Thursday, November 30, 2006

Carpet is as carpet does?

Or something like that. Nancy and I decided to give each other carpet for Christmas this year. Our carpet has been here since we have, for just over 20 years, and is now looking like roadkill of the feline variety.

Nancy has never had to pick out carpet before and is having quite a time with it. We've been to the carpet department several times and brought home samples to lay down next to the walls but haven't found "the one" yet.

Tomorrow is our daughter's half day to work so we're hoping maybe she'll be able to lend her visual acuity to picking out something that will click with our colors.

The living room has this awesome antique burgundy wall that contrasts very nicely with the vanilla steam color used on the other walls.

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The problem is finding a cream/tan that isn't on the yellow side or to brown or to light for family space. Then the kitchen and hallway have a blue theme with a dark floor..........oy vey, maybe we should have just painted everything white.

Here is a pic of Nancy's anniversary quilt. The different colors in these rooms are also in this quilt.

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And of course, a picture of the love of my life:

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We're hoping to have the carpet on hand and installed the week prior to Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed for us :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Big Ham after the Turkey.........

Today was a day that we were looking forward to. It has been almost a week since we saw the grandkids last. Their mother and her fiance' had taken them to Oregon for Thanksgiving and today is the first day we were back on the schedule to pick Jaedan up from school. Like any grandparent, we jokingly say that the one nice thing about grandchildren is that you can always send them home to their parents. We find that is true for about the first 5-10 minutes after they have been picked up. Then we begin missing the sounds that always accompany children even when they are on their best behavior.

Somehow Jaedan and I missed each other - he was walking toward the car on one side of the yellow school buses while I was walking toward his classroom on the other side. When the buses began pulling away from the curb while I was standing beside Jaedan's classroom door, I knew that he would already have been dismissed from class. Peeking in the window, I saw his teacher straightening up the class while munching on a cookie. She saw me and quickly opened the door. She thought that Nancy had already picked up Jaedan, mistaking another grandparent for Nancy.

Fortunately, Jaedan had seen the car and had gotten in. When I got back to the car, he was in tears. Upon questioning, he explained that he thought I might have been abducted by a bad guy and that was why I wasn't there at the car to meet him. Tears dried and comfort applied, we soon began our way to town to pick up a few things.

Then back home where we played some games.

Just before Thanksgiving we were really busy getting soap orders out the door so that the stores were stocked before Black Friday. In a few more days we will begin receiving the reorders for the next few weeks but for now we had plenty of time to play games with the kids. They didn't have to hear, "not right now, I have to get this finished".

Still with all the attention, while Ashlynn was taking her afternoon nap, Jaedan played around with Nana's eye liner. I had to take pictures and he is such a HAM, capitals intended! See for yourself:

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This is what makes my life so full of joy and contentment.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday and tradition takes a back seat........

Today is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when Nancy, her mother Jo Anne and our daughter Jamie would start hitting the stores by 6 am. I went with them once many years ago and vowed that I would rather put in overtime at work before I'd do that again, lol. Now Nancy's mother is no longer with us and Jamie is in Oregon with her fiance' and the grandkids, leaving Nancy with no shopping partner for Black Friday.

So we slept in today but eventually we did go in to town to see if we could pick up a shop and vac at Home Depot at Jamie's request. (sorry, all sold within the first hour of opening while we were still asleep)

Here is a picture of Josh with Grandpa Carl when we took Dad his Thanksgiving meal:

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Here is Josh with his Grandma Dorthy (spelled with one "o" because the delivering doctor was drunk and left it off the birth certificate):

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And I've also taken a picture of Dad's two furkids. These are the most well-fed cats I've ever seen. I told Dad he needed to get them a treadmill so they could workout!

This is Rascal. She is the mom of Rowdy and has been Dad's particular favorite for several years. Dad likes to have a dish of vanilla ice cream every night before he goes to bed. He takes a couple of scoops, pours some milk over it and eats about 3/4 of it, then lets Rascal finish off the bowl.

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Rascal has some Siamese in her and that is why Rowdy has the coloration he does. He is still just a young cat. Both cats have the softest silkiest fur I've ever felt on a cat.

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You can't tell by the picture, but Rowdy is good sized for a cat and has that Siamese cat personality (schizoid multiple personality disorder or something like that).

They both keep Dad company while brother Mike is at work during the day at Sun Valley where he works at the ski lifts.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Speaking of Coffee....

You Are a Plain Ole Cup of Joe

But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated
You're a low maintenance kind of guy... who can hang with the guys
Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.
And you are dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.

Turkey is in the oven................

With a nod to those who are in the middle of their feast or have already moved on to the afternoon portion of snacking from the left overs.

My turkey just went in, happily stuffed (loosely) and the butternut squash has been halved and also stuffed with dressing waiting for it's turn.

I was thinking how traditional my family is. We have always alternated between Nancy's family and mine. This year is with my family. Nancy has a brother that goes to 3 different Thanksgiving get-togethers. I'm satisfied with just one.

My mom always makes the homemade crescent rolls and pies, my sister always brings her "Pink Fluff". She and I have an ongoing dispute over the correct way to make this. This is the dish made with jello, cottage cheese, whipped cream and fruit(s) of choice - usually banana and mandarin orange. I advocate making the traditional jello and then when it has begun to set, mixing in the rest of the ingredients. She mixes everything together at once including the jello powder (sans the water).

I almost always make the dressing and turkey. I like my dressing moist but not soggy, with plenty of onion, celery and garlic. I usually put some kind of specialty sausage chunks in although the most memorable was the dressing I made using smoked oysters and cornbread. A previous brother-in-law who hated oysters came back for thirds.

Nancy's mom always baked her dressing separately and was so "moist" I called it dressing soup. Never could get myself to eat it although Nancy and her family loved it.

Now we're going to sit back and watch movies. While we're watching, Nancy the workaholic, will be cleaning up soaps. Here is a pic of a spud soap with the shavings from several dozen spud soaps. I marvel at how tiny and precise these are. Any smaller and they would be powder!

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There are also purple shavings in there from the Huckleberry Spud Soaps she has been cleaning.

Have a great day and be blessed!

Monday, November 20, 2006

All set to Carve the Turkey!

Yesterday was my birthday. I reached the ripe age of 52. When I was in my 20's, the 50's seemed so far away. It really doesn't seem that old now!

Nancy fixed my favorite meal of Beef Stroganoff. It is tradition in our family that the birthday person gets their favorite meal. Of course our son Josh also likes this meal for his birthday so we were both in hog heaven.

Jamie and grandkids also came but Jason was home not feeling well. They are leaving Wednesday to go to his parents for Thanksgiving so it will be sad not to have them (and the grandkids) here to celebrate Thanksgiving. While in Oregon, Jamie and Jason will get married on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Nancy, Josh and I will be going to my Mom's. I'm all set to carve the turkey with the new man's toy that the kids and Nancy gave me yesterday. Do you think this will do the job?

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After the meal and Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Cake, Josh picked on his older sister. Just like old times when they were both still teens and they would roughhouse, he took her down and tickled her nostrils with blades of grass. Nothing more heartwarming (and housewarming) then to hear the voices of family filling the air. The following pics are a couple of our favorite pictures of Josh and Jamie when they were little.

Jamie with her hair all curled and her purse trying to open the church door:

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Joshua on Nancy's parents farm, playing on the cattle chute. He and his cousin Mica would run around the farm singing "My Achy Breaky Heart" at the top of their lungs.

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It seems that nostalgia is part of the aging process. That must be why so many of the pictures of the past are finding their way into this blog!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Our dad turned 81 today. We all met at the Golden Corral to celebrate. All of the siblings were there and most of the grandkids made it. Missing were two grandchildren who live out of state - nephew Duane and his wife Laura are back east and niece Carey and SO (significant other) with two children, Cody Duane and Amber in California.

Here is the birthday boy himself:

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I had set the camera on the table intending to take it to the restaurant but thought I'd left it at home. So I didn't take any pictures at all during the meal. When we were leaving Nancy let me know she had brought the camera, so we gathered everyone at the front of the place and took this picture. Nancy intentionally hid behind Jaedan's blue balloon, but with another picture where Nancy could be seen and Jason couldn't, a little Photoshop work and we got a picture where everyone's face can be seen.

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As we were leaving the restaurant, Josh had invited us to come over to see the new apartment that he and friend Gary have rented. They were getting tired of room mates who were slow to pay or didn't carry their fair share of the grocery bill in a 3 bedroom apartment, so they found a very nice two bedroom and effectively took care of any delinquent 3rd parties. But Josh was so excited to show us his new place, that he backed up over the curbing and I just happened to have the camera in my hand:

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We finally made it to his apartment. Great, a chance to get some cool candid family pictures. However, God has seen fit to burden me with children and grandchildren that have inherited a genetic disposition to cut up and have fun at the most inopportune times. Thus the pictures that follow:

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Don't you feel sorry for me?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Sage" words

We've had some wind and rain the past few days. I can see snow on the South Hills already. It would only take about 45 minutes to drive from our house up to where there is snow.

Nancy and Jaedan just finished making No-Bake Cookies. These are Jaedan's specialty. He has all the ingredients memorized. By the time Nana gets out to the kitchen, Jaedan will have all the ingredients pulled out and sitting on the counter, ready to be measured and combined. Sissy (Ashlynn) is sleeping although she won't be taking naps for much longer. She already resists having to go take a nap. At this point, I wonder if the nap is more for the benefit of the adults!

Thought I'd just post a few more pics of our back yard before I move on to other things. This is a small shed I built from a kit a few years ago. One of the few things I've done that is actually still standing. If you look closely at the door, you'll notice quite a gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.

When I built the door according to instructions, I somehow missed the instructions for the length of the door. When the door was hung for the first time, it was to long and drug on the ground. Without thinking, I just took it down, flipped it over onto the saw horse and with the handy dandy skilsaw, slashed off the bottom without even measuring. The result is that I am forever reminded of the need to think, think, think......before saw, saw, saw!

The wooden path leading to the shed is actually an old wooden skid that was used years and years ago in a local cheese factory.

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Now for some "Sage" words.....................this picture shows what used to be the sandbox that was here before we bought the place. Our kids hardly ever used it although it housed a turtle for a short time. I turned it into a herbal bed many years ago. The wooden planks surrounding the bed are needing to be replaced, so I have let this bed sort of outgrow it's boundaries and plan to completely rebuild and replant the bed next spring. It currently has sage, thyme, mint, lavender and lemon balm growing haphazardly.

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Finally, these are the Austrian Pines we planted when the trees were shorter then the kids. Now they are huge, beautiful although some drying in the branches even though I've watered quite a bit. It is under these pines that all of the family pets that have gone on to wait for us in heaven reside. If you look closely at the undergrowth under the pines, those plants are free range lemon balm, seeded from the lemon balm in the herbal bed above. During the summer I love it out here because the heat of the sun causes the scent of the pines and the scent of the lemon balm to mingle and if I can ever capture the blend in a bottle will consider it quite an accomplishment.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fall into Beds

Looks like rain is heading our way, another dreary day from the looks of overcast skies and gray tones. Yet it still has a beauty of it's own when you look past the grayness. It reminds me of the gray tones in weathered wood and baskets much like this picture.

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The bench was scavenged from a neighbor's trash pile. It was the perfect resting place for some baskets my brother has snagged for us over the past few years. You can see that the baskets on either end have been weathered while the three middle baskets were just added this year. I like the look. And the wooden chair is one that Nancy's grandfather made several years ago. He is no longer with us, but the chair serves as a reminder of his creativity and love of woodworking.

This next picture is my "Iris Nursery". My dad has always stated that flowers are a weed and "if you can't eat, it why plant it?" mentality. So it was with great surprise that he bought an iris floral collection from Breck's last year as a gift.
Many of the rhizomes didn't grow, so he got some replacements this spring. I've put them here and we'll see how they do next spring when I will evaluate the colors and decide where to work them into my flower beds. Speaking of beds, this one was made from the old frame of a waterbed.

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A couple of newer "waterbed" beds that are being prepared for next year's use. I never toss my grass clippings. The clippings are either used as mulch on existing beds or I layer the clippings with newspaper and organics such as peat moss and soil aids into the beds.

I actually grew a nice crop of Lemon Cucumbers in the far bed. You can see my neighbor's grapevines that she never does anything with. They grow clear up into the trees and I have to be sure to watch my side of the fence to keep them from covering my pines. The lemon cucumbers grew up the fence into the grapes so I'll plan to put them somewhere else next year.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Absent Fathers

Being a father and grandfather is a very important role in my life. I wrote a short story once about the profound effect of my own father's absence during much of my life. But for all the sad memories I have of not having had a full-time father, I do know that there were periods of happiness at first. This picture of my dad, brother and one of my sisters just seems to be an idyllic picture of a normal childhood and is one of my favorite's.

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This is an excerpt from my short story, "Reflections of the Father":

"My wife had gone to a women’s retreat over the weekend. It was good to have her back. One or two days without her is tolerable but I miss her by the third day. We sit together, my arms around her as she leans against me. She has so much to say and I am hungry after her absence to hear her voice. At one of the meetings, she tells me that they were asked what one thing about their husband they appreciate the most. “What was your response?”, I ask. She replies that what she appreciates most is how I am with the children. I am warmed and grateful for her response. I have tried hard to be a good father. There is no doubt that I am a better dad then my father and his father before him."

There is so much that we impart to our children without even realizing it. How we treat our spouse, how we treat our children and how we treat our neighbors and friends all goes into the mix of character and integrity and honesty that we want to see in ourselves and our family.

This is a picture of my brother and myself just before Christmas when I was about 4 and he was 2. You can tell I began my chocolate fix very early, see the chocolate smeared around our mouths!

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And here is a picture of myself with the same fat little cheeks that still grace my face:

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Thanks for walking down memory lane for just a short while. When I next post, I'll have some more pics of our grandchildren and perhaps an excerpt from a children's book I'm attempting to write entitled, "My Lucky Summer". It was inspired by a comment that our grandson Jaedan made one afternoon.

His mother and father had just recently separated and life became uncertain in Jaedan's and Ashlynn's little lives. Nancy and I knew that through this time of confusion and disruption that we could provide some consistency until their path became smooth again.

One of the things that Jaedan loved to do was to accompany me into town to make deliveries and run errands. We would stop at the Sno Shack and get a sno cone. Jaedan was sitting on my shoulders and we had just placed our order when he placed his elbows on my head, laid his chin into his hands and contentedly said, "Papa, this is my lucky summer!"

Coming soon to a bookstore near you.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Want to watch us play volleyball?.........

is what our daughter asked. Translation: Would you come and watch the grandkids while Jason and I play volleyball?

But of course, we never refuse an opportunity to watch the grandkids! And it was also fun to watch our daughter play volleyball since we hadn't seen her play the game since she was in high school. I joked with her afterwards and said it was nice to see her play and not butt heads with her coach.

They play intramural volleyball in the Presbyterian church gym. The only place for spectators is on the stage. Jaedan and Ashlynn were already there and running back and forth on the stage. After being so active, what better place to rest then Grandma's lap:

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I'd post some pictures of Jamie and Jason playing volleyball, but the pics came out a little weird. The one pic of Jamie actually looks almost evil with the way her eyes came out. But if there is any doubt that our granddaughter has a very strong personality and is very mischievous to boot, just one look at this picture will erase any doubt!

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Aftwards we all went out to DQ and I had my favorite food group - ice cream! The pumpkin pie blizzard was loaded with pie crust chunks. Very good but I think I could've done with a smaller one (but don't tell Nancy I said that).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Harvest Festival 2006

The show is over! Yippee, lol. It is always a lot of work to pack and set up and then tear it all back down, but it is still fun. We get to see a lot of friends that are also selling as well as all our local friends that come through. I even got to see a friend I haven't seen in years. We both went to Northwest College in Kirkland, Washington before it grew up to be Northwest University. That was a little over 30 years ago. Wow!

We thought the crowd was a little less then last year. And they certainly didn't seem to have Christmas shopping on their mind yet, most purchases we saw were mostly for personal purchases. Nancy did find an ornament for our daughter. We have always looked for that just-right themed ornament for the kids and grandkids and for each other. I'm a little bit in the doghouse because I found some cute ornaments last year (on sale after Christmas) and had a friend put their name and the year 2006 on them for me. So now Nancy can't shop for ornaments for the grandkids this year.

Here are a few pics of our booth. I forgot to take the camera the first two days so some of the impressive stuff has already sold.

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We were fairly pleased with our soap sales this year. For some reason, it seems that we have the hardest time selling our locally made soaps at local venues. Even our sales rep who goes to all the shops has a hard time selling any of the locally made products to our local stores and gift shops. Not sure why. Of course, having our soaps out in front instead of in back helped a lot (location, location, location!)

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Stars have been hot all summer and fall at the shop, so I thought they'd do well at the show. But all the stars came home with us. You never know what folks might be shopping for. Wish I had a crystal ball that would give me the inside edge.

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Well, nice to be home and glad that we're done with the show. Now we can catch up on our wholesale orders and enjoy the fall. Thanks for stopping by and looking. Have a great day!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Harvest Festival

Oy Vey! I am tired and sore. We went to the Harvest Festival location Wednesday evening about 5 p.m. to set up the frame of the booth. We have two side by side spaces for a total of about 6 feet x 20 feet.

We returned today, Thursday, at our assigned set up time of 9 am to 11 am, actually leaving about 1 pm. We got it set up, but there isn't anywhere near all of the possible stuff we could have put in. Here are pics of how it looked like with the frame work set up and our totes and boxes piled awaiting arrangement.

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You can see the dirt floor. They do spritz it with water to try to keep the dust down and that helps to some extent. You don't want to leave product in boxes on the floor under the table because the moisture will come up into your boxes and product. They also mark the booth dimensions with a heavy dusting of chalk which can be quite nasty when it gets on some of the product, like the chairs you can see in one of the pics.

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By the end of the show, all the feet of the public have really kicked up some nice dust. Since this is mostly used as a training and competition rodeo arena, the fragrance leaves a little (ok, maybe a lot) to be desired. Makes our nicely scented soaps stand out!

Showtime starts at 9 am and ends at 8 pm, so I'd better go get my beauty rest. I'll post more pictures as the show progresses.

Good night and be sure to say your prayers!