Sunday, September 30, 2007

It was a good weekend

We woke up this morning to our first dusting of snow. Yesterday had been a day of many errands, new eyeglasses, haircut, oil change for Eleanor, yada, yada, yada, but most importantly, a new driver's license - mine expires soon -with my short hair. It will be nice not to have to explain my ID anymore. I was so pleased with myself for all the tasks that I had shoehorned into one trip to town, and then to be rewarded with this. I'm not fond of summer heat, so this was a treat.
And to make the day even sweeter, we had a nice dose of curly-headed grandchildren therapy. Kiernan has found friends out here and couldn't wait to go play. Alexia informed me that she was starving and indeed, it appears that she was. She had seconds, then ended up snuggling on the sofa with Papa, where she soon feel asleep. It has to be hard on kids. We all go at life so hard, and they get swept up in the pace.
They'll get no sympathy from Charlie who can't wait until they leave. Every visit is torture for him and he hides until they leave. Our bathroom window is one of his favorite spots. It's not that they are mean - he's never let them get close. I think it's that they are so active - and we are not. They're just aliens to him.

This was the perfect way to end my weekend. It's a 10-pound batch of soap, all wrapped up to begin the curing process. Just about everything that can go wrong, did. The worst moment was when the bottom of my electric stirring stick fell off and went into the soap that was already at trace and desperately needed to be poured. Any of my other recipes would have been fine, but this is Mint Chocolate and I need to blend some traced soap with cocoa powder so that it can be poured into the main soap for a marbled effect. In my frantic attempts to get it done before the soap seized, I burned myself for the first time in ten years. It's not serious, but sobering nevertheless. It doesn't hurt - wrong word - to be reminded about caution when it comes to working with lye. Other than that, it was a very good weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Moving On

I flew into Portland the day before my brother's memorial cele-
bration. Several of the family made it a one-day deal on Sunday - up and back in one day. I just didn't have it in me, so I took my time with the rental car to do a little look-see. This is the Gray's River covered bridge. It is such a foreign structure to us high-desert rats.

What an interesting structure and since it has never been raining when I'm here, I can only imagine the necessity that drove it's construction. Bob told me that they get about 100 inches of rain a year. We get 7-9 inches. It was only a rental car, so what the heck - I stopped in the middle to record it's quaintness.

And I took the liberty of pulling into a camp-
ground to snap some pictures of the Columbia River. It's so big! With film, I probably would have take one or two pictures, but life is different digitally. This was my first time to travel in a rental car by myself. I don't think Ian would have enjoyed my digressions had he been with me, but he had to fly to San Diego for another family situation.

Of all the pictures I took, this one is my favorite. These are two of Bob's grandsons, who wrote the most astounding notes in the journal left on a table for all of us to record our feelings. Bob was a bigger- than-life big brother to me, and these grandsons acknowledged him as a bigger-than-life grandfather and life influence, with specific examples - blew me away.
And did the sun come out for Bob's memorial cele-
bration? No one was surprised to see it. About 100 people gathered to honor him, and dense me, I didn't realized that I was expected to "say something." I ended up writing on the back of my Dollar rental car agreement with a pencil, erasing and rewriting, just like I was back in school. I still have those notes, sideways, large print, asterisks and key words, but I got through it without tears. I kept telling myself that the point was to celebrate...

Those of us who stayed went into the house where Georg lit a fire in the woodstove to take off the chill. She still couldn't get warm so wrapped herself in the blanket that I had woven for Bob. I was so happy that she was able to enjoy it, even if he couldn't. What a family resemblance, she and her oldest daughter.

And now I need to do come catching up. This is my order from the Soap Saloon in Sacramento. I've ordered supplies from them for nearly ten years and have never been disappointed. I had 120 pounds of coconut and palm soap oils, plus an assortment of essential oils, delivered to the library and brought them home tonight. It will be a while before I have time to weave again. I am just about out of soap! No fibery posts for me for a while~

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Almost There

I was the driver when we turned off the E4 route from Long Island into Rosburg. This is my brother and sister-in-law's place. I had to catch a sob in my throat, wondering if this was my last time to make this journey. The first time we made this trip many years ago, we had barely unloaded the car and Bob took me on a tour of his trees, an experiment he had in progress and highly successful as visible now.

I had no idea what to expect this time since the farm is absent Bob. The first Georg thing said to me was - it was a privilege to know your brother - what a ride. She says this in synthesis of their 26-year collaboration. As high school sweethearts, separated by WWII, I can think of no better tribute.

Bob put this in the tree and jokingly told Georg that he gave her the moon. She says that he did. Amy remembers this moon from our visit a couple of years ago and recollects that our time there had a magical quality.

And I absolutely love this picture of Bob. His angora ram Narlo would come when called for his glucosamine/chrondrotin pills. Bob was amused that he didn't need to add any enhancers - this buck came, just because. That he would come totally amused Bob, he loved little surprises like this.

This picture of Bob and Ian are what Georg is using for the memorial - oh, and Cody on the bottom left, - there's always an animal nearby for either of them. I'm happy that this picture has worked for her.

The sun has sent on that chapter of my life. I fly back up next weekend, rent a car in Portland and drive over for the celebration of Bob's life. I absolutely hate to travel alone, but Ian has made all the arrangements for me and I will say goodbye to the last of my senior family. Ian and I share this odd position of being the eldest of each of our families. I didn't think I was old enough for this role. I look forward to happier fibery posts in the next weeks and I'll bet you do too. Thank you all for your kind sentiments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coming to Terms

We're here in Washington on the Gray's River, named for Robert Gray who discovered both Tillamook and Astoria, Oregon. This is the place that my brother and sister-in-law bought in the early 1990's and had to reconstruct after the flood of 1996. They did such a great job and it's a wonderful tribute to Bob, the aggie from Cal Poly SLO. Since he is so present here, Georgene has decided to continue to run the B&B by herself. After all, they had already operated two on Bainbridge Island.

Ian and Georg are enjoying the knosh that became dinner. When we finished the loaf of French bread from the Pacific Bakery in Gearhart, the pepper brie from the Blue Heron in Tillamook and the smoked salmon from a neighbor, we realized we were no longer hungry. The weather was perfection.

The Grays River is a tidal river, a northern tributary to the Columbia River, here at low tide.

Grays River at high tide.

Grays River with cat.

The grounds are full of mini-gardens, cats, chickens, bird feeders, goats, sheep, and two dogs. Bob loved every minute of creating all of this. B&B guests are repeaters and have loved every minute of what he created. In B&B reviews, he was appreciated for his storytellings. He and I come from a long line of storytellers and he richly honed the craft. Georg and I have become storytellers in his absence.

Bob was very proud of growing bananas in Western Washington. He got tickled anytime he did something that was outside the box, and he challenged many boxes.

This is the main house. In the beginning there were no shrubs, no trees. Bob was passionate about both. Ian and I have adapted a lot of things that Bob did to our high desert setting. I know he's here in Washington, but at home, it feels like he's with me too. I don't get life. Sometimes it's too complex.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Camping in Florence

This is the view of the Pacific Ocean and Siuslaw River from the Harbor Vista Campground in Florence, Oregon. The sleeping sounds at night are harbor buoys and the crashing ocean waves. This is our fifth time to camp here and I think we love it more every time, though we're questioning whether our days as tent campers might be over. Our air mattress had a hole the first night and it left Ian's injured back in shaky condition. We drove to Fred Meyer's the next day to buy an overdue new one, and it gave me great pleasure to toss the old one in the trash.

Florence has become a major retirement destination. A shop owner told us that 65% of the population is over the age of 55. Just the same, it's a beautiful area. Lane County built this crazy viewpoint structure and it's where I took the previous picture. The structure includes a tower with webcam so you can check the conditions at any time by going to The last time we camped here, Amy was with us and found the webcam so we could anticipate our camping trip. We left our camp site and drove up to my brother and sister-in-law's place in Washington. They were just finishing building the rooms for their B&B and we got to sleep on the floor for free. It was a magical visit.

I took this picture in front of the Siuslaw Public Library. It cracks me up. Alert, alert!! High Water!!!! Oh, by the way, don't you dare park on this side of the street. It's a bit of a mixed message to me. The library has WiFi so we were able to catch up on emails and I got my last blog posted. We cracked ourselves up, two old fogies sitting side by side with our laptops, whispering like kids in a theatre.
Whaddya think? Is this our future??? What kind of trailer do you pull behind a Subaru? I don't want to pull any kind of trailer at all, because I want to be able to swerve and pull off the road when I'm driving and have the absolute need to take a picture like this.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Labor Day Gathering

Ian's two sons and his niece's husband hiked up Porcupine Mountain, stopping half way for this picture of our compound. We had over 60 for the BBQ on Sunday and 20 overnight on Saturday - 22, if you count the two Romney sheep in the back of Laura's truck. We even had six dogs, and everyone, dogs included, got along famously. It's the first time both of our family's have all gotten together, and even then we were missing some. We're both hoping that next year "all" of our family will be able to be together. The gathering included neighbors and friends as well - our family isn't *that* big.

Noah is delighted with the attention he's getting from his new Aunt Missy and she's delighted to give it.

This is the first time that cousins Noah and Alexia have ever played together and what better play medium than water. Best of all, it washes off! The shade of the garage became the favored gathering place - the front deck was too small and the back deck too hot.

Allison and Alexia decided this was the girl's tent - girls only. No stinky boys allowed! That's what Alexia is saying.
Ian and I watched the last trailer to leave - the Gathering was officially over and declared a roaring success by all. We're already thinking about ways to simplify and improve it for next year.

We had ordered this palm tree from a sculptor who lives in our valley to celebrate both of our landmark birthday's this year. It was delivered Friday morning before our guests began to arrive. I spoke to my niece a little later and learned that my brother had passed away early that same morning. Ian and I decided that in installing it the same day, it is a marker for all three of us. Only I can assure you that Bob would never have paid for this - he would have found something to trade. That's the way he liked it, but we think he approves just the same.