Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Surprises!

Mr. Keith and I had an unexpected surprise for Christmas. The manager of the park where we are working said he had a Lazy Boy recliner he'd like to sell for $250 and were we interested. It had been a desire of ours for 3 or 4 years to get our ugly green vinyl couch and recliner out of our RV so we could have just 2 matching recliners. Upon investigation we discovered there were actually 2 chairs for sale, not just one, both the right color, the right price, and there were 2 men willing to wrestle our old couch and chair right out the door so the new ones could be installed. Montie took to this one. I think it's his perch now!

It wasn't a surprise for us that our daughter was coming down for 3 days on the day after Christmas, but it was a big surprise for our 2 cats to see that she brought along a lab puppy she was dog sitting. They were angry and very insulted. Here is Abby, also quite comfortable in our new chair.

Montie sits with paw extended and claws out, waiting for Abby to pass by. Smack! Yelp! Let's remember who is boss here!

Mia retreated to the farthest corner she could find in the bedroom, not interested at all in being friends with the pup. She was a little snooty with us, too. How dare we to invade her space with that foreigner!

We gave the cats a respite and took Abby to downtown Troutdale. Betsy is trying to snap a photo of Abby next to this bronze deer, but the pup had trouble holding still for the picture. Too much else to see including Grannie holding a camera, too!

Abby quickly learned where the door was and was eager to go out when she saw Betsy packing up. We were so happy to have had our daughter for this visit. Having family time during holidays has happened rarely since we've been full time RVers, as we've nearly always been too far away to get together for these special days. We've had to wait till the time traveling between our campground jobs to get back to Wenatchee to see everyone, once or twice a year. What a blessing it was for us to be able to talk and talk, take walks, and eat good food together with Betsy. The only thing better would have been to have my son, my younger daughter, and my 2 granddaughters with us, too. But, thank goodness for phones and Skype!

Time to head home to Wenatchee! Wish we were going, too. Abby's owner will be glad to see her, and Betsy's daughters and boyfriend will be happy that she's home. We had a blessed and wonderful Christmas week, one we won't soon forget! Thanks, Betsy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Departed

As we approach Christmas time I've been thinking about my mother and about our times together as I was being raised. My parents moved us from the California metropolitan Bay Area to a 90 acre farm way out in the country near Salkum, Washington in 1947. The last time I lived there was in 1963, but I've returned many times over the years to revisit old haunts. A really big part of my childhood was our church, the Church of the Brethren in Salkum. The people there were our family. Someone sent me this picture of the church, probably not too long after it was built. By the time we started attending there was a covered front porch and an added steeple. There is a cemetery to the right of the building.

This is a picture of my mother at about age 18, when she graduated from high school and began her college years. Eileen was a school teacher for many years in California, a social worker in Chehalis Washington, and then again a teacher in the small town of Mossyrock, at the school I had attended for 12 years. My mother was faithful in taking my sister and me to church every Sunday.  We participated in nearly every service and many potlucks, quilting bees and other gatherings. The folks came from miles around to be part of our "family". Sadly, when I was 12 the old church burned down when the furnace malfunctioned. We met for a year or so in the Silver Creek Grange Hall while a new church was being built. About that same time the congregation needed a pianist, and since no one was available except me, I was drafted, at age 12, to play the Sunday hymns. It was a crash course in accompanying for a student only 3 years along in piano study! The congregation was very patient and encouraging as I learned to plug along, always keeping the beat. I continued to be church pianist till I married and moved away at age 19. My very early experience prepared me well for future years of accompanying and performing.

My mother lived with me in Wenatchee Washington for the last 8 years of her life. She went to her heavenly home just a couple of weeks after her 89th birthday in 2002. Mr. Keith and I held onto her ashes, not sure where to put them, until in 2005 when we began our RVing adventures. Since my mother's very favorite thing to do was to travel — she'd been all over the U.S. and in several foreign countries, including the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of Europe — we decided to take her with us on our journey! As we workamped in different states I always felt she was right there with us, enjoying the trip. Our campground job in 2006-2007 happened to land us near Olympia, so we were able to take several day trips down to Salkum, Mossyrock, and surrounding areas. Of course I had to show Mr. Keith all the places that were important to me in my growing up years! The dirt driveway in the picture above is between the Salkum Cemetery (to the right) and the plot where the old church stood.

This is where I made my decision. My mother's ashes would find a perfect home on the spot where she began and continued to attend church for 50 years. It was winter when we spread her ashes in this grove, hallowed ground where the old church stood. I told no one in the church what we'd done. It was our secret! I knew she would be happy with our choice. I could imagine the trees leafing out in the spring, glad to be in the same ground as one of God's most faithful servants.

Looking back up the road, we faced the "new" church, though it has been there for 50 years. I spent my teenage years there and have many fond memories of the wonderful folks who helped in my growing up. Most of them are also dear departed ones, along with my mother and the old pioneer church at Salkum.

One last good-bye to the horse who watched us throughout our little private ceremony. He can be seen in the photo above this one, too, curiously wondering what we were doing, or if we might have a carrot or a hunk of hay for him. It was a blessed and memorable day for us.

Monday, December 9, 2013


 We didn't go far today, but we came across some captivating winter phenomena. It's been so cold here for several days — the lowest temp on my outdoor thermometer was 15 degrees. The Columbia River Gorge has numerous waterfalls. There are the bigger, more well-known ones like Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls, all farther east along the old highway, but we saw many smaller ones, all frozen like this one on Stark Street, just out of Troutdale.

 The highway here is bordered with high cliffs on one side, water cascading down from the top, making its way through the clefts in the rocks. On the opposite side of the street we looked down on the Sandy River.

Just before we got to the bridge spanning the Sandy River we saw this very delightful falls coming down from the cliffs in what appeared to be a large private preserve. The grounds were surrounded by a high steel fence — no entry here! Beside the charming, completely frozen cascade there were light posts and a bench or two, undoubtedly someone's sanctuary in the midst of very old and large firs. I could imagine myself taking a book and perhaps a picnic lunch and sitting here on a warm spring or summer day!

 There are two ways to enter the historic Columbia River Highway heading east, one by coming through Troutdale and crossing a bridge over the Sandy River declaring itself to be "The Gateway to the Columbia River Gorge", and the other by crossing over the Sandy River at the ending of Stark Street. Both bridges are quite ancient.

 As I said, we didn't go far. After crossing the Stark Street Bridge we headed back towards Troutdale. We saw these lovely frozen falls all along the way, some of them just seepage from the rock walls. This water may not be noticed or even be present in the warmer seasons.

One last shot, approaching the "Gateway" bridge taking us back into Troutdale. I wonder how the bigger falls farther up the road to the east are looking in the freezing temperatures. They are probably not completely frozen, as are these smaller streams, but I can imagine they are even more stunning. We may take that longer drive on another frosty winter day!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Anna Bannana

 Mr. Keith and I needed a short drive to get us out of the house on our day off. We chose to get on Marine Drive which begins (or ends!) at Fairview and to follow it to the end (or beginning!) in North Portland where the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers merge. The day was sunny and cold and beautiful. Marine Drive parallels the Columbia for most of the way, crossing under the I-205 and I-5 freeways. We decided to drive into the Heron Lakes Golf Course on the Delta and were rewarded with a sighting of one blue heron, my favorite bird!

 Mr. Keith has a nickname for me — Anna Banana. Imagine our surprise when we saw this sign above a coffee shop in the old historic St. Johns area. Never mind that it has a double 'N' in the name, we had to stop!

 We quickly made a U-turn and got our parking spot right in front, entered, and ordered some lunch. Keith told the proprietor about my nickname and the man said, "Well, we have a coffee mug with the name that you might like to buy!"

  Of course we bought the coffee mug. We were amazed to find this place with this unique name. Who'd have guessed?

The drive back home to Fairview was equally beautiful, though the clouds were lowering and the afternoon getting darker. This is the Portland International Airport from the Columbia River side.