News around the house: 2005

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We enjoyed the third Thanksgiving in our new home with lots of food and friends. In addition to the Lu family, we hosted long-time friend Dennis, visiting from Phoenix, Lorna's niece Nicole and her daughters, and two of Sierra's school friends and their families.

Sierra's homecoming dance

Nadia, Michelle, and Sierra pose for the camera at their school Homecoming Dance.

Beach party weekend

We rented a luxurious cliffside house in Oceanside for a belated celebration of Kathi's (to-remain-unspecified) milestone birthday. Highlights included:

We'd like to thank our friends for making our weekend so special...Lorna, Randy, Kyle, Zac, and Malachi the dog; Steve, Lisa, and Mary; Vicky; and Dennis, who timed his visit from Phoenix to coincide with our trip.

October thru early November

Salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest has been almost non-existent this year. Experts surmise this is due to warmer than normal currents off our coastline. So what does any disgruntled fisherperson do in times like these? Why, buy a new boat, of course! Or, if you're Kathi, plant flower beds! (The deer are lining up with their bibs on to check out the new buffet.)

Mike and Steve are proud owners of a new 20-foot ThunderJet. To the untrained eye, it may look a lot like the previous boat, but rest assured that when seen side by side you'll be mightily impressed with the size and girth of the new one. The 18-foot boat is listed in Craig's List. Interested in making a purchase?

Both boats are safely tucked away in the garage. Kathi's poor car is parked in the muddy driveway. Mike isn't shy about his priorities.

Mike finally got tired of shoving great big rocks around and pushing piles of dirt, which means the flower beds were ready. So Kathi got to plant a few shrubs and bulbs just in time for them to settle in before our first freeze. Here are the plants on the left side of the front porch.

The same bed extends around the northern corner. There are a lot of barely-visible, low-growing ground covers that will eventually creep over the rocks and help fill in between shrubs.

Here's a view of the far corner. Kathi is very proud of her hydrangea (after waiting years to get one), star magnolia, and red camellia. She also planted all the crocus, daffodils, and tulips that were in pots last year.

Here's the small bed on the other side of the front porch. It's protected and can support a more tropical shrub. (Mike still needs to finish the irrigation pipes in the corner, protected here by the wooden barrier.)

The bed along the front of the garage may be a favorite with the deer. We hear they don't like camellia leaves, but the flowers are another story.

Summer into fall

Late July-Labor Day (forty days of summer, give or take)

Here comes the sun...

     George Harrison

The rains ceased. You've probably heard the story of Noah and the 40 days of rain. Here in Oregon, we reverse that weather pattern. After months of rain, we had 40 days of sunshine. It was a short but richly enjoyed summer.

Sierra attended a horse day camp, where she learned to saddle, brush down, and ride a horse. She also practiced the fine art of mucking out stalls. Here she poses with her teacher.

Mike and Sierra took a trip to Montana. The whole gang was there. Unfortunately, Sierra was in charge of photos. There were a few we'd actually post, from the day they hiked up Mount Aeneas.

Mike and Joe Kelly also made the climb.

The kids (including local Jerry Gaiser) stop to "smell the wildflowers" (aka park their butts).

In August, Kathi's mother Faye came out for a visit. We showed her around downtown Portland by boat.

Kathi, Sierra, and Faye decided to escape Portland by train and ferry. First stop was Seattle, where we met up with Ann, McKenzie, and Maddie. Here we putz around waiting to begin the Underground Seattle tour. (Did you know that much of Seattle's history centers on the invention of the toilet by Thomas Crapper? Its subsequent arrival, and the unforeseen effect of fluctuating tides on sewage, caused the city to be rebuilt a story above where it originally was. Interesting little tour.)

Most of our group, including those residing in the Seattle area, had never been to the Space Needle, so here we are.

Same view, different angle.

And we're off to Victoria!

Sierra immediately embraces the locals.

Our first stop was Butchart Gardens (in Sierra's words, "to get it over with").

As promised, the grounds were spectacular, the colors vivid, and the sun incorrectly positioned for optimum photo quality.

Even in the city, flowers and color abounded.

Victoria's inner harbor is a busy center of activity, watched over by the Empress. Here's where you go for harbor ferries; boat, bus, and bike tours; colorful artisans; and an assortment of panhandlers that never fails to entertain.

No visit to Victoria is complete without high tea at the Empress. (Unless you're Bill DonTigny, who roundly panned his experience. Must not be a "guy thing", though the bill is probably the most memorable one you'll ever receive for a "meal".)

We spent one afternoon touring the fabulous Royal British Columbia Museum, where we were greeted by a life-size mastadon that had been flash-frozen during an ice age.

Victoria showcases the crafts of early coastal Canadians. These skills are still practiced by a dwindling few.

Again, Sierra makes nice with the locals.

Another highlight was a whale-watching expedition in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We were treated to a plentiful display of orcas feeding and frolicing, even a baby who stuck its head up ("spyhopping") right by the boat to check us out. Unfortunately, what you see here is the closest we could come to an actual photo. (An instant shutter can be a very good camera feature...I'll remember that.)

To cap off our summer, we enjoyed our most plentiful crabbing expedition ever. Before Kathi and Lorna even showed up with lunch, everyone in the boats had limited out and even thrown a few big "keepers" back. We kept about 60 crabs. Here, Kyle, Randy, and Zac Lu, along with Lisa's daughter Mary, show off some of their catch.

Early July

Look out my window, still rainin'...

     as sung by Jonny Lang, no doubt during a visit to Oregon

Mike has managed to move right along with the rock wall and flower bed in the center of the driveway, though the weekend weather has not made it easy. Here's the view from an upstairs window.

The large rock in front has a hole through it, which Mike will use to make a fountain that flows into a pool.

He spent the weekend of July 9-10 attempting to lay pipes for irrigation and electricity...whenever the rains let up.

Mike decides it's time to consult an expert.

Winter into spring, 2005 (queue up George Winston)

May and June

This is the time of year, immortalized in myths, when it doesn't rain every day. Unless you live in Oregon in 2005.

Keeping the bulbs alive til the beds were ready in the yard...our tulips and daffodils looked great on the deck.

Mike and Sierra install a ceiling fan in her bedroom in anticipation of summer (which we are still waiting for).

Greeeeen Aaaacres is the place to be! Faaaarm living is the life for me!

Mike and Sierra tackle the great outdoors together...when she needs to earn some money.

Future garden area...placeholder for deer magnets like raised beds, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, tulips, flowers, yes squash, and birdhouses. We promise it'll look different next year!

Same scene, view aloft.

Mike's planning a fountain running through a big rock into a pool in this flower bed. It will also feature electricity for lighting a Christmas tree, and year-round flowers and foliage.

Spring pillows. Since we got a taste in February, we just keep hoping for spring....

This little varmint and his friends are getting on Kathi's last nerve--they're busy challenging the Alabama record for most peanuts grown per acre, currently held by Kathi's great uncle Harry's farm, via planting them in Kathi's flower pots, which majorly upsets the rightful occupants of said pots.

Geraniums haven't noticed the lingering gray weather.

Sierra ripped up some monster (?) waves in Hawaii! She also snorkeled, swam with the sea turtles, and generally enjoyed the sunshine--and even some hail.

Now we understand Sierra's new hair color--it reflects her new interest in horses. And she can just continue to feed the neighbors' horses, dreaming of the day when she earns enough money to buy and care for her own.

Sierra's classic tribute to "life on the farm", best viewed to the tune of "Green Acres".

One of our feathered friends, who inadvertently paid us a visit in our sunroom and met one of our cats face-to-face. (Fortunately, it wasn't the cat that would know what to do about that.) After recovering from the shocking experience, he flew away and continued to visit our feeders throughout the summer.

February and March

Shelves, shelves, shelves! Trimwork around the tall windows! The house is looking a little more finished inside as Mike took advantage of the months that were supposed to be winter by attending to leftover details around the house.

Mike and Sierra install wooden trimwork around the windows in the sunroom.

Kayla and Sierra try a new recipe just in time for St. Patrick's Day, and give it a resounding thumbs down!

Where am I??? Socrates wakes up in the Twilight Zone.... It's located where Kathi's office used to be, but there are shelves in the closet and boxes are unpacked and chaos is condensed to an unruly magnet collection.

Canned and boxed goods now line the formerly unused wall of the pantry.

With early warm weather, Kathi's potted plants are already tended and thriving. As this picture testifies, however, our "sunshine and seventies" headed South again for spring break.

Sierra gets new closet shelves too, and a trip to Target for colorful bins and storage racks.

Sierra has no trouble filling the new shelves inside her bedroom door.

Sierra rests after spending her spring break packing and unpacking. Her dad sold his house, and he and Sierra moved in with our friend Vicky temporarily. So she has a lot of use for her new shelves--unpacking the remaining boxes from our move and finding a temporary home for stuff that won't fit at Vicky's. In her "spare" time she set up and decorated her room at Vicky's.

Sierra studies surrounded by her favorite decor: Abercrombie and Fitch sacks, magazine photos, posters, and framed shots of friends.

If you're trying to keep up with the haircolor du jour, Sierra is trying out a dark brown with heavy red highlights.

If we think Mike is hard to get off the couch now that he has high-speed wireless Internet access, just wait 'til we get satellite channels and a widescreen HDTV.

Even wireless Internet won't keep Mike away from his boat or his tractor. Now he's leveling and cleaning a site at the end of the driveway for a shed.

More fuel for the woodstove....

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