Snow? Oh no!!

The radio clicked on this morning, right in the middle of a list of school closures. Oh no. I shouldn't have been surprised; we were supposed to get snow on Sunday, but it didn’t materialize. I always plan to work from home during the winter, one of the benefits of working as a technical writer. I brought home a new installation manual to edit.

So I got up and dressed, rebuilt the fire, and made coffee. Dave headed for work but called 15 minutes later to say that the roads were very icy, and he was coming back home. He's my own litmus test: if he doesn’t want to drive on them, they must be really bad. So I just stocked the woodstove, and started a pot of coffee.

While we ate breakfast, we watched the morning news. Always entertaining during bad weather. I sent an e-mail to Linda: Well, this feels weird... sitting in the living room, watching news coverage of the snow (and all the foolish people trying to get off East Hill), and feeling oh-so-glad I can take a day off. I went out for a load of firewood a while ago, and saw one of the traffic helicopters flying along the creek. They’ve spotlighted 132nd as a bad spot, and also 240th. Getting across the hill and down to the Kent valley seems tough… glad I'm not out there.


The last farm dinner

Tonight was a bittersweet evening. I’ve been cooking dinner for Bernie & Greg since fall of 2002, and tonight is the last. Bernie is retiring and moving home to Ellensburg, and Greg is getting a new roomie (a dog named Schrader) who isn’t likely to appreciate my cooking like Bernie did!

The guys were later than planned, because they went for one last road ride together. I was in the middle of something at 5:45 when the doorbell rang, so I just opened the door and walked away. Greg said, "That's risky. No telling who might be at the door. Could be Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer." I just laughed, but I almost said, "Jeffrey Dahmer would have been on time." It would have gotten a good laugh, but I didn't want Bernie to feel bad, not on his last Pennylane Farm dinner.

Tonight I went all out. We had a Brie & baguette appetizer, followed by garlic chicken with roasted veggies, grilled rosemary potatoes, and homemade foccacia bread. Dessert was simple: melted Brie with sliced Granny Smith apples. I served several different wines, and we laughed all evening, played our favorite music, and talked. I will miss these evenings.


Fourth week

Welcome to the fourth week of January. Cold (27° here), full moon, blue skies and sunshine. I’m not sad that it’s Monday, a beautiful day is beautiful, no matter where I am! It’s been too cold to get out and clean up the patio and haul brush to the burn pile, badly needed. I will wait for our false spring, when it’s 60° and sunny!

Yesterday I spent the day in the kitchen. I made a pot of tomato sauce, baked focaccia bread, and gabbed with a friend when she stopped by to borrow my John Sandford books. I’d planned to make some rosemary bread, but ran out of time (and space in the oven). Next weekend!

Book List For An Expecting Mom

My niece, Anna, is getting ready for the birth of her first child, and wisely is preparing for a siege! She asked for book and author recommendations, so she can find books on tape, and load up her iPod. I confess to having a LOT of favorite authors, so it was hard to narrow it down to just a few. But I hope she'll enjoy Nicholas Evans, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Kate Wilhelm. For giggles, I suggested Donna Andrews and Janet Evanovich.


Missing Winterhop... just a bit

We missed the Ellensburg Winterhop festival this year, choosing to forgo travel over Snoqualmie Pass in winter, and instead attend a series of travel seminars by Europe Through The Backdoor. A new friend in the club works for Rick Steves, and he got us a good deal on new travel bags. And we're hoping to make another trip to Europe next year.

We spent the day watching slides of Ireland, France, Great Britain, and Italy, picking out new travel gear, then finished off the day with dinner at a French restaurant. We've done Rick's travel seminars before, and I highly recommend them. We learned a lot of "ropes" before our first European vacation a decade ago, travel tips and sights not to miss, that we may not have discovered on our own.

Winterhop would have been fun, though… Walking around Ellensburg in the bitter cold, drinking beer, walking some more, then crashing at Bernie & Linda’s house with a bunch of friends. Maybe next year.


Engineering brats

Hmmm... I suppose some might come up with another definition to go with this title. But this actually refers to my friend Eck’s periodic bratwurst barbecues on the sidewalk outside the Engineering offices. He makes a Costco run for food, then hauls out the Weber and cooks up a feast.

A brat, soda, and chips for $3. Can’t beat that.



I thought Bernie was kidding when he said Greg was going to get a dog. Nope. He's apparently already picked it out, a Lab-Australian Shepard mix that he’s adopting from a shelter near Colville. We'll probably meet him at the upcoming weekend at the cabin. Hope he knows what he's getting into (the dog, I mean). He'll be expected to run miles through the woods each weekend, following (or leading) the mountain bikers. Endless ear scratching, a warm place to sleep, and good kibble. Hmmm... sounds like a dog's life to me!

I took this on Shrader's first visit to our cabin; good name for a mountain biking dog, yes?

End of an era... again

I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around this. Our best friend, and one of our oldest friends (since Dave was 13, and I was 18), is retiring from Boeing and moving to Ellensburg. Bernie has graced our table frequently for farmhouse dinners, followed by cards or just relaxing around the fire. We've mountain biked together, and we bought a cabin next to his, so we spend lots of vacation time together. He's always been at the other end of the phone or e-mail. Now he'll be 100 miles away.

The past three years, he's roomed with another good friend while he continues to work. Bernie is getting a lot of mileage out of telling everyone that Greg is replacing him with a dog.

He's doing his best to quell my fears that we'll lose touch. I know from firsthand experience how hard it can be. But he says if we all take care to continue gathering as each side drifts through the territory of the other, we'll be OK. And we'll always have the lake.

Long distance

Our oldest friend just retired from Boeing at 55, just as he always planned. He's been a regular visitor at the farm for years... our families tried to get together every Saturday night, our place or theirs, for dinner or movies or just hanging out. We have cabins on the same lake. Then in 2002 they bought a house in Ellensburg, and he started commuting on weekends. The social dynamic changed, too... the advent of my farm dinners, with Bernie and a mountain biking friend, Greg.

But the social life is changing once again, and it's worrying me. At his retirement gathering tonight, we found a quiet corner and talked about it for a while, about his plans, Linda's plans, his mother's plans. I reminded him that our guest room is theirs anytime they want; he said he knows, and plans to make good use of it. Even as a stopping off point between the cabin and Ellensburg, our place is theirs.

I hope we can make it work, can find another routine to make into a habit. Otherwise it will be really hard to stay together, keep the closeness going. He said from now instead of the Dave & Lissa & Bernie & Greg show, it will be the Dave & Lissa & Bernie & Linda show. Linda has missed out the past few years, and she feels it. I think we have the chance to get back to where we were, getting together on a regular basis. But it will take commitment and effort by all of us, or it won't work at all.



Home sick today. I almost went in at my regular time, but decided to sleep in and consider it later. Glad I did. When I got up at 8:00 and sat in the living room with a glass of juice, I felt really woggy.

So I brought out my down pillow and a quilt, and made a nest on the sofa. I finished the last few pages of Deja Dead, the first Temperance Brennan novel. I slept. Up again for more juice and a banana, and did a few Sudoku puzzles. Back to sleep. Late afternoon, tired of lying down, I emptied the dishwasher, fixed a salad and leftover teriyaki for dinner, and watched a really bad Billy Bob Thornton movie. I moved my nest back to the bedroom and let the cats sleep with me for a change. Tomorrow I'll head back to work and see how that goes.

Bad satellite movies when you’re sick is just wrong. Shouldn’t this be a crime?


First Geocache

The sport of geocaching was invented right here in the Pacific Northwest. Did you know that? Right up there with microbrews and gourmet coffee, the brainchild of folks right here. The first cache, located southeast of Oregon Falls, is long gone. Today you'll find a bronze plaque there to commemorate the First Cache, and a tribute cache, placed in honor of this very first cache.

The day after New Years we decided to brave the winter weather, and cache our way south to the spot of the very first geocache. Our friend and fellow geocacher is celebrating a milestone of his own: his 1000th find. I found a geocoin that depicts the plaque, and gave one to Dave for Christmas. We thought it made a great photo, sitting on the actual bronze plaque. It was drizzling and cold, but we lingered for photos (including our modeling of great-niece Callie's wild glasses) before retreating to the local McMenniman's to hoist a Northwest microbrew to geocachers everywhere.


Full Circle

Before the break, Sustaining Engineering group found out that we were moving offices, and spent the last week of work packing. When we came in this morning, our stuff was waiting for us in our new offices. I’m now back at the south end of the building, within about 25 feet of my first office when I came to work here in 1993. I have a 12 foot wall of windows looking toward the greenbelt next door. It’s heavenly. No door; I’d love to have a door. But this is pretty darn good.