Thursday, September 30, 2010


Alexis and Adam

It's official! Mike and I will be great-grandparents to Miss Ava Grace around Valentine's Day. Today her parents, Mike's oldest grandson Adam and his wife Alexis,
learned they were to be parents to a beautiful baby girl.
We are thrilled!
Congratulations Adam and Alexis!
We love you all!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I've been debating a new tattoo on my wrist. A simple physical reminder... 'Calm' or 'Peace' - because "Ignore the constant drama created by some extended family members as no one can control their stupidity or bad manners" is just too long!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why I Love the Fall Season...

I love cooler temperatures and rainy days. I love splashing in puddles, even if no one is looking!

I love lazy afternoons in warm sweatpants and socks, cozying up with my favorite 3 year old.

I love the colors in soft, warm quilt. I love how they take the chill from our soul and bring a smile to our heart.

I love the art work of Mother Nature. Her multi colored trees treat us to a color extravaganza before falling to the ground.

I love to rake leaves! I love the rustle and crunch. In no time at all, you get a pile big enough to jump and toss the leaves into the air.

I love the harvest. The corn cribs full and ready for winter. Brings back memories of my home state.

I love pumpkins... and gourds... and squash in warm, toasty colors.

I love the textures of fields, no longer blowing in a pattern in the wind but now layers of future food and warmth for the animals, stored in rolls and blocks.

I love the vineyards. I love the grapes. I love the colors. Ok so really I love the wine.

I love that the season brings us this magnificent fruit. I love the smell of a bushel of apples. I love the colors. So many treats in our future. Homebaked pies, apple struedel, apple crisp, caramel apples, apple cider.

I love the season that brings us temperatures calling us to stay inside and make homemade bread. The therapy of kneading. The soothing smell of yeast rising. What could be better than the smell of fresh baked bread? The first warm slice with fresh butter melting into the crevices.

I love the season that brings out our crock pots and stock pots and fills them with homemade soup. My comfort food.

I love football and getting to enjoy a Vandal football game with my Vandal students. I love the fact that my Vandal flag is proudly displayed on the front of our home - in the heart of Bronco territory.

I love this season. I HEART the PACK! There is no other NFL football team owned by the people. Starting their season with Training Camp, meeting the local children, riding their bikes in tandem to the practice field. They love their fans. The fans love their players. The Lambeau Leap! It started with Robert Brooks. Such a heart. I love the Pack (Did I say that already?!)

I love the Fall season.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Late in the afternoon I had a patient arrive from Grandview - a small farming community about an hour east of Boise. She’s a sweet, quiet Hispanic woman – early 40’s. We were talking about the Mobile coming to Grandview. She didn't want to wait until we returned to her home town as she’s very nervous because her doctor showed her something and she’s naturally concerned.

One of our requests is no lotion or deodorant as the aluminum can throw off the mammogram radiology. Our patient nervously giggled and proudly told me she remembered not to have lotion or underwear on… then she stopped, covered her mouth and said – oh no – I mean deodorant.

Gave us both quite a chuckle!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dad's Weekend

Dad's weekend at University of Idaho. I thought I might sneak in a weekend 'home alone' but was told by Krieg 1) Mom's come up for Dad's weekend to make sure Dad stays out of trouble and 2) it's just a day after Erin's birthday and I really should make the trip...

I did. It was great fun.

We left after work Friday night. Upon our arrival we headed downtown to The Alley and enjoyed a fun bluegrass band.

Previous visits we were entertained by 'Elaine' and the Cowboy. This visit we were not disappointed by the locals as 'LBD and cowboy boots' jumped, skipped, bobbed and shimmied her way around the dance floor. I tested out the durability of my booted foot and danced (read hobbled) on the floor with our daughter too. Figured I couldn't look any worse.

No trip to Moscow, on the weekend, is complete without a Saturday visit to Farmer's Market. The food selections and fresh coffee make me a happy camper - and there are always good deals on fresh fruits and veggies.

Of course we had to check out the Latah County Fair. Erin had a fellow gardening friend who entered pickled cucumbers - scratch that - A pickled cucumber. It wasn't too hard to find Bob's jar of pickle.
We opted for a later arrival and met up with Krieg as the tailgating was winding down before the game. We had supplemental beverages in our bags for the game.

The Vandal vs UNLV football game was in the Kibbie Dome. We started out with Krieg in the student section. It was loud and the energy vibrated. Everyone stood for the National Anthem and never sat down. I knew there was no way Mike would last standing for the duration of the game nor did I want to stand so we wandered around the end of the building to the other side of the field. We ended up sitting next to lacrosse parents/friends. The temperature was 15 degrees cooler, the noise level tolerable and we could SIT! Dang we are getting old!

The game was televised on ESPNU. Krieg and buddies were on TV several times as we got updates from Matthew, watching the game at home in Boise. Vandal beat UNLV soundly 30-7.

The game was in the evening and we'd skipped dinner so headed back downtown after the game to Mingles for a sandwich. By the time our food arrived we were ready for 'to go' boxes to escape the post-game crowds who'd finally caught up with us.

Two late nights - I saw hours of the morning I've only worked during grave yard shifts in recent years - and lots of running with Erin was great fun. Mike enjoyed his Vandal Dad's Weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed the quality time with my kids!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 18, 1989

In September of 1989, we survived Hurricane Hugo. We weren't in the much publicized Charleston area. My family and I endured the fury of Hugo on the island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. We were living on Naval Station Roosevelt Roads near Ceiba, in the southeast corner of the island. My husband Mike's job, with the Navy, sent us there in July. We moved lock, stock and barrel, so to speak.

At the time of the storm, the barge with our "barrels" had not yet arrived. We were waiting for our household goods, living in our Navy quarters with borrowed mattresses and cheap Navy-owned rattan furniture. As the week progressed, so did a tropical depression. It was only a matter of time before it became a hurricane.

Mike's job was to be second in command for the base and the rest of the Navy's interests throughout the Caribbean. We were accustomed to his long hours and weekends in the office already. However, nothing prepared us for the actual hurricane readiness AND aftermath.

When it became evident we were a target on Hugo's path, Mike showed us how to use a hand-held radio, kissed us good-bye and left in our only set of wheels. Being the parent-in-charge, I felt the need to put up a brave front for our children, ages newly 6, 3-1/2 and 1. After all, I was raised in the Midwest and saw countless summer thunderstorms and tornadoes. I kept telling myself this was just going to be a really big thunderstorm, right?

We lived on a cul-de-sac with six other houses, all inhabited by other senior Naval officers with important jobs. A couple wives had Red Cross volunteer duties and left to help man the shelter where they would be helping folks from town, tourists, boaters and other Navy families who needed a safe place to be.

While the winds picked up, I stepped outside to look at the water churning in the bay below the cliff where we lived. Naturally my camera at the ready to document and make it all seem more routine for the kids.

When I closed the door to come back to the house, we heard a large rumbling crash. The kids and I turned to see the patio cover, which once sheltered us from the blazing midday sun and most recently me, strewn on the cement patio. This was the moment I knew we weren't in Kansas anymore!

Fighting the need to panic, I walked across the street to one neighbor I knew was still home and shared my trouble. Together we picked up the splintered 2x4's and roofing materials and threw them down the cliff. We had to remove anything that might become a projectile during the storm. He helped me tape "x's" on our window panes to prevent them from shattering. We secured trash cans and double checked our storage area. Once our task was complete he returned home and I went back in to the kids. The skies were darkening and the winds were increasing. I was so grateful for the help. Doyle was a veteran tropical storm survivor and I found his presence calming.

The kids and I spread out sleeping bags in a safe corner of the dining room, away from the direct line of the storms and windows. We watched the base TV station until the power went out. With my trusty mini-mag flashlight for illumination we sang songs and I tried to recall their favorite stories. It wasn't long when we heard a knock on the door. It was Mimi, from across the street. She too, was sticking out the storm by herself and insisted the kids and I come join her in her well-furnished home. I loaded up kids, their blankets, a couple of toys, some snacks and diapers, and braved the now increasing winds to cross the street.

This radar actually shows the storm after it passed over the Island. It went right over the southeast corner of our paradise.

I was so thankful for the company. Our children were absolutely perfect - settling in to bed. We listened to her radio, heated water over Sterno for tea and waited. The noise was deafening. It was like a train screaming by the window for hours on end - eighteen hours to be exact. I was amazed the kids were able to sleep through any of it.

It wasn't at all delightful. We were shifting furniture away from the walls and soaking up the endless water pouring into the house through the seams of the windows. We wrung towels until our hands cramped and blistered. I prayed it would soon end but that wasn't to be. We watched out the window, expecting to see it clearing and instead noticed the palm trees were now blowing the other direction!

Quickly we were moving furniture to the other side of the house and once again struggling to keep up with the never ending supply of water. During one check out the window, I could see the rising storm surge. It was near the top of the cliff, almost 30 feet up.

As morning approached, our well-rested children were awake. I fed them pop tarts and juice boxes in-between the bucket brigade. I realized then how truly blessed we were with our children. Somehow, even at their tender, young age, they knew how serious the situation was and did exactly what I asked them to do... Gosh, if only history would repeat itself from then on.

Early afternoon we heard a knock at the door. It was Mike. He was out inspecting damage on the base. They would soon be giving everyone an "all clear". He helped me carry the kids back home before returning to the Operations Center. It was then that I realized what had transpired. The damage was incredible. The beautiful hibiscus hedges were stripped clean. Paralyzed palm trees and coconuts laid about like giant Tinker toys. The houses had a yellowish-green tint, stained from the foliage blown around.

Our beautiful paradise looked as if someone dropped a bomb in the middle. It brought tears to my eyes. Reality was cruel. The strength of the wind hit me when I saw our upright freezer laying on it's side in the driveway. It started out under the fallen patio coverin back of the house and traveled through the carport, some 25 feet. Even our new vehicle took a hit. The peat gravel, from the top of the building where Mike worked, scattered around in the wind and shattered the glass and pitted the paint. There was glass embedded in our son's car seat. I kept telling myself, "we are OK, thank the Lord!". I wanted to believe it. I didn't realize there was more to come.

Our glass-free windows. We weren't alone. There weren't many vehicles on base left with glass.

We slid the freezer back up the driveway into the carport and then stopped to get a grip on what happened.

Looking out from our cul-de-sac across the bay just before the official 'all clear'. .

Without our furniture, we were also without the necessities such as candles, flashlights and portable radio. We had five beach towels. Not nearly enough to start cleaning up the water awaiting me in our house. I opened our closet door and watched a river of shoes float down the hall. There was muddy water standing in most rooms. The screens in the laundry room had no chance of survival, thus flooding the kitchen. In anticipation of our furniture's arrival, we had recently purchased large area rugs to cover the Navy-issue floor tiles. Our new rugs were soaked and dirty. I wasn't sure where to start, but chose the kitchen. We had no running water, only bottled water and the water in the tubs which we filled before the storm. We had no electricity nor phones. I felt so isolated. Just me... and 3 small children. I slowly wiped up and pushed water out the door. As the neighborhood returned to life, someone brought over extra towels and a cooler. Another brought over a bucket and mop. Yet another dropped off an extra flashlight and radio. Navy families looking after one another. I was thrilled with their gestures of kindness. It would be hours before I would see my husband and I was feeling very anxious to get cleaned up before dark.

We spent our first night on a mattress on the floor. I wanted my children near me. Sometime during the night, Mike returned, but his sleep was interrupted in less than an hour, when Base Security came to tell him of an emergency. He was up and out again. This became a way of life for the next few months. But this night, people were being medivaced to the base hospital from St. Croix, which was hit hard. Again, I realized the potential of what could have been.

We had an option to leave the island temporarily until utilities were restored. We chose to stick it out as a family, taking advantage of any free time Mike might get to be together. Our progress continued throughout the coming weeks. We were part of a community pulled together, helping one another. Base personnel moved outside of the secured gates and continued to help the smaller, less fortunate communities surrounding the base. The Navy provided bladders of water and generators. Neighbors helped strangers. It was like a family pulling together.

One day when I was struggling to pull a large, wet carpet outdoors, two wives wandered over to assist. As tears of frustration streamed down my face, I found their helping hands and hugs both comforting and reassuring.

Another time I saw coconut rats running across the patio on the fallen palm trees. I called Mike on the radio, our only means to communicate. I couldn't permit the kids outside with rats running in the lawn. My anger with my inability to make everything right got the best of me and I told Mike to either come help or get me off the Island. It wasn't long before a van load of young men pulled up. Dressed in their work shorts and little else, these tan, muscular UDT Seal team members came to my rescue. With axes and chain saws they told me to 'sit down and relax', while they took care of everything. I was overcome by an incredible sense of relief (and the view wasn't bad either). They worked their way around our house, cutting and stacking the trees on the curb and later returning to haul them away. They even carried off the coconuts the kids and I had gathered into a pile.

Each day I continued to try the phone lines. When I finally heard a faint dial tone, I wasn't sure who to call. Both my parents were working and Mike's were retired but seldom home. I called my in-laws and was elated when I heard Mom's voice. She called my family to let them know we were okay. It would still be several days before I would speak with my own parents. A week later we received a care package from family - lanterns, flashlights, candles, matches, batteries (and two large electric oscillating fans - but it's the thought that counts). It was heaven sent!

We were treated to meals under tents at the main chow hall. The food in the chow hall freezers was thawing. Families, stranded tourists and civilians were permitted to eat for free. We didn't have much in the house that hadn't spoiled without electricity. Finding ice, to keep what little we had cool, was a challenge. We had to wait in long lines and quantities were limited. Before sunrise one morning I heard a light rap at the door. I hesitated to answer because of the house, but wondered if Mike had sent someone out with a message. Much to my surprise I found one of the senior SEAL team members holding a large bag of ice for our cooler. This became a regular event. I didn't even care what the neighbors would think about my pre-dawn visitor. I was able to buy milk and juice to keep in the cooler. There was always more ice than we could use in a day and it was a pleasure to share my new found wealth with friends.

We heard news of the turmoil Hugo left behind in Charleston. We were sympathetic but knew they would find comfort in their adjoining 47 states while we were dependent on what could be brought in by sea or air. How fortunate we were the runways were undamaged and barge traffic was starting up again.

The wives from Mike's work group stuck together One was to celebrate her birthday, without her husband, in primitive conditions. We put our heads together and created a unique birthday party. We had a recipe for no-bake cookies. Between the group, we were able to come up with enough ingredients, some fruit, sun tea and chocolate! It was a special uniting event for all of us!

Eventually (read. months) the Navy was able to fly in large semi-trailer sized generators which were capable of providing several hours of electricity and air conditioning to the housing areas. Water mains were repaired and running water was restored. It was all temporary and went out without warning, but it didn't matter. We survived the worst of it. Even our furniture arrived safe and sound - in November. Step by step our lives returned to normal. We truly had much to be thankful for Thanksgiving of 1989.

I've never forgot the way an isolated island of people joined together to survive. Now back in the states, with the Navy just a memory, kind acts and thoughtfulness remain a big part of my memory and something I want to pay forward. I will make sure of this!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Be Careful Repeating 800 Phonetic #'s...

We were looking for the information on Gold Forks Hot Springs when visiting the area. Mike found an advertisement and told Krieg the number was 1-866-Goldforks.

Krieg called - waiting to hear how late they were open - and instead looked up from his phone with his jaw dropped to his chest and a red tint rising to his ears. He said "sheez Mom - is this some kind of joke?". I thought he was pulling my chain as poking fun at Mom is a National Past-time in our family. He insisted the recorded message was NOT Gold Forks but something a tad more suggestive...

Ok, so I couldn't resist. You know what? He was right!

The number wasn't G-O-L-D-F-O-R(K-S)... it was G-L-D-F-R-K-S.

Oops! Guess who else was blushing.

(Ah-ha - go ahead... you know you are gonna...!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Half Way to Hood River

Labor Day weekend we traveled to Hood River, OR to meet up with very good friends who moved this summer from southern California to Everett, WA. In previous years we've been able to meet up once or twice for a Harley weekend. Mike is still 'off' the bike and if my backside had an opinion, I'm certain it would agree this was a much better deal! And best of all Hood River is exactly 4-1/2 hours between the middle of our two homes.

Saturday morning we ventured off for the Mt. Hood Fruit Loop. If you've never been and are within driving range, it's a great trip and only a 35 mile scenic drive on Hwy 35. Orchards, nuts, vineyards, bakeries, Country Stores, lavender farms and a couple of alpaca ranches. There are actually published maps showing the designated places that encourage visitors. I went through the list earlier to determine which were most appealing. Several of the orchards were out of season, a couple were 'you pick', and a couple required appointments.

We picked this one because I gave the guys a choice and it was first on the list - how practical - because that's how these two roll. The view was specatular with a glimpse of Mt. Adams in the background. The wine was good even at 11 o'clock in the morning. Wine tasting was $5/person or free if you made a purchase. Mike and I like our "I've been there" wine glasses so we had to buy our logo glasses in addition to a bottle of the local wine.

Our next stop was the Apple Valley Country Store, where they were celebrating Labor Day weekend with an outdoor BBQ and live music. I'm not a big pork eating person, much to Mike's chagrin. He shakes his head when I tell him it 'tastes too porky'. I knew I was going to have a pulled pork sandwich as soon as we walked towards the smoker and my mouth started watering. The meat was smoked with cherry (it was an orchard after all) wood. Our overflowing, large pulled pork sandwich came with a fresh pear cole slaw and a side of delicious apple cider baked beans. YUM. Mike was thrilled with the music as our left-handed guitar player knew many Willie Nelson songs from back then. Our little foursome conceeded the only thing that would have made it better would have been an ice cold beer.

Inside the store we were treated to a large variety of jams and jellies made from the fruit of the apple and pear orchards that surrounded us. My favorite was the raspberry habanero jelly! Fresh-baked, homemade pies were for sale and literally going like hot-cakes. There was a small counter with Tillamook ice cream for the well-behaved as well as a creative selection of crafts for sale.

My favorite stop of the day was the Cascade Alpaca Ranch or more precisely the Foothills Yard and Fiber store found ON the ranch. This is an amazing set up. The owners Tom & Connie, and their alpacas, were filmed for an American Express commercial and the ranch was visited by Jane Pauley in April. My personal ambition is to one day have some acreage and a few alpacas. Originally my kids knew it was going to be "Mama's Llamas" but research has drawn me to the alpacas breed instead. Besides they are just too dang cute - and a much nicer creature. If you are looking for a new watch dog get a llama - very protective.

 Our visit turned into a very informative alpaca update as well as a lesson from the owner as he shared his personal 'therapy' session - spinning the alpaca fur into threads and winding them on bobbins. The yarn feels as soft as silk. It's a haven for those of us who have a Touch Sensory Obsession!

My shopping mission was successful (and then some) and I'm excited to say I have a Christmas gift purchased.

The Ranch has 68 head of Alpaca and the combined group eat only 2 bales of hay a day. The owners offer small dixie cups of feed for the kids to purchase for a quarter, only one per family, as the animals are nibblers. There is a small petting area where the snack ready younger alpacas come to check out the little hands holding the treats. The adorable dog Charlie looks like a giant marshmallow and just follows folks around waiting for someone to notice.

We had a wonderful southern view of Washington's Mt. Adams across the Columbia River gorge when we stopped at Packer Orchard and Bakery. While I'm proud to be a Wisconsin Cheese head and have a birth right as a Green Bay Packer fan, the name of this stop was pure coincidence... it was... honest!

The Packer Bakery offered up delicious LARGE cookies - 5 for $5 or $1.25. My favorite combination was the dried cherry and white chocolate. The orchards surrounding this stop were pears and a large variety were for sale. They offered you a second ice cream temptation and fruit empanadas as well. We sat under the covered patio enjoying our treats.

It was only fair, if I got to go to a yarn store, the guys should get to have a testosterone moment. I found information for the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum located near the Fruit Loop in Hood River. This was a no brainer for our group - all four Navy veterans, Mike and Michael both aviation careers. I won't discuss the usage of GPS to find the address as the guys were leading the way and it might hurt their feelings. In their defense they did stop a young man for directions and he pointed out our turn was just up the road (right past the sign with the same directions...).

There was a $10 veterans admission fee to see the very well restored planes and cars as well as firetrucks, tractors, motorcycles and military vehicles. It's a guy place. Linda and I found a nice corner with tables and chairs (and a child's play area on miniatures) and visited while the guys checked it out. It was actually a surprising, (little) museum nestled next to a small airport with a great view of the area.

The view from the north side of the Museum was Mt. Hood. We were so blessed with good weather all weekend. We've driven back and forth along this stretch of the gorge so many times and never stopped. We've had pouring rains and bitter cold winds. This weekend were were blessed with clear skies, mild temperatures and sunshine!

As our day wound down, we ventured back into Hood River and stopped at the Full Sail Brewing Company, home of Henry Weinhardts beer. We missed the hourly afternoon tours and waited only ten minutes for a cozy little spot on the patio. Finally, we indulged in a few ice cold microbrews, to.die.for.Buffalo wings and delish artichoke dip while contemplating AND solving the problems of the world and watching the brave souls in the Columbia River parasailing!

Sunday morning we enjoyed our coffee and free-with-the-room breakfast at our hotel in The Dalles. We ended up staying at a comfy chain hotel that offered Michael & Linda the ability to bring their dog. It was only 20 miles from the Hood River area and worked out very well for our weekend plans. We found a delicious menu at Casa Del Mirador in The Dalles for dinner - TWICE! :-)

After checking out we followed the suggestion of the hotel staff and went to the west end of The Dalles to visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. Mike has a passion for all things Lewis and Clark as well as the Pacific Northwest Indians. He reads books based on their travels and shares stories about their encounters when we follow their route on our many trips throughout the Pacific Northwest. He was excited to see the Center we've driven by TWICE every trip between Boise and Portland.

The admission fee was reasonable - we were offered Mike's senior discount plus our veteran discount. The view along the river was beautiful and there is a nice scenic walk way on the grounds. Though we didn't see any raptors during our visit, they boast of their presence and offer Raptor talks.

I imagined the Discovery Center to be a great spot for school field trips when the class is studying Lewis and Clark, or Oregon State History. It has much to offer for all ages in addition to the Lewis and Clark details, including an ice-age mammoth and tales of the early missionaries of Wasco County.

We've actually seen mountain goats like this one on our drive along Hwy 84 - usually in the area of milepost 122. The Dalles covers 4-5 miles around milepost 79 and the exit to the Fruit Loop in Hood River was milepost 64.

One last look at the Columbia River. The sky was so clear and blue. The sun warmed our souls as we wound up our weekend spent with dear friends. One thing we learned - there are lots more places in the area to see - and so many other "half way" places we can meet to explore. We are already planning the next trip!