Monday, June 28, 2021

Plum crazy...

 Taking it back a few years with a memory...spurred by a construction project at our house. 

We have a two-story house and quite a large wooden area above our garage on the end of the house.  Our house is 42 years old and much of the wooden areas are rotten or squirrel damaged.  So we are having all the wood and trim replaced. 

These two cousins are turning 30 this year and I'm happy to say they are wonderful men and have given up plum throwing.  :)

Years ago when my oldest son was a young boy, he and his cousin were playing in the driveway, and we have a plum tree nearby that drops a lot of red plums right on the drive.  Well, as boys will do, they began picking them up and throwing them and proceeded to pelt that area above the garage door with plums, enjoying the sound and spots they were making.  But Mama wasn't too happy!  She caught them in the act and knew those spots would stain.  She gave them a tongue lashing and promised they would have to clean up the mess.  She had to get paint and make them get on a ladder and paint over those spots.  And did the cousin come back and help?  No, and then she wasn't sure she wanted her son up that high doing the painting.  So guess who cleaned and painted those plum spots?

Augh!  Parenting is the hardest job ever sometimes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

VISITING OUR KIDS IN PNW...

 Our youngest son and his wife moved to Vancouver, Washington in the middle of the pandemic and this was our first time visiting them in their new home.  We had been up here once before, for their wedding.  The week of the wedding we did have time to see a few sights, like Mt. St. Helens, the Portland Rose test garden, and Multnomah Falls!  This time we got to enjoy some other sights, but also just enjoy time with them, playing cards, going to church, and walking around the beautiful neighborhood. At this time they are actually living in her grandparent's home - who moved to an Assisted Living center last summer.

Friday we walked around the neighborhood, and I was in awe of the beautiful flowering shrubs in the yards, in addition to Van Fleet park with amazingly tall trees!  They just don't grow that tall in sunny Oklahoma! My DH had a co-worker to meet up with in Portland so we drove across the river to Oregon and while they talked I shopped at IKEA.  Then we went to the grocery store and I bought some food to make "horsey-douver night" as DH likes to say. I had a good time in the kitchen while everyone else had to work. It was a good evening, eating and playing cards together.

Van Fleet park a couple of blocks from their home - gorgeous!

Beautiful plants in the neighborhood!


Saturday looked like good weather - translation: SUN - and so we headed out to the coast, which was about a 90 minute drive.  How nice to live so close to the ocean! Our daughter-in-love noted the sights and her memories along the way.  She had traveled to many of these small towns to play school sports, and her family had made many a trip out here to camp.  We got to walk around Cannon Beach, a cute little town and also the named beach, see Haystack Rock, walk around Hug Point and eat at the Tillamook Cheese Factory! Not only can you see the cheese production and assembly area from a viewing platform, they have some really delicious ice cream!  

Lovely Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach


Cave at Hug Point beach

We all ate outside due to Covid but thankfully it was sunny!

Sunday we weren't going to church until later, so we were able to walk Van Fleet park again, then we worshipped and ate at a neat place called McMenamins (we had also gone there the morning of the wedding).  It was kind of drizzling rain, so afterwards we thought we'd just chill, but it cleared up and I was anxious for another hike.  We decided to go to Beacon Rock and get some exercise! It was about a 30 minute drive away.  Turned out to be perfect weather - 50 degrees with a little breeze.  Last time we had hiked Beacon Rock it was August and it was a tough hike in the summer heat. We ended the day with another card game.  

View of the Columbia River!
The winding path
At the top of Beacon Rock
Monday was rainier but just a slow drizzle, so we walked around a small garden in Portland called Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.  It was beautiful - they bloom through May and it was also free on Mondays!  Then we checked out the largest bookstore in the world - Powell's!  We waited in line about 20 minutes before we were able to go inside, due to Covid restrictions.  Lunch was at Hawthorne Asylum Food Truck court and after that...the dessert I'd been waiting for - the Mango Tango donut at Voodoo!  This has been a favorite of mine, ever since I was introduced to VooDoo Donuts in Denver about 10 years ago.  We skipped dinner and played some cards again that night.
Flowers as big as my head!







Waffle sandwich
Got my MangoTango!

We packed a lot into our trip and our kids were so gracious to let us come and stay with them!  We've never really had kids that lived away from us for very long, so it's still a novelty.  It was neat to see where they are living and experience a little of their world.







Sunday, May 9, 2021

WHO'S READY TO PARTY?...


We got this cake for a family party recently!  :)

Seems we all are awaiting the return of normalcy after this pandemic.  We watch and wait as mask mandates are lifted and rejoice in seeing the virus numbers decrease. Celebrations long awaited are planned, and we are anxious and excited!  We no longer take these times for granted!

I was reminded of this excitement as I read I Chronicles 15 recently.  It recounts how David and the priests of Israel wanted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  Their first attempt ended poorly as David did not follow God's instructions given in earlier times of moving it with poles.  It was placed on a cart and as it was being transported, it slipped and a man named Uzzah steadied it with his hand.  A direct commandment had been broken, and Uzzah died.  After a brief time of mourning, David tried again, and this time was successful.  He made sure to follow God's instructions.  There was careful planning.  There was much rejoicing and a grand parade as the ark entered the city.  It was a great occasion with special garments, singers and musicians, food and dancing!

David was dressed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who carried the Ark, and also the singers, and Kenaniah the choir leader. David was also wearing a priestly garment.[So all Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant with shouts of joy, the blowing of rams’ horns and trumpets, the crashing of cymbals, and loud playing on harps and lyres. I Chronicles 15:27-28

David and the citizens of Jerusalem were excited about a time of renewal, hope and being closer to God's glory.  Are you feeling renewal and hope?  Are you excited about celebrating something?  I am ready to go to those belated weddings.  I'm excited for those graduating and reaching special milestones in life.  Gatherings, small or large, are something to embrace, not just an obligation, and I think most of us are realizing that now.

Here's some fun pics from a recent gathering we had to celebrate missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, my MIL's 80th birthday and Mother's Day:


Group pic


Grandmother Sharon and her greats!








I hope this spring is a wonderful time of renewal for you and that we all have a new appreciation for occasions.  What will you be celebrating soon?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

FISHY RESOLUTION...

 This year I made a resolution...to eat fish every week!  I know the health benefits but have never really liked it.  For a long time I have intended to learn how to cook/bake/grill fish and decided this was the year. So far I've been able to keep my resolution.  Our local grocery store has a pretty good fresh meat counter, so each week I look to see what they have that is "wild caught" and is the best price.  I usually buy cod, salmon, haddock or mahi-mahi.  So far I have liked it all! If we are traveling, we eat fish at a restaurant.   Here's some of my favorites: 

I checked this book out from the library and have tried several of the recipes.  I also learned that almost every recipe has you pat the fish dry, then sprinkle with salt  and let sit before cooking.  It helps the fish dry out.  

PAN ROASTED SALMON WITH GARLIC AND THYME is a good one!  The only way I liked salmon before was grilled on a cedar plank, so this is a new way to prepare it for me.  

Pan roasted salmon with garlic and thyme
4 portions salmon
salt
4 T butter
4 garlic cloves, smashed
10 sprigs thyme
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Season the fish with salt and let it rest for 15 minutes.  In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Place the fish skin side down.  If using, add garlic and thyme, and cook without flipping until fish is almost done.  Flip the fish to finish cooking.  Serve with pieces of garlic, crisped thyme leaves, lemon and pan drizzle.  

Here's another recipe for BAKED COD from Barefoot Contessa.  It was a nice presentation, but a little too salty for me.  I'm going to try it again.  

MAHI MAHI is a great white fish that almost tastes like chicken to me.  This one is great.  The Hubs likes to grill and all you do is sprinkle on the spices!  


Here's a time-saver for you:  When we grill fish, we kill two birds with one stone.  I have The Hubs to put on some chicken breasts afterwards, so then we have chicken ready for the next night's dinner.  😊


WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO EAT FISH?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

CONFUSED...

 



I don't know when I've been in a more confusing time.  The world is confused.  Do we still wear masks or not?  Do we get the vaccine or not?  Do we trust our leaders or not?  My personal world feels the same as well.  Some days I have to act as a parent, some days I'm getting parented.  Dealing with an aging parent is difficult.  It drags me down.  I try to be the rational one and not get too excited over it but sometimes I just want to curl up in the comfy chair and sleep.  Anticipation of what is to come is saddening.  

There are some bright spots.  I am more into Jesus Christ and his Word than ever before.  Loving my morning time!  Spring is here and the earth is renewing itself once again despite hardships over the winter.  I get to walk almost daily with my husband.  He listens to me without judgement.  We were invited to an event at church for the young adults and it was refreshing to my soul. My sweet son-in-law led the songs.  So many reasons to be thankful!  

Anticipation of heaven is what my focus should be on, but sometimes it's hard to see past the present. How do we keep on going?  Remembering.  Remembering the past, the hard things He's brought us through.  Being grateful.  Seeing all those little things that God created.  Knowing his Word!  Knowing that He does not change.  He is our good Creator, and will bring us through this.  I am reminded of a saying I love that has changed my view of others:  

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

PANDEMIC MEMORIES...


What was life like in early 2020?

We had a great start to the year, going on a business trip to the Netherlands and Ireland in February - 2 weeks back to back.  Dan's 60th birthday was spent on the weekend between the 2 trips in Amsterdam.  We thoroughly enjoyed it and knew there was some concern about a virus in China but otherwise were not affected until we re-entered the country and they questioned us about where we'd traveled.  That was February 29. From there things escalated quickly to businesses and church closing, mask-wearing, and shortages!

What was the biggest change? 

Not going places for fear of getting the virus.  Wearing masks, for sure!  Feeling suspicious and wondering if this whole thing was real or not.  Weird shortages at the store - from toilet paper to detergent.  Dan had worked out of the home office for years so that wasn't new for us.  But not going on business trips every few weeks was very different for him.

What were your coping mechanisms?  

Getting outside!  Of course walking has been a big part of my life for a long time.  We also took the opportunity to re-decorate the formal dining room and paint the laundry room.  

What did connection in your relationships look like?  

Less getting together - trying to "social distance" - a new term for everyone!  With our kids we still got together for birthdays and holidays and a few times we played games on an app called House Party.  Unfortunately we did not see any of Dan's family at Thanksgiving or Christmas because their small town had a terrible outbreak of Coronavirus.

What will you remember most?

The disappointment of plans being cancelled.  We had planned an Alaskan cruise far in advance to accommodate all 6 of our kids schedules.  The ship we booked ended up in the news as one of the ones there was a Coronavirus outbreak on. I really felt bad about was those who missed graduations and weddings or they were drastically different that what they wanted.  But the worst was those we knew who lost loved ones from the virus!  Another thing that happened was Dan had our pool filter blow up in his face and he ended up in the hospital for several days and I was not allowed in to see him nor knew how bad it was for the first8 hours.  It was a scary and frustrating time.  He ended up having 5 more surgeries on his teeth/eyes and we are thankful he still has his vision.  

What was the biggest challenge?

Not knowing how long this was going to go on...and the sadness for those who died.  There were many others who died this year as a result of the isolation and other complications the pandemic caused.

What was a beautiful memory?

There is not much I can think of except worshipping outside with our church family, singing outside in the OC Forum.  

What do you believe now that you didn't one year ago?

I already knew this but was reminded...Life is short and we should appreciate each day!

What would you do differently?

Nothing - I found out how much of an introvert I am.  I love reading books and working on things at home, and did more of both.  But if I was unable to go to my Body & Soul exercise class I would definitely suffer emotionally.  Praying with my sisters in Christ and moving to inspirational music really is a boost for me!

What will you carry forward?

Don't be afraid to try new things or change old ways.  Look at things from a different perspective.  Women's Ministry that I'm volunteering for had to embrace some new ways of doing things.  





 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

NIGHTMARE OF A TRIP...

 OK, Maybe that is being overly dramatic.  Let's just say it didn't go how we envisioned... 

February 8 we started hearing about this big cold snap/snowstorm coming down from Canada to get us.  The more the weatherman built it up each night, the more The Hubs was adamant that we should skip it and go south.  I wasn't quite ready to travel again, but agreed.  He would take his work with him and I could take my projects as well.  The weather looked like it would hit Texas too but wouldn't be as extreme as the Oklahoma temperatures.  

We decided on South Padre Island, Texas,  where we spent our honeymoon almost 38 years ago!  I hadn't been back there since then, although he had for a work meeting.  So that excited me.  We drove down on a Friday afternoon and spent the night in Waco as the storm was rolling in, and I was a little nervous as there had been a big car accident - 50 car pile up - in Ft. Worth a couple of days earlier due to ice/slush.  We made it just fine and left early the next morning, greeted with patchy ice on the roads.  We drive a 4 WD so The Hubs is pretty confident and we didn't have a problem.  It was actually nice, not many drivers were out. 

We drove 7 more hours and arrived at South Padre in the late afternoon.  We got some groceries and got settled into our condo.  We had a tiny view of the gulf and a big view of a water park.  Sunday we worshipped online and I made some soup we could eat over the next couple of days, as they were predicted about 30 degrees for their cold snap down there.  The wind was fierce, too!  We got out and walked through a Farmer's Market - those vendors were dedicated to be out there in that.  We stopped by another store and drove around checking out our honeymoon hotel that had been turned into condos, and also a restaurant we had eaten at 38 years ago that was still in business, and made notes to eat there again.  We even walked on the beach but could only stand it for about 15 minutes with the terrible wind.  We were looking forward to the mid-week warm up for sure!


We awoke Monday morning to no power.  Our condo was still pretty warm, though 65 degrees.  Power came on and off three times so we were hopeful that the next time it would stay on permanently.  The wind was still fierce and it was 28 degrees so we opted to stay in - except for the The Hubs when he went out for his morning Starbucks run.  I got out the soup when the power was on and heated it, and also started frying the bacon I had bought, only to get it half-fried!  In the afternnoon we decided to go buy candles.  That's when we noticed in the nearby town that Walmart was closed - WHAT - but HEB was open.  There were long lines inside and so we just picked up a few things - we had food, anyway.  There were NO bananas to be found and everyone else was buying candles and water, too.  We picked up some water as well.  

Monday evening our water slowed to a trickle and we realized there were water problems.  We had no local news and our rental agency had not returned my texts asking if they knew when this might be resolved.  Tuesday we awoke and now the condo is 62 degrees.  So I guess still no heat/power.  The Hubs wanted to drive to the nearest big town, Brownsville and use some free Wifi to work, so we did.  It was about 30 minutes away, and guess what?  They too had every other stop light out, plus the lines were really long at the fast food drive thrus and stores.  We just started realizing the magnitude of the problem.  Even with 28 degrees, Texas systems couldn't handle it.

We thought we'd try to stick it out in a cold condo, after all, we had paid for the week.  But a few hours later, we realized this might not be fixed anytime soon and should head north.  We threw away the food in the refrigerator that had been off for about 36 hours now, and tried to wash the dirty dishes with bottled water.  We started emailing/calling hotels in San Antonio and Austin - surely that would be ok?!  No availability, no availability, was the story we got over and over...and as we were driving it was getting icier.  Along the way we passed lots of busy gas stations and hoped our gas would hold out for a long time.  We stopped for dinner and to gas up, hoping to use the bathrooms, only to see them blocked off.  WHAT.  We stopped on a nearby farm road for The Hubs to take a break.  

Finally, about 9 p.m., we got to College Station.  I had texted my niece who lives there about putting us up for the night if our hotel didn't work out.  One Dan had emailed and gotten a reservation at was not answering the phone, so we finally figured out they weren't open for customers or the phone wasn't working or something, and other one had a locked door, so we went on to their house.  They were having "rolling power outtages" to conserve energy, so they had the candles out, but we were able to take a shower and go to sleep just fine.  They were so kind to let us have their bedroom.

My niece with Cally

The next day we found a vacancy in a nearby Aloft hotel, and got settled in, so The Hubs could work and hopefully the weather would improve.  They too were experiencing the occasional power outages, but we charged our devices and got by.  Even though The Hubs couldn't find a Starbucks that was open, I did hear from a friend that Fuego (a Mexican restaurant) was open.  I got some great take-out from there - enough for 2 days! 

The next day was much like the first, but we actually went to the workout room in the hotel when the power was on and enjoyed that.  Also, our friends who gave us the tip about the Mexican food invited us over for coffee.  We were able to get away about 4:00 p.m. and they lived only 8 minutes away.  It was nice to go to their house and visit for a couple of hours!  Later that evening I conducted a zoom class and it went just fine.


Friday we decided the roads seemed improved and we decided we would head home.  We had no problem and 6 hours later we were back in snow-packed Oklahoma!  Actually, our neighborhood was slick but that was the only bad place we encountered.  

Moral of the story:  You can't run from life's difficulties!  Truth be told, we never felt in danger but it is isolating when you are in an unknown place having all these weird shortages. You don't really know the best news source to check in with and when the rental agency is closed up and not answering your calls, that's isolating, too.  Next time we travel we'll probably check the weather forecast in the area a little better.  And we'll always bring our water and granola bars, just in case.  :)