January thru June
JANUARY 1, 2006
Happy New Year to all! Where has the time gone?
What would a new year be without another New Year's Resolution? So hear goes:
Greg's and my goal is to complete this "vision" of ours. is more than just a structure for us. It will be the embodiment of our future. Our lives will be entwined with what we have built with our own hands, and the nature that surrounds it. As Robert Frost once wrote, "And miles to go before (we) sleep"...so too must Greg and I keep pushing forward to finish this project. And then....as for me, my wish is to be "happily idle" and have the luxury of sitting back and taking life in, instead of having an endless "must do" list!
As for my extracurricular activity of attempting to change Washington's constitution, while I emphatically stated before that I would not take on any more projects - especially one so momentous, this quest is part and parcel to our future here...no one else seemed to be stepping up to the plate on this issue and if something isn't done and done soon, our future here, and those of thousands of Washingtonians, is in jeopardy.
JANUARY 9, 2005
A momentous occasion: we had our first "family" visitors. Billy & Sharon's son, Damon and his glowingly very pregnant wife Teri and little daughter Sage came a visiting. Before I took them out to see , I took them for a late lunch at one of Sequim's finest. Then we were off down Highway 101 toward the "jobsite"...
They read our journals and looked at all the pictures, but came away saying that it didn't prepare them from actually seeing our little monster in person.
The visit was too brief, but we're looking forward when we actually have a guest room for them to stay in.
JANUARY 20, 2005
All my "spare" time (HA!) is spent on this constitutional amendment. In fact, as I write, I'm waiting for a phone call from a Washington radio show to give an interview about the upcoming hearing (Tuesday, January 24) for our amendment in the House Finance Committee.
Other than that, it's work on the house, eat, sleep, pay bills, and watch a little tv!
JANUARY 26, 2005
Well, my cold held off blossoming until after the hearing Tuesday night. What a kick, getting to give politicians what for at a House of Representatives Hearing. This is a monumental uphill battle to change the state's constitution, but people are scared to death they're losing their homes. It's really sad, and it's really wrong. The audio of my speech is on the TV Washington website archives. But if you don't have the patience for that, or can't get it, for the record, here it is:
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF HJR 4214
Thank you Rep. McIntire for granting us today's hearing.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee:
As co-founder of Property Owners for Predictable Tax Now, I represent some 300 homeowners on the Olympic Peninsula.
But this is an issue that affects every single resident of the state of Washington.
Chairman McIntyre, after we met last week to request this hearing, I gave some serious thought to your point of view. And now I ask for you, and the members of this Committee, to keep an open mind with ours.
Perhaps the decision to amend the state constitution, regarding Washington’s broken property tax system, comes down to the issue of fairness. What is fair? Like beauty, it could be said, fairness lies in the eye of the beholder.
To be fair, any tax structure should have some degree of predictability.
As the law now stands, property owners are corks in the ocean; their futures at the whim of the supply and demand of the real estate market. The law, as it now stands, sentences Washington’s citizens to a lifetime of work, by making retirement virtually unattainable. The current law penalizes pride in ownership. Why should I improve my property, when doing so only insures my taxes will be more than my neighbor; who allows his property to deteriorate? Why should I build a quality home, when a cheaply constructed one will cost me less in taxes? I ask you, is this fair?
In talks with some representatives, we expressed our concerns about the hardship of rampant property tax increases on voters. And it was suggested our citizens simply mortgage their homes to pay for their property taxes.
Members of the Committee, I ask you, is this the solution you would offer to your mother, your grandmother, your sister or your children?
In another conversation, one senator seemed to think selling our homes was an acceptable option for our property tax travails.
I ask you, is this fair? Is this the message Washington wants to send to its citizens: if we can’t afford the escalating and unpredictable taxes on our homes, we must encumber or sell off our piece of the American dream?
It is a hardship on those who have settled in a community to pack up and move. While for someone who is prepared to make a move, it is not.
Think about this: property tax is the only instance I can think of where we are taxed on unrealized value. I ask you, is this fair? Is it fair to keep taxing and taxing us on intangible gains, when we do not want to cash out by selling our homes, or encumber our properties with mortgages?
It appears under the legislature'’s definition of fairness, your sympathy focuses on the new home buyer, who has the option to choose whether or not they can afford to buy a particular home.
Our sympathies lie with homeowners who have no choice to make; who have been part of their community and lived in their homes for many years and long to continue to live in the homes they love where they have raised their families.
The state constitution ties us to the concept of uniformity: we submit uniformity is anything but uniform under the current system. Neighbors do not pay the same taxes. Not only that, there are 107 exemptions to the property tax laws. I ask you, where is the uniformity when two thirds of properties are exempt?
Over the past 30 years, we can prove tax shifts onto residential homeowners have been of epic proportions.
Depending on the county and time frame, residential values have increased between 200 and 400%. While at the same time, industrial and commercial values have increased only 15%. Obviously, it is the homeowners who have been carrying the escalating brunt of the burden.
In the last 40 years, voters have never been given the opportunity to choose the formula by which their property tax increases are based. Given the opportunity, we adamantly feel voters would overwhelmingly approve our proposal.
In 1966, in an effort to achieve fairness in property taxes, a law was passed to exempt low income senior citizens from levies. But that did not fix the problem. Huge increases in property values negated any gain from the exemptions.
As a result, in 1995, it was the legislature that adopted exactly the same solution to the property tax problem we are proposing: freezing property values. What is fair is to apply that benefit to all.
To be sure, we have learned from the mistakes made by California and Oregon. And that is why our proposal does not call for a rollback; but rather freezes property values at 2006 levels plus a 1% increase per year thereafter, in addition to new construction and sales.
Taxing districts do not suffer under our proposal. It is revenue neutral. The distribution may differ, but the amount is never less. In fact, whether or not this amendment is passed, the amount the state receives is unaffected because taxing districts only receive the amount from the previous year, plus 1%. And that is a result of initiative 747 which the voters thought would fix the problem.
What our proposal will do:
It will give all property owners, including those on a fixed income, low-income, single parent households, renters, and small businesses predictability.
It will give them the ability to budget for their futures.
It will encourage stakeholders.
It will help to build communities which in turn lowers crime rates.
And it will encourage pride in ownership.
What our proposal will not do:
It will not take one penny from schools, libraries, emergency, fire or police services.
It will not affect levies, or the ability for voters to consider new levies.
It will not affect a property owner's right to appeal.
We hope we have been able to convince you today of the merits of this new concept of addressing fairness and predictability in property tax assessments.
And we ask you, to trust it to a vote of the people to make up their own minds on this issue. Let the voters examine the issue. Let all the pros and cons come out in public debate.
Let the people decide if they would rather pay taxes based on what their neighbor paid for his or her home, or what they choose to pay for their home, at the time of purchase.
But give us the opportunity to vote!
When your constituents ask you: why should we re-elect you in this election year? You can tell them: we have given you, for the first time in 40 years, a voice in the formula which determines how your property taxes are assessed.
Gentlemen, now that the House has granted us our hearing, thank you again Rep. McIntire, we’re not just asking for your vote, we’re asking you for much more: to champion this cause and tell your colleagues in the Senate you are not going home without this. Prove to the people that elected officials can offer alternatives.
And lastly, I would like to thank Rep. Jim Buck and House Majority Leader, Rep. Lynn Kessler who signed on as co-prime sponsors, and the other representatives who signed on to this legislation.
I thank you.
JANUARY 31, 2005
I stayed home again today...while poor Greg goes off to war.
Yesterday myself and the county assessor were interviewed on the local public tv station about the amendment. This campaign probably won't succeed, at least this year. The shame of it is, thousands more will be forced out of their homes. I can't believe how arrogant elected officials are!
It's been gray all day. And now, late in the afternoon it is terrifically windy, rain coming down horizontally, and inbetween raindrops is snow! If Greg didn't have to be out in it, I would just love sitting at the window at and enjoy the show.
Meanwhile, Judie is on her way over with a big pot of pea soup and bread for our dinner! I finally found a way to get food delivered out here in the boonies!
FEBRUARY 2, 2006
People are weird! I spoke today at a local Rotary Club luncheon to explain our proposed amendment. I swear you would think I was trying to make incest legal by their reaction and looks on their faces! Amazing. And then they ask you questions and you give them the answers from the experts and STILL they don't want to be swayed by the facts. Unbelievable.
FEBRUARY 10, 2005
We're finally getting a break in the seemingly unending days of rain. It's so funny, we move up here in Spring of '04 and one of the things I'm so looking forward to is leaving the hot weather of California (lest you be making a comment here: that's why there's chocolate and vanilla!). So we get up here and it's warm, not hot like California, but warm - especially in this rental house where the entire front is all windows and we're sitting in front of them all day long working at the computers. And people are saying to us, "This is sooo unusual, it's never this warm, especially so early in the year!" My luck! Now....they're saying, "This is sooo unusual, it's never this rainy - and for so long!" Like I said before, if we were already moved in, it wouldn't be a problem at all. But as it is, it's been difficult and certainly slowed progress. And as for me, between days of spray painting our exterior siding, I've been staying home working on "household business" and this constitutional amendment.
Speaking of the amendment: for now, it's all over but the shouting. I swear, I don't know how elected officials do it! You either have a deep desire to help the public, or a gargantuan need for power, because I gotta tell ya: people are lazy and stupid. At least, that's what I've found out in my little quest to do something about runaway property taxes. And it's not just here in Washington. The Wall Street Journal just had a story about how there's a nationwide revolt building to deal with this growing problem. So far, twenty states are working on it in some fashion. Well, I guess I've gotta stay in this for the long haul.....People here are losing their family homes and although it doesn't affect Greg and I right now...it will in the future, so I guess there's a bit of selfishness in this vendetta but it will truly help tens of thousands of people if we're successful.
I was able to be a "caller" into the Sean Hannity and Michael Medved radio shows today because of that Wall Street Journal article.
FEBRUARY 14, 2006
Today was Valentine's Day...maybe next year we'll be able to celebrate it but today Greg and I worked at for hours and hours. Spraying this Hardie siding I'm finding is extremely hard on my body. My neck and upper back are in constant spasms and arthritis has made it impossible to get my rings on...they can no longer go over my knuckles. Ahhh, ain't aging a wonderful journey?! Ptuey!!!
Anyway, by the time we finished for the day, we were so exhausted we just wanted to grab a bite and go home. But it's Valentine's Day and our first choice was SRO - the first time we've ever encountered that! And our standby fav, Chinese, had just finished with the big rush but still it too f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get the food. I was so tired I practically fell asleep in my Hot & Sour soup. Which reminds me of one of the funniest moments on a TV show I've ever seen: remember Mary Hartman Mary Hartman when the coach who had taken too much cold medicine fell into his chicken soup and drowned!!! Hysterical!
FEBRUARY 17, 2006
Work continues on the house...albeit s-l-o-w-l-y. We will be saying adieu to our "assistant" contractor very soon and frankly can't wait! Greg hasn't been able to work on his projects because he's had to closely supervise the assistant. That's because the assistant isn't up on the craftsmanship of building - at least not to "ex-Beverly Hills -he worked on mega-mansions" Greg's expertise. Once he's gone it will basically be Greg and myself and I'm itching to get working on the electrical and plumbing.
It has been COLD here the last few days. In fact, they're saying it's the coldest it's been in a decade. To me, running around at the property doing heavy labor, it just seems a bit "brisk"! We had a light snow here at the rental house and the snow line has come down the mountains at but no snow to speak of. But the ground is frozen solid...except where it's complete mush where we've had to do some excavating.
So far I haven't been able to get on the Rush Limbaugh show and it looks doubtful but I'll keep trying. I get through to the producer but the subject doesn't interest them right now. What was it the bad witch said in the Wizard of Oz? "All in good time my dearie, alllll in gooood time"!
FEBRUARY 21, 2006
A rare day for me. While Greg toiled at , I had a full day of errands in town. But I was able to steal some time to meet a new friend, Jill, at my favorite Chinese restaurant for a quick lunch.
In my life before, one of my fav things to do was get gussied up and go meet a girlfriend at a great restaurant for lunch. Everyone's life is so busy that it's hard to maintain friendships. Meeting my friends for lunch was a wonderful way of keeping in touch.
Now, I don't get gussied (boy is THAT an understatement!), and the "great" restaurants are slim pickin's.
MARCH 1, 2006
What a way to start a new month --- a blast from the past!
I'd heard that Emma Samms and Tristan Rogers had returned to General Hospital, so yesterday I taped the show (which I haven't watched in years) and fast forwarded to see some of my old friends. Can't believe it's twenty plus years ago. Incredible!
Emma and Tris and Tony Geary look great. Nostalgia got the best of me and so, I decided to hunt through my Rolodex and call the studio. Well, that took a bit of sleuthing since my numbers go back to the days when GH was taped at the Gower Studios and now they're taped at ABC on Prospect in Hollywood. Anyway, I ended up calling an old friend of mine from my UCLA days - when I worked as a medical secretary in the Division of Medical Genetics at the Neuropsychiatric Institute (what a mouthful). Her daughter, Shelley Curtis, went on to produce Days of Our Lives where I worked for a blip in time, but also Shelley directed at GH for several years before moving over to All my Kids. Was able to get her on the phone last night and she gave me the phone number to the make-up room - where everyone hangs out.
Wellll, I just got off the phone with Donna and we had a wonderful time getting caught up. Donna was brand new to the trade when I sat in her make up chair in '84, '85, and '86. Now she's the big mucky muck there and still as sweet, and sensible, as ever. Her three kids are growing up...I remember visiting her when she was majorly preggers with her first. She told me who was still there (Greggers who did props and now is Stage Manager. And Randy who works in lighting). Then Tony Geary walked in she put him on the line - it took him a second to place me - I'm sure he wasn't expecting to hear this voice from the past, especially so early in the morning. He's such a nice man. I worked with him on a TV movie about herpes (!!!) before my GH days. Emma had by now gone back to England but she's supposed to be coming back every few months for short stints and Donna promised to give her my number. Emma has two kids and is now divorced. John Riley and Sharon Wyatt are working again and are now on Passions; Judith Chapman is on B&B and owns(ed?) a restaurant in Palm Springs where she's lived for many years. Likewise Tris; he lives in PS and commutes and has also been doing directing. Oh and Kristina Malandro Wagner is back at school and they've replaced her. And Gloria (the Producer who brought GH back from the dead and made it a phenomenon) must be...what 100?! She too lives in Palm Springs. What IS it with this warm weather...I left California to go to colder climes!!!
On sadder notes, the head make-up girl when I was working, PK, and two directors: Marlena Laird and Alan Pultz, all passed away from cancer.
And Donna gave me a wonderful compliment....she said my ears must burn because she still brings me up in conversations...after twenty years! And we both agreed, back then, GH was an incredible place to work.
I still keep in contact with Brian Patrick Clark who now lives in Florida with his gold medal gymnast wife, Kathy. Before we left L.A., I contacted Steve Bond (my love interest Jimmy Lee) and we did a lot of reminiscing over a nice lunch. And, a few months ago I spoke with Jackie Zeman and we've emailed. Think I'll email her today and tell her all about this.
Wow! Wish I could just slip through the phone lines and visit for a day...
Meanwhile...still working to change the state constitution (maybe by the time the governor is up for reelection, this can be a campaign issue?!). I've been staying home lots to catch up on stuff here, but next week after our we've bid adieu to our contractor, Greg and I will start working together again - plumbing and electrical are ahead for us.
MARCH 2, 2006
Today we bid adieu to our contractor who took us from a hole in the ground to where we are today.
MARCH 5, 2006
When we lived in "Hollywood" and I belonged to the SAG Film Society, there wasn't a film I wouldn't have seen by the time Oscar rolled around. Not anymore. Greg and I managed to see Brokeback Mountain last night and enjoyed it...but that's IT.
At least I got to celebrate the occasion with Judie, a tradition I thought would be forever lost . For the past two years with her in LA and us here, we've had to settle for frantic phone calls back and forth. But now, we spent the evening together.
Usually we make my Chinese Chicken Salad but Judie opted for tostadas which were delish and she even made my signature Strawberry Ice Box Pie - yummmmm.
And even though I had hardly seen any of the movies, I know all these actor's work and you really couldn't go wrong no matter who won.
Oh, and on the way to Judie's we saw the most beautiful rainbow. You could see the entire arc. The weekend was absolutely beautiful.
MARCH 6, 2006
Two new friends, Lisa and Melissa, came to today to help me plant all those trees and shrubs I bought from the conservation district. On my way to the property, there was another spectacular rainbow. I've seen more rainbows in two years here than I ever did in LA. This time I was able to see where it met the ground end to end. It was awesome...you could actually see the prism effect as it landed just before a grove of Douglas Fir.
But despite how beautiful the weekend was, by the time my friends showed up to help, it was a deluge! My friends thought ahead with either water proof clothing or a change of clothes. Not me...I got drenched to the bone including two layers of sweat shirts and a thermal undershirt. After the planting was done, there we all were, having lunch, with my teeth chattering while I'm holding a cup filled with ice and my diet cola and a cold Subway sandwich!
Oh, forgot to include a few recent photos. Here's Greg working, safely I might add, on the turret roof - some forty five feet in the air. I feel so sorry for him. Standing hours on an angled roof is torture to his poor feet. So much so, we've had to have orthotics made for his shoes. And here he is balancing on a sliver of scaffolding doing some paint touch up. This view over our (eventual) pond (below frame) was taken February 24 just after snowfall dusted the Olympics. Can't wait to call this home!
MARCH 14, 2006
I've had to travel to Olympia twice in the past week for the predictable tax amendment campaign, and both times Greg was my escort. I was going to try and drive myself, but I realized I'm not up to the task. Back in Los Angeles I knew every shortcut, neighborhood, and freeway system. Here, I know the Peninsula but traveling two hours away by myself where the weather can turn on a dime and there are long stretches of wilderness...well, I thought twice.
We were able to combine the trips with errands for supplies and managed to squeeze in a nice lunch and dinner and some window shopping - rare these days. We've been so busy we've never even had time to use the GPS which comes with our new Prius. But I was able to stop by the dealer a few days ago and get a crash course and today we used it to find our way around Olympia. What a kick...you can set it for voice and it talks you through your trip..."Turn off on exit 128 and go left..." After my meeting we were looking for a restaurant and the system even narrows your search down to ethnic cuisines. Welcome to the 21st century.
MARCH 15, 2006
Our family is growing. I now have two new third cousins. Billy & Sharon's sons, Ryan and Damon have both had babies in the past few weeks. Little Kasey Liebowitz showed up on February 2 making proud parents of Mama Kendra and Papa Ryan. And today, Damon & Teri Liebowitz welcomed Noah. Now little Sage has a bro..and Noah (& Kasey) win the "fantastic family" lottery. And the beat goes on...
Meanwhile, back at ...We found what we thought were cougar tracks just down the street. So we got out our wild animal track book and it turns out these prints are definitely canine. Felines have retractable fingernails, they don't leave nail tracks. We have to keep reminding ourselves that our home is in a wilderness area...worlds away from life in Los Angeles.
MARCH 16, 2006
Met our state representative, Jim Buck for lunch today to discuss amendment strategies. Jim is our champion for changing the property tax laws here. He's up for re-election and I want to make sure he succeeds. He had never been to the Old Mill Cafe named for the old mill that used to stand there. When he asked what was good on the menu, I told him Greg says they have thee best burger on the Peninsula. What a coincidence..just guess what it's called? The Big Buck!
MARCH 18, 2006
While I left Greg working on on the roof at , I spent the afternoon checking out a multiple-family garage sale at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds where I ran into friends Gordon & Donna. Gordon is a master carver and is working on some man in the moon plaques that we'll replicate and use as architectural elements for the house. Then I made a quick dash over to the local antique show....and ran into Gordon & Donna again. Such is life in a small town. She was buying teapots to add to her collection and I was able to negotiate a nice discount for a real cute one. Next, it was on to the local garden show in Sequim. I'm still trying to keep to my word of leaving as much of the wilderness as possible on our property, but I'm always looking for ideas. Besides, our friends Jill & Jim had a booth there selling wonderful custom made garden furniture and I wanted to see their display. I nearly got out without spending a dime. Well, that's not exactly true....
I remember when I was a little girl and I couldn't wait to carry a purse. Now, I try to eliminate carrying this luggage whenever possible. (And because of our stupefying project, my purse - no kidding - must weigh 15 pounds.) So, I showed up at the garden show without a dime on me...and the entrance fee was $3. What to do? People here are the trusting sort and I told the ticket sales lady that I had friends inside and would borrow from them and come right back. Took me a few minutes to find Jim and when I asked to borrow the money, he reminded me we had lent them about $40 when we all recently went to the local builders expo. So, back to the ticket booth I go and told the lady, "Boy, I only asked for the $3 and look, he gave me $40! Pretty good deal!
Anyway, so I'm walking out the door and just as I was leaving, I spied a booth with garden ceramics and lo and behold, she had one nice man in the moon plaque...so there went that $40!
Later, Greg and I were invited to a corned beef and cabbage dinner at Judie & Sue's (to celebrate St. Paddy's day). Since I had the time, I decided to walk the two miles or so to Judie's and meet Greg there. It was well worth the walk. I strolled through local streets filled with trees and quaint houses, along with manufactured homes and doublewides - very common in areas like this. In fact, I think something like 40% of the US population lives in this type of home. Eventually, I came to the local park. They have a Japanese style pond and ducks were everywhere. I had to cross a large grass field and there must've been 200 all walking and squawking together. It was nice to get the chance to stop and smell the roses and I felt a little guilty knowing Greg was still working.
MARCH 19, 2006
While we toil our days away, our "child" has it made in the shade (or should I say sun). Greg keeps telling Bud, when we're all moved in and work is done, he's going to follow him around and do whatever he does...nap and eat.
MARCH 24, 2006
My first UniGirl comes to visit. Lynne Goldy Joseph and I go waaay back. We've known each other since we went to Bellagio Road Elementary School in Bel Air (circa 1962).
Lynne and her hubby come to Seattle every year around this time so he can attend a medical conference. The last two trips we've been unable to connect (this is our third spring here - unbelievable!), but this time Lynne was able to take the puddle jumper from Seattle to the local airport in Port Angeles. Judie and I picked her up at the airport around 9:30 a.m. and spent a very busy day together. First stop was for a detailed tour. Lynne & Bruce just finished building their dream home in Bakersfield, so she was very familiar with what we're dealing with here. While our home is Craftsman Gothic, hers is contemporary. If I were a zillionaire, I'd have homes with many different architectural styles...modern, log cabin, English Tudor, Japanese, Art Deco...one to fit every mood. It's easy to see they put a lot of thought into their place.
After the "tour" it was off to the quaint Victorian town of Port Townsend, about an hour from . Weather permitting, we would have taken a drive to Olympic National Park up Hurricane Ridge to see the Olympic mountains up close, but it was a foggy day so no sense driving up into mountains you can't see. To think one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States is just minutes from - just awesome. We have a view of Hurricane Ridge from our place and the fog lifted enough for her to get a glimpse during the tour. We did do some sightseeing, taking the Old Olympic Highway through Sequim on our way to PT, passing forests and farms and old weathered buildings, with the Olympic Mountains peeking through in the distance. We had a late lunch at a cute little bistro, Sweet Laurette (Lynne's treat) and then we did some window shopping and splurged on some homemade ice cream. By now it was around 3:30 and Lynne had to be back at the airport by 5:15, so we started back with a stopover at Judie's and a detailed look at her home from a CD her husband worked on in the wee hours of the morning before they left for Washington. Then Lynne and I headed back to the airport. We got there in plenty of time, checked in and then made that last minute trip to the powder room. This is a very small airport so we get a kick out of the sign on the building: Fairchild "International". It's all very folksy, so much so you begin to have second thoughts if it's your first experience. But they're very professional. Anyway, by the time we walked back to the terminal, it was empty. And there was the puddle jumper, just about to take off - the groundsperson giving the thumbs up and the glass door to the plane was locked! I turned around to see Lynne's eyes about to pop out of her head and her mouth agape, so I began to bang on the door - I felt like Dustin Hoffman in that famous wedding scene from The Graduate. The groundsperson finally heard us and raced over to get the last passenger. Whew. It might not have been so bad, but this flight was the last to leave the Peninsula for the evening. (Cannot believe we didn't take ONE picture of her visit!!)
All the while Greg kept working. He was still going to put in another hour or two, so I drove back to Judie's where she was making us a great dinner (what would we do without Judie!!!?).
Meals at are like camping out. We've set up a makeshift kitchen in what will be the double-helix stairwell and diningroom in the livingroom. Our friends Jill & Jim gave us a great old microwave and toaster oven so we can have hot meals and toasted sandwiches. Ahh, some day...we'll actually dine in the diningroom and breakfast in the kitchen...but that's still a long way off. We're working feverishly to try and "move over" into the downstairs guestroom in October. Then we can cut out the hour and a half daily drive up and back to our rental house and Greg can focus on finish details. But we're still talking months and months of work. Having paint on the walls and carpets on the floor will be one momentous milestone day...some time late summer/early fall in 2007 - if we're lucky.
MARCH 25, 2006
We're on Highway 101 just passing Sequim on our way to work for the day when my cell phone rings. It's Judie. She tells us the Roosevelt Elk Herd are crossing the road to a field between her house and the market. It can't all be all work and no play, so we pull off the highway and meet up with Judie and the elk. Several other people stopped to watch and photograph. These are huge animals and they can be dangerous. Greg snapped this shot as they jumped a farmer's fence to graze in a nearby field.
MARCH 28, 2006
I'm driving home at the end of the day while Greg stays on. As I come down the three miles or so to the main road toward the highway, I pass the field where little Bambi hangs with her three horses and two cow companions. There's a big pond at the far back edge of the field and my eye catches something big: it's a bald eagle sitting atop a snag (a dead tree) patiently watching the water. I pull over and grab my binocs which we keep in our cars for just such occasions, but he's too far away to get a great upclose view. Likewise, I had the camera but all you'd see is a dark blob. Anyway, I sat there for five minutes or so and then another huge bird (most probably a juvenile eagle because there was no white head and tail). It swoops down and skims something off the water - I couldn't see what - and it flies into the forest beyond. Soon, the bald eagle takes off in the same direction. And...we live here!!!
MARCH 31, 2006
We're getting ready to have our pond and waterfall built and while strolling the grounds we come across the cutest little fellow. He's a tiny tree frog and boy could he jump. One of the waterfall designers caught him and handed him over to me. I held him in my closed hand and he poked his little nose out between my fingers. I let him go and then remembered I had forgotten to get a picture, so I went back to find him. I had caught a glimpse of one of these little creatures months and months ago but he was too fast for me. I'm still trying to catch a shot of what must be hundreds of toads that inhabit the wetlands surrounding the property. It's that time of year here and at dusk there's a cacophony of ribbets coming from the retaining pond across the way. When I caught one last year I didn't use the camera...next time I'll remember.
APRIL 1, 2006
Funny that I got nostalgic for my General Hospital days last month. My friend and ex-publicist Paulette who writes for Entertainment Tonight Online emailed me to tell me Gloria Monty died...from cancer. She produced GH during it's phenomenal Luke & Laura heyday and was responsible for dozens of people's careers, mine included...and I must give credit where credit is due. But boy, she was one tough SOB!
Greg and I are taking a week or so off the "job" to organize - something we've never been able to do - especially when we had employees. So today we rolled up our sleeves and began editing files.
Later this afternoon we're meeting Rep. Jim Buck and wife Donna at for a tour and then off to an early dinner. We're looking forward to it.
Yesterday I was talking to what will some day be our next door neighbors, Fred & Cindy. Fred told me there's a horse in a pasture down nearer the highway that was attacked by a cougar! Poor thing. It survived I'm happy to say, but the fact that cougars are venturing so close to the main highway is worrisome. And, too, we worry about our little Bambi that lives nearby. Since she's been there for quite some time, hopefully she's savvy when it comes to predators.
APRIL 5, 2006
Greg and I are in the thick of this organizing thing. This is just a small portion of the livingroom with a tiny portion of some of the files we're working on. Just looking at this picture fills me with....ennui (look that up in your Funk & Wagnals!).
Our rental house has a wall of windows...great if you have the time to sit and watch the scenery. Not so great when you're trying to work at the computer: the sun makes it impossible to see the screen. Here's Greg's solution. It's amazing how creative you can get in a pinch!
Yesterday we had a day full of running around...errands...shopping...dentist appointment. While driving on a country road we passed an old farm with sheep and chickens running all over the place. The owner saw me get out to take a picture and motioned us to come closer. There were all these adorable little lammys and one little baby had just been bottle fed dinner. The rest of the sheep were making it clear to the farmer their dinner was a little on the tardy side. Maybe the babies make that baa baa sound, but the older ones just sound like they're belching! No matter, I just love that all this farmland and farm animals are a daily sight. Nope, I don't miss the hustle and bustle of L.A. one bit.
One of our errands was meeting with our waterfall/pond installers at . On our way back down to the highway, we rounded the road at the pasture where we usually see Little Bambi. We took a double take - this wasn't Bambi! But this little cutie evidently knew a good set up when it saw one.
Spring has definitely sprung here. It's funny how the sound of birds and the presence of pesky insects seem to fade away in late Fall; and now the air is filled with the sound of chirping birds and flying insects. Everything is turning green and flowers are beginning to bloom. Especially daffodils. It's one of the few flowers deer aren't interested in. And so, I've planted what must be hundreds and for the first time, is ablaze in yellow.
APRIL 14, 2006
My Greg is a one-man band. There isn't anything on or in this house he hasn't or won't have had his hands on. (Hey! I'm talkin' 'bout building the house...not who'll be living in the house!).
So, here he is deep in a hole, drilling through concrete to create a water-collection system to catch our gutter rainwater for landscaping.
The lot across the road from us has what's called a "drainage pond" to help disperse rain runoff. During the summer, it's bone dry. But during the winter, the rains fill it up and by spring it becomes a real pond filled with newts and frogs and visited by the occasional duck or two. But every once in a while, it attracts a different kind of visitor.
I'm still actively involved in the passage of the property tax reform amendment, and today I took a couple of hours off to meet with one of the county assessors and State Representative Lynn Kessler. The assessor and I wanted to review the convoluted property tax system with Rep. Kessler so that, hopefully, she'll be more willing to step forward for us at the next legislative session in January.
APRIL 15, 2006
Today is Saturday and I've been invited to speak to a local group about our property tax amendment. And, again, blind luck was on my side.....
A few weeks ago, I had been in the local JoAnn craft store to buy fabric for a chandelier project inside the entry. I know I won't need this stuff for months and months, but it makes me feel like the reality is a little bit closer when I can gather materials. And, as my Dad always said, "If you see something you like, buy it now - because it probably won't be there when you want it." With mu Dad's wise words in mind, I went ahead and got the fabric. While I was browsing, I came across the perfect upholstery for our livingroom seating - something I won't need for at least a year! I resisted buying it, mainly because it was a bit on the pricey side...nevertheless, I made a mental note of it. So, I arrive at my meeting a few minutes early and it just happens to be right next door to JoAnn's craft store. I duck in to ask about their newsletter coupons and the saleslady points out that all upholstery is 50% off! Faster than a speeding bullet, I slammed down my credit card and bought that fabric...and I never would have known about the sale if I hadn't been doing my "civic duty" for the property tax amendment.
At 7 o'clock we're on our way home after a "short" work day - otherwise it would be around 9:30 p.m. The days are longer now and soon it won't be getting dark until 9 or 10 p.m.
There was a slight mist in the air which created the most vibrant rainbow - we could really see the entire spectrum of color. At one point we caught a glimpse of the rare double rainbow. We've seen more rainbows here in two years than we saw in twenty in Los Angeles.
APRIL 18, 2006
Since the weather has gotten dryer and warmer, I've been spending lots of time "grooming" our native landscape. I'm keeping every bit of "original" flora I can - just neating it up a bit. If you take the time to look, there are so many beautiful flowering shrubs. This one is a wild currant and it's lovely. Months ago I discovered it, and carefully trimmed away all the dead branches. And now it's rewarded me with a wonderful show.
APRIL 21, 2006
Our day laborer, Justin, and I were raking up some of the garden debris I had collected and out popped a foot and a half long red garter snake which Justin pronounced a "red racer". Seems garter snakes come in all manner of colors and patterns. I ran right up to him and picked him up. I had gloves on but would've done it anyway. Although they're not poisonous, they can bite and I guess I've been lucky so far because I've picked up just about every snake I've seen. Frogs, toads, newts, lizards, and snakes I can take, but....
While watching our waterfall being built, I can't help myself and before I know it I'm pruning the nearby native vegetation. I didn't feel it, I didn't see it (thank gawd!!!), but a few days ago I got a whopping spider bite on my forehead that swelled up like a golf ball. If I had seen this guy, you would've heard it all the way to California and back. No matter, when I'm gardening I'm "on a mission". I try and make sure I've got long sleeves, gloves, long pants and DEET and then I just go for it...full steam ahead. And what I don't see........
While building our waterfall, the crew accidentally broke the top off a nearby dead tree. I was hoping to keep this "snag" because it helps create a natural look to the environment. I was lamenting that I'd now have to remove it when our waterfall designer suggested I put a bird's nest where the trunk snapped (actually I think he was kidding). A day later, with a wire basket, some moss, and twigs, I created a mini version of an eagle's nest. Brave little 'ol me...I hopped onto the bucket of the excavator and they rode me up to the top to put the nest in place. I may not look elegant up there - but I got the job done!
APRIL 22, 2006
It was a beautiful clear day today, so we climbed the 32 foot ladder up to the turret to take in the view. Damn it's breathtaking! On the mountain side we could see snow-capped Deer Park and Klahane Ridge. On the ocean side we could see Victoria, B.C. And although it's not apparent in the photo, we could see 100 miles away to Whistler, as well as Mount Baker whose peaks are reminiscent of the meringue atop a lemon pie.
I have to laugh. It's going to be a long long time until Greg builds his version of the double helix staircase that will take us to the third story turret. In the meantime, we have the 32 foot extension ladder. I cannot tell you how many people, men and women, young and old, who are not only terrified of going up this thing - but petrified to come down! Although there's a lot of give with it, it's secured at the base so it's really very safe and sturdy. No matter, it's just not on the agenda for some of our visitors. And here I am, going on...ahem...56 and climbing up and down like a monkey. I've said many times to Greg, how lucky we are we're in good shape and can live up to the physical demands made on us to build this behemoth.
Another long day's work is done at and we begin our drive "home". Right in front of our car as we pull out from the house - a bald eagle flies at eye level across our path. We stop the car to watch as he travels off into the distance, his elegant wings creating an slow-motion aerial ballet. It's definitely bald eagle season (as well as hawk) and eagle sightings are a daily occurrence.
APRIL 24, 2006
After hours of work clearing out dead brush (while trying to avoid any more intimate contact with arachnids), I like to take a walk around the grounds, stand back, and enjoy what I can see.
It's spring, of course. Everything is coming to life and I'm discovering all kinds of beautiful flowering plants that seemed to be dried up twigs just a few weeks ago.
Hidden back amongst a dense wall of cedars and salal (the North West version of ivy I guess you'd call it), was another beautiful wild currant. I discovered it a few days earlier and must've spent two hours carefully removing a tree branch here and there to let it take the focus.
APRIL 30, 2006
We have launched an online petition for our property tax amendment. Wish us luck, because somehow we need to gather 100,000 signatures statewide to present to the legislature in January to, hopefully, convince them the people of this state want a voice on the issue.
MAY 5, 2006
We had the construction bin removed from the "jobsite" today (for more about that, see). Once it was gone, I discovered the most interesting "weed" . At this point I haven't a clue what it is, but I'm going to make sure to keep it around.
Not only that, but I discovered one of my precious iris is about to bloom! This is a big surprise because iris don't usually bloom the first year. So maybe I'll get lucky and see a few more before this season's over. I've already gotten such a kick out of my field of daffys - the first "true" landscaping at . They're almost done now, but they lasted at least three weeks...and next year, we'll be able to look out our windows and see twice as many in their place.
MAY 10, 2006
A couple of weeks ago, Greg traveled to a town called Forks to pick up his order of custom-milled cedar. Forks is an old logging town, as many are here. On the way there you pass endless dense forests and vast areas of clear cut. Along with him went our friend Ted to take a gander at McClanahan's, a family-run saw mill. It's decades old with huge machinery built to mill huge logs. It's fascinating stuff. But...what is it with men and machinery?? Before they came home, they stopped off in the town and Greg showed Ted the town "statue", a cross section of an ancient cedar. By the time Columbus discovered America, this tree was on this earth for 1250 years. Trees are amazing.
Back at "the ranch", grabbed this shot of Greg while he was running heavy equipment. That's my hero there! What is it with men and machinery?? Okay, so I had to try it too!
Here's something we never saw in California...Just another typical long day "at work". At least we were on our way home while the sun was still out...although the days are getting longer and longer. By late summer it will stay light past 10 p.m. Our last rainbow sighting was a double rainbow. But we've never seen this: a rainbow ring 'round the sun! What a planet. Ya learn sumthin' every day.
MAY 11, 2006
On our way to work, we ran a few supply errands and ended up at the local plumbing house. I thought I'd stay in the car while Greg took care of it, but he called me on my cell to come see Gizmo. This is just the sweetest little old black & white "tuxedo" cat who's the shop's full time mascot, and we both look forward to a visit whenever we do business there. Our car was parked in front of a chain link fence - the kind that has metal slats making the fence "solid". When I got out of the car, I startled a young bird hunting for seeds on the ground. Panicked, he flew up and at the fence, hanging on for dear life. I couldn't help myself. He was so close, I slowly reached out my hand to try to pet him. With his little feet clinging onto the fence, he looked for an escape route and decided to land on my shoulder! A real Snow White in the forest moment.
MAY 13, 2006
Lefty loosey, righty tighty. That's the little ditty plumbers and carpenters tell you when it comes to water spigots and screws.
We're in the midst of having our "waterfeature" built: a waterfall and a pond. For all the details, visit .
Yesterday was the day we filled up the pond.
Before we left at the end of the day, I made a point of turning off the spigot. At least I thought I turned it off! Okay, so I'm left hand/right hand challenged. I'm a lefty - all my life I've had to think twice: "This is my left...this is my right."
After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we arrive at . Greg gets out of the car to see the pond installers and check on progress...I'm in the car looking through my notes or something. Greg comes to me, big grin on his face, and crooks his finger, motioning me to come to him. As I get closer he says, still grinning wide, "Can you hear the waterfall from here?" "Yes!" I exclaim. Slowly crooking his finger once more, I get closer to the sound and....Ohmigawd!
Before me is a veritable Niagara Falls whooshing through the entire back yard like the dam broke! What have I wrought?!
The water is gushing down into the ravine. Greg goes down to the bottom to investigate. No water. Where's it all going? Note: there's a large member of the rodent family called a Mountain Beaver in these here parts. They dig lots of holes and we have 'em all over the property...very common. All the water was funneling right into a Mountain Beaver hole as if it were spinning down a bathtub drain. Somewhere there's one unhappy furry guy.
I can't tell you how upset I was! The backyard ground was now a combination of pudding, jello, and quicksand. But Greg tried to make me feel better by saying the flood was a "good thing" - letting us see if our drainage plan was working. Bless his heart.
MAY 15, 2006
Bald eagles, vultures, and crows at .
Our workday was pleasantly interrupted by a sky ballet. It's easy to spot a mature eagle by its white head and tail feathers. We couldn't exactly figure out what was going on though. We saw the eagle swoop into the thick of the trees while two or three vultures circled overhead. Odd, because eagles only eat live prey, while vultures are scavengers. The crow was just there to protect his territory. If you ever see a big bird being chased by smaller ones, it's called "mobbing". It's the smaller bird's way of gently requesting the big bird leave the area...by dive bombing the intruder. It's quite amusing watching a magnificent bird of prey running for dear life with a little bird pecking at its tail.
MAY 16, 2006
One of my new friends here, Melissa, is another Californian looking for a better life. And boy did she ever find it! Her property is just...enchanting. A large forest of mainly old growth cedars and alders ring the outskirts of the acreage with large expanses of meadow dotted with old fruit trees. Add to that three big ponds, and a wonderful new Craftsman style house - heaven! She's an artist and her talents show in every corner, inside and out.
She has a 40 year old weeping willow gracefully leaning over one of her ponds. Hanging off one of the boughs is her grandfather's swing - something she brought with her from California. What a treat to sway under the canopy of this magnificent tree, my feet flying over the water. An old wooden ramp over the pond was being used as a sundeck for a visiting Mallard. He sat there the entire time while I took my ride.
She gave Greg the grand tour (I had gotten a tour on a previous visit). Melissa has so many wonderful plants and flowers and all are in bloom now. I must've driven her crazy with, "What's this called, what's that??" She's done an incredible job...and all by herself! After the tour, Melissa made us a wonderful pasta dinner. When the sun went down, the croaking of what must've been hundreds of frogs was almost deafening. We have , Melissa's home is aptly named "Frogsong".
MAY 22, 2006
It was raining most of the day at , so there were no outside projects for me to work on. But still, we worked all day. At day's end, I asked Greg to join me on the garden path we had cut in last year. The rain makes all the greens come alive, especially the ferns and mosses. During the winter, the alder, cherry, and cottonwood trees lost all their leaves. Overnight, Spring has everything getting bushy and thick and you feel enveloped in the lushness. Soon deer should be munching on the foliage and berries.
When we got to the bottom of our trail, Greg hiked on, off of our property, toward the "wetlands buffer". We could see a natural path trampled by deer as we kept on going out to the wetlands meadow, squishy with soggy ground. The rarely visited area is peppered with gigantic old growth stumps. Greg must've needed a little adventure and kept walking, further than we'd ever trekked before. The next thing I know, we're trudging through thick vegetation up to my waist, wet with the afternoon's rain. Greg likened it to the dense jungles of Viet Nam. Gawd only knows what (or who) I was stepping on beneath the foliage, but I just kept pressing forward. It was treacherous going, too. The salal (a type of wild ivy-like ground cover) was three feet thick, but below it was a jumble of long-ago felled logs now decomposing and covered with moss...and Mountain Beaver holes. So, you had to be extremely careful where you put your feet or you might find yourself on your back, which Greg did at one point. "Go with the flow," he said as he went down in slow motion. Well, it's preferable to spraining an ankle! Our hour-long trek took us all around the back side of our two acres.
Later when we discussed our day's adventure, Greg had a big smile on his face and told me, "I admire your pluck!" Even he was impressed that I stuck it out. And now that I think about it, hot damn, I even amazed myself! If my "city-fied" friends could only see me now, they'd be shocked and awed!
MAY 23, 2006
Another day for me working at home, another day for Greg working at . It's rained all week so Greg didn't get to work on the roof. Timing! Last week it was sunny and, at least for this region, hot - but more pressing matters kept him off the roof. Mostly running "recon" for the requirements of the pond and waterfall installation. Now he had the time, but the weather was against him. Oh well, que sera! But at least Greg had time to notice another visit from turkey vultures, flying across the sky with the Olympic's Klahane Ridge in the background.
And another photo-op on his drive home. This pastoral scene; a long-ago abandoned barn harking back to Sequim's rich farming history. It's happening all over the United States; people leaving the big cities for less crowded towns. And that means more housing...making old barns and the life they represent more and more precious. And increasingly rare.
MAY 25, 2006
After I was done with my computer work, I went on a rare walk (these days) around the neighborhood. Something was moving in the grass at my feet. It was a very young garter snake. Couldn't have been more than 7 inches long and about the size of a pencil. Of course, I picked him up to say hello, and then let him go on his way.
Still making new discoveries. As I continued on my walk, out of the corner of my eye I see a small flash of brilliant red. On closer look, it must be some kind of moth. If I remember correctly, moths wings rest in the down position. But I've never seen a moth like this one. It's wings are deep red and purple. I called our local Audubon Society and found out it's a Cinnabar moth. Wow!
MAY 26, 2006
Who'd a thunk it! Those famous words from Mary McCarthy, author of The Group.
I don't know why I think our lives will ever settle into a routine ever again. Detours around every corner.
When we first moved up here, our plans were to take a year off and explore. Ha! So we leased a house out in "the boonies". Then, the very weekend we flew up to lease the house, we attended a Builder's Expo which lead to meeting our broker which lead to purchasing . And, although we shudda known better, it's taking longer, much longer, to build than we had hoped. So here we are, traveling 35 miles each way, nearly seven days a week, an hour and a half up and back, and gas prices are outta sight.
Last summer we moved Greg's mom here to an Alzheimer's home. The place is excellent, not to mention expensive. She was fortunate to have owned California real estate, and profits from those sales are ensuring she has good care. Since we were lucky enough to get in on the land boom here, we wanted to invest for her. But by the time that could be done, prices had escalated.
I've written many times how uncomfortable it is here in this rental house. Aside from the location, we are busting at the seams. There is no way in hell I can maintain any order here. There's no surfaces left to rest a paper on...or eat a meal. We're constantly "misplacing" everything. Outside the front door is a sea of mud which is unavoidably brought into the house. Frustration and aggravation are daily companions.
Exasperated, Greg got to thinking, what if we invested in a house for his mom, closer to?! We could pay her rent, save not only monstrous gasoline expenses and wear and tear on our cars, but precious time. And...not have to travel daily on Highway 101 - a dangerous road to be on day in and day out. So we called our broker, Jan and had him put together a list of properties. There must've been two dozen that Greg whittled down to three. Monday night on our way home we stopped by those. The first two were absolute teardowns and so we thought this wasn't going to work at all. But the last house was a little charmer, move-in condition, offered by a sweet widower who wanted to move to California to be with his family. "We'll take it, Jan!" Then we found out we were a day late; there was an accepted offer waiting on finding financing. But this afternoon, we found out the other deal fell through...and voila!
Life, what an adventure!
MAY 27, 2006
Today is Greg's birthday. He's 59. Neither one of us can believe it. He was 32 when I met him...and it seems like it was just the other day. I'm sorry, but I find this unsettling to say the least.
And guess how Greg spent his day? Working, of course! We did sleep in and went to a nice breakfast in Port Townsend at a little French bistro. Then Greg went on to while I stayed to worked at home.
He put in a typically long day, installing temporary downspouts to help defer the rainwater. It's been raining all week. We didn't have dinner until nearly 10 p.m.
MAY 29, 2006
We are busy. Not only do we work from sun up to sun down at , but there are parties to attend.
Life in a small town revolves around get togethers. So this afternoon friends Marti & Rick had a combination birthday/anniversary party. And Greg was one of the birthday boys. There was comfort food aplenty while viewing the ocean and passing cruise ships from Marti & Rick's beautiful home.
MAY 30, 2006
Went by our "soon to be new interim abode" to make some room measurements. I don't know how in the world we're gonna make this move and still push forward with work at . If you remember, we used three 24' trucks full to the gills to move our stuff from California, which included 700 boxes. At least there will be very little packing - mainly transporting. Anyway, the gentleman selling the house is a senior citizen widower and the house is full of antiques and collectibles. Since we are allowing him to stay an extra few days to pack, he is also throwing in the washer, dryer, refrigerator, stand up freezer and.....a practically brand new riding lawn mower ! And when I ooohed and ahhhed over all the antiques, he graciously gifted me with two framed prints and several antique dishes. He insisted I take them, saying I obviously appreciated them and what was he going to do with them at this stage? So sweet.
Our real estate agent, Jan, accompanied us to the house and afterward, we invited him and his wife Patty to dinner out. Who knew this would turn out to be an episode of ER! At meal's end, Jan got up to go to the men's room and when he came back he was terribly dizzy. Next thing we know he's out cold and Greg hoists him onto the floor and 911 was called. As Jan was transported via ambulance to the local hospital, we followed with Patty aboard. We finally got home around 1:30 a.m. The good news is - Jan's fine - just a scare is all. Boy, you just never know what life's gonna throw at you.
MAY 31, 2006
Goodbye Judie. Judie decided that it was best to return to California to deal with some medical issues. So, she's put all her worldly belongings in storage here. Time is just rushing by. She's been here an entire year and now...gone.
Meanwhile, my friend and cohort in the property tax reform amendment, Jill, called to tell me she had a
Pumpkin Pecan Torte waiting for me at her doorstep that I could pick up later in the day. I give up! We've eaten more beef, more cholesterol, more milk products and fats since we've been here....only time we eat "healthy" is when we eat at home. And the food is sooo good, what can I do?! Can't wait to have a real kitchen and have some get-togethers at .
JUNE 1, 2006
Another foray across the bridge. We went into Tacoma today to pick up special orders from Lowe's as well as one of our fireplaces we ordered well over a year ago. How Greg got this behemoth into the cargo space of his Jeep I'll never know - but packing is also one of his major talents.
JUNE 2, 2006
We seem to be giving lots of tours at . People walk by or friends drop by to see the progress. Tonight we went out to dinner with my colleague in the property tax reform, County Assessor Jack & his wife Charlen. Thank goodness he's not the assessor for our county!
JUNE 4, 2006
And yet another party! This particular one was highly anticipated. Friends Gordon & Donna, also ex-Californians (matter of fact, except for Jan & Patty, EVERYONE'S an ex-Californian). Anyway, Gordon is a champion when it comes to pit barbequing. He dug a deep pit in his yard and once or twice every year or so cooks up a feast worthy of King Henry VIII. We heard about it last year and Greg was really looking forward to seeing just how this was done.
This endeavor is incredibly labor intensive....so kudos to Gordon as well as Donna 'cause it's a lot of work feeding forty people!
It all started yesterday. But the banquet was today. Gordon loaded the pit with firewood until it was glowing hot which takes several hours. Basically, this part is just another excuse to par-tay, so a "select group" showed up to watch the proceedings. There were hors d'oeuvres (what my dad used to call "horses ovaries") and beer and good cheer all around.
While the fire was heating up, Gordon began prepping the meat. There was beef, pork, and turkey. There was cutting, chopping, and seasoning. That's neighbor Joe assisting. And then there was wrapping, and wrapping, and wrapping, and wrapping....and still more wrapping. Ain't no Christmas package that was more elaborately wrapped, let me tell ya!
Next, the packages are doused with water. And then, to the Bat Cave...err Bat Pit. There's so much meat, Gordon has to use farm equipment to get it there. That's Jan with his ever-present new "got all the bells & whistles" digital camera/video recorder.
The packages are loaded on top of the glowing fire, the lid is placed, and then the whole shebang is buried under sand. That's Patty doing the honors while Gordon & Patty's son, Todd, supervises along with Patty & Jan's State Patrol Officer, handsome man of tall stature, Chris looking on.
Today was the gala opening, literally. Todd & Chris began shoveling off the sand. You can see the steam rising. Then the pit was opened and the lid removed. And then Gordon, carefully, protected by heavy gloves, lifted out the sumptuous treasure.
And then, and then, it was time to begin the unwrapping process. You can tell by the intense focus of the attending crowd that this feast is eagerly awaited. Gordon could hardly open the packages when the meat just fell into moist pieces. My mouth is watering just writing this. Again, it was cholesterol on a plate, but...what the heck...it's a party! Guests brought all kinds of side dishes and salads and desserts and by party's end, people were being rolled to their cars! Can't wait 'til next year! To Donna & Gordon, thanks for a wonderful afternoon.
JUNE 6, 2006
Our champion on the property tax amendment front is our State Representative, Jim Buck. Election time is getting near and the opposition has reared its head. Mr. Kevin Van de Wege has decided to take on Jim Buck, and so Greg and I attended one of his kick-off gatherings. I wanted to ask him his stance on property tax reform. He didn't seem too keen on continuing the fight for our amendment should he unseat Jim. Making it all the more important that Jim get reelected.
JUNE 7, 2006
Today was Boni's birthday. Boni & Ted are the couple we "met" via email through my Uncle Grover and Aunt Nancie in California. By major coincidence, they moved to Port Townsend several years ago and they were a wealth of information when we were deciding to move here. It was Boni & Ted who urged us to buy property right away - before prices went crazy. Boy, were they ever right!
Every couple of months or so, they come by to see the progress at , so we timed it to take advantage of the birthday celebration. Ted is an engineer and a boat builder and so he knows what it takes to build a project like ours. And Boni is one busy woman, selling stuff on Ebay and donating time to Project Linus, bringing blankets to children in need.
JUNE 8, 2006
Did you hear a scream? Well, it was me! What this 'ol city girl has to put up with here in the wilderness.
Now that we're made some strides in landscaping (with a long long way to go still), we've been gathering local natural vegetation to transplant. Right now honeysuckle is in bloom which makes it easy to identify, and today our helper, Justin, and I were busy digging up a few plants. So there I am, under the canopy of a huge Cedar tree, my feet buried in leaves and decomposing whatever and either I feel something...or something makes me look down and.....YEOWWWWWWW! I'm jumping around like a hot potato 'cause what looked like millions of red ants are climbing up my pant leg at the very least and who knows where else. My yelling and jumping had Justin jumping too. Ohmigawd...good thing I have Monsieur Gregory of Sequim to color my hair...grays are added daily.
Later in the day, early in the evening (since it doesn't get dark now 'til nearly 10 p.m.) Greg & I stay "late" to continue working. So under rainy skies, Greg and I were throwing wildflower and grass seeds on bare ground and soon we were just sopping wet. You don't know what fun is until you take a 45 minute drive home in wet clothing.
JUNE 11, 2006
While I bite my lip, my "Fiddler on the Roof" works. Let me tell ya, it ain't easy standing on a 9/12 pitch roof with your ankles bent at an ungawdly angle for hours. Need I say, yet again: MY HERO!
JUNE 12, 2006
A minor landmark. My first "transplanted all the way from California" iris has bloomed at . I took all my iris with me when we moved and planted them at the rental house just to keep them alive. A few months ago, once I had some sense of where they would end up, I planted them. Usually, they don't bloom the first year but here it was, a gorgeous yellow beauty.
JUNE 13, 2006
Friend Lisa and her friend from California came for a tour today - especially to see the pond and falls. Lisa is yet another California transplant. Lisa is a gourmet cook and lucky her, she and her hubby Revy have just moved into their log cabin on an incredible heavily forested 20 acre lot. They've invited Greg & I to dinner Sunday night. A few months ago, under very very primitive conditions (the cabin was still under construction), somehow she served a luncheon of wild rice soup. Can't wait to see what's in store Sunday. Now that Judie has returned to Kook-a-fornia, it's just pure luck to find someone else who enjoys cooking. Me...I enjoy eating. As with gardening, I'm not into the Zen of it, I like the finished product.
Late in the day, around 7 or 8 p.m. I took a few moments to wander the property. Right now, every single day something else is blooming or growing and animals are everywhere. I've got to take pictures! I saw some leaves moving and finally found the sweetest lime green tree frog, all of an inch long. I've been finding dozens of tiny toads too and each time I find one, I catch him and take him to his new home at the pond.
The other day, while I stayed home, Greg saw quite the sight. I told you we have these critters, Mountain Beavers. Our property has holes all over the place. I know they're a nuisance - my neighbor is on the prowl to exterminate them. But until then (and puleeze don't tell me when it happens), I'll enjoy their antics. I've been noticing ferns laying at the entrance to the holes. So Greg happened to be looking out the window and saw the ferns moving. He thought it was a cat. It wasn't. It was a Mountain Beaver carrying two or three fronds in its mouth that hung over his body like an umbrella (could be some kind of predator protection?). At any rate, Greg caught a fleeting glimpse before he had a chance to cover up. He took a little movie too but I haven't figured out yet how to publish it on the website...hopefully next entry I'll have it ready. Ya gotta see it - it's hysterical!
JUNE 14, 2006
Okay here goes. I think we've got this little movie up and running. Just watch for the traveling bush. Hysterical, no?
While Greg worked his butt off at , I worked at home.
Okay, get ready to be bored and have your eyes roll back in your head. But, I just gotta write this down 'cause someday I'll read it and won't believe I was capable of a day like this.
Here's what I did today:
Usual morning chores: "pilled" the cat, made Greg lunch and various other tasks (I'll spare you those).
Read the paper
Poured over 3 magazines to research for the house
Talked on the phone to a State Representative, called the County Assessor's office, and dealt with a mortgage company and an insurance company (all for the purchase of this "interim abode" we're buying to invest Greg's Mom's funds)
Wrote three weeks of entries and published about 50 pictures for this website (otherwise unnotable but we're on dial up!)
Talked to Judie in California
Dusted, swept, vacuumed, washed the sheets, made the bed, did four other loads of wash.
Played with the cat, brushed the cat, fed the cat
Checked and answered my email, email for our tax amendment group, and monitored our online petition
Paid the bills
I started around 7 a.m. and it's now 9:30 p.m. Just another typical day!
My grandmother's words are ringing in my ears: If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. That's definitely me!
JUNE 15, 2006
Here's one more thing you'd never see in L.A.: Our Prius was purchased at a family-owned dealership here in Port Angeles. Today was Car Owner Appreciation Day. Homemade brownies and lemon bars, free oil change, free umbrella.....and family hugs all around.
JUNE 16, 2006
We found a new restaurant - Blue Flame BBQ. Not only did they have scrumptuous steelhead, spare ribs, and baby back ribs, and chicken, but they had the best little salad. They call it a "finger salad": fresh whole romaine leaves sprinkled with dressing. No fork needed.
And...escrow closed on the "new" house today. Yesterday I went to see the owner and I bought his beautiful parson's table and a steelpoint etching from the early 20th century. The owner is very sweet but unfortunately in ill health. And very generous as well. He gifted me another etching and several antique dishes - including the very collectible "flow blue" - and a couple of vintage framed prints. All these "things" just waiting for a place to put 'em all....
JUNE 18, 2006
We worked until late afternoon and then friend Melissa came by to take me to a local (actually, just down the road) iris farm where we put in our orders for the fall. I ordered some beautiful Siberian iris. Then it was off to dinner at Lisa & Revy's. Those lucky bums have moved into their new log cabin home and it's lovely. And dinner, as expected, was excellent. Shishkebob and salad and curried rice. And Melissa picked fresh strawberries and made fresh whipped cream.
I'm looking forward to having a comfortable working kitchen where we can do a bit of entertaining....maybe I can get my gourmet cooking friends to do the honors?!
Earlier in the day while on an errand run, we came across some great photo-ops. Two mama horses with their foals. This little one was definitely curious about this person with the camera. While the other mom and babe were very skeptical. Not only that, but the black and white horse in the background galloped over to make sure mom and babe were okay.
JUNE 19, 2006
While fresh food is rotting in our refrigerator...we have been invited over to Jan & Patty's for dinner and to view their new waterfall, courtesy of Jeff, who created our masterpiece.
Jan & Patty love to entertain. Almost anything is occasion for a get together. Without them, I don't think we'd have any kind of social life here. Again, I can't wait until we can invite friends to . By the time we're truly moved in, the list should be a long one.
JUNE 24, 2006
We attended an election campaign party for our tax amendment champion, Rep. Jim Buck, at his home in the town of Joyce - about half an hour from . They have a beautiful piece of property with a view of the ocean that outdoes any I've seen from a window in Malibu. Their log home has a very rustic feel. And filled to the brim with mounted animals and animal hides.
I gifted Jim with a blue and white plate from England which depicts the campus of West Point Academy. Jim is an alumni and just returned from a reunion. I could tell he really appreciated it...and his other West Point buddies were envious.
JUNE 27, 2006
Greg's been working well past dark at , trying to get as much work on the roof done as possible since we'll be taking a week off during the 4th of July week. But he took time to capture a crescent moon over our (out of the picture) waterfall.
JUNE 28, 2006
I've been staying home the past few days. Greg has been working on the roof and right now there's nothing for me to do there. I'm trying to get caught up on a few things because my ex, Denny, and his wife Becky are coming to visit! Can't wait. They'll be here from July 4 - 9 which will force Greg and I to take a much needed mini-vacation. Once they leave, we must begin this move to the new house. We're hoping it doesn't take more than two weeks. And then it will be back to work at with a vengence. By then the stone mason should start his work and I'll have lots and lots of spray painting of the siding to do.
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