Wednesday, July 31, 2013

campin' in cali

Sandy beach.  Tall evergreens.  Huge lake.  Perfect sunshiny, cool breezy weather.
All of the grandkids.  Seeing Stu and Jessie together again.  Seriously great vacation.
 He is the boss of fire starting.
 Longest kiss ever.
 They were either all together in the trailer.
Or all together outside with sticks, rocks, dirt, and awesome imaginations.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

yard party

It is quiet in the gardens this morning.  Mostly.  If I close my eyes, I can hear the hum of the fridge, the little cat scratching her claws on the carpet on the stairs, JoJo whistling and begging while peering through the windows of the deck door.  I could go open the door so she and Gus can run in and out at will, but that means the big cat can no longer lay stretched out on the cool kitchen floor and the little cat will disappear, back on alert, already gone looking for hiding places downstairs.

When I look outside from my chair, I can see something large and buzzy, flying back and forth across the yard.  Not sure if it's a humming bird or maybe some superbee.

I note that the windows JoJo looks through need a serious cleaning.  Many dog nose-prints and tongue-licks there that don't particularly trouble me but might bother the guests later today.

Jack and Jr and I spent most of yesterday out in the yard, pruning, weeding, mowing, edging, raking, and then hauling to the landfill.  The gardens look much tidier, but I distinctly remember thinking several times that I didn't know why we had to do all of this in one day--one very hot day--when it's only family who is coming today.  They're family, for heavens sake. 

But it does all look much nicer and I couldn't have done it all myself.  Those two can work so hard.

Even the flower pots on the deck, which looked so cheerful earlier this summer, but have suffered from the heat and perhaps some insect infestations--now look happy again after I removed a few dead bits and added a few more colorful live ones.

I'll clean up those windows and then Jr and I will go to the grocery store to pick up the last few items needed for the meal, and if we're lucky, the farmers' market will be open with fresh cherries or corn or little tomatoes to add to the table.  Probably too early for local watermelon, but we'll pick up one somewhere and settle it into the big metal tub with the sodas and ice and water to cool them all.

We'll toss together a big potato salad and bake a big pot of beans, and when Stu arrives, we'll skewer the meat and veggies for grilling.  And if we are lucky enough to find fresh local corn, we'll husk it and cook it quickly and slather it in butter and salt and pepper.

And then I'll sit back and watch, hopeful that everyone will enjoy the food and the conversation and the company.  If I remember, I'll snap pictures of people smiling and laughing and talking and swimming and pondering.  Mostly feeling satisfied and welcome. 

And after the food is gone and the conversation is over, I will sit back and sigh, quietly contented that those who came enjoyed themselves and those who didn't or couldn't were missed, but we did the best we could, the food was good, and the kids had fun.

Friday, July 19, 2013

happy 1000 to me

This is my post number 1,000.    That is a lot of words.  And pictures.

And what better for this special post than pictures of a huge pile of daisies from my gardens, right?  These were growing out front in the courtyard until the night before last when a monster Florida-style rainstorm hit and all of the water on the roof overflowed the rain gutters and poured onto the daisies and knocked them down.  Poor dears.

But look at how happy they are now, snuggled together in a pail on the deck out back.  If it weren't my off-Friday, I would never have thought to go out and cut them off and put them in the pail.  They would have laid on themselves in the heat of the courtyard and withered away.  So sad.  

This, this is a perfect example of why I need more off days, right?

And this is a shot of my view this morning from my chair in the dining/family room.  
Yet another reason why I need more off days, right?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

the gardens

On the way to the airport yesterday, Eileen and I stopped at the Portland International Rose Test Garden.

And then I came home to my own gardens that have gone from lots of green leaves to masses of color with more to come at any moment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

oh the things we saw today

Today, we hit the beach.

It was only 74 miles from Portland.  Seaside.  Isn't that a lovely name for a beach town and a beach place?

It was a delight.  A large sandy beach with a massive cliff and huge rolling waves.  Jr would have been in heaven.  We walked almost all the way to the cliff and back.

I'm still not very good at these selfie shots, but this is a pretty good likeness of Eileen.  I was concentrating on taking the picture and didn't pay attention to getting both of us smiling in it...

I could not believe these signs we saw were real.  But we asked at The Crabby Oyster where we had dinner ( and chips) and our waitress said yep, they have an evacuation route.  But--knock wood--they haven't ever had to use it.  Yet.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

and then today

Today I flew to Portland, Oregon, with my work buddy, Eileen.  It's time for that annual shindig, the paralegal convention.  Last year, Eileen's first convention, was held in Omaha.  In July.  It was over a hundred degrees mixed with equal parts of humidity.  I thought portions of me might have melted off and disappeared into the hot asphalt.

This time we're in lovely downtown Portland.  Classes in the mornings, afternoons free, so I'm thinking we should drive to the ocean tomorrow and then drive to the international rose test garden on Thursday.  What could be better, right?  Ocean/beach with roses/gardens.  All right here in the most self-sustainable city in the nation.  Perhaps the world.  I'll have to check the brochure to confirm.

The only thing I would change about Portland is the food.  Holy cow are they all about the vegan/vegetarian business.  Eileen, the vegan, has died and gone to heaven.  We ate lunch at a place that had "veggies" in its name, I thought we'd be eating stir fry.  But no, we had fish tacos (pretty good but not sure that was actually fish and not tofu) with chili (again, no meat, just beans and zippiness).  No diet coke to be found in the place.  I asked if there was a cupcake store anywhere nearby and was given directions to a place that our server had been at just last week where she had the best.ever.gluten-free.cupcake to die for with avocado cream frosting--and I had to turn away.  It was all too much healthiness for me.  Can't I just have a german chocolate cupcake?  Or a chocolate chocolate cupcake?  Sprinkles too, please?  Well, no, no I cannot.  So I hit up the little store in the lobby where I picked up a couple of candybars and a couple of diet cokes.

Gurl's gotta do what a gurl's gotta do.

Which reminds me of my last trip to Portland--on a bus in November (?) in a rainstorm with my high school friend, Joey, and our other Future Business Leaders of America.  I don't remember anything about that visit except that we all walked around outside the hotel one night, which seemed a bit sketchy since we didn't know where we were or where we might be going and somehow Dianna Ross was involved in the conversation--maybe from a billboard of her movie, maybe Mahogany?  I also remember deciding to ride the elevator to the top of the hotel only to find out there was a private club on the top floor (that apparently didn't welcome 17-year-olds), which was made clear by the loud male voice speaking to us in a clear Germanish accent:  "YOU VREALIZE OF COURSE DAT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED ON DISS FLOOR!!!" This announcement caused us to scream a silly little startled scream, punch the elevator button repeatedly, and exit the floor as quickly as possible, giggling all the way down to our own floor.

We still giggle whenever one of us repeats that phrase during a lunch date or over pancakes.

Tomorrow I'm going to get Eileen up there to see what's what.

Today we also walked around our hotel for a while.  We didn't have anyplace in mind to go see, so when I saw a sign that pointed towards a fountain, we headed in that direction.  At first, the only fountains we saw were drinking fountains.  Was this some inside Portlandia joke that we weren't in on?

After a few blocks, we were ready to change directions, but then we saw it--the fountain:

Of course, naked men staring at and reaching for naked women's breasts right in front of an insurance company office.  Okay, maybe that wasn't the fountain.  I couldn't get Eileen to pose for me in front of that one and she didn't want to take pictures of me draped over it either.  So we kept walking.

Next we came upon Portland's own Gallivan Center look-alike and it had this fountain:

We were not sure which fountain deserved its own directions-to-me sign.  They were both equally artistic and impressively waterfull-y. And delightful to stumble upon in the middle of a perfectly lovely weather day.  Portland does get points for weather.  And fountains.  Just not cupcakes or big juicy burgers.  Our search will continue tomorrow.

Monday, July 8, 2013

a couple more things

Jessie told me the other day about telling Janey she should go put on her new pants.  They are khaki green cargo capris.  Janey told her she couldn't wear them until gramma got there because they were just like gramma's beach pants and she wanted to match when we went to the beach.  Cannot believe I didn't get a shot of us together in our matching beach pants.


All three girls sleep in the same room now so they can use Breanne's old room as a toy room.  Breanne always lets me sleep in her bed when I visit.  This time, they all thought it was a good idea for me to sleep in Breanne's bed in their room so we could have a sleepover.  They pulled out their princess couches and we all shared the room.


I woke up at 5:45 a.m. yesterday morning--Utah time--and knew it was too early to get up to start the drive home so I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.  That doesn't usually work for me, so after tossing about for half an hour, I got up and thought I quietly dressed.  I picked up my bag and my purse and carefully stepped over Breanne sleeping on the floor next to her bed.

And then I saw Cailin's eyes slowly open and look right at me.  I paused, hoping she would snuggle herself into her blanket and drift back to sleep.  Her eyes closed, I sighed and continued out of their room and down the stairs.  See, I had this idea that if I hug and kiss them and tell them goodnight at night, I won't have to say goodbye in the morning when I leave and they'll wake up happy and ready for a new day, even if gramma has gone home.  It probably usually goes like that.

I'd still like to hang on to that no-goodbyes dream of mine.  But as I got to the bottom of the stairs yesterday morning, I heard a sweet little voice, calling out, "Mommy? Mommy? Mommmmy?  It's time for Gwamma to go home.  Mommy--"

My heart broke and my tears began.  I was just that close to getting out with no tears on my face.  Or at least not very many because we'll be back together, camping in 20 days.  But I had to go back up, gather her in my arms, hold her close, and quietly weep as we headed downstairs.

We sat together on the couch while Jr and Joe collected their things.  I did the dishes from the yummy meal Jessie and Cory cooked the night before.  Jr set up Cailin with a game of Angry Birds on an iPad.  She was calm and happy to have screen time with no sisters there to 'help' her, so I kissed the top of her head goodbye and she smiled, even while playing the game, and we left.


I'd like to write that she played for over an hour, letting her family get much-needed rest, but I think she had everybody awake in the house about ten minutes after we left.  Sorry for the early start guys.  Probably should have gotten up the first time I woke up--might have been easier on everybody. 

And then twelve hours later, we were home.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

this time

This trip to see the Californians has been slightly different than previous visits.  

For one thing, I got very anxious when Jr's car started misfiring on July 4th, the day after we drove it all the way here, through the 113 degree heat in Sacramento.  When the check engine light came on, Cory got out a device that identified the possible issues by computer code, so Jr looked that up in his owner's manual and realized something was going on with the #2 spark plug.  They headed to the auto parts store, which surprisingly, was open on the 4th of July.  Jr bought the spark plug, brought it back and replaced it.  Unfortunately, the misfiring was still going on.  

Remember, we're 784 miles from home with a broken Lexus.  I was feeling more than a little frantic inside.  How would we get home? What would we do with Jr's car?  What would it cost to have the Lexus dealer fix it?  Was it major or minor?  New car for Jr?  Rental car for us?  Tow it home?  So.Many.Questions.  

Jr, however, is a fixer.  He sat down with his computer and the internet and thought it through, and then logically figured out that maybe it was the coil for spark plug #2.  Before heading back to the auto parts store and spending more money, he deduced that swapping the coils around would help him determine if maybe he just needed to replace coil #2.  So that is what he did and sure enough, the check engine light code moved with coil #2 to coil #3's spot.  (Honestly, I don't know if it was #3 or some other coil number.  I was too stressed for that.  But he figured it out.)  Off he went to the parts store for a new coil and once he replaced coil #2, the engine once again purred.  

I'm telling you, the kid is amazing.  He definitely has his dad's brain when it comes to logically figuring out what is broken, how to diagnose it, and how to repair it.  Only $120 later, the car was working again.  I was so relieved, and honestly, so very, very proud of him. 

Another difference between this trip and others is the sunburn I picked up yesterday at the beach.  Seriously, what was I thinking when I didn't liberally apply sunscreen?  Yet another of my awesome kids stepped up to take care of me.  Jessie found lavender oil and zinc oxide and cortisone cream and a cool, pain-relieving spray that eased my discomfort.  And also brought me a dark chocolate Milky Way as well as a theater-sized box of Jr Mints.  Totally soothed my feel bads.  Love that girl and that she so willingly took care of me.

Before I recognized I was sunburned, the beach was great.  A little breezy, a little cool, but so much fun to see the grandkids and kids together, the waves rolling in, the birds overhead.  I have this theory that any day at the beach is wonderful and this day helped prove my theory correct.  It was a beautiful day. 


I should probably write something about the scratchy throat, coughing, lousy cold that hit Jr while he was repairing his car, but even feeling as sick as he did, he fixed the car and then still had a blast at the beach, building sand castles and playing in the ocean in his new wetsuit.  This kid knows how to have a good time.

And of course, I love spending time with the Californians.  Frequently a grandkid is on my lap or sitting next to me, and often one of them gives thanks for gramma during a nighttime prayer or blessing on the food.  Who wouldn't like that, right? 



I'm not really the kind of gramma who plays nonstop with her grandkids.  While I enjoy all kinds of interactions with them, I really love simply being in the same place, hearing them together, seeing them in their day to day lives.  It feels so good to see my kids being good parents.  And they are.  Good parents.

Early tomorrow morning, with my fingers crossed, we head back over the mountains, across the desert.  

I'm already looking forward to our camping trip in a few weeks when hopefully we will all be together for a few days.  More chances for making memories of good times.  I can't hardly wait.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

what's more american than a road trip over july 4th?

Yep.  We're in California.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

swimsuit update 2

That swimsuit I bought?  Loved.  It had several little tiny holes in the right hip that I didn't notice until I'd brought it home.

Sad face.

Called Kohl's.  There were no replacements to be found in my state.

Double sad face.

Jr went back to Kohl's with me where we found this replacement:

Yeah, that's not me in the photo again.  No freckles. And obviously.  My hair is shorter.