Cemetery walkers

Through a series of geocaches, I've learned a bit about cemetery walkers. These are folks who have an interest in the old historic cemeteries, and volunteer their time to record information from headstones and post it to an online website. It's something I'd like to look into doing when I retire.

Today I located the Meridian cemetery; it's out Kent-Kangley just east of Lake Meridian, behind the Edline funeral home. I never even knew it was there, but always knew there had to be a community that bore the name—both the Kent-Meridian road and the Kent-Meridian high school took their names from the two communities, but Meridian never became a town in its own right.


Tap, tap, tap

We love the Whistle Stop Tavern, which had been in downtown Renton since the early 1900s in a building next to the tracks and kitty-corner from the old train station. When they lost their lease a few years ago, they  moved to the other side of the tracks in the same neighborhood, within spitting distance (for the very talented in that sport). They negotiated and were able to keep the massive carved oak bar, in use since the beginning of the tavern. The cherry wood bar traveled to the Alaska Gold Rush and back before finding a home in the original tavern.

As much as we loved the original bar, we like the new digs much better. Bigger and brighter, more seating, better parking, and enough room for a separate bar area, which allows them to have a separate restaurant section, too. The adult-only bar area is intimate, surrounded by a chest-high wall that's topped with tap handles. More than you’ve probably seen anywhere else, and from all our favorite microbreweries.

The food is good, and there's a long and varied selection of brews available (which changes frequently, keeping it fun to come back to). I wish it was closer to home; it would be the perfect neighorhood bar.



A cold, clear day. An historic city center. A line around the block. It’s Winterhop in Ellensburg, Washington. Now you might not think of sampling tasty cold beer in the middle of winter, especially in blustery, cold, January in this windy Washington town. But microbrewers from around the Northwest gather here the third weekend of January, and so do avid beer afficianados from said region, eager to sample brews and keep warm by walking briskly through town, from venue to venue.

My favorite stop is the local furniture store, where you can sit in comfy chairs in the big display windows and watch people walk by. I also loved the brick-walled shop around the corner from the newspaper office.  That's where we found Boundary Bay, a favorite brewery from Bellingham. I bought a hoodie sweatshirt that will come in very handy for chilly evenings on the deck at the cabin.

Our last stop was the echoing expanse of the former newspaper office and press room. just around the corner on the main drag through town. It’s a loud, echoing cavern of a room, and it still smells a bit like printer’s ink. Being a former newspaper reporter, I like that. The town still has a newspaper, but it’s printed in the larger town of Yakima, over the Umtanum Range to the south.

AfterHop has become as much a tradition as the beer festival itself. Bernie & Linda provided a big pan of lasagne plus a green salad. Andy & Dave both ordered pizza from Papa Murphy's, which we picked up on the way back to the house. Tonight was a blur of food and beer and music and a lot of talking, and we had a great time. Late in the evening I came upstairs for ice water, and heard someone playing the piano. I stood in the dark dining room and listened to James play. I think this is the first time I've ever heard anyone play Linda's piano. He plays beautifully; would love to hear him tackle George Winston… what he played was in that style, but I didn't recognize it.

Eventually I had to call it quits, and headed downstairs to the guest room. It was very quiet in the basement… except for the door opening and hastily closing in the wee hours, with a whispered "sorry." Someone got lost on the way to the bathroom!


It's not over yet

Snow is on the way… again. I plan to work through lunch, as the snow is expected to start by late afternoon.  Dave sent me the Weather.com precipitation map; I've got it up on my laptop and am watching the areas of snow, rain, and ice move around.

It's getting colder; the area of rain is almost gone. It's all mixed snow & rain south of Puyallup, and snow east toward Mt. Rainier. Looks like it’s circling the farm, getting ready to pounce…  I keep watching the sun moving across the sky, and it’s grey and cold, but no snow yet.  But by At 8:30, our HR department had already sent out a note about the snow forecast, and what to do if they close down due to inclement weather. Didn't even know we had an actual policy.

I've set aside a couple of projects to take home. I can edit the hard copy of the spares catalog, and keep working on the M-127 draft (printed it today). Both need a lot of editing and formatting, perfect tasks to do at home.

By 7:00 the snow was starting to fall at the farm, and it snowed hard until about midnight. At 12:30 the snow stopped, and it was beautiful outside.


Shouldn't remakes be better?

Cold, rainy, snowy (for a while), didn't leave the house today. I cleaned the kitchen, made a double batch of cookies (will take some to Ellensburg this weekend), read my library books, and didn't do much else. We watched a couple of movies this afternoon; a Demi Moore movie about an author who loses her young son and moves to a remote village in Scotland, and the latest Netflix movie, a pointless remake of Predator. I didn't like the original, and although this one had better special effects, it still didn't have a plot. I don't see the point in remaking something if you can't improve it. Seems like a waste of effort to me.


Taking a year off

Last year was so hectic for both of us, we decided to take a year off from the Miata club and catch up on other interests. But it was nice to get a note from some new friends in the club, wondering where we've been, and making sure we're OK.

Even though my focus last year was solely on our big regional event, Backroads to Bavaria, and didn't even host any other events, it really wore me out. Planning an event like this (people coming from all over the west, multiple events throughout the weekend, two banquets, drives, getting Mazda sponsorship, and directing a committee) is a BIG job. I was burned out, and didn't even realize it. Then Dave's work took him out of state for much of the year, and any spare time I had evaporated.

My only regret at taking a low profile is missing our friends in the club, and strengthening friendships with a few particular members that we really "clicked" with. That, and not getting my garage queen out of hibernation more often!


Rude awakening

The first day back at work after a long holiday break is always tough. But today was especially hard. After 18 straight days to call my own, I just wasn't ready to give up that freedom. And I wasn't alone in my thinking... several people told me today that they felt disjointed, not ready to go back to the grind of working for someone else. I overhead one guy say that the time off with family made him think long and hard about his priorities in life. I hope that 2011 will be a year of renewed optimism and enthusiasm for everyone I know and love. I am hoping for the same for myself as well.


Sunkist Lemon Aid Kit

After the successful use of my little Sunkist zesting tool at the Limoncello party, I went searching for it on the Internet. I found several of the zesting graters for sale (for about $20... yikes!), but none of the other pieces.

I finally found a 1976 advertisement for the Sunkist "Lemon Aid" set, which probably came from Sunset magazine. This would have been the timeframe when I got my set, which included the zesting grater, 2 "Snacker" tools, a spout that you screw into the fruit so you can squeeze the juice without using a reamer, a 2-piece reamer, and a recipe booklet... all for $2.00. More than 30 years later, I still have (and use) this cool little kit.

Budding writer

The young daughter of a friend is trying her hand at writing, and has asked for advice. I admire her approach—she just sat down one day and started writing a fantasy fiction tale aimed at the teenage reader. That takes courage, something we tend to lose as we get older and more experienced in how the world works. I've been a technical writer for 20+ years now, supporting various companies with product documentation. I've written software manuals, but my first love is hardware… I love getting my hands dirty and figuring out exactly how to take things apart and put them back together. And I love working with the mechanics and techs, the guys who do the building and testing and the day-to-day work in the shop. But I'm not a fiction writer... not yet, anyway.

Tracey is looking for clues on how to actually get a work of fiction published, as she's quickly getting to the end of her tale, and is anxious to figure out how to get her book out there. She's found that there's a ton of information on the Internet, but it's a tangled forest of often-conflicting information, and she'd rather talk to people who have been there. I've not attempted to publish anything I've written, outside of my professional work, but have researched the subject. I hope my advice will help her come up with a plan.

She's also writing a blog, which showcases her crochet design work. This girl is talented! She loves animation of any kind, and can look at a cartoon character and figure out how to create it in yarn. Never having mastered crocheting (sewing and quilting are more my speed), I think her work is very impressive. You can check it out here:  http://mostlynerdycrochet.blogspot.com/


Limoncello party

For the first time in about a decade, we actually went to a New Year's Eve party last night. Our friends, Jim & Julie, invited an assortment of friends and family to come over and make Limoncello, an Italian liqueur made (essentially) from Everclear, lemon peels (with no pith), and sugar.

Dave got kudos for making long, narrow strips of peel, and everyone loved the truly antique zesting tool that I brought. It's part of a set of zesting & juicing tools I got free from Sunkist, probably around 1979. This little zester can score the fruit and peel off the skin, and was the perfect tool for scraping any remaining pith from the lemon strips. Karen loved it so much, she was on her smart phone halfway through the zesting process, trying to find one on eBay.

Our reward for helping with all the zesting was a tasting of last year's effort, which was wonderful. We'll be coming back in a few weeks for a bottling party, and will get our own bottle to take home!

Thanks, Jim & Julie... we had a great time!