July through December

July 2, 2007
Lots of critter stuff to share with you.

We're still fascinated with
our little Bambi, that African deer that lives with three horses and two cows down the road from us. We've been enjoying her since we bought the property in the Spring of '04. She's a bit older now - who knows how old she is - and she doesn't seem to go off as much as she used to; she sticks around more and many times we find her just laying down and relaxing. Well, why not? She's retired. So are we. But she seems to be living the life of leisure we're looking forward to once we move.

Dad and Bud continue to "surf the web" -
is this the look of complete contentment or what? Bud doesn't ask much really. Just our complete and utter, uninterrupted devotion and attention. It's enough for him just to know he is absolutely adored and we are at his beck and call at any hour of the day or night. That look on Greg's face is pure contentment too. He waits all day to come home and spend time with "his boy."

Love this shot! A young buck with his velvety horns was grazing in a field we pass on our way home at night. This shot was probably taken after 9:30 p.m. and you'd think it was the middle of the afternoon. If you look closely you'll see we caught him "mid chew".

The other morning on our way out the door we hear some unusual bird calls. It was a
papa quail (here on our roof watching intently) quite upset that we'd discovered his babies in a big rosemary bush under a front window. Quail are the most amusing birds. They rarely fly but run, and it gives the impression their caboose is trying to overtake the front end. And that hysterical "top knot" makes it look as though they're perennially chasing after the proverbial carrot.

Everybody's having babies...even now that it's early summer. On our way to that deep pit BBQ we went to at Gordon & Donna Day's home last month, we passed a corral with the absolutely
cutest pinto foal! I just love it when they lay down in the grass. This little one figured out I was taking its picture and gave me a lazy glance. Then it was over to mama for a little snack.

As time marches on with our monster project, our friends are now "coming clean" and telling us what they really think of us: "we are crazy," "we are their heroes..but we are definitely crazy," "we are slight and beguilingly nuts!" (that one gets the creativity award), and my most favorite from my junior high classmate...."comes straight out of Shelleyland."

But I keep hearing Fred Astaire singing in the background: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round, they all laughed when Edison recorded sound." (I had hoped to link a recording here of that song but alas our old computer isn't having any of that. So, I will keep that idea in the back of my mind and mebbe by the time we do finish, we'll have a new computer and I can add the recording to big fanfare!)

I just came in from a long walk around the neighborhood. Greg is "on the job." It was a beautiful evening when I set out at 7 p.m. and now it's 9 o'clock. The weather was perfect; the mountains clear as a bell. I could almost look across the fields and see Greg working at a few miles away.

As I was walking I felt something overhead. I looked up to see a bald eagle flying about 20 feet above me and I stood there for ten minutes watching him perch at the top of an old growth cedar. May I never get over my awe at such things.

July 5, 2007
Yesterday, of course, was the Fourth of July. No matter, it was just another work day for us.

We'd really like to bound out of bed in the morning and dash out the door and get to the job before 9 or 10, but that's rarely the case. There are chores to do at home and we're too tired after eating dinner at 10 or 11 p.m. to do them at the end of the day. At least it doesn't get dark here in the summer until 9:30 or 10, so we can make up for some lost time.

So, yesterday, after working at home, we went out to a big lunch with plans of eating our bag lunch as dinner at .

We capped off the day by "dining" in our belvedere (turret) and we were rewarded with our own spectacular: a private fireworks show. Up in the belvedere, we have a 360 degree view of the
forest and Olympic National Park, all the way around to Vancouver, B.C. So we got to watch about a dozen different fireworks displays. Awesome!

This time we actually had our camera with us....but unfortunately, it's not set up to shoot the likes of nighttime fireworks.

Greg is STILL on that roof - mainly because he has to do so much custom fabrication in order to make sure there won't be any leaks. We'll keep our fingers crossed for this coming fall and winter to test it out. And as for me, I will be weeding 'til the cows come home it seems. As afraid of bugs as I am, something comes over me when I'm gardening and (as long as I don't see any crawling on me), I can keep at it. I'm giving up on all the spider bites I'm accumulating. I've got so much spider venom in me, I'm sure it's acting like allergy shots. I won't die from a spider bite, just be miserable with itching and swelling.

July 6, 2007
This, I think, is just hysterical.

There is a well-known, and much laughed about, country road here by the name of Kitchen-Dick. I mean, just the weird name of it gets you laughing. Supposedly, the name came about between two families, the Kitchens and the Dicks who each laid claim to the road. You find out here that many roads are named after the families, farms, or ranches that once stood there. Or, if you're on your own little private road, you can name it whatever you want. Some of our favs are "Loafer's Lane", "Goa Way" and "Ain't No Way."

Every so often (usually) kids think it's pretty funny to
alter the road sign. It gets even funnier when "Itchin-Dick" crosses Woodcock Road!!!

July 8, 2007
Ohmigosh. This was just amazing and, of course, we didn't have our camera! (Wish I had a penny for all the missed shots! And you probably wish you had a penny for all the times I've repeated myself....)

On the way "to work", just down the road from where we're living, we passed one of many corrals. And there, right by the roadside was a new mom and her teeny tiny foal - it had to have been born just the day before. All head and wobbly legs, in all my years around horses I have never seen a newborn as new as this newborn.

July 13, 2007
Ma and Pa have bought a tractor!!! Yessiree bob, got ourselves a gen-U-ine 1939 F-o-r-d. What a hoot. But we bought it for service and not for looks. It'll help us move dirt and rock piles and mix cement. (FYI: this picture taken in the back yard of the seller). Slap me if you ever hear me tell Greg to keep it for lawn art!

July 16, 2007
My poor Greg! I'm sure he's ruing the day he offered to build a house for me! All kidding aside, I truly don't know how he hasn't gone crazy with all he has on his mind. His desk is just a mountain of small pieces of note paper - reminders of any one of a thousand things he has to take care of: roofing, heating, wiring, plumbing, moisture barriers, you name it. And stacks and stacks of research books. And add to that, of course, the business of life. But, we keep plodding along. Two steps forward, one step back.

At least I've been able to hire
two high school kids to help me (and Greg too - here they're rolling a huge spool of our main electrical wire out to the street).

Found another snake today, just hangin' out in the sun along the base of the building. If you look closely at the image you can see a white powder. That's an insecticide called premethrin we researched to kill the much dreaded and destructive carpenter ants. I was worried the snake might absorb some of this stuff through his skin so I wrangled him into a bucket and let him go elsewhere - but not before hosing him off. He weren't too happy with me at that point. I'm sure I'll see him another day.

And then, an odd duck, well,
Canadian Goose (stock photo) to be exact. While driving up to the house, this goose was walking alongside the main road looking like he needed directions. Usually these guys are in flocks and what was it doing walking down the road anyway? I was afraid a car would come 'round the bend so I stayed there to chaperon. I even tried to spook him to fly away at which point he ran and ran, flapping his wings, but couldn't seem to get off the ground. Then I turned around and there was another one. Probably its mate. Finally, I watched them walk off the road and back into the forest. Hopefully they found their brethren.

July 18, 2007
Just read in our local paper, Peninsula Daily News, about a
blogspot where locals post daily city views. It'll give you a flavor of the area.

Meanwhile, I was appearing the other local weekly paper, The Sequim Gazette. They've asked me to do an occasional opinion column and I chose my "pettest" of peeves - graffiti:

Yes for no graffiti
Guest editorial by Shelley Taylor

We usually complain about the city council ... for good reason. Many times the members seem to be either marching to their own agenda or clueless to the needs of the community. But every once in a while they get it right!

They have now made graffiti a misdemeanor offense (where previously it was labeled malicious mischief) and placed responsibility for cleanup on the property owner. While you may question why the property owner should be charged with this responsibility, I ask, Who else?î If someone wrapped your home in toilet paper, who would clean it up?

As a relative newcomer here (via Los Angeles) I have brought with me my loathing of graffiti ñ because I have seen what it can do to a community and the taxpayers' money.

Usually you don't begin to pay attention to the growing graffiti problem 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. ñ and forewarn you of what could too easily happen here.

Back in Los Angeles, I was actively involved in improving my neighborhood and I worked closely with the West Los Angeles City Council as well as the city attorney's office.

Los Angeles can't even begin to keep up with an attempt to remove the tens of thousands of graffiti postings. Last time I checked, Los Angeles city (not including the county) had a yearly budget of $4.5 million to deal with graffiti removal (prevention was no longer an option).

Just think of what better ways that money could be spent for the welfare of the citizens.

Once graffiti is up, it invites more. It has been proven to invite crime. And it increases gang activity, as the broken window theory explains. And if the graffiti happens to be of a political nature, remember, even if you agree with the message, it will invite more.

Graffiti comes in many forms ñ not only spray paint. Now graffiti is stenciled (making for a fast getaway). Other forms are plastering political posters and bumper stickers on stop signs and traffic boxes. I have removed many of these since I've arrived.

Political correctness (as with many other instances in today's world) would have the property damage inflicted by graffiti vandals referred to as graffiti art.

Back in L.A., I had had enough and contacted the city attorney about the omnipresent problem. I mean, really, these stickers and posters were nothing short of advertising. And the taxpayers end up paying the bill.

Graffiti ruined beautiful vintage granite street lamps. Same thing happened recently to our capitol building in Olympia. Unfortunately, Los Angeles didn't have the budget or the manpower to sandblast the granite, so they painted it out in big square blotches of mismatched paint.
It was very sad.

Unbelievably, I came to find out the city attorney would not prosecute ñ even if the advertising copy on the sticker led to the offender ñ because "they were afraid the ACLU would sue the city for first amendment free speech rights!" It got that crazy. Evidently the powers that be in Los Angeles feel free speech is a free ride for vandalism.

And for the shop owners, the graffiti vandals came up with something truly inspired ? glass etch on shop windows. Shop windows are very expensive to replace ñ which is your only alternative. And for those shop owners who couldn't pay the price ? well, lets 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 the expensive visual blight of graffiti get a foothold here.

The best solution is "immediate" removal. (Actually I think the council should have been more severe in its time limit ñ 15 days is too long and gives graffiti vandals ample time to add to the destruction). We advised our merchants to make policing their buildings and the areas around them, including city property such as street signs and traffic signals, part of opening their doors in the morning. It's good business.

Tourists come here to get away from the visual blight of big city life. Let's make sure we show them what beauty is all about.

Shelley Taylor is a co-founder of Property Owners for Predictable Tax Now and lives between Port Angeles and Sequim.

July 19, 2007
Bud went for a check up earlier this week and WOOO HOOO his test results came in today and he passed with flying colors!!! What a relief. Just hate taking that little guy to the vets - stressful for all of us. And next week he has his eye checkup. This cat has more specialists than Greg and I. And he's worth EVERY PENNY.

Here's something that should be fun: I've now been asked by the Sequim Gazette to do a monthly restaurant column. The paper's editor said I would be "rich and famous" (they pay $35 a column!!!). Maybe the Gazette can do for me what Hollywood only promised....

Greg snapped this shot around 9 p.m. of a nearby field
ablaze in golden daisies.

July 20, 2007
Just got in from another nice long walk around the "rental" neighborhood while Greg's toiling on installing electrical panels - something I can't help with. Nor can I get back to weeding. It's been raining for the last several days and more to come, and you just can't pull weeds when the ground's all mushy.

So I went back to that nearby community and walked back to the ocean bluffs where I sat on a swing and watched the surf roll in, a hundred feet below.

As I approached the bluffs, there's a small little forest of old growth cedars and alders. At first I thought I saw a cement lawn-art deer. was the real thing. There were three of them sitting under the canopy of this small forest, enjoying the early evening. I stood there for several minutes as they watched me. They're obviously habituated to humans so they just kept on relaxing. I went on my way and sat in the swing. When I returned twenty minutes later, I could see ahead they were still lounging; so I decided to walk right through the forest keeping a healthy distance. And they still went on about their business. I watched as they got up and two of them began grooming each other. They would take turns. I had no idea deer did that. Then, as they began to walk on to forage, the buck with a small rack became just sooo curious about this creature watching them. I could tell he was fighting with himself to keep a safe distance but wanting so badly to investigate. He would walk parallel to me and then turn in my direction and freeze his pose. He did this several times. As I stood watching, the three companions walked on in search of more dinner in the neighbor's yards.

Got an email from my friend, Mark D. He directed me in a play he had written back in the mid 80s and we've been friends ever since. Starring in that play, Backbone of America, resulted in the first time my name was up in lights on a marquis on Sunset Boulevard. I have a picture of it somewhere and would add it here, but it's packed away...

Anyway, he was recounting a recent trip to Las Vegas and was telling me what fun he had. Wellll, I practically grew up in the "Old" Vegas. When my parents moved to California in the mid 50s, at least twice a year we would drive there (an interminably long trip for a hyperkinetic kid). Mom & Dad loved taking in the shows. This got me to recounting some of those experiences in my email and I thought they might be interesting to add to the diary.

Today's Vegas is bigger than life and fueled by big corporations. The Vegas I knew was very much the stuff of Bugsy Siegel and
the rat pack (which I saw perform). I saw shows with Buddy Hackett and Shecky Greene, Eddie Fisher, musicals such as Guys and Dolls. And I can't forget to mention Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, who was actually a friend of the family. In fact, I helped him clean up his very first Rolls Royce (something my Dad and he had in common). Here's a photo of myself, my parents and Wayne in our backyard in Westwood with Wayne's Rolls in the background. I remember staying at the Stardust Hotel when it first opened (and now it's gone - blown up). The Stardust was famous for the Lido Review - one of the early nude reviews. All of the hotels had massive signature neon signs in the 1950s. The Flamingo Hotel had a huge pink sign and a cement tower covered with big dots of neon lights which chased up and down. The Dunes was one of my childhood favorites because it had a huge genie on their roof, and one of the hotels, probably the Desert Inn had three "ships of the desert" - cement camels that were my favorites. I have photos of them somewhere. I even have ephemera (collectible paper goods) of menus, sugar cubes, and the very famous swizzle sticks which you always got with your drinks so you could hit them on the side of the glass to add to your applause. So you can imagine that the "NEW" Vegas isn't so interesting to me - it's just a big Disneyland. Back then, the Desert Inn had a nightly "water show" which I would watch from our room after my parents left for the late show. (Those were the days when a parent could feel safe leaving their child in the room and count on the front desk to make sure I was ok.) The water show was a series of dancing sprays with synchronized colored lighting set to music - just the magical thing a kid loves. In the mornings, while my parents slept (in), I was up and out of bed, marched myself to the restaurant and would order myself breakfast where the wait staff got to know me by name and I had the adult privilege of signing the check to have it billed to the room, just like that "literary" little girl, Madeline who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Then, it was off to the pool for the day and ordering lunch poolside. If my parents paged me at the pool and I didn't answer, I was obviously hanging out in the gift shop. I even remember a permanent sign which my parents never missed an opportunity to point out to me: "lovely to look at, delightful to hold, but if you break it, then it is sold." You couldn't accuse me of being shy. And as I revisit this now, evidently I was working on my Hollywood Diva persona.

You'll enjoy
my Eddie Fisher story: back in those days, after a show, the public could wait out in the lobby for the star to walk thru and there you could ask for autographs. My parents were especially excited to see Eddie Fisher. Not only was he one of Dad's favorite singers, but he had just married Elizabeth Taylor and there was a possibility she might be there. And she was. At one point during his set, he brought her out on stage, had her sit in a chair, and serenaded her with "That face, that face, that beautiful face...." It was unusually hot out, and back then I'm sure A/C wasn't too efficient, so they would open the doors of the lobby. I was a kid...probably 7 or 8 at the most, and while we were waiting for Mr. Fisher, I was running around the lobby and found this huge grasshopper hanging on the drapes. How neat! So, of course, I captured it and held it in my cupped hands. I sincerely thought, "What a great present to give to Mr. Fisher!" Finally he makes his walk-thru and I bound up and say, "Mr. Fisher, I have a present for you!!!" He looked at my cupped hands and gave a slight backward move and I said, again, sincerely (cause I thought I was doing the greatest thing and being generous to give him my find too boot), "No no, you'll really like this." So he put out his hand. And I lovingly released my gift. The poor guy nearly had a heart attack then and there!

Red Skelton sang happy birthday to me: Back then, especially when you have a ballsy mother, you could call the hotel and ask to speak to the star. So, mom was able to personally ask Mr. Skelton if he'd sing happy birthday to me at that evening's dinner show. In the midst of his show he asks, "Anyone having a birthday?" My mom pushes me and says,
"Stand up! Stand up!" He had the audience sing to me while I stood on my chair, and then made some comment to the effect of, "Don't you just hate drunk kids." Got a big laugh. Not long after that, Mr. Skelton lost his young son to cancer. I remember my parents driving to his estate in either Beverly Hills or Trousdale Estates or something like that, and having me leave a condolence note tucked into the gate.

I remember being at the
El Rancho Hotel (stock photo) and seeing Milton Berle sitting in a booth. I asked him for his autograph and he invited me to sit with him. Somewhere I still have that book of autographs.

And lastly, how I came to sing on the Las Vegas stage with
Pearl Bailey. Back then, you palmed the Maitre D' and they'd give you a better seat. Our table was right up against the edge of the stage; Dad must've been a good tipper. I was precocious (if you can possibly believe that) and figured that if I "mooned" over Ms. Bailey she would, of course, ask me up on stage to sing. And damned if she didn't - called me right up there on the stage with her. I jumped up and promptly lost one of my maryjanes. I was so embarrassed that when I got up to her, I kept rubbing my foot with the shoe over my shoeless white-socked foot. And then she said what I had been waiting to hear all evening. She asked me to sing along with her. I was in heaven! Singing, on a stage, with Pearl Bailey yet. I'll be discovered for sure. But then my heart sank. And I fought back tears. Not only did I have to live through the embarrassment of having the entire audience see me lose my shoe, Ms. Bailey had me sing along with her all right....the Mickey Mouse Club House song! M-i-c...see ya real soon, k-e-y, why? because we like you...M-o-u-s-e.

July 20, 2007
Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.

Upon reflection, it may seem to some rather boastful when I write about our house project and how it all came to be. I sincerely hope that is not the impression I have given. I write what I write because I think friends and family reading this might find it interesting. So let me say here, if it comes off boastful (instead of mighty grateful), please forgive me: it's only meant to entertain.

This reflection sparked a conversation between Greg and I about our choice to devote our lives to such an immense undertaking. Well, in all honesty, we didn't start out to take on such a formidable project. But whatever. This home is borne out of Greg's years as a craftsman and artist, our years of collecting, and my years of storing ideas for my dream home. I'm on a mission,
I'm a dog with a bone, and I won't give up until I see this vision through. I was just telling Greg of a Home Depot commercial where this man was planning on renovating a vintage home all by himself. He looked into the camera and said, "If you think you can do it, it can be done." And, so, we forge ahead.

One of the reasons we're so committed to this venture is this: is going to be our "beautiful prison." We are doing everything possible to make sure it will be our home 'til the end of our days. As we get older, our worlds become smaller and smaller until possibly some day you are confined entirely to your home. I want that home to be a beautiful, comfortable place that surrounds us with memories of our life together.

Our home in California was built on this principle: comfort, convenience, and organization. Much to my chagrin I have had to abandon that since our move. It takes time and thought to make a house run like that and we haven't been settled and won't be settled until "we hang paintings on the wall." But you can bet that once we make the move, I will be spending weeks and weeks getting to hum like a well-tuned engine. Can't wait!

July 23, 2007
This Michael Vick dog torture case is just horrific. I can't look at the images they're showing on the news. I've called Nike (503.671.6453) and the NFL
(212.450.2000) to tell them to disassociate themselves with this sick, savage pervert. Meanwhile, at the risk of sounding graphic, if I could get my hands on Mr. Vick (and any of his cronies or any of the estimated 100,000 (yes! one hundred thousand) estimated participants in this country), I would take my time and peel his testicles like a grape!

I know, I know: innocent until proven guilty. But then again, a grand jury found enough to slap him with an 18 page indictment and...clichés wouldn't be clichés if they weren't true: where there's smoke there's fire.

Speaking of fire,
here's the sight Greg was guided home by today.

July 24, 2007
Friend Melissa came a visitin' today with her friend Les - she wanted to give him "The Tour." While Les enjoyed our project, we enjoyed his vintage Morris Minor which he's owned since he bought it new in 1963. So here's a portrait of the car, Melissa behind the wheel with Les on the rare occasion of being a passenger, and
the parting shot as they drive away.

July 29, 2007
We had our first ever garage sale yesterday and Friday. Seems Fridays and Saturdays are how they do it here. It turned out to be lots of fun because several of my new friends brought their junk too, so it was a gabfest.

I made a whopping $300 which works out to be about $2 an hour! Doesn't matter, got rid of junk and had fun to boot.

I had so much to catch up on today since there wasn't time for anything else during the garage sale, so Greg went to work and I worked at home. On his way down the road he gave me a call from his cell. The corral that had two darling foals...well
now they are three - the newbie is the one napping on the right. Seems all these guys do is sleep...and eat. What a life!

July 30, 2007
Our circle of friends is expanding. As a result of our recent garage sale, I met two new "girlfriends"...Candice and Gail, both through Lisa who had asked if more could join in on the garage sale gala. Gail is a horsewoman and former major mountain climber. Candice and her husband Steve, among other things, used to own a famous spa resort nearby in Sol Duc Falls. Candice is also an artist. They called today and asked if we could come to their home for dinner. A meal I don't have to cook? I'm there! We got their grand tour. Their home is really something, on twenty acres. They've been there a while but are still embroiled in projects. Just like us, they're working on their front door and since I had a "for sale" sign at the garage sale for the leftover stone we used on the exterior, they've decided to use some of ours for their entry. Seems Greg and Steve have a lot in common. Steve lived in Saigon when he was a boy and so Viet Nam was common ground. Plus Steve is doing a lot of the work on their home by us goils could hardly get a word in edgewise.

At one point, Greg and Steve disappeared outside. When Greg returned he kept telling me I need to see their motor home. Okay, big deal. Well, it IS a BIG DEAL. It's huge and any self-respecting rock star would be awed to travel in it. Since they live part of the year in Florida, they use it a lot and obviously travel in style.

July 31, 2007
This evening Jill threw a birthday party for Patty and the gang was invited. Ho hum, just another fabulous cooked-to-perfection steak dinner with all the trimmings. Thanks Jill & Jim!

August 1, 2007
Tit for tat. Since we toured their place, today Candice & Steve came for a tour of . - especially since they wanted to see our stonework. And again it was a boy's gabfest. They especially liked our waterfall and pond and I'm going to try to put them in touch with our designer, Jeff.

August 3, 2007
A Girl's hike at Lena Lake near Hoodsport, about an hour or so away from here. New friend Pris organized the outing and Candice joined us. And so there I am roughing it with my backpack and two seasoned hikers. Took us a while to find the trail but you never come up short when you're in an area like this and "get lost" because we found a stunning rushing river and waterfall.

Once we got going, the hunger pangs set in. Now, while my two friends were munching on hors d'oeuvres of cheese and crackers and a small portion of last night's salmon...I was spreading out an entire feast. I had my tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread with tomato and lettuce, carrots, Kosher dill spears...and let's not forget the diet coke with ice cubes - gotta have ice cubes! So , who sez I can't rough it!?

Since we lost a bit of time "getting lost" we didn't make the hike all the way to the lake, but it was still wonderful and beautiful. There is so much to do in this state. You could take a different hike every single day and not make a dent in what's out there. All the while I was having fun hiking, Greg was working at and I'm feeling guilty.

But evidently not enough not to go.

August 4, 2007
Our Bud makes our little family complete. When we're not home with him, we talk about him. My parents always had dogs and they were part of our family too. My Dad was famous for saying, "Love that dog! Wouldn't take a million dollars for her!" Well, same goes for
our little boy.

August 5, 2007
A close-up of anything makes a statement. Greg shot this study of a perfect
dandelion And here's our new friend and his mom, waiting for us on our way to work. And with him are the other two foals, one finishing up breakfast.

On Greg's way home tonight, he snapped a picture of this
wonderful old (and tall!) windmill that stands in a pasture along the road. We've talked many times about getting in touch with the landowner and seeing if he'd like to sell. It must be from the 1940s or thereabouts. A faded sign on the center of the mill says Aero Motor

I have a new best friend and its name is Scooba. You've probably heard about those robotic vacuum cleaners...little round robots that scurry about and vacuum for you. Well, there's a hardwood floor/linoleum,tile version called Scooba. We got a good price for a brand new one on Ebay and now life is good. After a short learning curve, this little demon scampers around our kitchen floor and it's amazing how much dirt it picks up. There's a bit of an equipment clean up after it's finished and I also needed to go around the edges of the floor but the floor itself was cleaner than I'd been able to get it. I decided to get this now for two reasons: I don't have time to keep up this rental house like I'd like to and I was interested in using this at. It gets my seal of approval.

August 6, 2007
As I drove up our road to , I pass our friends the three horses, two cows, and Bambi. Then I round the bend and a flying shadow catches my eye. It's a red tailed hawk! And in its talons a writhing snake! What a sight!

August 7, 2007
On our way in the morning, we look for the three foals. Lazy babes - all laying down in the grass. Last week, a big strawberry roan named RB who lives on the same road as the fawns, was taking a nap in the sun. There this huge horse is just sprawled out soaking up the sunshine. So funny to see horses laying down. Horse fact: horses have two sets of muscles in their legs so they can sleep while standing; and they can stand for long hours. One set rests while the other works.

Greg discovered the work of a spider
spanning the rocks at our waterfall.

In the late afternoon, we watched two doe and three fawns walk thru the property. They came up from the ravine at the back and then crossed by the waterfall and down another ravine which takes them to our meadow. Then they continue on. The fawns were so cute playing, spooking each other, jumping straight up and then scampering down the steep end of the ravine.

We are like two kids exploring. Many times we've just happened to look up and catch a wildlife moment. I wonder how many moments like these we've missed because our attention was focused on our work?

I'm deliberately making our landscaping "fauna friendly" and right now the native fireweed is blooming, and from the munching on the leaves, it's obvious that
fireweed is a favorite with the deer. Since we're not there through the night, I can only go by the evidence (not) left behind to see that the deer are grazing all over the place. We are missing a lot.

August 8, 2007
My second opinion piece ran in today's local paper, the Sequim Gazette. Although I was planning on doing this piece before the Michael Vick dog torture tragedy, I feel this has even more relevance now.

How Much Do We Love Our Animals?

The nearness of wildlife and the companionship of domestic pets are two of the great joys of the lifestyle here in this beautiful place.

I'm sure, if asked, most of us would say we love all animals, especially our animal companions.

I think it's wonderful when pet owners choose to take their companions with them in the car instead of leaving them home alone all day. But it sure is upsetting when I see a dog in the back of a pick up truck. Dogs are agile creatures, but it only takes a second for tragedy to occur if they aren't protected. Someone darts in your direction, you step on the brake, and your beloved companion can be flung into traffic. It happens all the time. You may not know it, but it's against the law to allow your pet free roam of your truck bed. And anyway, what's wrong with letting your well-behaved friend sit with you in the cab? Not only will you get to spend more "face time" with our friend, but dog's eyes exposed to the debris in the air while they're sniffing the wind can be damaging to their eyesight.

If we love our animals, how can we leave dogs, horses, and other livestock and pets outside - without shelter from sun or rain? I've seen it over and over again and it's just plain wrong. No loving parent would leave their child in the deathtrap of a hot car on a summer's day, but I've seen many a dog panting for breath while their owners shop in air-conditioned stores. Or what about chaining a dog in a yard for days, weeks or months without attention? Dogs are pack animals, horses run in herds. It is not their nature to live a solitary life. Many's the time I've laid awake in the middle of the night listening to a lonely dog's incessant barking. Besides being bad neighbors, don't their owners care?

To say this Michael Vick dog fighting horror is an outrage doesn't begin to describe the cruelty. It is too heartwrenching to listen to the news reports. I only hope he gets what's coming to him.

Ghandi was quoted as saying, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."

Sometimes cruelty can be as simple as neglect or carelessness or the inability to empathize with another creature.

Our kitty, Bud, is in every way a beloved member of our family. I'm sure if he could talk he'd tell us to stop annoying him with all our kisses and hugs! He's loved and well-cared for. We even buy pet insurance to make sure cost would never be a reason to deny him medical attention.

And we would never ever let him roam outdoors.

There are more than 90 million pet cats in the United States. One poll showed that only 35% are kept exclusively indoors. Add to that an estimated 60 to 100 million stray and feral cats. These cats are the sad victims of human irresponsibility; they lead short, miserable lives. Unneutered strays live only eight months in the wild. And neutered strays have a lifespan of only 22 months. All it takes is keeping your cat indoors to give him a lifespan three times longer than an outdoor cat.

It is a myth that cats need to be outdoors.

What our pets really want - and the most important thing they need - is our attention, interaction, and loving affection.

But there are other consequences of letting your cat roam free: cats are wreaking havoc with our wildlife. It is no exaggeration that scientists estimate cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks, each and every year. Yes, that's right: millions and billions. Cats may be the most widespread predator in the world.

And a mouser isn't the solution to our rodent problems: native small mammals are important to maintaining biologically diverse ecosystems. Field mice and shrews are important prey for raptors such as owls and hawks. Cats compete with our native predators.

Cats can transmit diseases to wildlife including the potential spread of fatal feline diseases to mountain lions. And cats are the domestic animal most frequently reported to be rabid to the Centers for Disease Control.

It's no secret we're experiencing a building boom here - with more to come, making it that much easier for our cats to kill wildlife forced to live on smaller tracts of land. A single cat that roamed a wildlife experiment station was recorded to have killed more than 1,600 animals over an 18 month period.

A bell is not the answer. Birds don't necessarily associate bells with danger. And cats are smart predators, they quickly learn to keep that bell silent when stalking. And a bell is no protection for helpless nestlings and fledglings.

Think you saved that little bird when you finally pried it out of your cat's jaws and it flew away? Think again. Most birds that seem to escape sadly don't survive; mainly due to bacteria and viruses in a cat's mouth. A bird that looks like it escaped harm may die a painful death from internal hemorrhaging or injury to vital organs.

In the end though, the poor cats aren't the guilty ones.

It's irresponsible and lazy owners.

If you love your pet, give them the attention and health care they deserve.

If you love your cat and want to keep him healthy and happy, if you want to prevent devastation to our wildlife, please: keep your cat indoors.

Here are some websites you might find of interest:

August 10, 2007
All the good stuff happens when I'm not there! I'm at home and Greg is at . Greg calls me to tell me there are seven birds all jumping into the birdbath! I remember the birdbath we had outside our kitchen window in L.A. One day they were all lined up taking turns. Memories I'll never forget. Greg didn't have his camera when the gang was bathing but he did catch this
one little guy who is obviously dripping wet.

August 12, 2007
It was another busy day at home working on computer problems and our tasks for our Home Owners Association (Greg and I share Secretary-Treasurer duties). But I got a call from the farmer who was able to deliver the
15 yards of steaming cow pie that I'll be using as compost. So to we went. Whew! Now the place really does smell like a farm. Three hundred dollars (a good price by the way) for a big load of cow pies!

On our way back, I wanted to show Greg that little forest and the swing on the bluffs that overlooks the Straits of Jan de Fuca. We met a man walking his dog there and he told us he had seen whales for the past two days. While we were chatting, a family of raccoons were scampering amongst the twigs and branches of dead shrubs. And there they all were, gazing up at us with their masked faces all in a row.

August 13, 2007
The scent of cow pie in the air must've roused the animal population. While gardening today I came upon a big 'ol frog (who promptly peed on me when I picked him up to say hello), a snake, and Mr. Bunny wabbit.

August 15, 2007
It was a long long day. We did a "materials run" into Edmonds/Seattle. Up at 5:30 a.m. and then to our local Italian restaurant, Tarcisio's, for a big breakfast to tide us over.

Speaking of restaurants, I submitted my first restaurant review column which should run next week. So far we're calling it "The Dish on Dish."

Anyway, as soon as we got off the (expensive!) ferry, we went into Edmonds and promptly found a collectibles consignment store that months ago on our last trip was just getting set up. Bought
a child's plate probably from 1915 to 1920 I think. Then, after picking up our construction supplies, we headed to Ballard, a little town with "civilized" shopping - including some more antiques and collectibles stores. On our way in, we only had time to drive thru since we had an appointment with the Apple store. We are exploring the purchase of the brand new IMac. Our programs are old and it's beginning to put ghosts in the machines, so we may be forced to upgrade to. We have sooo much stuff on computer. Myself, I have 6 to 8 gigabytes! The new IMac is really something but of course there's a learning curve and that takes time. So, we couldn't think about getting involved with that until after we're done with the exterior at . After the appointment, we went back to Ballard. It's a very very rare occasion where we can take the time to windowshop. And on the way into town, I spied a Moroccan restaurant! So we were thinking we might have found a "closer" version of my beloved Moun of Tunis where I spent many a birthday and new year's celebration. As coincidence would have it (and coincidences have happened so many times here I can't tell you!), the saleswoman who sold me an adorable "carrot person" collectible said she had just read a review of the restaurant and it was good. So, off we went for dinner before we made our Trader Joe's run and back home.

On the way we did a little cruising through the neighborhoods where some houses date back to the 1800s. A little while back I included pictures in this diary of clever artwork out of tree trunks. It also goes to Greg's long-running visual art piece theme of "Inner City Animals"; meaning most inner city kids never see wildlife and think milk comes in cartons and these must be what those kids think to be the real deal. So, here's
what an eagle looks like.

Well, it's not Moun of Tunis, but it's damn close! We will definitely be back.

But taking the ferry is another issue entirely. Boy, one drawback to this state is its taxes and, in this instance, the ferry fees. Going back and forth to Seattle cost Greg and I over $40!!!!!!!! They raise the prices in summer (great tourist PR guys!) and we happen to be having some major highway work done, so now they've really got a captive audience. Can't imagine what commuters do.

August 22, 2007
We had another Girls' Hike today. This time at Anderson Lake which is relatively nearby in Port Townsend. It was my suggestion since Greg and I have hiked there a few times before. It was a good workout. Unfortunately, several of the lakes here (this one included) are closed due to a toxic, naturally occurring, algae called Blue Algae. It's OK to hike nearby but you must stay away from the water. Anyway, as we got underway, my eyes saw a rather large tree frog and, of course, I couldn't not try and pick him up. He weren't too happy with me but
he reluctantly posed for a photo. Cedar trees are known to grow in weird shapes and this particular one was worthy of commemoration. Seems it fell, years ago, over a stump and just grew around it over the decades.

Our first Girls' Hike was to Lena Lake on August 3. I didn't have the photos when I posted that entry so I'll include them here. I had mentioned we got lost on our way but that turned out to be an opportunity to get a glimpse of
a gorgeous rushing river. We are standing on a bridge looking down and as Pris and Candice were looking down on one side, I was yelling from the other, "Ohhhh, you gotta see this!" Our hike that day took us through a canopy of trees, mostly alder and maple. Almost every hike I've ever been on is great viewing for and incredible variety of fungi and mosses. This close up is only an inch or so tall but looks like a lovely flower garden. One day, when the carpet is in and paintings are hung on the walls (in other words: we're IN), I'll look up all these pictures and attempt to identify all this flora. We three, Candice, Pris, and I had a wonderful day. More than once we said out loud, "and what are the people who are working today doing? Sitting in traffic! Are we the luckiest or what?!"

Yesterday while doing some maintenance chores for our waterfall, I had
a little friend sit nearby and keep me company. I sat and talked to him for a few minutes and he just sat there, his little throat pulsing.

When Greg went to get into his car to "go to work" yesterday, it seems spiders were very busy during the night. It was a dewy morning and this web was hanging from the arbor which leads to our front door. Sort of
looks like the milky way. This one looks like a delicate string of diamonds. And this one is interesting because you get a double shot of the web in the sideview mirror. first restaurant review column appeared today in the local paper, The Sequim Gazette....


Let me put this out there right up front:

I admit I don't know much about cooking. But I know what I love. And I love food!

Sequim is growing, and so is it's restaurant population which makes me one happy camper because what I usually make for reservations. Hubby Greg and I have taken on the monumental (some say crazy) project of building our dream ourselves. Translation: working long long hours 7 days a week makes for 11 p.m. dinners just before bedtime. This has gotten real old real fast. So, the ever-expanding roster of restaurants is just what the doctor ordered.

In this monthly column, I'll share my dining experiences and help you get acquainted with your dining out choices.

When it comes to food, I'm an expert: I've been eating it all my life! That said, what pleases my tastebuds may only be worthy of the spittoon for you. And, of course, any given restaurant can have a bad day.

I enjoy looking forward to my restaurant meals, so I eventually narrow my choices down to a "favorite" dish and that's what I'll order from then on in. That way I know I'll like what I get.

When it comes to placing my order, Meg Ryan and I have a lot in common: I know exactly what I want. Translation: (for those of you born after When Harry Met Sally), I have certain, shall we say, customizations. In my defense, I understand what a difficult job it is waiting tables and I make it a point to be polite. To help take the edge off my long list of instructions, at least I tip well (20%).

If the recipe is heavy on fats, carbs or cholesterol, I'll attempt to make improvements. For instance, I'll ask them to eliminate the ubiquitous sauces which usually include butter, cream, or cheese - or all three. I'll leave off the butter or mayo on my bread or potatoes, choose wheat bread over white, and have my salad dressing on the side. Oh, and I like the ice for my diet soda in a separate glass, please. (But I'm also easily lead astray and sometimes - certainly more often than I should - I throw caution to the wind and eat whatever I darn well please.)

Serving food to the public is a tough business. Most restaurant owners must be present at least part of every day. The business is 24/7, hit the ground running from the wee hours of the morning to the wee hours of the night. Creating a profitable restaurant requires many things including a talented chef, loyal employees, attention to portion size, and dealing with the ever increasing cost of ingredients.

So here we go. Come along with me as I get myself into the dieting doghouse - enjoying every single guilty bite along the way.

One of my favorites has got to be Fortune Star Chinese. It's as good as any Chinese restaurant we found in L.A. - our former home city - (the Land of Chinese Restaurants - next to New York). Fortune Star gets extra points because it's one of the rare restaurants open past 9 p.m. which has been a lifesaver after a long day on the construction site. We go at least once a week and place a huge order, knowing we'll have plenty of leftovers for the next night's dinner - and a lunch or two to boot.

Although I'm not an experimenter, many friends who've shared a meal with us have enjoyed Fortune Star's extensive menu (another plus with Chinese fare). I like the fact they don't mind tweaking their menu to fit my dietary requests. They listen when I say, "go easy on the oil." So this is a good chance to not only savor a tasty meal, but a relatively healthy one. The only thing I wish they offered is brown rice. If you're watching carbs and triglycerides, brown rice is much healthier. However, I have brought them brown rice and they've graciously cooked it for me (although I need to call ahead because it takes longer to cook than their white rice).

Our typical order begins with a big delicious bowl of their hot and sour soup. It has a pleasing tang and depending on the batch can be mild or extra spicy A big bowl also makes a nice light lunch. Greg usually orders chicken mu shu - a Chinese version of a burrito with cabbage and other veggies - and kung pao chicken. Greg likes spicy hot and the kung pao packs a good punch too with red chili peppers mixed in with celery and red and green peppers. No matter, if a hot dish isn't hot enough, Greg asks for their special chili sauce - hot enough to remove the varnish from the table top. I always order chicken and broccoli in lots brown sauce. Normally it comes with dark meat but white has less fat and cholesterol and they always make the switch for me. Chinese fare typically is chock full of fresh vegetables and as we're learning, you can never have enough vegetables in your diet. Buddha's Delight includes fresh broccoli, carrots, watercress, snow peas, zucchini, string beans and good-for-you tofu (try it - you'll like it) all in a light sauce.

August 25, 2007
Just what we need! Another opportunity to buy stuff. A neighbor friend of ours was having an estate sale today and Greg offered to help park cars. Wasn't planning on buying anything...but you know how it is for a collector. Besides buying a nifty metal filing cabinet for $10 (you can never have enough of those - especially when, back in L.A., my office had 48 linear feet of file drawer space!!!), I basically bought about a dozen books for $1 each....many of them over 100 years old. There's a book by Dickens, and Mark Twain, and Longfellow. And an original printing of Gone With the Wind as well as a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. The covers on the older books are beautiful. What can I say? Collecting is a disease! There ought to be Collectors Anonymous meetings. Nah, I don't want to be cured. But I will have to lay out all my collectibles when the time comes and make some hard decisions about what I truly love and what gets put away or sold on Ebay. But that's two or three years down the road at least. But when the time comes, I'll have a real job selling dozens and dozens and dozens of things on Ebay.

Well, besides opportunities like estate and garage sales, I am the Catalog Queen and this is the time of year when my mailbox is filled to overflowing with catalogs of every stripe and color. One of my favorites is the Victorian Trading Company (
they have a website if you want to get yourself into trouble). Well, as you've probably seen, Halloween has become a billion dollar industry and when I saw this guy, well, I just couldn't resist.

August 26, 2007
Jill & Jim invited us for dinner to preview the lasagna she'll be making for my birthday party on the 3rd. Ohmigosh, it was fantastic - instead of tomato sauce, it was fresh tomatoes and onions and some great cheese. Jim & Jill have been so wonderful and generous to us - countless parties and dinners for four.

I just found a bunch of pictures that were hidden in a file and although this one is almost two months old which means this little guy has nearly doubled in size, I can't help but
show you this. A new little foal who lives down the lane completely sacked out in a field of clover. Couldn't you just eat him up?!

August 27, 2007
I went to Port Townsend this morning to rant about property tax. If you've ever gotten involved in an organization or a cause, I think you will have realized very quickly that people just love to complain...and that's where the buck stops. Easy to complain, but it takes a bit of thought and a bit of time to try to do something about it. That's what I've been up against with my property tax reform. And it if weren't that I'm also fighting for Greg's and my future, I'd give up on it.

It was a city council meeting about the new tax assessments and people were hopping mad. I met with many of them out in the hallway after the meeting and mad though they were, very few of them took advantage of any official recourse. How can you vehemently complain at an official meeting if you haven't at least gone through the motions???? Ended up having a bit of a shouting match with this one lady. She had complained to the assessor's office that her property was assessed too highly when compared with her neighbor. When she reported it to the assessor's office, they agreed - only it was her neighbor's who had been underassessed. So when they informed her neighbor about it, you can bet he was a wee bit peeved at his neighbor!

Anyway, treated myself afterward and took myself out to lunch.

There are so many things and activities here on the Peninsula we'd like to take advantage of - and will once we get this monkey off our back. But last night, Greg and I did set our alarm for about 3 a.m. to see the lunar eclipse. It was a clear night and even without a telescope it was mighty awesome.

August 28, 2007
We like our dentist in Port Townsend, so even though it's a 45 minute drive, we make an afternoon of it when it comes to appointments and today was our semiannual teeth clean. We had a good lunch at the Fountain Cafe, and then went antiquing. The large antique mall in town had this one case and it was filled with froggy figurines and salt & pepper shakers. So when I went to see if my favorite pair had been sold (they had been there for at least two years) I was told that vendor had opened their own shop. So off I went. And there they were. Got 'em.

Talked to Judie who's coming to visit for two weeks in mid September to tell her about my new finds. When she asked where I'm going to put all this stuff, I told her we'll just add more niches for display. Which prompted a new version of Pink Floyd's famous song (now, go ahead, hum it in your head)..."All in all it's just another niche in the wall!"

August 29, 2007
I know I've written about this before, but I still can't get used to the harvest moons you get here in the Pacific Northwest. On our way back home this evening was a huge orange ball that was absolutely jaw dropping. We had our camera, but it takes a certain lens to photograph the moon. But here's a photo borrowed from Google Images that's
almost exactly what we saw...including the feeling of the size. What an incredible sight!

September 1, 2007
Headline: Attacked by hornets while foraging for ferns! Thank goodness these things don't have stingers...they just bite. You should've seen me whoopin' and hollerin' and screamin' and jumpin' and hittin' myself with my baseball cap. Three bites altogether but it didn't stop me from coming back with ferns for a
shade garden under our front porch. Just a little early birthday present from the forest.

September 2, 2007
So many times we see "lookey loos" drive by and every once in a while we end up giving a tour. Such was the case this afternoon We met a lovely couple who saw us working and they told us they had discussed whether or not we'd let them take a peek, and so we did. Turns out the woman was a city council member in another county and she may be able to help me with my property tax fight. We shall see.

On our way home in the dark Greg sees something at the end of our driveway. At first he thought it was a mouse, but no, just a big 'ol frog. Of course I jumped out and picked him up to say hello.

Alllllthough.....I had thought I'd figured out the difference between a frog and a toad and I was convinced that even though these amphibian neighbors have dry bumpy skin, according to my "internet research," frogs have their eyes pointing forward and toads on the side of their head. Now I've seen literature that explains that an easy way to tell the difference is: frogs are made for jumping long distances and toads for short hops, so frogs will have much longer legs. The guy at the end of the driveway seemed only to manage short hops...

September 3, 2007
Jill&Jim are throwing me a birthday bash this evening. Last weekend she had us over to try out a lasagna recipe she was planning on serving and it was I'm looking forward to that. And of course seeing friends!

September 4, 2007
The birthday party was lovely. Thank you Jill&Jim for all your hard work. Not only did I make the usual pig out of myself with two (big) helpings of lasagna, but Jill sent me home with a care package (whoopeee - another night I don't have to cook!). I had asked that I receive no gifts, and told everyone that cards were welcome. And some great cards I got. But some folks just couldn't come empty handed and I was given a lovely canister filled with decadent candy from Jan&Patty, a garden sign from Rick&Marty (unfortunately Marty was working and couldn't attend), and an offer for a home cooked meal from chef Pris and her man, Bob. Can't wait, but I'm going to hold off until Pris&Bob move into their new home.

Now there's an idea for a book or something: the psychology of gift giving.

Thank you everyone: Jill&Jim, Maryanne, Boni&Ted, Gordon, Rick, Pris&Bob, Jan&Patty, and Melissa&Les!!! You made my birthday special - even though I nearly fainted when I saw a 57 on my cake. Really a scary sight. Don't know how well this vain actress will cope with the aging process. And all my plastic surgery money is tied up in !

This afternoon we had a homeowner's association board meeting. We're the only lot owners who are building right now and there are six houses built - 30 lots total. And there probably won't be much new construction for years - so getting the HOA up and running is like pulling teeth. When we had our yearly meeting in February, only a handful of property owners attended (many live in California) and, of course, hardly anyone stepped up to become board members - and someone's got to do it. So we "volunteered" ('cause we have soooo much spare time!) to be Secretary/Treasurer. Well, that just happens to be the most labor intensive office. And getting all the property owners to cough up association dues required the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes.

Then it was off to Melissa's for dinner. Greg had crafted a "corbel" to hold an antique bell and we came to install it. Then it was BBQ hamburgers for dinner. Melissa's beau, Les, was there too. I've spoken of her lovely Craftsman style home before. When we arrived and drove in, there was a doe with two sets of fawns just jumping all over the grounds. And when Melissa and I took a tour of her garden, the foliage was jumping with dozens of little tree frogs. Pure enchantment. She's been working on her grounds for five years...mine is in its second and I can see some plants beginning to mature and watch wildlife take up residence (like those lovely hornets I had a brief encounter with the other day).

September 7, 2007
Today we were invited to a wonderful luncheon at "new friends" Kaj & Laura's. I met Kaj through my property tax crusade. Well, what a beautiful home and what a delicious meal - served on their deck overlooking the ocean and mountains. After our meal, it was a ping pong game with their other guests. Kaj & Laura's home sits on 40 acres and after our game we took an easy hike around the property.

We got to talking about how they ended up in Port Angeles. Kaj & Laura came from New York and as a result of 9/11, decided there had to be better places to raise their family. Kaj is a methodical guy and took a scientific approach to choosing from a long list of 100 different places and after whittling the list down, settled on P.A. We told them we just read about it in a book!

As we traveled up the long road to get to their house, we could see the mountains dense with trees in the distance and Greg pointed out that was "somewhere out there." And, indeed, it was.
We can see our belvedere from five miles away!

September 8, 2007
Well, I just can't resist an opportunity to go collectible hunting and the Clallam County Historical Society was having its yearly rummage sale. Picked up a few gifts and some brand new decorative housewares still in their original box. And, shades of Los Angeles, I found a Wilson's House of Suede & Leather brand new leather jacket for Greg for $4!

September 14, 2007
While putting in a long day at , Greg looked out our front door to find a
Cooper's hawk (lower right hand corner of photo) trying to find some lunch.

September 15, 2007
My high school girlfriend Judie is here to visit Greg & I. What a treat. I'm looking forward to playing hookey for the next two weeks. This should be fun.

Before we left to pick her up at the Fairchild INTERNATIONAL airport, Greg and I spent five, count 'em five, hours housecleaning. It's not that we're lousy housekeepers but jeesh, we work on building our home seven days a week and usually only have time to give it, as my grandma would say, "A lick and a promise." Judie has cat allergies so a detailed cleanup was in order. If we had kids, I'm sure the huge dust bunnies looked like the monster under the bed.

Anyway, we arrived at the airport and drove right up to the curb in front and there she was. Can't do that in L.A.! Judie is planning on moving back to Port Angeles, at least that's the plan for now. If Judie movies back, she'll be buying a house, so we spent a couple of hours right off the bat turning into "lookey loos." That included a tour of Monterra, a 55 and over community near us that
overlooks the bluffs and Victoria B.C. and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. She loved it. Looking out at the ocean is her kinda heaven. Not only did we see deer there, but a great blue heron flew right over us and if it weren't for Judie's super new digital camera, we would never have gotten this shot. Hard to tell here but that's one big magnificent bird. Then it was "home" to unpack and off for dinner at Joy's for a wonderful meal and coconut cream pie for dessert.

Here's to
the bravest girl I know! Judie is recovering from a "catastrophic illness" and I gotta tell ya, I couldn't have handled it as well as she has. My hat's off to her big time. Not only that, but she had a hip replacement to deal with.

Judie is the one without the wig. Her "girlfriend", who usually answers when addressed to "Matt" is practically family, the son of Judie's former roommate and high school friend. Sue moved with Judie here two years ago thinking the two of them could make a go of personal cheffing but alas, it didn't work out. So both Judie and her friend moved back to California. But Matt and his lady Trisha found great opportunities and have chosen to stay.

September 16, 2007
It's a rainy day. Judie hadn't laid eyes on since June of '06, so it was off for a tour. And then the three of us took off for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. After that, it was more lookey loo drivebys and then we hit the markets: Costco, Safeway, and Sunny Farms. Since Judie loves to cook, my evil plan is to chain her to our stove until she makes big batches of her favorite meals for me to freeze.

Later, it was off to visit Melissa's home for a tour. I've made so many new friends since Judie left and I was anxious for her to meet them and see their wonderful places. Melissa has a spectacular Victory Garden and offered Judie all kinds of fresh vegetables to add to her signature minestrone. Can't wait.

I ran Judie ragged and her other hip (which is also slated for replacement) is out. Okay, so we'll slow it down tomorrow.

And Judie gave me a royal compliment: she requested spaghetti for dinner - a meal she taught me to make.

September 17, 2007
A wonderful day: lunch at the 5th Avenue Deli, then back to Melissa's to pick up those veggies. Melissa's garden had tons of chard which Judie & I both love in soup. Back at the house, Judie cooked up a big batch of minestrone, enough for dinner tonight...and many dinners for the future.

September 18, 2007
Oh, we are having such fun. Poor Greg is still working on that roof, but Judie and I lunched at Cafe Blossom. Yummy soup. And then it was back to the 5th Avenue Deli for decadent sweets that we were able to pass up yesterday: cookies and a cinnamon bun. (I'm gonna hate myself for all this....probably pack on 5 pounds by the time Judie leaves!!)

Judie looked at Solana, a high-end planned community and some other developments. But so far she likes the house we're living in best! And if all works out, she just might buy it when she returns after we move to . She and Greg have had fun discussing all the remodeling possibilities. This is a cute house and with a little TLC could be a real jewel.

Melissa's garden gifts just keep on giving. Judie created a sumptuous feast with chicken breast and roasted vegetables.

And guess what? GREG HAS FINISHED THE BELVEDERE (TURRET) ROOF!!!!!!! Wooooooo Hooooooo. Now one more small section to go (which includes putting up siding, installing fireplace venting, painting wood trim, and designing and building and installing corbels) and the roofing saga will finally be behind us.

While Greg was completing his work up there, he found this
unusual lime green spider. I did a Google images search and it looks close to a Goldenrod Crab spider but identification is tricky.

September 19, 2007
Judie and I both love birds. We'll email and even call each other up on our cell phones to talk about a hawk or some other interesting avian creature flying by. Just so happens that our local Audubon is having its sixth anniversary and so we decided to go on a birding walk given by their resident expert. Bob is unbelievable. A former school teacher, he's used to dumb questions and repeating himself. And, he has an absolutely uncanny ability to mimic any bird call. With his bionic ears, he can hear the tiniest peep in the trees and know exactly what bird it is. Since birds rarely stand still, bird calls and shapes of body, wings and beak in addition to markings are essential to identification. This time we didn't see many birds up close, but we did see some larger birds of prey. And, it's spawning season so we caught a glimpse of weary salmon at the end of their run. Friend Melissa and beau Les are also birders and
joined us on the walk. And to celebrate the Audubon's anniversary, they brought cake. Didn't matter that it was about ten in the morning, no one passed it up!

Later in the day it was off to show Judie the home being built by friends Pris & Bob overlooking the bluffs. Probably at the same time we were there, Greg was running errands in town which took him by this
photo op. I think we've probably taken fifty shots of this, but it's just soooo quaint.

And then a drive around the surrounding area. We knew we were in cow country long before we made visual contact with these
ladies who lunch if you know what I mean.

September 20, 2007
Judie made us a wonderful salad for lunch & salmon for dinner. Everyone should have a wife to come home to!!

September 21, 2007
As soon as we could get on the road, we were off to Marymere Falls and the Lake Crescent Lodge. Always love the short hike at the Falls. In just a few minutes' time you're in the midst of a primeval forest.

But first, the obligatory "pit stop." So we drove in to Granny's Cafe.
Greg & I had eaten there before and were so disappointed, it wasn't even on the radar to give it a second try. I remember I ordered a tuna sandwich and, I kid you not, if there were a tablespoon of tuna between the two limp pieces of bread, I'm exaggerating! But, we did pay a visit to the dove house out back. And this very curious fellow came a runnin' when we walked by his pen. Followed shortly by his penmate.

Unlike the ocean, every time you walk through a forest you discover different ancient things. From
the very large to the very very small like this fungi. We glimpsed a small corner of Lake Crescent on our way into the deep forest. Greg, Judie, and I followed the enticing trail, marveling at the artistry of nature, like the marquettery-like markings on this log, or the swirling design of the bark on this half-buried tree trunk. Life will out, and many times you'll find a tree that should long ago have turned to dust, but unbelievably, new life springs forth. The dankness of the forest, created by the thick canopy above, encourages moss to form. On roots, on maple trees, covering exposed tree roots, and hanging from limbs.

And you never know who you'll run into deep in the forest. We're almost positive we saw
Jar Jar Binks and a monument to the Elephant Man.

About halfway to the falls you come to
Marymere Creek. Pressing on, we saw patches of some fungus that reminds me of that thick cornstarch mixture when you add water. Here's Judie and I taking a break. Greg thought this tree made an unusual picture frame. On our way to the falls, you cross a unique bridge culled from an ancient tree trunk. And the prize at the end is Marymere Falls. We stood their for a while and our eyes followed the water as it tumbled down from the top of the falls to the creek below. Off to the side of the falls, water trickled over a mossy rock creating a rain curtain.

And then it was on to a delicious lunch at
The Lodge. We sat at the far right window of that structure with the roof overhang - the best seat in the place with a full view of the Lake.

Because the scenic opportunities here on the Peninsula are so easy to reach, we still had time to travel farther west, past Forks to Rialto Beach. This beach is immense and inspiring and has a beach of
tiny smooth stones not sand. After we parked our car we tromped through some undergrowth and were rewarded with this bank of ghost trees, long ago denuded by the winds and salt water. The shore is a treasure trove of driftwood but that term doesn't do justice to the size of the logs. Looking out beyond the shore you can see ragged rock formations in the misty distance called stacks. To me they look lonely and foreboding. Some have rocky doorways unlocked by tide and wind. We walked along the beach for a short while before it began to rain (rain fall out this way is much more than we get in Port Angeles. For every mile away from where we live, the rainfall increases one inch per mile). But before we were forced to leave, I couldn't help collecting beautiful smooth rocks of opaque white quartz, shades of green and ones the color of carnelian. Greg took this great "Kennedy-esque" shot of Judie and I catching us intent on finding just the right colors. Greg also found these rocks with aurora borealis hued bubbles which we sadly realized must be caused by the oils from passing ships.

A couple of weeks earlier, my friend Pris (whose under-construction house we had visited the other day) took a day trip to this beach and unfortunately I wasn't able to go. But she took lots of pictures: of
rocks and sand, of starfish and anemones, and even an eagle looking out to sea. Judie & I had a great time - and so did our photographer. On the way home we stopped at a little diner we saw on the way in and had marionberry and apple pie a la mode.

September 22, 2007
Today was Marty's birthday party, held a day early because she's working at the local Casino running the bingo game. Greg and I attended while Judie visited Matt and Trisha for dinner. Marty outdid herself with great pasta dishes. And Greg and I got a kick out of feeding their deer pears from our tree, right off their deck which overlooks the sea.

Most of the new friends we've made here came from somewhere else. I don't think anyone misses the life they left behind - the quality of life is incomparably improved for every single one of them.

September 23, 2007
The three of us went on a nice long walk around the neighborhood and came upon this huge field. A
family of deer were grazing. And NO, that "thing" in the previous picture is NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS. It's the deer's leg. Naughty you!

We stood and watched until
they walked out of sight.

September 24, 2007
Another day I ran Judie ragged. It was off to Silverdale for a full day of shopping and lunch at Olive Garden. Back home, while Judie put dinner together, Greg and Bud
surfed the net together and watched kitty porn! Bud must really really like it, 'cause his motor was running overtime.

September 26, 2007
We took Judie to Kirkland today, a nifty chic little town reminiscent of Westwood (but without the heathen students!). We got the chance to wander through a great huge antique mall that was always closed when Greg & I tried to visit on previous trips, and the three of us were in heaven. I bought yet another antique child's plate with some great illustrations of Uncle Wiggily and friends. I just love the artwork on them. Uncle Wiggily was a character created by American writer Howard R. Garis for a children's book in 1910. My bowl probably dates from 1924.

For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant, Paradiso, there that Greg and I had gone to before. And it was just as good as we recalled.

September 27, 2007
Here's my second restaurant review:

Deli search ends happily on 5th Avenue

The Dish on Dish
by Shelley Taylor


OK, our embarrassing little secret is out (thanks to the Gazette's editor!) My husband and I are former Kook-a-fornians (at least that's what my Oregonian - and former Californian - friend calls us). Yes, we're members of that crowd that moved here to get away from California.

There's not much I miss about California. Especially the heat. And the traffic. And the crowds. And the cars. And the graffiti.

But one thing I do miss is the smorgasbord of restaurants, open at any hour.

Having been a part of the "Hollywood Crowd" which extends to New York, one of the dining experiences I truly miss is a good Jewish deli, a staple in the entertainment community (many open nearly 24/7). I can just taste it now, a mile high corned beef or pastrami sandwich on warm fresh corn rye bread, kosher pickles and sides of potato salad and cole slaw.

So when I saw the 'Opening Soon' sign on Fifth Avenue in that new, one-story medical plaza that said '5th Avenue Deli', I didn't want to get my hopes up. The word deli here seems to mean a sandwich shop.

Well, looks like I can save the airfare.

Deborah Townsend, the proud owner, is the progeny of a Pittsburgh family that ran a meat market and grocery in the 1930s. As an adult she went into real estate. But they tell you, to be truly happy, follow your bliss. And Deborah's is cooking. And the 5th Avenue Deli is her baby.

Everything in the place is brand spanking new. Well, except for some wonderful memorabilia of another time and place that lines her walls and is part of her personal history. Even the bathrooms (which are spic and span and bright) boast memories from her family. OK, I peeked in the men's room and there are great old-timey auto ads from the pages of magazines. But the lady's room has exquisite vintage hand-drawn fashion portraits of flappers wearing the latest in hats ñ the dramatic cloche ñ as well as photos of her grandmother who was a New York stage actress in the 1920s.

But, this isn't a fashion column, so let's get to the food.

The 5th Avenue Deli is open for breakfast and lunch, six days a week (closed Sundays) and is plunk in the middle of doctor's offices and small businesses. I can't think of a better place for the nearby workforce to grab breakfast. (You can fax or call in your order to save time.)

Some breakfasts are cleverly made to travel in the form of wraps and bagel sandwiches filled with eggs and breakfast meats including apple chicken sausage. If you have a sweet tooth, there are waffles and pancakes and pastries (including scones). But if you're trying to eat healthy, there's good-for-you fare: oatmeal and a yogurt/granola/fruit combo.

For those who'd rather eat in for lunch or pack a picnic, they offer "Sacks from 5th Avenue" (ahhh ... reminds me of my shopping days in California ñ but I digress). Your sack consists of a classic brown bag that includes your choice of meats and veggies, a bag of chips and a beverage. So stop in on your way to work, pick up lunch and grab breakfast while you're at it. The cheery and light-filled decor will definitely add to the wake-up you'll get from your caffeinated coffee.

But I came for lunch.

And there, right on the menu, were the words "corned beef!" Eureka!

Deborah makes everything she serves from scratch (except for bread). Usually the daily special includes soup and this day's special was chicken noodle. Deborah even makes the noodles by hand. So I had to start off with that. Delicious. Nice and hot with celery and big slices of carrot. I asked my waitress if I could ever expect to see matzo ball soup on the menu. I nearly had soup coming out my nose when the young lady sincerely asked, "Monster Ball?î But Deborah said she'd give it a try if I let her know in advance.

I ordered the corned beef on rye with sides of cole slaw and potato salad and I was in pig (and cholesterol) heaven. I will say that a "true" deli's corned beef would be served hot and cooked with the fat on to keep the meat moist and add to the flavor. This corned beef sandwich was unheated and very lean. And their version of a Reuben is healthy too, on toasted rather than grilled bread. The sides were light on salt if you're watching your blood pressure. Their Kosher pickles are nice and crisp. I always ask for extra.

Their signature sandwiches include the Sicilian featuring Italian dry salami; the Californian with bacon, avocado and sprouts; the Washington wrap filled with salmon fillet; and a club wrap and vegan wrap. Or, you can "build your own" from choices on the menu.

Deborah also offers ever-changing cold salads. I tried the tortellini with vegetables and would definitely take it to a potluck dinner (remember ñ I don't cook much!).

Sweet tooth alert:

One of my favorite sweet sins is cinnamon buns dripping with icing; They have 'em. And pies (and they'll sell you whole pies too). I had a walnut version of pecan pie that was to-die-for sweet.

If you ask nicely, Deborah will cater office meetings ....

Shelley Taylor is a former television and stage actress. She and her husband Greg recently relocated to the peninsula from California and are active in property tax reform issues. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.

September 28, 2007
Judie, friend Tricia and I had fun at the local pumpkin patch, something I've wanted to do since we moved here but never got the chance. It's owned and run by a local farmer and his family. And you can tell it's a lot of work to make this thing happen. Just like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz wrote across the sky with her broom, "Surrender Dorothy," so did some kind of ghost plane write "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a field of corn. This was the title and path of their corn maze. If it hadn't been for Tricia, we would still be in that thing. They give you a kind of map and to prove you actually went through, there are "stations" where you punch different symbols on your punchcard. That was lots of fun, especially since it was beginning to get very dark in there. And because we hit all the stations, we got a prize and I chose a second ear of corn, hot from a boiling cauldron.

But my highlight was feeding the piggies. There must've been 30 of 'em, from pretty small to fairly large. The huge 500 pounders were off in another field. Anyway, the farmers had huge boxes of produce by the pen and we kept throwing in big 'ol cantaloupes and the piggies went wild, poking their noses in and grunting happily. The biggest of the clan, about the size of a Labrador, stood quietly while Tricia and I scratched his back. And this one big pig loved it.

September 29, 2007
Well, those two weeks went by in a flash and Judie left for home today. If she decides to for sure move here, she'll be back next year to look for a house to rent.

September 30, 2007
Off to Olympia to see Steve & Denise who were visiting Denise's friend for her birthday. We were supposed to get there between 12 and 1 but arrived at 4. It is so difficult for us to do all we have to do at home and get out the door and travel somewhere for two hours to arrive at a specific time.

But we were able to spend a few hours and it was good for Greg to have some time with his brother.

The skies opened up on the way home, something we would have preferred not to do in the dark.

I have no idea where Greg found the time to take this picture of a murder of crows (yep, that's the term for a gathering of e'm!) but
there they are.

October 2, 2007
Went with new friends Kaj & Laura to Seattle to attend a Federalist Society dinner so that I could hopefully network for property tax reform. Met Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson and the keynote speaker is a possible future Federal Supreme Court Justice who gave a very very interesting speech about our constitution and how it was intended by the founding fathers, and how it is being changed today.

It was a very long day. Just like Greg&I, when they travel off the Peninsula it's a great opportunity to do necessary shopping that isn't available here. I tagged along as Kaj & Laura went to Ikea to get furniture for their kid's rooms. And then we went to Pike's Market in Seattle and had a very late lunch at a charming French Bistro. We even had soufflé for dessert. By the time we left, it was time to go to the dinner. I, of course, difficult though it was, consumed all of my meal there.

October 8, 2007
Today was Bud's annual heart check up - which he passed with flying colors! So, again, another long traveling day because his specialist is a ferry ride away. We were running late (for a change) and stopped at Quizno's and ate our lunch in the car on the ferry ride over. Then a quick stop at Trader Joe's on the way home.

October 9, 2007
Here's how crazy busy our lives our. Ram is full. Today we got up at 6:30, worked on data on our computers while doing morning chores, went to and worked for 8 hours (I put 2 coats of paint on a door and spray painted 30 pieces of exterior siding), ran home, jumped in the shower, got dressed and went out to dinner. Just our typical kind of day.

If I had a penny for every time we have things in our hands, don't realize where we've put 'em and now we're cursing and looking for the next 20 minutes yelling, "I don't have time for this!" - I'd be a millionaire.

Like the other day, I had just taken a shower and was putting on creams and lotions. I raised my arm to put on deodorant and what did I have in my hand? A tube of Chapstick!!!!! Grrrrrr!

Anyway, we took Jill&Jim out to dinner to our favorite Port Angeles restaurant, Joy's. It's the least we could do for all the parties and dinners the two of them have invited us (and dozens of others) to. that Greg has finished entirely with the roofing beneath the belvedere, we were able to clear out the room of the myriad of tools and flotsam and
gaze out the windows .

October 10, 2007
Another long, but fun, day with
Kaj&Laura in Seattle. This time to network at a Republican dinner. I'm not partisan on this issue, but the issue definitely is.

So again it was a long shopping day. Again to Ikea for them to buy what they couldn't get in their car last time. But first we went to the big Southcenter Mall. First up: Nordstrom's. We had a wonderful lunch at their cafe and then Laura, at the behest of Kaj, went shopping for colorful clothes. She bought a few things at Nordstrom's and then I asked if there were a Nordstrom's Rack nearby. And there was! For the next hour and a half I played stylist and brought dozens of items for Laura to try. She is tall and slender with a great figure and a gunny sack would look chic on her, so playing stylist was no challenge at all. She had a ball and I had a ball watching her.

I met several contacts at the dinner and was introduced to a talk radio host who promised to have me on to talk up our "capital steps event" in January.

October 11, 2007
As Greg entered our development, the
misty clouds traveling in front of the mountains that form a backdrop to were too inviting an image to pass up.

October 14, 2007
As always, I miss out on all the wildlife sightings. Today I had a high school kid help me transplant a
wild currant bush. Then I had to leave early and as Greg was leaving for home, he just had to call to tell me that I was missing seeing the deer munch on its leaves! I don't care so much that the deer were eating my landscaping (in fact, I want them too - that's why I've decided to do all native landscaping)...but darn! I just hope they leave enough of the plant for it to take hold and flourish.

October 18, 2007
This is funny.
On his way home tonight, it's dark. Greg starts walking down the driveway at and he hears the familiar "yip yip yip" of a pack of coyotes. Then he heard dogs barking and that really convinced him. It's so dark, he can hardly see his way to the car which is parked in the street. As he walks toward the car, he can actually hear the pack moving in his direction. And he's thinking, "This could be interesting. I don't know if I can make it to the car before they reach me." A brief moment of controlled panic. And then...he hears the massive.... flapping of wings... as a flock of Canadian geese flys overhead!

October 23, 2007
Still on my "community activist" high horse, I was asked to give a speech to a local business association breakfast meeting about...what taxes - at the ungawdly hour of 7:15 a.m.. There's a constitutional amendment on our upcoming election ballot to make passing school bond levies easier. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against funding education. But our schools are so underperforming it's pathetic, and my research shows making it easier to tax homeowners to give more money to schools isn't working. So that's how I spent my lunch hour.

Greg was a real sport and got up with me at 5:30 a.m. in order to go to this thing. Also there were our friends,
Kaj & Laura.

I'm going to be an extremely busy girl (how I can be busier than I already am I have no idea but): After Thanksgiving I'm gearing up to organize a "Capital Steps Event" to protest for property tax relief. The protest will be on the opening day of Legislative Session at the Capital in Olympia on January 14. Yes, I am definitely crazy!

October 24, 2007
My third restaurant review column broke today in the local Sequim Gazette...


A tea room’s tea room
Café Blossom Tea Room & Gifts

(You may want to call before venturing out for lunch. Sometimes they open late, close early or decide not to open at all).

We passed by dozens of times, perplexed. What exactly is it? Twinkling lights frame the storefront located along Washington Avenue in the JC Penney complex. The sign above the door states “Tea Room” and that was enough to keep my man from chancing a visit. Ever since I read that tea is filled with antioxidants (which are supposed to protect the body from free radical damage and aging) I changed my morning beverage. But that didn’t mean I was going to rush off to a tea room.
It wasn’t until we passed by one day and saw the place packed that our interest was piqued.
It turns out Café Blossom is a sweet little eatery. Its decor is ... well, adorable, like you wandered into your maiden aunt’s parlor. The tables are covered in linen, even for lunch. Delicate lacy curtains frame the windows and artfully displayed silk flowers and twigs give it a fairy tale air. The gift shop consists of tea paraphernalia and kitty cat dolls dressed in finery. The place is cozy like an afghan on a wintry day. The main room seats about 20 and a private room has a table suitable for a large party plus a regal window-side seating for two.
The frilly atmosphere didn’t sway me, but it took some prodding to get my hubby to venture into this very, very girlie atmosphere. But he was a good sport and willing to explore the feminine side. However, what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander. Portion size isn’t hearty man meal size – although it is correct portion size if you’re paying attention to what your doctor advises. But modest portions don’t mean the food isn’t pleasing to the taste buds – it just leaves you wanting more.
The owner, and sole kitchen entity, Chieko Tomko, comes with an impressive pedigree. Before opening Café Blossom, she studied the culinary arts in Tokyo where she owned two restaurants. I understand she plays the violin. And a degree in the visual arts definitely is evident in the presentation. She also trained in France – her training with French chefs encouraged a love of sauces, something she especially delights in creating for her patrons.
Open for lunch and dinner, I especially like it for lunch. Pure decadence for me is going to lunch solo and taking along a good magazine. The room is quiet, and the service makes me feel like a queen.
Sandwiches come with three halves neatly and precisely cut on the bias. Try the chicken salad with pecans – not too much mayo, and the pecans make it something special. Also on the sandwich side of the menu are shrimp mango salsa pocket, salmon salad sandwich, turkey cranberry and smoked turkey croissants as well as an egg salad and garden sandwich. Diet cola with my sandwich is a necessity, so, on my wish list I would put a better brand of diet cola. Sandwiches come with soup or a salad of fresh greens with raspberry vinaigrette or Caesar dressing. Entree salad varieties include spring roll, honey lemon chicken and cranberry/walnut/turkey. Quiche du jour also is on the menu. Surprisingly, so is spaghetti with meat sauce.
If you’re a soup lover, this is the place. I especially liked the veggie soup in a clear tomato broth brimming with fresh and properly cooked vegetables served just hot enough. (In my book, the temperature of a soup is very important to taste – hot at the back of the throat but not on the tongue.) It was so good, I ordered a second bowl. On another visit the soup was corn and cheddar with a hint of curry. I’m not a curry fan and they were nice enough to give me a taste before I ordered. The curry was subtle enough for me – it didn’t overtake the flavor. 
My girlfriend was visiting from out of town and I took her to lunch. Next to us were two other girlfriends just finishing up. One just had to order the cookie plate for dessert. Obviously having sampled them before, when the waitress asked if the two were going to share the diminutive diner’s reply was, “No! Let her get her own. These are just for me!” Other sweet tooth delights include caramel brownies and “a chef’s creation of the highest caliber,” so definitely ask.
They do indeed serve high tea if that’s the experience you’re looking for. “Tea in the Afternoon,” as it is known by aficionados, typically features petite sandwiches, like cucumber, and scones with jam. Tomko adds her own twist including special tea cakes. And speaking of tea, her tea selection is a tea lover’s dream. Black teas, green teas, herbal teas, decaffeinated teas and several lavender teas from the Olympic Lavender Farm.
On weekends they offer a prix fixe dinner that requires reservations. Friends of ours raved about the scallops and commented on the care taken when choosing ingredients. Breast of chicken in a light sauce was the main course on our visit and it was tender and succulent. Dinner comes with dessert and ours featured refreshing chilled fruit in a subtly sweet sauce. Modest use of sugar, I understand, is typical in Europe and Asia.
Early October’s offerings were seafood pasta, chicken with roasted bell peppers and swordfish with salsa. This weekend it’s A Taste of Japan featuring rolled sushi and salmon cutlet.
You can sign up for a monthly e-mail newsletter if you want to know about upcoming dinner menus.
Shelley Taylor and her husband recently relocated to the peninsula from California and are active in property tax reform issues. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.

October 25, 2007
Lunch with the girls. Lots o'conversation - me especially - nonstop. Well, it's been a while since all of us got together. Lisa showed a pic of the quilt she made for her mom - gorgeous. Melissa's beau Les just popped in during the meal to drop off a vase of hand-picked flowers. What a guy! Then it was back to woik for me: spray painting yet another set of exterior siding.

October 26, 2007
Well, Greg had his "near" coyote encounter and now...

I'm driving down the road near our house on my way to "work" when about a hundred yards ahead I see something jump out and streak across the road. It took a moment to wasn't a dog. And it was waaaay too big for a cat. But it was brown with a long tail, and it ran with the grace of a feline. So, it had to have been a cougar crossing my path! When I got up to where it jumped out, I could tell it had run through a corral with a horse - who seemed nonplussed by the visit. And when I looked in the other direction, I couldn't determine anything since the cougar obviously ran into thick brush. Some people never ever see a cougar. I've seen two now and seen the evidence of one when it left a small tree on our property the worse for wear after using it as a scratching post. And Greg and I saw a bobcat shortly after we moved here. LOVE IT.

We keep telling our friends that we can't wait to have them as guests at . But we gotta come clean and tell you that we are already entertaining houseguests.
Meet Chippy. Chippy has probably been living somewhere in the rafters for months. We'll let him stay rent free for now (actually, what choice do we have?). But when we get to the part where we're putting in dryway, he'll have to find outside digs.

Back home, we just can't get enough of our boy. I mean really, have you ever seen
anything so adorable?

October 27, 2007
Pris & Robert came by with a California carpenter friend (who came to install the custom kitchen cabinets he built for them) to tour . It's especially fun to give tours to a fellow professional who understands just what we're trying to accomplish.

Lucky Pris & Robert: in the next two weeks, they will be moving in to their glorious new home. Can you say...Jealous?!

October 28, 2007
Revy turns 50 and Lisa threw him a bash. Early guests got wonderful hors d'oeuvres but those of us who stuck around were treated to a moroccan stew. Yum-my.

After months and months of hard labor, Revy & Lisa have turned their twenty acres and log cabin into a true cozy home.

Lisa showed us a couple of quilts she whipped up for Revy and I am in awe. The detail on these things is unbelievable. I apologize for not thinking to take pictures.

October 30, 2007
Sometimes even your thoughts are too scary to entertain.

Greg is hours away from finishing that f*&^%#@ing roof! And I thought to myself, he is so careful and scary as roof work is, he took every precaution for safety and luck has been with him. And lucky Greg, luck stayed with him today.

I called Greg from home to see how things were going and he proceeds to tell me that he just had the closest near death experience since a grenade rolled right under him while crawling through the jungles in the Viet Nam War!

And this happened with his two feet on the ground!

Greg was in the process of moving the scaffold over - which is a major feat in itself. How one person breaks down a two-story pipe and scaffold structure all by himself is the epitome of resourcefulness.

So there Greg is, on the ground, moving things, when the scaffold plank supported above him shakes and down falls a 25 pound power nailer... and lands....just inches from him! Ohmigawd. If that had hit him on the head....if that had hit him, and if he would have survived at all....he would have suffered major brain damage. We have dodged a bullet. Thank you Kharma of the Universe!

October 31, 2007
I gave yet another speech. Another local Chamber of Commerce invited me to speak at their monthly luncheon about property tax reform...Chinese Water Torture: drip drip drip...

Just in time for All Hallow's Eve, Greg laid the last piece of roofing this evening. There's still a few "caps" to add but strictly by definition: THE ROOF IS DONE!!!!!

And now we can celebrate at Steve&Candice's Halloween Party...

Candice&Steve used to own a very famous resort at Sol Duc Hot Springs. Translation: they are seasoned professionals when it comes to entertaining. I cannot tell you how creative Candice was with all the hors d'oeuvres! There were Dragons Claws with Flesh Stuffing (sweet bell peppers with artichoke spread with seasoning), Extra Eyes of Ogres (Deviled eggs made to look like bloodshot eyes), Vampire's Delight (cream cheeze balls with garlic, coated with strawberry jam), Elf Elbows and Red Eyes (cashews and cranberries). Just the names of thehors d'oeuvres were a hit: Warlock Mix & Warlock Anemic Slices, Green Stix and White Cells, Deep Forest Slimed Spice Log with Woven Grass Squares, Pumpkin Green Surprises, Ghost Brains in Casings, Severed Fingers with Seared Skin, Spicey Snake Nuggets, Sacred Fowl with Goo. Vampire's Wine: blood red dripping fresh and corpse white aged to perfection and for us nondrinkers, nonalcoholic Witch's House Special.

Best costume went to
Melissa by far. Absolutely hysterical. I asked her where she got her padding: pillows! Most glamorous went to Laura and most colorful to Kaj with his joker's hat he bought in Kadmandu. That's Candice on the right and their doggie, Defer. D fer dog. Get it?!

November 1, 2007

absolute final last piece of roofing has been installed!

I was working in the garden when Greg came to me and handed me
this. I burst out crying and wrote my thoughts on it too. What a long long haul it's been.

November 11, 2007
Had a wonderful evening last night. Terry, our friendly UPS driver, who has literally watched our house come up out of the ground, and hubby Bruce invited us to a wine tasting five-course dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Joy's Wine Bistro, in Port Angeles. She especially wanted us to meet some friends of hers. One couple, Janice&Patrick, live just down the road from us overlooking a spectacular lake with the Olympics for a view and have an incredible array of wildlife. The other couple, Cricket&Ian live on Vancouver Island and she makes miniatures for the movie industry.

It was nonstop conversation and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of these people in the future. In fact, I'm rushing off soon to meet them at where Greg and I will give them a tour. Cricket told us at dinner that she spent hours on our website and she "gets" what we're trying to accomplish - probably because she came from a theater set-design background. So this tour should be especially fun.

Back from "the tour" and a great time was had by all. Anytime we give a tour (and while I'm sure their unspoken comment is, "These people are just plain crazy to take this on,") they are so impressed with Greg's talent. As am I.

November 12, 2007
After we read the morning paper, on goes the tv to watch one of the 24 hour news channels. But the news was boring and I ended up turning the channel to an old Susan Hayward movie from 1952, "With a Song in My Heart." One of those fifties Technicolor melodramas, it's about a real life singer's arduous struggle to recreate her life after a near fatal car crash. Love those old movies. One day, after our move, I want to spend days just watching old movies. And the dozens and dozens of new ones we've missed.

Anyway, the movie co-stars Thelma Ritter - a wonderful character actress and always good for a lump in your throat (she played a memorable role in Hitchcock's Rear Window). Here, she plays the singer's nurse and companion. There's a point in the film where she does a voice over explaining the difficult time Susan Hayward's character is having getting her life back together...

Greg was walking through the room and caught Ms. Ritter mid monologue and said I must put this on the website 'cause it describes so well our journey building our dream home:

"Now the really rugged days were beginning. Ahead lay long dreary weeks and months of suffering, uncertainty, bitterness and despair."

Ohhhh, it's been raining in sheets and the wind has been going crazy. So we're really heading into winter. And the power has gone out. So far not at the rental house, although the DSL is out, but at there's no juice. I'm staying home today and the phones, both cell and landline have been sketchy.

Unexpectedly, Greg came to pick me up for a lunch date and errands. Ain't life grand!

November 15, 2007
Had a wonderful evening with Melissa&Les who took us out to a celebratory dinner at a new restaurant called the Dockside Grill in the John Wayne Marina. They wanted to fete Greg for the momentous milestone of completing our roof - an unbelievable feat for one person! We had just a wonderful time, lots of great conversation and the meal was delish. And, to top things off, since we were sitting dockside, there on the dock, illuminated by the lights was a lone
great blue heron (stock photo) just hangin' around. Priceless. When we arrived at Melissa's to carpool to the restaurant, they presented us with the most beautiful tree! It's some kind of unusual cedar that is rusty orange. We've never seen anything like it and I can't wait to give it a home - I know just where! We have definitely made some wonderful new friends.

November 16, 2007
Called Pris to congratulate her on moving into their new home. Greg met her hubby Robert oh about a year ago because he, too, for all practical purposes, was building their own home. Pris and I have shared some great hikes together and she's a fabulous cook. For my birthday, back in September, she offered to make Greg and I a home-cooked meal and I told her I wanted to wait until she moved. Well, moving days was a few days ago. I called her to give our congratulations (and tell her how jealous I am!) and she made a great statement about how exciting to actually be living in her new home, "I feel like I'm living someone else's life."

November 18, 2007
Last night was a birthday celebration at Jill&Jim's for three birthday girls: Jill, Donna, and Jill's mom, Norma. Jim outdid himself with delish ribs and Jill made side dishes and an incredible carrot cake. And we all sang the Sheriff John birthday song:

Put another candle on my birthday cake
We're gonna bake a birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today
I'm gonna have a party with my birthday cake
Come on and take some birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today
We'll have some pie and sandwiches
and chocolate ice cream too
We'll sing and play the day away
and one more thing I'm going to do
I'll blow out the candles on my birthday cake
and when I do, a wish I'll make
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

Much cooler than that old tired Happy Birthday! Those baby boomers from Kook-a-fornia will remember Sheriff John.

I'm spending lots of time at home recently, just trying to catch up on so many things. I have two computers going and I bounce back and forth between tasks on each one. I'm starting to gear up for our property tax protest which we are so far calling the Property Tax Tea Party. Recent political goings on brought on by recent election results as well as a crazy state supreme court ruling have tipped the scales in favor of a very successful protest (we hope) and so I am not only taking care of business, and household business, and social obligations, but gearing up for a public relations media blitz as well. And in my spare time, I'm working on whirled peas. Here's how overwhelmed I am: accidentally took our kitty Bud's heart medication this morning! No harm done - but geeesh!

November 21, 2007
Before we go to dinner this evening with Boni&Ted,
I spent the morning pressure washing all the boulders now exposed since we've had to drain our pond to repair the pump. By the time I was done, not only my pants and long johns were soaking (yes, it's getting cold at 1000 feet up), but my hiking boots were too.

Before we go off to dinner, Boni&Ted will come by to see the progress we've made since their last visit about 4 months ago.

What stinkers
raccoons are! (This picture was taken back at our first rental house a couple of years ago.) They have now stolen another two of my suet feeders! How they get them unhooked is a mystery.

November 22, 2007
Is it Thanksgiving 2007 already?! Tick, tick, tick...nothing stops the continuum of time marching ever forward.

Boni&Ted got the royal tour yesterday afternoon and, as always, they are so impressed with Greg and all he creates. In fact, Ted said at dinner that every time he sees the place he's more and more impressed - and not only is he an engineer but a great woodworker and small boat builder, so that's quite a compliment.

We went to dinner at the same restaurant Melissa&Les took us last week, the Dockside Grill at the John Wayne Marina, and again we had a good meal. But I looked for that blue heron to see if he was hangin' out on the dock - but no luck.

Later today we've been invited to Jill&Jim's at a small celebration with her family and neighbors, MaryAnn&Jim, but just before we're going to visit Pris&Robert in their new home.

My computer has crashed and it has been HELL.

Both Greg and I rely on them for EVERYTHING and here I am planning a statewide property tax revolt on the steps of the state capital on January 14 and that file went bye bye.  I was beside myself - 2 years of notes and info.  Long story short, Greg was able to retrieve the most important of my files but boy do we have a problem on our hands now.  Part of it is, we are so incredibly busy, so much on our plates, and we know our computers are old, but in order to reformat soooo much info (millions of bytes - in fact, I have well over 100 gigabytes of files just by myself) and then the learning curve involved with new systems, we not only haven't had the time but don't have the ability to concentrate on something like this ...well, we knew there was a reckoning coming but....And I have several websites including Over the Moon which I am planning on making a book out of, so you can see how important those files are.  It's just a nightmare.  Spent four hours at the computer and everything I saved and saved and saved....disappeared.  Don't ask!

November 23, 2007
Pris&Robert's place is just wonderful. Calm colors with a view of Victoria, B.C. and the ocean before it. What a panorama. They are sooo lucky to be "in" already and we are sooo far away from that....

Jill&Jim had a wonderful meal and she sent me home with her famous yummmmmmy pumpkin tart. Guess what we'll have for dessert.

November 24, 2007
Well, my computer crash has lost me two years of work. Greg, genius that he is, was able to resurrect some of it, most importantly what I will directly need for this property tax revolt, but there is so much else lost. It's gonna take me a while to get over this one.

November 27, 2007
Dinner with Candice&Steve at a new restaurant (for us) in Port Angeles, Thai Peppers. In a few days, they become snowbirds and head for Florida until the spring.

Candice is an artist and so I brought along a picture of the crystal spider web I've been designing to hang
under the front staircase. It'll be visible while you're standing in the courtyard/garage area, right across from that lady wall fountain. When that staircase is finished, years from now it breaks my heart to say, the stairs will be solid - not open as they appear now. And I have groomed the area where the web will hang into a shade garden.

My grandmother's words keep buzzing in my ear, "If you want anything done, give it to a busy person." Actually I think she borrowed that from Benjamin Franklin.

Anyway, so I have taken on yet another project. But I am driven by a vision and this one has been swimming around in my head for months.

It took me a while to figure out what to use to make it since budget was a big consideration and I finally settled on Mardi Gras beads! And, they're already strung and as I think you know, I'm not into the Zen of creating - I just want results.

At first I thought it would be a "perfect" web but then
I saw this picture of a web in one of my decorating magazines made of Swarovski crystals (thing thing must be worth tens of thousands of dollars). I swear, if I do say so myself, I seem to always be just ahead of a trend and, well, since we are designing this house using Gothic architectural elements, this article was all about it. And so it convinced me that one with a little wear and tear would be a better choice. So, here's what it looks like so far. Trust me, it'll look more interesting when it's done and installed.

November 28, 2007
My latest restaurant review:

A sandwich shop with a bistro feel      

This ain't no high falootin' restaurant column, so in addition to fancy schmancy restaurants with actual waiters, I'll be reviewing take out and fast food establishments.
Quiznos is known for submarine sandwiches and its special twist is placing the sub on a veritable toasting conveyor, warming the whole enchilada (so to speak). The result is a bun that's warm and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. And their buns don't tend to overpower the sandwich contents.
Located in that corner pocket of stores to the west of Wal-Mart – right next to the government-owned liquor store – the place is basically brand new, the bathrooms are spotless and the decor has an Italian slant with large graphics reminiscent of advertising posters from early in the 20th century.
This Quiznos underwent a manager/owner change last spring and the family that owns it now gets the concept of  "customer service." I understand that concept was foreign to the previous owners.
The new staff is cordial and makes sure to greet you when you walk in the door. And they definitely have a crowd pleaser with manager Brandon, a born restaurateur who knows how to make a customer feel special. In fact, one of the customers must have overheard me asking "reviewer" type questions and made a point of coming over to me. "You know why I keep coming back here? One day I came by and it turned out they wouldn't be open for another half hour. They saw me peering in the window and about to walk away when they opened the door for me and told me to come on in."
Now that's the way a customer ought to be treated!
You can build your own sub, of course, but they have specialty subs featuring prime rib, turkey or chicken with all manner of combinations including mozzarella, cheddar or Swiss cheeses, bacon, guacamole and sauteed onions. And lots of different sauces: honey bourbon mustard, chipotle mayo, smoky Baja sauce, roasted red pepper and Alfredo. You also can add a variety of salad-type dressings. 
Their Signature Classic subs include traditional and classic Italian with salami, pepperoni, capicola and ham. An all veggie version is available for those who won't eat anything with a face.
For the smaller appetite, they offer Flatbread Sammies: Sonoma turkey, Italiano, alpine chicken and bistro steak melt nestled inside their warm pocket-shaped flatbread.
And once you get your hands on your submarine, they have a hot pepper bar with lots of choices for those who like it spicy.
To go along with your sandwich, there is an interesting selection of chips that prominently feature Mrs. Vickie's brand including jalapeño and sea salt and malt liquor varieties.
They even have their own twist on soups. Their always-on-the-menu broccoli cheese and chili are served in a toasted gourmet sourdough bread bowl. Sounds good on a blustery day, doesn't it? And now they're offering seasonal soups. When I visited, I tried the mushroom bisque, which had nice small chunks of mushroom, a not-too-thick consistency, yet was a little on the salty side.
I'm always on the lookout for a great salad, and the salads here measure up to almost any "real" restaurant around. My favorite is chicken Caesar.  They use fresh chopped romaine and moist and tender chicken pieces, and they can add tomato and red onion if you wish. I like the fact the dressing is served on the side, so I can control the calories. One way I do this is to dip my fork in the dressing and then spear the greenery. I know I've been a good girl if there's dressing left in the cup. Other salads include raspberry chipotle chicken with bacon, red onion and chipotle dressing, classic cobb, and "Black & Bleu" full of black Angus steak and bleu cheese crumbles and served with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Other salad dressings are honey mustard, reduced fat buttermilk ranch and fat free balsamic vinaigrette. All salads come with triangles of their warmed yummy flatbread tucked around the border. I like the flatbread just as it's served – lightly brushed with olive oil and herbs. But they'll make it without the olive oil if I'm feeling adamant about eliminating extra calories.
Beverages include bottled water, colas and house raspberry lemonade. And they offer some nice bottled beverages for the health conscious – real fruit juices and the Sobe brand of fruit juice combos.
For the sweet tooth, choose chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar or oatmeal raisin cookies, warmed if you like.
While they'll do catering for "sports parties, office gatherings, birthdays, graduation celebrations, neighborhood picnics and family reunions," as well as box lunches, it's a convenient stop for lunch for one or two. And the option of extra high tables and bar stools gives it a quaint bistro feel.
A Port Angeles Quiznos is in the early construction stages.

November 29, 2007
A day in Seattle. Lunch at the Olive Garden (wooo hooo - we're really in the big city now!), dinner at Kasbah (a Moroccan restaurant reminiscent of our Moun of Tunis in California), errands, and a long long wait for the ferry home.

And our Bud was there at home waiting for us when we walked in the door well after midnight.

December 1, 2007
All our California friends hear the Los Angeles television coverage of the weather here in Washington and think we're floating away. But that's in much more cosmopolitan areas like Seattle. We're in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula and here's a reprint of our local paper's explanation of our weather phenomenon:

Port Angeles, Sequim calm thanks to fabled rain shadow

The rain shadow that protects Port Angeles and Sequim from storms that blow in off the Pacific lived up to its billing Monday.

As the rest of the Olympic Peninsula and Western Washington were buffeted and flooded, Port Angeles and Sequim was unaffected by winds.

Where rain was reported to be "horizontal" near Joyce, it was coming down vertically just 15 miles to the east.

Except for one 26 mph gust at 6:53 a.m., wind speeds recorded at the National Weather Service reporting station at William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles failed to reach 9 mph for the rest of the day Monday.

What exactly causes the rain shadow?

According to Scott Sistek, a Port Angeles native who prepares weather reports for KOMO-TV in Seattle, the Olympics push air upward as Pacific storms slam into the Peninsula from the southwest.

As the air lifts, it condenses and squeezes out the moisture - "think of it as the mountains acting like a sponge, soaking up and then squeezing out the rain," Sistek says.

"That's the reason there are vast rain forests on the southwestern side of the Olympics. They receive over 200 inches of rain a year."

The air, now devoid of most of its moisture, continues over the tops of the Olympic mountains and comes down along the northeastern slopes into the Port Angeles-Sequim areas.

"And just like rising air condenses," Sistek says, "sinking air dries out as it encounters warmer air near the [ground] surface. So you already have semi-dry air becoming even drier."
-end of reprint-

December 2, 2007
A visit to Kaj&Laura's last evening was a scary adventure indeed!

Kaj & Laura invited us for dinner and conversation with a couple of other lovely women and to see a DVD on a conference held this past summer. Anyway, on the way up the mountain to their home, it began snowing sooo much that we couldn't keep the headlights on because it obliterated the road.  So we had to inch along a high mountain road, looking out the side windows so we didn't go off the edge, guided by the faint light of the moon and a few houses with Christmas lights in the distance.  Very verrrry Scary.  By some fluke, just as we were talking to them on the cell phone to tell them we were in trouble, we came upon their address in the midst of the storm.  Thank goodness Greg's Jeep has four-wheel drive and thank goodness Greg made the decision to take the Jeep!  At the end of the evening, one of the women who's car was in the shop had a loaner and couldn't get up their driveway. We drove her home.

Kaj & Laura are a wonderful couple - very intelligent and interesting.  He was an investment banker in NY and saw one of the planes fly into the WTC.  He decided there were better places to raise his kids and after visiting 100 cities, chose the Peninsula.  After 9/11 he became very interested in who these people are that are trying to kill us, so he has become an expert, so much so the local police invited him to lecture on Islam and Al Qaida and he also gives seminars at their home.

Anyway, the key speaker on the DVD was Brigitte Gabriel - our age. Her website is  She does commentary on Fox & CNN about terrorism. She is a Lebanese Christian, born wealthy but was reduced to living in a bomb shelter with her parents for ten long years until she was a teenager when Arafat and his regime began killing Christians.  She and her mother would have to crawl out at night to find dandelions and weeds with thorns (which she had to peel off the outer shell to find the "meat" inside to eat). And each time they would say goodbye to her father because there was no guarantee they would make it back alive. I mean I know the Jews were persecuted but had no idea this befell the Christians also.

Gabriel is the one who has been warning of this coming storm with Radical Islam.   She gives speeches and she's written a book, Because They Hate.  I tell you, scary stuff.  Explains how all this began to escalate back in the 70s in Israel because Iran (which is at the root of funding all of it) could "pick" on Lebanon & Israel simply because of their proximity.  So, she adamantly explained that it is NOT Bush, NOT the "Great Satan America" that is behind the spread of terrorism - it's their plan and has been.  According to all Radical Islamists, we're all born Muslim - we just don't know it yet.  And she explained how they are systematically taking over everywhere, "We will conquer through the wombs of our women." And when she pointed out that Osama Bin Laden is one of 57 kids and he has 27 wives, well just do the math. Whereas America, England, Europe are decreasing their populations.  BIG cels in major cities just waiting for phone calls to put them into operation:  LA and Seattle included.  AND, two other frightening things.  Saudi Arabia which is also behind the spread of terrorism - and has been, they have been giving MILLIONS to universities and colleges all over the country - big colleges including UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego...huge list - all the majors. Anyway, they've been pumping millions into these schools to open Middle East Studies Departments and making sure professors are hired that will push home to our college students that America is the BIG SATAN.  And, as you can see, it's working.  She said America is asleep at the switch.  She said we are letting "political correctness" kill us - and the enemy is only too aware of that and is using that to their advantage.  She said one huge threat is not only Iran's growing nuclear capability, but they've been doing tests exploding bombs hundreds of kilometers in the air and what they're doing is perfecting a bomb that wouldn't kill people, but would fry the USA's electrical grid (EMP bombs - electrical magnetic pulse), throwing us back to the 1800s overnight.  And this ain't science fiction.

Also discussed last night was a filmmaker who's done a documentary called Borders about the tens of thousands who come across our borders EVERY DAY (I had no idea we were talking about so many people in a day!) and how many thousands of them are Radical Muslims.  Any mosk near you, and I'm sure there are many...  Well, almost certainly, it's a hot bed of terrorist are most of them.  And because Mexicans and Muslims look so similar, "Grouper Lips" Chavez is paying hundred of thousands of dollars to one of the most dangerous gangs in the United States, the murderous MS 13, to teach these Islamofacists the Mexican culture, assume Spanish names, and show them how to blend in.  And it shows how UNBELIEVABLY EASY it is to smuggle in the components of dirty bombs into the USA.

Heard an author interviewed, Bennet, America - The Last Best Hope. Anyway, he had a very interesting way of looking at the world.  He said he judges a country on the "Open Gate" theory.  If the gates are opened, do the people living there run out, or do others run in?  As you can see, EVIL SATAN that America is...they're running in - even when the gate isn't open.  Another theory:  if you see an army land in your country, what flag do you hope they're carrying?

Greg and I just shake our heads at those who sincerely feel there is the possibility of rational talk with these people. I saw one documentary, a man who followed the soldiers in training at Al Quaida camps. His statement: "We're talking about a psychosis on the level of a civilization." Americans better WAKE UP BABY.  It's worse than we ever could imagine.  Just a little 'ol matter of time....

Just want to build this house, stay in our relatively small little town, and pull the lid over.  No guarantee bad things won't happen but...

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln loved the play.

Okay, I'm thru spreading joy and good cheer....

December 9, 2007
A Sunday morning. It could be Monday or Tuesday or Thursday. It' doesn't matter...another day working on . But when we looked out the window, everything was under a thick gleaming new blanket of snow, and snowflakes were falling. But in a couple of hours, all was melted away by the rain.

December 16, 2007
This evening was the second year we were invited to Melissa's to trim the tree. We got her a nice candy red ornament and Melissa pointed out I did the same thing last year (only a fluke I'm sure that it wasn't exactly the same ornament!). We were joined by a few of her friends including Lisa&Revy. Just a wonderful cozy evening.

December 21, 2007
All I do is woik woik woik on this protest event. A respite though tonight. Met Jill&Jim for dinner at Fortune Star and then to Andrea's (our brokers, Jan&Patty's daughter) to go to her housewarming party. We got her some elephants to add to her collection. Well, she has this big display cabinet and I just couldn't help myself and I set about redoing her display and had a ball. I'm soooo itching to get to the point where I'm setting up my own collections - I miss being able to light my eyes on all that eye candy!

December 22, 2007
A Christmas party at Jim&Jill's and as usual - probably 'cause we don't get out much - we were basically the last to leave. We were sooo full - just stuffed ourselves on hors d'oeuvres.

December 25, 2007
It's Christmas morning. We opened a few gifts from the family and I had given Greg that book on the PBS Ken Burn's doc on The War. Then Greg tells me he has a little present for me at . So early in the afternoon, we drive up and Greg makes me keep my eyes cast down as he approaches the house and drives down the driveway. I'm thinking maybe he put up one of the new corbels we designed for the courtyard. But then he walks me through the tall grass of the front yard and finally stops near the front of the house. And then he has me look up -
at the front door! Wow! Greg had gotten so tired of looking at that primer-white piece of plywood that has been our "interim" front door for at least the last two years that he decided to "faux" paint the door to look like the finished product! WHAT A WONDERFUL PRESENT!

Then it was Christmas evening and a Christmas celebration at Melissa's. A honey glazed ham brought in from the big city was served and Lisa made wild rice and baked chicken. And I brought the salad and got a BIG compliment from pro chef Lisa who said, "Shelley, you surprise me. See, you can cook!" Whenever we all get together we have such great conversations. And that's gotta be one of the big pleasures living here. Whereas back in L.A. you meet at restaurants (who want you to eat and leave), here you're at people's homes which promotes lingering conversation. And you learn such interesting things. Melissa's family was there: Carlos (who will be returning to Iraq), Becky, Carmen and beau Kevin who serenaded us with his guitar (I sang along) and niece Paisley who unfortunately wasn't feeling too well. Before we left for the party, I sent Melissa an email to show her where we planted the
beautiful and unusual orange-needled cedar tree she gave us to commemorate Greg finishing the roof.

Two funny stories.

So, as I'm packing the car with the salad and ingredients to take to the party I also pack a gift for Melissa. Last year I also made the salad. And last year, I forgot my homemade dressing and was reduced to concocting something helter skelter in the kitchen. So Lisa was just a wee bit scared-to-death I'd do the same thing this year - she must've reminded me two or three times (and I don't blame her!). Just to make sure I didn't screw up again, I had notes on the floor at the front door that I would have had to walk over to ignore (and I've done that too. Nothing's foolproof when living inside a messy drawer makes you scatterbrained). When we got to the door, Greg dropped me off and since it was sprinkling, Greg said he'd bring in the supplies. As I walk in the door empty handed, there's Lisa standing looking at me. And I blurt out with a straight face, "Ohmigawd, I forgot the dressing!" Wish I had a camera to capture the look on Lisa's face when I said, "Just kidding!"

And here's the second story: When I walked in the door I handed Melissa her gift bag to which she says, "Another gift? You already gave me one at the Tree Trim Party." To which I magnanimously stated, "No no, this is for you too!" Mind like a sieve, I had wrapped several gifts days ago to have them at the ready. After dinner, Lisa hands Greg and I a present - turned out to be a lovely book. And I felt soooo guilty that I hadn't remembered to give Lisa a gift. Well, in the middle of the night I sit up with a jolt and realize: the gift I brought was for LISA!

December 26, 2007
How embarrassing!!! So I call up Melissa and tell her the story about the gift to which she said, "Well, too late now, we all ate the Harry & David pound cake at breakfast!" I just had to laugh - and so did she. Then I called Lisa. "You'll never guess what your dingy friend did!" And then I told her that I had felt like something was missing when she gave us her Christmas present. I tell ya, mind like a sieve!

This month's restaurant review from the pages of the Sequim Gazette:

A Place Where Everybody Goes

Tarcisio’s. Just like that famous meeting place in Casablanca, sooner or later everybody goes to Tarcisio’s. If you’re already a patron, go on, think of all the people you know that you’ve run into there.

And just like that beer with the funny name, everyone has their favorite pronunciation. I’ve heard it pronounced Tar-siss-ios. But I talked to the owner and for the official last word....think cheese: Tar-cheesios!

Although the restaurant was born in 1987, the baby of Tarcisio Miglia, three years later it was bought by the Wellmans who still own it today.

The place has that family Italian restaurant feel with plenty of straw covered wine bottles, lots of greens and reds, and a large wall mural of the Venice canals. And booths. I love booths - it not only gives you a clean place to put your purse and a bit of privacy but a bit of elbow room. And a lefty like me needs it. Usually I have to pick my seat strategically so I don't gore the ribs of the person next to me.

To add to the dining experience, music quietly plays in the background. It's usually the soundtrack to a favorite movie and drives me crazy 'cause I can never quite place which one.

The heart of any Italian restaurant menu has got to be its sauces. And just like every apple pie recipe has it's own flavor and consistency, so it is with red sauces. I must say I'm not a particular fan of Tarcisio's red sauce - it's a bit on the acidic side, but my hubby likes it just fine. It doesn't matter, there are so many other choices on the menu that are good.

When I order pasta there, I ask for the Garden Medley which is full of fresh vegetables sauteed in garlic and olive oil over a bed of angel hair. Every once in a while the broccoli - one of my favorite vegetables - is a little tired; but still this is my favorite Tarcisio's pasta dish. My hubby really enjoys their Italian sausage link served over rigatoni - fat hollow noodles that hold lots of sauce.

If you're a big eater and like variety, I suggest the "Tarcisio's Duo's" where you can have any two of your favorite pastas: spaghetti, tortellini, ravioli, lasagna, cheese manicotti, or beef cannelloni with your choice of either Italian and/or Alfredo sauce. Ever try mixing the two? Try it.

For fish lovers, they offer smoked salmon fettuccini and prawns; either in pesto sauce sauteed in fresh garlic with white wine, mushrooms, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes. Or, have your prawns sauteed and placed on a bed of fettucini Alfredo.

Dinners come with garlic bread, soup and antipasto salad. I ask for and get plain bread but I'm usually well into my pasta before I get my hands on it. The antipasto salad includes a slice of cheese and salami, so vegetarians should make a point of asking for the dinner salad. If you request, they'll bring you Caesar dressing - even if you haven't ordered the Caesar Salad. Their full size salads are great for lunch. For soup, they always offer minestrone but daily specials can be beef and veggie or cream based. And on Fridays they serve clam chowder. I like the minestrone but it too is a little on the acidic side. So I follow the suggestion of a personal chef friend of mine and add just a dash of sugar. It works.

And then there is pizza.

There's the traditional pizza sauce but also your choice of Alfredo, pesto, BBQ or garlic ranch. And more toppings than Carter has pills including vegetables, pineapple, meats, and fish and feta cheese besides the standard mozzarella. They have their own specials but you can combo to your heart's content. I like the "original" pizza pie and add fresh tomatoes on top. They don't necessarily offer a choice in the thickness of the crust, but if you ask they'll do their best to make it on the thin side if that's your preference.

Oh, and if you like a show with your meal, you can watch the cooks do that "aerial" twirl of the pizza dough in their "built like a stage" kitchen.

Tarcisio's offers beers, wines and mixed drinks in addition to specialty Italian sodas.

For your sugar fix, in addition to ice cream and classic New York cheesecake there's Tiramisu. I know, it sounds Japanese but it's classic Itallian - a wonderful concoction of rum soaked lady fingers filled with mascarpone cheese. Delish. They even offer a root beer float.

But one of the best kept secrets is a Tarcisio breakfast. Some of our friends make it a breakfast tradition. It's becoming one of ours too. Being an Italian eatery they have a frittata with prosciutto ham but their Dream Omelette made with Italian sauce, peppers, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese is an original breakfast feast. They serve pancakes and waffles, but they do a great job with regular 'ol eggs (and egg beaters) and yummy fried potatoes. I usually break my diet and order bacon and they follow my instructions to a T: I want it cooked so crisp it shatters like Turkish taffy.

I've been trying to go on walks daily again. I'm so used to doing some kind of exercise most days of the week. But the past few months I haven't been able to make time while I've been staring at the computer screen - mainly for this protest. Anyway, lately I've been enjoying long walks in the (rental house) neighborhood seeing lots of farm animules: goats, sheep, horses, dogs and cats. And lots of deer.

On my walks I spot lots of moss growing by the side of the road. The moss is there all year round but comes "alive" during the wet weather and I find it just magical. So thick and downy and lush and green. So I knocked on this door and asked the lady if she would mind if I "harvested" some of her moss near the road (so I can take it back to for my shade garden) . "Are you kidding? I was just about to kill it all," sez she. So I went back today and I must've gathered 50 pounds of the stuff - could barely lift it into the back of my car. Oh joy! Doesn't take much to make me happy. Just a little Craftsman Gothic two-story custom house in the woods...and some moss.

December 28, 2007
Sue is in town visiting her boy Matt and his lady Trisha. She came with her other son Bill and his girl Katie. Sue had moved up here with Judie and then moved back to Northern California when things didn't work out. Funny thing, that turned out to be the best thing she could've done: got a great place to live and got her dream job. Interesting how things work out. Anyway, she and her brood came to for the tour and then the kids went their separate way and I took Sue to lunch. It was a good visit.

This evening we were invited once again to Kaj&Laura's for dinner (and a lovely salmon dinner expertly presented by Laura) with friends Phyllis&Don who were celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary. And another evening filled with fantastic conversation. Phyllis has a degree in political science, among other things, and had interesting things to say about WWII and America's Native Indians. And, they both came from Las Vegas - having lived there for many years - and so we traded stories about old Las Vegas when it was the mobster's playground since my parents went there a couple of times a year with me in tow during the mid to late fifties. Just a great time was had by all.

December 30, 2007
Tomorrow is the last day of the year. I just can't get over it. It was just yesterday we were taking a drive to look at all the Christmas lights....December 2006!

I was planning on joining Greg later after I finished work here, but he just called to tell me it's snowing!

Well, it's come to this. Both of us are now referring to the adventure of building this house as "The Job."

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