JANUARY thru JUNE 2005
And here continues the diary of life in our new town
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Go to 2004
for last year's entries
JULY thru DECEMBER 2005
FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2005
WOW! IT'S SNOWING! And how beautiful it is! Our very first snow. And it's simply magical. Greg woke me up this morning and said,"I think there's something you should see," and all I could say was "Wow, wow, wow"! Everything is coated in a powder of white. As the morning wore on, the snowflakes got bigger and bigger and the bows of the trees sagged lower and lower from the weight of the snow. And so we decided to change our plans for the day and take our walk early. We caught snowflakes on our tongues. The blanket of snow along the paths ahead of us were pristine except for plenty of animal tracks: deer, rabbit, and probably coyote. As soon as we got back to the house, we made a snowman! This is the first snowman I can ever remember making. I wonder what the snowfall looks like at ? I put in a call to our neighbors there to get a report. It's a good thing I made a big stop at the market yesterday, so we can enjoy being snowed in for the weekend. On one of our "provisions runs" we took the scenic route home along the old road that goes past the John Wayne Marina. I gotta laugh when I tell you we took the "scenic route"...it's all scenic! And there along the roadside was a flock of about 200 Canadian Geese in a farmer's field. Well, we just had to stop and get a picture. Wish you could hear all the quacking these guys were making.
It's been promising to snow for days. Since Christmas there has been frost on the ground. So much of it that it almost looked like it had snowed. In fact, the ground has been frozen and little puddles have a layer of ice. The other morning the plexiglass surrounding our deck was coated in frost.
On one of our recent forest walks we had another cougar sighting. This meeting wasn't quite so up-close-and-personal as our first, and it looked like a young cat. Lately we've been venturing further and further into the forest. We found this wonderful path that led us to another canopied section and another with two very large ponds. So since we've been walking longer, sometimes up to two hours out, we took a little lunch of peanut butter and toast sandwiches. We climbed up this big hill that had been clear cut years ago and sat on a big old stump to picnic. It was freezing because it was very windy: no problem, the view was wonderful. Along the way we found an animal track that we're pretty sure was made by a big mountain lion. Greg put his wedding ring beside it to give some scale. While we were walking on this hill I found another image for my growing collection of interesting fungi. This one, about the size of a walnut, looked like a brain and was a bright bright orange. It was so cold, it had a hard shell. And Greg found an old growth snag that must've been struck by lightening years ago. With his artist's eye, he took a close up of the pattern in the wood made by the fire.
Speaking of Christmas, all our new friends and neighbors made sure we weren't lonely. Our neighbors, Tim and Cindy, invited us to spend Christmas day with their family. When we first found in March when we came up to rent a place, their house was just in the framing stages and now they've been living in it for a few months already - I'm so jealous that they're all settled in. But before I know it, we'll be framing too. Tim's baby is a souped-up Jeep that he loves to drive around his property on an obstacle course he designed. This truck can practically climb walls. After dinner the "guys" went outside to try out the course. It looked like so much fun I asked if I could get in. Well, next thing I know I'm sitting in the driver's seat and sloshing around in the mud. Yep, that's me in there. I must've said "Oh God" a thousand times, all the while heading for the next bump, puddle, and hill.
Jan & Patty and their friends Jill & Jim invited us to New Years gatherings at their homes. Move over Julia Child...I made meatballs for one party and my cousin Joanie's famous spinach dip for the other. Jan & Patty left before the stroke of midnight to spend the last hours of 2004 with their son who works security at the Indian Casino, one of the big nighttime attractions here between Port Townsend and Sequim. They invited us to come along, but we politely begged off: crowds and noise and smoke are things we left L.A. to get away from.
For the first time in years Greg and I were able to catch all our favorite holiday movies on TV and some we hadn't seen before. I cried through It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. For the first time we saw The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young (who has a strong resemblance to Allison Janey (CJ on the West Wing)) and Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck. Oh, and I even found time to watch Harvey, another of my favorite Jimmy Stewart movies. In fact, I was lucky enough to meet Jimmy Stewart many years ago and told him how much I loved him in Harvey but especially in It's a Wonderful Life. He bent down and kissed my cheek and told me it was his favorite too! And for the first time I saw the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (although I taped it and fast forwarded through the whole event, pausing just long enough to see the balloons). As for the Rose Parade, I thought we had lost Stephanie Edwards and Bob Eubanks, but the Travel Channel brought in KTLA and so we got to view all the floats (and again I whizzed past the bands and commercials).
I'm looking out the window here and the snow is still falling. If I watch a tree for a few seconds, it almost comes alive. The branches become topheavy with clumps of snow that break free and falls to the ground. Greg said he could see little birds flitting back and forth deep inside the branches. In fact, we had a couple of little Dark Eyed Juncos on the deck this morning dining on a few thistle seeds I had left out for them. I don't know which is prettier: the evergreen trees that look like flocked Christmas trees or the deciduous trees that look so delicate and lacy with the snow defining their branches. Before the sun went down, we caught a last glimpse of our lonely snowman out the kitchen window.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2005
Everything looks better with a layer of snow! I've decided it's like a hat, it hides a multitude of sins. Although up here, what sins as far as landscaping we need to cover up, I don't know. It's just that the snow makes everything look so perfect. We still have snow on the ground. We got about a foot here at the rental house and yesterday we made a trip to to see what things looked like there. And it was wonderful. I just can't wait until we're up there and get to see the snow falling from inside our new home. Since is at about 1000 feet elevation, all the the trees still had lots of flocking and we could see a thick dusting of snow on the Olympics. Poking out of the snow you can see the stakes for the house. Now all the boulders and tree stumps are practically hidden underneath a coating of snow. Everywhere you look, the magic of snow.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2005
Our recent rain has washed away all the snow, so now we're back to the same old same old of incredible green. But we did have a chance to take one last walk in a winter wonderland. We drove down the road to one of our "old" hiking places to see what the snow looked like there and after a long trek uphill came to a pristine glistening plateau.
The days are beginning to get longer again...I can tell because we're not walking in the darkness on our returns home from our walks. As we walk home from the forest, we always gaze up the hillside to look up at the house. How things change. Last spring, the setting was lush and green. But returning home one evening after the snowfall, the view looked like this.
Walking through snow is like walking through sand, it makes for an especially vigorous workout. With snow on the ground Greg and I revisited the old farm house we discovered in the forest behind our house here. Here's what it looked like last summer. And this is what we found after the snowfall.
The other day as we drove down to Highway 101 from the house, above us a bird with a huge wingspan flew to a treetop ahead of us. A Bald Eagle. Just another perk when you live on the Peninsula. And yesterday while Greg was in downtown Port Townsend waiting for me while I ran an errand, four...count 'em four Bald Eagles lazily flew in the wind currents above him.
I now refer to this place we live in while we build our home as either the "Army barracks" or a "toy" house. I've given up on trying to keep a clean orderly house - it's just impossible. Especially when there's no entryway and when we come back from a walk, you step right into the living room - muddy boots and all. The guy who built this place was a boat builder. So from his point of view I'm sure he considered this place huge! But two people can't be in here without saying "excuse me" whenever you have to cross the room. Groundbreaking day can't come too soon.
Meanwhile, I'm keeping busy working on some projects for after move in. My latest is a recreation of a jeweled crystal chandelier that I found in a magazine. Between finding parts on Google and using my handy glue gun.... I'll post a picture when it's finished but you can go to for Wednesday, January 19 to get more of a description of the work in progress.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2005
Last weekend we went into Tacoma for a big flea market. Harumph...big! They don't know big until they've tried to do the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. But one thing they do have going for them is an indoor venue. That said, I think after all our years of collecting, and also with an eye toward keeping down expenses, our days haunting flea markets are dwindling. Generally, though prices were less than Los Angeles. And I did come away with a piece of wooden folk art stamped with "Made in Italy" on the bottom. Three guesses for the subject: of course, a man-in-the-moon. It's a lamp or nightlight. It probably dates from the 1950s; I'm sure the ball with spikes is some type of satellite. The space ship is missing it's tip...which could be reconstructed without damaging the original piece. But the thing the Moon is attached to is a mystery. It could be an asteroid. And, there are two holes in it that at one time held something, but what I have no idea. Maybe they were other planets. In which case those too can be added without damage to the original.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2005
In between working on the house, we save our sanity with long walks. While last summer we drove to go to our walks, mostly we stay close to home in the 3000 acre forest up the hill from our rental house. Most people who live here never see a cougar. We had that encounter with one last August, and now we got the chance to see another a couple of weeks ago. This one looked to be a young cat. And then week before last, Greg went to check on things at and decided to take a look at the third phase of our development. Right now they're finishing up clearing the last parcels for sale. Greg spoke to the surveyors for a while and then drove his Jeep further into the uncut brush to see what was up ahead. He soon found himself surrounded by deer carcasses. He got out of the truck to take a look and said there must have been four or five large deer with nothing left but bones: skulls, rib cages, backbones. And then it dawned on him, this must be where the cougars drag their prey. And he realized this probably wasn't the best place to be poking around. When he drove back past the surveyors, he told them to be on the lookout for cougar and they pointed out yet another clearing with deer bones. Last summer, two cougars were put down about a mile on either side of our development. It's so sad, but when people leave their animals out and these big cats figure out what easy prey they are, they get used to coming down to where the houses are and then...
Back at the rental house, we saw our first coyote last week. We were taking a walk down to the highway and saw the shy guy running for the underbrush. Another rare siting.
With 3000 acres to explore, you'd think we'd never go on the same trail twice, but you can only walk so far on one outing. We seem to start most of our walks after lunch and so we can't venture out too far; although it is getting darker a bit later these days. When we first arrived last Spring, the sun was up until 10 p.m. but by late Fall it would get dark as early as 4 or 4:30. On one of our recent walks, we decided to take a new path and it wasn't long before we'd got to the point of no return, meaning it was too late and getting too dark to turn back and take a more familiar route back home. We found ourselves picking our way down a mountain slope full of toppled trees and debris. And as the sun began to set, I started to get worried because I couldn't see where I was putting my feet and one thing neither of us needs right now is a twisted ankle. I don't usually long to finish up our hikes, but this time I was really exhausted, even more so because we were off the easy-to-walk fireroads and it took more work to fight our way along. Finally we were able to find our way to the highway, about a mile or so from our place. But by now it was good and dark and here we were walking along the highway with diesel trucks whooshing by. By the time we got home, we'd been gone three hours. And since I had gotten up at 4:30 a.m. that morning, I fell asleep in front of the TV before 9:30.
As far as the house project goes, we're at the point where we're really gearing up to start building and we've been going on shopping expeditions several times a week. For more on what's been going on there, visit .
And with all this new stuff we're collecting, we've had to rent a storage space. So we hired some young kids to help with the heavy stuff. While they were here, one of them spotted a raccoon in the tree by our deck and before you know it, he had the little guy eating cat kibble out of his hand. It's a good thing he was wearing gloves because cute as these guys look, they can be treacherous; their nails and those little hands can tear flesh apart.
We're having what they say is a very mild winter here. Seems like all over the world the weather is doing strange things. Yesterday on our walk we got caught in a small hail storm, our first. The hail stones were just big enough to hear them bouncing off the branches and leaves of the trees and see them bouncing on the dirt road before us.
And yesterday, Sunday, was another physically draining day. The owners of this mountain we live on are preparing other home sites for sale and were letting us gather Cedar branches to use at . It didn't help that it had been raining all day so we were caked in mud by the time we got home.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2005
We're hoping to get the plans into the city to begin the permit process and so a life other than working on the house has become waaay back burner. But, just had to post this cute picture from our deck. I've tried not to become a slave to feeding the birds and squirrels like I did back in L.A. but I just can't help myself setting out seeds then and again. The other day we had quite the party. We had Stellar's Jays, noisy and aggressive and bigger than Scrub Jays you see in L.A. These guys have more sounds and calls than I've ever heard from one bird. We had Dark Eyed Junco's, a sweet little bird that is a ground feeder. And lately we've gotten a couple of squirrels. These guys are much smaller than their L.A. cousins and move in quick little spurts. Anyway, it was fun to see all three species catching a free lunch out on the deck. Oops, and there goes Greg trying to get our latest party-goer to take a peanut out of his hand..... Oh well, I don't think this little guy knows what a peanut is, but the Jays sure do and the peanut was history as soon as Greg turned his back.
Last night we took some rare time off and saw a movie, Million Dollar Baby. What a film and as far as I'm concerned, Hillary Swank walks on water and deserves another statue! Other than that and Aviator and Finding Neverland we haven't seen most of the movies out this year, so I will be very much in the dark on Oscar night. My industry screenings are definitely one of the few things I miss about life in Los Angeles. But that's okay, I'll trade that for what we've got going here any day.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2005
It's Valentine's Day and this was my Valentine's present. What a way to start the day!
Meanwhile, we seem to have a "thing" going on with cougars. While up at on Friday we decided to do our daily walk in "the neighborhood" and started off by going back to the area where Greg saw the deer bones. The sun was on it's way down and the ground was soggy from the recent rains. As we walked down the road there at our feet were some huge, and I mean huge, cougar prints. These things, no kidding, were the size of my fist. Either these were cougar prints or Stephen King's Cujo was just up ahead. At any rate, we turned tail and decided to go in the opposite direction.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2005
It's unbelievable how fast the time is going. We sold our place in California a year ago this past February 3rd. And tonight marks the first Oscars for us here in Washington. This is definitely NOT an industry town. The minute a movie ends, people are up and out of their seats and rushing toward the aisles. Whereas in California people stay seated to watch the credits. And we've been so busy this year, we've hardly seen any movies at all (although we did see Million$Baby and I'm rooting for Hillary Swank who was just amazing...again).
Time is also speeding toward our start date for the house and I can tell that writing in this part of our website, the Journal, will be less and less frequent (and subsequently more and more detailed in the link). If we thought we were busy before....
Meanwhile, Los Angeles has been getting deluged with water and we're having one of the milder/dryer winters here. And because of that, Mother Nature thinks it's already spring. Daffodils and Crocus are blooming, and bird populations are getting louder. Months ago we stopped taking our binocs with us on our walks. Why take them when there were hardly any birds to see? But lately we've been seeing Hawks and occasional Bald Eagles when we drive into PT or Sequim, and now our deck has daily visitors of Stellar's Jays, Dark Eyed Juncos and House Sparrows, a friendly squirrel, and just the other day I spied a Varied Thrush which I hadn't seen before.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2005
Friend Judie came to babysit for a few days while Greg is out of town on a project including picking up some building supplies. We're getting closer and closer to starting to build and so other than walks and day-to-day, nothing much to tell you about.
But.....Judie and I went to the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim this past Monday afternoon and had a great time.
The Olympic Game Farm was once owned by Disney and is where the Disney "animal actors" were housed. There are still remnants of Disney days there - dilapidated large-scale props. Today, the Farm is clearly running on a shoestring. But they do rescue wild animals and they all seem to be healthy.
The concept is like Lion Country Safari; you stay in your car and drive amongst the animals as well as drive by cages. For a nominal fee, you can purchase two loaves of bread for feeding.
We started off past a large enclosure with what appeared to be a Brown and two Kodiak Bears. The fencing surrounding their enclosure isn't very high but they didn't attempt to escape. But, these are huge animals. Their feet are about the size of my face. And their claws are long and sharp. We realized later that this particular pen wasn't necessarily on the tour as we began to follow the driving path. There are bunnies running rampant everywhere. And seagulls. They know when they've found a good thing and so they haunt your every move. They hover over your car and flank all sides. The first exhibit we came to was Prairie Dog Hill. This mound of earth is dotted with burrows and at any given time many Dogs are standing vigil and popping their heads out to see what the ever-present gulls are up to. We tried to fling some bread at them, but the gulls swooped in too fast.
Further along the path we came to a small herd of what appeared to be very long-haired cows...otherwise known as Yaks. These gentle animals are used to getting fed and walked up alongside the car and carefully took the bread from our hands. Judie fed one on her side, and me on mine. One of my Yaks poked her head completely in the car window and drooled all over. Cute!
Next we came to the larger bear pens. I felt like I was on a Disney ride - Bear Mountain. You never get used to the immensity of these animals. There were Kodiak, Brown, Black, and Grizzly Bears. Some sat up at the edge of their pens and waved to us. That was good for a few pieces of bread. And that was good for a few more waves. One big guy was rolling around in a small pond and we watched as he sat holding on to his toes enjoying the cool water.
Next, there is an entire section of cages with pens and we happened to hit the time just right as lunch had just been served. Almost every animal was quietly gnawing on huge chunks of carcass.
The real highlight here were the big cats. There was a lion and lioness, mountain lions, bobcat, Bengal tigers, and a black leopard - most were dining as we parked in front of their cage. To be 10-15 feet from a feeding cat is something. Of course, I have no pictures to tell my story - Greg has the camera. But I'm sure Greg and I will return and take some. I just want to make sure we come at feeding time (around 2 p.m.), otherwise most of the animals sleep the day away. At one point a cougar (aka mountain lion) stopped her meal and stared at us for the longest time. I'm glad there was a barrier between her and the car...she probably thought we were eying her lunch.
There were several Timber Wolves and a couple of Coyotes. For the most part, these guys were taking a Siesta.
I know there are those who feel badly for these magnificent creatures living out their lives in a pen and cage but from my understanding, these were animals that could not go into the wild and if not for the Game Farm, would not be rescued at all. At least they have a quiet life and no food worries.
After the pens and cages, the path led us out into a huge field. There were Elk, Bison, Llamas, and a type of Deer. Elk are tall animals - about the size of a large horse. I had plenty of interaction with them on our honeymoon. We spent most of our time amidst the Deer. These guys ran to our cars and asked for bread. Some had huge antlers, and there were lots of young ones. Unfortunately, the bigger older deer never let us feed the little ones.
The Bison were another tale altogether. This is Indian country and a few hundred years ago, the plains were filled with millions and millions of these creatures. Now they're in small herds. These guys are H-U-G-E! You have no idea. I have a Honda Accord and they were easily as tall and almost as long. We were warned not to feed them and to keep our car moving. But when we were stopped to feed the deer, the Bison moseyed over. I had my head turned feeding a deer on my side of the car while Judie was working out her window. She must've bent down for a second to dig into the bread bag and then I hear a shriek. A Bison had poked his entire massive head into the car! It was almost too big to get into my window but he managed. Under strict orders from Judie, I immediately began to roll the car forward....and the Bison walked right along with it - head still in car! Finally he got the idea and let us get away. I could see his eyes follow us as we left.
APRIL 9, 2005
I can see from the date of my last Journal entry that things have begun to slow down as the building phase is ramping up.
Today was a momentous day. In less than a year since we've moved here, we have broken ground at !!! And all the details are to be found at the link.
It was a beautiful day. As we came up the road from Highway 101, we were greeted by a family of deer foraging for breakfast on a grass-covered hill. And, as they say here, "the mountain was out"; meaning we had an exceptionally clear view of Klahane Ridge, a portion of the Olympic Mountains visible from our place.
Once we turn off Highway 101 and begin the ascent up the main road to , we come to a large pasture that's home to a few cows and horses; and occasional Canadian Geese who stop by for a swim at a large pond on the property. One day we noticed a small animal hangin' out with the horses. When we took a closer look we realized it was a little deer who evidently thinks she's part horse and has taken up residence there. Now, every time we drive up the road, we slow down to get a glimpse of the little girl (at least we think it's a girl).
Meanwhile, Spring is really here and although we moved up in the midst of Spring last year, this time we've gotten to see it from the get-go. One of the trademark native plants here are Rhododendrons. Rhodys are a big deal in Washington - there's even a Rhody Festival. And we have a beautiful big bush at the top of the driveway at the rental place. They're just like azaleas - only bigger. The blooms are the size of a large grapefruit. And what color!
APRIL 10, 2005
Yesterday may have been the "official" groundbreaking day at , but today our friends surprised us with a little "Groundbreaking Party"! Jan & Patty, our real estate agents, and their friends, Jim & Jill (who are also California transplants), came down the road honking their horns and flashing their lights. Our new friends just love an excuse to celebrate. With them they brought champagne and orange juice and cookies and muffins; and a sunshine balloon to which Patty exclaimed, "May you always have sunshine on your property." When I lamented about the lack of "winter" this year, Patty quickly responded that at least during the building stage she was wishing us sunny days. So now the building site has an official mascot to watch over us.
Our little party arrived on the heels of our electrician who came to install the temporary power pole to the jobsite. So we made a little ceremony out of driving down the grounding rod. That's Jan wielding the sledge hammer.
What was that little ditty we were taught as kids?...."Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold." We've made a lot of new friends in Washington. And very shortly two old friends will be taking up residence here as well. My "oldest" friend, Judie and another Uni Hi classmate, Sue, are moving up in June. Yes, they too have soured on the golden state and liked what they saw when they came to visit us last year.
Okay, let me go on record here to say that entries will be sparse now that we've begun to build. But the entries for will be chock full of progress reports.
ADDENDUM: How I forgot to mention this, I don't know but....Greg and I were driving home this evening around 11 p.m. on Highway 101 about 6 or 7 miles from the rental house, when I see two lights in the sky. Greg saw them too, and we pulled off the road to watch for a moment (so I have it on record that it wasn't just me who saw them.) They were racing around in irregular circles, faster than any plane or helicopter could travel. It almost looked like the kind of light a searchlight would produce, but there was no light source coming from below. Greg said the pattern made by the lights reminded him of how kids would play around with flashlights, but again, the wattage of these lights were not from any flashlight we've ever seen. Greg figures these lights were about 1000 feet up and each one could have been about the size of a football field. We watched them as we traveled the highway until we got home, and once we drove up to the house, we saw one last glimpse of them and then they were gone! A UFO is anything you can't identify and so I guess this qualifies. So far we haven't read anything in the paper, nor heard anything about it. Now, I'm not "out there" when it comes to these kind of things...I mean, I wish there were extraterrestrials but I've never seen one confirmed. But, I also saw a UFO in 1966 in Brentwood, California. I won't go into detail here because it would seem really crazy to read it, as opposed to hearing about it "from the horse's mouth" so to speak. So, I will just say, if you're really interested in knowing the story, give me a call.
APRIL 18, 2005
What are the odds? After a very long and busy day at "the job site", Greg and I still had errands to run. And along the way, Greg wanted to drive me by the Dungeness Recreation Area where I'll be going on a field trip about identifying native plants. On top of that, I was getting a lesson driving the Jeep with the trailer because tomorrow I'll be driving it home while Greg follows in a rental truck for some hauling we have to do the next day. Anyway, it's about 7 p.m. and since we're so far north, the sun is right in your eyes at this time of day. I can barely see what for the sun and the glaring light bouncing off the dirty windshield when Greg warns me, "Can you see that guy with the baby carriage?" Barely, but yes. We're having trouble finding this place and so Greg suggests we ask this guy for directions. Sidebar: ain't Greg fantastic...he suggested asking for directions!! So we drive up along side him and ask and he says, " Well, that's my field trip!" Only in "small town" Sequim!
APRIL 24, 2005
Not too much to tell you about in this Journal since all our time is being spent working at .
The other day I was sitting at the computer and looked out at the view to rest my eyes when I caught a huge bird winging across the sky. The white head and tail gave it away - a Bald Eagle. At this time of year they are plentiful but still an incredible sight to see. I learned that when a bird of prey picks up something in its talons, the muscles automatically clamp down and can't be opened again until the bird has a chance to relax.
We're fully into Spring now and the days are getting longer. It's around 8 p.m. and still light outside. By mid summer it will be 10 or 10:30 before the sun sets.
I know I said I wasn't going to set up birdfeeders here at the rental place, but....I lied! Can't help myself - just love to see all those little birdies at the feeders. But unfortunately it creates a problem. The railing to our deck is made of plexi so as not to disrupt the view. And several times the birds have flown into it. I'm sad to say there have been a couple of fatalities and it just breaks my heart. So Greg has put up a net to help the birds navigate. The other day, before the net was installed, we found a little Goldfinch that was okay but a little dazed. So much so, he let me hold him and he sat on my finger until he was able to fly away. Later on these birds will get their distinctive bright yellow and black feathers but for now they still look mousy.
Meanwhile, on our way back to the other day, we were able to get a better picture of our little "horsedeer", which we have now named Bambi, and her friends. In fact, got a cute picture of just the horses too.
As busy as it's getting over there, there's a little time to stop and smell the wildflowers. Don't know what these are but they're beautiful and I discovered them alongside the new driveway. I might've been able to identify them if I had made it to that Native Plant Fieldtrip but, alas, there was too much to do at the jobsite to take the time off to attend.
And we've had a few moments to joke around. Greg had me hop in Les's dozer - here's where the acting skills come in...I have NO idea how to work one of these things. I'm better at watching everyone else work their tails off, including Java, Les's pooch.
And, nature lover than I am, our contractor Mike called me over to visit with a little garter snake he found walking through what some day will be the diningroom.
Oh, and the drainage pond across the street has attracted a duck or two while it's still holding water before the Spring weather dries it out. You can see him just in front of a boulder on the left. I'm fairly sure it's a Mallard. It's a busy little pond it seems...the other night we were there after dark and a cacophony of frogs were croaking up a storm.
MAY 2, 2005
It's becoming really difficult to find the time to keep up with this Journal now because it's hit the ground running all the time. Got up at 5 a.m. this morning just so I could get in a bit of "paperwork" before we're off to the jobsite. But a quick update:
We have begun to actually build this house, and the footings (an important and basic part of the foundation) have been installed. To mark the occasion, on the suggestion of our friends Patty & Jan, we carved our initials into the cement where the headboard of the bed in the master bedroom will eventually be.
WhooHoo! The Swing is IN. Took my maiden voyage yesterday. And some friends dropped by and took a ride too. The swing had to be installed at this early stage because it goes to the back of the property and if we didn't do it now, it would be nye on impossible to get 1000 pounds of steel back there behind the house.
Meanwhile, lest you think I'm clinging to my "city girl" ways, take a gander at this. Yes, that's me working the jackhammer. I'd love to prove this wasn't trick photography - Greg took a little movie of me and I was hoping of posting it here but time and circumstance prevent me right now (unhuh, riiiight!). No really!
Greg is just awesome - I don't think there's anything he can't do. I'm learning a lot from him.
Went to take another look at those beautiful wildflowers I discovered and to my amazement, they went from white to purple!
It's just another incredible day here with bald eagles flying overhead - it's that time of year. We took a few minutes to walk across the street to see what was going on in the retention pond. There were thousands of little tadpoles beginning to sprout legs. Now I know what all those frogs were croaking about a few weeks ago! And we keep hearing a grouse who lives in the nearby trees. He's a talkative fellow - all day long we hear him calling which sounds like someone blowing into a jug.
MAY 7, 2005
It's Saturday and since no trades will be at the jobsite this weekend, we're staying home to catch up on a million loose ends.
Earlier this week we got caught in a downpour while working in 4' deep ditches. I am just pitifully filthy and wet. And poor Greg is standing in a pool of what amounts to quicksand. But the show must go on.
On a more concerned note, now that we are watching for our little horse deer, we haven't been able to spot her for a week and we're worried. The rumor is she is an African Deer that was someone's pet who passed away and was given to the people who have the horses and cows. I'm going to try and keep happy thoughts that she's just gone off somewhere and will return...
Now that we're at practically every day, I'm getting a chance to see the passing parade of wildlife there. The other day while I was walking around the periphery of the site, a beautiful lime green tree frog hopped past me. I tried to catch him but no luck. Same thing with a meandering toad - the biggest I've seen - about the size of the palm of my hand. But I've seen several little ones too.
Earlier in the week Greg and I had a chance to wade into that drainage pond across the street. I managed to pick up one of the myriad of tadpoles - just a tiny thing who hasn't grown any legs yet. And we also found several salamanders. Of course I picked one up...his underbelly was a beautiful bright orange.
The other day we watched as a crow was divebombing a hawk (called mobbing) who evidently has found the hunting good in these here parts. While Greg and I sat in his Jeep (excuse meeee - Greg just corrected me 'cause I was calling it a car!) having our tuna sandwiches (I now make pretty good ones thanks to my L.A. friend and major domo Marleni - thanks!), the crow chased that hawk right through what will be our livingroom.
And yesterday, I had a few minutes while Greg was working on something I couldn't help with and so I took a walk through the neighboring lots. Just as I turned to begin, I spied two deer calmly having a late afternoon snack on the fresh Spring grass. I stood very very still for about five minutes and although they saw me, since I wasn't moving, they just kept a wary eye on me but kept on grazing. Also along the way were Kildeer, a bird with very tall legs, and many brilliant yellow Goldfinches - the state bird.
Meanwhile, it must be butterfly season. There were several today fanning their wings leading me to believe they were newly hatched. One was yellow and black but also had some blue and red at the bottom of his wings.
MAY 10, 2005
Timing is everything. Just happened to look up at just the right second to see a coyote near the pond across the street. Then Greg found one of those lime green tree frogs. This time I caught him and said hello and welcome to and then let him go on his merry way. And our contractor, Mike, found this gorgeous huge moth and had me come running. Other than that, spent most of the day carrying rocks - my new obsession. With all the excavating we're doing, we're digging up lots of 'em and I'm collecting them to use for landscaping. We are tired tired tired.
And, the County (Clallam) has installed two web cams. One is a view of Hurricane Ridge which is our backyard. The other is of Port Angeles Harbor.
MAY 11, 2005
Good news! Our little HorseDeer is back. I feel so much better now - I was thinking all kinds of horrible thoughts but she must've just gone on a little adventure.
I'm surprising the heck outta myself daily. Not only am I using jackhammers and power equipment, and lifting and even pitching small boulders (probably 30 - 40 lbs), today Les had me drive his excavator a bit so he could check out some mechanical glitch. It was all over too quickly or I would've gotten a picture.
MAY 12, 2005
I think we've started something....my friends Judie and Sue are moving to the Peninsula. They arrived today and have a very limited amount of time to find a home to rent. Along with them came Sue's son (who'll be working with Greg on our house) and girlfriend, who are also relocating. So there were two homes to rent.
I rarely say stuff like this, but I'm beginning to think Washington, and particularly the Peninsula, is magical. Everything just fell into place for us...and the same is happening to my friends. Judie and Sue found a fantastic house right off the bat. And it should be just perfect for them to launch a catering business. Especially since our friends Jan and Patty, who found us our property, also just happened to have this house for rent in their neighborhood. And it just so happens Patty is president of her garden club and it looks like she can help launch their business. And the fact that Sue's son Matt will work with Greg on the house...well, it's all just falling into place. And before I know it, they will be here with their moving trucks.
MAY 17, 2005
Well, those carpenter ants are all over the place. It's Spring and everything is alive. Hence, bugs everywhere. We've found a few scouts in the house here, and now I'm swatting at "imaginary" bugs while I'm laying in bed trying to fall asleep.
Meanwhile, the deck is crammed with birds (and a squirrel or two) waiting for me to put out more seed (and hummingbird nectar). We've got the usual crowd: goldfinches, sparrows, house finches, dark eyed juncos, and Stellar's jays. But we've also attracted a few ring tailed pigeons and morning doves. I can do without the pigeons but I'm not usually home during the day to shoo them off. But we do have an exciting newcomer: a male and female Black Headed Grosbeak. You just never know who might drop by for dinner. In fact, just the other day I found this huge spider on the deck - you would've found me on the ceiling if it had been inside! I haven't had a chance to find out exactly what kind he was, but suffice it to say I don't need any up close and personal time with this guy.
MAY 18, 2005
I had to take a day and stay home to make phone calls and whatnot. That gave me a chance to look out the window. I've been at the computer and the phones for about 12 hours - nothing new. But I did get a chance to watch the birds and to my delight I've found more visitors. In addition to the Black Headed Grosbeaks, we now have two pairs of Evening Grosbeaks (male and female) , a Pine Siskin, and a young Red Winged Blackbird.
And, it being Spring and all, my bearded irises that traveled with me from California are giving me a little show and got a Red Breasted Robin hunting nearby (far right in picture). I wasn't expecting any of them to bloom this first year. I had to plant them here at the rental house, otherwise, they would have all dried up. Can not wait until I'm planting them at !!!
But tomorrow I'll be back at the job. Our contractor, Mike, comes complete with picnic table. Even has a microwave set up in his truck! Greg caught me takin' a break. I'm wearing my fashionable "on the job couture uniform" complete with E!/David Letterman baseball cap. Get used to it - it's my new look.
Had to laugh. We've been overseeing the foundation work. One phase of it has this huge piece of machinery spit out various layers of gravel and sand as an underlayment for the poured concrete to follow. Jesse, the guy who runs the equipment was so good with his aim - hardly any sand made its way beyond the foundation - that I asked him if anyone ever told him he must be a champ at writing in the snow! It took him a minute to get my drift. After all this was finished, the foundation looked like the world's biggest litter box...errr....sandbox. It looked so inviting, Greg and I just had to jump in and.....play!
MAY 24, 2005
While Greg has been working on the foundation with our contractor, I've been doing some....how does Ula in The Producers say it...."tidying ooop". Turns out our lot is what's called a logger's landing - it's at the end of the line and where the loggers processed the logs for milling. That means we've got lots of wood debris on the lot and so I've been working with Les our excavator to remove it. It's not even an option to haul this stuff away and so we're doing what every one else does - burn it. Between hurling 40 pound rocks into piles and now pitching wood into the burn pile, I'm developing quite a pitching arm. This shot captures the log in mid air.
MAY 27, 2005
Today is Greg's birthday! While he was at the jobsite working, I stayed home and tried to clean this place. It's impossible! I have never in my life seen a dust magnet like the interior of this house. Talk about dust bunnies - fergedaboutit.
Anyway, it just so happened that our contractor, Mike, and his wife wanted to take us to see this custom house built by a friend (and fellow construction worker) of theirs nearby in a little town called Chimacum. For the first time in almost two months, I not only had the time but took the time to get gussied up. I've almost forgotten how to apply my makeup and fix my hair!
After a delicious (and totally cholesterol busting) dinner, we drove to their friend's Tara & Blake's home. What a treat that was. Blake is an artist and his touches are everywhere in their home. It's very rustic with an expansive view of the ocean including Whidbey Island all the way to Port Townsend. When you walk in the front door you're greeted with an immense old growth Douglas Fir tree trunk that supports a staircase to the second floor. The staircase, the balusters, and for that matter all of the window sills are made of rough hewn Maple which he cut from his own property. At 9:30 it was still light enough for us to sit out on their newly created cement deck overlooking the ocean. Heaven.
Before they go away for this season...and reappear when I transplant them to , one last display from my Bearded Iris.
MAY 31, 2005
Yesterday was an exhausting but exciting day...we bought our kitchen cabinets at Ikea to take advantage of a "no sales tax" promotion on this Memorial Day weekend. More about all of that at .
Meanwhile, Greg's nephew Jeff and his girlfriend Courtney came for the weekend to check out Washington, as they too are considering moving out of California. And of course we brought them up to to see our little monster. A few weeks ago we were able to erect our famous swing that we brought all the way to Washington from the garage roof at Kelton. Here's a little movie of Jeff and Courtney takin' a ride (warning: do not attempt if you don't have DSL!).
The other day Greg and I noticed several Violet & Green Swallows buzzing around the house and figured out they were looking to make a nest. We thought we lucked out because they began to build one just inside the overhang of our view deck. But it looks like they decided it wasn't the best place after all and construction has come to a standstill.
Thought you'd enjoy seeing these two little movies Greg took of me using the jackhammer a couple of weeks ago. We tried to make them "user friendly" for those without DSL but alas no luck. So, again, "don't attempt this at home" unless you have a fast computer. Anyway, we were working on a project to install ground rods which we explain in greater detail at . Here's Part A and Part B.
JUNE 5, 2005
The mountain comes to Mohammed.
My friends from California, Judie and Sue, have come to roost. We're all Uni Girls....we all graduated University High School in 1968 and met at Emerson Junior High School in 1965. They too have decided to pack it in and move to Washington. They've got a lot of work ahead of them to make their new house a home and get started on employment, but they're here. Wonder who else will decide to move here?
It's funny. Come Winter when nature shuts down, it's rare to see a deer or any other wildlife. The forest is quiet - no birds chirping up a storm. But now that Spring has sprung and we're flying into Summer, everybody's busy.
Sitting at the computer, I'm now seeing so many birds at the feeder, even our jaded Bud is paying attention. There must be a dozen Goldfinches, two pairs of Grosbeaks, Cowbirds, Mourning Doves, Stellar's Jays, Juncos, and Roufous Hummingbirds, all getting along. And, when I look over the Bay in front of me there are flocks of Canadian Geese and just the other day two Bald Eagles passed by. We've had a few little squirrels join the flock, but lately I've noticed a pair of little chipmunks too. The squirrels and chipmunks are no bigger than a finch and they are so animated. They're hysterical with their herky jerky movements as they scurry across the deck.
On our way to we got a glimpse of the Roosevelt Elk Herd in Sequim. Sequim's famous for their Elk. And to make sure motorists are extra cautious, they've put radio collars on some in the herd and when they're near the roadside, a flashing yellow warning light goes off. And there's almost always some hawk making lazy circles, or even a turkey vulture.
The day the foundation slab was poured, a pair of deer were walking by. And I was able to catch two big toads who were hiding under some rocks near the perimeter of the foundation.
Since there's so much nature activity going on, while Greg is packing up the jobsite, I usually walk down our road to see what wildflowers are in bloom. There are grasses, and daisies, and dandelions. Buttercups and any number of flowering wildflowers including Fox Gloves, otherwise known as Digitalis - yes, that Digitalis. And in a week or so, the Thistle will begin to bloom and then the Goldfinches will go crazy as this is their favorite food. We're beginning to see the Cedar Waxwing again too. And a few months ago I noticed a few Killdeer. Well, Mrs. Killdeer evidently has a nest - they put their nests on the ground - and I must have gotten a bit too close for comfort because she began to put out a distress call. Then she scurries away from the nest (which is so well hidden I have yet to figure out where it is) and begins to act like she has a broken wing, flopping around on the ground in an effort to distract me from her babies. I'm just surrounded by wildlife. I get such a kick out of it!
JUNE 12, 2005
I finally got a glimpse of Mrs. Killdeer's nest....four little speckled eggs all neatly packed in a shallow depression in the dirt. I was able to grab a shot of her sitting on it, but never got a chance to photo the eggs. Then, the next day when I went back with Greg to show him the nest, the Mrs. and what seemed to be a baby bird were running about. Then the next day, no eggs at all in the nest. I have a feeling that a raccoon or something got the eggs. I'm learning that baby bird mortality rates are very very high.
Back at the rental house we have a very large bunny rabbit who likes hanging out around the front door area. And coming home at dusk the other night, a coyote ran across the road in front of us and high tailed it into the thick trees and shrubs. Ah, wilderness!
JUNE 30, 2005
There just aren't enough hours in the day: building our dream house is all consuming. But we're able to fit in a few moments here and there of something other than house house house; even if it's working on the house that leads us there. Unfortunately, I wasn't there for this one. Greg was in a nearby town called Kingston to order lumber for the framing. When he came out of the showroom, there before him was an exquisite lifelike statue of a Great Blue Heron. It intrigued him so that he decided to take a picture. That's when the statue began to move! Turns out this big guy (about three feet tall) was a juvenile Heron who had either lost his way on a first flight out of the nest...or...he was eying the gold fish in a nearby fountain.
On Father's Day the birdseed store, Wildbirds Unlimited, hosted a visit from the local raptor rehab organization. Raptor is another word for "bird of prey", and it was a chance for us to see some of these magnificent birds up close. All of them had been injured in some way (hit by a car, broken wing) and although they had survived, would never be able to return to the wild. Even though they were perched on their caretaker's arms, they explained they were still wild animals and petting them was not on the agenda. They brought a Barn owl, a Barred owl (named for the bar-type pattern on his feathers), and a Swainson's hawk. While I was talking to the director of the rehab, I started to tell her I had never seen an Osprey, an eagle-like bird that lives near or on the water. And as if on cue, she stops me in mid sentence to point up above us to an Osprey flying overhead.
Believe it or not, some of the "big city" events come to the Peninsula. Case in point: the magnificent Lipizzaner stallions. These animals are closely associated with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and were saved from extinction during World War II by General Patton. The breed dates back to the 1100s and was developed for warfare. No other breed in the world in suited to these "airs above the ground" maneuvers which were used in battle. What these stallions do is remarkable. In the Levade, the horse rears up and stands on his hind legs. Also amazing is the Courbette. Here the horse pushes off of the ground while maintaining his upright position. But the show stopper is the Capriole. Breathtaking to see, and over in a flash, the horse jumps straight up into the air and then kicks out his back legs while airborne. One particular horse was the "star of the show". The ringmaster made a point of telling us about this guy's habit of always having his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. But, funny thing, he made no mention of other "out there" anatomical parts!
We now have two new employees at . Matt & Justin. Matt is one of my high school classmate's sons who moved out here this month. He'll be working alongside Greg. Justin is our contractor, Mike's, son who'll be working for us through the summer. What was it that May West said? It's so good to have a couple of strong, strapping youngsters for some of the heavy work!!!
While Greg and I were staying late one evening looking over the framing of the house, we see a brilliant blue bird hovering near. It had stopped in mid air not unlike a hummingbird, but it was no hummingbird. After we got out our bird books, we decided it had to be a Purple Martin. I've read about them but now I know why people get so excited when they see them in their yards. This picture doesn't do the flash of brilliant blue justice. Martins are famous for loving bird houses set up like an apartment complex with all of them nesting together. And they are just beautiful to behold. With the exception of blue jays, it's rare to see a blue bird.
Take a look at this little flower I found on our property the other day. It was a fluke that I spotted it hidden amongst a massive stand of ferns. I guess the orange color caught my eye. At any rate, it must be part of the lily family and how it got there, who knows. That's the third "not from around here" flower I've found at . In the Spring I found an odd flower that started out white and turned purple. And last Spring, some kind of flower that looked like a geranium. Every day there's something new to see.
Back at the rental house, I was able to grab a photo of our newest "rodent" visitor: meet Mr. Chipmunk, stuffing his cheeks with birdseed.
Meanwhile, the first floor of our home has been framed! Although there's only a suggestion of walls, it's the first time I've been able to walk through rooms and really get a feel for the place. I climbed up on top of our 9 foot walls and took a shot of what it looks like from above.
And, once again, I'm busy with heavy equipment.
CHECK ON CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS
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to catch up on our first year here, 2004