Meet Larry

The second we saw Larry we were smitten.  There he was, in a shop that was closed, looking at us with big eyes.  We could tell right away that he wanted to go home with us.   We were in Sandpoint, Idaho on the first day of a two day road trip, the eventual destination of Golden, Colorado for a wedding.  I’d never heard of Sandpoint but it’s a cool little resort town in the mountains, surrounded by gigantic Lake Ponderay where lots of rich and famous people have second homes.  And we fell in love with a Bulldog.  He was colorful, muscular and had a spiked collar on which told me he was a boy.  He looked like an English Bulldog but had French Bulldog ears.

Road Trip!

The next day, after a hike and breakfast we made a beeline to the shop, hoping Larry was still there.  Yes!  He was waiting for us.  After about 10 minutes, Larry was ours.  The shopkeeper said his name was Spike but to us he was Larry.  Tom went to get the car.  All of a sudden it dawned on me, we were on a road trip.  Would Larry be a good traveler?  We put him in the backseat and went on our way to our next destination:  Kallispell, Montana.  Larry was the best Bulldog ever. Nary a peep.  We checked our handy dandy hotel tonight app on the phone and found a place to stay.  Would they take Larry?

Larry ended up being perfectly happy in the trunk.

larryA perfect road trip is one in which unexpected things happen. We didn’t expect to be eating Yak burgers and Boar burgers in Kallispell, MT. I have looked for large metal flowers forever but didn’t expect to get those in Bozeman, MT. Bozeman was one of those places I am pretty sure I could live in and be happy. We stayed at the Pronghorn Inn in Lander, WY. Lander is a one street town but the home of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), where our son had gone between his Senior year in HS and college. He spent a semester in the Rockies. They have a brand new building and we were poking around in the evening, when someone came out the front door and asked what we were doing. We got inside information on where to hike and got a personal tour the next day. Completely unexpected!

We spent five days altogether in Colorado between the wedding and seeing old friends.  We headed home through the same states we had been through on the way down, but different places.  Surely the trip home would be boring.

The wide open spaces of Wyoming ~

snake-riverWe made really good time through Wyoming as it’s wide open roads and high speed limits.  Instead of pulling off the freeway at a fast food place for lunch we decided to go into one of the towns off the freeway.  The very small town was further off than we thought, but so glad we did. We ate at the Huckleberry Cafe and the food was wonderful!  Giant grilled sandwiches and an expresso ice cream shake for dessert.  The owner talked our ears off and had a guest book for us to sign.  So much better than McDonalds.

We made it to Burley, Idaho that night and the next morning, realizing that Twin Falls was only 40 miles away, we headed there for breakfast.  We turned into Twin Falls and ran into a canyon!

Twin Falls is the only place in the Country that you can base jump without a permit. We saw that also and then hiked to the place where Evil Knievel made his famous try at jumping over the Snake River Canyon. That’s Tom on top of the Evil Knievel jump off point.

We spent most of the day in Twin Falls and then headed to Boise, Idaho. This is the place we were meant to live.  We found a hotel through our hotel tonight app and then headed downtown to dinner.  We hit restaurant row where all the restaurants had outdoor seating and everything was jam packed.  We went into a place called Fork that was full inside also, but we could sit at the bar.  This bar was spectacular. The building itself was a former bank and the people were so friendly!  The guy sitting next to us insisted we try his appetizer as it was so delicious. His girlfriend insisted we have some of their onion rings.  We offered them tastes of our food. My Idaho trout was out of this world. We had a bottle of one of the best Rose’ wines I’ve ever had.  It was local and the winery is called “Cinder.” Who knew Idaho made wine?

balloon-close-upThe next morning as Tom opened the curtains in our room, we saw this:  A hot air balloon festival.

Needless to say we made a beeline to the park.  

After a trip to Cinder winery and a case of wine later, we headed into Oregon where we spent the night in Pendleton, a true cowboy town.  I was in heaven.  The very definition of a perfect road trip.

I am still working on my idea for ongoing blogs and really, it’s coming soon!

Any ideas for a road trip?  We have decided that is the best way to travel and we are now road trippers.

What! I’m President of Everything?

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The current president of Newcomers Club has had the gall to leave in the middle of her term.  Just because I was First Vice President didn’t mean I have to become president, right?  Well, apparently I didn’t make a strong enough argument and now I am President.  It was so easy getting elected President by our 30 person board.  I didn’t even have to campaign.  Eat your heart out Hillary Clinton.  I am also in charge of the bocce group.  I’m supposed to have a partner, but…And also a writing group, but that one is easy.  I don’t really feel like I’m in charge, everyone contributes.  I just happened to start it.

Now however, I am going to tell you a story.  We are starting to landscape our back yard.  Sincbare back yarde this is a new development, there is nothing there.

We know we’re putting in a bocce court right below the rock wall. back yard

My story is about a fairy.  My daughter, husband and our 3 year old twin granddaughters were coming to visit over Memorial Day weekend.  I am putting in a fairy garden as I had seen one at a friend’s and loved it.  It’s like playing with a dollhouse all over again.  I bought a cottage and a chicken coop with 3 little chickens in it at a nursery here.  fairy house I knew the twins would want to play with the cottage and chickens as they are just sitting on our back deck.  So I came up with this story


One day Mimi and Papa were out in back getting our yard ready to put in our plants.  Papa was digging up rocks and I was stuck pulling weeds.  All of a sudden Papa shouted:  “Mimi” come here!”  As I was really only half interested in the weeds, I rushed over hoping for some excitement.  Papa was speechless and could only point into the hole he had just dug.  I looked into the hole and there at the bottom was a tinyfairy fairy, covered in dirt.  She was blinking her eyes, trying to get the dirt out.  Her hair was all matted and I couldn’t tell the color as it was full of dirt.  Her clothes were torn and dirty.  She stopped blinking and she gave a hesitant smile.  “Hello” she said.  “Thank you for uncovering me, I have been waiting for you.”

 “Oh”, I said, still in shock.  “Are you ok?  What is your name?”  “I am ok now,” she said.  “The big machines moving all the dirt, covered me up and I could breathe because I was in the curve of a rock but couldn’t get out.  My name is Kenlia.”  “Kenlia?”  I said, “that sounds like our granddaughter’s names put together.   What can we do for you?”  Papa was finally getting over his surprise and said “yes, whatever you want.”  “I would like a garden,” she said.  “A garden with a house of my own and some chickens to keep me company.”  “Yes!, we can do that” I said.  “What will you be doing while we are making your garden?”  “I will be waiting for my new home,  you won’t be able to see me, but I will be here.”  And with that Kenlia disappeared.fairy garden

 I have been dealing with a bloggers block.  Trying to figure out where to go with my blog and I finally have an idea.  It won’t be children’s stories!  I have to brainstorm my idea and will let you know in my next post what I have come up with.  Meanwhile, do you have an idea for me?

First Wine, Then Karma


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Tom and I belong to a group called the Wine Enthusiasts.  Once a month we go to a different Oregon winery to taste Wine.  Last Saturday we were at Christopher Bridge Winery, only 11 miles from home.  c bridge wineryOur group of 22 enthusiastically talked, tasted wine and snacked until it was 4pm and time to go home.

Tom, Mr. “I’ve got a map in my head” was driving.  Things started out normally and we were approaching the freeway on-ramp that I and any other normal person would have taken as it leads directly back to our house.    However, Tom declared that he hates taking freeways and will show me the back way.  I yawn thinking “Not the back way again.  That’s how Target got lost.”   We crossed the freeway and turned onto the back way…then suddenly Tom yelled “What?? as he saw the NO OUTLET sign.   “No problem.   We’ll just go back and get on the freeway.”

I’m alert now, excited that he erred and has to take the route home that less than one minute ago he scoffed at with disdain.  As we cross back over the freeway he sees that we’re two lanes over from the exit we need.     I’m more alert, even beginning to enjoy this.  Again he said “No problem.  I’ll just turn around at the next light.”  But there’s no next light for several miles.  In fact, the next light is very near the turnoff we took to get to the winery.  We finally reach the next light and instead of doing a U-turn, he turned left as he regained confidence that he knew where we were.  He reassured me that this was a scenic route back and we would be home in no time.

We approached a hamlet called Beaver Creek and kept on going.Beaver Creek goingTom wanted to turn left but at every left turn there was a no outlet sign atop the signpost.  He was intent on turning left.  At last he found a left turn that he could take.  Again, he said with confidence “We’ll come to that bridge near the restaurant we ate lunch at last summer.”

Several miles pass, each one curvy.  And no bridge in sight.

We turn around and he takes another road that he says is going to get us back home.  We keep driving, Tom says we’re headed West.  It’s cloudy,  no sun to give us a direction.  “The car says we’re going East” I say.  “Well, the car would be wrong” says Tom.  We drive some more.  “Now the car says we’re going SE” I say.  “That can’t possibly be right, I feel it in my bones that we’re going West” he says.  Just then the clouds part and the sun pops out.  The sun is behind us in the opposite direction we’re going and even I know that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.  “We’re going East” I say, “Look the sun is behind us.”  Remember when you were pregnant and in labor and your husband is looking at the monitor and tells you you’re having a contraction?  Well this must be the man version of this.

Now he’s in a real bind.  He cannot fathom how we can be going the exact opposite direction from home.  Finally he gives up and consults google maps on his phone.  It showed that he needs to turn right but he’s convinced he needs to turn left.  He studies the phone, muttering all the while, something to the effect of “How did I get so turned around?”  Reluctantly, he turned right and began following the directions given by the phone.

Soon we arrive at another right.  It’s the same road we turned left off some 25 minutes ago.  He is SO not happy.  Funny, but I feel great.

We passed a farm with a really cute little donkey in the pen,  the same donkey we passed from the other donkey Then we passed the Hamlet of Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek coming In the back of my mind I think I’ve seen this before and sure enough, we’re back at the same winery we left about 40 minutes ago.   “We’re back at the winery!” I say.  “Yes, I see that” says Tom.

Jaw tightening, Tom looks at me and says sarcastically “you’re really enjoying this aren’t you.”  Now I’m laughing because I’m not only enjoying it, I’m loving it!  We passed the donkey twice, Beaver Creek 3 times, and the winery 3 times.  The 20 minute trip took an hour and 40 minutes.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?  Especially after my experience not being able to find my way out of a parking garage, where he was so impatient and not appreciating my mighty efforts to find the exit.   All in all, a perfect day.

I’m sure you’ve had a Karma experience in your own life.  Tell me about it!


Why Can’t I Find Target?

2015-04-24 10.12.21We’ve moved!  Mostly unpacked and I needed to go to Target.  Tom and I had been there a few times already, so I knew right where it was.  “I’m going to Target” I tell Tom.  “Do you know how to get there?” he asks.  Tom asks this because he was with me when I couldn’t find my way out of the parking garage at our apartment building downtown.  It took three times and the garage is not big.  “Of course I know, because we’ve been there.  I know exactly where it is.”  “Ok, see you later.” he says with doubt on his face.

carI head to Target which is a couple miles away and go down the street I know it’s on.  It’s not there.  I’m sure this is the street, positive.  Where did it go?  Frustrated, I am determined to find it.  I am not calling Tom.  I finally find it on another street completely.  They moved!  How could they possibly move in three days?  And why would they move from a perfectly good location to this one?

When I get home, Tom says “Did you find Target ok?”  “Yes, but you won’t believe this, they moved the store.”  “What?”  “Yes, they moved the store to an entirely different location in just 3 days.  It’s a miracle.”  He rudely rolls his eyes.  “We’ll go there tomorrow and I’ll show you how to get there.”  Fast forward to tomorrow.  We get in the car and when we get to the highway, he goes straight instead of right where I know you go.  “Why are we going this way?” I asked.  “It’s the back way, I’m taking you the back way.”  “I don’t want to go the back way,” I screamed.  “I don’t know the front way, I want to go the front way! I’ll go the back way when I’ve learned the front way, I might not go the back way for several years.”  Why does he do this, doesn’t he know it confuses me?!

Back to unpacking boxes which I’m much better at.  It’s like Christmas every day since these boxes have been in storage for 4 years.  Tom was sure that after downsizing twice, most of the things in these boxes we’d want to keep.  I was pretty sure we’d still have a lot of things we didn’t want.  He was right as usual.  I mean, how can you possibly get rid of something like this?

bunnyMax made this when he was in first grade.  Now isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

Am I the only one so challenged by finding my way around?  Surely I have company out there?

That’s My Duck!

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Tom was peering into the “donate box.”  “What’s my duck doing in the donate box!?”  He wasn’t happy.  We’re moving and sometimes you have to make tough decisions.  Except the duck for me wasn’t tough.  I sneaked it into the box, hoping he wouldn’t notice.  It’s ugly!  He has other ducks, cool ducks.  This duck is not cool.  He got it at a fundraiser where everyone brought something they wanted to get rid of.  Some other lucky woman managed to sneak it into the sale and I’m sure her husband never noticed.


I lost out on the duck.  It is now out of the donate box.  Then there’s the shower curtain.  “We need a new shower curtain for the guest bath in our new house” I said.  “Why?” asked Tom.  “I have a perfectly good one here we can use.”  “You mean that old plastic thing you got at Target on sale for $5.95?”  “What’s wrong with that?”  You see what I’m dealing with here? shower curtain


We’ve been in moving madness for weeks.  I have therefore neglected my blog and you.  I am sure you’ve been checking email and Facebook every day just hoping I might have posted.

Because we like to do things the hard way, we moved most of our things ourselves.  That entailed about 27 trips between the apartment and Milwaukie which is about 20 minutes.  We’d fill our Acura with all sorts of loose things which is how I found myself with a Kitchen Aid mixer on my lap and my feet in cast iron frying pans on the floor of the car.  We saved boxes from our last move and threw all sorts of stuff in them without bothering to label because I knew what was in them!  Into our new garage they went.

Then Tom decided to unload our 10 by 10 storage unit in Tualatin.  He enlisted a friend, rented a U Haul truck and they unloaded it and put it all in the garage.  Which is why I can’t find anything.  I have looked for one certain thing for days and can’t find it.

Which brings me to pillows!  We have opened boxes and boxes of them.  “If I see one more pillow, I am going to commit hari kari” said Tom.  He had a point.  Who knew I had so many?pillows  And since they had all been in storage for 4 years, they all smelled.  So I had to take off all the covers and get them cleaned, and wash all those pillows.  By the way, I love my new washing machine.  It has more settings, buttons and dials then I have ever seen.  So 8-10 loads of pillows later, they all smell good.

I am now in my office, surrounded by boxes wondering how we ever got here.  In a house we took an hour to buy, in a suburb called Milwaukie, on a street with no trees, in a small development.  Are we crazy?  There is a school about two blocks down from us.  It has enormous track and field lights.  They are on every night, rain or shine.  We didn’t notice them when we bought the house.  Maybe someone who takes more time than us and is more careful about great big purchases would have noticed that…

On another note, I found another dumb duck. small duck

Are you more careful when you move things than we are?  Can you find your things without tearing your hair out?

Yes We Bought a Gang Headquarters

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In Chicago, not Portland.  It was our first home.  We lived in Chicago and wanted a brownstone but couldn’t afford much.  There was a 3 story gutted brownstone on the North side of Chicago being sold by the Contractor who owned it.  It was on the edge of the good stuff.  You could almost see the good stuff from our street.  We just knew someday the good stuff would get to us.  Ben, the Contractor, could tell immediately he was dealing with naivete and went in for the kill.  We got up to the third story on a ladder, but there was a floor.  We walked over to the window and the glorious view of the abandoned tire factory and parking lot across the street.  “Wow, some view” Tom said dryly.  “Think of it this way” commented Ben.  “It lets in a lot of light.”  We were sold.   When we moved in, only the first floor was partially completed and we locked the front door with a 2×4.  Only after we moved in did we find out we had bought the local gang headquarters.  The first night brought trouble.  And we had plenty afterwards.  We ended up getting a big mean dog.  Today that place is worth multi millions.

If only I had pictures!  But they are all pasted in a scrapbook in a box in storage.  Just imagine a young couple standing in front of their newly acquired gutted 3 story brownstone and facing the abandoned tire factory.  The couple is standing at their front door outside.  The door is lavender with big swaths of graffiti on it.  You’re starting to get the picture.

Tom and I share a dubious quality.  We make fast, on the spot, decisions.  Mostly gut decisions without thinking (Tom contends that his decisions are not without thinking – he just thinks quickly).  Is this what attracted us to each other in the first place?  We’re attracted to unconventional places which takes me to the house we bought in Larkspur CA.

We moved to CA when Tom was transferred with IBM.  It was fast and we quickly bought a townhouse.  We wanted something different and went looking.  A house in Larkspur had been on the market for quite awhile.  We went to look.  On a Sunday afternoon at 3:00 our realtor knocked on the door.  No answer.  We went in.  The reason no one answered?  No one was out of bed.  The hallway was painted black.  The living room was huge with 20′ ceilings.  Beams painted black with blue Christmas tree lights strung around them.  Very dark as the floor to ceiling curtains across one wall were closed.  Curtains that made you want to wash your hands when you touched them.  Opened, they revealed 3 sets of sliders out to a big veranda.  Meanwhile the realtor was knocking on a door and got a response from within.  She opened the door.  A guy in a bathrobe was sitting on the bed.  The room reeked of patchouli oil.  The ceiling was mirrored and the paneling on one side of the room, kicked in.  The bathroom was black with dirty dishes in the sink and shower.  We backed out.  Went down the hall and knocked on another closed door.  The dog inside growled menacingly.  We backed away.  The kitchen had orange shag carpet and red cherry walls.  Appliances from the 1930’s and a stuffed iguana inside the refrigerator.  Meanwhile our two young kids age 5 and 8 were running around outside excited by all they saw.  Tom and I went through one of the sliding glass doors outside to the veranda.  From it we saw a reflecting pool (no water), a Chinese Tea House and a gazebo.  old Brantwood

tea house reflecting pool street view of brantwood Top picture is before paint and remodel.  Bottom pictures are with new paint, etc.

We looked down at it all, looked at each other and both shouted YES!

I thought you should know this background because we bought a house here in Portland.  The first house we saw.  It took us less than an hour to say yes!  Actually the house is in Milwaukie, that suburb I said I wouldn’t live in, in a development that I said we’d never live in.  No trees because it’s brand new.  Trees were on my must have list.  Brand new.  We’ve never had that before.  The house itself is everything we wanted that does not exist already built.  The string continues, gut decisions and fast decisions!

home sweet home This is us!

We move in February.  realtor Diane Happy Realtor!