JOURNALS FROM

January through March
2008

January 1, 2008
We feel like we're playing hooky whenever we take a day (or part of a day) off.

Today we took a nice long walk together - it's been a while. For the past several months I haven't been able to tear myself away from the computer. I don't even want to know how many hundreds of hours I've spent staring at this screen for projects like our website, research, daily life business, and of course this (hopefully) massive property tax protest coming up. Even if we don't get massive crowds, the amount of work that's been necessary to pull this thing off is just overwhelming.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aka ......

There hasn't been much of anything I can assist Greg with for weeks, so he's been working all by his lonesome while I toil on other things. But the other day he needed some help hoisting up a 24' piece of lumber on the exterior of the house. Won't bore you with details here you can read on the link (see December 20, 2007), but suffice it to say it looks decorative but serves to aid in the installation of the siding.

Anyhoo, after Greg somehow weaved this huge plank up to me while I was standing on the scaffold which reaches to the second story, Greg did his best to explain to me how we were going to use a fulcrum to wedge the planton tightly into the corner. This poor guy was so exasperated with me, I just had to feel sorry for him. Had I seen it done beforehand, I would have understood what he was working so hard to explain; but as it was Greg said I'm a "fired Egyptian" and he would've sent me back to making bricks in the mudpit. But, finally we lifted both of the huge, heavy, awkward pieces into place. At one point, I was the one using the air nailer! That sucker must weigh 20 plus pounds and when you're holding it with one hand and balancing your body while you reach around the piping of the scaffold structure at the same time...well, all I can say is what incredible talents a carpenter must have in order to build a home.

Greg is sooo tired.

January 2, 2008
It's been brrrrrrr cold at night...and for that matter during the day as well. But unless I'm sitting on a park bench, I don't think much about it and can run around and do errands in 30 degree weather with just a scarf and sweater.

I think this is hysterical. Our homeowners association is trying to get off the ground and I say trying because for the most part the majority of the lots in our development won't be built on for years - there's only a handful of us living there (and I kinda consider that we're living there because most of our time is spent there). For years, before the timber company decided to parcel off the acreage for homesites, the residents in this area looked upon our development as their own back yard where they could hunt, walk, ride, and walk their dogs. Of course, hunting is O-U-T now but we're having a little problem with the dogs because people here have never had to think about picking up after their dogs. So, we had a little sign made that we've installed at the entrance. I think this will get the point across, don't you?

January 9, 2008
All week Greg continues to work on the exterior siding at while I woik woik woik on my little tea party protest. Greg has been so understanding and supportive of all the time I've been spending on this. But then, the entire reason I took this on was to do what we can to insure we can afford to live here until the end of our days.

Truth be told, I know I am tilting at windmills considering the political climate for such change as reforming property taxes, but then, if I do nothing....failure is 100% guaranteed.

For weeks I have been gathering contact info for every high profile radio talk show in the state. I am a dog with a bone and I will not stop until I've wheedled my way on the air for an interview to drum up business for this thing. And I have been very successful in the interview department. I've gotten myself booked on over a dozen shows as well as several newspaper interviews - including the holy grail: the Associated Press.

I is tir-red.

January 11, 2008
What an incredibly crazy-busy wonderful day!

It was hit the ground running from start to finish. Up at 5:45 so that I could be bright eyed and bushy tailed for a radio interview (thankfully from my home phone) at 7 a.m. As soon as that was over, I rushed to get ready and Greg and I left to carpool with our friends (retired police officer) Rick & wife Marty. And then the four of us were off to Seattle for the day to take in a matinee of Jersey Boys, all about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Marty played chauffeur and we drove to the ferry.

As soon as we got off the ferry in Seattle, we did a dry run to the theater because as soon as the show is over I have two radio interviews to do: one by cell phone and one in studio at an office building hopefully not too far from the theater. We buzzed by the office building and it looked like it would be do-able. Close, but do-able. Then we looked for a place to have lunch and lo and behold there was a Daily Grill! I haven't seen one of those for nearly four years! We had a great lunch. I had some butternut squash soup and a great cobb salad. Yummm. We finished in plenty of time to get to the theater.

The musical was just wonderful. You couldn't help but want to sing along - but I saved my fellow theatergoers from having to suffer that. When I was a kid and listened to the Four Seasons on the radio, I had no idea there was a human story behind all of it. I just thought, there was some "machine" of some kind that made sure new music was cranked out at regular intervals and that they would all be "engineered" to be hits. Anyway, if you get the chance to see it, do!

Okay, so the play ends and I grab Greg and we plow through the slow moving crowds to get to the street. Meanwhile, Marty & Rick took their time to walk to the car and would meet up with us later at the office building. Luckily, a cab appeared right away and it was kinda fun to say, "How fast can you get me to the Plaza Building?" and before I knew it were were there. The radio studio was on the 15th floor but that interview wasn't until 5:30. Meanwhile, I had a 5 p.m. interview via phone. So I ran around the hallways looking for a good "four bars" and plunked myself down on the carpet and waited for the call. While I'm waiting for the producer to call me, the water fountain nearby fires off its motor and I quickly grab the plug and pull. I meant to make sure to plug it in when I was done but....oh well, someone will realize their water isn't cold. As soon as that was done, I rushed down the hallway to the studio. Whew! Had a great time actually sitting in a studio and speaking face to face with my interviewer. Now, I could take a deep breath. And we were off to dinner at a neighborhood Italian bistro where we splurged on lasagna and other non-dietary delights. By the time Greg and I were back in our own little hovel it was 11 p.m.

January 12, 2008
Before Greg and I leave for Olympia tomorrow, we ran some last minute errands and then went to Jill&Jim's for dinner while we discussed last minute strategies.

For the past week or so, what little floor space we have in this cramped "like a messy drawer" house we're living in has been spread out with piles of paper; packets I have been making up to deliver to various legislators I will be meeting with after the protest. The packets are reports on various aspects of property tax as well as education since half of the checks we write to the taxman go to education - which sucks big time here and they keep taxing more while the quality of education goes down down down.

January 13, 2008
Tomorrow is THE BIG DAY and Greg and I pack to leave for Olympia to spend the night at the Red Lion Inn near the Capitol. Friend (and daughter of a veterinarian!) Lisa has graciously consented to take care of Our Boy. She came by yesterday afternoon to get all the instructions - even though she was suffering from a bad cold.

Anyway, by the time we pack, take care of stuff at home, and get on the road it's after 3 p.m., so we opt to have a late late late lunch at our fav Chinese restaurant - Fortune Star - and then we were off. As soon as we were on the road, my cell phone rang and I gave a last minute interview to our local paper.

We got to Olympia by around 6:30, checked in to the hotel, and then did a dry run to the Capitol to see where exactly the front steps are because that's where we are holding the protest. Then I checked out the "media house" where all the reporters hang out because I'll be dropping off some press releases try to get some other interviews before kick off.

The capitol building is mighty impressive at night. And the chandeliers inside were designed by no less than Tiffany! Aren't the taxpayers nice to cough up the moolah for stuff like that?

Back at the hotel, we hunkered down in the room and I ordered late room service and splurged on a hamburger and fries. Naughty!

January 14, 2008
The Big Day.

Greg and I awaken to the alarm at 6 a.m., have room service breakfast and then we're off to the Capitol. We're nervous as cats 'cause we don't know what's going to happen. We find a parking space nearby which is a major miracle and while Greg unloads and begins to take our stuff to the steps, I race to the media house.

OY. These guys weren't happy at all to see me and actually seemed a little perturbed that a citizen should actually knock on their door to give them a press release. And then I tell the reporter, "Oh and I have a big favor to ask...I've just been asked to give a radio interview and I have no place to sit and be out of the cold, so could I please sit in here?" He ain't happy..not one little bit...when the phone rings and I say, "Oh, there they are now," to which he begrudgingly points me to a back room. After the interview, as I'm leaving and slipping press releases under office doors for all the local papers, one reporter who's on his phone motions me to wait and then he asks me some additional questions he can't lift off the press release, takes a pic and I'm off to the steps.

It's over an hour before the event begins and it's starting to lightly sprinkle. Not to worry: it gets worse. By the time the event is well underway, rain is soaking people's clothes, poor Greg is drenched through and through, and then gale force winds kick up! Only a tornado and sheets of rain could've made it worse. But in a way, it worked in our favor because we had a crowd of about 70 or so and the weather was a good (and true) excuse for not attracting hundreds.

Here I am talking to my minions right before the rally. Behind me there is Donna. Hi Donna!

Thanks to local radio talk show host Mike Siegel, we got what we wanted. He had interviewed me earlier in the week and we sort of hit it off and he offered to moderate the event. He knows everyone and so shaped the agenda and because of him we ended up getting a half dozen legislators to speak at the event which gave it political weight. And, we got great press coverage: the two major Washington papers: Seattle Times and Seattle Post Intelligencer, lots of local papers, the Associated Press picked it up which meant it went everywhere...and we were on the news on all three networks!

Thank goodness for friends! Of course Jill was there - she and I are co-founders of our organization (that's Jill in the yellow parka). And Jill&Jim came up with friends and neighbors Mary Ann and her hubby Jim. That's Mary Ann in the white parka and her hubby is on the left. (In the same picture) That's me with the "It's Broke - Fix It" sign on my back. Oh, and that's Greg looking at me - he's wearing the beige cap. Donna, where are you? Kaj and Laura and their two little ones, Mauritz & Leo were there too (that's them on the left of the picture). Kaj&Laura home school and so were using this event to give their kids a taste of government and activism in action. And here's my friend Pris who came up all by her lonesome and even made her own red sign! She's so cute, she looks like the Red Baron! Next to her is Laura again (with the big black umbrella) and her kiddles (one is carrying an angel covered umbrella) and behind the "No More!" sign is Jill's hubby Jim. Friend Melissa was there too but I'll be darned if I can find her in any of the pix! Oh well, that one from Halloween in the Piggy Ballerina get up is good enuf!

We had set up the event as a "Tea Party" and one of our volunteers made an "ocean" out of a blue tarp and staged it with "pylons" on the corners. This turned out to be a great idea because the wind was blowing so hard at times our ocean was in danger of blowing away. Then we made up boxes which we covered in slogans and "threw" into the ocean. Our lucky ducky is floating nearby. Greg was magnificent and helped make a "photo op" out of this by getting all the boxes (which were being blown around) into a pile and then the photogs glommed all over it.

And here I am in all my glory (scroll to the right - I'm at the podium), delivering my speech which is written on paper that is now soaked through and I can hardly pry one piece of paper from the other.

And here's my speech:

I WAS GOING TO THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING OUT TODAY
BUT REALLY YOU'RE HERE TO HELP YOURSELVES

AS A SYMBOL OF OUR FRUSTRATION
WE ARE HERE TODAY
TO REJOICE IN OUR COUNTRY'S GREAT TRADITION
OF SPEAKING OUT AGAINST UNFAIR TAXATION

WE ARE HERE TODAY
WITH OUR OWN VERSION OF THE BOSTON TEA PARTY
THE PROPERTY TAX TEA PARTY

OUR FOUNDING FATHERS UNDERSTOOD THE IMPORTANCE
OF PROPERTY OWNERSHIP

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
REFERENCED THE UNALIENABLE RIGHTS OF MAN

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
ORIGINALLY REFERRED
TO THE OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY

DESPITE THE REINSTATEMENT OF THE PEOPLES INITIATIVE 747
DESPITE THE SPECIAL SESSION OF OUR LEGISLATURE
IT IS NOT ENOUGH!
IT IS NOT ENOUGH
FOR THE RELIEF AND PEACE OF MIND
OF SENIORS, OUR VETERANS, THE DISABLED AND LOW INCOME FAMILIES

OUR SLOW TO ACT POLITICIANS
IGNORE THE CRIES OF THE PEOPLE
OUR LEGISLATURE TURNS A DEAF EAR
(present earlier company excepted)

THE PEOPLE WE HAVE ELECTED TO SPEAK FOR US
HAVE DENIED US A TRUE VOICE ON PROPERTY TAX
FOR 40 YEARS

NO MORE! THIS GRAVY TRAIN IS STOPPING

OUR LEGISLATURES REINSTATEMENT OF 747
IS BUT A BANDAID
AND IT IS NOT ENOUGH!
OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM IS DRACONIAN

RELYING ON PROPERTY TAX TO FUND VITAL SERVICES
IS AN OUTDATED CONCEPT
WHOSE BETTER DAYS ARE BEHIND IT

OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM
TAXES US YEAR AFTER YEAR
ON 100% OF OUR HOME'S VALUE

OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM
TAXES UNREALIZED GAINS
PROFITS WE CAN'T ENJOY
UNLESS WE SELL OUR PIECE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM DOES NOT GIVE US PEACE OF MIND
WHEN OUR EARNING YEARS ARE BEHIND US

OUR PROPERTY TAXES ARE SUBJECT TO UNEXPECTED INCREASES
EVERY SINGLE YEAR

OUR VITAL SERVICES DESERVE A MORE EQUITABLE SYSTEM TO FUND THEM
ONE THAT INVOLVES ALL CITIZENS

50% OF OUR CHECKS WRITTEN TO THE PROPERTY TAXMAN
GO TO EDUCATION

STUDIES SHOW GOVERNMENT RUN EDUCATION IS A FAILING SYSTEM - DESPITE THE EARNEST EFFORTS OF THOSE WHO CARE

OUR CONSTITUTION MANDATES IT IS THE STATE'S RESPONSIBILITY
TO FUND EDUCATION
IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL TO FUND EDUCATION

BUT THE PEOPLE WE HAVE ELECTED TO SPEAK FOR US
HAVE BEEN SHIFTING THE BRUNT OF THAT RESPONSIBILITY
ONTO THE BACKS OF HOMEOWNERS

NO MORE! THIS GRAVY TRAIN IS STOPPING

TO OUR LEGISLATORS
LISTEN TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS
HEAR WHAT WE ARE SAYING
AND WHAT WE ARE NOT SAYING

WE ARE NOT SAYING WE DO NOT SEE THE NEED TO FUND VITAL SERVICES

WE ARE NOT SAYING THAT WE OBJECT TO FUNDING EDUCATION FOR OUR CHILDREN
BUT IT MUST BE SUPERIOR AND EXEMPLARY - WHICH IT IS NOT

NO MORE! THIS GRAVY TRAIN IS STOPPING

25% OF OUR PROPERTY TAX CHECKS
GO TO STATE FUNDING
BUT THE PEOPLE WE HAVE ELECTED TO SPEAK FOR US
HAVE INCREASED THEIR OPERATING COSTS 32%
OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS ALONE
OUR GOVERNMENT HAS GROWN BY 3600 JOBS
IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS ALONE

NO MORE! THIS GRAVY TRAIN IS STOPPING

WHAT WE ARE SAYING IS
OUR PROPERTY TAX SYSTEM IS DRACONIAN
THE SYSTEM TO FUND OUR SERVICES
NEEDS TO BE AN EQUITABLE ONE
ONE THAT DISTRIBUTES THE COST
TO ALL CITIZENS
PROPERTY OWNERS SAY
NO MORE! THIS GRAVY TRAIN IS STOPPING

LAST SESSION NEARLY 50 BILLS
WERE WRITTEN TO ADDRESS PROPERTY TAX REFORM
NOT ONE MADE IT TO OUR BALLOTS
THIS SESSION
LEGISLATORS MUST SIT DOWN WITH THE PEOPLE
TO DRAFT LAWS THAT ARE
GUARANTEED
TO GET TO OUR BALLOTS

A SHORT SESSION IS NO EXCUSE
SHORT CHANGE YOUR CAMPAIGN TIME
BUT NOT ON OUR DIME


WE SAY TO OUR LEGISLATORS
NO MORE! THIS GRAVY TRAIN IS STOPPING

But our day wasn't over after the Tea Party concluded. The next 6 or 7 hours were filled rushing from one end of the Capitol campus to the other taking meetings with various senators and representatives to talk about...property tax reform. After our (Greg went with) last meeting with an especially amiable Senator Val Stevens, I parked myself in the hall outside her office and gave yet another newspaper interview and Mike Siegel interviewed me live on his radio show via cell phone. What a doll he is!

We didn't get home until 11 p.m. after a stop for dinner on the way. And, as we got back on the road home I spoke with friend and fellow reformer Jill who told us we might have big trouble getting home because it was snowing. Luckily, by the time we got back on the Peninsula, all the snow had been rained away.

January 15, 2008
The cold weather is doing wonderful things with our
waterfall and pond. As the weather gets colder I'm sure nature will add to the sculpture.

One of the things I love about is how the layout of the land created spaces, outdoor rooms if you will; pockets of space to explore. One such "room" is our ravine which is actually an old deer trail. And when I say old, it could be hundreds of years old. When we first broke ground, our excavator guy made a trail so that Greg & I could walk on it - along with the deer who still use it. Anyway, I had to take this picture at the Twisted Cedar Trailhead (I've named all of our of outdoor rooms - kinda makes me feel like we have a gen-U-ine E-state) because the snow draws your eye down the trail and the snow adds to the enchantment for me.

January 16, 2008
Last month we had dinner at Kaj&Laura's and met Don&Phyllis. This evening Don&Phyllis invited Greg & I and Kaj&Laura to their home for dinner.

First of all, they have a wonderful home. English tudor style which is something Greg and I thought about doing early on but for one thing had trouble finding a good stucco guy. When I asked Don where they found someone he said he had died and this was a few years ago. Anyway, we nearly fell on the floor when we walked inside and there was a wooden double helix staircase! How funny is that? In case you don't remember, Greg will be building one to get to our belvedere A double helix is a spiral staircase without the center pole. Don&Phyllis had theirs made in Maine and I'm sure it cost a pretty penny which is one reason you don't find them too often. But for us, that is a few years away, well after we move over.

Phyllis made beef stroganoff and it was delicious! I make a lower cholesterol version with chicken and soy sour cream and Smart Balance "butter" over rice, but this was the real deal with beef, sour cream and noodles. Wonderfully sinful.

January 17, 2008
I spent hours at the computer today, yesterday, and the day before that. A good portion of my time was spent culling press coverage of our event off the internet. Our local paper had us on the front page - above the fold. (For those who aren't press savvy - that means it's important.) Greg too! He was just magnificent and got out there hoisting his protest sign and pumping up the crowd.

I am just on overload with stuff to do. And I must admit, I am having doubts about continuing this fight. The citizenry is lazy. I get told all the time, "You know what you should do?" as if I get PAID to do this. And, from what little "insider" info I have gleaned in our time in this new state (and probably not unlike any other), the politicians are corrupt, the state is corrupt, the election process is corrupt and the citizens are either powerless or clueless to do anything about it. There is truth in the statement, "Ya cain't fight City Hall."

And, I must admit, there were times - when I was giving radio interviews and talking about "big business" and "do nothing politicians" - that I thought, "You know, it's not entirely impossible that some nut would try and kill me for what I'm attempting to do."

January 18, 2008
Now that Pris&Robert are living in their dream home, they invited us to break bread. I am sooo jealous!

Anyway, Pris is a nutritionist and a chef and so you can just imagine the meal. We had appetizers of a combination of crab and veggies and then dinner was Pasta Carbonara - which uses pieces of bacon to give it some punch in a cream sauce - and steamed spinach. No restaurant could have made it better. And Pris turned us on to a local pie maker where she bought the strawberry rhubarb pie she served for desert. What the heck, is only calories, so we had pie a la mode. And lively conversation was had by all.

January 20, 2008
Today on his way to "work," Greg passed what we call Billy Goat Acres. It's the area where we always see our deer friend Bambi the African Deer. Today there was a bald eagle
scanning the pond for lunch. He eventually perched in a nearby tree. I think I've seen this guy before - in the same tree.

January 21, 2008
At least by the looks of the exterior, the house is beginning to look finished - illusion though it is. But here's what the
completed south side of the house looks like. And here's the courtyard getting (almost) finishing touches! There will be caulking and second coats of paint and touch up eventually but that must wait until we get our "C of O" (Certificate of Occupancy) and we're under the gun to get it by April 2009. I know, sound so far off but we have an incredible amount of work to do and it's just Greg & I.

I will miss that white paper that's been such a prominent architectural statement for the past two plus years - NOT!

The weather these past several days has been so incredibly clear you can see the Cascades and Mount Baker as well as the snow capped Olympics that form the backdrop to . Greg just couldn't help but stop his work and climb up to our belvedere to take in the view.

On the drive home Greg still found opportunities to enjoy the view.

January 22, 2008
Thanks to Greg, we purchased a second lot in our development right after we purchased as a super savings account to cash out when we got further down the line with the project. And that time is coming near.

So, today, I met with a real estate agent to put our lot up for sale. I'm just thinking, "Wow, wouldn't it be neat if friends from California ended up being our neighbor?"

Anyway, we've created a website as a marketing tool, so if you know anyone who'd like to join us here in paradise, pass it along.

While I've been so busy doing things away from the jobsite, Greg has been working furiously. It isn't worth his time to tidy up along the way - that's what I'm supposed to do. So, Greg wanted to give me a little nudge I think by bringing home these pix of what the someday entryway is looking like these days.

The cold cold weather continues to add features to our waterfall and pond. The log that spills water into the basin of the falls is forming icicles that make it look as if the water is standing still in time. The huge flat green boulder that is the main water fall is encased in a housing of ice. Remember that folk song, The Big Rock Candy Mountain? Well, upon close examination, the form the ice has taken on reminds me of that rock candy I tried to make as a child by putting a stick into a jar of basically liquid sugar and watching it form crystals.

This evening we took Lisa&Revy to a thank you dinner for taking care of our Bud while we were at the Capitol. Knowing they were looking after him took a big load off our minds.

January 23, 2008
And here's my restaurant review for the month of January:

Pilgrim you've arrived! Restaurant worth of the space


For those who think heaven is looking out on a beautiful bay bobbling with boats, well Pilgrim, you've arrived!

Every time the John Wayne Marina has been mentioned or I've attended some fund raiser there, remarks were made about what a pity someone couldn't do something there worthy of the space.

And, finally, someone has.

Opened this past fall, owner and chef Steve Little and wife Ruth (along with their son), sous-chef Glenn Welch and assistant chef Josh Souza have done the place proud and created Dockside Grill.

Reminiscent of the chi chi California restaurants of the life I left behind, the Dockside Grill's bank of windows overlooking Sequim Bay, warm woods, granite tabletops, and a portrait of "The Duke" himself all contribute to its sophisticated decor.

Our first visit was for dinner; a gift of friends commemorating my husband's completion of his solo installation of the roof on the house we're building.

I splurged and went for the red meat entree, the king of steaks - filet mignon. Loved it, tasty, cooked to juicy perfection - and sooo worth the cholesterol. My hubby ordered the Dockside Paella filled with Italian sausage, chicken, clams, mussels, prawns and crab with saffron infused Basmati rice and baby peas. And I'm sure he'd order it again. Our friends ordered fresh steamed local manila clams and calamari (For New Year's eve, our friends told us they ordered the prime rib special and said it had to be the best they have ever had. And, it was served with mashed potato croquettes which were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and served with creamy horse raddish mixed with sour cream.)

Dockside always serves a very nice selection of breads for the table and our Spring Fling salads and soup got us off to a good start.

Seafood lovers will be in hog (or is that fish) heaven digging into the cornucopia of their Seafood Pescadore which boasts prawns, salmon, mussels, clams, scallops and crab in light white wine pesto sauce served over fine angel hair pasta. For those who crave more on the Italian side, they have paired fettuccine and angel hair with other combinations of seafood, as well as that original creamy favorite, fetuccini Alfredo. Or try the portobello ravioli. How does bleu cheese crusted filet mignon sound? Or rack of lamb? I'm looking forward to trying their Hazelnut Chicken some time but I'm definitely anxious to order their seasonal vegetables sauteed with fetuccine, or their Cedar Planked Vegetables. Our friends make the cedar planks which is one of the Dockside Grill's signature offerings.

You could make a meal out of grazing on appetizers alone: all manner of fresh seafare, of course, including local mussels and fresh oysters on the half-shell, but there's also chicken & cheese pasta purses, and for the vegetarian: French baby brie and Cambazola baked and served with grape tomato relish and parmesan toast points.

Not only is everything made to order here, presentation is a special component of your dining experience. The dishes when served are suitable for the cover of Martha Stewart Living. If the presentation looks a bit familiar, you'll realize the chefs formerly prepared dinners at the Old Mill Cafe in Carlsborg before venturing out on their own.

I wasn't halfway done with my main course when on her way to tempt other diners the waitress walked past our table with a tray of desserts. Not that I was going to shortchange my consumption of steak, but my eyes locked on that tray and I was definitely going to have to experience one or two of those! Usually my hubby will order my second choice so as to save me the embarrassment of ordering two by myelf. We ordered creme brulee and Dockside Mudpie, a decadent chocolate brownie a la mode. Owner Ruth Little is also the dessert queen and she makes a mean carrot cake. Chef Steve makes all the sauces.

Sometime during our meal, my attention was drawn to the dock right outside our window. And there, standing under a single light was a beautiful great blue heron - the perfect cap to our celebratory dinner. I understand some otters made a show of themselves recently. The owners have thought of the enjoyment of their clientele and there right on the sill of our window was a pair of binoculars. I'm sure those come in handy when enjoying the Marina during a leisurely lunch.

The lunch menu also features salads, soup du jour and plenty of fresh seafood. But they also serve sandwiches with house-made fries. Try their grilled steak sandwich or the Dockside dip - roasted turkey breast with smoked gouda on a crusty French baguette, turkey au jus and house-made cranberry-orange chutney. The crab cake burger combines two favorites.

Dockside Grill has a full service bar and offers local and domestic wines, beer and cocktails. Our friends ordered martinis and our waitress brought my water in a martini glass so I could join the party.

I have two relatively minor complaints - which are easily fixed. Try an I might, I just couldn't get my knife and fork to hold onto and cut into my (subsequently savored) steak - because my plate kept running around the beautiful granite tabletop. I finally solved the problem by putting a napkin under my plate. Maybe it's just me, or maybe a (clear) placemat is in order so you can still enjoy the ruby granite underneath.

And while I'm sure this will be a plus in the summertime, our table in the vicinity of the main door was constantly infused with cold air every time a patron stepped in. Even the proximity of a baseboard heater couldn't warm the cold air off the water. So keep this in mind when making a reservation. However, there is a cozy room which would be perfect for people who can't take the chill.

Want more info? They have a nifty website, www.docksidegrill-sequim.com with their entire menu, bios on the owners and chefs, map and directions, a photo gallery of the chefs, employees, clientele and views of the marina, they even include news & reviews. They can do catering for up to 150. Can you say "wedding?"

January 24, 2008
I swear, what a show our
pond and waterfall is putting on during this cold snap. The moist cold is turning their features into something that looks just like those carved ice sculptures you find on the buffet table on a cruise ship! The cold snap has even made artwork on our windows, forming an ice crystal mosaic on the interior.

The other night there was an incredible harvest moon - a huge orange glowing ball in the sky. You never see the moon this big in California. Greg scrambled up to the belvedere to take a picture but alas you need a special lens or else it just looks like a white blob. But, Greg noticed the reflection of the moon on the belvedere window and was able to create an image of it with a little help from Photoshop.

Just got back from a nice long walk near farmer's fields and pens filled with braying burros, horses, sheep and goats and lots of grazing deer..and snow capped mountains in the distance. On yesterday's walk a bald eagle flew just over my head and then a little while later a hawk flew right by me, carrying dinner in his talons.

January 25, 2008
And the ice sculpture that is our "water feature"
continues to evolve. The ice forming over ice gives the impression of a moment frozen - literally - in time.

January 26, 2008
Greg and I had such fun working in the snow today. It never came down too fast and furious, so Greg decided this was the perfect day to finally
light up our "burn pile" which is where we've been putting all the burnable construction debris for months which has grown to at least five feet tall and 10 x 10 feet square. So, we lit it up and kept a close eye on it all day.

And our high school helper assisted Greg with transporting siding to the current area where Greg's working.

January 27, 2008
We had lots to do today including making some final tweaks to our website for the property we are selling. And, listing it on Craig's list and Google and our local ABC and CBS tv affiliates allow you to post free classifieds on their websites. And, we're looking in to making a slideshow to post on youtube. We leave no stone unturned!

But we did take a quick drive to to look at the snow, check on the burn pile, and take a few pictures of the winter wonderland. I wonder how many times our 1939 Ford Tractor has been covered with snow in its lifetime?

And then, on our way to a big country breakfast at - would you believe - an Italian restaurant, we snapped this view as we headed out from our development.

January 30, 2008
Girl's lunch at Fortune Star....

February 1, 2008
Snow has been on the ground but
that hasn't stopped Greg from continuing to work! He simply shovels the snow away from his work area and carries on. While I'm relatively cozy glued to the computer and the phone - mainly follow up to the property tax protest and arguing back and forth with arrogant legislators who think the voter is dumber than rocks. Well, okay, that may be true for most but there are some who get involved and understand the issues, but that's a subject for another day - and here ain't the place 'cause I'm sure this would bore you to tears.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke of our "outdoor rooms" at . I'll have to do this again in the Spring but here are some of them in all their snow-dusted glory:

The Courtyard - the main focal point as you come up the driveway. And this is a pic showing the progress up to this point in time. It's so exciting to see the house starting to come together - at least on the outside! This has gotta be our Christmas card shot after we move in! This is what the front of the house looks like right now complete with Greg's "false" painted-to-look-like-the-real-thing" front door.

Daffodil Hill - a raised bed in the back yard to the east of our pond and waterfall that was created by using boulders as a retaining wall. This, as its name implies, has been planted profusely with daffodils (this picture from last Spring).

Morningwood Meadows - this room is to the north of the house on the other side of Moondance Trail and is actually the drainage field of our septic system. I will leave it to your imagination as to what the name means; but Greg is the one who named it!

The Salal Corral - this area is just off the driveway and delineated by a rustic "snake" fence fashioned from old logs. Salal is a native ground cover kinda reminiscent of ivy and is very coveted by florists. Beyond the Salal Corral is Morningwood Meadows.

Snag Hill - a snag is a dead tree. I actually found this one lying at the back of the property and had it "planted." Snags are important for natural habitat, i.e. birds of prey use them as lookouts and insects live in them so it's kind of a restaurant for birds. At the bottom of the picture is the edge of the snake fence of the Salal Corral so if you're standing in the driveway looking at the Salal Corral, Snag Hill is just beyond it.

Twisted Cedar Trailhead which leads down to Moondance Trail.

Moondance Trail, standing in the middle looking back to our tractor. You can see the belvedere of the house in the background. Moondance Trail walking away from the house - just in front of the tractor - and then continuing on down the Moondance Trail ravine which would bring you up to Twisted Cedar Trailhead. Moondance Trail is the "ancient" trail that deer have been using for who knows how long.

The other night there was a fresh coat of snow on the ground which served as a blueprint of all the deer tracks crisscrossing our property. They were all over the place! What fun it will be to look out one day and just watch the deer as they graze. Can't wait!

Loved this new line: my mind works like lightening: gone in a flash! Sooo, don't remember if I gave you the website for our property for sale (and too lazy to look to see if I did) so, here 'tis: PeninsulaMountainParadise.com.

The snow is incredible and the weather clear, so Greg took some beautiful shots around the property and some while up in his belvedere. Looking southward, this is Blue Mountain and this shot was taken standing in the front yard. Looking in the same direction is a development about 3 or 4 miles away called Red Deer (the patch of snow on the upper right). Out the windows on the North side of the belvedere you can see Canada - Victoria, B.C. just above the tree line and below the line of clouds. Here Greg has taken a shot of my favorite view from the belvedere - looking south out toward the Olympic Mountains of Olympic National Park. At the bottom center of the screen is the back end of Froggywog Pond and just beyond that Froggywog Woods. On the bottom right is a portion of Moonshadow Falls. Both Froggywog Pond and Moonshadow Falls are buried under our last snowfall. That poor rusted metal egret that lives in Froggywog Pond has become a snow white egret. The other day Moonshadow Falls had ice flows!

Also from up in his belvedere looking down on the driveway. To the left is Salal Corral and Snag Hill which is barely visible through some trees. To the right is the edge of Blue Mountain. His tractor is getting whiter and whiter.

This shot of our front staircase covered with snow gives you a good look at its serpentine shape. Until this thing is completed - which won't be until after paintings are hung inside, the skeleton makes it difficult to discern this shape. Those who know about staircase building realize creating this shape is quite a feat. The finished version won't be "open" between the steps; the handrails will be small tree trunks bent to shape, and the balusters will be a crisscross of branches.

Took a nice long walk late this afternoon and I must've seen 20 deer.

February 4, 2008
Who knows what exactly transpired here in the wee hours of the morning but we came out to the car and stuck to it from the dew like a bird suit were
hundreds of feathers (sorry the pic is out of focus). Common sense tells us a raptor of some sort caught an early breakfast.

February 6, 2008
Tried to go on a walk yesterday but got rained out. At first it was only drizzling so I thought, "What the heck." But as I trudged on, the rain started coming down in force and I didn't have any raingear and soon realized I'd be soaked and a mile or so from the house...so back home I went.

Today, I had better luck and took an extra long walk. Usually I go through this little community which is built on the bluffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca with views of Victoria, B.C. As I'm approaching a little patch of forest on my way to a viewing area, I can see several deer grazing. I didn't want to disturb them so I wended my way toward the bluff via an alternate route which separated me from the deer by a thicket of shrubs and small trees. I trudged my way to the cliffside and stood there for a few seconds and eventually noticed something out of the corner of my eye. There, not 20 feet from me, perched on the branch of a snag overhanging the precipice of a cliff - with the ocean a hundred feet below - was a juvenile bald eagle! I could almost reach out and touch him. We looked at each other for a few long seconds and then off he soared - above the waves crashing loudly below us.

February 7, 2008
After work Greg and I met with Les (our "excavator" who dug out the pad for and found me all my huge boulders and logs and stumps for the landscaping over three years ago!) and wife Melany for dinner at Fortune Star. It's been quite a while since we've been able to socialize. One reason: their daughter Ariah has a new sister, Amelia.

February 9, 2008
Jill&Jim throw so many parties: Fourth of July, New Years, various birthdays. But tonight was a particularly special birthday celebration: Pop's 90th! Pops is Jim's dad and he's a hoot. When we ask him how he's doing his quick retort is , "Well, I'm still vertical!" Still sharp as a tack.

February 12, 2008
It's been a while since we've visited Pris & Robert to see the progress on their home since moving in. Can you spell E-N-V-Y? Greg especially wanted to look at their required-by-code fresh air system since ours will be similar. And then it was out to dinner to Alderwood Bistro in Sequim. As coincidence would have it, it turns out the owner is the step-son of our real estate agent who is handling our lot sale. And Pris, a professional chef, is friends with he and his wife and sometimes helps out in the kitchen there. So, of course, we were treated like royalty and the owner/chef brought a very special appetizer to our table. It's situations like this where I will become adventurous and try different things...otherwise it's always something I know I'd like. I'm going to do my next restaurant review on this one and so will enlist Pris' help to tell me just what the heck we ate that night. Whatever it was, it was goooood.

February 14, 2008
Happy Valentine's Day! Guess what we did to celebrate? Worked on !

I was emailing to a friend of mine the other day and she recounted one of those "unbelievable coincidence" stories about her family - which reminded me of one of my own. See if you have one that can top this:

I have a long time girlfriend (known her for nearly 30 years - met in acting class). We go in and out of each other's lives all the time...could be years between meetings. So, I hadn't heard from her in a long long time (this was before we moved to Washington).

One day I sent Greg into Westwood Village to get something at the market. I told him, "Don't go to Breadstix, they don't carry it." Pretty soon, I get a call from him on his cell, "I'm at Breadstix and they don't have it!" As I began to remind him of my instructions, I hear him call out our friend's name - she just happened to be in the store.

If Greg hadn't NOT listened to me, he'd never have seen her. So that was kinda Kismet but that's not the zinger. Anyway, as a result of Greg running into her at the store, she and I end up getting together for dinner one night - at my fav Anna's Italian on Pico Boulevard and at the end of the meal she asks if I could give her a ride home to Brentwood - actually to her boyfriend's who rented a small room behind a house.

So I'm driving her there and I'm in familiar territory and as she sez turn here turn there it's becoming more and more familiar. "This is it, stop here," sez she. And where did she have me stop??? At "My" house, the house I lived in with my parents in the 60s when I was going to high school!

Talk about goosebumps!!! The people my parents sold the house to still lived there. The husband was a well known character actor (Edward Binns) who passed away n 1990. Anyway, his wife still lived in the house and when we arrived, his wife gave me a tour. What a trip! I saw my old room and in the garage was a metal cabinet that I used as a tack box in my riding days as a child with my name still written on the inside of the door! The widow, kind of a character, then takes me into the livingroom and shows me a wrapped Christmas package she had under her dusty grand piano. She and her husband were going to give it to my father who knows how many years ago but for some reason they never followed through and then my Dad passed away in 1995. After she showed it to me - she put it back under the piano! (Told you she was a character.)

And if that weren't enough of a goosebump story...same girlfriend. We hadn't seen each other in months and it was Christmastime. I was working on ABC's The Home Show and earlier in the week they told me I would be doing a segment on Christmas gifts for kids. They sent to my house a template for a plastic plate. You did your own artwork on the plate and sent it back to the company and they somehow laminated the artwork right on to the plate. Sooo, of course I drew a man in the moon. The company was rushing the job so I could do the segment in time but normally it would take I think 2-3 weeks to turn around. Okay, so later in the week I go to the studio to do my segment (the show was live).

After work, I finally get home - and there's a package laid at the back door. It's a Christmas present from this girlfriend.

I open it and....it's a plate, from the same company! And guess what she drew on it??? A man in the moon!!!!

February 16, 2008
Months go by and we haven't set eyes on our "excavator" Les and today we met with he and his family at Tarcisio's for breakfast and then, since we're all involved in the building trade, we attended the grand opening of the
George Washington Inn Bed & Breakfast - a huge replica of Mt. Vernon built on the bluffs which just happens to be a nice long walk from where we're living now. This building has been quite the talk 'o the town and a rare departure from the standard architectural style here and so we were all looking forward to an upcloselook. The George Washington Inn B&B has a turret like our . It was built, of course, in the style of its day and so doesn't make use of modern architectural details etc. So, their turret is soooo small, there is barely enough room for the tiny spiral staircase and floorspace to look out the window. When we designed , the important part was the floorplan and comfort with attention to the exterior design only secondary. Speaking of which, Greg is nearing the point where the front exterior will be more or less complete - and I can't wait to show you what it looks like. Not bad, I must say, for a "secondary consideration!" After the George Washington Inn tour, it was off to because Les' wife Melany hadn't seen it for months. Les' family was in from out of town so they joined us for breakfast and tours.

Meanwhile, I've been doing lots of organizing and cleaning up in preparation for beginning work on the interior - plumbing, electrical etc. Chaos is not my thing and so the very act of organizing is soothing to my soul.

February 18, 2008
Ahhhh, my two boys. Greg & Bud, what a team. We must've taken thousands of pix of our little boy. Greg loves taking pictures of him when he's napping, sleeping, resting or just looking
generally sacked or sprawled out - mostly because that's what Greg longs to do with his time.


The boys have a special routine when we come home from any outing. We're not cat behaviorists so we don't know what exactly all this means but the minute Bud hears us approach the front door he skedaddles to "his" cardboard box and looks over his shoulder at Greg as if to say, "Okay, come on, get over here!" And then for the next few minutes, with Greg down there with him, Bud rubs his face on the edges of the box and Greg rubs his face all over Bud.
It's a sight to behold!

February 19, 2008
This was weird.

Greg and I were coming down the driveway at walking toward the street in the middle of the afternoon when I notice a deer coming up our ravine and beginning to walk across Morningwood Meadow on its way to the burn pile area. So I stop us in our tracks and we watch. And the next thing there's about half a dozen deer. And we watch. And then, it was something worthy of that new video, Deer Gone Wild! All of a sudden they begin running around in circles reminiscent of a Chinese fire drill - tails were up and fluffy and besides dead out running, they were leaping up and down like gazelles. You could hear their hoofbeats reverberating on the ground below them. I've since asked around and no one knows for sure what that was all about. It couldn't have been that we spooked them because they were running some times in our general direction. And it's not mating season (one of the larger deer could've been a buck - hard to tell because they lose their antlers in the winter). One suggestion was it could've been they sensed a cougar in the vicinity. Whatever it was, it was exciting to see.

Besides just organizing and cleaning in general, I've been doing (again with homage to Mel Brooks' The Producers blond bombshell Ulla) lots of "tidy ooop" in prep for some upcoming tours. If I had a dollar for every tour we've given...wellll. In fact, I jokingly tell our guests that the tours are only $20 ("How else do ya think we're payin' for this thing!?).

February 20, 2008
Wooo hoo! Today Greg and I
finished the installation of the corbels we've been working on for the last few weeks. For those of you who aren't in the building trade, corbels are a kind of bracket that you see peaking out from under the eaves of a roof. I'd been working on the design of these particular corbels for months (each section of peaked roof on the house has a different corbel design). Then, practically at the last minute I saw a bracket holding up a shelf in a kitchen in one of my architectural "idea" magazines and the design morphed into the final version. These particular corbels are dressing up the courtyard area which is defined by our front stairway and the garage doors.

You shoulda seen us installing them standing on this 2 story-4 section metal scaffold. Greg would carry the corbel up the 20 foot ladder while using one hand to hold on (how he did this I do not know) and it reminded me of Jesus carrying the cross - I swear! Then we were both up on the top of the scaffold, trying to keep our balance and me holding the thing in place (at times pushing on them with my feet!) while Greg drilled holes to secure them with. Quite the process. Good thing I am not terrified of heights.

Soon....working on interior stuff like plumbing and electrical....wooo hooo

February 21, 2008
I love a bargain. And free is even better! Since there are landscaping areas around the house that require shade plants, I have an opportunity to use one of my favorites: moss. On my walks around the rental-house neighborhood I pass a house with oodles of the stuff. So one day I knocked on the door and the lady was nice enough to give me permission to dig up as much of it as I want - she was just going to kill it anyway. So
here I am doing my best NOT to imitate a rolling stone (which gathers no moss you know!).

February 23, 2008
Today was the first of a number of tours of , this time with Phyllis & Don; a couple who had us to their home for dinner recently and who just happen to have a double helix staircase in their home - the same kind Greg will build to get up to our belvedere.


And Greg snapped yet another photo of one of his (apparently) favorite vistas:
Hurricane Ridge poking through the clouds from a road near where we are living. The road is called Finn Hall...because many moons ago the residents here were mostly Finnish.


Judie is now happily living the life in Santa Barbara. Her hair has now grown out to the point that she no longer needs a wig.
Pretty cute - I think she should keep it.

February 24, 2008
Tonight was the Oscars and friends Marty&Rick had the gang over for their second annual Oscar, Blue Jeans & Bling party. Rick made the most marvelous soups! I concentrated on a beef stew and a cheddar broccoli. Whenever these parties happen, everyone makes a dish to bring. But since everyone knows I'm not set up to cook (not to mention the fact that my best dish is making reservations), I'm usually asked to just bring the bread. Once we are happily ensconced at I'm torn between really wowing them with my culinary prowess or....after all this time training them, continuing with just supplying the bread.


But before we left for the party, Greg worked on the siding. Can't tell you enough
how proud I am of what he accomplishes! Here he is, singlehandedly, carrying up a long piece of siding while balancing on a ladder. Being a journeyman carpenter requires the dexterity of a gymnast. Climbing up tall ladders with only one hand while balancing some unwieldy object be it a piece of building material or a heavy tool is an every day - several times a day - affair. Just like I had to do a few weeks ago when Greg had me help him install a planton (piece of trim) when I was hanging onto the scaffold for dear life with one hand while holding a heavy air nail gun with the other and trying to aim it and use it properly. They have to get their entire body into the task, squeezing into tight spots, laying on their backs or on their stomachs. You have to be smart, inventive, strong, and limber and that isn't something you can learn in a book - it takes years of experience.

February 26, 2008
Greg and I spent a rare day at home together. In between working separately on our computers on various projects, we took a nice long walk.

At one point we saw not one but two bald eagles perched atop a hundred foot tall cedar tree. But then, we had another encounter. I was telling Greg about the juvenile bald eagle I had walked right up to on one of my last walks. As I approached the site to show him, I acted out how I had marched up to the bluff to take a look at the ocean and this very same eagle was perched on the very same snag! But because I was talking to Greg, he took off just as we approached. Sooo, this must be one of his regular haunts and maybe next time he'll stay still for a photo.

And we gave another tour before enjoying a dinner out. Our friends Boni&Ted came out from Port Townsend to check up on our progress. Friends of my aunt and uncle in California, they've witnessed the entire process. In fact, it was Boni&Ted who convinced us to buy our property sooner rather than later to which we are forever grateful. Ted was an engineer before retiring and so he truly appreciates our undertaking. So this evening they saw how far we've come with the exterior work.

I wanted to get some outside projects finished before their visit so yesterday afternoon I put the finishing touches on some rockscaping below the north side wall of the house that Greg just finished siding. I purchased the greenish rock you see directly at the bottom of the wall almost 2 years ago and finally now get a chance to use some of it. I was told it was granite and this green color can't be purchased on our Peninsula - I had to have it trucked in. Separating the granite from the other rock is some more of that "free" moss. That shiny object on the middle of the wall is a brass and copper (what else) man in the moon wall sculpture that we had hanging on the front of our building in Westwood. Greg bought it for me probably ten years ago from an Oceanside antique mall and I'm guessing it dates from the 1970s.

February 27, 2008
My latest restaurant review....

COSTCO
-$ (that's a minus sign!)

Remember Saturday mornings with Rocky & Bullwinkle? Remember Rocky's famous line, "Now here's something you'll really like!"?

The other day I found myself yet again at a local eaterie; this time scarfing up free hors d'oeuvres.

In no particular order, I gleefully helped myself to crab cakes, mozzarella and spinach ravioli, English muffin with jam, yogurt, trail mix, hot soup, pot stickers, orange chicken, Canadian bacon, and BBQ pork. All free for the asking. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I finally lost track of all the freebies of which I partook.

Yet, still I had room for lunch. (Not at all surprising to those who have shared a meal with me.) So, I ordered a nice juicy hot dog (or possibly it was two) and loaded up with an ocean of mustard and a mountain of onions. Got a nice big soda too, and all the refills I wanted. All for only $1.50!

Have you figured out where I'm dining?

It's Costco! Best meal deal in town.

Costco also sells things. BIG things. Like groceries and furniture and clothing and toys and plants. The store has gotta be the size of a football field. Marketing there is a challenge for small families because the serving sizes are gi-mongous and also, the little ones (and their parents) are inclined to need nourishment to complete the shopping journey. So, Costco is pretty smart. They figure you'll need all your strength to make it from one end of the building to the other, so why not feed ya - and allow you to make the most of your shopping opportunities.

But whatever profits they make for the day when I'm dining, I'm sure they end up losing money on me - I'm not shy about going back for seconds on hors d'oeuvres. Nonetheless, they've been gracious and so far no one has stopped me from coming in the door.

Done, for now, with hors d'oeuvres (one could always go back if the mood strikes), and after I placed my order with the friendly waitstaff at the food counter and customized it with my traditional menu of condiments, I took a seat.

Protecting me from the sun of fluorescent industrial lighting, I dined under patriotic red white and blue parasols courtesy of Sinai Kosher Beef Hot Dogs. If I closed my eyes, why I almost felt as if I were sitting outside a European cafe.

Mention Costco and food to long time members and most will say, "Costco has the best hot dogs!" Theis are extra long, a quarter pound, and you have your choice of the Sinai Kosher all beef hot dog or a Polish sausage, along with a 20 ounce bottomless beverage. For $1.50, where else can you get a deal like this? For toppings you can choose from yellow and deli mustard, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut (for the asking) and onions. I practically empty that chrome bin that churns out onions because I can't possibly squish down enough of 'em on top of my dog.

On tap is actual Coca Cola and Diet Coca Cola (for those with discerning taste whose palettes eschew Pepsi), Barq's root beer, Sprite, and Minutemaid light lemonade. Sorry, the only alcoholic beverage is the kind you take home.

You can call in your order (406.2038) for their 18" hot pizza ($9.95) - or wait right there. Or buy by the slice for only $1.99! I tried their Signature cheese which had me humming in satisfaction, but they also offer the old standby pepperoni and/or sausage, veggie (pepper, onion, olive, mushroom); or a combo heaped with all the toppings.

Costco offers a nice big chicken Caesar salad for $3.79 and it comes with croutons, those cute little grape tomatoes, and of course, parmesean cheese. Since their Caesar salad is one of the healthier things on their menu, I wanted to love it. But I didn't. It wasn't the dressing, that was pretty good. And the sweet grape tomatoes were fresh and the chicken moist. But, the lettuce tasted "earthy." I don't know if you know what I mean by that, but I ran into some friends while dining and the wife agreed with me. Now, that could be just that day. And I've even experienced that earthy taste to lettuce in a homemade salad (my secret is out - I can actually make a salad - as well as reservations). So don't let my one-time experience stop you from trying it. And at $3.79, really, what have you got to lose - except a bunch of calories and cholesterol - available in heeps with their hot dogs and pizza.

For $2.69 you can chow down on their definitely-not-diet-conscious breaded chicken bake; a breast of chicken with cheese, bacon, and Caesar dressing.

After you've filled up on all that, it's time for dessert.

Costco has their version of a Dove bar using their super premium ice cream and hand-dipped in a layer of chocolate ($1.50). If you like it crunchy, you can have yours rolled in roasted almonds.

For lower calories and two bits less, try their Kirkland Signature non fat yogurt in chocolate or vanilla. Can't make up your mind? Have them make you a chocolate and vanilla swirl.

Rather have something cold and fruity? Try the very berry sundae with strawberries for $1.55.

Or how about a twisted churro - basically a linear donut - showered in cinnamon and sugar. For a buck.

In the summer, a latte/mocha freeze sounds good, or a berry smoothie ($1.35).

If it's cold outside, order a double tall hot mocha for a dollar. Take that Starbucks!

The bathrooms are clean...and big. The atmosphere...flourescent.

Dining at Costco. Think of it a little like your olde timey neighborhood five & dime with the counter - only without the the counter and no fries or root beer floats (although a friend pointed out the possibility of concocting your own with vanilla yogurt).

Where friends meet with friends to break bread, pizza and churros - while babysitting their shopping cart bulging with oversized buys.

March 4, 2008
Many of our friends here are interested in how this terrorist/terrorism thing came about. Kaj has become a scholar of the history of terrorism and Al Qaeda and the religion of Islam. He watched from his high rise window the planes fly into the World Trade Center on September 11. It was then he and Laura started researching better places to raise their family - and ended up in Port Angeles. He also wanted to know more about the Radical Islam and why we're in the middle of this war, and so he has traveled the country attending conferences and also traveled to Israel. He now is so well versed, he gives talks not only to the likes of the local police and U.S. Coast Guard, but also gives presentations to a select few at his home.

Tonight, some of our friends who don't know Kaj&Laura were invited to their home for a presentation. After it, the room was silent. Pretty sobering stuff. But if we don't understand this enemy, we can't do anything to prevent what they're trying so desperately to do.

And now for a little levity....


This is hysterical....

Last fall friend Melissa gave me some plants from her garden. She's such a good gardener, her plants start taking over and every so often she must thin them out and I'm one of the lucky recipients of her overflow. Anyway, she gave me nearly a dozen plants but by the time I got them, it had snowed and the ground was frozen solid. So there they stayed in their plastic containers. One of them appeared to be I think Salvia which has beautiful stalks of lavender blue flowers.

Every day I walked by those plastic containers and said to myself, "I've gotta plant these things." And every day I'd marvel at the staying power of those lavender blue flowers. I mean, it was amazing! Here they were lying in the snow for two weeks (the snow stayed on the ground because we're 1000 feet up and it was cold enough that the snow didn't melt). This is one hardy plant I sez to myself.

So, today I finally got around to planting. I don't know if other gardeners experience this, but invariably I'm mucking around in my garden when nearby plants are sprouting buds or blooms and the next thing I know I've trampled them to death (at least for that season) and I just get sooo mad at myself.

Well, today the same thing happened. I'm on my knees, pawing the ground with a tool, making a space to plant the salvia and another plant in the same container - I think it was artemesia for those who are interested. And as I'm turning the container upside down to get it out, I hear a snap. "Damn!" I did it again. And there is the salvia, the main stalk of which appears to be broken off at the base.

Now, get this. it wasn't until this moment that I realized....THE FLOWERS ARE SILK!

Well I thought I would die laughing. I am laughing so hard, tears are running down my face. At which point I called Melissa on my cell (I was laughing so hard I could barely get any words out) and told her and we were both rolling on the ground. Some gardener I am!

Here's a little Hollywood story that I told last night after the "presentation crowd" had gone. It came up because Kaj's mother who is visiting here from Spain wanted to know if I knew anything about Al Pacino - her favorite.

When I was in high gear in pursuit of my acting career, and before my General Hospital days, I got a call from my agent to audition for a movie called Scarface. I was at that point in my career where I no longer had to be screened by the casting director - I would go straight to meet with the producer. The producer was Marty Bregman - someone Pacino has worked with many times. The director who was also there was Brian De Palma.

I was told to go dressed up because I was being interviewed for a fancy nightclub environment. And although it was a small role, they wanted actors who were capable of improv because Pacino was famous for it and they wanted to make the most of whatever he came up with and feel confident the other actors were up to the challenge.

So I put on my little black dress, stiletto heels, jewelry, an evening purse which fit over my wrist, and a fur coat (please, do NOT even go there on fur - I know I know - but this was a gift from my father...and he made me an offer I couldn't refuse). Anyway, their offices were in the famed "Black Tower" at Universal Studios. And Bregman's office was the size of the Titanic as I remember it. I was led in the door and proceeded to walk toward Bregman and De Palma who were sitting like potentates at the far far far end of the room. I sit down. We engage in conversation. Bregman must be blind as a bat because his glasses are as thick as Coke bottles and I could see his eyes continually darting at my rhinestone covered purse. Finally, he looked at it so many times, I explained that it was (not only a purse but) a "muff." At which point he lowers his chin, peers over his glasses while turning in De Palma's direction and says, "Oh I know what a muff is!"

At which point I smiled, looked Bregman in the eye and said, "Well Mr. Bregman....this is the kind you wear on your wrist!

I got the part.

So in answer to Kaj's mom's question...I did get to meet Pacino - but it wasn't easy. He would only come out of his trailer when they were ready to shoot. And when he did, he would stay in character constantly - even when conversing with De Palma he was Tony Montana. And he would NEVER look up, his eyes were always cast down to the ground. Jeesh, how can you make eye contact so that you have an opportunity to interact?

I worked for over a week on the movie, and it was the last day. I'm on my way to my trailer and there is Pacino - all 5'4" of him - talking to the "A.D." (Assistant Director). And he looks up! And sees me! And so, I stride with purpose over to him, extend my hand and say, "Mr. Pacino may I introduce myself?" and told him my name. As I shook his hand, he clasped mine in both of his and held on.

Well, I didn't want to draw this out. He's a famous and well-respected man and I just wanted to say my piece and finish before he was bored and began to turn from me and back to the A.D. So I said, "Mr. Pacino, I love your work, I've loved it ever since I saw you in one of your early movies: Panic in Needle Park." And then I just had to slip in, "You're very sexy." And that's when I smiled, turned my back to him, and began to walk away. And I hear him say after me, "So are you!" I continue walking, turn, give a big smile and say, "Good!" and walked back to my trailer.

March 6, 2008
Got up at the ungawdly hour of 5:30 a.m. to give a property tax reform talk to a local women's group. Still, you would think by a majority of the looks on their faces that I am advocating incest.

Later in the afternoon my friend Pris helps me with terminology on my next restaurant review.

Tonight I will attend the first chapter meeting of a growing nationwide group, "Act for America" which is helping to raise awareness about the terrorist threat.

March 7, 2008
I feel compelled to pass along news of the existence of this organization (
Act for America) so that people have the opportunity to inform themselves. Evidently, I am rankling many long time acquaintances by doing so.

Thanks to the internet, for better or for worse, no matter what the subject, there is so much information (either true, dis, or mis) that in an instant one can find a myriad of "facts" to prove any point of conjecture. And terrorism is at the top of that list.

Take, for instance, the 9/11 WTC bombing. There are those who sincerely believe it was an inside job - that we bombed our own people: men, women, children and that millions of government employees and other groups are "in on it" and would agree to such a holocaust. I am not one of those people. I believe in science. Popular Mechanics enlisted experts in the fields of aviation, air defense, air traffic control, civil engineering, firefighting, metallurgy and geology - scientists all - to debunk this with scientic facts. But still, as I have sadly learned, "people convinced against their will are of their first opinion still." They've done studies, one I heard of dealing with those in the medical field. One question on a questionnaire was, "can you get HIV from a mosquito bite?" The answer is no. But there were many doctors/nurses who believed that you could. So they were given scientific evidence that this was a misconception. Even after reading scientific reports, they STILL believed they were right and the evidence wrong. So, what can you do?

So, with the risk of rankling you dear reader, I will include this link to Popular Mechanics and let you poke around for yourself. Sadly, I have found, there is no fact that cannot be refuted. Again, so what can you do?

March 9, 2008
What fun we had last night. Our circle of interesting people keeps expanding.


Last fall our friends Kaj&Laura invited us to dinner with another couple - the husband is the town's sheriff. And prior to that he was a Naval pilot with over 900 landings and take offs from carriers. Very nice and fun people. And he's doing an excellent job here after taking over from the ensconced "good 'ol boys" previous sheriff.

So last night was the dinner. First, new friends Bill&Kathy have a beautiful self-built Victorian home and this sheriff is one hell of a carpenter. Greg said he'd have hired him on when he was working in the mansions of Beverly Hills.

And Kathy served up nothing short of a fine restaurant meal. Just the presentation on the plate was worthy of Spago. In addition, she's an accomplished hair stylist and has a cute little shop in her own home.

In addition to Kaj&Laura we met another couple, Marine&Leonard who moved here from NY via Santa Monica a few years ago. She, too, is an ex-patriot successful actress and she too doesn't miss that rat race. They found this place on a vacation.

Much of the dinner conversation was how lucky we feel we all are having found such a beautiful place to live. And how pleasantly surprised we all are to find such interesting and intelligent neighbors.

Marine and I exchanged tales of our Hollywood daze.

I must say, whenever we get around others who have lived here long enough to have a "home" and, therefore, have time to enjoy what this area has to offer: nature, hikes, events....I find myself a little envious. I know our day is coming...eventually. I can already see that complain as I do about how busy we are with our "little project," we're gonna be just as busy having fun - and I'll probably complain about that too!!!

For those of you who watch Jay Leno, he has a segment called Headlines whereby viewers send him amusing ones to share. Small town papers, gotta love 'em. Okay, we've had this one from our local paper on our bulletin board for two years and I felt it was worthy of sending it in. One heck of an advertisement for health care...NOT! Let me know if Jay sees fit to put it on.

And remember my recent eagle sighting stories? Well, in the same nearby neighborhood where I've had my encounters, look at this - a pair of eagles spreading their wings to sunbathe....

March 13, 2008
It was another sleepless morning. Today was Bud's quarterly eye exam which also includes a blood panel - which requires him to fast the night before. Poor little guy doesn't get why the "staff" doesn't hop out of bed from a deep sleep (as is the norm!) and prepare a microwaved warm meal. And then it's an hour's drive to the eye specialist. Rarely does he make any car trip without getting carsick. And this time was no exception. The act of getting carsick makes him look just like a Pez dispenser. Funny as this visual is, we feel so bad. Poor little guy.

Tonight was another lecture at Kaj's and last night too. I attended last night's on the topic of terrorism because I had extended his invitation for others to hear and felt it was only polite to be there when people we know attended.

But tonight's lecture focused entirely on the religion of Islam and this is the first time he's given this one in a while. Besides learning some interesting and I gotta tell ya some very upsetting facts, we meet a nice bunch of people and end up staying for a couple of hours afterward for some great general conversation.

And, I got a call from some politicos and was asked a second time to run for Legislature. In a word: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 15, 2008
Greg of course is working at .

In the evening I went to a dinner to get a word with our gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi, to discuss an idea for his campaign that zeros in on property tax.

March 16, 2008
And yet another Homeowners Association meeting. Greg and I split the duties of Secretary/Treasurer. A President and Vice President round out the board. Our job has ten times the amount of work than the other two. And no one else stepped up to the plate when we needed people to fill these posts (hmmmm, what a surprise!). It's a pain in the butt when you're a new association and are reinventing the wheel. And to add to the frustration, the problems of attempting to contact other property owners who don't give you the courtesy of a response. No matter, when they have a problem, we'll hear from them soon enough.

March 17, 2008
A rare day off - of sorts.

First it was off to Port Townsend for our semi-annual dentist appointment. While Greg's in the chair first, I go to a local used book store. I'm looking for books on art deco design because my mind wants to work on ideas for the bedroom fireplace facade. My mind doesn't want to give it a rest even though logic tells it it's going to be two to three years before any design can become a reality. Right now I'm noodling on creating a design using one of the most famous art deco icons: New York's Chrysler Building. But these design ideas go through many transformations and that might not be part of the end product at all.

And then it was off for a nice lunch to one of our favorite eateries, Sweet Laurette. I was a bit surprised when our waitress, Gabriel (who kinda knows us by now since we always go to Sweet Laurette's after our dentist appointments) asked if I were indeed on General Hospital because she had been discussing it with her co-workers. Nowadays I do get surprised when someone recognizes me. We're a long way from Hollywood - in time as well as distance.

And then it was on to a little antiquing. That endeavor wasn't very successful (which was good for our pocketbook) but we were able to say adieu to one of my favorite shops in town. April Fool is a two-story gift shop that's always an incredibly enjoyable opportunity to window shop. So much eye candy it's impossible to take it all in. The owner is retiring after 19 years and is closing the business and selling the building. Why not sell the business? The store is so unique and so much tied to the unique eye of the owner, that no one else would be able to stock it with the wonderful things that she has.

One of our favorite treats whenever we visit is spending a little time with April Fool's resident house cat, Azreal; an elegant senior citizen and very sweet and gentle. If you couldn't find Azreal roaming around the store, you could find her napping in one of several cat beds hidden amongst the delights arranged under a display. Greg and I loved her up and said goodbye. We'll not see her again unless we make an unexpected trip before the store closes down for good.

March 18, 2008
This was an exciting day. Our old neighbors (from the house we originally rented when we moved here nearly four years ago - wow!) met us at to show us one of the components that will make up the series of
livingroom beams. They've been working on them for months. Right now it's in the very early stages and is barely a skeleton of what the final product will look like. Nevertheless, it sure was exciting to finally actually behold something that I dreamed up and designed, made scale drawings and templates for. And now, here it is - something you can see and touch. But still, this is a long long way off from being finished and installed.

After Beth&Jerry left, I spent the rest of the day working with Greg.

March 19, 2008
It's been a while since we've had a Girl's Lunch. So today we met at the little tea house restaurant, Cafe Blossom in Sequim. Melissa, Lisa and I were joined by Candice who has been in Florida for several months. In a few days she'll return to Florida until she and her husband come back in late spring - and then leave again next December. Snowbirds they call them. Although I think Candice would be happy to stay put.

Anyway, we had a "newbie" in our group. Marine. She and her husband found this incredible area about ten years ago on a vacation. She had heard we actually have a rain forest here - the only one on this continent - and she just had to see it. And when they explored the Peninsula, they gave up New York life and moved here. She, too, is a Hollywood expatriot so we had great stories to exchange.

Back at Greg caught a Stellar's jay (stock photo) who was completely pissed. He was working on getting suet from our feeder when a Flicker (stock photo) pushed him aside. You can see the reddish underbelly of the Flicker hanging from the green suet basket.

A couple of weeks back Greg grabbed this shot of Blue Mountain while standing on our cul de sac. It's a shot we've taken before but still a pleasing sight.

March 20, 2008
Tonight was another lecture at Kaj's and again I attended because people I invited came. And again, after everyone left, a few of us sat around and talked talked talked. I do love interesting conversations. It's a great way to spend some time.

March 21, 2008
And it was back again to Cafe blossom. This time for dinner with Melissa&Les. I saw Melissa at the girl's lunch and then saw the two of them at one of Kaj's recent lectures. But it's been a while since just the four of us got to spend some free time together. And tonight Cafe Blossom had a prix fixe "Taste of Italy" dinner menu. The owner served a red bell pepper soup. And I always comment how she gets the soup to be just the right temperature: not so hot as to burn your tongue, but hot on the way down the back of your throat. Turns out there's such a thing as a commercial soup warmer! Who'd a thunk it? Gotta get me one of them. Then the main course was lasagna. But this had cream and mushrooms between the layers - sort of an Alfredo version - and it was mighty good.

March 22, 2008
Today would have been my Mom's birthday - she would have been 79. Unbelievable that she's been gone for nine years. Unbelievable.

This turned out to be a very busy day.

We started out attending a Support our Troops rally along the main drag in Port Angeles. Greg served in Viet Nam and we've met many former and current soldiers here. One friend's nephew is training to go back to Iraq for a second or third tour. All the more worthy of comment because today's army is volunteer.

So we lined up with our flags and "Support Our Troops" banners and there were a lot of honks as the cars drove past us. Also there were Kaj&Laura, their two kiddles Mauritz&Leo and Kaj's Mom Svetlana (not pictured). Felt good to honor those who are on the front lines and up close to what is going on over there. It's a shame we don't hear enough about the good our troops are doing and the affection the Iraqis have for our servicemen and women.

Then it was off to to meet the radio talk show host who moderated the property tax Tea Party on the Capitol steps back in January. Mike Siegel is a very interesting man and has traveled the globe extensively. We've been trying to find a day for he and his lady friend to visit the Peninsula and tour and today was the day.

After the tour and a snack, it was decided we'd go to the Olympic Game Farm - a much more modest version - only 60 acres - of Lion Country Safari if you remember that. It started out as a retirement home for Hollywood animal actors. You stay in your car and drive by herds of animals who for the most part roam free, and you can feed bread to yaks and zebras, asian deer and buffalo and peacocks - and more seagulls than you've probably ever seen in one place. They know a good thing when they see it. This trip we also saw several bald eagles perched in a group of trees. I understand they hang out here a lot - there are feral rabbits and so the pickings are good (poor wabbits) and at times they have dozens of eagles sitting in the trees so that must be quite the sight.

Greg and I have been there several times and each time there's a part of the experience that's either hysterical or magical.

At the end of our car tour it was just about closing time and we got into a conversation with two of the caretakers. And they walked us over to one of the cages with a bengal tiger (stock photo). They explained that this particular tiger had been someone's pet for several years. It's so sad because people just jump into buying a wild animal like this without the slightest idea of how to properly care for it. Not to mention the fact it's against the law. It's owner was feeding it like a dog: several small meals a day. When in reality, these majestic beasts gorge on 70 or 80 pounds at a time every three or four days.

Anyway, this tiger knows people and while you must always have your guard up, definitely knew the caretaker. And so, because there was a chain link fence between us, I was able to actually be cheek to cheek with this unbelievable creature as it talked and growled and did its version of purring and meowing. It rubbed up against the fence, just like cats will rub on things, and would fall over on its side and basically just act like one big kitty. Tigers are more closely related to cats than lions. What an incredible experience. What a rare and amazing experience. I'll be talking about this for a long time.

And then it was to Alderwood Bistro for dinner. I just did a review which will be published next week:

Alderwood Bistro is a twist on the name of the street where the little house which became a restaurant is located. I remember driving by the house many times in anticipation of the "new restaurant in town;" watching the young restaurateurs through the windows as they worked for months to renovate the space.

According to their handout menu: bistro: "a small, casual neighborhood restaurant, usually serving modest, down-to-earth food and wine."

Here is a restaurant heaven sent - especially for the adventurous with an educated palette who like to dine - and all that implies.

Husband and wife team Gabriel & Jessica Schuenemann are involved in every aspect. They grow food on the premises to use in their inventive dishes and worked together on the interior design as well. Seating includes booths and tables and a small bar made of an artfully shaped slice of polished tree trunk.

Where some restaurants (can you imagine!) actually play fast music and offer uncomfortable seating to get you to eat and run - with profits in mind, at Alderwood Bistro they encourage something you rarely hear today: "Take your time."

The interior design follows their "slow food" philosophy. Warm honey colors creates an intimacy that just makes you want to slow down and smell the coffee. The walls are hung with artwork from local artists and if something strikes your fancy, it's yours for a price. They're all about supporting local talent. And that includes the local farms like Lazy J and Nash's Organic Produce.

Did you catch that term "slow food?" It's a movement and a philosophy gaining momentum (www.slowfoodusa.org). The concept has to do with healthy eating and the art of sharing the experience with friends. It's motto is "Good, Clean, Fair" with an emphasis on local and organic whenever possible: "naturally delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals, grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on ecosystems and biodiversity, produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor."

My Hubby, Greg and I have dined there several times for lunch but recently good friends introduced us to their dinner fare. Since our friends are good friends with Gabriel and Jessica, Gabriel spent a little extra time with us discussing his love of food and his enthusiasm for passing the results of that love and attention on for his patrons to enjoy.

Gabriel has catered in San Francisco, cooked at Seasons in Davis, California, traveled in Europe, and followed his quest for culinary bliss to France and Turkey and Spain. When Gabriel came over to talk tableside, he brought with him an appetizer of salumi (salami), grilled pear and walnuts in a balsamic reduction. Now, I have to come clean here - whenever my friends who love to cook want to make me something special they just can't wait to tell me all the goodies in the recipe. And I tell them, "Please, don't tell me what's in it - because I'll tell you I don't like that kind of stuff!" And almost without exception...just like Mikey - I like it! So I would challenge you who are the "strictly meat and potatoes" type to take Auntie Mame's advice to Emma Gooch and, "Live a little." The appetizer was mighty tasty.

Also brought to the table was a basket of sour dough bread with humus. Humus is a spread made of mashed chick peas (aka carbanzo beans). Trust me, it's good.

Sooo, I decided to pinch my nose and jump into the pond and ordered "Tower" for my entree.

But first, soup. The evening's soup was Jerusalem artichoke also known as a sunchoke but really has nothing to do with artichoke. Got it? I swear it had milk in it - but it didn't. And the flavor was subtle and satisfying - despite the confusing moniker.

Next I had a salad of pears and pecans. It came with bleu cheese but I exchanged it for cheese of the goat. Gabriel likes slipping fruit in with his many interesting dishes and it really helps wake up those jaded tastebuds.

Okay, my entree - Tower. This has got to be one of the most delicious vegetarian dishes I've ever eaten. So good, I'll order it next time...while always keeping my option of sampling what everyone else is ordering. Capped with a huge fire-roasted portabella mushroom, the Tower this particular night consisted of some of my fav veggies: cauliflower, brussel sprouts, fingerllng potatoes, and Nash's mashed sweet potato in a balsamic reduction. A reduction is what is left when you cook down a sauce to a thickened consistency that concentrates its flavor. I was in carb nirvana.

My girlfriend, a chef herself who sometimes pitches in in the kitchen during peak hours, ordered a beet salad with mandarin orange, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and mixed greens lightly tossed in vinaigrette. Being so familiar with the menu, she was having a veritable sampling orgy and savored Alder Planked Fish which this night was steelhead. And a serving of fresh sauteed kale. And squid and chorizo (a type of sausage) in a delicious light tomato broth - which we found is excellent for bred dipping. I held my breath and consumed at least part of a squid which looked to me like a tiny octopus. I felt just like Tom Hanks in "Big" when he tried caviar for the first time. But I hope I wasn't quite so obvious - I didn't spit it out. (Oh, and I just gotta make note here that I was astounded by the array of dinner choices my friend ate. No bigger than a minute, this girl can really pack it away, and at half my size - she puts my appetite to shame. You go girl!)

My friend's husband ordered meatloaf. But this isn't the kind your mother made with bread crumbs and Campbell's tomato soup. Wrapped in bacon with sauteed greens, buttermilk mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, it just seems plain wrong to call it meatloaf.

Greg had salumi salad and "Smokey" pizza from the wood-fired oven - again with that special salami called salumi. He evidently really really...really liked the flavor.

Their specially constructed wood fired brick oven is a work of art in itself and takes up a good portion of their kitchen. Once stoked, it runs for hours and this is where many of their dishes are brought to life.

Other items on the menu include several appetizers including fresh calamari and oysters, salads, soup, "artisan" (fancy) pizza and entrees such as grilled lamb, chicken paillard and steak frite; all combined with interesting varieties of fresh vegetables, nuts, fruits, herbs, broth and butters.

Their lunch menu includes many of their dinner items but also expanded pizza choices, a savory tart - both vegetarian and meat, and specialty sandwiches including hot grilled paninis.

For the "Sweet Finish" the table ordered the Chocolate Bliss, a flourless chocolate brownie with chocolate and raspberry sauces. But I horded a scrumptious carrot cake.

Beverages include hot and cold teas, organic coffee, sodas and sparkling fruit juices. I ordered decaf coffee which came in an impressive "French press" which squeezes the brew until it's nice and strong. Their beer is a rotating selection from (where else?) local brewers. And according to their menu, the wine list consists of far too many selections to do justice by listing them (but they include local and imported wines - some at excellent prices) - they encourage you to come in for a glass or a bottle. Bottoms up!


In the evenings, after our long days, we've been watching HBO's John Adams about the Revolutionary War and the formation of the United States . Something that was so dry and boring to read about when I was a child in school, now, understanding human nature and politics, is just plain fascinating. The successful creation of this country was a miraculous moment in time. I don't think we realize the precarious nature of the gift of freedom. Today losing freedom doesn't usually come with a big bang and marching armies, but happens in little chips until by the time you realize what has happened, it's too late.

What's that saying, I think it was Churchill, "Those that do not remember history are doomed to repeat it?" Well, when the original handful of men were discussing the necessary but also certainly bloody decision whether or not to break away from British rule, the arguments made could be lifted verbatim into today's debate about whether or not to fight terrorism.

I believe we have all been lulled into complacence and have forgotten how delicate is freedom and liberty - and how easily it can be lost.

March 23, 2008
Friends Jan&Patty invited us to an Easter Brunch at their home. It's been I think months since we've gotten together. Usually there's always some celebration going on at their house but life gets in the way and this was their first opportunity to entertain in a while.

I've gotten Greg to take off a few days here and there in the past week and upcoming week. All work and no play makes for one very frazzled human being.

March 26, 2008
Worked at home all day and then went to to get mail and just check up...and we were greeted with a winter wonderland! Had no idea.

Greg is just exhausted - mentally and physically. And he probably won't return to "work" until Monday.

Just looking at our project gives you some idea of the work involved...but even pictures don't give you a true picture of the immensity of it all. Even one of our old friends who worked alongside Greg in the mansions of Beverly Hills...even he who looked at our blueprints before we broke ground...even he hung his head when we brought him to look at the place about a year ago. Because of his background, he understands the scope of this thing.

In the wee hours of the night, I wonder if we will live long enough to finish this thing and have a long enough time (and what is long enough anyway?) to enjoy it before there are no tomorrows for us. And I know Greg wakes up in the wee hours of the night and can't get back to sleep worrying over a myriad of details. But we started with a dream...and here we are. One foot in front of the other.

March 29, 2008
A disappointing early morning garage sale/estate sale foray (this is not the best area for flea markets!!!) although yesterday we scored an incredible find. The downtown Port Angeles Antique Mall had an old etching plate from the 1930s signed by Rolf Armstrong who was famous for portraits of women not unlike Vargas. Got a great price on it and couldn't make out the signature until we got it home. Greg fiddled around with a scan of it in Photoshop and was able to
create this image. He thinks he'll be able to strike a print from it some day.

Anyway, after a morning of uneventful antiquing we got something to eat and then took a nice long walk/hike in a nearby forest near the Robin Hill Farm off Old Olympic Highway. The weather was perfect (for us); probably in the low 40s and that's plenty warm enough when you're hiking and producing body heat.

Then we took a short drive to the famous Nash's Produce; a cooperative organic farm comprised of many local growers besides its namesake where all the best restaurants buy their fresh fruits and veggies. We got a bunch of nice sweet organic carrots and munched them on our way to the Dungeness Valley Creamery - a working dairy farm.

This dairy farm is I think only one of two left in Sequim when once upon a time there used to be 600. Dairy farmers have died and their families sold the land to developers. Such is progress. I'm glad we're building far away from this area up in the mountains where building codes require lots usually no smaller than 5 acres and more often 20 acres. Our two and a half acre lot is kind of a rarity.

So, we spent some time in the cow barn petting Bossy and her pals and also some cute little calves. When we walked into the barn, we of course were hit with the distinct aroma of "cow" (more of a description I won't go into here). Each cow had a tag on its ear with a name: Patrice, Gem, Louise. They'd poke their heads out from the metal slats of their stalls where they stand to eat their hay. Behind the feeding area are "shoots" where they can lie down and relax. Of course, I had to go and pet them and they were more interested in licking my hand or licking our jeans for some reason. But all were very curious and all eyes were on us when we came into the barn. Outside were little corrals with igloos where the baby calves are. They are just so cute; big brown eyes and long eyelashes. Some were curious and came over to us to pet, others shied away.

Then we sat in our car , watched the rain come down and dined on some nice fresh bread and Tomme cheese from the Creamery Country Store (after dousing our hands with Purell) and drove up into the mountains which were covered with snow. Later at home we watched some good tv. This one station, Ovation, I think it may be kinda new, has fantastic programming and we watched a documentary on cinematography.

When we were finishing our hike earlier in the day, we got back to the car just as it was starting to rain. While we were home watching tv, we heard little pinging sounds outside to find we had a few minutes of hail. We looked out the door to see little "diamonds" bouncing off the deck.

March 30, 2008
Great day!

We were invited to new friends Marine&Len's home for brunch. The reason for the occasion was to bid adieu to Kaj's mom Svetlana who has been visiting for the last few months.

What an interesting woman! And beautiful.

Greg and I have had the chance to get to know her over the past few months and she has told us interesting and troubling stories about her "home."

Svetlana was born during Hitler's rein in WWII. In the 1950s and 1960s she and her husband lived here in the United States. Then they moved to Spain and that's where they make their home today, near Valencia.

I've been telling you about lectures we've attended at her son's home on the subject of the threat of terrorism. She is here visiting without her husband and we asked why he didn't accompany her. We were shocked to hear that one of them must always stay to occupy their home because Muslims broke into and took over their neighbor's home while they were out of town - and it took five years to get them evicted! When we asked her why they just don't sell their home and move here she explained that the government there will not let them take their money out of Spain. Not only that, but she told us that having a meeting such as her son has in his home would be met with - get this! - beatings and jailings. Such is the political climate not only in Spain but in France and most of Europe. Frightening. And most people we try to talk to about this think we are mistaken...

Anyway, this luncheon was to bid her safe travels back to Spain.

Marine&Len's home is gorgeous. It is at the tippy top of what is known as Bell Hill here in Sequim and it has an indescribable view from Victoria B.C., the Straits of Juan de Fuca all the way to Protection Island and beyond. You'd have to see it to take it all in.

They bought their home on first look when they came here about 8 years ago.

And not only do they have a beautiful home but Marine is one hell of a cook. I swear, every single woman I've met here is a culinary champ. And me, when I do cook, I make huge vats of some concoction that I divvy up into a dozen containers to defrost and heat up for our dinners. No, I'm not going to state once again that some day......

Before, during, and after lunch we had more fascinating conversations on history, art, sociology, you name it.

March 31, 2008
It hailed again this afternoon.

Greg and I were working at and at first I thought it was drizzling, then I thought it was snowing - and maybe it was for a flake or two. And then a gentle deluge of tiny hail.

Spring is not yet ready to "come on" as they say.

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