News around the house: 2007

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White Christmas in Montana

Yes, we finally had a White Christmas! Kathi has been visiting Montana every other Christmas for 12 years, and it finally snowed!!! Turns out, we also had a White Christmas in Portland, with 4 inches at our house, but the snow was deeper and the company lots more lively in Bigfork. Highlights included:

Heading into the Holidays

We began another holiday season by hosting a Thanksgiving afternoon and evening with friends. Everyone contributed food, wit, and wisdom, a great way to shift our focus to the blessings we've enjoyed over the past year as we look toward Christmas. We had a lot of fun watching the kids chase Barkley around, watching Barkley chase the kids around, trying to find the cats (hiding from the ruckus), watching Barkley chase the canine visitors around, learning about dog breeding from the expert whose English Setter is a reigning international champion, listening to the guys one-up each other on power toys and fish tales, and just catching up on what we've all been up to this year. The best thing about the holidays is having a good reason to take a time out and reconnect with people.

We had barely cleaned all the dishes before Mike, Sierra, and Barkley insisted on bringing home a tree. Turned out to be a good idea, given the windstorm we got the next weekend, but we are taking our time with the holiday decorations. We don't like to call that lazy; we like to call it "enjoying the tree au naturale."

Our wake-up-call (November) windstorm blew the puniest available tree down onto Mike's trailer. That inspired Mike to have the real threats eliminated before the big guns fired up in December. So we have no thrilling photos of major barn damage to post, and Kathi thinks the garden will get a whole lot more sun next summer.*

* Standard disclaimer about not having any control over how much the sun shines on western Oregon in general.


The harvest moves indoors. All our countertops used to be covered with tomatoes, but we're glad to report they've since been corralled into dinners or freezers. We look forward to lots of winter chilis and salsas.

Sentinels along our route to work.

Mike built steps below the garden and has leveled new dirt in the back yard in preparation to plant grass. Kathi is hoping to plant shrubs along the back edge next spring.

With gardening and wood chopping completed, Barkley insisted we take him somewhere fun before the holiday chores start. So we headed to Astoria for seafood and scenery. Here are two views of Mike and Barkley from the top and bottom of the Astoria column.

Mike had to check the lack of fishing action at the mouth of the Columbia River, just to be sure he wasn't missing anything. (The white speck halfway up the hillside is the Cape Disappointment lighthouse across the river in one photo.) Barkley kept busy chasing birds and generally finding places to stick his nose where it didn't belong. His trip highlight was rolling around on a particularly pungent dead bird when we let him off his leash, making the drive home truly memorable for all of us.

Barkley enjoyed dragging Mike down the beach to chase seagulls and explore the remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck at Fort Stevens State Park. (The last time Kathi was there, she was carrying toddler Sierra up and down the beach on her back, but the wreck looked just the same. Time marches on for some of us.)

August... the skies, on the road, and riding the high seas

What we did on our August summer vacation:

Non-culinary/crustacean-related highlights were:

Here are some photos from the Keys and south Florida:


Stuff around the house

Mike's projects are far more photogenic than Kathi's, so that's what we post. We have many photos of shrubs and flowers and jam jars that we won't bore you with here.

Mike invited Steve and Lisa over to barbeque a rib dinner for Barkley on his first birthday. (Don't tell him the rest of us got meat on our rib bones.) He let us know he didn't care for the official family birthday hat.

Mike had a concrete pad poured in the driveway and a patio outside the basement doors.

Mike dug out the area between the concrete and the flower beds and added medium-size river rock to complement the river rock on the exterior of the house. He also installed an underground drain near the garage door and put flat rocks (and a pot of gladiolas) on top.

Mike spent July 4 (the hottest day of the year so far) and a few other days putting in steps up the north side of the house. Here is the progress on that project.

Mike built raised beds and put in irrigation; Kathi planted a garden. We are harvesting squash already (despite Mike's best efforts to teach Barkley to dig it up--he missed and dug up the flowers instead), and Kathi picked our first ripe tomatoes on July 15, a record for us. Flowers are still seedlings, while cucumbers, peppers, chard, broccoli, and winter squash are ramping up for imminent production.


Sierra's high school graduation day

Trip to southern Oregon and California

Kathi, her mother, and Sierra's godfather Dennis took a week after Sierra's graduation ceremony to visit the southern Oregon coast, the California redwood parks, and the Oregon Caves National Monument.

These photos are roughly chronological, showing our route:


We haven't taken many photos worth posting, but here's a shot of Sierra's 18th birthday cake.


We had just enough real winter weather to frolic in, which made all the other cold mornings more bearable.

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