July through September

July 2, 2008
For my birthday last year, Pris gave me a "coupon" for a homecooked meal. We've had some wonderful meals at Pris&Robert's home before and since, but Pris will never let me turn in the coupon! And tonight was no exception.

On the menu: a fabulous fetuccini dinner which was the closest thing I've had to my fondly remembered Anna's Restaurant's (in LA): Fetuccini Romano. Just wonderful.

The finishing touches on their home are coming together in leaps and bounds.

Their steel staircase, which is definitely an architectural statement in itself, is almost finished. Robert is adding more and more to the custom-made concrete-fronted fireplace. The unusual concaved tongue & groove living room ceiling looks fabulous. And...all the custom cabinetry for the bedroom and family room is in. Can you spell j-e-a-l-o-u-s?

And to really make the evening special...eagles. While we were all chatting and Pris was putting finishing touches on hors d'oeuvres, bald eagles glide by their huge picture windows as we all look out to the ocean toward Victoria, B.C.

I remember seeing a robin, my first in Los Angeles, once when we were downtown at City Hall. It was so exciting for me, I talked about it for days. Then we moved here and I was thrilled to see them in our little neighborhood. But now I know here they are as common as sparrows. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy them and their antics, but when those bald eagles flew across Pris' kitchen window, Pris said, "Oh, we see them every day." Imagine that.

At dinner's end I brought out a bottle of Absinthe, a legendary hallucinatory drink favored by the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and his cronies. It's made from wormwood and has been illegal in the US for I'm sure close to a century. But it's legal now and hence available again - probably because the wormwood of today doesn't have those legendary side effects.

There is the mystique of a ritual involved in drinking it. You place a special slotted spoon across the top of the glass in which you have poured a small amount of absinthe. On top of the spoon, you place a sugar cube. Then you pour cold water over the cube and it gives the liquid a cloudy effect. I don't drink but I took a teensy sip and Pris had a taste. However, Greg and Robert had a good 'ol time getting to know what is referred to by officianados as the" Green Fairy".

July 3, 2008
It seems both Greg and Robert have seen a bit too much of the Green Fairy. Both weren't feeling chipper this morning.

But trudge on we must.

Intermittently while we've been building our house, Greg has been working on our front door project.

Greg bought the wood to make it when we first moved up here from a local salvage company - who got it off the subroof of the local college.

What a neat find. And doubly so because we felt that would put a bit of local history into .

Today we use sheet plywood as an underlayment for our roofs. Back in the 1940s in this here timber country, they used two and a half inch thick by six inches wide old growth tongue and groove cedar secured to one another with 9" square nails. Each old plank was hand hewn by Greg to look like weathered old gothic planks.

Greg has worked on this door all this time at starts and fits. In my "spare" time, I worked on designing the huge "strap hinges" that are to be a focal point. Heck, the whole house is a focal point. While the openable portion of the door is rectangular in shape, it fits into a frame with a gothic peak at the top which makes it appear like one big door, but makes it much easier to build and install.

Installing or hanging any door - but particularly this door - is a long process.

Put on the door, make adjustments to insure a proper fit, haul back to the worktable, make more changes...and repeat. Certainly tedious.

This door already weighs well over 200 pounds. When it's finished, it could weigh over 350 pounds because the back (or interior side) of the door will be matched to the paneling of our interior entry area. But that, of course, is a long way off.

Greg wanted it hung only once, so the fitting would have to be perfect. And, as usual, Greg came up with a "workaround" that made it as painless as possible. Greg decided he would hang the glued up door without the last piece, and once the door was up he could fit this last piece and then glue it to the door while it was already in place.

Greg&I were able to hang our other 8' doors by ourselves but there's no way I could help with this one. So it's a good thing we have a helper to assist. Thank you Danny.

As George Bush would have said. . ."What's left to be done still remains to be accomplished". But right now we have to celebrate where we are in the process.

And Greg is deservedly proud.

July 4, 20088
Can't believe this is the fifth 4th of July here. Half a decade. Just can't get over it!

As has been the tradition, we went to Jill&Jim's for a BBQ. Just a small group this time and Greg and I spent some time talking with Jim's dad, Pops, and Jill's mom, Norma. It was hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on the famous "big grill" by Jim.

And then on our way home, as we drove down into Sequim, we could watch all the fireworks from all the celebrations around the town as it spread out before us.

July 5, 2008
Early in the day, now that the adjustments have been made, I help Greg glue up the remaining side pieces of the door.

After a day of work, we had dinner with Greg&Kathi Gilman. Eventually, the Gilmans will be our much-looed-forward-to neighbors here...we're just waiting for them to retire and build. So they come up every year about this time to visit their property and then take a little vacation.

Last year they got "The Tour" and of course, we did it again 'cause we have lots more to show them. This time we made time to break bread together on their way to the Crescent Lake Lodge.

We caravanned to Joy's Bistro in PA and talked talked talked. Ain't nuthin' better than friends having a good long conversation over a meal. And before we know it, it'll be July 2009 and we'll see them again.

I'm trying to look at it this way: they're a year closer to retirement, and we're a year closer to finishing. At this point we don't know what year that will be, but at least we're going forward one step at a time.

July 6, 2008
Kaj&Laura recently returned from a monumental multi-week summer vacation with their family, driving to all the...well..."monumental" states. They showed their boys where history was made and visited the likes of Mt. Rushmore and Gettysburg.

As a welcome home, Marine&Len invited the "usual crowd" over for brunch today to fete Kaj's father, Hayo who is visiting from Spain.

Kaj's dad is quite a charmer! Upon our introduction, in romantic flowery language, Hayo joked that after his wife, Svetlana, had visited earlier in the year and told him about me, he warned that I couldn't possibly live up to the picture she painted! Sweet. And so is he. Made my day.

As always, Marine is a wonderful hostess. To start we had her now famous mozzarella with tomatoes and fresh basil arranged "just so" diagonally across a white plate in red, white, and green splendor. The main course was a perfect fresh salmon and steamed asparagus on the grill.

And then a small disaster.

I broke a coffee cup that was part of a set given to Marine&Len as a wedding present some 18 years ago. I was inconsolable although Marine was gracious. As soon as I got home I went to Replacements Ltd. where you can supposedly find any pattern of dinnerware and utensils. But I could only sign on to a waiting list. I am tenacious, so eventually I will prevail and Marine will get another cup...or two!!

Other than that, everyone was having a wonderful time. Especially us girls. That's Marine and Laura with me. It's rare that Greg and I get to spend time together in a leisurely setting, and this was one of those rare times. Besides the usual crowd, new faces there are Bill (in shorts) who's our sheriff, and his "hoot and a half" wife Kathy (between Hayo and Greg).

And what a beautiful sunny day it was. A perfect day to spend time outside.

After brunch, Marine brought out her kites and the boys, Laura, and Greg spent a lazy afternoon in the wind.

I've never had luck with launching kites. I remember when I was little my Dad would try and help me get mine airborne. But we always failed.

That wasn't the case today.

The wind was just right.

And Marine had two beauties. One was Mickey Mouse and the other was an exotic dragon.

Little Leo ran right for Mickey.

Greg galloped across Marine's front yard - exotic kite following behind - and then Mauritz and mom Laura gave the launch a go. At one point Mauritz had two kites flying.

By the time I got curious to watch the proceedings, there were Mauritz&Leo lounging in the bushes with their hands behind their heads and the handles to their kite held between their knees.

And then...the adventure began.

Mickey Mouse got away from Leo and just like that famous Red it went. Too bad there wasn't a film crew there because at times it really was the keystone cops.

Leo was in tears as Mickey flew higher and higher.

At first Mickey didn't get far. He hung up in a cherry tree in the front yard. A run was made for the string which was grazing the ground. Marine thought she had it. But once unstuck, off Mickey went into a thicket of trees. Almost every possible choice was explored to grab the string.

But it was like herding cats and the rubix cube all at once trying to follow the string and see exactly where the problem was.

That's when Marine (dancer, tomboy, gymnast, monkey), climbed up and into the thicket of spindly branches. Marine was fearless and at last was able to grab hold of the string....only to have it slip through her fingers. And Mickey began to travel again. At one point the string broke and we thought "so long Mickey". But now, with a shorter string, Mickey got hung up in the mass of branches.Well, success once more...and failure once more as Marine made a grab for it. Mickey drifted to yet another much taller tree farther away.

There would be no climbing to retrieve Mickey. And there he stayed.

Leo was beside himself and everyone tried to make him feel better. And Marine especially wanted him to know that Mickey would be going on a wonderful journey and not to feel sad.

C'est la vie.

At some point in the afternoon, Bill the Sheriff had to leave us. He flies his own plane and had promised he'd take his son on a jaunt.

About an hour or so after he left, we were all gathered on the deck overlooking the city and out across the ocean, when Kathy hears a familiar sound. We all look up. And there's Bill, buzzing overhead and delighting us all with a few fancy moves. What freedom it must be to fly a plane. Once upon a time I had wanted to learn, but I realize how exacting a skill it is and I know I'm not up to that challenge. Better to leave it to people like Bill.

Today was Pris' birthday. Happy Birthday Pris!

July 7, 2008
You might have thought this was the end of the Mickey saga. You would be wrong.

Today, Marine began to tell the rest of the tale in an email. She's such a good writer, I'll just let her tell the story:

"This is the first and last update on Mickey as he has flown away to new horizons, maybe in search of his beloved Minnie.

I went out at dusk last night and checked. He was still there, flying high, tail waving in the wind, smiling! A stronger wind must have finally freed him up from the top branch and this morning, no more Mickey!

In any case Mickey had a lot of fun with Leo, enjoyed flying next to his Dragon pal, but was ready to take a hike with his kite. This is a big country, with lots to see, so take comfort that Mickey won't be lonely on his next journey."

Then came this:

"But I spoke too soon.

I saw our neighbor, who lives across the street. While we were out, he was hitting golf balls in the field yesterday. When I came home this afternoon, our neighbor asked me whether we had gotten the kite back down. As I was telling him that it had been blown off by the wind overnight, I noticed a string coming across the trees, and going at different angles, meaning from one branch to the next. And sure enough, Mickey was sadly hanging in the trees further east, on a very high branch of course. I shouldn't say sadly as Mickey is always smiling no matter what the situation.

Anyway, our neighbor said "I'll get it" to which I responded, "Great, I'll come back out after changing," just in case I've got to climb up the tree. I got delayed, was about to come back out when I saw the kite all neatly wrapped up on the chair just outside the front door. Our neighbor had done it all by himself. He was able to pull the string from the middle, cut the handle off to free it up, let it drop and reattach. He tried flying the kite again and it worked perfectly.

So Leo, your friend Mickey is home after a long night out and high, and very much looks forward to playing with you next time you're around. And of course, he hopes that Mauritz will be there too with Dragon, because the more the merrier."

And so they all lived happily ever after.

Great little saga.

And Marine, I think you should definitely write a children's book!

July 8, 2008
Greg and I had made plans for the two of us to dine at the Three Crabs restaurant because this was the restaurant I would be doing my review on this month. It started out as a quiet dinner for two. It ended up a dinner for nine!

Early in the day I spoke with Lisa and invited her so she came with Revy and her son Brock and also her mom and her mom's friend. Then I said, what the heck, and invited Melissa&Les.

We had a great time all of us and you'll be able to read my review later this month.

Meanwhile, after dinner, since we were literally down the street, Greg got a tour of Les' wonderful home - I had the pleasure a few weeks ago while running errands and Greg was working. Les' house too has a turret and we spent time up there watching the ocean. Les' home is literally footsteps from the shore with a magnificent view of the famous Sequim Dungeness Lighthouse and Canada and all the passing cruise ships and occasional whale. After the tour, Melissa made us some mouthwatering strawberry shortcake.

Not only had I eaten all of my dinner earlier, with such a big crowd at the table I got to taste lots of different dishes for the review (research you know). But still miraculously I found room for dessert!

July 10, 2008
I don't know if you enjoy seeing all these creepy crawlers (and I certainly don't want them anywhere in striking distance), but they're all so interesting, you can't help capturing them for posterity. This red spider - at a safe distance - is practically a work of art. I wonder what Freud would make of the Rorschach test on his back?

July 11, 2008
Nature at work.

While running errands in Sequim, we were driving down a road off the main street when we drove right through a cloud of bees. Bees everywhere! I mean thousands of them. I am so glad I rarely have the windows open (all the better to enjoy A/C which is in use all of the time - in fact, there are winter days it's on too). Anyway, once we realized what was happening, and after making sure the windows were up, we backed up to see an entire hive of bees swarming on a wild blackberry bush. When bees decide they need a new home, off they go searching and we happened to catch them in the midst.

Bee populations are dying off at an alarming rate. It's called Colony Collapse Syndrome and the experts don't know why it's happening. But it's a dangerous situation. Without bees, we have no food as bees pollinate the food we eat. There are even businesses that bring bees to farmers in order to polinate crops, and these business have lost huge percentages of their hives. If you've seen the new movie The Happening (which I haven't yet), it's partly about this same phenomenon.

So, knowing about this I tried to call a beekeeper but when I couldn't find one in the yellow pages (yes, this Virgo keeps the yellow pages in the car!), I called the local organic market to tell them. They were appreciative but I don't know if they were able to capture them. When we went back an hour or so later, they were gone and I don't think a beekeeper could have arrived that soon.

Years ago in Westwood, one day I was standing in our hallway right under the a/c return air grate. I heard incredible buzzing but I didn't think anything of it. Then I went into the kitchen and there before the window were swarms of bees! We called a beekeeper who went up on our roof with Greg (scary because Greg is allergic to bee stings although he was protected!) and Greg watched as the beekeeper put a cardboard box near our a/c ducting. There was a small tear and the bees thought this would make a good home. The keeper found the queen amongst the mass and placed her into the box. Being an expert, with hundreds of bees swarming, he was able to see the subtle difference between the workers and the queen and pointed this out to Greg who nonetheless couldn't see any difference at all. The beekeeper then said he'd come back after dark. When darkness fell, there he was and up on the roof Greg and he went. The only way out with the bees was through our house. What?! Thousands of bees in a cardboard box, inside. I don't think so. But the beekeeper assured me they were sleeping and nothing would wake 'em up. Okaaaay, he's the expert. So down came the the sleeping bees. And not a bee moved. Incredible.

July 13, 2008
Judie arrived for her visit today and I picked her up at the small local airport.

I haven't seen her since her hip replacement operation and her hair had grown back Shirley Temple curly from her chemo. So, it took me a minute to recognize her.

As usual, I ran her ragged. In the evening we took in a matinee of Wall-E which was cleaver and fun.

Shelley rant: I cannot for the life of me understand why people bring infants to movie theaters. Gone are the days when people revered watching a movie in a "movie palace" where the film was given some respect. People (although rarely in this neck of the woods - more often in LA) talk to each other during the performance and obviously feel saving on a babysitter is the audience's tough luck. Made some friends and enemies when I finally yelled, "Shhhhh!" during an outburst.

Then it was on to dinner at the Blue Flame for BBQ. Judie never got the chance to eat there when she was here last year or when she lived here.

Before Judie arrived, I was in house-cleaning overdrive; especially since Judie has allergies. It's a Martha Stewart "good thing" to have guests every once in a while - it kinda forces us to clean house.

I mean really, we are sooo busy that I'm sure our dust mites have dust mites.

July 14, 2008
I think July 14th is Bastille Day isn't it?

But I do know that today we were looking forward to visiting Lisa and her brood of eleven puppies! Puppies, puppies everywhere. Plus Judie hadn't had the chance to see Lisa's beautiful log home, so that was a little added bonus.

Each puppy has its own little personality and they were all over the place. Lisa is giving two away to grow up to be guide dogs. And she and Revy are keeping two for themselves, Romeo and Madison. All the rest of the original eleven are going to good homes.

With mommy and another golden retriever, Lisa has 13 retrievers to take care a cat...and 20 acres. And in her spare time she maintains the forest on her property and is training for a 100 mile bike trek.

Some people are just so lazy.

Lisa, you are amazing for all the responsibilities you have and deal with so well!

In the evening, Judie and I went to Kaj&Laura's so Judie could attend Kaj's lecture on terrorism. I've heard it several times now and still find it stunning.

July 15, 2008
Judie and I shopped for dinner.

Before she arrived, Les dropped off two freshly caught Dungeness crabs (which Greg and I were supposed to take home the night we went to dinner together). I didn't know what I was going to do with them. When Les came by to drop them off, I was on the phone with Judie who told me to freeze them until she got there and she'd make her now famous crabcakes. Sold!

Coincidentally, I had to go to Les' again and this time Judie got a tour of Les' incredible seaside home, which just happens to be down the road from the 3 Crabs restaurant where nine of us met for dinner the other night. Melissa has been helping Les edit and replant his garden. They are both superb gardeners. I am envious of the time they have to spend on such endeavors. Nonetheless, I am the very lucky recipient of dozens and dozens of bearded iris bulbs. Wow! Am I a happy camper or what? Bearded iris are my favorite flower, and after that any other variety of iris.

My dream has been to have a large area just filled with iris.  So, where???  Think think think...has to be where I can see them every day. 

I have a little hill at the base of 's front staircase that would be perfect, but I planted grasses there and boy, that will be a chore to even attempt to dig up.

Judie said she'd help. I don't think she quite realizes what hard work this will be.

July 16, 2008
Today is the first chance I had to bring Judie to see . A lot has been done since she was here last fall. (Wow, can it be so many months ago?)

One big difference: our finished Gothic Front Door now graces the entrance to !!!

As I've reported before, Greg worked on the final design of this for months after we settled on the look of a massive hand-hewn door-you-might-pass-through-to-enter-a-monastery. And it was a real treasure hunt to find those big nails. The hinges, called strap hinges, are a fairly classic design but the proportions weren't right so I had to remake them. I could kiss whomever invented Photoshop. But still it took dozens of hours. Then we had the design plasma cut out of a sheet of steel.

Soon after we got framed and (at least) the exterior plywood up (probably back in 2006), we covered up the front doorway with a sheet of plywood. It was primed white and for months and months both of us have been absolutely sick of looking at the thing.

So for my Christmas present last year, Greg got creative and painted the plywood to look like a Hollywood facade of the finished product. Here's old and new side by side.

Later in the afternoon, Judie and I (Greg too but unfortunately he had to stay on the job) were invited back to Marine&Len's because I was just dyin' to show Judie their beautiful house with the magnificent panoramic view.

In between, Judie & I weed! Poor thing wanted to help but I don't think she realized what she was offering.

I decided to remove the grasses I planted on the small (huh!) knoll just beside our front staircase to make room for all those iris bulbs.

I'm "going original natural" with the landscaping as much as possible. But I planted grasses back when the ground was bare to get something to cover the soil before it could be taken over by weeds. Now, for the next few years, I will be editing the landscaping here and there. Gardening is editing.

So, here we were trying to pull out the grass on this knoll. And the sun is beating down on us. And it's very very hard work. You have no idea how hard it is to dig up grass - or dig in the dirt for anything for that matter.

I find I talk to myself when I garden and I often catch myself repeating the word "tenacious" to describe the difficulty in eradicating weeds or removing anything from the soil.

After working for ten-minute stretches and then going inside for a drink and to recoup for 15 minutes, it only took an hour or so for us to cry uncle. Just too hot! Plus Judie isn't enamored of gardening.

While I left Greg putting some finishing touches on our front door, Judie and I brought back lunch from Subway for an on-the-job picnic, and then we went shopping for our crab cake dinner. After getting all the fixin's back to the rental house, we had that date with Marine&Len for Judie to see their home. Judie was rightly impressed and we spent a lazy afternoon snacking on delish guacamole and having interesting conversation.

Then it was back to the house so Judie could work on those crabcakes. I stayed with her for a while until near 8 or so and then I went back to to get Greg. He could work late because it stays light until 10 p.m. in the summers here.

As if by magic, as Greg & I were applying the massive square nail detail, a beautiful full moon began to rise behind us in the southeast and watched over our shoulders.

The perfect cap to the day: I didn't have to cook. And Judie made good on the offer she made before she came for her visit: a sumptuous dinner of local Dungeness crab cakes and homemade slaw ŕ la Judie.

July 17, 2008
If you haven't noticed, Judie truly loves to cook. I love to eat. Great combo.

Judie promised to make a big batch of minestrone soup and today was the day. Lucky us, we'll be having minestrone for months to come.

Judie has become very fond of friend Jill and definitely wanted to see her this trip. So I scored again staying out of the kitchen: Jill invited us all over for dinner. On the menu were carnitas with homemade tomatilla salsa and pico de gaillo with fresh corn tortillas. After we all stuffed ourselves with that, we had dessert.

For her 4th of July get together, Jill had requested I bring Costco cheesecake and so I thought I'd just whip by on our way over there only to find that Costco is closed on the 4th. That day did I find some cheesecake, but not her Costco cheesecake - and if anyone knows what it's like to have your tastebuds all primed for something specific...well, I had to make good.

So off to Costco we went on our way to Jill's. I picked up not only a killer berry cheesecake but a key lime pie as well. We barely made a dent in 'em and Jill absolutely refused to keep them. And I sure didn't want them around us! Jill suggested we drop them off at the Fire Department and that's what we did. The young strapping fireman was very appreciative... I'll have to remember that for the future.

Thanks Jill&Jim for a great evening!

July 18, 2008
It seems every weekend on the Peninsula is cause for a different festival: jazz, art, wooden boats, sand sculptures...and the list goes on and on. This time it's the Lavender Festival. Sequim is touted to be the "Lavender Capital of the World".

I've never gone before but since Judie was here we went. The plan was to meet up with Lisa and Candice.We ran into each other just in time to visit all the booths together. We barely made a dent in it though. We could have spent the entire day touring all the lavender farms in the valley. We'll have to do that some other time. But Candice and Lisa were going to make more of a day of it and attend a quilt show.

There was, of course, everything made with or themed with lavender. But there were also some adorable crafts amongst the usual artwork, photographs, and food. I so wanted to buy some of these intriguing little creatures that some artists were offering but really, I don't even know where all the collectibles I have already collected are going to find homes for themselves. (To be truthful though, I have bought a couple dozen collectibles since we've moved here that I just couldn't pass up. When it's vintage and one-of-a-kind, it's almost a must buy.)

After the festival, Judie and I went for lunch at Sunshine Cafe which she never seemed to get a chance to frequent when she lived here. We both agree, Sunshine Cafe makes a pretty darn good salad.

In the evening, while Greg stayed on the job, Judie and I met the son of her former roommate Sue and his lady Trish for Chinese dinner at our fav Fortune Star. Sue had moved up with Judie a couple of years ago in hopes of the two of them making a go of a personal chefing business. But it didn't work out and both she and Judie moved back to California. But her son and girlfriend moved up too and they have stayed on and enjoy living on the Peninsula. The move for them proved to be a wonderful new start.

July 19, 2008
Nearby to where we're living is a great park called Robin Hill. I just discovered it a couple of months ago and wanted to show it to Judie - who - now that she has had her other hip replaced - can enjoy hiking again. The miracles of medical science.

And so we went on a pleasant hike. How you get lost on a hiking trail, I don't know but we somehow managed to end up walking in circles. When we passed the two men and the woman with the two retrievers yet again, we asked for some guidance and the woman offered to walk along with us. You meet the nicest people on hikes.

Later that evening we attended the community theater and saw "Into the Woods". Judie had seen it in LA years ago but I missed it. I gotta say it was very good. The sets were impressive considering a pittance of a budget. And the local talent was enthusiastic and enjoyable. Next year they're doing Peter Pan and I definitely want to see that...and for $22 for the best seats, it's a bargain.

July 20, 2008
The end of Judie's stay is almost here.

We started off the day with a big breakfast at the local family Italian restaurant, Tarcisio's. You wouldn't think an Italian restaurant would even be open for breakfast. Not only is it, it's one of the best breakfasts in town.

Then it was off to Home Depot to get a few things on Greg's list for and at the same time Judie and I strolled the aisles drooling at carpet and paint and all things interior design.

Last fall when she visited, I took Judie to see a house for sale in a nearby 55 and over community called Monterra that's about halfway between where we're living and .

The house overlooks a bluff with an uninterrupted view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. A breathtaking expansive view clear to Canada.

I had come across it while on a walk and made sure to take Judie there because she's a water gal and I can't think of any place that fills the bill better...unless it was in California.

Although Judie loves living in Santa Barbara, she realizes that home ownership there is nigh on impossible. So when she saw this little home with the ocean view, she melted. An ocean view is what she's dreamed of all her life. But alas, last fall the timing wasn't right and she had to walk away.

A house like this with such a view say in Carmel would sell for $4 million - at least. This house is for sale at a tiny fraction of that cost.

Monterra was developed in the 1970s and has about 130 houses in the little neighborhood. Most houses are manufactured and most are situated on what was once farm land. A handful of the houses are on the bluff. Fewer still are what is called "stick built", meaning they were built on site.

Now Judie and I took a nice long walk and ended up at Monterra.

And the house is still for sale! And the price has come down.

After much agonizing, Judie decided to put in an offer. Nail biting time is ahead.

If she gets it for the price we think, she'll be able to do an extensive remodel and really make it her own.

We shall see....

July 21, 2008
Finally got Greg to take a full day off and the three of us went to Crescent Lake. We make a leisurely morning of it and then drove to Crescent Lake Lodge for lunch - just like we did when Judie visited last fall.

On our way, we took a quick detour to see "Judie's house". And while we were there, we watched two majestic bald eagles soaring over the ocean below the bluff as it chased a gull. Once the gull escaped, the eagles flew right by us at eye level and then perched on either side of "Judie's" house - one in a tree where we suspect there may be a nest, and one on a snag. Could be a sign...

And then it was on to Crescent Lake.

Before lunch we took a "new" hike. Usually it's Marymere Falls because it's easy, but more importantly when we want to give friends a feel for the Peninsula, it's a must see because it's so accessible (only a half hour or so from ). It's a primeval forest and very impressive. But this time we took a nice easy hike which went around another side of the lake we hadn't hiked before. Called "Moments in Time", it skirts the lake for 4 miles. We walked for 2 and then returned for lunch.

The clarity of the water is just awesome. At points it is seafoam green or cobalt and you can see every rock under the water as if you were looking through a sheet of glass. At one point we were on a bridge over the water and you cannot believe how clear - and how teal blue - the water was.

After the walk, we had a great lunch at the Lodge. Greg and I had dinner here in 2004 for our first anniversary celebrated in our new town.

Once we got back to town, it was just about time to meet with Marine&Len. We were off to see the Dark Knight. We bought a big bag of popcorn and all of us grabbed big handfuls to absentmindedly munch as the film's imagery glossed in front of us.

I have never seen our local theater so packed. Judie, Greg, and I loved it. Marine, a native of France, had never seen a blockbuster movie before. I guess, like Escargot (snails), it's an acquired taste. But they enjoyed it I think. Len is a philosophical type and the skew on morals in these films - when you really think about it - is shocking but makes for good conversation.

After, it was off to dinner in Port Angeles at the new SoHo Asian Bistro which has to have the trendiest decor I've seen since Los Angeles.

July 22, 2008
I hate going to sleep- at least trying to fall asleep. And I'm not too fond of the process of trying to wake - especially early. But today our Bud had an early morning checkup with his eye specialist. So it was up and at 'em to Port Hadlock which is nearly an hour away. I am very pleased to report Bud is doing very well .

Judie got to sleep in.

We had an active day ahead of us.

Judie and I were invited by Pris to join her and her friend Carol on a hike on the Elk Horn Trail in nearby Geyser Valley. But then it seems all opportunities to get close to nature are close by here. By the time Greg and I got back with Bud, it was time to go.

This hike was the most strenuous hike I think any of us have done so far. The climb was steep. And what goes up must come down, so that's pretty hard on the old knees. But Judie I must say is a walking miracle of medicine. Three years ago when she was living here before her two hip replacements, she could barely walk, limping everywhere. She would never have been able to do this hike a year ago. And now, she kept right up with us. As for me, I used to make a religion out of exercising at least five days a week. But that, unfortunately, has gone by the wayside since we started work on our house. So I was absolutely amazed that I was able to handle it. Although it took more effort this time around.

At the mid point of the hike, we stopped for lunch where we perched high over the rushing crystal clear blue green water of the mighty Elwah River. The river would split here and there around large islands of boulders. But the really phenomenal part was the tremendous granite boulder, easily as big as a good sized house, that stood in the middle of the river's path. And balanced right across it, spanning the width of the river was a gigantic old growth cedar or Doug fir, probably every bit of five feet in diameter. Some time ago, the tree had evidently fallen loose from the dirt and sheer rock walls that formed a valley for the rushing water. Amazing! The immensity of the two elements made a spectacular one-of-a-kind image that impressed us all.

I do love hiking, but I also love my comforts. You will laugh. If you ever had any doubts, this will definitely confirm for you that I am a genuine "princess"!

First I have to have all my necessities; like bug spray, nasal spray, hand sanitizer (comes in handy after lunch), hand warming packets if it's winter, chapstick, sun block, cell phone, Kleenex, and a notepad and pencil - you never know when inspiration will strike.

Can you believe they made fun of me when they saw what I brought for lunch? I mean really. Doesn't everyone do this?

All I did was pack a plain old tuna sandwich.

Gotta have my tuna sandwich.

And it can't be soggy. So there's the plastic container, and the wheat bread packed in a baggie, and the sliced tomato and lots of pickles, oh and some carrot sticks are always good. And I can't even imagine a tuna sandwich without diet Coke - gotta have diet Coke. And I can't possibly drink Coke out of a can - waaay to fizzy. Must have ice! And a cup. And now, after having had to sit on a wet rock on a previous hike, I also pack a big plastic trash bag so I can have something dry to sit on.

Needless to say, my hiking is even more aerobic that everyone else - if only for the extra poundage of "stuff"!

July 23, 2008
With the very real possibility of Judie purchasing the house on the bluff, Greg spent the day with us at the local building department trying to find out anything and everything about this 55 and over community that dates back to the 1970s.

While the bluffs provide stunning sea views, they are subject to erosion. We found out that they estimate one foot per year. But that's just an average. You could go several years with no change, and then you could hear a big whoomp in the middle of the night to find 20 feet of your backyard fell down 100 feet to the sea. So Greg wanted to do as much research for Judie as his expertise could provide.

She'll have to have three inspections for her home: the typical house inspection, a geological inspection for the stability of the bluff, and also a shoreline geological.

So we shall see. Buying this home creates one hell of a conundrum for Judie. She realizes she can only afford to own property here. But she loves Santa Barbara where a shack would be $1 million. But she loves California weather and doesn't much care for our winters (which are mild mind you, but not like California).

I made up pro and con lists for staying in California or moving back here. When she moved here three years ago with her friend, I
must've asked her - no exaggeration - one hundred times, "Are you sure???" None of us has a crystal ball....

But now her situation has changed dramatically; she is now officially retired.

But she still wasn't absolutely sure. Then I finally told her, "Judie, no matter what you decide, you cannot long for the choice you didn't make." That seemed to put the decision in perspective.....

Judie had already seen Marine&Len's beautiful home and on a previous trip she had visited Melissa's well-designed craftsman home, so I definitely wanted Judie to see Pris' home and so Pris&Robert invited us for dinner.

Like the house Judie is considering, it too is on the bluffs. But while Judie's modest dream home would be perfect for her, Pris&Robert's is a grand sleek edifice on the landscape. Pleasingly bereft of tiny details, it reminds me both of something Frank Lloyd Wright would conjure up and also that famous painting Christina's World by American painter Andrew Wyeth because of the way the house sits on the bluff; surrounded by tall grasses blown by the sea air and the long approach from the road.

Nothing like two cooks getting together. You know I always appreciate it when someone cooks for me. I may not know how all the magic was done, but I do know that it takes time and effort. And so Pris and Judie spent time exchanging recipes and techniques...while I just wanted to sit down and get started!

Tonight's fare: slow roasted pork ribs, BBQ sauce, homemade baked beans with bacon, broccoli with garlic and olive oil, and the "best homemade cole slaw ever " according to fellow cook Judie.

Judie got the tour and marveled at the view and the sunset.

And here's a coincidence: Pris' house is also on the bluff; and Judie and Pris can see each other's house (or what will be Judie's house if it all works out)!

July 24, 2008
Tick tick tick.

Time passes and so Judie's visit is at an end. This morning we dropped her off at the local airfield, Fairchild International. Just like LAX, only much much...much smaller.

But who knows? She could be back in a few months live in her own home!

When I got home I rushed to get ready for a long but exciting day, because I was going to Seattle with Laura (of Kaj&Laura) and Kaj's father.

Meanwhile Greg worked his b*#*s off all day at .

Greg and I have met so many exceptional people here I can't tell you.  Greg and I thought - not knowing anyone - that we would be islands on our own.  But before you know it one person introduces you to another and another and exponentially you have an entire network of friends. Friends who have homes and love to entertain.  (Just wish were done and we could reciprocate and socialize without guilt.)

Both Kaj's parents have visited this year...earlier his mother, Svetlana, and now his father, Hayo. And Greg and I got to spend some time with them both.

Svetlana is an exceptional woman. And an exceptional beauty.

This time around, Hayo has been visiting his son for the past few months. By some twist of fate, Eartha Kitt is appearing at a jazz club in Seattle tonight. Why you may ask are these supposedly unrelated facts worth mentioning? The following is an email Hayo sent to me a few days ago:

Dear Shelley:

This is Hayo.

I first saw Eartha Kitt when she appeared as Helen of Troy with Orson Welles in "Doctor Faust" in Hamburg, Germany in 1951 or 1950. The most exciting woman in the world! My brothers and I and a friend from Windhoek were so enchanted and overwhelmed - as (was) everybody else - that we wanted to invite her on an excursion to a casino at the Baltic Sea the next morning; but she had gone to a party after the show the night before and slept so late at her hotel that we finally gave up and left without having reached her.

When I came to the States in 1952, my future wife Svetlana, who had never seen her, arrived in December. Immediately before we got married I took her to "New Faces 1952". She was as enthralled as I was - like everybody in Manhattan.

We got many of her record albums and we often play them. Occasionally I saw something mentioned in the press that indicated she is not only a superb artist but a profound person, which makes her far, far more attractive than the run of the mill Hollywood artists, even if they are good artists.

When I was up North in the Yukon last week, I found out from friends about her show in Seattle this week. I canceled all other plans to go see her before I return home to Spain.

In the audience I may be the only one now who had already immensely enjoyed her show in Hamburg so long ago. It will be great to see her now with good friends (younger friends) who admire her as much as I do. I am happy, Shelley, that you are one of them

Very kind words! But that gave me a mission.

This story was so fascinating, the fact that she made such an impression on a fan 57 years ago and how much he wanted to see her again, I decided to contact the club to see if I could get this info to Ms. Kitt.

I shudda been a private eye. Even before the instantaneous and all-reaching internet, I have even surprised myself with my tenacity when I am in pursuit of something...or someone.

When it serves my purpose (so that people don't think I'm some kind of stalker), I will use my (former) celebrity and this was one of those times and it worked: the publicist emailed back to me.

Hayo didn't know when I asked him to write up his story about Ms. Kitt in that email that I was asking for a reason.

I relayed Hayo's story and told the publicist that I hoped Ms. Kitt might enjoy meeting (again) such a loyal fan. Perhaps Ms. Kitt would be willing to say hello after the show? I purposely didn't tell Hayo in case this didn't work out.

Well, Ms. Kitt was fantastic. Do you remember C'est si bon and Santa Baby? This woman is 81 and she is gorgeous and sexy, amazing and beautiful. Ohmigawd. She came out on the stage in a slinky black velvet gown slit up to "here" revealing a crimson lining. And she still has great gams! And that unusual "purring kitten" voice. The men in the audience were swooning.

Ms. Kitt was just about finished with her set when she leaned over to her piano man and then went back to the microphone. Then she turns to the audience and tells them there's an old fan here tonight. And lo and behold if Ms. Kitt didn't call Hayo to the stage during her act!

Hayo was absolutely stunned and overwhelmed. He couldn't believe it.

The crowd roared.

Once he worked his way through the maze of tables and stood before her on the platform of the stage, he repeated what he had said to me in his email. He told her she was billed as the "most exciting woman in the world" when he first saw her and that not only was she still the most exciting woman, but even more so today. She seemed genuinely touched and a tear came to her eye. Again the crowd roared.

After the show, the management came to our table and asked if Hayo would like to go to her dressing room backstage to get an autograph. I went too and quickly introduced myself and told her I had sent the letter and thanked her.

Quite an unforgettable evening, and I feel good that I was able to make such an event happen!

On another subject entirely, Greg's friend and 1980's and 1990's photo partner Linda now lives in Colorado. Actually, Linda and I met when I was under contract at General Hospital. Her character was part of my storyline. And since she and Greg both shared a love of photography, I made of point of introducing them. Linda's gone on to be a professional photographer in her hometown and recently bought a new digital camera.

So she was sweet to pass on her "old" camera which is light years more advanced than the one we have. And the ability for closeups from far away - and incredible detail - is just amazing.

You've read in these pages about the African deer that lives down the road with a bay, a grey, and a black horse. We call those guys the Three Amigos. Here's our Bambi (doesn't everyone have one?) with her bay pal.

Equus factoids: bay and grey are terms used to describe color. A bay is a chestnut colored horse with black "points", points being the bottom of the legs (socks), tail, and mane. To the casual observer, a grey is a white horse. But a true white horse is albino with pink skin. A grey has black skin and starts out black as a foal and over time the solid black gives way to dapples and eventually, those dapples become little dots on a white background. When the horse is covered with dots, it's called flea bitten.

But here's the stunner. Greg snapped the shutter (this digital camera is an SLR and heance has a shutter) at just the right second. I just love this shot. Never have we seen this creature so close up. Now we can see how really different she is from our local black tail deer. For one thing, her eyes remind me of a giraffe's.

This beautiful baby, still with spots, was grazing with her mom at last summer. Greg also took this shot of a vulture overhead. The amazing thing, at least for us, is the fact that he was able to get any detail at all considering this guy was waaay up there in the sky.

And now this month's restaurant review:

The Three Crabs is not only a famous tourist experience, it's a multiple award-winning local fixture that's been around for nearly half a century.

In fact, in 2003 USA Today chose it as one of the "Ten great places to eat seafood by the seashore." The ocean is RIGHT THERE outside the window and the view looks out on the Dungeness Spit and our famous "new" Dungeness Lighthouse.

The Three Crabs made its debut in 1958, when Ernest and Iris Marshall decided that where Sequim-Dungeness met the sea was the perfect location to dine on seafood. The name honors the three original owners: the two brothers and Martha Lofler. (Glad I got that cleared up because otherwise I might have thought it was a comment on personality.)

They've come a long way from those early days where you dined at outdoor picnic tables.

It was Martha who created the menu and brought her culinary touches to the house salad dressings and sauces - including their "world renowned" slaw. Then in 1972, Norma Marshall took the #3 crab position. In addition to a background in restaurant operations, Norma still rises in the wee hours of the morning to lovingly create her original eye popping and imaginative desserts.

Of course, the abundant local seafood food is the big draw.

On the menu is wild (Indian smoked) salmon and halibut, and fillet of sole; along with a variety of shellfish entrees including local little neck clams, shrimp, jumbo prawn cocktails, scallops, oysters supreme and oyster shooters. (Factoid: oysters are always a favorite but before 1960 they weren't available; that is until Ernest started his own oyster farm with Japanese stock.)

They're especially proud of their Taste of Dungeness: clams, crab, prawns, cod, scallops and mussels steamed in beer and garlic butter.

Other specialties include chilled Dungeness cracked crab, crab Louie, an open-faced crab sandwich, and Dungeness crab cakes.

The atmosphere is casual and nautical and the staff is happy you're there.

I have to tell the truth here. This was the first review I've done - and I've been doing this a year now (and how quickly time passes is a subject for another day!) - where I was nervous about my visit.

My trepidation had to do with comments I've heard from both locals and frequent visitors: "It ain't what it used to be." So this was my first visit since moving here four years ago.

I am happy to say that my concerns faded quickly.

When I made our dinner reservations, it was just for the hubby and I. But as the evening approached, our group expanded to four, then eight, and finally nine. Our impromptu party made the experience a lot of fun. And as an added bonus, I got to taste a variety of dishes. I felt like Helen Keller in that scene in The Miracle Worker where Helen is working her way around the table sampling dinner. (Except, I'd like to think my table manners were a wee bit more socially acceptable.)

I ordered the Halibut "dipped in potato buds and griddled." The halibut was moist and the batter light. I asked for their Caesar dressing on my salad and they obliged. (Our waiter was rather new but nevertheless was game to dealing with special requests.) Along with my big baked potato, I ordered an a la cart side dish of steamed vegetables. Three Crabs boasts fresh local produce and the veggies were steamed just right and it's been a long time since I've eaten a sweet carrot...and sweet they were. My dinner also came with Martha's tasty "world-renowned" cole slaw. The dressing is thick, I suppose to compliment the fish (unlike deli slaw which has a lighter consistency).

My hubby ordered the Dungeness Cioppino featuring Neptune's bounty in its original packaging: scallops, clams, crab leg, and prawns, showered with a seafood chowder chock full of halibut, cod, shrimp, and oysters. As Mikey's brothers said, "He liked it!"

Others at our table had griddled crab cakes which were a bit heavy on the bread crumbs - but still mighty tasty. An order of scallops and an order of halibut were both steamed in beer which cooks away in the steaming process but left the fish moist and tender. The sirloin steak was cooked medium rare as requested and was juicy and flavorful.

And then there were desserts - and it's awfully hard to pass them up because there's a big case filled with choices right there as you walk in the door.

Norma's homemade pies are sooo tall, it's a wonder the slice stands up on its own or makes it to the plate in its original shape! There are all manner of cream and berry pies in whatever combos strike Norma's fancy at the moment. Just to name a few, there's chocolate, Oreos, banana cream, mocha macaroon, Almond Roca, mint chocolate chip, butter scotch pecan, berry, and/or coconut cream.

A little boy behind us was attempting to eat a slice...I got bored waiting to see if he could finish it all. Only two of us at the table ordered dessert (I'll give you three guesses who was in that group - and the first two don't count...) We both ordered lemon meringue, which was rather tame of us considering the other opportunities.

An excellent selection of wines and beers from Washington state and a variety of specialty drinks are served to complement your meal.

The Crab Room lounge feels like the perfect place for old friends to tell tall tales and lament the one that got away over a cold beer.

The Three Crabs is a good place to take out of town guests to give them a taste of the local bounty as well as the impressive geography.

In the long hallway connecting the two dining rooms, you'll find a wonderful historical photo gallery of local life dating all the way back to the 1800s. It's a great way to teach a little history to the younger set - who think they're on an education-free summer break. And you'll learn a lot too.

Visit their website and you'll find lots of interesting info and, of course, the entire menu:

July 25, 2008
It was back to today where I cleaned our pond and played with frogs.

I do feel guilty going off to cabarets and such while Greg stays on the job, but right now there's not too much for me to do and there's nothing I could do to work alongside Greg. I guess I could work on the landscape...but the sun...

Besides, when I'm not doing anything else, I'm working at the computer.

July 30, 2008
This is the busiest summer for guests we've ever had. One right after another.

Today Dan arrived for a little visit in the midst of a visit to his brother in Olympia. Dan and Greg were construction partners in the Hills of Beverly and then became great friends. And he's become a great friend of mine too. We have the best conversations.

So Dan arrived today and their other construction buddy, Eckhart ,and his wife Janet, come tomorrow.

Bud loves his Uncle Danny and we've been telling him for days that Uncle Danny be visiting.

Back in California, Bud would literally drool when Uncle Danny came to visit. And as soon as he waltzed over to Daniel, Bud would flop down on his side and soak in all the affection. We could never figure out Daniel's talent for scratching Bud in just the right place to get him to flop down like that, but he did it every time. Bud's a senior now and so I don't quite think he's made the connection that this was is old Uncle Danny, but he was happy to get pets and scratches nonetheless.

Before we knew it, it was evening and we were off and running because we had been invited to Kaj&Laura's for dinner and they graciously extended their invitation to Dan.

Any time we get together at Kaj&Laura's, the conversation is nonstop and usually the theme is politics or history or current events. If you haven't guessed already, Greg and I have become political junkies. I think Dan was a little overwhelmed with it all.

Have you ever caught late night tv host Craig Ferguson? If you have and he looks familiar, he played the boss on the old Drew Carey Show.

He's a talented guy. A Scot I believe. In 2000 he wrote and produced a little movie called Saving Grace. It stars Brenda Blethyn. If you ever get the chance to see it, it's a riot. Blethyn plays a penniless widow who's a master gardener. In order to make money, she begins growing marijuana. There is a scene in a local shop with two senior ladies who unwittingly ingest the contraband that is fall-out-of-your-seat funny.

Now Mr. Ferguson has his own late night show. I'm only bringing this up because I happened to catch him on an interview. He's a new citizen of the US of A and I really liked something he said, "This is the best idea for a country anybody ever had in the history of the world."

Sometimes it takes someone from afar to remind us of what we have going here.

July 31, 2008
Greg and I are really playing hookey now! Judie has come and gone, here's Daniel, and today Eckhart&Janet arrive, and soon afterward, Denny&Becky.

I don't know when we'll finish this house but we sure need some down time I can tell you that.

At the crack of dawn, Dan, Greg, and I drove to Seatac to pick up Eckhart&Janet whose visit was planned to coincide with Dan's.

Unbelievable how much stuff and people you can comfortably fit into a Prius!

With the three "construction" buddies all in one place, this was old home week. Eckart&Janet had wanted to see the Peninsula and here was their chance.

While in Seattle we got an unexpected but thrilling view of the Blue Angels flying overhead as we traveled the freeway. What an amazing sight. Like a flock of birds in formation, these pilots are unbelievably skilled at what they do.

After we got everyone and everything into the car, it was off for lunch to the Daily Grill in downtown Seattle. Daily Grill is a chain that began in Los Angeles and so I was looking forward to it. I had discovered it several months ago when Greg&I went to see Jersey Boys with some friends and everyone had a great meal. Today's group was not disappointed.

Then it was a full day of sightseeing. We toured Sequim, showed them Judie's "new" house where we were lucky enough to catch sight of some bald eagles, and then we toured Port Angeles. We stayed in PA for dinner. Greg&I had tried Michael's Divine Dining when we first moved to town and although the atmosphere was charming, we weren't in any hurry to return. But when our new old haunt, Bella Italia, had too long a wait (which is so unusual I can't tell you), we decided to give it a go. And we had a great meal. Eckhart, Daniel, and Greg, and Janet too enjoyed good wine.

August 1, 2008
Daniel hadn't seen for nearly two years. And Eckhart&Janet had only seen pictures, so it was off to give a tour.

If anyone knows what is involved in building this house, it is Daniel and Eckhart. In the day, I would visit these mansions they were all working on. Behemoth homes with tons and tons of detail. And at least a couple of dozen carpenters on any given day.

Both Daniel and Eckhart were stunned at the magnitude of what Greg has taken on by himself. And Dan especially marveled at his creativity.

After the tour it was off to lunch at Joy's in PA and then it was a drive to Lake Crescent, and a short hike in Marymere Falls.

Then a respite at the Lodge to whet everyone's whistle.

Later that evening we all shared a hearty Mexican meal at Sequim's El Cazador.

August 2, 2008
It was another full day. We showed Eckhart&Janet the Beverly Hills of Sequim, aka Bell Hill. And we took them all to see Troll Haven, a compound of houses built by an eccentric millionaire inhabited by a world of trolls and dragons. Quite something to come across when you're not expecting it.

In the afternoon, it was off to Port Townsend. We thought, being Saturday, we could visit the farmer's market and get something to eat there. But it was sunny and besides being too hot to sit outdoors to eat, nothing there looked like it would hit the spot. So we had lunch at the Fountain Cafe - a nice little "hippie" haunt with good sandwiches, pasta, and salads.

After lunch we toured the neighborhoods in Port Townsend and then window shopped on "main street" where we stopped for homemade ice cream at the famous "Elevated Ice Cream". I got my usual coconut sorbet. White fluffy heaven.

On our way back to Sequim we visited the Port Townsend shipyard which is filled with all kinds of vessels in various stages of restoration. While touring the yard, we came upon an ordinary rain puddle in the middle of a great expanse of asphalt. And there were a dozen birds just having the time of their lives bathing and preening. We just stopped the car and took it all in.

Back in Sequim we drove through the John Wayne Marina where we caught sight of a great blue heron.

For dinner we went for sushi at Wasabi which will be the subject of this month's restaurant review.

When we arrived, we had to wait for a while because they were short handed, so the owner sent over an appetizer of steamed and salted endamame (soy beans). I just gotta tell ya, that was absolutely delicious! You gotta try 'em some time.

Daniel was in sushi heaven. Everyone (but me 'cause I just don't like alcohol) had a few rounds of saki. Greg and Daniel have become somewhat of connoisseurs on that subject because once they spent an afternoon in a sushi bar in Westwood. The chef was given free reign to concoct any sushi he wanted to serve. The lunch check came to $200! But that's another story. While the chef and the boys got chummy, the chef explained that warm saki is for "tourists" - the real good stuff should be just slightly cooler than room temp.

By the time we finished dinner, we were all exhausted.

August 3, 2008
After the five of us had a hardy breakfast at Tarcisio's, Dan left to drive back to Olympia to finish out his stay there. His visit was here and gone too quickly.

Then Eckhart&Janet took our Jeep to drive back towards Crescent Lake and beyond to Forks - a grey little town that has now become a tourist mecca because of a little vampire book called Twilight (soon to be at a motion picture theater near you).

August 4, 2008
And now Eckhart&Janet are going home.

We stopped at the Crab House at the Harbor in Port Angeles for a nice lunch and then drove them to the Fairchild International Airport to fly back to Seatac. Originally they were going to drive back yesterday, but we encouraged them to stay one more night and also enjoy the terrific sights out the plane window coming into Seattle.

And this train continues on down the track: this coming Sunday Becky&Denny arrive.

Nothing disturbs Bud. All he needs is something relatively flat and he's got a nice place to just be.

August 8, 2008
What will be Judie's new home is in escrow...or rather how they say it here in Washington, "pending". So while Judie is back in California, Greg and I are helping the process along by meeting with the house inspector today.

We also met with a geologist since Judie's home is on the bluff - just about 60 feet back from a 150 foot drop to the ocean. As I explained before, erosion is a very real concern so when I asked the geologist this question I put a personal spin on it, "If your mom or sister wanted to buy this property, what would you advise?" Answer, "If you're planning on leaving this property to heirs, it probably won't be here by then. Otherwise you should have a good 20 or 30 years here." Good enough!

August 9, 2008
Since we have sooo much free time on our hands (NOT!), Greg "volunteered" to do some painting for our rental house homeowners association. Of course, he did the best and most thorough job of anyone. That's my Greg!

Some of you have children that, if not now, at some point you whipped out your wallet to dazzle friends and family with their adorable mugs. We don't have a wallet, but we have this website, and at least we never tire of looking at this face.

August 10, 2008
Denny&Becky flew into Seatac around noon today and Greg&I went to pick them up.

Cannot begin to wrap my mind around the fact that it's been over two years since they first visited us here.

And once again, it was off to Daily Grill. They make such good soups. And nice big salads.

Once we got to town, we took them straight to the B&B where they will stay for the next week. The George Washington Inn is just ten minutes from. Greg and I have watched this place being built and even went to its open house several months ago. So we knew Denny&Becky would be in good hands.

How many houses have we watched from start to finish since we've been working on ?

Since our rental house is literally down the street (and, yes, within walking distance to Judie's...ain't everything convenient??), we gave them some time to settle in, unpack, and rest. And then it was on to to show them what's been accomplished since their last visit in the summer of 2006.

I think I told you we've had a little squatter at the house for the past several months. Greg thought he had locked the little fella out but nooooo, that little squirrel got himself back inside somehow. So once we realized he was back in, Greg had set some humane traps that just give him a small temporary home until he can be relocated.

When we got to , there was Mr. Squirrel waiting for us in his metal condo.

He was not a happy camper.

After the tour, we all piled into the car - all five of us - and drove a couple of miles away to a wooded parcel of land. There we proceeded to release our little friend back into the wilderness.

We hoped we wouldn't be able to find his way back to our place.

August 11, 2008
The Inn served Denny&Becky a gourmet breakfast and as soon as everyone was up and dressed at their respective quarters, Greg&I drove down the road to get them.

As we drove up the long long driveway to the George Washington Inn, I could see a beautiful bald eagle perched on the fence behind the Inn overlooking the bluff. I saw Denny walking down to us from the doorway and flailed my arms wildly to get him to notice the eagle. But he and Becky had already been watching the eagle from their room. So glad they got to enjoy that. Later in the day another big bird to ogle at: a heron.

When Denny&Becky were here two years ago, just for a lark - and especially since Denny's in real estate in California - they wanted to look at property. We even went through a house or two. Eventually, we drove by a charming house with a view of the ocean and mountains.

Before coming for their visit, Becky looked the house up on the internet and surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly considering the housing slump), the house hadn't sold! So this time we made an appointment with an agent.

Wow. Wow. Wow. And wow! Okay, so Greg and I are "construction snobs" because we've seen the best craftsmen Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Malibu has to offer. And this house has got to be the best built, most charming, well-appointed, beautifully landscaped house we've seen since we've been here. It's on five and a half acres, with old growth woods surrounding the house until you get within twenty feet or so of the front door. Then a well-manicured landscape design greets the eye. The house is kind of country French and it's in move-in condition. You wouldn't have to do a thing. And, it comes with a fully-appointed 1000 sf guest house. Oh, and even though they don't come with the house, in the backyard has a corral, a barn, and six llamas!

I think Becky&Denny fell in love with it. And this time they're seriously giving it some thought. But I don't think this house is in danger of being bought out from under them any time soon.

Before heading to lunch, we drove them by our sheriff's home - a Victorian charmer set in a small picturesque valley. Not only is our sheriff an excellent one, he's a damn fine homebuilder and accomplished carpenter too.

At some point during the day there was a good lunch at Jean's Deli. But the day was jam-packed with activities and more house hunting.

In a former life, I remember the exhausting hunt for a home. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I could always tell which house was the one we were supposed to look at because as soon as you turned down the street, "that house" was the eyesore of the neighborhood. And it never resembled by any stretch of the imagination the "charming, adorable, ready for your own finishing touches" description in the flyer.

It's depressing enough when you drive through neighborhoods and swoon and can't afford to live there.

It's even more depressing to drive through a neighborhood where you wouldn't take the house if they gave it to you - and you still can't afford it!

So this house hunt was like many others as far as curb appeal. We saw great pix of a "castle-type" house. At least it looked great in the picture. But once you were standing before it, you could see the poor craftsmanship, the run-down condition, and yes, the impractical architectural and design choices by the owner. No wonder it had been on the market for months and months. Not to mention the asking price was a leftover from the housing boom days.

Also on the day's agenda was a visit to see Bud, showing Becky&Denny Pris&Robert's new home and its magnificent view, and a quick visit to see Jill & Maryanne who live in the path of the house-hunt route.

The day finished off with a Mexican meal.

August 12, 2008
More house hunting.

I never know where I'll find something I can use. I'm always tearing out pages from magazines - a picture is worth a thousand words and there's nothing like the ability to point to something when you're trying to describe something. So in the backyard of one of the houses we saw was this fabulous gazebo that is a great example of what I want for our front staircase. There are all kinds of ways of doing this look, and this one looks great.

Then a nice leisurely drive to the de rigeur Marymere Falls and Crescent Lake Lodge and we grabbed a nice lunch there.

In the evening we went to see X was okay.

August 13, 2008
Ask me why I hate to travel, and one huge reason is: colds and viruses. I mean, what do we all expect when we're held captive in a box for hours at a time breathing recycled air.

We were home in the middle of the day because Becky came sick with a cold (her job requires her to travel...a lot). And now it looks like Denny has it and he was tired and wanted to rest for a while before we finished out the day.

We looked at property before lunch. Our agent, Suzi, was our guide. Afterward we took Suzi to lunch at Sunshine Cafe and then went to see a $1.4 million house in Bell Hill. Both this house and the one we're all excited about have superior construction and exquisite classy taste, but we all agreed the other house was "it".

While Denny&Becky rested to pamper their colds, we met Marine&Len at with their visiting friend who has a love for architecture. After the tour, we picked up Denny&Becky and Marine and entourage came with us so they could check out the Inn. Then it was on to Sergio's in Sequim for dinner.

Afterward, we were invited to Marine&Len's so Becky&Denny could see their incredible view. This neighborhood is more like "home" and so they really enjoyed it.

We all had an incredible evening discussing Ayn Rand and politics and golf. Len's uncle was a close associate of Ayn Rand's and so we all got an "insider's" view of this controversial woman.

And, of course, Denny is a scratch golfer. Marine&Len are new to the game but have picked it up very quickly and their handicaps are in the single digits. Denny will tell you he isn't a scratch golfer anymore since he doesn't get to play as often as he once did. But I know Denny, and after a few days on the links, he'd be back in fighting form.

Everyone is looking forward to the day when Denny can join them on the course.

August 15, 2008
Denny&Becky's visit has come to an end.

And so, after a whirlwind of guests and going going going, we are back to our familiar routines.

Oh, I found this picture we took at way back in February when the moon was out. Can you see the man in the moon? For me, it's immediate.

August 17, 2008
If I looked at every single email link someone sends me, I could spend the rest of my life in front of the computer screen. When you're Googling for something, it's like going down a rabbit hole. One choice leads you to another and then another and before you know it, you've forgotten your original mission....and hours have passed.

Anyway, a friend found some YouTube links to life in the 1920's and 1930's and I enjoyed them so much, I thought I'd share.

This one is from Paris, 1936. Fascinating! If you like what you find there, be sure to see the related links on the right side of the page. And I warn you, you'll be fishing around for hours.

While we're taking a stroll down memory lane - probably before most of who will be viewing this were born - I have to take you to a short film about the legendary actress of the flapper era, Louise Brooks. Stunning, controversial, ahead of her time. She starred in two classic movies, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. You can get lost in all the YouTube links associated with this fascinating icon. Here's another one.

But there's a reason why I've mentioned this at all.

Life's coincidences - if you want to call them that - are certainly amusing.

I collect old sheet music for the wonderful artwork. If you're looking for inexpensive artwork for your home, this is a great - and inexpensive - source.

I also love movie soundtracks. One of my particular favorites: The Moderns. Ha! I was about to say the movie came out about ten years ago. Try 1988.

So I went down that rabbit hole and started exploring different little video links. That led me to a French song, Parlez-Moi D'Amour (Speak to Me of Love). This song has particular meaning for me.

One day, back in the days of our California life, while dressing in the bathroom, I happened to be listening to that album. And I hear what to me is a familiar song...Parlez-Moi D'Amour. Then I realize, the sheet music is hanging on our wall (above the ceramic pigeons)! Ooooooooo

August 18, 2008
I am determined to finally plant those iris bulbs that were given to me by Les several weeks ago.

So wouldn't you know it, here it is August, and it pours rain. I mean drenching. Our helper, Danny, was a good sport and helped me plant every last one.

Our clothes were soaked through and through.

August 20, 2008
Marine&Len are having their house painted and wanted to borrow a tool from Greg. So I met them in Sequim at a restaurant that is currently called the Cedarbrook Garden Cafe. This little place is located on just the most picturesque little piece of land. It is an old house - or who knows maybe it was a barn once upon a time. But also on the land is an herb and lavender farm.

Since Greg and I have lived here, that restaurant has been renamed, under new management, sold, least four or five times. It started out as Petals. But despite it's wonderful surroundings, no one has been able to make a go of it. And with what's happening with our economy, this one is probably in danger of disappearing too.

Despite this, the three of us (I'll let you guess where Greg was while I was having a leisurely lunch) had an enjoyable respite.

August 24, 2008
Can't get enough of Our Boy.

August 27, 2008
This month's restaurant review: Wasabi

For Japanese food lovers - a little jewel in Sequim

Summer is the time for guests and all of ours decided to come in July and August. What better excuse to eat out! So, we've been very busy the last few weeks enjoying lots of great food.

We've been to Wasabi before, but never like this....

A new owner took over about ten months ago. What was once a tired rundown eyesore is now a bright, neat little motel (the Great House) and Japanese restaurant. The restaurant is now inviting to look at and even has an outside cafe for those breezy summer days. Inside, the space is cozy and the atmosphere has a low-light intimacy.

If you like sushi, you've found your Sequim destination.

There were a total of five of us in our group including one who considers himself educated on sushi and shashimi (sushi has rice, sashimi doesn't).

Lots of time was spent musing over the extensive menu.

Start with appetizers. Try yakidori (grilled teriyaki chicken on a skewer), gyoza (potstickers), calamari, black cod, saba (lightly salted broiled mackerel), soft shell crab, tatsuta age (lightly battered and flash fried chicken), stuffed tomatoes or mushrooms, or agedashi (lightly fried tofu with tempura sauce). Negima sounds particularly interesting: asparagus and green onions rolled in thinly sliced beef sauteed in teriyaki sauce.

You can have a full stomach and a great evening dining on appetizers alone.

But wait, there's more. Much more.

There's teriyaki and yakisoba (noodles made of wheat flour). And salads like seaweed, squid, or chicken; the sunomono (meaning it's made with vinegar) or crispy salmon skin salads both with assorted fish, cucumbers and seaweed with tosazu (flavorful Japanese vinegar) vinaigrette.

Besides fish dishes you have your choice of beef, pork, chicken, BBQ short ribs and tofu; all in various forms, many stirfried. How about bulgoki, a satisfying blend of sweet and salt, or batter coated and deep fried tempura? If you like noodles, try udon; a thick wheat based noodle served with your choice of protein.

The bento box is a charming Japanese "lunch box" presented artfully in an organized display together with your choice of meat (mainly teriyaki) but also comes with sushi or BBQ short ribs; and each served with steamed rice, salad and choice of two: tempura, gyoza (Japanese style potstickers), egg roll, or the familiar California roll - what I call sushi for sissies (and I'm one of 'em).

Most items come with steamed rice and salad. The salad dressing is reminiscent of cole slaw and makes for a very refreshing sidenote.

Rolls, you name it - they have it - filled with fish and veggies. The names are just as interesting as the roll itself. The spider roll has deep fried soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber and imitation crab meat. Or try the dynamite roll, the hot night roll, or even the Las Vegas roll (deep fried cream cheese, avocado, eel, and imitation crab meat). How Las Vegas got into this mix I have no idea - but it sure sounds interesting!

For $49.95 two or three can share the Love Boat: teriyaki chicken, prawn and vegetable tempura, egg roll, California roll and salmon, tuna, hamachi (yellow tail), albacor, and ebi (shrimp) sushi. What a feast for both eye and palette.

Our meal began with the American tradition of a complimentary "starter." I think the owner wanted to make our wait more pleasurable: they were packed and short handed on this visit. To our table came a plate of steamed fresh edamame (soy beans for those new to the term). I gotta tell ya, this was absolutely delicious. I've had raw edamame, and of course those beans make everything from tofu to ice cream, but raw never pleased my pallette. But these were steamed and sprinkled with sea salt and, well, I've found a new healthy snack. However, beware! Although healthy, they are high in calories. (There went my idea for movie popcorn-sized portions in front of the tv!).

I'm not a raw fish eater at all, so I ordered safe: vegetable tempura and vegetable fried rice. The tempura batter was light - not oily, and included carrot, broccoli, onion, mushroom, and my favorite, yam. The fried rice has to be the best I've ever tasted. Definitely want to order that again.

Bottom line: there's plenty of choices for the raw fish squeamish.

But everyone else was into sushi.

Our "expert" helped to make the choices. For himself he ordered a Chef's Special Roll, Killi Manjaro: soft shell crab, spicy tuna, crab meat, unagi (Japanese fresh water eel), scallop and avocado. Although he was in seventh heaven, he asked the owner why the eel came cooked.

Sidebar: the owner is eager to please but English is a second patient , the meal is worth the extra effort.

Anyway, come to find out the eel is always cooked unless you request otherwise.

For my hubby our friend ordered eel sushi and the caterpillar roll with eel, cucumber, imitation crab meat and avocado.

Other orders were spicy tuna roll with cucumber, and tuna and salmon sushi. All met with rousing approval. Other sushi/sashimi choices include red snapper, smoked salmon, octopus, egg omelet, fly fish eggs, ikura (salmon roe), and scallop.

A word about wasabi. Not just the restaurant's namesake, wasabi is Japanese horseradish that's served as a light green paste. Sushi and sashimi is nothing without wasabi. Everyone has their own way of mixing it with just the right addition of soy sauce. It's an art. A little too much and you get a real nasal rush. Around the table people will suddenly stop in mid sentence and their face will flush, as they wallow in their wasabi moment. As far as my hubby is concerned, it ain't hot enough until it bubbles the shellac off on the table. His mixture left his face bright red. Others weren't so daring.

And then there's sake, fermented from rice, it's the traditional Japanese alcoholic drink. Wasabi's comes in portion sized bottles stored in their glass-fronted refrigerator by the door. Contrary to popular belief, hot sake doesn't give the best experience. In fact, warming it can mask the flaws of an inferior brew. The sake offered at Wasabi was perfect chilled. Let yours stand for a few minutes before imbibing - it brings out the best flavor. Also available are Japanese beers.

All our friends agreed this was a definite re-do on their next visit.

I didn't even look for dessert on the menu. For once I was so full, there wasn't even room for jello.

For those worried about their allergies, they do not cook with MSG.

August 31, 2008
A few weeks ago, Greg's nephews, Jeff and Scott, visited us. Jeff recently moved from Los Angeles to Seattle and had moved here ahead of his wife, Courtney, who is a teacher and finishing up her school year. Now she is here and they both came for a visit.

Both of them had visited us just when we were breaking ground at . In fact, I think it was during that visit they decided to leave California and were thinking hard about Washington/Seattle.

We had a nice day which lasted so long, we invited them to stay the night. What troopers. It would be difficult for this princess to spend the night somewhere when I wasn't planning on it.

September 1, 2008
We've been
watching a hornet's nest under the eaves of our rental house become a veritable Taj Mahal. You don't even notice it and overnight there it is and it gets bigger and bigger each day. Boy, if your government had that work ethic, we could solve the world's problems.

Anyway, here's one of the critters whose stinging days are behind him...up close. It's a white faced hornet - according to our gardener.

September 3, 2008
I just cannot get over it. Today I am 58. Fifty -*%&$#@ ing - eight!
Oh dear Bette were sooo right: "Old age ain't no place for sissies!"

I met some of the goils for a great lunch at Alderwood Bistro. Marine was there when I arrived, then came Laura, Melissa, and Lisa. It was talk talk talk and laugh laugh laugh for over two hours. Marine is very clever with words and at one point, in a show of camaraderie, put her arm around my shoulder and declared, "I'm there, I've been there, I'll be there!" It's a sisterhood thing.

In the evening, Greg took me for a romantic dinner at Bella Italia in Port Angeles.

And then, we set our path on tomorrow.

September 4, 2008
Well, he did it again!

Nobody but nobody can pull the wool over my eyes. Except Greg, that stinker!

Did I ever tell you that in his Army days he was part of a unit that was the Army's version of the CIA? So that should tell you how skilled Greg can be at keeping a secret.

Being as yesterday was my birthday and Kaj&Laura are always having get togethers to introduce us to their other friends, I didn't think anything of it when they set something for this evening.

Earlier in the afternoon, Greg and I went to one of the only "good" rummage sales in town. It's a yearly affair put on by the Clallam County Historical Society. And it's in Kaj&Laura's neck of the woods (and in this area, when I say woods I mean it).

We found some great buys including a club chair for $30 which will be beautiful at after it's reupholstered (you can't see it in this picture but it's faded and tattered).

After the sale, we still had some time to kill before the get together, so we made one last stop at the local antique mall. And, no surprise, I found something else. It looks to be a handmade soup tureen, yet another "find" that will have to be packed away for a long time.

So we're on our way to Kaj&Laura's and Greg keeps asking me to give Laura a call to let her know. This is kinda ridiculous. I mean, I told her this morning we'd be arriving between 6 and 6:30. But he wouldn't let go of it and so I relented. After I hung up I said, "There! Are you happy now? Geesh!"

We're driving up the hill and Greg decides to take a little detour to explore a new neighborhood on the way up the mountain. After a leisurely drive, we turn in to the long driveway to Kaj&Laura's.

And, as he often does, Kaj meets us on the front step and we follow behind him toward the living room.

As soon as I round the corner, about 20 people jump up and start serenading me! A room full of smiling faces sing every word of Blue Moon!!!!! Hard as this may be to believe, I was speechless. I actually misted up. And I had NO IDEA.

a great and wonderful new set of friends! Every one of them is a joy to be around.

As soon as the hugs and kisses were over, there was a buffet fit for Las Vegas.

There were appetizers and salads (courtesy Marine) and roast pork (courtesy Laura), and potatoes (courtesy Candice), crabcakes (courtesy Mary), fruit salad (courtesy Kathy) and veggies and I don't know what else for dinner.

And then for dessert there was a homemade malted-milk ball topped chocolate cake (courtesy Clara-Inez) that was just melt-in-your-mouth and another chocolate cake was a work of art by Phyllis: a big crescent moon dusted with specially ordered silver sugar surrounded by chocolate cake stars. I think there must've been a dozen other high-calorie confections. Of course I had a big serving of each.

You know that saying, "no matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best"? Well, that's where us girls parked ourselves for some good conversation. That's Marine, and Kathy, and Phyllis holding court. are an amazing font of information on all manner of subjects. What fun to get into long conversations with you part of the group! Here's Phyllis and friends Sally&Gordon.

Not to be left out, Laura&Kaj's other family members were in attendance. Here's Bella the big-as-a-mountain, sweet, and sloppy Newfoundland nuzzling Coffeekat and Bella and Snowy the Siamese.

In between all the talking and eating there was a
walk down to Kaj's shooting range. That's Kaj&Laura's boys Leo and Mauritz, Steve (of Steve&Candice), Don (Phyllis' hubby), and Kaj standing at attention. Besides the guys, a couple of the girls (there's Marine and Candice) and Greg too went to see if they could hit Osama Bin Laden between the eyes.

So for the first time in my life, I shot a gun. It is a weird feeling indeed when you realize that you are in effect holding death in your hands. I could never use it on an animal, never. But I don't think I'd have a problem killing a "bad guy".

At any rate, for a first timer the guys were impressed at my hitting close to the bull's eye. There was an array of firearms and I fired every one. The first was a tiny little pistol that fits in the palm of your hand. And I shot a 22, a Ruger, a Luger, and a Glock. What an experience.

Back up the hill at the house, the convention was on and the political animals (me included once I was done killing Bin Laden) were glued to the set. I used to watch soap operas once upon a time (that is until I got hired to work on one). I gotta tell ya - there is no soap opera like politics.

And later, there was any number of fascinating conversations. I love a good discussion and this was like rolling around in a candy jar.

What a wonderful wonderful day.

Thank you thank you every single one of you!!!

September 5, 2008
And the birthday celebration continues. Kathy (wife of our sheriff) invited me to lunch at the Crab House in Port Angeles. She brought a friend along. What a nice afternoon. Thank you Kathy!

September 8, 2008
Back in that Bette Davis category of "
Old age ain't no place for sissies", I am sleeping over night at the hospital for a sleep study. Seems I may have sleep apnea. Oh joy!

September 10, 2008
File this also under Bette Davis:

I think I have voiced my opinion on presbyopia before. Presbyopia: the loss of vision acuity that comes with...a-g-e. Hate hate hate wearing glasses.

Several years ago back in Westwood I took myself to the Jules Stein Eye Institute to see if I could be fit for contact lenses. According to their doctors, it wasn't going to work for me. Seems the shape of my eyeball will make it feel like I have sand in my eyes. I gave it a try then and they were right.

Laser surgery is good for farsightedness and shortsightedness because that addresses the shape of the eyeball. But presbyopia means the muscles that control your pupil aren't working as well as they used to. So surgery is out.

But I hate glasses! So I took myself to my eye doc and spoke to the receptionist - who wears contacts. She told me they've come a long way since I was checked. So, I'm going to give them a go. My first appointment was today. In about a week I'll go back and try on my first pair.

Wish me luck.

September 12, 2008
It was Girls Night At The Movies.

Laura, Phyllis, Candice and I went to see The Women starring Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, and Cloris Leachman (who was the best thing in it!).

The original movie was directed by George Cukor in 1939 and was based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce and adapted for the screen by Anita Loos. It had an all-star cast: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine, Hedda Hopper and Butterfly McQueen to name just a few. The hook is...not one male chromosome is visible in the entire film.

Shelley's movie review: PASS! The script was inane, the direction was unbelievably bad (and it had to be the direction because these are accomplished actresses), the lighting was absolutely unforgiving, and the dialog was cartoonish.

When we all got together after to discuss the film at a nearby coffee shop, movie buffs Phyllis and I started talking up the 1939 version and Phyllis wants to plan a girls at home movie night to watch it. Now that would be fun!

September 13, 2008
It seems like forever ago, but at least a couple of years back, we met some down-the-road neighbors who were out riding their bikes.

They too were building their own home in their spare time while living and working in Seattle.

As with almost everyone else, their project is basically finished...while we're still working on our little version of the Sistine Chapel.

Anyway, they came by the other day and invited us, yet again, to a get together at their place. Up 'til now we've had to miss out. But this time we made a point of taking them up on their offer.

So late this afternoon we had dinner with Kathy&Dave and several of their friends from Seattle.

Greg&I got the grand tour and Greg and Dave talked "construction". Then, we had a great dinner. Everybody up here loves to cook and loves to entertain. There was BBQ salmon, salads, and roasted corn on the cob. And before that plump grapes and chips and dip. For dessert there were chocolate chip cookies but later on after dark they all sat around a camp fire and made s'mores. Remember s'mores: toasted marshmallow and a slab of chocolate between graham crackers? Since I didn't bring my mosquito repellent, I stayed inside and had Greg, my personal hunter/gatherer, fetch me one. It was delish but I sure paid a price - and one that didn't even cross my mind. Chocolate is full of caffeine - and we found out later that this particular chocolate was like espresso! Translation: I hardly slept a wink all night.

Anyway, their friends are all interesting people - as is the case with almost everyone we meet here. One young woman was actually a Vietnamese boat person who explained that but for her father risking all of their lives to get in that boat, today she could've been selling flowers at an open market in Viet Nam. Today she teaches nursing at UW.

Why is it some people can come to our country penniless and make something of themselves. While some are born here and never contribute anything?

Another friend had been involved in some form of service his entire career and now works with cardiac rehab. But at one point, he was a ranger for Olympic National Park. If memory serves, he spoke of finding a old downed plane back up in the mountains. And that prompted Greg to recount another tale of a plane wreck found by the guy who installed our rain gutters.

When he was in high school, he researched downed planes in the winter and spent his summers hunting for them in the moutains. One particular aircraft that intrigued him was a jet that crashed in the 60s. The military at any point in time has planes in the air and this one evidently had altimeter problems. The record showed the pilot, obviously flying at night, radioed that he was at 11,000 feet and climbing over the Olympics. But the wreckage was found crashed into the mountainside at 8,000 feet. At the time, military rescuers located the plane and recovered just what remains they found of the pilot. Everything else was left behind. Our gutter installer knew this jet's engines were made by Pratt Whitney and so he contacted them and explained what he was attempting to do. And their engineers told him wha to look for and explained the engine contained platinum and gold. Not only did he locate the wreckage, he actually found bones that still had clothes. He recovered the altimeter too and he confirmed it showed a reading of 11,000 feet. At other times he found the wreckage of WWII era planes.

No matter who you talk to here, there's an interesting story.

After we said adieu, we went back down the road to to pick up our other car. Right in the road in front of our house I found a big 'ol frog.

Three guesses what I did and the first two don't count.

Mr. frog likes his new home at
Froggywog Pond.

In the middle of the night, Greg and I were awakened by the howling of a pack of coyotes. And from the sounds of it, they weren't too far away.

September 16, 2008
Saw the doctor today. I have sleep apnea. This is not good. Sleep apnea leaves you at increased risk for: congestive heart failure, stroke, irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Sweet. I didn't take the news well at all. Ask Greg. And help me Bette Davis!

We haven't seen our friends Boni&Ted since June. And it was time for a Progress Tour. And then dinner.

Not much visual to point to. Greg has been working on boring but necessary things like ducting and ventilation.

September 18, 2008
And it's another surprise birthday party. But this time, there was just no way the feted one wouldn't figure it out.

Yesterday was Marine's birthday. (It was also Pris' hubby, Robert's birthday. Happy Birthday Robert!)

Laura et al had so much fun putting my surprise party together, they wanted to do it again. Ahhh, but Marine smelled a rat. Nevertheless, she had a great party, again thrown by Laura&Kaj. And as usual, as the evening went on, several groups formed, each discussing some issue or whatever. I love to poke my nose in and find out what they're discussing and end up staying because it's so informative.

Earlier in the day I went for my first contact lens fitting. OMG...This poor doctor.

He actually stood by me for over an hour as I fumbled and poked and pinched my way through putting them in and taking them out. And dropping them.

I can see this is going to be an extremely angst-ridden process. I can't imagine many endeavors that are as anxiety producing for me as dealing with contact lenses.

It was bad enough even with the confidence of the doc standing right with me. But when I got home, I was absolutely traumatized by the oft-failed attempts to get them out and put them in. Standing in front of our bathroom mirror, watching my eyes become covered in red veins from poking at my eyeballs was the ultimate in frustration.

But I am absolutely determined to kick the eyeglass habit. So I had an epiphany! YOUTUBE! There must be hundreds of videos showing you how to put your lenses in...and remove them. There were. And it was extremely helpful.

September 24, 2008
This month's restaurant review: Jean's Deli

On a little side street in Sequim is a quaint old church.

In 1896, historic St.Luke's Episcopal relocated from Dungeness and found a new home on Washington Street.

A century later, the little church was forced to relocate a second time to make room for the new church building.

Jack and Helga McGhee stepped forward to move the church to its present location on South Second Street and set about remodeling and finding a tenant.

For one little church, it's traveled more than I have!

The original Jeanís Deli restaurant opened its doors in Carlsborg back in 1985.

By 1996, the little restaurant was beginning to bust at the seams and thanks to the foresight of Jack and Helga, Jeanís Deli now had a steeple to becon the hungry.

Three and a half years ago, the Deliís namesake retired and passed the torch to a retired U.S. Armed Services couple.

And they are still serving their country and community by serving up tasty lunches and breakfasts.

The whole family loves to cook.

Looking for affordable meals? That's their philosophy now and that will continue when their son joins the staff mid summer next year. Selected Junior Armed Forces Chef of the Year, the award-winning chef studied in South Korea, so look forward to dinners with an Asian fusion bent.

On the day my hubby and I caught lunch, we started with bowls of their homemade soups. Greg had the broccoli almond and I had chicken noodle. The broccoli soup had a cream base and the addition of bits of almond made for an unusual but delicious offering. The chicken soup had wide pasta noodles and nice big chunks of carrot.

Greg dug into a grilled Panini sandwich and a small salad with bleu cheese dressing. The special panini bread was oozing with mozzarella cheese, drizzled with sun-dried tomato and garlic pesto sauce, and filled with roma tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.

After my soup, I ordered their Chef salad which was just my size: it took up a rather large plate. I passed on the usual ham and had them double up on the turkey. The greens were fresh, as were the tomatoes, cucumber and red onions. I cheated by having the cheddar cheese but passed on sprouts and croutons. I had them bring their homemade Thousand Island dressing on the side. For this salad lover, I was a very happy camper. For just $6.99, it was a lot of food for the money.

Under the salad banner they also serve Asian chicken salad with roasted chicken, Asian noodles, mandarin oranges, red onion, and red seedless grapes with toasted sesame dressing. In addition to the small dinner salad, they offer another large salad; basically the Chef salad without the meat and cheese. They make their own potato salad which is fresh and cool and peppered with dill. In addition to the tasty homemade Thousand Island dressing, they have created an original, Dilly Onion. Other dressings include ranch, Italian, raspberry vinaigrette, and honey mustard.

You can build your own sandwich or wrap with a number of meats (turkey, roast beef, ham, corned beef or Canadian bacon), and cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, hot pepper, provalone, or cream cheese). Any sandwich or wrap comes with your choice of lettuce, tomato, red onions, alfalfa sprouts, mayo or mustard; and probably anything not listed if you ask.

To hold your sandwich you can choose whole wheat, rye, sourdough, all-American white bread, or a bagel. Wrap choices are white, sun dried tomato, whole wheat, or spinach. And just recently, they added wheat-free bread for those with allergy concerns.

Specialty sandwiches include BLT, Canadian Wonder (Canadian bacon heated with Swiss cheese and avocado), Gobble Gobble (with cream cheese and cranberry), Oliver Twist (chopped olives, cream cheese, and cucumbers), Reuben (with hot sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing and comes with their homemade potato salad), Roast Beef Melt (with cheddar cheese on a honey bun), Ham & Swiss Melt (also on that homemade honey bun), a Veggie, and a Gyro (Gyro meat, feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce on warm pita bread).

There's a daily sandwich special: one half sandwich and a cup of soup for $7.95.

They serve breakfasts too. Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Iíve only been there for lunch so far because I keep forgetting this is a choice. If their breakfasts are on par with their lunches - and I can only assume they are - youíll leave the table satisfied.

There are omelets, waffles, French toast, eggs Benedict, hot oatmeal, and a Deli Breakfast Sandwich with cheese and sausage, Canadian bacon, or regular bacon. Side orders include English muffins, ham, and hashbrowns.

Also on the breakfast menu are fresh baked pastries including cinnamon rolls. The flavors of their muffins and scones change daily.

There's a Kids Menu too. There's a cheese quesidilla, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a child's plate of meat, cheese, fruit, and crackers. And you can't boast of a Kid's Menu without every kid's favorite: PB & Y.

In addition to the usual suspects when it comes to beverages, they serve espresso, latte, cappucino, mocha, lemonade, Italian soda, fruit juices, hot chocolate, and raspberry and chai tea.

And now a word about....desserts. Wow.

All sweet choices are homemade.

They serve bread pudding warmed and topped with cream, pies, chocolate cake, carrot cake, giant cookies, and muffins.

But what put me over the edge is a dessert I've never seen anywhere else before.

I've mooned over these things in the dessert case, but until this particular day I had the resolve not to go "there". But hey, I'm doing my job and so I am duty bound to taste one so I can report my experience to you.

They come in two flavors, Lemon Lush and Chocolate Lush. And if lush is short for luscious, they've hit the nail on the head.

I had the Lemon Lush; a layer of velvety whipped cream and a thick but light layer of lemon filling on what tasted like a crust of pecan shortbread. In between the crust and the filling is a layer of cream cheese. Ask me if Id like a slice of cream cheese pie and I'll tell you I can pass. When my hubby asked if he could have a bite, I acquiesced. But secretly I was thinking, "Why didn't he just order one for himself and leave me to my sucrose fix!"

The atmosphere is bright and clean and friendly with mostly tables. But there is a large booth at the back of the front room. The decor is homey and the walls are hung with examples of the owner's keen eye for nature photography. The kitchen is absolutely spotless as were the large bathrooms.

There's also a cozy "back room" where patrons can be seated and where groups can book meetings. On one occasion, it was filled to the brim with those Ladies in Red Hats. They were having a grand time.

Sepember 25, 2008
Greg and I run errands and end up at Fred's Hobbies & Guns to look for some material for a project.

Once inside, I notice a young couple...looking at guns. The young woman begins to walk toward me. I didn't know what this was about but then she exclaims to me that I look "Classy!" And me with no make up. I thank her for the compliment and realize I haven't had a compliment like that in a while.

Gone are the days when I would take time to plan out an outfit and take time with makeup and hair. In fact, I can't believe I even go out in public like I do nowadays. My how things change.

Basking in the glow of the words of a stranger, I begin to remember that when we drove up to the shop, that young woman and her boyfriend drove up the same time we did. I don't know why but I happened to notice them get out of their car.

As the young woman got out of the passenger side, the "complimentary" miss proceeded to...cough up a loogie which she deposited on the pavement!

Somehow that compliment doesn't seem so dear.

Earlier in the day it was back to the eye doc for some tweaking to my contact lenses.

It's so weird not wearing glasses. I LOVE IT. It's funny to realize that I keep absentmindedly sliding my (nonexistent) glasses back up to the bridge of my nose. This was complaint number one about eyeglasses.

I am astounded to realize I can see very well. Not perfect. They say it takes several adjustments. But I'm also going to wear my contacts for reading. Which means one eye gets a lens for reading and the other for distance. It's supposed to take a while but eventually the brain automatically adjusts. But that won't be for a few weeks.

September 26, 2008
Tonight was the first presidential debate. While Greg listened on the radio at "work", I spent the evening with Marine&Leonard at Candice&Steven's home glued to their television set.

September 30, 2008
Another dentist checkup...another trip to Port Townsend. And a lovely lunch at the Fountain Cafe.

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