Monday, December 24, 2012

The Holidays in Yelm

Yelm, Washington is where John's parents and his sister and husband live on some beautiful acreage in the shadow of Mt. Rainier.  It's a beautiful, pastoral setting ... perfect for a holiday gathering on Sunday.  Here are some pics --

  John with Grandsons Luke and Lane 
  Our hosts, Joyce & Bill (John's Parents) in the background, 
 watching their great grand kids, Chole, Luke & Lane, opening presents
  (also Shene & Sean, helping daughter Chole open presents) 

with her Aunt Cheyanna ...
... while Mom Shene, Dad Sean, Uncle Billy,
Grandma Cindy, Great Grandma Joyce,
and Great Grandpa Bill look on 

  Our Grandsons, Lane & Luke, thanking Great Grandpa Bill for their gifts 
   while Great Grandma Joyce looks on 

  Grandson Luke playing with his new RC car as Grandson Lane looks on 
  Great Uncle Rick with newest family member Chole 

  Laura (John's sister) and husband Rick, also our hosts for the day 

  Posing for pics -- newphew Billy, daughter Echo, brother-in-law Rick, 
Rick's sister Theresa, Rick's brother Mike, and Rick's Mom Jean --
  all long-time family friends 

  A wide angle look at the goings-on` (learning to use this feature on my new smart phone) 
From left to right - husband John (foreground), John (I think, in background, Theresa's husband),
Douglas (Chole's grandfather), Cindy (Chole's grandmother), Sean (Chole's Dad),
Chole being held by Shene (our niece, Chole's Mom), Billy (our nephew),
Bill (John's Dad), Cheyanna (Billy's wife),
Luke (our grandson moving around), Lane (our grandson),
  Echo (our daughter and Lane & Luke's mom), Rick (our brother-in-law) 
  Daughter Echo with her Grandpa

We were glad to be able to be with everyone.  The food was good and the company was better.  Also, we can't forget to say how happy we are for the Seahawk's decisive win that put them into the playoffs ... Go Hawks!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Thanksgiving On The Road

John and I gave our new-to-us RV a real test for the Thanksgiving holiday. In the span of 12 days, we drove almost 3,000 miles round trip from our home in Washington State to Southern California. The RV ran like a champ, but is a real gas hog at an average 10 MPG.

Prep'ing for the trip ... 2001 Adventurer by Slumber Queen, 20' Class C
We were typically on the road by 11 AM and at a campground before dark. We spent our nights at a variety of places – a National Forest Service campground, 2 Oregon State Parks (Champoeg & Valley of the Rogue), a Riverside County Park, Seven Feathers Casino, and a private RV park.  We even got a chance to overnight with a traveling friend near where I grew up in Orange County (thanks VJ!). John preferred driving while I served as the navigator, and the cheapest-fuel-and-campground finder.

Traveling Dog Gretchen, sleeps except when on the
lookout for John and I when we leave her to watch the RV.
We need to work with her some more to help her with
separation anxiety.
Birdie traveled amazingly well ... she's
happy as long as she's with her flock.

My family (brothers and cousins) celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday on the Saturday before in Southern California. About 20 of us gathered at the home of my 2nd cousin Donna. This is the first holiday where my generation is the eldest after the passing of Aunt Opal in August. We remember those that came before by using their serving dishes and vases from past Thanksgivings. We continued their traditions of silliness and laughter – debating just the right amount of vanilla for the whipped cream salad, throwing the dinner rolls, and a newer tradition of initiating new attendees with large spoon fulls of whipped cream.
A Vase that my Mom would put out for special occasions. 
One of many ceramic pieces made by Great Aunt Minnie
 for her nieces and their families

Loading the table with food ... with the
famous whipped cream salad in the fore.

Initiation of 2 new attendees ... a large spoon full of
whipped cream salad each delivered by cousin John

On our way back north we had an early Christmas with 9yo Grandson Jasper in Klamath Falls. It was fun to watch him and 3yo Shay open their gifts, share some pizza, and catch up on hugs, pictures and hear about some of the fun stuff that they've been doing.
Cool pic of Jasper with one of the drivers from the monster
truck show in Klamath Falls.  It was fun to watch the
videos and see the pictures of the event.
(picture from Dad Cameron's facebook page)
We made it back to Yelm, WA where we celebrated Thanksgiving Day with John's family and had lots more yummy food. We were able to park the RV outside of John's parent's home, drive it over to his sister Laura's for dinner, and then overnight again at John's parents so that we could take a leisurely drive back home the next day.
A tradition to visit Fall City Farms for
pumpkins and gourds for
Thanksgiving Centerpieces
All in all I feel very blessed to spend so much time with family, very full of good food, and very happy to be traveling with John.

Fall City Farms

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Road Calls

John is ready to hit the road with me.  He's found someone to take care of the chicken flock, and we just got an RV big enough for us, our 40-pound benji-dog Gretchen, and our 5-ounce senegal parrot Birdie.

We got a 20' Class C motorhome today.  It's a 2001 Adventurer by Slumber Queen.

Our plan is to tow the Prius so that when we get to an area, we'll camp in the RV and explore in the car.

It'll be fun to fix it up to suit our needs.  I'm so ready to go!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Last of Our Greatest Generation

Aunt Opal passed on August 24th at the age of 86. For me, growing up, she was the primary symbol of our extended family's joy of being together. Uncle John and her always accepted us with open arms and kindness -- me and my 4 brothers.

My Aunt Opal (1926-2012), taken November 2009
Aunt Opal was middle born of the 3 Blair sisters. My Mom, Mary, the oldest by 2 years and their youngest sister Davine, born 16 years after Opal.

Even tho' each of the sisters took their husbands' last names, we still call our family get togethers the "Blair Family Gatherings."

Growing up, we'd get together at least twice a year for Thanksgiving and at a Summer Picnic. Laughter and silliness is what I remember most vividly about those gatherings. There'd be screaches as someone stuffed ice cubes down the back of shirts, or hoots as rolls were thrown clear down the long dinner table, or giggled "arguments" over how much vanilla should go into the whipped cream salad, or howls of laughter as men and women teamed up at the canasta table ... all of that fun and joy of being together rings in my head and heart right now.

Aunt Davine's husband, Uncle Fred, was the first to pass ('95), then my Mom ('96) and Dad ('06), Aunt Davine ('08), Uncle John ('11); and now Aunt Opal as the last of 3 sisters and their spouses of our greatest generation.

Now, it's up to us cousins to continue our Blair Family Gatherings. From these 3 sisters, the cousins, our kids, grandkids and spouses, our number is over 50 and counting.