Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thanksgiving & Christmas 2011

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, my brothers, cousins and their families gather for our "Blair Family Thanksgiving Feast" in Southern California.  "Blair" is the maiden name of the 3 sisters to whom we are all related, the eldest was my mother ... Mary, Opal and Davine.

The night before, I drove to meet-up with my youngest brother Gary and his wife Mary at an RV park near Palm Springs.  They flew in from Missouri.  On a whim, Gary left a voice mail for another brother Ray and Kay who were flying down from Washington that afternoon.  Much to our great surprise, Ray and Kay showed up at the RV park early the next morning.  Unknown to any of us, they had stayed at a hotel less than a mile away ... how fortuitous!

Like me,  these brothers have the wandering bug.  So, we left early and took the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway to our Thanksgiving gathering in Temecula.  We stopped at several overlooks and a campground as we drove through parts of both the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains.

View from the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway ...
part of Hwy CA-74 in the foreground, then Palm Spring, the San Andres Fault
and Joshua Tree NP beyond the far ridge.

Mary and Gary ... very chilly

Ray & Kay ... cold and windy!
Don't fall Gary!

I do love being with my family of origin at Thanksgiving ... brothers and cousins.  We tease and laugh, eat good food and catch up with each other.  We just have a good time together.
Brother Glen and Kelly making gravy.
3rd Cousin John dishin' up the rolls that are
traditionally thrown at the Thanksgiving table ...
even though everyone knows it is going to happen,
we still all hoot and holler with laughter over it!
Almost ready!
From the right, brothers Kyle and Ray are ready to dig in!

Cousin John and wife Laura ...
if there are any shenanigans going on,
 you can bet that John is in the middle of it all!

Thank you Bob and Donna (2nd cousin) for hosting us in your beautiful home once again this year!

After celebrating in Southern California, I drove back home to spend Thanksgiving Day with more family at Rick and Laura's park-ranch in Yelm, WA.

Sister-in-law Laura checking the turkey's temp
Walking to the barn ... Joe, Rick, Jasper in the foreground
Echo, Luke and Lane in the distance

Jasper saying hi to Sunny, while Joe lets
Luke know that the fence may be "hot"!
Jasper playing rodeo rider on Sunny

Lane riding Sunny while Uncle Rick leads and
Aunt Laurie, Daddy Joe and Mommy Echo look on.

We had lots of yummy food at a beautiful location ... a wonderful visit ... so much to be thankful for!

For Christmas, John likes to dress up as Santa for the grandkids.  This year, he was invited to play Santa Claus for the Redmond Albertson's annual holiday open house.  I went as his side kick, Mrs. Claus.
Santa John at the Albertson's Open House
We kept with tradition and enjoyed Christmas morning at our house.  It's chaos, but I do love having all of the grandkids over.  We shared an egg/cheese/sausage breakfast casserole and then opened gifts.
After the morning excitement, Grandsons Lane and Luke are tired now.
Our little Christmas Tree
All in all, we had a wonderful holiday season!

originally posted 1/27/2012

Monday, October 31, 2011

At the Farm with Jasper

On Saturday, Grandson Jasper and I went to one of the local farms that host family activities before Halloween.  We had a great time running the hay maze, watching the trebuchet fling pumpkins (pumpkin chuckin'), feeding the pigs with broken pumpkin pieces, visiting the chickens, and riding horse and tractor drawn wagons.   After the farm, Grampa John and Jasper carved his pumpkin.

Oh my!  Is Jasper frighted by his scary Jack O' Lantern, or the beheaded Frankenstein behind?!?
Or, by the look of his shirt, maybe he's turning into a Zombie for Halloween!
A pumpkin field with horse-drawn wagon in background at Jubilee Farm.
Jasper posing with the horses at the pumpkin field.
Setting up the trebuchet (similar to a catapult) to fling the pumpkin.
The pumpkin explodes when it lands, breaking up into many pieces.
The kids run to gather them up to feed to the pigs.
Jasper in the hay maze.
Fun times!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Harvest Begins

Every year John plants a little pumpkin patch for the grandkids.  He scratches their names on the pumpkins when they are green; so, that when they are ripe their names are spelled out with the scars.  Grandkids Lane and Luke, brought their parents with them today and harvested their pumpkins.
Luke's pumpkin is loaded ... time to go!
Echo the mom loading Lane's pumpkin.
Grandsons Lane & Luke with their pumpkins.  When John scratched the names,
Luke's pumpkin was the smallest ... but, it ended up being the biggest!
Grampa hauling out the pumpkins, while Luke rides along
and Gretchen the dog supervises.
After giving the pumpkins a bath,
Joe the dad takes them out to the truck for their ride home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Carlson Farm

This time of year I always feel a bit like a farmer.  John's gardens and the fruit trees are being harvested, the sunflowers are in full bloom, and you can clearly see the pumpkins under the leaves.  We usually harvest more than we can use.  So, we share with neighbors, daughter Echo comes over to make/freeze apple pies with John, and we put some of the produce up for ourselves.  For the first time this year, I'm drying some of the fruits and veggies using a dehydrator.  Here are a few of of our recent pictures.
Sunflowers with purple centers/seeds
John in the pumpkin patch under one of the tall sunflowers
Grandson Jasper's pumpkin.  John scratches the kids' names
in the pumpkins when they are green.
Grandson Lane's pumpkin.  I'm glad we have pumpkins this year.
I was afraid our spring and early summer was too wet and cold.
Grandson Luke's pumpkin.  His was the smallest at the time
of carving, but is the biggest now.  These are giant pumpkins.
John with Hemi.  Our chickens are spoiled pets.
This is also the time of year the chickens start their molt (lose feathers).
Some of the hens are sorry sights!
Some of the girls.
John is like the Pied Piper of Chickens.

Corn, pumpkins and sunflowers in this garden.  John in the background coming out with
only a few eggs in the basket.  Hens don't lay well while molting.
Peeking up into the bosc pear tree.  Looks like a bumper crop this year.
Checking out the apples that just started drying in the new-to-me dehydrator. 
I'll be giving it a good workout.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

John and I have been busy lately with some extra activities ... garage sales, ebaying, family parties, grandkids, and taking the Chevy Apache truck to some car shows.
Our truck and a friend's '64 Malibu convertible at Snoqualmie Railroad Days
last weekend.  There were over 170 vehicles at the show.
John's last CT scan came out clean.  Good news.  No cancer spread.  Instead of a scan every 3 month, he'll have a scan every 6 months now.
John in front of a logging truck mural during Snoqualmie Railroad Days, 8/21/11.  He looks
just like an ol' logger.  Logging use to be a major industry in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Headstone

Elise died over 2 1/2 years ago.  Her ashes are buried at the Fall City Cemetery, and were marked with a Celtic plaque, little mementos and flowers since her passing.  I guess I needed time before I was able to get her a "regular" headstone.  Maybe it is the finality of it all.  But, when Cameron and Jasper were over last 4th of July, we designed it then.  Today John and I placed it at her grave site.  I still miss her dearly.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Parade Camping in the Rain

Yesterday it was sunny all day.  Today it's raining all day.
Before the parade, lined up and ready to go ... John in the background.

And today is the annual Fall City Days Parade.  Our theme: "We're Going Camping."
The Raggedy's camping in the rain.

So, with the rain, we put an umbrella up over the Raggedy's and didn't "light" the campfire.  Amaziningly, there was still quite a crowd (for Fall City).  We had fun.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Roads Less Traveled

Prior to retirement, my job took me all over the beautiful State of Washington.  Although most of my colleagues flew to their destinations, I preferred to drive (a sign of things to come).  But, I mostly stuck to the freeways and rarely ventured onto the back roads.  So, this year I'm exploring some of the "Blue Highways" that I had previously just zoomed by.
Our back roads route ... a slightly slower but much more beautiful journey ...
Yesterday, John and I headed toward Yakima, just for a drive.  On the freeways it's a straight shot -- I-90 east, then I-82 south.  But, instead of staying on I-90, we got off at Cle Elum and took SR-10 to Ellenburg, then SR-821 south through the Yakima River Canyon
View south from Heritage Marker on Yakima River Canyon Road (SR-821)
I thoroughly enjoyed it!  The hills were still mostly green, the river was running high, the sun was out, traffic was sparse, and I was with the man I love.  Along both back roads, the basalt rock outcroppings made interesting patterns on the canyon walls and hills.  At a heritage marker on the Yakima River Canyon Road, we learned that the basalt was formed by the largest lava flow in the world, covering parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

John, on the other hand, wasn't that much into meandering like me.  Although he enjoyed some of the sight seeing, he would have preferred freeway speeds, especially as we were homeward bound.   I think I tested his patience.  We'll see if he wants to do more shunpiking with me in the future.

For another day's drive, I want to head toward Yakima again; this time taking SR-410 through the north-eastern side Mount Rainier National Park.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What is it?

Today we had our first warm day of the year  So, I decided to work on the trailer.  When John was showing me where to find some parts in the garage, we spied a strange creature on a cabinet.
It's a moth!
At first we thought it was a dead leaf, but then realized it was a moth that just looked like a dead leaf.  After a bit of research, I found that it is a Blinded Sphnix, a male paonias excaecata.

A rare moth creature on an even rarer sunny day in the Pacific Northwest.