Home life

Update

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Ryan came to visit and we did the Farm Tour It's been ages since I posted an update here and a lot has been going on. Some of the old same old same old stuff but other stuff as well, thank goodness, or I would go nuts rehashing things like on Groundhog Day!

Some of you might even wonder where I am! Well, after a lovely three-week break down in Southern California where it was mostly sunny and warm, I got back to Washington yesterday. Arrived in a fog-shrouded Seattle, but today is beautiful but definitely not warm.

Since my last post - way back in May of last year when I was in Colorado, things changed, again. I had anticipated that my tenant would be here for a while, but that wasn't to be. Apparently things were not working out with the cats and so she wanted to change the terms of the rental including lowering the rent and paying for a gardener while she went on vacation! Well, as you can imagine, that didn't fly with me so I hot-footed it back to Washington to rescue "the boys" and move back into a very neglected house.

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I went over to Lake Chelan for a few days to see Janet and Patrick, and as usual, had a lot of fun. Too much wine and food but we survived! They live the right life - winter in Mexico and summer in Chelan. Definitely my style.

It was a glorious summer here, barefoot weather which for this area is very unusual. All the while dealing with this ridiculous law suit which is really a pain in the ass and SO stupid and illogical. It's STILL going on but there seems to be light at the end of the very long tunnel - I think. I just want to be able to move on without the jerk causing all these problems. You'd think he would want to, too. Anyway...

Lake Chelan

Ryan came up for a weekend and we went on the Farm Tour - City Boy Meets Cows sort of thing which was a lot of fun. The visit was way too short...

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So Susan came back to Port Townsend in October - severe upheavals in Colorado and she is back full bore into Real Estate and loving it. We ended up doing a few outings including the Art in the Woods tour and just making a point of getting out of the house.

Art in the Woods

And that brings me to my big decision - I have waffled on whether to try to keep this house or not. Home ownership is expensive and this little place needs work so I have really considered walking away from it, many times. But during my trip down to SoCal, I realized how much I love having a "base" and although this place is definitely at the wrong latitude, it serves that purpose.

I came home to two very happy kitties, (Susan took care of them while I was gone) my ducks out on the estuary, my orchids flowering, my own "stuff" around and my little routines.

So I will go through the whole rigmarole - again - to hang on to it.

Pyrat rum - candid camera at Lake Chelan

So my next big adventure is to get (again) my real estate license, make the money to fix everything in the house, get it rented out to good tenants and move somewhere warmer, knowing that I always can come back to my base. I'ts going to take a lot of hard slogging to get it going but I figure in a year or two, the house will be all done and I will be on a beach in the lower latitudes, say around 15 degrees either north or south!

My little eBay biz is cooking along, making the extra it takes to survive. Who knows how long that will continue, with all the movies streaming and I wonder why anyone buys DVDs and Blu-Ray discs anymore. But I will take it as it comes, and ride the wave!

The bottom line is that I am here in Washington, in my house, for the foreseeable future. And oh, I have an extra bedroom for guests! But let me know if you are coming, because I just might do an airbnb!

Colorado Living

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barn and grain elevator It's a quiet life here in Colorado, other than dodging tornadoes and thunderstorms! But the weather is improving and it's shorts time many days. And it isn't as dry as it was, which is a blessing!

I'm forever grateful to Dan and Susan for providing a roof over my head! But...

I do miss having my own place and I so miss my kitties, although having animals all around all the time is helpful. There are two dogs and two cats: Cedar, an elderly pit bull something mix; Bella, an obsessive/compulsive chocolate lab who lives for ball games; Zena, a very slinky black kitty and Pepper, a calico kitty who spends a lot of time on my bed! Just about every day, Susan and I take the dogs for a walk. Well, Bella goes for a ball game on the school playing field just across the street. We have one of the ball thrower devices that really send the ball a long way, and she just loves it, foaming at the mouth and ready to drop after five minutes of intense running, jumping and catching. Cedar goes for a leisurely stroll, and never misses an upright pole or bush!

This morning, my daily walk took me alongside one of the huge corn fields close to the house and I was horrified to see a helicopter spraying the crops and was very grateful the wind was blowing the wrong way. But shortly after that, I could feel the chemicals in the back of my throat, so despite wind direction, the s**t gets into the air everywhere. Nasty! On a more positive note, the streets are so pretty, everything is turning/has turned green; flowers are everywhere and this town is so tiny, there is hardly any traffic at all.

My web site is looking good, don't you think? I am still having issues with image size but the them developer is helping me so pretty soon I should be able to put the right sized pix up!

 

Christmas, Done and Dusted

P1070797Father Christmas visited and was very generous! We had a lovely day, despite the fact that it was rather windy and gray. Early evening it cleared up so we had cocktails around the pool, but had dinner inside.

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I wasn't expecting any pressies as just my being there was a gift enough. But Jenni and Zoze surprised me with an amazing scrapbook with pictures I haven't seen for ages. It's all "scrap booked" and decorated! Must have taken ages to create and there are pages at the end to add to it. What a special gift it is!

And among other goodies, Rich and Staci gave me a phenomenal Kiwi cookbook, Treats from Little and Friday, that makes we want to get cooking again. They (Kiwis) do love their sweet things, but there are also amazing savory tarts and pies! How I can even think about food at the moment is scary, actually! It seems as though there is still far too much food around. Resisting, resisting, res.....

So that was Christmas done and dusted for another year.

Leading up to Christmas, we did a couple of short outings, one to Kiwi360 and the other, a short harbor cruise.

Zoze and me at Kiwi360

Kiwi360 is everything kiwi fruit! It was a bit drizzly so we decided not to do the tour - the fruit aren't ripe yet so there is no harvesting going on. But we did shop! Or I should say, I shopped! A perfect place to get goodies to take back with me :) I had a lot of fun as you can imagine! Now the problem is, what am I leaving behind here so I can fit stuff in my suitcases?

We also stopped at an amazing used china shop, Andrea's China and Antiques - stuff as far as you can see, piled high, floor to ceiling! Nothing was priced, and there seemed to be very little order to much. English china, teapots, plates and bowls, glass light fittings! It was completely overwhelming but I wished I knew more about china as there are treasures to be had there.

The following day, Christmas Eve, we went on a harbor cruise around Tauranga Harbor. The boat is old! Build in 1953 but in good nick, as they say here. Jenni had got tickets on GrabOne which is like groupon, a two-for-one deal. After a slightly delayed departure caused by late arriving passengers who wanted to wait for their friends (!!) we cruised along Matakana Island which is a significant scientific area owned by the Maori. Some passengers disembarked there and were admonished not to walk along the roads and to stay on the beach. Interesting...

The Kewpie

Then we swung around and came back against a roaring tide, right alongside an enormous cruise ship and some cool tugs, along the shoreline lined with houses and a new boardwalk. Boats anchored out and people swimming and paddle boarding. It's a very active place, especially during the holidays.

We had planned to do a short trip to McClaren Falls today, but decided to wait until Jenni can come too. So in the next few days, we will head out there. And today is catchup time for emails, blogs, pix etc.

Traveling a Bit

Entry to ChinatownSince Betsy got here last Saturday, we've been pretty busy, traveling a bit and being quite the social butterflies! Our most recent jaunt was up to Victoria, British Columbia to do the research for an article about "Shopping in Victoria." I've known for a long time that the shopping there is really interesting and the clothing is so different from here. But I was completely blown away by the diversity - from Cuban cigars to Irish lace and everything in between.

Of course there are also masses of curio and tourist shops selling anything with Victoria on it, or Native American mass-made for the trade. But there are lots and lots of hidden gems that we found with the help of the locals. Wonderful craft stores - not arts and crafts but made by craftsmen (and women) - painting, carvings, etchings and lots of jewelry. [singlepic id=82 w=320 h=240 float=right]We were fortunate to stay at the Magnolia Hotel and Spa, a boutique hotel right in the heart of Olde Victoria. What a delightful place that is. And we were treated like royalty with a lovely room that looked out towards the Parliament buildings. And great wine and chocolates too! Our hosts, the General Manager, Bill Lewis and Sales Manager Ronette Nyhan treated us to cocktails and hors d'ouvres at the Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar. Of course, I can pronounce Cicchetti as it the ballet style we learned for so many years with Mrs. Bryan. We had a bartender, or mixologist, who really knew his stuff. He had been stolen away from a competing bar and I can tell why! The drinks he created were amazing! Betsy's first one had a Mescal base and goodness knows what else and I had a rum drink called Knickerbocker, apparently invented back in the 1700s. Then he made more - ones that were not on the menu but made to our preferences!

Oh and the hors d'ouvres? To die for, as they say. A sampling that included fried octopus, polenta sticks, various spreads like cauliflower and anchovy! Amazing taste sensations. We felt very spoilt!

Later, we wandered around town and ended up at the beautiful Bard and Banker pub - and some strange man was attracted to us - well, actually to Betsy - but that's a story all on it's own! Back in our room, we ate chocolates, some take out from a neighboring restaurant, the 10 Acres and had a good night's sleep.

Colorful KimonosOur second day started with a full Continental breakfast, masses of coffee and delicious food. Then off we went again - to the Maritime Museum where there are ...ghosts! And on to Chinatown, the oldest in Canada. Lots of color and a great grocery store which was full of Chinese people - duh! But the real deal, most of the packaging being illegible to me! But we did buy some good rice and green curry paste! We were the only white people in there! We went to Fan Tan Alley, a skinny little brick alley that is famous for being so narrow; a gorgeous tea room and spa - the Silk Road - all organic and local.

It was a great trip and I could go on and on - but instead, you can look at pix in the gallery. I took way too many pictures - and we actually had dualing cameras - Betsy has one just like mine so she would be getting one angle and I would get the other! Funny!

Saturday was a fun party at Danelle and John's house - they have been there for a year now so it was a big celebration. They have done a wonderful job on the house and there was a really good turnout of all their friends and family. Plus it was a gorgeous day and the mountains were out in all their glory.

Tomorrow, we go to Steep Island Lodge to go fishing - Betsy is doing an article - Women Gone Fishing - today is a lay day, as was yesterday and trying to catch up on photos and writing and blogs. Then off to Jim and Mardelle's for martinis on the deck.

Rough life - but someone has to do it!

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A Place at the Table

A Place at the Table was a thought-provoking documentary. Susan and I went to see it today at the lovely Rose Theatre in Port Townsend.

I have become very aware of the cost of food in the last year, with my "situation," but I realized, after watching this movie, I don't have it bad at all. Really.

Watching the people featured in the film battle just for a meal - of any sort - was heartbreaking. And perhaps even more disturbing was the kind of foods they are forced to eat out of pure necessity. I cannot imagine what it would be like to go into a grocery store and find no fruit or vegetables! No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country. The only type of food that is even half-way affordable is a full range of carbs!

And despite the good intentions of the "faith-based" NGOs that are trying to help, the foods they are able to provide are completely processed, filled with preservatives and artificial coloring. As the young woman teacher who distributed food bags said, "At least it is food," although she cringed as she said it.

And then this is the dilemma faced by people at or near the poverty line, as was illustrated by a young, unmarried woman with two children. Unemployed and on public assistance aka food stamps and welfare, her two young children were provided with breakfast and lunch at the daycare. She was so excited when she finally got a job at $9 an hour. But then, food stamps stopped and the children didn't qualify for free meals. She was over the qualifying limit! What can she do? Give up her hopes and dreams of a better life? Or let her children go hungry? This is why people can't get off welfare! Yes, she was gainfully employed, something she really wanted, but now was unable to feed her children. $9 hour is not a living wage. So she is stuck in a system that is broken with  no signs of being fixed.

It all boils down to big agribusiness who get fortunes in subsidies, lobbyists and greedy politicians. Why oh why can these people not see they are killing this country?

I suppose greed kills.