Artichokes and Pink Martini

If you like artichokes, Pink Martini, knitting, then read on. If you are interested in the woes of losing the last 20 lbs or working in education, then read on. If you want to know what it's like to be an empty nester or to share that nest with to two dogs, then read on. If you want to know what the theme is for Monday night dinner, when the kayaks are going out, or who was at the Y at 5am, then read on. If none of this interests you, just hit the button that says "next blog", & read on.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Smoking pots!

That's smoking potS not pot. We went to a Raku Party. This event was an auction item at Katie's high school's fund raising auction last spring, and I won. Since we were limited in the number of participants, the original Monday nighters got a chance to created Raku pots with one of Katie's former teachers, Terri and her pot partner, Jimmy at their ceramic studio. They have a wonderful studio with a beautiful garden to work in. Here's a little of how it went.

First we picked out pots that Terri & Jimmy had already thrown and fired. So many choices, so little time. The next step was to wax the parts that we wanted to remain black, like Katie is doing here, and then dip it into the glaze so it is ready to be fired.

Here Jimmy, as Rob watches intently, has the kiln all loaded and the pots ready to be fired. This big kiln is then closed up and we wait til the temp inside the kiln hits the magic number of 1800 degrees and they they are ready to come out.

This is a great picture of our last firing run as these pots are ready to come out of the kiln. Isn't it cool looking in the dark?

As soon as they come out of the kiln, Jimmy & Terri put the pots into garbage cans with paper in them. This is the "smoking pots" part and where they cool down.

And finally viola' POTS! This picture doesn't do them justice. They all turned out very differently, its all part of the magical process.

A thousand thanks to Jimmy & Terri for all of their hospitality, teaching and generosity. It was truly an experience of a lifetime!!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Rafting on the Klamath!

Today was the day to float down the Klamath River, through some +4 & 5 rapids. It was FABULOUS! The weather was perfect blue sky and low 90s (great when you are getting pelted by 40 degree walls of water). The river was great, 42 different sets of rapids on the Hell's Canyon stretch. But the best part was the other people in the boat with us. Katie & her buddy Lauren, a recent college grad from the east coast, took the brunt of the waves at the front of the boat. Bev & Jack are Ashland residents. Jack was never excited about river rafting because his one trip down the Rogue years ago was pretty boring. Not boring today!!! And my partner Alea, another Ashlander is an experienced river rafter & my raft buddy. Our guide Jerry, who didn't know what he had gotten himself into with this crew, has been guiding rafts down the Klamath for the past 18 years. Is this an intimidating group or what???

A before picture with Katie & I. Don't we look like good buddies? Of course this was before I pushed her in & had to pry her fingers from the life vest so she couldn't pull me in with her. Hey, if I had gone in who would have taken pictures????

WOMEN OVERBOARD!!!!! This was Katie and her new buddy Lauren after I had helped them into the water for a refreshing little dip. They don't look very appreciative.

But they do they look might determined to get back in the boat.

They don't look very unhappy about the whole experience after all. I wish I could have gotten a picture of one of the many walls of water washing over them when we hit the big rapids. But I was pretty busy using my hands to stay one with the raft. They would disappear into the white water for a few seconds before you would hear Katie laughing hysterically at the top of her lungs. She kept us laughing and I think had the best time of anyone.

Poor Jerry. We did wear him out today. A little nap doesn't hurt anyone since he will be back up tomorrow around 5 am to do it all over again. He has a great "office" to work in which helps since he doesn't get any days off all summer long.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Plays & Dinner

This is a photo of the Elizabethan Theater all dressed up for Love's Labours Lost. This is as close as I can get to taking a picture of a play. Camera's are restricted during performances, a good thing. Today we saw 2 plays, Room Service, which was hysterical showcasing some of the best comic actors in the company, and Love's Labours Lost. The latter, one of the Shakespeare plays in the outdoor theater was beautifully staged, with fabulous costumes and great acting. Just not our favorite Shakespeare play. But it had some of our favorite actors and the few adlibs they threw in were so funny & worth the price of admission.

We ate dinner tonight with the cast of Ma Rainey, a play we will see tomorrow night that we have heard very good things about. This is a photo of Katie with 2 of the actors in the play. On the left is Charles Canada, hometown Tacoma and a former artist in residence at the Tacoma School of the Arts. On the right is Mark Peterson, who sat at our table and gabbed with us all night. He is new to the company this year. He is a graduate from Lakes High School in Lakewood, so we talked Tacoma all night. What a nice guy. So don't be surprised if after the season is over he may pop into a Monday night dinner and bring his Mom, who still lives in Lakewood, along with him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ashland Day #3

Today was a spa day at the Blue Giraffe Spa. It was fabulous. We were pampered from head to toe and from toe to head. The decor was beautiful with a safari theme. The people were very, very nice. But no pictures today. So no pictures of me in a M'lia body wrap, spun tight with cellophane. I was going to say just use your imagination, but on second thought, let's not and say that you did. All I can say is that Katie and I are very relaxed with 20 fabulous looking toenails as proof positive of our wonderful day.

Next we went to the "Great Hall" for dinner with members of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We enjoyed the company of a young prince from Richard III, like everyone else, he dies in the play. He is going into 8th grade and has been part of the company for the past 4 years. The question everyone asks him is he going to be an actor when he grows up, and the answer is no. Actually, the Oscar performance at our table tonight was delivered by our Katie, when they delivered a plate of grilled salmon and tomatoes to her. She smiled sweetly like, "How lucky I am to be gettting such a fabulous dinner!" Then we headed over to Munchies after the event so she could get a grilled cheese sandwich and avoid inevitable starvation.

Tonight is more relaxing, a little Law & Order SVU and maybe some knitting. Haven't had a moment to do that since we got here & with our schedule I may not get another chance. TTFN.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Katie's new home

This morning we got a tour of the new on campus apartments that they are building. Katie will be in room 102 B with 3 other girls, Meredith, Cassandra & Meagan. This construction crew has one month left to get it all done. Here's Katie in her almost done kitchen, with brand new appliances. She has a single room & along with the kitchen the apartments have a living area and 2 bathrooms, one with a bathtub, saweeeeet!

We had lunch at our favorite vegetarian restaurant, Pilaf where we always order grilled halluomi cheese on warm pita bread. We'll have to make it some Monday night. Next it was a matinee of Belle's Strategem, a wonderful comedy written in the 18th century by a woman. The costumes were fabulous and the sets, ingenious. Next was the Preface for Twelfth Night, a 1/2 overview of the play & production. Dinner at Martinos & then into the Elizabethan Theatre for Twelfth Night. A fabulous production with some of our cast favorites. And laugh out loud funny at times. But long. Just got back to our hotel & now it is lights out & into bed. Tomorrow we have a spa day scheduled at the Blue Giraffe to relax & rejuvinate so we can make it through the rest of our jam packed week.

Life Goes On Without Us

Or at least, Monday Night goes on with out us! Big thanks to EVERYONE who made dinner last night a happenin' place. Thanks especially to Rachel. Rachel is Duncan and Sydney's sitter of choice. They love her. Not only has she take on them for the week, but she agreed to be hostess with the mostess to the Monday night crew. Not an easy task. A lesser person would have run screaming the other direction, but not our Rachel. Which was appreciated by our guest (soon to be a regular again) of honor, MARILYN!!!! Doesn't she look great back in the neighborhood???

We had quite a turn out (I oughta leave town more often). Thanks to Tom we have all of these great pictures. It was almost like being there for us. Of course, Katie looked at this picture and said, "Who are all of these people???" Seems we had some new faces and visitors from a far. It's all good, since I didn't have to clean up after them.

Looks like we need to turn some music on for the kids in the living room, looks like they are still recovering from a long weekend.

And still more people on the back deck. Hey, is that Chris again? He is such the social butterfly.

And big thanks to Tracy ... the guardian of my utensil tray. Loading the dishwasher, as Monday guests quickly find out, is a little quirk of mine. Thank goodness, Tracy understands me and humors me. Lucky for me Tracy and his kitchen crew make sure that my kitchen is always cleaner than they found it when they leave. A true blessing when you have 18 - 25 people drop in on Mondays for dinner. Thanks again everyone!!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Daedalus Project

We made it to Ashland! Yeah!!! We have a week of plays and fun ahead. Our first event was the Daedalus Project now in its 18th year! It's a variety show put on by the company & all of the acts this year were great. The highlight of the show is the Underwear Parade. Most of the plays and departments from the festival send their brave representatives. Then after the parade, the participants eagerly beg for donations for charity & the group that raises the most are declared the 2005 winner, a very prestigious honor.

Here is Katie with part of the cast of Belle's Strategem (we have tickets for tomorrow's matinee performance. Aren't they fun? Look closely and you'll notice that one of the Belles has a surprise package.

This cute girl works in the box office and printed our tickets up for us. She was wearing more clothes then.

This actor plays Richard III. If he was standing you would see his very sexy Spiderman boxers. The other gentleman is his son, aka Little Richard. They came in 3rd place tonight.

Is he a hunk or what? This picture doesn't do him justice. In real life he is yummy and is in the play, Rock of Gibralter. He is definately the Rock. He came in second in the parade.

And the winner is this cute young thing. Actually it was a group effort, 8 younger male members of the company were selling beefcake photos to help raise money. Definately the popular group of the evening. Poor Katie, as she posed for this picture her mom was having problems making the camera work (wink) so she had to stand there for the longest time with this underwear clad boy holding on to her. Look how she is suffering.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Good Ol' Days

Doug, our short order cook, was the first person that we met when we moved here. I remember him walking across the street and introducing himself to me. That's how he is, even with the people who live in the group home around the corner. He's the man who introduced all of us to Chrissy, but that is a story for another day. Anyways, especially during the remodel, we would find ourselves in Doug & Marilyn's kitchen having breakfast with whoever was around Saturday or Sunday morning. Doug used to make me a latte'. But that was before he made me get my own espresso machine & taught me how to use it. Today's menu was Special Recipe French Toast, Eggs, Bacon, Kathryn's Fresh Home Grown Strawberries with whipped cream and Roasted Potatoes for Katie. Mmmmmmmm.

A happy well fed crew. Isn't it nice to see Marilyn back in her own kitchen? Marilyn and I went to yoga this am at the new yoga studio down the street. What a fabulous way to start the day. Neighbors, a good thing. Think we'll keep them.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Pink Martini!!!!!!

Our Delta Airline girls flew into Seatac just for the Pink Martini concert. Katie came from Crofton, Maryland where she had a great time visiting her best buddy Alisha. Marilyn came from Satellite Beach, Florida as a BIG surprise for Doug, her hubby. And it worked, after much plotting and planning by the whole neighborhood, Doug was totally blown away. Doug & Marilyn were the first neighbors that we met in the hood. Last year they had a bout of temporary insanity and moved to Florida. Doug has been back since May working on the house across the street. We haven't seen Marilyn since last June. The good news is as of today, they have sold their house in Florida and are moving back. Yippeeee!!!

This is the best picture I could get of the stage at Chateau Ste. Michelle. They don't allow cameras onto the concert grounds. I did have this big plan of smuggling Katie's little camera in, but she pulled the plug on that idea. What a great concert venue. It was perfect! The concert was wonderful. Listening to Pink Martini play while watching the "amber moon" rise from behind the trees. Now that's an evening!

This is a picture from last summer at the Taste of Vancouver on Labor Day. Another fun venue. Great food to eat and an arts area to shop in. The best part is that there are no tickets to buy ahead of time, all you need to do is pay the $10 entrance fee to the taste. Pink Martini is on stage from 3 - 5 pm and we made it home by 7:30, with no dishes to do ... how does it get any better than that. Katie and I truck down early to spread out our blankets as close to the stage as we can get. We lay in the sun, listen to the opening acts, shop a bit, and eat great food. So if anyone wants to join us, please let me know & we will save a spot for you. See you there!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Ides of August

An update from Katie: She is having a great time in Maryland with Alisha. They went to Six Flags yesterday. Katie claims that they used lots of sunscreen, but she still got burned. So the plan for today was to stay out of the sun and watch DVDs to recover. She says we can't complain about the 80s because Baltimore hit a whoppin' 99 today (with about a million percent humidity). Believe it or not, she has emailed me everyday, so I can't tease her anymore about never checking in.

The other BIG neighborhood news is that Kathryn now has a real bathroom door, INSTALLED.

Of course, it's only been primed & still needs hardware, so it will be coming back down, which is why I had to take this picture as proof positive that Kathryn really has a bathroom door. If you want to see it for yourself, hurry on over, tours are free!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Ahhhhhhh Friday

Welcome to my do nothing day. I think it's the first of the summer for me. Last spring I got really good at do nothing Sundays. I would get all of my errands done on Saturdays and not touching my car keys on Sunday. The stay at home day. Do nothing. I haven't done that this summer. Katie has been home and somehow, since I have the summer off from work, I think i need to cram it full of things to do. Because, when I have time off, I am compelled to do more, get more accomplished, be more than I can be. It's a sickness. Never quite figured out what R & R is all about.

So I put Katie on a plane to Maryland yesterday. Actually I guess we don't put people on planes anymore. So yesterday I put Katie in the security screening line that would eventually lead to her getting herself on the plane. After a delay in Atlanta, she finally made it safely to Alisha's house around 2am east coast time. And Alisha was so excited to see her that she went to bed and sent her fiance' Matt to pick Katie up at the airport. That Alisha is one smart cookie. Anywho, last night the dogs & I discussed it & we decided to make today a true day off. So they let me lollygag around in bed til 8:30, took a long hot shower. crawled back into bed to play on the computer (because I can since it is an official day off!). Then I got dressed in clothes that I knew I wouldn't be caught dead in leaving the house - my baggy chartreuce sweats and matching t shirt. So if I even get tempted to get in the car and run and errand, all I need to do is look down at my clothes and decide, naaahhhhh, not today. And I have given myself permission (this is the most important part) that whatever I don't do or do do today, it will be just right. No second guessing. No shoulds. No regrets. A day off!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Happiest Girl on the Planet

That would be Katie! Do you think she could smile any bigger??? Why so happy? Well, today was definately her day. She has been struggling & worrying all summer about this math class that she has been taking at TCC. She has even been get daily tutoring this week from our friend Tanya, Super Middle School Math Teacher. Today, Katie went to class for the last review session before the final tomorrow. Her instructor, a living angel, told the class that the final was optional and if they were happy with their grade so far, it would be their grade in the class. YEAH!!! Katie was happy, sooooooo happy, that I think she floated over her car on the way home from class. Katie's algebra career is officially over & she is headed to Maryland tomorrow to visit with her good buddy Alisha. Bon Voyage Kate!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Monday Survivors

Another rockin' Monday. Poor Katie, she is almost done with her summer Math class (she looks like she is already done). Tiffany & Ric are their usual cuteness &, as you can see, Chris has scored a touchdown. Actually, we were a rather subdued crowd tonight - a small, intimate group of 15. I think after the blog pictures of last week, everyone is behaving around me. Thinkin' that won't last long.

Dinner was very yummy. Mostly salad, veggies & dessert. We did have one meat dish. Jewel brought ribs so we humans could eat the meat off of the bones she wanted to give to her dogs. She is so thoughtful. Luckily the dogs got our leftovers and not the other way around.

Remember, next week Katie will be in Maryland, so if you have tomatoes or seafood, bring it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Kathryn, hard at work.

It's August, it's 80 degrees out and most of us school district employees are lolly-gagging and just wasting our time. But not Kathryn. She is hard at work painting, sanding & doing other general contracting tasks. Could this be the infamous bathroom door that we are putting finishing touches on??? Could be.

Notice the nice new fence in the background. That was a Kathryn creation also. The backyard is looking great & almost all done. You should take a stroll down our alley and get a good look before the fence closes in & it will cost you to get a glimpse.

BTW, if you haven't guessed, Kathryn has no idea whatsoever that I took this picture. I took it while peering over the back fence from my yard into hers. I am sooooo stealth, it's scarey. Ssshhhhhhh, it will be our secret. My only regret is that I wasn't quicker on the draw earlier in the week when she was painting with a spray gun & a towel wrapped around her head. Now that was a picture!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Go, go Power Ranger!!!

And you thought Power Rangers were a distant memory. Not so in Tacoma, Washington. We are lucky that our own Rob is finally living his ultimate boyhood fantasy - "Zack" Taylor, Black Power Ranger. Ooooooooooooo. And making personal appearances to boot. I feel much safer in my neighborhood, knowing that this crime fighter is merely a phone call away. It's comforting to know that bravery, goodness, and chivalry are still alive and well. And his name is Rob.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tony Danza Night!

My how Kim enjoys a good chocolate covered banana. MMMmmmmmmmmmmmm, ya baby. Our Tony Danza dinner was a BIG success. We feasted on sausages, little smokies, pigs in a blanket, chocolate covered bananas, popsicles, etc (can you get where this theme was really coming from???) Robert brought his gramma's famous pistachio nut/butterfinger dessert & Sarah's pineapple up side down cake was TRULY a work of art. We have Tracy to thank for this theme's inspiration ... only he can give you the complete story. Definately a night to remember.