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!<

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