January thru June
January 4, 2007
We worked at home all morning yesterday, then had some appointments in Sequim. Finally we were off to Carli to load more stuff and ended up at the Old Mill Cafe for dinner. On our way home, we see smoke in the sky at an over 55 neighborhood about half a mile from where we live now. Big fire, must've been a dozen fire trucks. Nothing in the paper today - probably happened too late.
January 11, 2007
What's the world coming to with this weather? It's not "global warming" anymore...it's climate change.
A short while ago, there were fierce winds. Friend Melissa lost at least a dozen trees, friend Lisa lost at least 30 or 40...and we lost about 4 - one of which was a favorite hemlock, one of the older ones we have...or should I say had. Oh well, nothing I can do about it now....
And now...snow - for the second time this season. I love the way it makes things take on a significance and a majesty that isn't there when the snow leaves. Or how it emphasizes some quirk in nature. (And I just pinch myself to realize these images are on our own property!) We had about 18 inches at . Our pond froze over and the waterfall too - complete with icicles.
The view to Klahane Ridge from our Agnew (new rental house) window was particularly spectacular. The sun hit the snowcapped mountains just right to set them aflame. Even this modest little house has some pretty awesome sights to reveal. That's from the empty lot next door. This is a stand of old growth trees two doors down at the end of the cul-de-sac. I should sell that as a Christmas card! And this big tree is between the Agnew house and the neighbor's.
Meanwhile, our time is spent working at Carli Court "moving out" and organizing at Agnew.
Found out about that fire. Some poor guy just moved there a year ago and was planning on restoring the trailer that went up in flames. Rumor has it he had $30,000 hidden in the trailer. Guess he's still part of the "Depression generation" that doesn't trust banks. One of the firemen tried to retrieve it but only burnt his feet. This neighborhood is well known for all the deer that like to hang there. Guess they figure it's pretty safe: these seniors don't look like they're going to brandish a gun any time soon. So, there were plenty of 'em standing in the resident's front yards watching on.
January 12, 2007
"DAT WUZ MEEEEE!" So said I in my return email to my longtime girlfriend Janny who happened to hear my voice on the Rush Limbaugh show. I must have some kind of identifiable voice....
When I was in the midst of my "Gee H" days, I did a lot of catalog shopping (still do). So, one day I place a call and all I said was, "I'd like to place an order from your current catalog." The voice on the other end says, "I know who you are!" I started to laugh. And then she said, Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!
Anyway, I've been trying for six months to get on the Rush Limbaugh show...to talk about property taxes as part of my "create a buzz" campaign (there isn't enough money to pay for advertising like this!). I've worn out my dialing finger and managed to get on Michael Medved, Sean Hannity and Clark Howard as well as local shows. As you can only imagine, you must dial, hang up, dial, hang up hundreds of times to get past the busy signal. When I tried six months ago and finally got thru, his screener ,Snerdley, asked what I wanted to talk about. When I told him prop tax he said, "Nah, lady, that's not what we want to talk about." Click. Then just before Christmas, Greg heard Rush talk about a commission (The Skills Commission and the American Worker - partially funded by the Bill Gates Foundation among others) that found this country is doing a dismal job of preparing students for the real world and wants to revamp and privatize K-12 education. AND part of their plan is to remove funding for education by property tax! So, there was my "in". So I called, unbelievably I succeeded in getting thru to Snerdley. Even though it was "Open Mike Friday", I still had to do some fancy talking to convince him to let me talk to Rush. But I did, and he did. He tells me I'll be next, then puts me on hold. Fantastic. (While you're on hold, you listen to the show via phone.) Then, wouldn't you know, Rush got on one of his talking jags and I hear him say, "Well, we're out of time". Nooooooo!!!! But then amazingly Snerdley came back to me and took my number and promised he would put me on when the show resumed after vacation on Jan 5. Now, usually, they just clear the phone lines when the show ends. But I took it as a very good sign that he talked to me after the show.
Then Jan 5 comes...Did you call? I was afraid to attempt to call in myself thinking our calls to each other would cross. But finally I couldn't stand it anymore and I tried calling in. But nada. Guess Greg was right...
Well, I'm like a dog with a bone. Soooo, today I began dialing at 9 a.m. Around 10:30 or so...I get a ring! My spirits rise but then after ringing about 20 or 30 times...it turns into a busy signal! So back to the redial button for a couple hundred more tries. And then (at least another chance at) success. And I get Snerdley. And I tell him he forgot his promise! And that I had sent him a email (which he never got) that told him I felt like a teenager who waited all day by the phone to get that call from her boyfriend only to end up crying by the phone! He actually apologized and said he "totally wigged out" about calling me. So great, he'll put me on. So it's back on hold...to wait............and WE GET DISCONNECTED! I run around the house screaming, "No! No! No! No!" Unbelievable. I frantically begin dialingdialingdialing...and damned if after just a few tries, Snerdley answers. "We got disconnected!!!" And he says, "I can't believe you got through. I started to panic and couldn't find your number. Do you know how unbelievable it is that you got thru again?!" And I said, "well, I'm a dog with a bone...."
Rush gave me two segments...before and after a commercial...so I must have hit a nerve.
And later in the afternoon, I had a phone conference with both of our district Representatives from the House about property taxes. This is all just so frustrating. You talk and talk and work and work...for naught. They give you lipservice, promise you the moon when they're running for office, look you straight in the eye....what a business politics is! Well, I try to take solace in what the Howard Jarvis people from California said. People think Proposition 13 was an overnight victory. In reality...it took 20 years. Hope it doesn't take that long here or else it will do us no good at all.
January 17, 2007
Had another rare "Lunch with the Girls" - Melissa and Lisa.
Partly because we're always working, doing physical stuff, and partly because of the weather, and partly because I can't get my hands on all my clothes, my wardrobe on any given day would definitely floor my California friends. I'm quite the Eddie Bauer fashion plate these days. Which means I must be assimilating to the Pacific North West.
As I sat across from my friends, I realized we were all wearing what happens to be THEE fashion statement here. Our local paper has a little section called "Seen Around" with cute little observations like watching ducklings crossing a road. So I wrote in my own and they published it: "Three women having lunch in Port Angeles, all California transplants and now, practically natives, all wearing de rigueur sleeveless jacket vests!" You'd've never caught me wearing that in Beverly Hills!!!!
While I was doing lunch, Greg was taking care of some things to do at . While it's stopped snowing, it's still cold...and freezing at night. Our poor iron egret looks landlocked from the icy sheet that covers our pond.
Oh, we're seeing lots of eagles now. A week or so ago we were driving to load up at Carli and saw not one, not two, but three eagles over a field! Got that into the "Seen Around" column too!
January 19, 2007
Made it on to another radio show, this one regional from Oregon, about...property taxes. Tally Ho!
January 20, 2007
Busy busy day!
Tonight we'll host our first visitor. - Thu Ha, Greg's little pen pal from Viet Nam. Well, at least she was little when Greg met her on the streets of Na Trang during his first trip back in 1994. He was sticking out like a blond blue-eyed sore thumb and he hears a little voice, "Hello!" and turns around to see this 12 year old girl who was anxious to practice her English on an American. She brought Greg back to her home to meet her family and ever since then they've kept in touch. She's now 26 I believe and has completed her education and become quite the world traveler. Before she departs for a job interview in the Netherlands, she's coming to Seattle to visit a friend of her family's and is also going to spend a night or two with us.
We're still just setting up the household here (even though we've been officially living here since August!) and so we are on a huge "tidy ooop" campaign (with apologies to Mel Brooks and The Producers) and so the the last couple of days we've been scrambling, trying to clear out boxes and get this guest room set up (just the two of us managed to move our sofa-bed couch from Carli!).
But my day didn't stop there. I had already committed to speaking at a local group's monthly meeting on the property tax issue. I was second on the bill next to our Representative, Lynn Kessler.
And while I was there, I was asked to run for County Commissioner! HA! NO WAY JAY. NA AH, AIN'T GONNA DO IT, WOULDN'T BE PRUDENT. COULDN'T PAY ME ENUF! But I am flattered.
Later on, after dinner, we picked up Thu Ha in Sequim (those friends of her family drove her in from Seattle) and spent hours getting caught up.
January 21, 2007
Slept in 'til 8:30 and then to off to show Thu Ha . We toured the inside; took a ride on the swing, toured the "back 40" , posed with as the backdrop, and then had a nice lunch at the Chestnut House in Port Angeles. While we were having our lunch, it started to rain and the fog came in, and so Hurricane Ridge was out and plan B was in. So we left to take her to Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent which turned out to be a much better choice. Less than an hour away, the Falls is an easy hike in a primeval forest. The last time we were here was on our first anniversary on the Peninsula on October 3, 2004.
Just before we started on the trail, we met some German tourists who were feeding the birds. Immediately we ran to the car to get some apple and before you know it, Greg and Thu Ha were stuffing their little faces. (Use your scroll bar at the bottom of the image to view the entire picture.) Greg captured this fantastic shot of one little guy. You couldn't get a shot with such personality if you planned it. I should enter it into a contest!
After bidding adieu to our avian friends, it was off on our hike. Thu Ha had never seen anything like it. Trees hung with moss looked like something out of the "Lord of the Rings". She marveled at old growth trees that were so big, you could live inside. As we walked along, we came to the bridge that took us up a steep and wind-y path to the Falls. It's always difficult to get the feeling of scale in a photograph, but maybe this one which catches Thu Ha and I on our return trip over the bridge does a good job of it. And finally, a walk to the Lodge and a view of the glassy lake that catches the reflection of the mountains above.
Then on our way home we drove through Monterra (that 55 and over community that had that fire a while back). And the local deer didn't disappoint.
January 22, 2007
Greg and I get up early to take Bud to the vet's for a checkup. Then it's back to the house where we pick up Thu Ha. On our way to driving her back to Seattle to catch a plane, we squeezed in a nice lunch at Sweet Laurette's in Port Townsend and had time for a little window shopping.
Any time we go off the Peninsula, we make good use of the trip by hitting all the stores we don't have here. So, we had a long list including going to Lowe's and.....Trader Joe's where I stocked up on everything and packed (soy) ice cream in the coolers we brought along! We didn't get home until late - but that's typical for a day like today.
January 23, 2007
I'm so proud of my Greg...he's been asked to author a book on his travels back to Viet Nam!
His website, www.vietnamjourneys.com, which recounts his three trips back to Viet Nam, has garnered some 21,000 hits! A publisher happened to hear about it and he's been pestering Greg about a book. But the timing is awful: right in the middle of building our Sistine Chapel! But Greg's going to try and send him a sample chapter and see what happens.
January 24, 2007
Looks like Greg and I might be gainfully employed yet! I've been asked by the local paper, the Sequim Gazette, to write guest opinions...could be fun! They tend to publish all of my letters to the editor, and in today's paper they ran my "Open Letter to the Legislature" in the Guest Opinion column:
"On behalf of the statewide supporters and members of Property Owners for Predictable Tax Now (www.predictabletax.com), I want to
personally thank you for your involvement in property tax reform legislation.
As you may be aware, our group was responsible for initiating last year's proposals, HJR 4214 and SJR 8219. What a difference a year
makes - it seems many more legislators see the need not only to revamp Washington's property tax system, but also the ethical
necessity to finally give the citizens their say by insuring these amendments make their way to the ballot. Did you know the
Legislature has not given voters the opportunity to vote on this most important tax for forty years?
We have been monitoring this country's property tax crisis via "Google Alerts" and I can tell you that action on property tax
reform is sweeping the country; and now that legislatures are again in session, we only expect to see this groundswell continue.
Specifically, we are pleased to see submission of HJR 4205, a version of our Predictable Tax Amendment.
Understanding the requirement to make its way to the ballot, we respectfully request a Senate companion bill for this proposed
We applaud the Legislature's acknowledgment that Initiative 747 must be upheld as evidenced by bills from both the House and Senate
(HB 1170 & SB 1155).
Regarding the Homestead exemption earnings increase (SB 5187), no doubt this will be helpful to some. However, not only will this
bill will do nothing to give homeowners some degree of predictability for their future property tax obligations; it shifts those taxes otherwise paid by those exempted to everyone else.
In my recent phone conference with Reps. Kessler and Van de Wege, I suggested legislation to increase the income level for the senior
citizen property tax deferment to $100,000 per year. Seniors understand deferment on property tax is in essence a lien on property. (Although this deferment is currently available at "low income" earnings levels, rarely do seniors take advantage of it because they do not wish their heirs to inherit a lien.) But there are certain circumstances, such as seniors without heirs (including some who are fortunate enough to fall above the current earning cutoff) who would like to take advantage of this opportunity to allow them to stay in their homes. An important note about this deferment: it does not take funds away from services. Plus, the state earns 8% on the deferred funds.
Regarding school levies, we understand legislators intend to change the levy passage requirements from a super majority (60%) to a
simple majority (51%). Education is so very important, as we all know. However, the "Commission on the Skills of the American Work
Force" casts doubt that our current system insures the best results for our children to prepare them for their futures, (Please visit
our website, www.predictabletax.com and click on the "In the News" link for the December 14 article summarizing the Commission
report). We hope you understand the duplicity of such legislation in lieu of the need for property tax relief, as changing the levy
passage requirements increases greatly the likelihood for a higher property tax bill. Many of our supporters have told us they will
not vote in favor of any levy (education or otherwise) until something is done about property tax.
We appreciate your sponsorship of tax relief legislation and look forward to following each proposal's progress toward success."
Oh, just watched my recorded episode of "Shark" (with James Woods - pretty good if you haven't caught it yet)...and guess who was the nasty-crazy-evil genius serial killer??? Billy Campbell, my drop-dead-gorgeous love interest from a play I did in the 80s, "Backbone of America". If you know Billy, ask him about our "kissing" scenes! Oh, yeah, and ask him about the first performance after our playwright made some massive rewrites..... I made some wonderful life-long friends doing that play. The playwright , Mark Kaufmann and my other costar, Doug Cox (who - if you're a horror flick fan was in the original "Carrie") and who, at least to me, will always be known as "Coxter" - don't ask! Billy also costarred with Jennifer Lopez in "Enough" and starred in "The Rocketeer" and was the star of "Once & Again" with Sela Ward. I will always be thankful to Billy - he made sure they chose me for a guest starring role on same. Starring in that play was the one time I had my name up in lights on a marquis on Sunset Boulevard! But back to "Shark" - Ooooo, Billy can be scary. He played it meek and mild which made his character all the more sinister. And he got away with murder...which means he'll be James Woods' nemesis later in the season (we figured that out early - couldn't waste Billy on just one episode).
January 25, 2007
We had another early vet appointment - for Bud's annual eye exam. Thank goodness we have pet insurance (Veterinary Pet Insurance). This month alone with office visits and tests and meds will be about $500! And he's worth every single penny. And remember - we don't have college educations or weddings to pay for!
The eye specialist is located in Port Hadlock which is out Port Townsend way, at the other end of the spectrum from Port Angeles (where we're building ). And I had to be back in PA to do an in-studio radio interview on the local station, KONP (which stands for Olympic National Park - even the locals mix it up and call it KNOP!) to discuss....property taxes.
January 30, 2007
Greg and I may be busting our butts daily, but Bud knows how to relax - royally. That pink thingy under his furry bowl is, would you believe, a hot "biscuit" to keep his little hide warm and cozy. But maybe I spoke too soon...looks like Dad took a cue from Bud and now they're both napping!
February 1, 2007
Greg and I were at around dusk. It was a full moon and I took a couple of "artsy" pix of the snag (the dead tree we found on the property). I actually had it "planted" to attract wildlife. Birds of prey like to have a tall "bird's eye" view of their hunting ground and insects like to inhabit it which feeds birds who also make homes in it. It will probably take some time before all that happens after activity cools down and vegetation regrows on the property.
February 2, 2007
Ever since we began to design this house, I've kept the trees in mind. Case in point: there is a stand of trees that ended up right at our front porch - a hemlock and two Doug firs. Any time you run big equipment on the ground near trees, you risk compacting the soil. And that can eventually be the death of them. And many times it takes years for a tree to die. The biggest Doug fir hasn't been looking good for a while. I knew something was up because it was forcing pine cones and when a plant dies, it tries to hang on by putting out as much growth as possible. Well, my friend didn't make it. Over the past several weeks it's been losing its needles, and at first I was just going to let the snag stay. But I decided to make lemonade out of lemons: it will at least open the view to and from the front door. And since Greg will be building this massive gothic door anyway, why obscure his work of art?
So today, Greg got out the chain saw (something everyone in these here parts owns) and took her down.
February 3, 2007
We can't believe it. Today is the third year anniversary of the sale of Kelton! And in a few weeks, we'll have been actually building this house for two years.
February 5, 2007
Uncle Danny is here!
Our good friend Daniel came to Olympia from Texas via Santa Barbara to visit his brother. Greg and Dan were contracting partners in Beverly Hills in the 80s and worked on the mansions owned by the likes of Kenny Rogers, Lou Gonda (an airplane mogul), Marvin Davis (a Hollywood studio mogul), and Ted Field (a producer mogul). And now he's going to spend a few days with us. (Looks like we got our guest room up and running just in time!)
Bud absolutely adores Daniel who has a special talent for scratching Bud's back in just the right spot which results in Bud just flopping over on his side, only to purr loudly and lay there while he's being adored and stroked. What a life!
Of course we took Daniel to tour . Since Daniel and Greg were partners, he knows exactly what is entailed in our undertaking. And still, even though he had seen plenty of pictures, he was overwhelmed by the scale of it. Unfortunately, the weather was pea soup up there so Dan just had to take our word for it that the Olympic Mountains were right there but hiding. Actually, when we bought our lot, we had to take our agent's word for it too.
Greg and Dan love a good cigar and some nice wine, so we spent the afternoon at the cigar store and then hit the wine section at the local market. Then it was home for appetizers of crackers, cheese, guacamole and bruschetta; and then a dinner of store-bought roasted chicken and potato salad. What fun! And I didn't have to cook a thing.
February 6, 2007
We three, Greg, Dan and I, took a nice walk in the neighborhood. These last few months working on this move and not working at have made it difficult to get in some exercise. I miss the expenditure of energy and I'm looking forward to getting "back on the job". But until then, it's catch as catch can. Anyway, we took a nice long walk and finally went to check out a much talked about B&B that is a replica of President Washington's Mt. Vernon home. Along the way, we pet a pair of horses in their corral, and I was able to get up close and personal with two deer who were hoping I had some treats (maybe next time). After looking at that picture of me...it looks like I'm a member of the royal family taking a stroll on the grounds of the palace, don't it?
I swear, with all the layers of clothes required in this chilly weather, I feel like a three year old when your mommy makes you put on every single sweater you own to go outside. And then, once I'm moving around, I'm so hot I could kill and no where to put all the "stuff".
After our walk, it was back to the house for a deli smorgasbord lunch. And then we decided to visit Marymere falls once again, with Dan in tow. Hoping to repeat our experience with Thu Ha, we took along apples for the birds. But alas there were none to be seen. But, the apples came in mighty handy when I was able to feed a mama deer and her young buck. Well, I tried to throw some of the apple his way, but mom, apparently, wasn't sharing! That, of course, didn't get recorded by our trusty camera...if I only had a nickel for every shot I wish I had!
The bad news today: the school levy squeaked by to pass. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for education. But this city, just like every other, is filled with people who don't do their homework and the minute they see the word "education", their X goes on the ballot. Never mind that all it ends up doing is throw money at a problem that is desperate to be examined. Not to mention that every one can vote on school levies, but it's the homeowners who have to pay for it.
February 7, 2007
To our surprise, Dan returned to Olympia today. Seems we had a bit of a miscommunication problem. We had a nice lunch at the Old Mill and then we all went our separate ways. But before he left, we (or should I say I) convinced Dan to drive back tomorrow and stay 'til Saturday.
February 8, 2007
Dan's gonna kill me. After driving him absolutely nutz begging him to come back and spend a few more days with us, wouldn't you know it, he took a wrong turn that ended up taking him hours out of the way! But he was a good sport about it all. I mean, how can you get upset when all you've done is give yourself more exquisite scenery to drive through?
The day was still relatively young so we took another long walk which lead to sightings of more deer. And then we decided to "trespass" and walk down to the bluffs to - for the first time- get a look at the ocean that is hidden by homes and forest.
The scenery there was exquisite and reminded me of a movie from the 1950s starring Robert Ryan and Shirley Booth called "About Mrs. Leslie". Booth plays a cabaret singer who falls in love with a married military man, Ryan, and they trist at a cottage by the sea. And here's why I remember this: my parents loved movies and often quoted them, and this one was a beaut. As Booth stares out the curtain at the unbelievable view she says, "I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight?"
The day ended with a nice Italian dinner at Bella Italia in Port Angeles and a splurge of ice cream at 31 Flavors.
February 9, 2007
We had a great morning taking the "Underground Tour" in Port Angeles. This port town has an interesting history. Since the fleet was a big component of social life...the town boasted 18 brothels in its heyday! We got to tour one of them. Seems the girls were virtual prisoners while they were working - which was most days of the week. And, to keep them from falling in love with one of the local sailors, they'd get regular "holidays" to Seattle where they could blow off some steam (ooops, maybe that was a poor choice of words!). Perhaps kick up their heels is better. Anyway, the remaining brothel is upstairs from the "very family" Red Goose Shoe Store - remember those? Well, P.A.'s is still in business.
And here's another interesting tidbit: the town was built so close to the tidal areas that eventually the merchants took on a seemingly insurmountable project in 1914 of actually raising up the buildings on main street to prevent the tides from flooding the shops. It was called "sluicing the hogback" as depicted in this mural that is painted on a downtown building. The term speaks to digging up tons of dirt and mixing it with water to run down main street and raise the road. Here's what the town looked like in the 1930s.
After that we did some beach combing on Ediz Hook, a spit that walks you out to the ocean where you're right smack dab in the middle of huge tanker ships. Greg can make art of anything...a piece of seaweed that attaches itself to a rock, or a close-up of rocks washed up on shore.
And then we made a last attempt to see if the "mountains were out" at as they say...meaning if the clouds weren't in the way of seeing the mountain range.... No such luck, but we did take a picture for posterity. Unfortunately, you can hardly see Dan and Greg in the picture.
For lunch, we went to the local sushi house. I'm not a sushi person, so I had tempura, but Dan and Greg said it was pretty darn good.
Dan left for Santa Barbara in the wee small hours of the morning - around 2 a.m. I think. So we said our goodbyes before lights out. When he finally reached California he called to let us know all was okay, but he said it was raining hard all through the Siskyous .
February 11, 2007
Finally! We found trails at !
Up 'til now, when we could make the time for a hike at all...we could never seem to find any interesting and challenging trails like we had nearby at the Carli house in Discovery Bay. So, if we wanted a real cardio workout, it was "get in the car and drive" over to a nearby San Francisco-type steep hill which is just down the road a piece - but still.
Well, today we decided to walk toward the back phase of our development and took what looked like a little trail. We always passed this by because it's littered with fallen trees. But our perseverance proved fruitful because after tramping through some underbrush, we soon found ourselves in deep forest, skirting Siebert Creek and then crossing a bridge which took us to dozens of logging roads. We walked for a good two hours until we finally had to call it quits because we were beginning to lose the sunlight. But at least we know there are "good pickins" for future treks.
February 15, 2007
Big Day! Professional Movers Day!
After weeks and weeks of schlepping our boxes to either the new rental house (and deciding if the box went into the garage, the shed out back, or stacked in the living room) and moving what heavy pieces we could by ourselves (which included our two-person bathtub for ), we had the movers come today to save our backs. Greg always thinks ahead and made it as easy as possible on the guys...and they were good professional movers. After loading up the furniture, we made a last-minute decision to also have them load 2000 lbs. of milled white oak boards that Greg bought on Ebay almost two years ago in anticipation of building our eventual spectacular double-helix staircase (just an example) which will lead you up to our turret that has those breathtaking views of the Olympics and Vancouver, B.C. A double helix is a type of spiral staircase but it has no center pole - it self supports like a strand of DNA. Anyway, this would've taken Greg two days to move and I made the suggestion at the last minute!
After they loaded up, we caravaned to the new rental house, unloaded the furniture and then it was on to the second stop to to unload that oak; and since it's fairly damage proof, we decided to also bring our 1953 O'Keefe & Merrit stove upstairs - no need moving it again.
We're almost about to say adieu to Carli!
February 16, 2007
More organizing and office set up today, but we took the night off and met Boni & Ted in Port Townsend for dinner at the Fountain Cafe. As always, they were nice enough to invite us back to their place for dessert, but we were just too tired and asked for a raincheck.
February 18, 2007
It's Sunday morning. And how do we know? 'Cause Bud told us so!
Well, actually, that's not true. By just looking at what Bud is up to, you can't tell one day from another!
Friend Lisa and her hubby Revy brought a friend by to tour . He's thinking of building his own place eventually.
It's always fun for us to docent a tour 'cause then we can kind of go over things and see it with fresh eyes. And every once in a while someone comes up with an idea that we hadn't thought of. Fer instance, one friend suggested that the vintage dumb waiter we'll be using to bring up groceries to the kitchen was so interesting looking she thought we shouldn't cover the "guts" up with drywall but use a window! We likey.
February 19, 2007
While Greg worked at Carli all day, Mrs. Taylor went to (Olympia) Washington....to testify at a hearing for some property tax reform legislation.
What a bunch of hooey. These legislators are sooo jaded and so sure of their tenure, that they don't even try to hide their contempt for the constituency.
It's a big state and they make sure they only give the public the shortest notice to appear at these things, figuring you won't take the hours-long trip to contribute. Not me, I drove the two and a half hours one way in driving rain, with friend Melissa, to have my say.
I had worked on my speech for hours and days and made a point at the beginning to explain to the committee chair, who by the way is one of the most powerful senators, that I was representing those who couldn't attend. And since most were seniors, were hesitant to travel in the rain and return home in the dark.
That plainly said, no sooner did I get into my speech, the Madam Chair began to cut me off. I stopped for a moment...and then continued. She stopped me again...and I continued (knowing that my passion was getting the better of me). And after she interrupted me for a third or fourth time I finally spoke out, "If you would just let me continue...I'd be done already!" Well, you don't do that at a hearing which is kinda like a courtroom. But my blood was boiling. After I finished, she tabled the rest of any testimony on that bill...and went on with the dozen other bills that they crammed onto the day's agenda to insure there was little time for public input. When I saw a county assessor leave for the hallway, I followed. I was admonished for my behavior...but then got a big smile and a "but I'm sooo glad you did!"
The next morning I figured I better mend some bridges so I wrote to every member of the committee explaining that I meant no disrespect and to chalk it up to passion. Here's my speech:
TESTIMONY FOR SB 5737
Delivered to the
Senate Ways & Means Committee Hearing
Monday, February 19. 2007
"HONORABLE CHAIRPERSON PRENTICE & MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE
AS CO-FOUNDER OF PROPERTY OWNERS FOR PREDICTABLE TAX NOW - A GRASS ROOTS GROUP WORKING TOWARD PROPERTY TAX REFORM - I REPRESENT THOSE WHO WERE UNABLE TO TRAVEL TO THE CAPITAL TO ATTEND THIS HEARING.
THIS IS A BIG STATE AND IT’S DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR SENIORS, TO TRAVEL LONG DISTANCES, ESPECIALLY ON SHORT NOTICE.
AND, AS YOUR OFFICIAL WEBSITE INVITES, QUOTE “THE LEGISLATURE WELCOMES OUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROCESS AND HOPES WE’LL TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE.”
SO I ASK YOU TO ALLOW ME TO COMPLETE MY TESTIMONY”
WE’RE EXTREMELY PLEASED THAT YOU HAVE SEEN FIT TO ADDRESS MEANINGFUL PROPERTY TAX REFORM WITH
WHEN THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE SPEAKS OF LIFE, LIBERTY, & THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS - THEY’RE SPEAKING OF THE AMERICAN DREAM: PROPERTY OWNERSHIP.
I'M SURE I'M NOT TELLING YOU ANYTHING YOU DON'T ALREADY KNOW - BUT - POLLS SHOW, AMERICANS FEEL PROPERTY TAX IS THE UNFAIREST TAX OF ALL.
A RECENT STATEWIDE SURVEY CONDUCTED BY THE LEAGUE OF WASHINGTON TAXPAYERS FOUND 85% FEEL PROPERTY TAXES ARE TOO HIGH.
AND 92% WOULD VOTE TO REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES.
SB 5737 WOULD GO A LONG WAY TOWARDS FAIRNESS.
I HAVE HERE IN MY HANDS SEVERAL HUNDRED SIGNED PETITIONS - AND AN ADDITIONAL ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIGNATURES (AND GROWING) ON AN ONLINE PETITION.
WE ARE BEGGING YOU, OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, TO HEAR OUR PLEAS FOR PROPERTY TAX RELIEF.
I KNOW YOU’RE AWARE PROPERTY TAXES AFFECT EVERY SINGLE RESIDENT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, WHETHER THEY OWN - OR RENT.
FOR TOO LONG, WASHINGTONIANS HAVE BEEN AT THE MERCY OF THE REAL ESTATE MARKET. ACCORDING TO ASSESSOR'S, STATISTICS, THE RECENTLY ESCALATED VALUATIONS ARE TWO YEARS BEHIND THE BOOM. TRANSLATION: YOU AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN' YET.
OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS, WE CAN PROVE TAX SHIFTS ONTO RESIDENTIAL HOMEOWNERS, HAVE BEEN OF EPIC PROPORTIONS.
IN 1966, IN AN EFFORT TO ACHIEVE FAIRNESS IN PROPERTY TAXES, A LAW WAS PASSED TO EXEMPT LOW-INCOME SENIORS FROM LEVIES.
BUT THAT DIDN’T FIX THE PROBLEM.
HUGE INCREASES IN PROPERTY VALUES, NEGATED ANY GAIN, FROM THE EXEMPTIONS.
AND AGAIN IN 1995, THE LEGISLATURE MADE ANOTHER - ALBEIT UNSUCCESSFUL - ATTEMPT TO CORRECT THIS INEQUITY, BY FREEZING PROPERTY VALUES. BUT THEN ANOTHER FIX WAS REQUIRED.
WHICH RESULTED IN THE PASSAGE OF THE PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE 747 IN 2001.
DEPENDING ON THE COUNTY & 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’S THE HOMEOWNERS WHO’VE BEEN CARRYING THE SIGNIFICANT BRUNT OF THE BURDEN.
NOT ONLY THAT, PROPERTY TAX, IS THE ONLY INSTANCE I CAN THINK OF WHERE GOVERNMENT TAXES ITS CITIZENS ON UNREALIZED VALUE.
NOT EVEN THE IRS DOES THIS.
BUT PROPERTY OWNERS ARE ASKED TO PAY AND PAY OVER AND OVER AGAIN - WHILE NEVER REALIZING THE BENEFITS OF THEIR PROPERTY'S APPRECIATION, IF THEY PLAN TO LIVE OUT THEIR LIVES, IN THE HOME WHERE THEY RAISED THEIR FAMILIES.
THE LAW, AS IT NOW STANDS, SENTENCES WASHINGTON’S CITIZENS TO A LIFETIME OF WORK, BY MAKING RETIREMENT VIRTUALLY UNATTAINABLE. BECAUSE THE LAW, GIVES US NO OPPORTUNITY TO PREDICT - TO BUDGET - FOR OUR PROPERTY TAX OBLIGATIONS.
70 MILLION BABY BOOMERS ARE SET TO RETIRE TO FIXED INCOMES.
SOME OF WHOM ARE, SHOCKINGLY, SELLING OFF LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES TO INVESTORS TO GENERATE INCOME, TO PAY EXPENSES SUCH AS PROPERTY TAXES.
ACCORDING TO THE FIRST NATIONAL ESTIMATE IN A DECADE, HOUSING AFFORDABILITY - OF WHICH PROPERTY TAXES PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE - IS NOW CONSIDERED A MAJOR FACTOR IN OUR HOMELESS CRISIS.
I ASK YOU, WHERE WILL WE PUT ALL THESE PEOPLE, IF PROPERTY TAXES AREN'T BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL?
AND WHO WILL END UP PAYING FOR IT?
TO ADDRESS THE ARGUMENT THIS BILL WOULD GIVE TAX BREAKS TO THE "RICH". LET ME JUST SAY THIS: THERE ARE THOSE SENIORS WHOSE INCOMES ARE ABOVE THE CURRENT ALLOWED FIGURES. BUT THAT IN NO WAY TELLS YOU WHAT PERSONAL BURDENS, SUCH AS THE COST OF CARE FOR ILL FAMILY MEMBERS, QUICKLY EATS UP INCOME.
AND I NEED NOT REMIND YOU OF THE SORRY STATE OF AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE IN THIS COUNTRY.
I HAVE ONE MORE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT POINT TO MAKE.
I WANT TO ALLAY YOUR FEARS THAT SB 5737 WOULD HAVE ANY NEGATIVE EFFECT TO REVENUE EARMARKED FOR SERVICES.
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 THE PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE 747 - WHICH THE VOTERS MISTAKENLY HOPED WOULD FIX THE PROBLEM - AND WHICH IS FELT WILL ULTIMATELY BE REINSTATED.
AGAIN, TAXING DISTRICTS DO NOT SUFFER UNDER THIS BILL. NOT NOW. NOT IN THE FUTURE. IT IS REVENUE NEUTRAL. THIS IS NOT CALIFORNIA'S PROP 13 - THE LAW IS DIFFERENT HERE.
IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME, PLEASE ASK AN ASSESSOR. THEY WILL CONFIRM THIS FACT FOR YOU.
SO, I ASK YOU TO IGNORE THE
NATTERING NABOBS OF NEGATIVITY
WHO CONTINUE TO LUMP ANY PROPERTY VALUATION FREEZE IN THE SAME BAG AS CALIFORNIA'S SOLUTION.
ANY TAX STRUCTURE SHOULD HAVE SOME DEGREE OF PREDICTABILITY.
SB 5737 WILL HELP TO ACCOMPLISH THAT.
IT'S THE RIGHT TIME - AND THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR YOUR CITIZENS.
I THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND YOUR ATTENTION."
February 22, 2007
A sad day, friend Judie's mother passed away today after a rapid decline from brain cancer. After losing both my parents (and me being an only child), I know what this means: you are immediately thrown into a vortex of grief and business...death certificates, banking, lawyers. She and her brother have months of this ahead of them.
February 23, 2007
We're up and begin anew the task of organizing this household. I figure that once we actually move in at, we will have spent an entire six months of our lives packing, unpacking, and organizing.
Do you think he cares? While "mom & dad" slave away with household chores....Bud let's us know who's boss around here!
After another long day filing and organizing, we make an errand run and treat ourselves to a pass through Monterra, that over 55 neighborhood with all the deer. For a change, we have our camera and I'm rewarded with this shot of two young ones gazing into the distance and this shot up against the bluff that looks out to sea and across to Vancouver, B.C.
February 25, 2007
Life goes on and today was THE OSCARS.
Friends Marty & Rick had a "denim & bling" Oscar party with all the usual suspects. That's "the bling sisters": Patty, daughter Andrea, hostess Marty...and moi! My gawd, my attempt to really put on the Hollywood "dawg" with a Victoria's Secret bra appears to hardly leave any room in the picture for my friends! I won't be doing that again any time soon!
Since I now have a real closet again (well, actually it's one of the bedrooms - but it's the entire bedroom! (use your scroll bar at the bottom of the image to view the entire picture), I can actually see all my clothes. ( Actually, the picture doesn't do it justice...it's a labyrinth of double-hung closet poles spanning the entire room.)
So I showed up in a leopard dress (ahh where have you been Norma Kamali!) with a denim jacket and four diamond (rhinestone) necklaces, two diamond pins and huge diamond earrings (only real stuff were my rings). Greg was looking especially handsome in denim including a Calvin Klein duster coat and kewl shades. I wore my black mink coat that dad bought me in my "Gee H" days. When Marty & Rick answered their door, there we were...with me holding an "Oscar" statuette that Dad & Mom gave me years ago. It was the hit of the party!
For a little diversion, we stepped out on their deck to watch a group of sibling deer waiting for apples from Marty & Rick. It seems neighborhoods get much more deer than say more rural areas, like . Probably because the neighborhood deer are much more domesticated - having learned the benefits of free food!
We won the pool (Greg and I and Jan all got 10 correct) but a drawing for first place was won by Greg.
Marty went all out on the decor...there were banners, a "green room" with crudite (kru-di-tay - hey - it's a fancy word for raw veggies!), goodie bags, and even a Hollywood walk of fame where we each had our own star...on the stairs....
February 26, 2007
This evening I was a speaker at the local Republican Party...for what else? Property Taxes. Greg went with which is a treat for me.
I used it as an excuse to go out to dinner....again! Been doin' a lot of that lately with all this moving and packing.
Bud sees all this (unpaid) work I'm doing for this property tax thing (and which I would stop in a minute but for the fact it affects our future at ) , and here's what he thinks of it all! And as far as the politics of it goes, I agree with him!
February 28, 2007
Greg and I go in to Port Townsend for our semiannual teeth cleaning. We decide to make a day of it and have a nice breakfast at Sweet Laurettes. We threw caution to the wind - what the heck - let the hygienist dig out the remains! Then, sybarite that I am, I booked a hedonistic two-hour massage which I've been wanting for about the last year. I was a noodle when it was all done.
After, we made one last stop at Carli to finish up a quick project or two and WE ARE OUTTA THERE!
Fare-thee-well, Carli. You served your purpose.
March 1, 2007
We rush outta bed this morning to get to Carli by 9 a.m. for the final walk thru. Only thing was, the rental company rep called us at our "new" place at 9:10 to tell us she wasn't going to be able to make it! Pissed me off somethin' royal.
Oh well, it wasn't a wasted trip because we had an appointment with our friends, Beth & Jerry, from up the hill who are sheet metal artists. They're going to be creating the "Harry Potter Gothic" beams that I've dreamed up for the living room ceiling at . This design took me dozens of hours. You have no idea what's involved with something like this. You have a vision in your head, but then making it actually work is something else entirely. Early sketches had these things hanging down to the ground. And, even though this is a "splurge"...cost is an issue. And Beth&Jerry explained that the more repetition, the lower the cost. And, too, there's the "magic of three" (you'll see three main components on either side of the center piece) which is always pleasing in design. And I was dead set on this idea...which evolved from something I saw in a magazine years ago. Sometimes it's a curse having an imagination!
Anyway, what a trip it was attempting to transfer a two-dimensional drawing to a three-dimensional idea. It had been so long since I'd worked on this thing, I forgot all the missteps it took to "get there" so once we set to work on it, the problems began. And then I remembered what I had learned and pretty soon we were making progress.
March 4, 2007
Now that we're out of Carli, here's what our "new" digs looks like. The first image is the garage, the middle three are the office (or under different circumstances,what some would call a dining room), and the end pic is what used to be a living room now piled to the ceiling with boxes.
March 5, 2007
Today Mrs. Taylor went to....the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce to deliver a speech on....PROPERTY TAXES! Greg came with! And coached me on possible questions on our way over which proved very helpful.
I'm up early and leave Greg to sleep in a while. This is what I find when I come back to check on "the boys"...
Since this was a speech to the Chamber of Commerce, I realized I should focus on "business" as well as home ownership. But before I launched into that subject, I gave the merchants what I hope was a wake up call about graffiti.
Here's a version of the speech which I "reworked" to be used as a Guest Opinion piece in the local paper:
"You’ve got a wonderful city here. In fact... my husband and I think it’s so wonderful - we’re in the process of building our dream home here. And we’re building it on our own - not just because my husband is a very talented guy - but frankly - it’s the only way we can afford it!
and I’m just hoping that after we’re done pouring our sweat and tears into it - that our property tax bill won’t force us to sell it - because that would just break my heart.
Before I launch into property taxes...there’s something I’d like to pass along to you...for what it’s worth.
Just a little something to think about.
We had a friend visit us recently and we decided to do the tourist thing and we all took that underground tour. If you haven’t taken it already, what a great way to spend the afternoon.
Port Angeles has a fascinating history (and so does Sequim - and this message is just as pertinent for Sequim as well). We learned all about “sluicing the hogback” when all the merchants along Front Street had to raise up their buildings to avoid the incoming tides. What a project that was.
In addition to all the wonderful sights that were pointed out, I couldn’t help noticing all the beer cans, the whiskey bottles, the trash.
And my pet peeve - graffiti.
I was born in Charleston, West Virginia, but, forgive me, I’m one of those California transplants.
And back in Los Angeles, I was very actively involved in improving my neighborhood. I worked closely with the West Los Angeles City Council and the City Attorney’s office.
From the eyes of this newcomer I’m hypersensitive to graffiti. Usually you don’t really begin to pay attention to it until it’s too late. So -I just want to give you the benefit of my experience and tell you what happened in L.A. and forewarn you of what could be beginning to happen here.
L.A. can’t even begin to keep up with an attempt to remove graffiti. last time I checked, L.A. city had a yearly budget of 4.5 million to deal with graffiti removal alone, and that didn’t include the county budget.
Once graffiti up, it invites more. Graffiti has been proven to invite crime. And graffiti increases gang activity.
It comes in many forms - not only spray paint - but there’s a trend toward stenciled graffiti and plastering posters and stickers, on stop signs and traffic boxes. I removed some on our tour.
Back in L.A., I finally contacted the City Attorney. I mean, really, these stickers and posters are nothing short of “advertising”. And the taxpayers end up paying the bill.
Well, unbelievably, I came to find out that the City Attorney wouldn’t prosecute - even if advertising led to the offender - because they were afraid the ACLU would sue the city for First Amendment free speech rights! It got that crazy. Since when is free speech a free ride on vandalism?
Graffiti ruined beautiful vintage granite street lamps. Same thing happened recently to your Capital building here in Olympia. Unfortunately, L.A. didn’t have the budget or the manpower to sandblast it off. So they ended up painting it out in big square blotches of mismatched paint.
It was very sad.
And for the shop owners, the trend became glass etch on shop windows. I’m sure you know those windows are very expensive to replace - which is your only alternative. And for those shop owners who couldn’t pay the price...well, let’s just say there were some very choice four letter words as a permanent greeting to customers.
So I just want to say I’d hate to see it get a foothold here.
Thee best solution is immediate removal. We advised our merchants to make policing your buildings and the areas around it part of opening your doors in the morning.
It’s just something for you to think about. But I just couldn’t stop myself from mentioning it today.
Okay, so, let’s talk about property taxes.
I am the Co-Founder of Property Owners for Predictable Tax Now.
Last year, we proposed a constitutional amendment which would have frozen property valuations at the time of passage, plus a 1% per year increase.
In Washington state, our proposal to change the property tax laws cannot be accomplished without changing the Constitution.
Now, I will tell you there is no easy solution to fixing our property tax problems. And my research shows, nearly every state in the union is grappling with the same problem.
Freezing property values will not necessarily lower your property taxes.
But what it will do - is give you a degree of predictability.
And, it’s important to understand that freezing property valuations does not affect funding for your services. It’s revenue neutral. Because Initiative 747, which freezes levy increases at 1% means revenue districts only receive the amount from the previous year, plus 1%.
Now, usually I talk about property taxes and home ownership, but for now I’m going to concentrate on the business aspect of property taxes.
I’m assuming you belong to the Chamber because you want to do all you that can to improve business and ultimately increase your income.
If you own your property, how do unpredictable increases in property taxes affect your bottom line?
Under the current system, if you own the property where you conduct your business, or when you lease your commercial property, you have no way of gauging from year to year how much that increase is going to affect your profits.
Of course, many factors affect your bottom line: the cost of labor & materials is definitely an important part of the mix.
And, so is attracting top candidates to fill available positions.
As a community, we want to attract the best. The best doctors, the best attorneys, the best teachers, the best marketing services, whatever.
When you’re head hunting from afar, one of the factors a new employee considers before accepting your offer - is cost of housing.
Now I hear lots of talk about housing affordability - which of course is a factor whether buying or renting.
But the issue of property tax in the equation is rarely addressed.
As increasing property taxes eat into your profits, that money has to come from somewhere. It very well may affect your ability to offer incentives to keep your old employees - and what you can offer to attract new ones.
I remember what happened several years ago when the world discovered telluride - kind of like what’s happening on the Peninsula. Eventually only the rich could afford to actually live in telluride. But someone had to build it and run it, and at one point carpenters and other service personnel were actually living in caves outside of town because they couldn’t afford the rent.
It’s something to think about.
And so are your lives beyond business.
After you’ve set the world on fire with your entrepreneurial efforts, I assume one day you’ll all look forward to retiring.
Or, maybe you’ll have no choice: ill health could force you to retire.
And along with retirement usually comes the loss of your ability to substantially increase your income.
The law in washington state makes it nearly impossible for you to retire. Because you have no way of budgeting for property taxes - one of your biggest living expenses.
gives you something to think about.
And here’s something else think about:
If you plan, as my husband and I do, to go out “feet first” when it comes to your home...in other words, if you’re not in it for the profit, but for your long-term quality of life....
And your property appreciates - and it’s rare that it won’t over many years - you will be paying taxes on that property’s full value over and over again, year after year.
Sure, your property’s appreciation will have increased your net worth.
But if you just want to hold on to your piece of the dream - it’s only on paper.
Now most of us will complain about the irs at one time or another.
But not even the federal government is so unfair as to tax you on profits you aren’t making use of.
Enough about thinking only of ourselves.
As business people, it’s not always about business. you all have good hearts and I know you are very generous when it comes to others less fortunate than you.
There are some wonderful organizations out there trying to help people grab their piece of the American Dream.
Habitat for Humanity is one.
The other day we took our kitty cat, bud, to the vet for his checkup. And our vet told us one of her clients was the lucky recipient of one of those Habitat for Humanity homes. Unfortunately, she was having to sell her house...because she could no longer afford the property taxes.
Like I said earlier, there is no perfect fix for our property tax problems. We favor freezing property values.
One argument against this approach is - it sets up the following situation where one family could be paying a different amount on their property tax bill than their neighbor.
Mr. & and Mr. B...or Ms. A and Ms. B...
Two identical homes sit side by side.
Mr. A bought his home ten years ago for $100k and he’s retired now.
Mr. B is in the prime of his prime earning years and is looking to buy the home next to Mr. A’s, only it’s up for sale at $500k.
Now Mr. B has a choice to make. Can he afford the mortgage on this new home? And the insurance. And the upkeep. And - can he afford to pay, at least the current year’s taxes?
But poor Mr. A doesn’t have a choice. He’s retired and, he no longer has the ability to get a new high paying job to pay for his taxes.
He’s a cork in the ocean when it comes to the real estate market.
And for that matter, Mr. B will eventually be in the same boat.
Aame product. But time has affected the purchase price.
Let me use another example.
Whem I bought my first car, a Volkswagen, in 1969, I think I paid a whopping $2000. Today, that same car approaches $30k.
DoI have a legitimate complaint about the rise in price?
Should I go to Mr. Wilder and say, “look, I bought this same car from you 30 years ago, and in hindsight, for a song...and now you want $30k for it? And I’ve gotta pay taxes on $30k to boot?
I think it’s just accepted that things cost more as time goes by.
The property tax system in Washington state is broken. And I’ll site the following facts to make my point:
There are laws providing over 200 exemptions to correct for property tax inequities. Which as you know, exemptions simply spread the tax burden onto those who don’t qualify for exemptions.
And don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate reasons for exemptions. Some of those exemptions - are deferments. Assessors will tell you, most will not take advantage of that option because it just a nice word for a lien on the property.
Having a lien on your property is a personal choice. And up to this point, has only been available to low income seniors.
This year, the legislature is considering some 30 bills dealing with property taxes. And at least on paper, some of our legislators are attempting to give us some relief.
There was a bill being considered - SB 5737 - proposed by an assessor - it would have allowed seniors to freeze their property values regardless of income. (I just found out today (3/6) that this bill, nor any of the others that our group endorses, has made it out of committee. We recommend you writing bill sponsors and party leadership to voice your concerns (please visit our website, www.predictabletax, for that info). However, nothing short of a miracle will resurrect them. And, thus, my prophecy was proven true: the legislature is only giving lipservice to property tax reform.
Believe it or not - we’re all going to be seniors one day. and I believe it‘s fair to allow all seniors to have this choice.
Now here’s something else to think about...
Did you know there is a trend in the insurance industry right now that has them shaking in their boots: seniors are selling off their life insurance policies to investors.
If we don’t give the 70 million baby boomers who are about to retire, and those of the “greatest generation” who have already joined the ranks of the retired, some chance at property tax relief - some reassurance they’ll be able to stay in the homes they’ve worked so hard for all their lives, who do you think they’ll turn to to bail them out?
The bottom line is, no matter how you feel about our property tax laws, the legislature hasn’t allowed the people of this state a say in the process for forty years. At the very least, we should all have the opportunity to make up our own minds with our votes.
I think you for your time."
And then it was to Andrea&Chris' new home for a birthday party for five year old Benjamin. Andrea is the daughter of Jan&Patty.
It would've been a great day but...when I got home and started to get in my jammies, I realized I had lost one of my earrings. Now this earring probably cost $5, but first I just HATE to lose anything and second, I had looked for those earrings for months. What a pisser.
Greg goes outside to see if I lost it in the car...nope!
Even sighting two gorgeous eagles didn't give me any luck.
March 6, 2007
Oh great...I'm coming down with a cold...just what I need right now. Since it takes several days to "blossom", I'm sure I got it when we were at one of my "appearances" last week.
And I've made calls all over the place and can't find my earring. And when I look at the picture from my speech (see above), I realized I'm missing it then which means I lost it early in the day.
March 7, 2007
Oh great...now Greg's coming down with it! What fun! And no rest for the wicked.....
Doesn't matter though...I've just got to publish this update for this website! I haven't had a chance to work on it since December with all that's been going on with the move. And if I don't get this done NOW, it'll get way ahead of me. It's taken me hours and days but I'm just about ready to hit the "publish" button!
And Greg ran out to do some errands, went by to pick up our mail...we get our mail there now since we have a locked mailbox and since we've moved to this new rental house, why go through changing addresses again.
On his way up the road, there was our little bambi with all her friends...the three horses, the two cows, and some duckies too boot!
March 8, 2007
Greg calls me over to the computer screen and pulls up this picture and asks if my earring looked something like this. "Yes!" I say, exactly, except mine were mounted on posts. With that, he reaches his hand to the image on the screen and...voila! In his hand is my missing earring! I tell you, the man is just magic! (He found it in the driveway this morning when he went to get the paper!). Whatta guy!
March 10, 2007
My grandfather had a saying. When is a poor man happy? When he loses all his money...and finds it again...
Greg's magic with my lost earring reminded me of our honeymoon trip to Banff, Canada (hard to believe it was our ten year anniversary last October third).
We were married alongside Bow Falls with the Banff Springs Hotel in the distance. We arrived not knowing what day or where the marriage site would be, so we spent a day or two searching for some place with lots of trees...and magic.
We had already booked the trip as a vacation. My father had died in the spring of '95 and although that piece of paper was never important before, cataclysmic events like the death of a parent make you view your world differently. And so one day Greg asked for my hand and we decided to get married on our trip and our travel date wasn't too far off.
So I set about to find my wedding gown. Just like has happened so many times I can't get over it ever since we decided to leave California and come to the Peninsula, it seems like that episode of Twilight Zone I saw as a kid: there was this street salesman and he would sell things out of his briefcase set up on a stand in the street. And people would come by and he would tell them what they "needed" and somehow it was in that case and somehow it turned out whatever he sold them, it was the very thing they needed. Our departure date was looming and I was desperate to find just the right gown for an outdoor wedding in the Canadian autumn. Unbelievably, a mail order catalog arrived that I had never received before. And in it was this wonderful midnight blue velvet dress - just what I needed.
So we packed up for our trip and along with my wedding dress I took the silver fox hat my dad had given me from my Gee H days and the pair of diamond stud earrings my Dad gave me for, I think, my thirtieth birthday. But when our wedding day came and I put on the hat, it hit my ears at just the wrong spot and dug the posts into my neck - and besides you couldn't see the earrings anyway. So, I purposely said out loud, "Shelley, remember you're folding these diamond earrings into a piece of Kleenex - so don't throw them out!" And with that, I packed them away where some curious housekeeper couldn't find them. And I forgot all about them.
The day before we leave to come home, I remember the earrings and I can't find them ANYWHERE. I tear up everything in the room, I look in the trash can. I am certain I must have thrown them out. I call housekeeping and ask them when the trash was picked up and even thought about climbing through the trash bin. I'm frantic and I'm beside myself with grief. I'm crying. I can't believe my stupidity. After all, they were a present from my Dad, and here I lost them on my honeymoon...what a way to remember your wedding!! Heartbroken isn't the word. But still, in the back of my mind, I knew I would find them...I just had to find them. Fate couldn't be that cruel.
The evening before we left for home, we were on the road back to our hotel near Lake Louise after having spent one last day strolling the streets of Banff. My eyes were swollen from crying and my heart was so heavy I couldn't breath. Poor Greg couldn't console me. It was dark when we headed back to our room. We were traveling on a small road off the beaten track. Out of nowhere, a small ball of fire comes down from the sky and almost flies right into our windshield before it burns out. We were speechless. And I said to Greg, "That's an omen. I will find my earrings, I just know it!"
The next morning, when I began to pack, I reached for one of my purses that I had shoved into the back of the closet where curious eyes couldn't find them. And there, in one of the compartments, crumbled into a Kleenex...were my earrings!!!
March 11, 2007
Ohmigawd are we sick!
And it takes so long to "bloom". We started feeling punk five days ago - each day a little worse. And then bam! It hit us with a vengeance last night.
The other night Greg and I caught The Exorcist on tv. It's been years. I remember when it first came out 1973 and how totally frightening it was. Now, of course, it's practically laughable. And when you're not caught up in the horror of it all, and can think as it unfolds, you can see the gaping holes in the plot.
At any rate, the reason I'm even bringing it up is because Greg's dad, Ross Taylor, was an Emmy winning (John Steinbeck's The Red Pony), Oscar nominated (Apocalypse Now) sound effects editor. His work was also in The Godfather, Chinatown and Star War, Cabaret, Popeye to name just a few. Actually, his title is "Foley Artist". All those little sounds you don't even think about but add so much to any film experience is what he brings to the project: footsteps, the sound of keys when they're thrown on a desktop, the sound of a pull chain to turn on a light, or the sound of a pillow hitting the bed, a door slamming, the clink of a glass, breathing, gum chewing, scratching a face; the examples are endless. It's actually a form of acting when it comes to a character's body movements. The cadence of their walk for example. A sad character moves very differently than a happy-go-lucky one. He once did footsteps for John Wayne in a movie and had this to say from an interview in a rare book, Sound-on-Film: Creators of Film Sound, by Vincent LoBrutto: "Once you see him, you realize he's not just walking like a pedestrian, he kinda rolled. You get into that, you have to get that feel into what you're doing."
And, he worked on that "pea soup" sequence in The Exorcist. With the marvels of TiVo, we were able to replay his work. Here's how he created that now famous scene. "I drank a warm 7-Up, waited a few minutes, and then I had this terrible belch - and that's what they used."
March 14, 2007
Even though we're still in the midst of this damn cold....we ventured to . I cannot wait until we get back into the swing of things and start moving forward again. Maybe building this place is taking so long because we've made it such a one-of-a-kind?
In the meantime, spring is starting to spring - you can see buds on trees and crocus and daffodils starting to bloom. Since we're 1000 feet above sea level, things bloom a little later up here because it's colder. I've planted hundreds of daffodils and iris because I just love them so. And the added bonus is: deer rarely bother them. So, my first daffys, little miniature ones, are beginning to bloom! And wildflowers are beginning to show. This one's the size of a silver dollar. Once spring really gets going, I'll have a carpet of orange from California poppies. And since it's still so moist, there's moss and mushrooms to be found. This little scene looks like it could be an aerial shot looking towards a gigantic forest with perhaps an umbrella installation by Cristo, when actually it's an extreme close up of a row of white mushrooms on a log.
March 15, 2007
When it comes to wildlife sightings, Greg's always in the right place at the right time...and I'm usually off somewhere else. Today, while I stayed home, Greg again went to and while checking on our waterfall, found this romantic couple doin' the horizontal bop! This picture makes them look huge, but this one brings 'em down to size. Pretty soon the air will be filled with the croaking of hundreds of frogs...can't wait!
March 21, 2007
I'm on my white charger and speaking to the Port Angeles Rotary Club today...about property taxes. It's Chinese water torture...drip drip drip. Just have to keep beating the drum over and over again in hopes the populous gets off their duffs and screams about their property taxes.
March 24, 2007
Greg and I decided to catch a local flea market this morning. Along with family, friends, and restaurants...it's good flea markets we dearly miss. Although, we're I'm puttin' all this junk is another subject.
Anytime you get into the car, there are so many opportunities for pictures worthy of framing. The sun was out and we just had to memorialize this vista of an old barn surrounded by farmland, with the Olympic Mountains shining in the background. is located right below those snowy peaks about 5 miles from this location. I'm sure you could create an entire coffee table book of just barns of the Olympic Peninsula. While driving along the sea coast overlooking the Straits of Juan de Fuca, this one really caught our eye .
Years ago when Greg was in graduate school getting his master of fine arts degree in photography, he began a photo essay or "inner city animals". It's an ongoing project and he began it as a primer to kids who'd never seen wild animals...or barnyard animals for that matter. So here's a mountain lion to add to his collection.
Okay, so you really had to be there, but I swear this is a juvenile bald eagle (juveniles haven't gotten those white crowns yet). It had to be an eagle because this was far away and he was still looking huge!
While we were out enjoying nature, the UniGirls had their semiannual luncheon in Westwood. If only I could just travel through the phone lines, I'd never miss one, but alas....
Anyway, a fabulous time was had by all - at least that's what they tell me. The UniGirls are an exceptional group of women and I feel proud that these get togethers all began after our 30th high school reunion - when I decided to have a few girls over for lunch.
March 25, 2007
Where has the last six months gone? Like sands through an hourglass.....
We are finally (just about) over this damn cold. Unbelievable. I don't know if it's getting older or that this was a particularly tenacious bug but every day you'd think you'd see some improvement but...nooooo! Yesterday was the first day I felt like my old self but still not 100%.
Another thing that would never happen in L.A.: in the midst of our cold, sick as we were, Ma and Pa (as we sometimes refer to ourselves) had to venture into town to be some provisions. So off to Costco we went. Greg stayed in the car and I went whipping around the store. Well, I couldn't help myself and went for hors d'euvres (sp?)...you know, every afternoon they have about half a dozen food stations set up throughout the store to tempt you with foodstuffs. So after I indulged myself, I went back to shopping...and realized I no longer had my cell phone or my wallet (with my driver's license and all my credit cards)! I started to panic, pushing my cart frantically retracing my steps...but no phone, no wallet. My life was flashing before my eyes. And my mind raced forward thinking of all the work I would have in front of me. When just then, two employees flagged me down. Seems I had left them at the last food station. Whew! Like I said, that stuff wudda been history in L.A.
Last week when we went to run some errands in Sequim, we discovered a "new" restaurant. It's been there for a while but we never had the opportunity. Cafe Blossom is like a little tea room - they serve many varieties and actually have a high tea but also scrumptious lunches. And great soups! They also have prix fixe dinners on Fridays and Saturdays so we'll have to check that out one of these days soon.
Meanwhile, I've been on one of my nostalgia kicks. I get them every once in a while. I begin thinking about old times and old friends and then the "PI" in me comes out and I'm on the internet and hunting down names. I just recently found one of my first crushes from grammar school. I paid $8 at intelius.com and it's just amazing how much info is out there. Anyway, got an address and wrote a letter and the very next day (they have speedy postal service here!), got an email from him. I'm looking forward to talking on the phone.
Then last night I put in a call to a friend from my UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute days (no, I wasn't a patient....I worked there!). We had a good long chat. And a couple of weeks ago I was able to contact some friends from 30 years ago...tracked 'em down to Austin, Texas and we, too, had a good catch up session.
I guess that's sort of a hobby of mine. And besides, it's so interesting to see where all our lives have taken us.
April 2, 2007
How much is that doggie in the window? This was so cute, I had Greg circle around the block again so we could grab a shot. Not one, but two doggies poking out the window, attentively watching the world go by. Guess tv (judging by the satellite dish in the shot) was boring compared to passersby.
April 7, 2007
While searching at the back of our property for some young trees to eventually use for the railing and balusters of our exterior front staircase, Greg gives me a call on his cell phone while I'm nearer the house cleaning up the remnants of winter in the landscaping. He "talks" me back to where he is and shows me the evidence that we have a mountain lion (generic photo) in the vicinity. Cougars (or mountain lions) use the trunks of trees for their scratching posts, and this one is big, probably 150 to 200 pounds (note insert photo in upper left corner showing size of scratch). Greg also found what must be our visitor's bedroom, judging from the tall grass that had been matted down.
We are only too happy to host wildlife; that's why we're here. We just have to be aware when we go out of what could be lurking.
April 9, 2007
A day of errands. And an opportunity for photos. You could do dozens of coffee table books on clouds alone. And we get some exceptional ones here. This humongous swatch of cloud looked like a celestial anvil. And a few minutes later, the setting sun gave it another feeling entirely.
April 10, 2007
Slowly, we're getting back into the swing of things - back on the job again after so many months occupied with other things. And Greg's all suited up for getting back to work on that roof.
Didn't take long though for both of us to be hobbling around like Walter Brennan again. Wow! Ya don't bounce back in your late fifties like you did in your thirties!
April 11, 2007
It's Spring...all around. Baby calves, baby lambs and plenty of Bald Eagles. Just taking a (rare) drive offers no end of delights for the eye.
Today was an excursion into Port Townsend for some follow-up dental work. On our way into town we saw a huge bird overhead. Turned out to be a Great Blue heron who had just landed in a tree top.
While Greg opted for a shot of Novocain for his measly filling replacement, yours truly braved not one, not two, but three filling replacements - without the shot! I haven't had a Novocain shot in 40 years. Now, I don't think I'd be doing that if I had a root canal, but really, for the few seconds it takes to drill into the tooth, it's over 1-2-3 and you don't have to go around drooling on yourself for the rest of the day!
While I was "under the drill", Greg went to the ship yard and wandered around. With a master's degree in photography, his artist's eye is always on the prowl. A close up of the chipped paint and battered wood on the side of a boat makes for something worthy of framing.
On one of our recent drives, we went up nearby Blue Mountain Road and decided to finally stop and take a look at the little one-room school house that had caught our eye many times before. It was a rainy day. The door to the school seemed to be ajar and we were worried that vandals had pried open the door. We shouldn't have worried. Seems they leave the door open so visitors can explore. There's a modest photo gallery that tells the story of the first school in the area. This picture makes the interior seem all but pristine but really it's in need of some TLC - just look at the peeling paint on the ceiling. Built at the turn of the century , it became the site for community get togethers. In time, the back of the grounds became the community graveyard. Old graveyards are so interesting. You can practically piece together a whole life from the different headstones and dates. I remember a trip Greg and I took to Vermont in the early 1980s and we visited this very very old graveyard and were able to make rubbings of the headstones. You take a piece of paper and place it over the lettering, then take a crayon and rub over the paper. As well as a keepsake, this process helps you decipher eroding lettering.
Dinner tonight at Jill's. We had scheduled it earlier but it was called on account of our ferocious colds. Pulled pork tacos are on the menu!
High School girlfriend Lynne is coming next week. Every year this time her hubby attends a medical meeting in Seattle, so last year she took the puddle jumper from Boeing Field near Sea-Tac to visit for a few hours. This time, they're coming in a day early and she'll visit along with her husband. So, I'm going crazy, cleaning up for The Tour.
April 13, 2007
On the way home from "work" I saw: a horse rolling on his back in a pasture, a bald eagle flying across the road in front of my car, a field full of fifteen deer, a small pond with mallard ducks. (Not to mention an upcloseviewing of the Sequim Elk hanging out in Jill's backyard before last night's dinner.)
All this, and a facial earlier in the day (my first in three years). Life is good!
April 15, 2007
Friend Melissa has a beau! And last night, Greg and I had the pleasure of meeting him while we dined at a quaint little restaurant, Cafe Blossom, which I discovered for lunch recently. They have a prix fixe dinner every Friday & Saturday night. The food was very good, and lots of good conversation too. Les is a lovely and very interesting man.
We're trying to take time out for such socializing, even though we put in a full day on the job.
This weekend, Greg and I rented a forklift to move some huge boxes of stone that were left over from our stone exterior. What a hoot! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever find myself behind the wheel of such a contraption!
April 16, 2007
Lynne and her husband Bruce will be here Thursday, so Greg and I are doing massive cleaning and straightening of the jobsite, inside and out, as well as trying to finish up some projects.
In honor of the occasion, we were able to hang our first door!! This door, like most of the others, are eight footers. Translation: heavy! Somehow Greg talked me through assisting him hoisting this monster into place. This was one of a couple of dozen doors we bought at a salvage yard two years ago - just happened to hit it on the right day. With the custom jamb Greg had to build for it, we've ended up with a $1500 leaded glass door for about $250!
When we're on the job, it's like having blinders on. And time just slips by. I never thought I could forget to eat but we constantly find ourselves realizing hours have gone by working at and we've almost missed lunch. So why can't I remember this little "head trick" when it comes to dieting: just keep your mind on something else. The simplicity of this concept is probably why it's so hard to follow!
April 18, 2007
Today is our last chance to finish the "tidy oooop" in preparation for tomorrow's visit. So I'm in anal compulsive mode....dragging the wet-dry vac around the house sucking up all the dead insects in the window wells and construction dust everywhere.
At dinner, I seem to have a tickle in my throat. Don't tell me I'm sick again!!!
April 19, 2007
What a great day...with the exception that I'm not feeling too well. But I didn't let that dampen my spirits.
Lynne and Bruce arrived at the Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles around 1 p.m. From there we went to Joy's Bistro in PA for a lovely lunch and lots of talk. And then it was on to for the Grand Tour. Lynne had been here last year this time, but I didn't realize how much we've accomplished since then. Lynne hadn't seen the pond and waterfall, the exterior stone, the dry creekbed, the landscaping, the rustic fence, the door. We're so focused on the minutiae that it's times like this we're reminded of just how much work we've done.
By the time The Tour was over, it was time to take them back to the airport to catch the 5:30 flight back to Seattle. In a repeat of last year, we got them to the airport in the nick of time. And in the "you won't find this happening in California" file: they called Lynne on her cell phone while we were on or way to make sure she was going to make her flight!!! And by then, I was feelin' kinda punk...and green at the gills.
April 20, 2007
Oh, I'm good and sick. So far, it's just me but I can't imagine Greg will escape unscathed. Meanwhile, I did a radio interview on the property tax issue in the evening. Guess that's the pro in me. In my acting days, I could be sick as a dawg, but the minute that red light on the camera went on, It's ShowTime!!
April 24, 2007
Well, we've both been so sick, I can't believe it. And it's not the cold that brought us down last month. I called the pharmacist, and it seems there's some kind of bug going around. The pharmacist said his wife had it and it lasted six weeks with relapses. I hope we don't have that to look forward to, or we'll never get this house built!
No matter, the first full-blown day with this thing, I slept for 12 hours, and the next day 18 hours. This, and the fact that I have no appetite whatsoever, is very strange indeed. Nothing, but nothing, hinders my appetite. So I must've been at death's door is all I can figure. And Greg too.
Yesterday, Melissa and another friend and I had planned to go into Seattle to see that Bodies in Exhibition show - the one where they've taken actual bodies and exposed the innards. I wasn't going to miss that, so despite feeling green at the gills all day, I forged on.
I guess this show isn't for the squeamish, but it was absolutely fascinating. And in spite of not feeling 100%, the bodies had nothing to do with my gill color. When you actually see what's inside and all the work that our bodies do, and all the opportunities for things to go haywire, it's truly some kind of miracle.
My Aunt Nancie and Uncle Grover called the other day to tell us they were sending us "something". Finally it arrived. It's a wonderful metal welcome sign with the man in the moon! It's very unique and something I was on the hunt for myself. Seems they found it two years ago in Palm Springs and were waiting until we moved in so they could give it to us as a housewarming gift. Welllll, they got tired of waiting for us to finish this thing and sent it along now. We've picked the perfect spot for it - hanging off the portico as you climb the front stairs. As soon as Greg gets his scaffolding set up there when he's working on that part of the roof, we'll hang it and send them a picture. What a perfect gift!
April 29, 2007
Most people build their house, move in, and then begin the landscaping. But this house is taking so long to complete, by the time we move in, the landscaping will look like it's been there for years!
And it's definitely spring. For the second year, my daffodils are in full bloom. And the purple azaleas by the pond are coming on too.
Tonight was a treat. Months ago the guy who helped install our rain gutters told Greg of another carpenter in the midst of hand-building his dream home. So over the past few months not only have they become friendly, but last year I met Bob's wife, Pris. And tonight we went to their home for dinner.
I must be some kind of lucky. Everyone I meet is a gourmet chef! And Pris is not only a professional chef, but a nutritionist as well. (And small world, she knows friend Lisa who is also quite the cook.) We had a wonderful Moroccan themed meal with halibut and shrimp and peppers and a great salad, served European style at the end of the meal, which included apples and walnuts. I was a happy camper.
Pris and Bob too are renting a house. And, like ours, their dream home is taking longer than they had hoped. But they're much closer to moving in than we are. Soon they'll have their drywall installed and our guestimate of move-in for them is.....August. Let's see if we're right.
Their property is gorgeous, right on the bluffs of the ocean overlooking Victoria BC. At any moment, Kathy & Heathcliffe should be walking across the moors.
May 1, 2007
Now that I'm back on my feet (and Greg too), I've been concentrating on finally finishing the dry creekbed that rings the house, but today I'll be weeding.
Last winter I bid on four hours of expert weeding at a local garden club fundraiser. And today Thelma came by to work side by side with me .
If you're not a gardener.....any time you have bare ground, especially in a wild area like this, invasive weeds are a huge problem. But since our landscaping is unusual in that I'm keeping it as natural as possible, there are many weeds that I'm keeping. But there's some kind of crab grass that has taken over. Thelma and I worked for four hours and after she left I worked an additional four. That's twelve hours of weeding, and we only did an area the size of a small room! And I have over two acres! Thankfully, not all of it has a weed problem, but there's enough of them to keep me busy for several weeks. Once "good" groundcover gets established, I won't have such overwhelming work to do.
May 2, 2007
Today was Melissa's birthday and Lisa and her husband Revy have invited us to dinner to celebrate. Another night I don't have to cook...am I lucky or what?
Earlier in the day Pris came by to take a look at the progress since she first visited a few months ago. I was excited to show her the mock ups for the sheet metal beams we're designing for the living room (for more on this, visit (April 18 & 29) . Then we had a nice chat while we took a ride on the swing.
We hadn't been to Lisa and Revy's for several months and boy have they done a tremendous amount of work, inside and out. It is truly a home now. Both Greg and I told them how jealous we are. Our "home" seems so far down the road.
In addition to furnishing and decorating the house, Lisa has entered a "forest stewardship" program since they have 20 acres. So she has a life's work ahead of her restoring the forest and making it inviting for wildlife. I'm going to have to get her to take a look at our small forest and give me some pointers.
Not only did Lisa do an exceptional decorating job, but the dinner was superb. Salmon that actually melted in your mouth with a mango salsa, an asian salad and asparagus. For dessert, a lemon custard cake with fresh strawberries. I am in heaven!
Melissa's beau, Les must have a wonderful home too. He told us of the ponds on his property - two acres in size, and the tundra swans that came to visit. I think our pond isn't big enough for waterfowl to land on; they need a sizable landing pad. Boy, if I won the lottery, I'd convert a huge area in our front yard and make it a pond.
May 3, 2007
Even getting a traffic ticket is a pleasant experience here!
I usually always drive with the cruise control on. It's hard to break the California habit of speeding to get to your destination. But last month, on the way home from , I forgot and let the car gather speed on the way down the hill. And, my luck, an officer was right there to catch me. He actually apologized for having to give me a ticket and wrote it up for 40 in a 35 mile zone instead of the 50 I was actually doing. Today, I went to a "mitigation" hearing whereby you admit your guilt...but with extenuating circumstances.
The judge, Judge Porter, is a doll, very personable and understanding. He dismissed the tickets of the first three drivers because they had been driving since the 1930s and 1940s and had never had a ticket in their lives.
After I explained to him that I knew better than to speed, but forgot my cruise control because I was tired and later turned out to be coming down with that virus, he reduced the amount of the ticket to as low as allowed and then I was able to "defer" the ticket. This way, it's not put on my record, my insurance company isn't informed, and if I don't get a ticket for a year, it goes away.
May 5, 2007
Spring is in the air. Every day I see new and different flowers at . There's some sort of lovely little blue flower that's part of the wildflower mix I planted. They're all over the place and it's giving the grounds the look of having been there for centuries. Up close they look like morning glories but they're only an inch across. LOVE IT! Even the ants like 'em (there's one in the picture - can you find it?)
One thing that's different here when it comes to the garden: in L.A., pansies have to be replaced every year (at least mind did), but my special "Jolly Joker" pansies from last year have returned all on their own. Beautiful.
Although Greg's photographer's eye isn't totally pleased with this, I like his picture of a plum tree in full blossom. As soon as the flowers fade, burgundy leaves will put on a massive display.
May 6, 2007
Thelma came back today, with hubby in tow, to give me some presents. She gifted me with some beautiful plants that will make a great addition. And her hubby, Barry, got The Tour.
May 8, 2007
Just another day in the garden....just another garden visitor.
Meanwhile, when we finally get home in the evening...another few hours of work to do: make dinner, give our Bud his meds, catch up on emails.
For months we couldn't understand what Bud wanted from us when he'd come over to us while were were at the computer. He'd paw at us. Did he want food? Did he want a pet? Well, we finally figured it out. He just wants to be with us - up close. If you own a cat, you know they rule the roost. Whatever they want, whenever they want it. So now, Greg has Bud get into this little basket and he's a happy camper just sittin' with his dad while dad works. We call it "surfing with Dad".
May 11, 2007
Read in the local paper this morning about a elephant seal that has beached himself at the harbor in downtown Port Angeles for his annual "molt." Seems these guys do this sort of thing yearly and to do it they gotta take long naps for about three or four weeks. A little research tells me that elephant seals are shielded from the cold by their blubber more than by fur. The skin on top of this blubber and its hair molts periodically - it has to be regrown by blood vessels reaching through the blubber. During this time, he's susceptible to the cold and must rest on land in a safe place called a "haulout." So the city roped off an entire area to keep the public away and leave him in peace. We had to go into town anyway, so we made a little excursion before reporting on the job. Cute little (200 lb.) cuss (that's him to the left of the bench).
May 12, 2007
Last weekend and this is Sequim's "famous" Irrigation Festival which commemorates the founding father's achievement of bringing water from the mountains into the valley and creating one of the best growing areas. This evening, Jill & Jim invited the usual crowd to a BBQ. It's been a while since there was a get together, so it was nice to see everyone and get caught up.
Memorial Day weekend is Greg's 60th birthday and our realtor's 59th, so Patty is throwing both of them a party. We worked out the details.
May 13, 2007
We have a choice when we leave in the morning or return in the evening. Go the short route or the long route. Both choices have wonderful sights to behold, but the long route has more of a chance to see deer and also passes by several pastures.
On our way to work this morning we took the long route. Just had to take a shot of these two little Arabian foals with their moms...fitting on Mother's Day.
MAY 19, 2007
Greg and I put in a shortened day at and then decided to take a drive - something we haven't done in a while. We discovered a residential area in Port Angeles we didn't know existed before. Not only bux-up homes overlooking the ocean bluffs and the harbor, but also the cutest "active senior living" community set up like a European village where one bedrooms start at $249K - not a bad deal. On our way we stopped to watch a bald eagle trying to catch his dinner down near the shore. There were two little birds driving him crazy like gnats buzzing around his head and poor thing he looked like he didn't know what to think.
After the ride it was about 9 p.m. and still light out. We stopped for take out at a Chinese restaurant and then drove to for dinner. We parked the car in front of the house and just marveled at what we're accomplishing. Greg just finished the first section of siding on the front of the house and it looks absolutely awesome. This is the first time I've got to see the siding against the stonework. I had worked with the stone mason to tint the grout to compliment the stain on the siding. I am pleased.
This is the land of trees. And where there are trees, there are tree stumps. Here they're considered lawn art and highly coveted. We've used a lot of stumps and logs in our landscaping. We left ours in their natural state, but take a look at what other people have done with theirs: two old men, this doggie (although I guess one could argue it looks more like a pig - but trust me, it's a dawg) is a companion to the two black labs that hang in this yard, and what else would you do with a huge tree stump at the edge of the sidewalk?
What is it with our toes??? I broke mine in March...now Greg has sprained his !!! No matter, it doesn't stop him from doing what he has to do. I'm continually amazed how Greg transports and moves various pieces of equipment on the job without assistance. He recently purchased an antique (1949) drill press and was moving it upstairs while I wasn't around. Somehow his toe got involved in the process. Poor baby. Ouch!
MAY 22, 2007
I am so jealous. Greg keeps having Close Encounters of the Bird Kind...a bird rescue at .
When Greg arrived this morning, he found an exhausted little hummingbird trying to escape through a closed livingroom window. If you remember, last summer when Greg's family was here, we arrived to find a flicker (stock photo) (related to a wood pecker) crashing himself against the window in a futile attempt at freedom. Well, now that I think about it, I do get the chance now and then - I'm the one who caught the flicker and set him free. (Seems most folks are rather timid about handling birds, wild or otherwise.) The flicker is about the size of a large blue jay but, of course, the hummer is just a little guy. Greg said that while he was working on the exterior siding the last few days, hummers seemed very curious and buzzed around him several times. How they get themselves into the house we're not sure. Probably when we leave the front door open during the day. At any rate, we don't know how long he was in there (did he get in last evening or did he find a small opening somewhere and got in this morning?), Greg was able to capture him using a bucket against the window and guide him out.
And now, as he works on the roof, a goldfinch (stock photo) keeps making close fly bys. Could there be a nearby nest? But this goldfinch is a male (Biology 101: it's the male bird with the pretty colors). It appears Greg has some magic attraction when it comes to birds. I used to tell Greg that he is an absolute pied piper with dogs and especially with cats. How many times has your path crossed with a cat? Whereas they usually run away from me whenever we'd come upon one during walk, they run to Greg. And now it seems his Pied Piperhood extends to the avian species.
I absolutely adore birds, especially hummers. Back in Westwood, I fed so many of them during the season that at times I was going through one hundred ounces of sugar water a day! I doubt I'll have that kind of success here but I can't wait until we're here full time and I can get into a routine of putting out food. Not living here now, I couldn't keep on top of that chore like I'd need to.
MAY 23, 2007
At least while Greg toils away on the roof, he gets to look out at this!
MAY 29, 2007
As we turned off the main road and into our neighborhood, the new neighbors across the road had their horses out to pasture. While we're getting ready to put in a long long day of work, these guys have a better idea.
MAY 30, 2007
It's one of the first really warm days here and Greg's up on the scaffold working on the roof that covers the front porch. I told Greg that when he finally finishes that roof (it is now referred to officially as "that roof"), we've gotta have some sort of celebration.
June 2, 2007
I've been weeding. A lot. We have two acres. And although I'm attempting to do native/natural landscaping...the weeds are an alien species that knows just how to get a foothold. Weeds have an uncanny ability to grow right in the same spot as another plant you want to keep and many's the time I pull up the weed and the good plant goes with! Damn buggers!
The good thing is: I get a chance to interact with some wildlife.
Greg came to get me and walked me down the driveway where we approached what looked to be a long black pipe. It wasn't. Meet Sheba. At about three feet long, she's the biggest garter snake we've seen 'round these here parts. She was very accommodating when it came to portrait taking. Every garter snake I come by, I can't help but attempt to pick up and most of the time I've been successful. But Sheba here is big and as she curled herself up on our approach, I could see her tongue checking out the situation. Garter snakes aren't poisonous but they can bite, so until she comes when called, I'll let her be. I think she's beautiful and I hope she sticks around.
June 4, 2007
We played hookey while running some errands this morning and decided to haunt some of the local collectibles stores. I scored BIG. First I bought a Bambi figurine that was probably made for Disney in the 1940s and should go for about $200. But the little guy had a repair on one of his legs (which I couldn't even see!) and I snagged it for $25! Then we went to another shop. Right in the front counter was the most adorable piggy cookie jar. That too was probably from the 40s and they were asking $175. It was one of those consignment collectibles shops and I asked the clerk if the booth owner would consider an offer of $100. Just so happened the guy he was talking to owned that booth and was complaining because he hadn't made any sales lately. So I told him, well, I'm your gal. Sold! Can't wait to find a place for them at !
June 6, 2007
In between the weeds...are beautiful flowers. Earlier in spring my daffodils were coming on. Now, I've got Dutch iris coming up and every day more and more bloom. But I'm still waiting for my beautiful bearded iris that I brought all the way from California (via buying the bulbs years ago from Oregon) to make an appearance. We're one thousand feet from sea level and so I've noticed that things bloom later up here than down in town.
June 7, 2007
Just a shot of what we typically see on our drive back in the evening. As we drive down the road, our heads are constantly moving back and forth - you never know what we might catch a glimpse of.
June 8, 2007
And it happened again!
Summer is just around the corner but still, some local wildlife has gotten a late start on starting their families. I got an excited call from Greg on his cell as he was turning off the main road to . (Face it, I have bad timing when it comes to wildlife!) There in the green belt just off the roadway was a mama doe and two white-speckled baby fawns(stock photo). But these were the tiniest fawns Greg had ever seen. They barely came up to mama's knee.
This is really cool. One of our neighbors just happens to fly his own helicopter. Once he even landed it on our cul de sac. I gave him a call a week or so ago and asked him to snap some aerial pix of our place next time he had the chance. This is what our property looked like before we broke ground. (The yellow box represents the original site for the house. When we decided to move the placement a little bit south, we had to complete rework the floor plan.) Anyway, here's what it looks like today. And here it is a bit closer. This shot was taken from the back part of the house. You can see the waterfall and pond on the lower right. Everything looks so small from waaay up there. And now for something really different: this link will allow you to fly around by helicopter.
June 12, 2007
While working on the landscaping today, I enjoyed checking up on Sheba, our resident garter snake, who's been curling up in the front yard every day to take a sun bath. And, I chanced upon the cutest little brown bunny while I was pulling out some tall grass. But I was tired of pulling weeds. So I decided to take a little walk down the road, hoping to possibly see those two baby fawns. They weren't around but I'm glad I had the camera - I found several photo ops.
First I came upon the most brilliant stand of brilliant red iceland poppies. Upon close inspection, they had a deep cobalt blue center. Then, down a nearby country road was this black and white puttie-tat sittin' on a fence! He wouldn't let me get close to him. I'm sure if Greg were with me, he would've been purring in Greg's lap. But when he ran away, I got a nice shot before I said adieu.
On my way back, I passed the stand of poppies again, but this time there was a group of Canadian Geese with a bunch of goslings just on the other side of the fence.
My last shot is of a weed known as Skunk Cabbage. It grows in marshy areas and when it's first growing it has some sort of yellow flower. Now, the flowers are spent but the cabbage continues to grow. These leaves are at least three feet long.
Although my girlfriend Lynne and her husband Bruce visited in April, I just now received the pix she took. That's the two of them in front of our waterfall. Love this picture: she's the natural red head! And finally, only because someone else had the camera, a rare picture of Greg and I.
Last week, I got my chance to be a hero. Another hummingbird got into the house through the open front door. He was just buzzing at the big picture window. The most common hummer in this area is the Rufous(stock photo) so called for it's necklace of orange feathers. I walked up to the window and cupped my hands around him. He weighed nothing. Then I carried him out the front door to set him free.
June 14, 2007
Greg worked at while I had a doctor's appointment in town. So I took the opportunity to go to a new luncheonette. And, eureka, I've found the first and only nearest thing to an actual deli since we've been here. And everything's homemade. I ordered a corned beef sandwich on rye with potato salad and cole slaw. And...the owner makes cinnamon buns that rival the old T.J. Cinnamons that I loved so well in California. I'll definitely be back.
I got to see this the other day when Greg wasn't with me. Now, on is way to he watched this old timer giving a lesson on how to drive a mule cart. We still can't get over these sights are just down the road.
June 15, 2007
Every day more and more flowers pop up to greet me. The irises are really coming on now (but still my bearded iris are a no show). Coming up amongst the tall grass gives them an ethereal quality.
June 16, 2007
This morning we got up early to go to an "upscale" rummage sale. We sure do miss the wonderful flea markets in California, especially the Rose Bowl, Pasadena City College, and the Long Beach Veterans Flea. We've spent two and a half decades haunting fleas and coming away with our prized collectibles. We've enjoyed them so much, that we're literally building our house around them.
We've gone to garage sales, and in fact, ended up going to three or four today. But they're always the same: old Christmas decorations, bad crafts, and....basically junk. So it was just a fluke that I noticed a blurb in the paper about this one...(and one tomorrow which is actually an auction). So based on our past disappointing forays, Greg wasn't expecting anything different.
Anyway, we dragged our sorry asses out of bed rather early (for us - since we don't end up getting home and having dinner until ten or eleven) and went. Meanwhile, Bud gets to spend his day like this.
As we were approaching the community center I see a pick up truck about ten yards down and they're just getting ready to unload. And there, right there facing me was this wonderful upholstered chair! Oh, it definitely needs upholstering - but it's got great bones. It's obviously from the 1940s and has moderne/deco lines. It's exactly what I've been looking for for the sitting area of our bedroom. Well, I walked right up to the guy and said, "I'm liking this! How much?" "Twenty-five dollars." "SOLD!" I can see it now, reupholstered in shades of gray and silver (the bedroom's dominant accent color). Can't wait! And Greg said he can make a matching ottoman. Perfect.
As a reward, I took Greg to the new deli. The soup of the day was chicken noodle. You'll love this. Just like when I asked a waitress at a breakfast restaurant to make my wheat toast "dry" and she asked me, "You mean you don't want butter on that?".....I asked the young waitress if the owner ever made matzoa ball soup. She gave me a very puzzled look and asked, "Monster Ball soup?" Greg and I nearly fell off our chairs! Then when I placed my order, I had all kinds of special requests: no cheese, no Kaiser roll - rye bread please, extra pickles...my usual. I try to mitigate the waitress becoming completely exasperated with me by prefacing my requirements by mentioning Meg Ryan. Ha! This girl was probably 2 years old when When Harry Met Sally came out. Meg Ryan who???
But then, it was back to "woik". Besides pulling up bushels of that "clump grass" weed, I'm now on a tear to get rid of our Brackens ferns. These ferns may look pretty now, but when they die, they turn brown and just fall over and cover anything that's underneath. And these things get up to 5-6 feet tall! And there are hundreds and hundreds of them. Our burn pile is nearly 10 feet tall and...well...this is the pile that weeds built!
June 17, 2007
Today is Father's Day. Greg's father passed away early this morning.
June 21, 2007
Here I am weeding. But this gives you a little better idea of what I'm up against. My grandmother had a saying..."Like picking fly s**t out of pepper." Well, that's what I've been doing and will be doing for....weeks. Yes, I want a natural landscape at , and even certain weeds are desirable...but I've seemed to have raised a bumper crop of this frickin' clump grass. I am overwhelmed. Somebody help me!!!!
June 23, 2007
Bud is such a blanket surfer. Every morning when I make the bed, he's on the bed...and nothing disturbs his relaxation time. Not even my tugging on sheets, blankets, and bedspread. He just rides the blankets until I'm done.
June 27, 2007
While Greg works at, I stayed home to do paperwork etc and since it's light until 10 p.m. these days, took almost a two-hour walk about 7 p.m. before Greg came home for dinner. Will I ever get jaded about all the wildlife I am privileged to see? I hope not. When was the last time you went on a walk from your front door and saw what I got to see? As soon as I set out, it wasn't long before my path crossed with several deer (of course!) and then a mama duck and her ducklings scooting across a pond. Then I went into a little neighborhood with a small park that overlooks the ocean with a view of Victoria, B.C. There I took a few minutes to sit on a bench and watch the world go by. At first I thought I was watching a large cat coming up the bluff, but no, it was a great big raccoon. Then a curious hummer buzzed by several times to take a look.
But the most fun was walking past a neighbor's corral filled with sheep and goats. Usually the two species mingle, but for some reason, the sheep were roaming the pen having dinner while all the goats were penned up in a little barn. As I approached, all the goat's attention was focused on me as if to ask, "Why are we cooped up in here?" Then one sheep bleated and the entire barn of goats answered back with bursts from one, then three, then all the goats. This went on for a while and then I noticed there was something going on in the goat barn when I realized there was some kicking and butting going on. It seems one goat will butt another and that goat goes on to butt someone else; some kind of pecking order I gather. The best scenario played out like the Three Stooges: three goats in line one behind the other. Goat #2 head butts the rear of Goat #1, then Goat #3 head butts Goat #2. Hilarious.
All your allergies as bad as mine and all my friends this year? Ohmigawd! It begins when I get up from bed and progresses to get worse as the day goes on. Huge sneezes, itchy watery eyes and the itchiest nose ever. Just miserable. It seems every year you read that this year is a bad one for allergies. If this keeps up, I'll have to start allergy shots again.
June 28, 2007
Seems hard to believe it was about a year ago we were invited to Donna & Gordon's home for his big "Pit BBQ". As with last year, the first night is prepping the meats for burial in the underground pit where they'll stay for almost 24 hours. Again, I got to have a bit of fun while Greg stayed on at . Later on I met Greg at home with some hamburgers for dinner courtesy of Donna & Gordon.
June 29, 2007
Tonight's the big BBQ and we're both looking forward to spending time with friends. Had to laugh: for the past several years Donna & Gordon have played around with their BBQ party dates to avoid the rain. We've only attended last year's get together and now this one. Well, it rained both days last year. And it rained yesterday. And it seems to be raining again today!
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