child without hope is a world without joy..

I cannot image being a mother and not having the means to buy even a small gift for my child at Christmas.  I have seen written letters by young mothers giving thanks for clothing and toys at Christmas because without the generosity of others they would have had nothing under their tree.  I have then seen the same young mothers earn money to help support other charities in their community because they have learned the value of kindness.  

Art recently told a group of friends that Toys for Tots is rated #65 out of all charities in the USA.  They give back $ .98 for every dollar that they take in to provide toys to children in need.  The money and toys collected in each county stays in that county.  Please make a toy donation, a cash donation, encourage your family and friends to make a donation, contact your local Toys for Tots and ask how you can help make a difference.  You can also make a donation by mailing a check to Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, P.O. Box 1947, Quantico, VA 22134, or go online to make a donation: with a credit card, e-check, PayPal, or sell on line EBay as a mission fish and mark Toys for Tots to benefit as the nonprofit.

When we give to others we make a difference in our own lives.  The joy of knowing that a child will wake up Christmas morning with a smile on his or her face.  A mother or father won’t have a tear in their eyes of feeling like they failed their child.  

Please don’t stop at Christmas to help in your community.  You can donate good clean clothing, good coats you have out-grown or don’t use, knit a sweater or hat, make a baby blanket, visit your local volunteer center to ask how you can make a difference all year long.

As part of the season of giving our Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group had their 15th annual toy run to Stafholt in Blaine to deliver toys to the Blaine Chamber of Commerce Giving Tree Program.  We had a sheriff’s escort throughout the back roads of the county with Santa and Mrs. Claus leading thirty-one bikes and one toy wagon loaded with presents.  The residents were happy to see Santa as he personally greeted each one and gave them a small stuffed animal.  There was hot soup, coffee, and cookies for our group when we arrived and each one of us was presented a t-shirt for our generosity.  

Our church began the “Better Together” 40 days of community by Rick Warren this weekend.  I can’t think of a better choice to study as a church to bring us together and remind us as Christians to reach out to our community, especially with the holiday season just ahead of us and so many people in need.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month


(Suzie Q)
08-21-1942 / 04-28-1993
Inflammatory breast cancer

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Commitment: 60 months

My daughter Kelly has grown up and matured so much in the last year since she went away to finish her college education.  She researched and found an apartment.  Found a roommate, lost a roommate, found a new one.  She transferred jobs, found a second job, found a boyfriend, lost a boyfriend, found a new job, quit an old job.  She hit all the highs and all the lows and she survived, wiser, stronger, and smarter.

Today she bought her first new car, a 2007 black Mazda 3 iTouring model.  Her car that she drove all through high school, and Larry and I gave to her after she completed community college, has developed a chronic wallet problem.  One fix after another, so it was time to make a change.  She loves her little white car and will feel sad when she finally sells it, but the excitement she feels right now driving her new baby will overshadow any loss she feels in letting go of her old set of wheels.

She researched, planned, shopped, test drove, and researched some more to make sure she knew all about every car and the options within her price range before she made a decision.  

With school expenses, rent, food, gasoline prices that are ever climbing, and insurance she will really have to budget now.  But she is driven to prove to everyone that she can be successful in school, in her job, in her life--and Larry and I know she will succeed.

This isn’t just another step in her life, it’s a giant leap.  

Lavender Wands

On Monday morning I had the chance to participate at the GRADS teen parent classroom with the students, not as an art instructor but as a student just like them. My friend Cathy came to teach a class in making lavender wands.

Cathy and Ron arrived with two huge bundles of lavender and ribbons. Cathy is an accomplished watercolorist, potter, and a number of other arts and crafts. She taught in the Seattle schools and has the patience and understanding that make her such a wonderful teacher.

The girls were excited to begin selecting their pieces of lavender and learn how to weave the ribbon. We laughed and talked and some of us, including me, realized we cannot talk and weave without making mistakes. We had to unwind our ribbons and start over if we miscounted; but that was part of the learning experience. A few of the girls were finished before others like me had even gotten started.

The lavender scent became so strong from handling it at one point we had to turn on the fan to blow the air inside the classroom outside. By the end of the class I think the scent had quieted and calmed us. It was a fun way to spend a morning and a new experience

Cathy let me take home the extra lavender because once cut it must be used right away because it starts to dry out. That night I wove several more wands to give to my family members as gifts.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jim...on his own

My son Jim graduated from the police academy in December.  Since that time he has been with training officers on the street learning about each division, north and south.
About every four weeks he was assigned a new training officer who would impart their wisdom and knowledge to my son for his benefit to make him the best police officer he can be and an example to his community.

It’s been a journey and he has loved every minute of it.  My mother remembers Jim at about age four changing his mind from wanting to drive a big garbage truck to being a police officer.  He wrote an email to family and friends several months ago, saying that even on his worst day it was still a good day because he is doing what he loves, what he always wanted to do.

Several weeks ago when “on his own” sunk in, I realized it hadn’t seemed so scary to have a son as a police officer because I knew he was always with a trained officer.  I took a deep breath, asked God to watch over him, and did what I always do, told him that I was proud of him and that he would pass the test like all the other testing in the academy and since.

Well the time has come.  Four hours of an oral exam and four days of being shadowed on the job by another officer and now he is on his own.

Jim is working graveyard on his beat so I knew he wouldn’t call until the four days were over and he had some sleep.  At 10:00 AM Saturday September 9th, 2006 he called.  He is now a full fledged officer.  Someday maybe he will be one of those training officers helping a rookie.

As a mom I would like to thank the following:  the officers who selected my son for the police academy, the staff at the academy who made sure he completed his schooling, the training officers who worked with him on the street, his friends he met in the academy who have become a part of his life, and anyone else who has helped him fulfill his dream job.

Sacramento, CA is lucky to have a dedicated officer who is there to serve and protect.  

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Michael's graduation

Today our son Michael graduated today from the Human Services Program at Western Washington University with his Bachelor of Arts degree.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to walk down the aisle in a cap and gown but the look on my face, a little pleading, and he gave in.  He did admit several weeks ago that he was glad I had pushed him to go through the ceremony but told me I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone or remind him that he said this.  Shhh……  When he arrived today and found all his classmates from his department and his professors his smile became wider as he greeted and hugged everyone he knew.

My husband Larry is the former Dean of Education at WWU and after serving in another capacity as an administrator for WWU he has returned as a full professor.  So to surprise Michael he arranged to walk in his cap and gown with the other professors to honor Michael and his achievements.  Michael and Larry have a special bond.  Michael was saying two and three syllable words almost as soon as he got past the basic momma and no words as a toddler.  So Michael and Larry have these great discussions using the English language to its fullest.   Written class papers and term papers were always interesting when Michael asked Larry to read his work, give his opinion, and then the discussions began.  

Michael worked part time like a lot of students while going to school.  He worried about what life would be like after school was over, or least until he goes back to work on his masters.  He thinks about what life will bring him and what he can give back to others.  The impact he makes on others is the friendship he offers to all he meets, his commitment to helping others in need, and his need to reach out and make the world a better place.

As the proud mom I took lots of pictures to send to family and friends who could not be with us as we celebrated another milestone in Michael’s life journey.  

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Vegas...the three day buffet

I know the slogan is “what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas,” but it was so much fun I can’t not write about it.

We went on our short vacation with Cis and Mike who made all the plans and were going to be our personal tour guides.

Flying in to Vegas at night with all the twinkling lights looks a little like Disney World for adults x 1000.  We picked up our rental car and were off to New York New York the hotel.  Kelly arrived straight from her job at Dan Marino’s Restaurant inside Hooters Hotel and Casino with four larger servings of tomato bisque soup.  The last meal we had was a drive through McDonalds and the peanuts you get on the airplane, although Mike talked his way into several airplane rows worth of peanuts.

Tuesday we had breakfast in the NY NY then strolled through the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay sightseeing and marveling at the opulence of the hotels and casinos.  Kelly joined us for a buffet lunch at the Paris hotel and casino which had too many choices and not enough time to sample all the wonderful food.  Nap time for the boys and pool side lounging for Cis and me in the warm summer sun.  Rested, sunned, and a change of clothes found us heading off to the Fremont Street Experience with overhead graphics and sound system to enhance the show.  We arrived just in time to watch the first show and then wandered off to the Golden Gate for their famous shrimp cocktails and a drink where Bob the piano man played favorites from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  When he found out we were actually listening to him play he took our request for Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire and made that baby grand piano work for him and by the time we left the crowd was taking notice of the music. We walked out just in time to see a second overhead light show with an entirely different theme.  We drove back to Hooters Hotel and Casino where Kelly’s friend Tony and his band were playing in the martini bar.  We had a nightcap listening to the music and were off to our rooms for sleep.  

Wednesday morning Cis and Mike delivered hot coffee and my favorite mocha to our room with pastries for breakfast.  The phrase of the day was “not so much” but of course that didn’t hold true.  Cis had found a really fun adventure called “The Drive” for Mike and Larry to try out.  For the cost of $10.00 each person you can drive your choice of several cars including corvettes and Hummers.  Larry and Mike both decided to drive a Hummer once around the track and a corvette for two laps.  Mike, Cis and I sat in the back of the Hummer with Larry driving and an instructor up front to give directions on what not to do.  What looked like a small little mound standing there while we were waiting to get into the vehicle didn’t look quite the same in the vehicle on a 60% slope hanging by your seatbelt.  To look out the Hummer window you were sure we were going to tip over and the instructor just kept saying, “You’re doing fine,” to Larry.  Up a small incline that threw you back against your seat, a stop at the top that left you wondering if we were floating in air, and then we went down, this time hanging forward in our seatbelts that kept us from falling forward.  A quick fast trip around the off road lap and then it was Mike’s turn at the wheel and we got to experience it all over again.  The guys then drove their choice of corvettes for two laps around the race course style speedway.  This has to be the best $10.00 spent in Vegas and all because Cis had found this wonderful little excursion behind the Sahara Hotel.  We drove to Caesars Palace and wandered through the casino shops and watched the Forum Shops pool show before heading off to meet Kelly at the Bellagio Hotel for their buffet lunch.  I thought yesterday’s feast was more than I could image but today’s banquet was even better;  Remember that phrase of the day “not so much?” Well it flew out the door.  Cis and Mike have friends in Henderson and we were invited for drinks and hors dourves.   We finished off the evening watching the Les Follies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel.  

Cis and Mike delivered coffee and goodies again Thursday morning and the news that our country was on a terror alert.  We repacked our bags to eliminate all those things we might normally carry in a bag but now were restricted, like lotion, over the counter medicines, etc.  The back up plan if we couldn’t make our plane tonight was to stay with Kelly, or Cis and Mike’s friends, or get a room at Hooters if they had any available.  Since our plane didn’t leave until 10:30 PM, we headed off to lunch.  You guessed it:  A buffet feast at the Rio which was good but after the Bellagio any place would have a hard time measuring up.   We strolled through the Wynn and then watched the dolphins at the Mirage where we also toured the secret gardens and pulled up chairs to relax in the shade and warmth with a cold drink.  We stopped for an appetizer before heading off to the airport and the unknown wait.  Surprisingly we spent no more time than usual getting our tickets but were told we had an hour wait to get through security.  A nice gentleman at security who was trying to hurry the lines along put us in the first class line and we bypassed the wait.  I also beep when I go through security because I won’t take off my jewelry and the rivets on my jeans always set it off.  No problem.  Then I saw my carry on bag was going to be searched.  I had a magazine, a protein bar, and Larry’s medicine in the bag; what could be wrong?  Well seems like I forget to look under my magazine and I would have tossed the travel size bottle of hand sanitizer that has been in the bag for a year.  I apologized as they dumped the bottle and we were on our way.

Buffet (buh-FAY) .  This is the word of the trip.  Las Vegas itself is a buffet where tourists help themselves to food and fun.   And the motto seems to be, “more is better.”

Monday, August 07, 2006

We won....2007 WA State HOG Rally

In 2001 my husband Larry and I attended Daytona Bike Week in Florida.  I had never seen so many motorcycles in one place before and wished out loud that someday Bellingham would have an event that would fill the town with Harleys.  I knew our little town would never host 500,000 bikes but I still dreamed of how to make it all come true.

In 2005 we had a couple of hundred bikes registered for the inaugural Fred Pazaski ride and the museum motorcycle show called “the good, the bad, and the custom.”  It was fun but I felt it was just a warm up.

Mike and Dick plotted, planned, and made a bid in 2005 for the 2006 state rally. We didn’t get it, but were encouraged to return this year and put in a proposal for the 2007 state rally.  

Mike our director and Larry representing Harley-Davidson of Bellingham gave their best shot at this years rally planning session.

The drum roll……

Mt. Baker Chapter will proudly host the 2007 WA State HOG rally.  The date and details will follow.  It’s going to be a busy year for our members and so much fun.  Everyone has ideas and enthusiasm.  It’s going to be a party to remember.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Inside thoughts

Who is in my life?
By choice
By design
By circumstance
What can I live with?
And who can I live without
Family and friends
Those who hang on
Those who tempt me
I will remove
Those who cause me pain
I will forget
Those who hate me
I must forgive

Life is short
To be angry and sad
To worry and fret
To cry and wonder why

I want to love those
I hold in my heart
To nurture and care for
Savor the moments
In between visits
To remember the laughter
Until we meet again
Happy Trails to you

The babies are grown
The memories remain
The laugh and they joke
Some more than others
Some still fitting in
Some squeezing in
Some hanging on
Watching my babies
Grown with children of their own
The 5th generation has arrived
It seems like yesterday
The 1st in my doll cradle
My 1st baby playing mommy
With the same doll cradle

We watched those faded photos
Black and white, sepia tone
A video slide show
Still shots from our past
Some shocked by photos
A baby they never knew
Tears for the daughter, sister, mother
Taken from us
Like to many other relatives
Laughter at our hairdos
The clothes we thought were cool
We strolled through our family history
Our hearts breaking
Our hearts singing
All together we watched

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

89 snowballs and 90 cupcakes

July 5th the journey begins at 4:00 AM for my trip to CA.  Early by my usual standard of an 8:30 AM wake-up.  No coffee this morning until I get to SeaTac for a three hour layover.  I walked the airport terminals, each one of them until about twenty minutes before time to board, knowing I would be tired and ready to sleep on the flight.

My brother Jerry arrived in CA just yesterday and here he was at the Oakland airport to pick me up and take me home.  Now I have several places I call home, Concord Ca where my parents live, Missouri where I was born, and Ferndale where I live with my husband Larry.  Home is where the heart is and that is where my loved ones live.  So I hit the ground running and ready to help with the final preparations for my dad’s 90th birthday party and a surprise 89th birthday celebration for my mom, and a sort of mini reunion with family that hadn’t been together for too long a time.  

Friday we were on the road to buy art supplies, food, drinks, and paper products, pick up the snow cone machine, popcorn popper machine, and the cotton candy machine.  I love to shop, so away we went to Home Goods, Michael’s, Wal-Mart, the produce stand, Costco, Wal-Mart again, and Joann’s.  Lack of water and too much warm weather left me napping during dinner and missing southern fried chicken, homemade rolls, baked beans, garden fresh cucumbers, and not one but two homemade desserts.  I did however wake up in time to visit with the first of the relatives who had arrived, Jerry, Sue, Bryon, Debbie, Justin, and Kim.  

8:30 AM, and all is quiet, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse would dare come into Mary’s domain and ruin this party.  Mary left at 6:30 AM to buy everything for the party that we didn’t get yesterday leaving me alone with the Miele coffee maker.  My husband Larry yearns for one of these machines for his very own and I thought about him every minute as I sat sipping my white chocolate, peppermint, mocha.  Everyone else began to arrive and we set up tables, chairs, peeled, sliced, minced, and chopped vegetables wondering where the veggie matic was.  We took a Fuze break in the afternoon laughing at the sayings under our bottle caps.  I think “Fuze it up” was the favorite of the day. Chuck, Jack, and David arrived today.

Let the party begin.  Everyone worked hard so that mom and dad would have a day to remember.  Kim and I painted everyone’s hand and had them press their palm print onto cardstock for an art project that I will finish at home and bring back in the fall.  Chuck, Bryon, David, Jerry, and Jerry all helped out with the barbeque and food stations, plus anything that needed doing.  Sue and Laura help with the food and Mary went non stop.  Debbie was manning the snow cone machine, the popcorn machine, and the cotton candy machine with volunteers to help in the rush.  We served two cakes made with 89 Snowballs for mom and 90 chocolate cupcakes for dad.  Jerry and Laura made it possible for Mary to have a video made for mom and dad.  It was an  emotional rollercoaster watching pictures of loved ones no longer with us and then laugh at the clothes and the hairdos we once thought were cool.  We each took home our own copy of the video and as a special surprise, Mary had cd’s made featuring the music on the video.  After everyone left we finished the evening off with mochas and bocce ball.  The new big kids, Jim, Dave, Kim, Chuck, Bryon, and Debbie went out for a few more laughs.  I don’t know how they could have had any more fun except they left the old folks home.  

Sunday was a day of honor and respect for my parents as we all showed up for church. Next was a photo shoot on the front porch with what must have been eight or nine cameras and two video cameras all taking basically the same pictures just to make sure we got the best shot.  Just as we were finishing up, Kelly arrived to surprise her grandparents.  Mom just kept looking at Kelly not quite believing it was her and then they just hugged each other and didn’t let go.   Mary had a special surprise for breakfast:  Zip Lock Omelets:  Have guests write their name on a quart size freezer bag with permanent marker.  Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) and shake to combine them.  Put out a variety of ingredients such as:  cheese, hams, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc.  Each guest adds prepared ingredients of their choice to their bag and shakes.  Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.  Place the bag in rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes.  You can usually cook 6 to 8 omelets in a large pot.  For more, make another pot of boiling water.  Open the bags and the omelets will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.  Of course there were left over cupcakes and snowballs to complement the omelets and fruit.  What better way to end the evening than with mochas and bocce ball.  By now some of the players are getting very competitive and have formed teams, named themselves, and had hats so that everyone knew who they were.  Mary had those glow stick necklaces and bracelets for those who wanted a little bling in the night.  

Mary, Laura, Jerry, Chuck, Jack, and I did a little shopping in Walnut Creek.  My favorite store was Moonstuck Chocolates and Andronico's Market.  Mary ordered Mexican food for everyone for dinner and then we hit the bocce ball court again.  This was the last night for some to play, and they were out to win.  The winners not only got the title, but a plate of snowballs or cupcakes of their choice.  

Mary, Laura, and I lunched at Mimi’s in Fairfield and did a little shopping in Vacaville.  Jerry bought steaks and everyone had dinner at Mary’s.  

Mary, Kelly, and I had princess cake for breakfast at Le Gateau Elegant in Martinez.  Jerry drove Kelly to the airport in Sacramento for her return flight to Las Vegas.  Everyone had dinner at mom and dads.  

Can a girl have too many shoes?  I don’t know if this is a secret or not but Mary told me she has 100 pairs of summer shoes and 100 pairs of winter shoes.  So Kim went home on Tuesday with shoes and I went home with my suitcase a little fuller.  I collected a couple of plants from mom’s garden to add to my own garden when I get home.  It is special to look at flowers in my garden and know that it came from my mom's garden.  In the fall I will collect a few from Mary’s garden.  I kissed my dad good bye and gave him instructions to behave and he laughed like he always does and said, “We’ll see.”  I hugged my mom and kissed her cheek and headed out the door to Jerry’s SUV.  I looked back at my mom’s watery eyes and had to give her another hug and kiss and remind her I would be back in the fall, the tickets are already bought.  

Gate 8 and a wait
Take a breath
C2E and then it is home
A glass of wine
A huge kiss hello
A bark
A purr
Home sweet home

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Friends, Food, and Fireworks on the 4th of July

We have been listening to the sound of fireworks for several weeks.  The Indian reservations can sell fireworks all year long but right now is when they are the busiest.  Deuce the dog doesn’t even flinch because he is an English Springer Spaniel and to him it must sound like the hunting fields.  Ally the cat however prefers the windows closed so she can sleep in peace and quiet.

The biggest fireworks display in our area is the annual Bellingham Bay display.  People crowd the waterfront parks and restaurants to get the best place to view the fireworks and then wait for hours to maneuver through traffic to get home after the fireworks.

Last year we were invited to spend a wonderful evening watching the fireworks at the home of Cis and Mike.  Their home is perched on a bluff overlooking the bay with unobstructed views.  On slightly more than two acres they can fit a lot of friends in the backyard and off street parking for all who attend.

This year Cis and Mike invited the whole Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group, along with all their friends, family, and co-workers.  The party began at 5:00 PM and guests were instructed to bring a salad or a dessert with Cis and Mike providing hotdogs, hamburgers, and cold drinks.  Larry and I took the traditional potato salad jazzed up with cilantro, spicy brown mustard, and green onions along with a red, white, and blue frosted cake.

What better way to spend the 4th of July than with friends, good old American picnic food, a little rock and roll music, and a fireworks display to end the evening with everyone oohing and aahing and exclaiming, “THAT’S MY FAVORITE ONE,” at each new dazzling sparkler in the night sky.  The perfect nightcap to a perfect evening.

Happy 230th birthday America.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Deception Pass

A stop on the Journey

My brother Jerry and my sister-in-law Laura live in Arkansas and are on a cross country journey to see the sights and attend an early 90th birthday celebration for our dad, and a mini family reunion.

Jerry and Laura left on the 16th of June visiting friends, national monuments, unique shops, wineries, and trying to find the ultimate halibut dinner.  Laura could eat halibut every night if it was prepared correctly.  I think this could be the basis for a good travel book.

And speaking of books, they don’t leave on a trip without planning.  Now most people think they plan well with reservations for hotels and what to do when you arrive at your destination.   My brother has a three ring binder that puts AAA to shame in planning.  He not only knows where they will be staying each night, he has reservations for the restaurant which usually is a fine dining establishment, knows all the sights along the way, where each gas stop is, how many miles between each stop, and he has maps and guides for every detail of the trip.  And, if this isn’t enough he also a GPS navigation system in his new SUV that tries to keep him on track.  Laura says he doesn’t always listen to the GPS system but they always get to their destination.

Larry and I were quiet impressed with the book and the amount of detail it took in the planning, only to find out that my brother doesn’t keep these books after he returns home.  So while we are talking about where they have been and where they are going after they leave California, he is already telling us details of their trip to CA next year.  Waiting for him at home is another travel book waiting for the finishing details.

I used the AAA trip guide when Larry and I went down the Oregon coast several years ago, wandering through all the little towns and browsing the stores looking for treasures and exploring art galleries.  My whole trip itinerary would have fit in his first day slot with room to spare.

Laura had wanted to see where Barlean’s was located.  She uses their flax seed products and was surprised to find out several months ago that they were located right here in Ferndale and only a couple of miles from our house.  To our surprise Dave Barlean gave us a tour of the operation, explaining how he got into the business, the research he has done, how the business has expanded and will continue to grow, and the new products they are selling.  We saw where the flax seed is delivered to the plant, the bottling process, and the packing and shipping department.  To our surprise he even gave us free samples of several products.  Not those little plastic one serving size samples you get in stores.  Mr. Barlean handed us full size bottles of products to take home.  What stuck me most about Mr. Barlean is that he doesn’t just market a product, he truly believes in his product.  To meet him on the street you never know that he runs a multi million dollar business.  He is just the guy next door and in this case the guy down the road from where I live.

Larry barbequed steaks the first night Jerry and Laura were here after serving us freshly cooked Dungeness crab and French bread for appetizers.  None of us are big morning eaters so after a light breakfast we hit the road to La Conner for shopping and lunch.  We drove down Chuckanut Drive and across the flat farmland in Skagit County to our destination.  We found a parking spot, had our walking shoes on, hats for some of us and we wove our way down one side of the street going in and out of the shops and back up the other side.  We had lunch at the Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery where the desserts in the glass display almost made us forget about soup and sandwiches.  We drove to Deception Pass after we left La Conner to enjoy the magnificent views of the Puget Sound and Mt. Baker.

We drove back to Bellingham and gave Jerry and Laura the driving tour of WWU and the city downtown.  We had dinner at the country club because Larry had just been told by a friend that they had a great halibut on the menu and Laura later confirmed it was good.  Larry had his usual prime rib and Jerry and I opted for the strawberry salad with mascarpone cheese with vinaigrette, and crab cakes--without all the fillers--topped with a corn relish and which is now my new favorite dinner selection.  

Saturday morning came too soon.  Jerry and Laura were off on their adventure to Pike Street Market enroute to Beaverton, Oregon to visit friends and wineries before traveling on to CA.  I’ll see them again in a few days but it was wonderful having them here.

I have been put in charge of planning a trip to Arkansas next year to visit with them and see the sights.  Jerry and Laura even promised a lunch in Springfield with the cousins.  Since Missouri is where I am from, I have lots of cousins that I don’t see often and it has been eight years since the last trip. Springfield, to Larry, means Bass Pro Shop!<

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Cycle of Life

The Cycle of Life
By Billie Marrs

Paint, mesh fabric, gold leaf, old jewelry, craft wire, fish hook, found objects, upholstery tacks, silver tape, hand-made paper mosaic tiles, ribbon, fishing swivels, curtain chain, shrink plastic, liquid gold leaf all went onto the wooden fish to make her come to life.

Said the momma fishy to the nest of eggs
My cycle of life is at an end
You must remember where you were born
Breathe deeply of this fresh water stream
Then navigate carefully to the deep blue sea
Swim to the secret places of our ancestors
In time you too will return to complete the cycle

Five baby fishes, Jacks and Jennies
Leaped and jumped playing hide and seek
Down the streams and rivers
Singing the life song that their momma once sung

Swim fast, play hard, life is short, the cycle repeats

Altered Art: salmon project #1

Altered Art: salmon project #2

Altered Art: salmon project #3

Altered Art - salmon project #4

Altered Art: salmon project #5

Father's Day/Birthday

Larry and I celebrated Father’s Day and my birthday together with our son Michael, his mother, and friends Cis and Mike.  Larry never misses a chance to barbeque and enjoy a good steak.  

We usually go to Saturday evening church services but because we worked at an all day fundraiser we attended Sunday morning services.  Michael was waiting for us when we got home and he started helping prepare dinner.  Larry seasoned the steaks and Michael and I prepared a stir fry vegetable dish with a spicy sweet chili sauce.  We also fixed a spinach salad with cranberries, caramelized almonds, and feta cheese to go with the garlic bread and sautéed mushrooms.  Larry’s mom brought Alaskan king crab legs to add to the festive fare. We always fix more food than we can eat and no one goes hungry.

Larry’s mom brought a birthday cake and Michael and I prepared peaches, nectarines, and plums sautéed with a little Grand Marnier and topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  We sat around telling stories, some long and tall, others short and sweet.

Larry’s father’s day present will be a little late as I am having something specially made for him.  My birthday present was a new scanner to use with my artwork.  Cis and Mike brought a little bag with three boxes inside and each box held a gift card for some of my favorite places to shop.  Ross, TJMaxx, and Michaels craft store.  Cis reminded me that I now qualify for a 10% discount at Ross on Tuesdays and to take advantage of it.  Larry received a cigar and a book for father’s day.  Larry’s mom gave me a new bag that I can use to transport my art supplies.

Larry is a special kind of dad.  He not only fell in love with me, he loves my kids and would do anything for them.  My kids have benefited from having someone in their life that is honest, caring, and respectful of them.  I found my one true love and the perfect father for my kids.  

Hotdogs, get your hotdogs at the road kill cafe

Saturday June 17th was the 8th annual Harley-Davidson Bellingham bike show.  The shop provides hotdogs and drinks and lets the Ladies of Harley cook and hand them out for donations to benefit our GRADS charity.  Tips and donations have ranged from $500 to $700 dollars in past years.  

It was slightly overcast when I got out of bed at 7:00 AM with the sun trying to shine through.  I grabbed a jacket, flyers, tip-jar, and I was out the door.

The HOG group was leading a breakfast ride at 9:00 AM with a t-shirt fundraiser for our scholarship charity so the riders were already arriving to register and help set up.

Angie, Cis, Susan S., Jeannie, Susan A., and I finished getting our booth ready and taking a breather to relax before the crowds showed up and the real work began.  About 10:30 AM we started the hotdogs and by 11:00 AM we were in full swing.  The guys returned from the breakfast ride and Mike and Doug took over the cooking duties.  This year Mike and Doug initiated Ken into their private domain as male cooks.

Michele and Chris arrived back from the breakfast ride to help out and Shelia and Sherry also arrived.  During the day Bonnie and Rita also helped out.  As busy as we got there was always time to laugh and joke.  Cis took a break to sit with her hubby, Mike, and just about that time the ladies all got into the swing of the music and we had our own little line dance going on.  Rumor has it there is a picture of this but it has yet to surface.

I’m not sure we gave away more hotdogs than last year; I just think people were more generous.  You kind of feel like a carnival hawker, “Get your hotdogs and cold drinks here…” Or maybe a the concessionaire at a baseball or football game.  

Roger just happened to have the “road kill trophy” on his bike and we sat it up on the table, and the hotdog booth became the “road kill café.”  Were those beef hotdogs or were they mystery meat road kill?  It brought a laugh from those hearing us hawking a road kill hotdog or a mystery meat hotdog from the road kill café.

The guys also did their part during the day registering bikes, helping with a little security, and entering their bikes in the show.  Sky and Dave both own new trophies and Jeannie won her second 1st place award for her custom trike.

Thanks to Jeannie, Mike, and Rita for showing up with their food handlers license.  Thanks also to Harry, Rick, Larry, Mike, Dave, Joe, Jerry, and Bob for all their hard work.

I’m not sure of the exact number of hotdogs passed out or the number of cold sodas and water we distributed but the Ladies of Harley set an all time record with tip money, $972.  The money will be used to purchase school supplies, emergency lunch food, art supplies, diapers, and some extras for Christmas bags for their babies.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


June 20th, 2006


All three of my children have graduated from high school and all three have graduated from community college.  My oldest son Jim has had to put the last year of his BA on hold after being hired as a policeman.  Michael will graduate with his BA from WWU in August.  Kelly is attending UNLV working on her BA. My kids had a loving supportive parent and step parent to talk with them, support them, guide them, and love them through any question, problem, or dilemma they may have had.

Tonight I felt privileged and honored to attend a graduation ceremony for the local Options and GRADS programs with my Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group officers and members-- better know as my friends and family.  GRADS is a program to help pregnant and teen parents complete their high school diploma.  Options is an alternative program serving kids who don’t fit in a traditional high school program.

Our chapter presents a one thousand dollar scholarship to a graduating senior in our county to help them continue their education.  We provide one of the largest private scholarships in the county.  The first requirement is that a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or legal guardian own a Harley.  We also look at grade point averages and a written essay about the student's relative who owns the Harley.

Tonight was our third annual presentation.  We arrived with eleven bikes, three up, and one cage.  Our chapter director, Mike Kennard, gave a short introduction about our group, and we received a standing ovation from the graduates and the audience.  Watching these kids who have overcome obstacles, hardships, tragedies, and pregnancies while still maintaining their goal to walk across the stage and graduate tonight was just amazing.  Some of these kids have been working one or two jobs and going to school.  Some are helping to support their parents and siblings.  Some are supporting themselves because their parents don’t want the responsibility and kicked them out.  Some of the students have gone through a pregnancy and birth of their baby while going to school.  No one said life is easy, but for some it seems it is just a little harder and for these students you cheer a little harder and louder when they accomplish what many high school students take for granted.

The parents, friends, relatives, boyfriends, girlfriends, school teachers, principal, superintendent, and Harley members cried, cheered, laughed, hooted, and whistled as they celebrated a major milestone in the lives of these successful students.  Having someone to believe in them, a safe place to learn, and encouraging words made all their hard work a dream come true.

When the students moved that tassel from one side to the other and threw those hats into the air, they laughed and hooted and whistled because they had done what some thought they couldn’t do.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Artist Challenge - make a difference

Recently I sold an altered book.  The buyer sent me a sweet note to let me know that my book would be going to what she termed a “girlie-girl” soldier in Iraq.  My buyer makes and buys cards, books, handmade items to send to soldiers serving our country.  We had several wonderful emails and I was amazed at the generosity she has for others.

I kept thinking about what an unselfish thing this person was doing to bring a smile to someone else.   I have two nephews who served in Iraq and my family sent cards and emails to let them know we cared.  How nice it would be to have a complete stranger send a card to say they care.

My challenge to other altered book artists, atc altered trading cards artist, or any artist, is to make and send one card to a soldier.  Go to the website:  and you can click on the list of soldiers to send a card to, you can search for a contact, or you can do a random search.  Can you image how special it would be to receive a handmade altered card and know that someone took the time to create something unique just for you.

Make sure your card will fit in a standard size envelope accepted by the post office, and attach a regular stamp, and make sure your return address is on the envelope.  Include your name and address with the card and if you choose, include your email address.  Write as if this is to a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.  It is suggested that if you are not sending your letter to a specific soldier you address the inside card to ”Dear Soldier.”

Happy Anniversary

June 14th.  Eight years and counting.  When Larry and I married I made him promise me 50 happy years.  42 more to go and then we can renew our vows.

Some women think their husband, boyfriend, partner is romantic, others dream of a guy like mine.  Larry and I met through email.  Not a blind chance meeting, but arranged for us by my sister Mary and his sister-in-law Jeanne, both of whom lived near me in California.  

After two weeks Larry had yellow roses delivered to me.  I’m not a woman who had received flowers in my previous life, so this was a surprise, and since then yellow roses have held a special place in my heart.  The first year we were married, Larry brought me a dozen yellow roses and one red rose.  Every year he adds one more red rose to my bouquet.  The first year I also received one real rose dipped in gold and a dozen yellow porcelain roses.  Since then, Larry gives me a new gold rose every anniversary.

When Larry went to pick up my flowers the florist asked him about his order for only twenty roses.  Larry explained about the red and yellow roses and then she told him I know about you.  Seems he is famous for his romantic flower order each year.

Today was a quiet day because my guy was sick.  I had planned to take him to his favorite place to eat chicken wings--The Longhorn Saloon--but we will celebrate another day, cruising down Chuckanut Drive on our Harley toward lunch at the Longhorn.

The most important part of the day is that we have each other.

Snookums I love you, forever and ever, body and soul.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

25 Candles

June 13th, 2006

Michael has been laughing at me for weeks.  The fact that he turned twenty-five today had me feeling a little tense.  Michael asked if I worried when Jim turned 25 and I said no.  Maybe because Michael was living in Oregon when he turned twenty-one and I couldn’t be there has made this birthday more important.  I know I will not always be able to be there for each of my children’s birthdays, but my heart will always be with them.  

I sent an e-card to Michael that he would find when he got to work in the morning and Larry and I took Michael and Rob out to dinner at Du Jour Bistro in Bellingham.  The restaurant is owned by Michael and Rob’s friends and our waiter was another friend.  It was a special evening of good food with those we love.  Just when we thought it was time to leave, we were tempted with dessert.  Michael being oh so good, orders a grapefruit sorbet, Larry decided to refrain, and Rob and I ordered the decadent chocolate pâté.  Funny thing was when the goodies arrived; Rob and I both took a bite of the sorbet while Michael and Larry had to taste the chocolate.  And to top off the evening Michael and Rob’s friend brought the lavender crème Brule to sample.  

Rob left wheat free, sugar free muffins in Michael’s car for him to find as a surprise when he left for work today.  Then Rob had lilies delivered to Michael at work.  

Michael is a vegetarian and also refrains from eating sugar, dairy products, and wheat products for the most part.  He does however have a few weaknesses and I took advantage.  Michael can look at a cake and with his will power say no.  The butter cream frosting is his downfall.  So like a good mom I went to Albertsons and bought a tub of butter cream frosting because it is his favorite.  I also bought graham crackers, strawberries, and whipped cream, three of his other weaknesses.  I couldn’t find the white Toblerone chocolates or I would have bought a half dozen of those also.  

Birthday presents.  We are waiting because Michael just qualified for a home loan and is searching for his first place.  He is thinking maybe mom and Larry will buy paint and make his new house a home with the colors he loves.

Michael, my baby
My son, my friend
25 years of
Keeping me on my toes
You asked why
I didn’t always have answers
I let you go to learn to fly
You soared above your dreams
I look at you in wonder
Trying to imagine
the next 25 years

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

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The Birthday Boy's Surprise

I planned for several weeks to surprise my son Jim in California with a birthday surprise.  I had mailed him two small gifts and told him not to open them until his birthday.  I knew this was safe and he would wait.  

I then went about trying to find a bakery that would deliver a birthday cake to the police station where he worked.  No bakery wanted to deliver anything smaller than a wedding cake and I thought he might not laugh if I had a wedding cake delivered to his job.  I tried Safeway on line but couldn’t get a cake ordered and was feeling really frustrated.  I then remembered Albertsons advertises for home delivery.  I logged on, set up an account, and placed my order, picked my time for delivery and felt pretty proud of myself.  One chocolate cake and one white cake would arrive between 10:00 AM and 11:30 AM on his birthday, June 5th to the police department.

Panic set in when the email confirmation showed the cake would be delivered in my name and I knew the police department would say, “No one here by that name,” and refuse it.  I put a note in front of my computer to call that morning and let the desk clerk know what I was doing and what to expect.

June 5th.  Delivery day.  I called the police department; they thought it was cute that Officer Jim’s mom was having cakes delivered to him.  Of course they probably figured they would get to share in his good fortune.  All was right with my plan, or so I thought.  Michelle the desk clerk called to say Jim had a schedule change and I needed to call him.  She couldn’t tell me the details but said I really needed to talk to him.

Jim didn’t answer his phone so I called his brother Michael and thought if he won’t answer the phone for mom maybe he will answer for a sibling.  Jim called me before Michael could call him.  He had just received a phone call from a friend at work to tell him there were two birthday cakes waiting for him.  He knew this had to be a mom surprise so he called me.  Turns out he had the day off due to extra training during the week and told his fellow officers to go ahead and enjoy the cake and try to save him a piece.

We laughed about the mix-up.  He had a wonderful evening with his adopted family the Rowe’s with homemade birthday cake and was going to have birthday dinner with his friend Heather, and open his presents from Larry and me when he got home.

So it seemed everything turned out okay in the end.  Well almost.  Michelle called about an hour later and said the cakes were still sitting there and she wasn’t letting anyone touch them.  Seems whoever Jim talked to at work and told to eat the cakes had forgotten to tell Michelle and she was protecting the cakes.  I told her to put the cakes in the break room and let them eat cake and enjoy Jim’s birthday.  She thanked me and we both wished each other a good day.

So I got the biggest surprise on Jim’s birthday and maybe the best gift because now the officers probably all love Jim’s mom for sending cake.

Happy 28th birthday Jim.  We love you.

Monday, May 29, 2006

To Hell's Canyon and Back

Thursday May 18th was the beginning of our first Harley adventure for the riding season.  We met our friends at Bellingham Harley Davidson at 8:45 AM and departed at 10:00 AM for our destination in the Tri-Cities area, staying in Richland, Washington for the evening.  We left with seven bikes and three were two- up (Mike and Jeannie Gilbert, Dawn and Dave Johnson, Dave Nichols, Ken and Michelle Thompson, John Dunne, and Larry and Billie Marrs) for the Hell’s Canyon rally in Oregon, with our HOG leader, Mike Kennard, waving goodbye to us.  The rest of our chapter group, including Mike, left on Friday morning.

It was sunny 500 weather as we headed down I-5 with Mike Gilbert as road captain and Dave Johnson riding sweep.  We stopped in Sultan for lunch at the Dutch Cup then headed over the pass to Leavenworth and Wenatchee where we peeled off some of our warm weather clothes and made a couple of extra stops for water in the 1130 heat.  We rode south to Richland but before we could get there we endured dust storms, wind reaching 50 mph, rain, sleet, hail, and barely visible conditions.  I kept thinking tornados and found out when we finally reached our hotel that everyone else was thinking the same thing.  There was nowhere to hide so we kept riding through the miserable conditions. The bright spot was that in a quick stop to grab jackets and rain gear, Jeff and Carlene Veltman, who left a little later in the day, had caught up to us and joined our group for the final miles.

We checked in, took quick showers, hung up our wet clothes, and walked across the parking lot to Margaritas for a wonderful Mexican dinner, some relaxing conversation before saying good night and getting some much needed sleep.  When my head hit the pillow, I was out.

Friday morning most of us slept in, consumed the complementary continental breakfast, dressed in our rain gear because of those dark clouds hovering above, drove to Starbucks for a wake up jolt, then hit the road by 11:00 AM for the short ride to the Washington-Oregon border.  We arrived to find Rita and Dave Bode already at the meeting place, so we gassed up the bikes, checked in with the Friday group by cell phone and decided to eat without them, since they were about an hour out, and get back on the road.  Someone had their cd player still playing on their bike and Larry danced me around the parking lot to the sway of the music.  Just as we were ready to ride out for the final leg of our journey, the 2nd group arrived, so we exchanged hellos and good byes and our group was down the road again on our way south on highway 84 on the eastern side of Oregon into Baker City while the 2nd group stopped to eat.  (The Friday group, Mike and Cis Kennard, Dick and Barbara Wells, Larry Brown, Rick Huggins, Roger and Dottie Schneidereit, Tina and Richard Roemmele left Bellingham Starbucks at Sehome at 6:00 AM for the long ride straight through to the rally.)

While chapter members arrived on different days and were scattered between several motels and hotels, the town of Baker City is small so we were only blocks away from each other.  We found Candie and Sky Dartt and Ron Johnson and his brother Jay, and everyone had dinner at Barley Browns Brew Pub.  We had to sit in three separate groups but everyone had a great time laughing and enjoying the evening among friends.  I had the Angry Chicken Salad:  grilled onions and bell peppers, hot pepper flakes, grilled chicken, feta cheese, served hot over romaine lettuce with a warm Caesar dressing.

Most of the group met up at the Oregon Trail Restaurant for breakfast on Saturday where Bonnie and Bob Halstead joined us and then we split up in groups choosing to ride to the dam, the interruptive center, or just relax in town.  We went with the group to the interruptive center, lunch in Richland, OR., then back to Baker City for a little shopping.

Saturday evening the party started in the Kennard’s hotel room where most of the group gathered for some sort of cold drink before the evening festivities started.  We had wrist bands as proof of registration and for that we received a pin, free tacos on Saturday night, and entry into the bike show if you wanted to enter your bike.  2500 bikers were expected for this event and our own Jeannie Gilbert won first place in the trike division.  We walked back to the Oregon Trail Restaurant for dinner and some of us went to the Veltman’s penthouse suite for a last Hoo Ra with the group before heading home the next day.

Morning came to fast and it was breakfast by 7:00AM. Everyone already anticipated the coming rain and we all dressed in our rain gear before pulling out and heading for home by 8:00 AM Sunday morning.  We crisscrossed paths with several groups during the morning.  Larry and I rode back with Jeannie and Mike Gilbert to Kennewick where we stopped for lunch together.  They stayed behind to spend a little time drying out their clothes and visiting with their daughter and grandbabies while Larry and I headed off to Yakima to meet up with Cis and Mike Kennard.

We pulled up in front of “Howard House” the Victorian home Cis and Mike own and received the grand tour.  The home was their former beauty school which has now moved down the street.  We were relaxing when we heard that familiar rumble of pipes--John Dunne and Rick Huggins had pulled up out front.  They had seen Larry and me go by while they were stopped for lunch and just drove down the road looking for our bike.  Cis and I walked to the local Mexican food store for snacks and drinks then we all watched and laughed at Mike’s favorite internet videos.  We walked through the alley to Black Angus for a dinner of appetizers, salads, steaks, and dessert.  The weather had cleared and everyone enjoyed the early evening on the third floor deck.  

I woke Monday morning to the thunder of JD and Rick’s pipes as they left about 7:00 AM for their journey home.  Cis and Mike were at work at the beauty school so Larry and I packed up our bags and waited for them to return.  Breakfast at Mels, a few stops to try and find a warm sweatshirt for me (no luck) and rain gear for Larry and we were on our way home in the rain.

It rained so hard we could hardly see the road at times--the fine gray mist of fog hung over the mountain tops and floated down into the valleys as we made our way home.  Mike surprised us with lunch at one of his favorite spots, the Angel of the Winds Casino.  Hot coffee and strawberry shortcake was all Cis and I managed but Mike ordered chicken fried steak for Larry while he devoured shrimp cocktails.  This must be a Thursday night dinner ride sometime with the group.

I think the only thing worse than riding in the cold and rain is going into a warm building and then having to put on wet gloves and ride another forty miles in the cold rain to get home.

1,100 miles down and back including side trips.  I would do it all over again to spend time with friends although I might let Larry splurge on a bike trailer.  I know I’m a wimp.  I admit it.  Who cares?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mother's Day

My daughter Kelly few home Thursday before mother’s day. A friend picked her up in Seattle and Kelly called on the phone laughing, asking what are these tall green things? Living in Las Vegas for the last nine months and looking at sand, rock, and brown hills had made her forget about green trees, grass, and plants.

We had some time alone before her brother Michael showed up to cook dinner for us and Jerrilynn and Haley arrived to get ready for a night out in White Rock BC. Friday we were off for pedicures before having lunch with Michael at the country club. I came home and Kelly went off to visit friends for the afternoon and a movie with Sam in the evening. Someone ask Kelly if her mom was mad because she didn’t just stay home with me. She told them no, that her mom understood, and I do. I love having her home but when you are young you want to be on the go and I know she loves me.

I never really truly understood how special Mother’s Day was until I no longer lived close to my mother and my own children were scattered. There is nothing better than being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin.

I had beautiful flowers on the table when I woke upon Mothers Day, cards from the kids and Larry, church service, lunch with my family, and a present from the kids when I got home. The sun was shining and it was a wonderful day. Jim called on Monday to say happy mother’s day because he was on duty all day Sunday. In my heart, my children are always with me and I know that they love me. Home is where the heart is.

I called my mom to tell her I love her. My mom is sweet, kind, loving, and gentle, all things God intended mothers to be. My kids will tell you she is the best cook, the best grandmother ever and they are right. My mom is not just my mom she is my best girlfriend.

Kelly flew back to Las Vegas, Michael flew off to Boston on a business trip, Jim is working and loving every minute of it, and Larry and I are leaving on a Harley trip to the Hells Canyon Rally in Baker City Oregon.

Monday, May 15, 2006

LOH: we are women, hear us roar

I am part of a group of ladies known as Ladies of Harley, part of the Mt. Baker Harley Owners Group Bellingham, WA.  We are more than women in black leathers.  We are an active group of women who raise money with their “Change for Change” program, several hot dog flipping events for tips, and our first ever garage sale this year.

We have made cash donations to the Ferndale Police Dept. for their Teddy Bear Program and cash donations to several school districts each year to buy school supplies for needy children. The Ladies give a mock baby shower for themselves each November and donate the gifts to the GRADS program in Bellingham, a program that allows teen moms to complete their high school education while providing daycare for their babies.  We participated in the Jingle Bell Walk for the first time last year and a benefit for Camp Katrina in Louisiana.  

We are women, hear us roar.  We are making a difference by providing help and assistance to women, children, and families in Whatcom County through our fundraising.  We are secretaries, teachers and university personnel, health care workers, business owners, artist, homemakers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and daughters with a love of Harleys and hearts of gold.

We flip about 700 hotdogs each year during the annual Harley-Davidson of Bellingham June bike show.  The dealership buys the hotdogs, buns, condiments, and drinks which we distribute to visitors for a donation to our tip jar.  This money allows us to buy school supplies, emergency food, and art supplies for the GRADS girls.

Our inaugural garage sale was a huge success.  Who could image that people would line up at the gates of the Kennard Estate and then run to grab the treasurers the members had donated when the gates opened.  A number of our male members also volunteered to help out during the sale and we used their muscles to move heavy items for customers.   We laughed lots and enjoyed the sunny afternoon.

Some of us also took home a few treasures shopping while we set up on Friday and Saturday morning.  My finds were a Victorian ladies chair that needs some new upholstery, an odd fellow’s podium, and a vintage croquet set.  Now, my husband Larry couldn’t see the beauty in my finds, but the podium will become a night stand and a base for one of my father’s birdhouse lamps.  The ladies chair will probably wind up in the same room as the podium just looking cute upholstered in reds, suede, lace, corduroy, stripes, Swiss dot, and quilted remnants.  I bought the croquet set for the wooden balls which I someday hope to have enough to fill an old bowl and be a topic of conversation when people ask why I have them.

We sold everything except a Harley--but had several parked in the circular driveway for people to admire.  The Ladies of Harley is not just a group I belong to; they are my friends who have become another family.

How LOH will spend our time and money this year:
Our own webmaster, Jeannie, is starting a non profit with her son to provide computers and software to low income and needy children.  Jeannie has a heart for helping children and this is just one more way she gives to others.  So the Ladies will provide funds to help out.

We will continue to support GRADS with tips from our annual hotdog flipping event at the bike show in June.

We will make a cash contribution to The Mighty Max fund ( which will help families who have children being treated with Charge Syndrome at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  We are working with Max’s mom, Amy, and our own LOH member, Candie, who also works at Treasury of Memories on a Harley scrap booking fundraiser to benefit the Mighty Max fund.

We will participate in the Jingle Bell Walk again in December, a community service project during October for make a difference day, a baby shower to benefit GRADS in November and possibly an event to raise money for the cancer foundation.  

Our focus in LOH this year is primarily on helping children, but when you help a child you help their family, and the whole community benefits.

I am proud to be a Lady of Harley in the Mt. Baker Chapter Harley Owners Group.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mom - research associate in the field of child development and human relations

Have you ever thought about the true value of what it would take to pay a mom for all that she does? has now put a dollar figure on the “mom job" of both working and stay at home moms.  “Stay at home moms” would earn $134.121 annually and “working moms” would earn $85,876 annually for their “mom job. Housekeeper, day care provider, teacher, dishwasher, cook, computer operator, maid, housekeeper, secretary, bookkeeper, janitor, chauffer, nurse, CEO, and psychologist are just a few of the many jobs a mom does daily.
On you can include your own personal information, with the Mom Salary Wizard then create a hypothetical mom paycheck and mom pay stub, which can be printed and emailed to family and friends.
Proverbs 31:31 give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
A friend sent me the following urban ledged story in an email about “moms”.
A woman, renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office was asked by the woman recorder to state her occupation. She hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself.  "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "do you have a job or are you just a...?" "Of course I have a job," snapped the woman.  "I'm a Mom!" "We don't list 'Mom' as an occupation; 'Housewife covers it," said the recorder emphatically. I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall.  The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient and possessed of a high sounding title like, "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar."   "What is your occupation?" she probed. What made me say it -- I do not know -- The words simply popped out.  "I'm a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations." The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair and looked up as though she had not heard right.  I repeated the title slowly emphasizing the most significant words.  Then I stared with wonder as my pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire. "Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?" Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have said indoors and out).  I'm working for my Masters (the whole darned family) and already have four credits (all daughters).  Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (anyone care to disagree?!) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it).  But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers. And the rewards are more about the satisfaction, rather than just about the money." There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up and personally ushered me to the door. As I drove into our driveway, buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- ages 13, 7, and 3.  Upstairs, I could hear our new experimental model (a 6 month old baby) in the child development program, testing out a new vocal pattern.  I felt I had scored a beat on bureaucracy!  And I had gone on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than, "just another Mom." Motherhood!  What a glorious career!  Especially when there's a title on the door.

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