News around the house: 2006

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Christmas, 2006

We packed in a lot of activity during December holidays:

The weather gods must have been napping, as weather was nice even though Mike was in the state.




November

September/October

Meeting Barkley and "camping" in Pacific City

Mike finally gave up waiting for us to "get rid of one of the cats" and began searching the Internet for a Jack Russell Terrier puppy. Sierra located a likely candidate on Craig's List, and he lived right on our way down to meet Kathi's aunt and uncle, Gayle and Tom, for a weekend in Pacific City. So we stopped by for a visit and it was love at first sight! We swept him away to the beach while we all got to know each other.

Our new pet's former caretaker, Rachel, told us his birthday is July 15 and his name is Gnarls Barkley, after a duo who sings a popular song. Though it doesn't fit with our usual theme for pet names, the name seemed oddly appropriate for a doggie with such a precocious personality, so we decided to keep it. We mostly call him Barkley, and another popular nickname is "Hey you, calm down!"

Those of you who have met Gayle and Tom know we were "camping" in style, at the beautifully wooded Thousand Trails campground. We stayed in a cabin right across the road from their 36-foot motor home, with a gorgeous view of the ocean sunsets and the beautiful headlands at Cape Kiwanda. We took many walks through old-growth forests and along the beaches. We also enjoyed feasting on fresh Dungeness crab, courtesy of Mike and Tom's daily boating expeditions.

Gayle and Tom had brought along their Brittany Spaniel named Daisy, so Barkley had a mentor to teach him how to sniff out trouble on our long walks. Safely back at home, Barkley has been equally eager to play with our cats. Surprisingly, they are not nearly as excited as we are that Barkley has joined the family. We'll be taking things slowly as we all learn how to live together.

Lorna's milestone birthday

We hosted a birthday party for Lorna, given by her niece Nicole, in appreciation for all the nice things she does for so many folks. There were food, games, and friends, and Lorna got to wear the really cool hat that Kathi won in California.

Summer home projects

Between vacation activities, we managed to check a few items off our "to-do" list around the house:

Those of you who donated plants, accessories, or labor might recognize them in these photos, which appear in no particular order.

Astoria fishing

Mike, Bill, Steve, and Lisa went on their annual fishing trip to Astoria in August with Bob the Guide. The guys each caught two salmon, and Lisa got a nice tan. But the guys had better watch out, because Garibaldi season is coming right up and Lisa is not going to settle for last place in this competition!

A quick Idaho weekend getaway

Sierra and Kathi thumbed a ride with the Lus to attend a wedding reception for Lorna's niece and her new husband, Natasha and John. After the festivities, we whisked away to a luxury cabin in the mountains with Lorna's sister Bev and her husband Dave, leaving the mess to be magically cleaned up by someone else! It was a fast trip, but very relaxing and a pleasant opportunity to remind ourselves how scenic and different eastern Oregon is than our usual stomping ground west of the Cascades. Highlights included the Hawaiian-theme reception (to celebrate the Hawaiian wedding), Sierra bonding with her new pals Sydney and Alex, riding the 4 wheeler, lounging in the hot tub, visiting quaint shops in Crouch, and a rousing performance of "Oklahoma!" by the Crouch summer theater group.

Montana vacation

Mike and Kathi enjoyed the visiting with his siblings and their families as we all converged at his parents' house for an annual gathering. There were all the usual activities: tubing and boating on Swan Lake, flipping the kids out of the tube, floating the North Fork of the Flathead River, tubing the Swan, fierce battles of wit and skill (including a new pin ball machine), hiking (this time to a waterfall I've forgotten the name of), Don's birthday celebration, making ice cream in a towel, and lots of lounging on the deck watching satellites and falling stars overhead. Sierra was not able to participate, as she was earning the big bucks at Jamba Juice, but we brought back photos so she could enjoy vicariously. Many thanks to Marilyn and Ann for contributing to our photo gallery.

Florida-Georgia vacation

Kathi and Sierra flew back to visit their southeastern friends and family in late June. After a red-eye flight with a long layover in Houston in the wee hours of the morning (see photo below), they divided their time between Tallahassee and the Atlanta area, visiting Sierra's grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Culinary highlights included plates full of Gulf seafood and southern delicacies such as sausage; cheese grits; boiled peanuts; fresh okra, peas, corn, and tomatoes; and Georgia peaches. Non-culinary highlights included trips to the Silver Comet Trail, Unicoi State Park, Anna Ruby Falls, and the Georgia Aquarium. The Aquarium was a particular treat, showcasing a large variety of marine life in five distinct sections and a tank so large that we could view from a tunnel underneath its midsection. We saw whale sharks (with a contingent of small fish that swim in formation around the large fish for protection), beluga whales, hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, sawfish, rays, grouper, penguins, otters, piranhas, and much more than we can remember.

Early June

Sierra and Michelle don't worry about sharing the Jamba Juice banana suit because only one of them likes it. Sierra, who recently won "Employee of the Month" at her new job, drums up lots of new business by walking around the mall dressed like this and handing out free samples.

If a banana walked up to you at the mall, would you run the other way or follow it?

A big step for the future garden area: we painted where we want to place raised beds so Mike can lay the irrigation pipes.

The squirrels are being banished from the deck. No more fighting with birds over the feeders and digging up the potted plants! Finding their new feeder was easy for them -- figuring out how to get at the food was more difficult, and lots of fun for us to watch.

This band-tailed pigeon is one of many feathered friends who can now eat in peace. It got into quite the battle of wits with the squirrels one day.

Mike ("the animal kingdom is my grocery store" carnivore extraordinaire) calls this new resident the ham-size bird to differentiate it from our dinner-plate-size quail. Sierra (part-time banana, full-time vegetarian) reminds him that we run a wildlife sanctuary.

We filled the new flower beds with bark, and planted seeds for cucumbers, beans, and sunflowers. Dahlia plants have surfaced. Shrubs are starting to bloom. Pretty soon it will look like summer. (What appears to be really bad garden art is just a sloppy bean trellis.)

We finally had a sunny weekend, so Mike dug ditches for the irrigation pipes -- from the garden area all the way to the barn! Ouch!

Spring

Sierra and some friends celebrated her birthday at Manzanita Beach with a Barbie cake.

At Cannon Beach, Mike tried out the remote-controlled power boat he got for his birthday.

Mike descended into the netherregions of man's land (his term for the power tools portion of the basement) and reappeared with new furniture in tow.

We finally have backsplashes in all rooms. Here are some kitchen photos.

Sierra had to wait 1.5 years to paint her bathroom to match the new tile. She'll wait a few more weeks for Kathi to hang the sea turtle wallpaper border. In the meantime, she's fully moved in. Note the minimalist feel on the countertop of any area of the house Sierra uses. You should see the floor (big grin, heavy parental sigh).

Mike built a great big toybox, which conveniently blocks our view of our neighbor's house. His next step is to add electricity, shelving, and add toys. We're already finding it handy to have around for barbecuing.

Kathi planted the island flower bed in the driveway, and she keeps adding more plants every weekend. She just planted dahlia bulbs, sunflower seeds, and beans, which should make an appearance in a few weeks.

The pond needs a new pump and some finishing touches before the area around it can be planted. And someone can turn their attention to picking up the construction and yardwork debris finally. Though Kathi has discovered that if she stoops low enough at just the right angle, she can often crop it out of photos.

Winter

Planting trees

Weather was so mild, we decided to take advantage of the earliest seedling sale at Weyerhauser and plant around Valentine's Day. Temperatures immediately dipped into the 20s for the next two weeks, but so far the new trees have withstood the deep freeze as well as the deer. Varieties included Douglas fir, cedar, and red twig dogwood.

Christmas in Montana

The DonTigny family gathered in Montana to enjoy rainy holidays together. The weeks before we arrived were quite cold, so Swan Lake had frozen solid and there was plenty of snow. Even with all the rain, we managed to


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