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August 27, 2009

My Swimming Pool Resurrected

My friends Dick and Kay Porter are master gardeners. Walking through their garden on a lovely summer day is a treat for the soul. Dick raises award winning Dahlias and Kay has a wonderful eye for the combination of plants. Their home is very close to the end of the Bellingham Parks dock walk which goes over the water to Boulevard Park. It is one of my favorite walks in Bellingham. Because their home is on the foot walk to Fairhaven from the dock, lots of people come by daily to ooh and ah over their beautiful yard.

Dick and Kay have recently bought many of the clear cut cedar two by fours that came out of my pool when I remodeled. Tom used some of the wood on my front deck and and for the bones of the breakfast room seating. The rest was stored in my sub basement until I decided if I would need it for another project. Since it is old growth red cedar, my research showed that it was in some demand. I was delighted that Dick and Kay wanted to buy it for their beautiful new fence which Jerry is now building. Jerry is the woodworker who built my table and he has been trying to figure out how my wood could be used ever since he saw it. In fact, we tried it for the table, but cedar was just too soft to stand up under wear. It is really beautiful when run through the plane.

I visited the fence yesterday although it is not completed. I will post some pictures so you can see the wood in all its glory. Sure beats being covered up by water in a dingy old basement. I think it is fun to see all the beautiful things that have risen from the demise of the old pool.

View From Alley

View from Yard

Beautifully Planed Wood

Kay's Old Blue Window

Tiny Section of Their Beautiful Yard

Award Winning Dahlias

Posted by Marilyn at 2:41 PM | Comments (1)

August 24, 2009


Dani, James & Nico brought their friends Judy and Martin and their boys over yesterday. They are on their way from Los Angeles to Quadra Island via Bellingham and Whistler. Neighbors Amy Sue, Eric and their two boys came over also. What is it about boys? Nary a girl in the crowd! It rather characterizes my life of late. Either its feast or famine around here. It can be very, very quiet and peaceful and then it can get hectic with children in and out and happy talk around the table. I had just returned from Worship in the Park where my committee had been happily barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers so I already had lunch. Dani brought some chicken salad and we pulled out fruit and stuff from the frig to feed the group. Then, Dani took her friends for a walk down by the dock and the three older boys sat and played a game in the breakfast room. I retreated to my puzzle for the duration.

I see by my educator friends on Facebook that summer is coming to an end and they are all returning to work. I need clues like that since I retired. I don't even remember what it is like to return to work full time - or where I got the energy or the hours. I also got an email from one of my counseling interns who is thinking ahead to fall so I guess a new season is almost upon us. Before that, however, I'm going to Maine and taking one more trip to Ashland to see the rest of the plays. I'm not ready to give up on summer. Nor am I ready for the short days and long nights ahead.

Sometimes I feel that life swirls around me and I'm a spectator and sometimes I feel completely engaged. This morning I'm going for a walk along the dock with my friend Judy whose life is winding down. She will not have the luxury of many more seasons. It makes one grateful for the days given to us and for the seasons of our lives. Watching the children on Sunday only brings those seasons into sharp focus. Was it only yesterday that my children were that young and I was Dani's age? Where does the time go?

Posted by Marilyn at 8:25 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2009

My Kitchen Tile

I want to post a few pictures of my kitchen tile. I wasn't sure that they would turn out very well because the tile is a light yellow. But, I think you will get the picture. Because they are hand made, I like the way that they are not uniform, give an undulating look, and reflect light nicely. I wanted to achieve the end result of adding texture without adding a new dimension of color which would compete with the granite and the cupboards. I looked long and hard for a tile that would blend in with those, but was never happy with what I found. So, I hope you agree with me that the choice is nice. What you will not be able to see is the three fleur de lis on each side of the kitchen that are embedded in the tile for interest. Sorry - my pictures are not clear enough. But you get the point.



Posted by Marilyn at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

August 16, 2009

That It Folks!

OK! I'm ready to give up on my Blackberry. I can maneuver the various programs but I don't think that the phone part is very intuitive. I'm still waiting for the salesperson to send me the receipt and coupon for the rebate that he was suppose to get in the mail last week. I called Verizon and found that instructions for downloading stuff from my computer (addresses, calendar) are not included in the kit and I will need to phone Blackberry to get them. Verizon finally gave me an actual phone number (none in the manual). The final blow is that Martin said he found the Blackberry harder to work with. Believe me, if Martin feels that way, it is a death blow to me! Ask Martin, he'll tell you how often I call him with questions about my Mac. I'm really a slow learner.

The things that make me have hope are that 1) I'm supposed to have a month to change my mind, 2) I have had both a cell phone and a PDA before and I was able to use both successfully, and 3) I don't think I'm crazy when in order to turn off a stupid ding that sounds everytime you get an email, you have to turn off the email sound AND turn on vibrate at the same time. There is absolutely nothing about this in the manual. What does vibrate have to do with sound on/off -- and why can't instructions just say sound ON or OFF!

The things that are still a concern are 1) Will they take it back and reverse everything successfully such as all the bells and whistles that they have already connected me to and all the various things I have already removed from the hermetically sealed packages? 2) What am I going to do for a phone in the meantime? 3) Shall I just go for an I-Phone and change directions? 4) I'm going to Maine and I really need a phone before I go. Surely any other fancy phone will take setting up and getting used to.

I think I need to send my brain back to the days that had no cell phones and no instant availability and simply chill out. Of course, I wonder if there is such a thing any more as telephone booths? I continue to crawl into the 21st century. Oh my! Wish me luck.

On another note, my tile looks great and I'll put up pictures as soon as the kitchen is all put back together tomorrow. I'm on a cleaning frenzy today but all the electrical plates are off and Tom had to take down a little ledge for the tiler. He'll get it back up tomorrow. More to come....

Posted by Marilyn at 1:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2009

Tile, At Last!

My kitchen tile is being installed today. It has taken forever to decide on the tile and then order and find someone to install it. I've tried different colors, different textures, different accent pieces, different stores, and mulled it all over with family and friends. I finally followed my gut that I just wanted the texture to be of interest and the color to blend in with the rest of the kitchen. I did choose three small accent tiles in the same color for each wall.

I ordered the tiles from Stone and Clay. Just as they arrived, the owner of the store died in a freak bicycle accident throwing the entire store into limbo. So, electrician Mike and contractor Tom told me about a tiler that they like who does good work. He is here today installing my tile. Now I can finally have my pot filler installed and a little shelf installed above the stove. With a few more pictures put up on the wall, my kitchen will actually be done.

Every time I see Tom I ask, "Have I told you how much I love my kitchen?" And, I do. Everyday I remember how much more convenient everything is to work with. It is simply a joy to use my new appliances, to have a place for everything, to have cupboards and drawers operate smoothly, and space for people to work together without bumping into each other.

I can see the tile taking shape and I'm going to like it. Sometimes it is fun to be back in the middle of the remodeling chaos. Mike & Tom came over to remove some stuff close to the wall for the tiler. Having all the guys around makes it seem like old times.

Posted by Marilyn at 9:37 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2009

Loss and Stuff

I'm traveling again to Maine this year with Barb and Bette who went with me two years ago. After Don died, Martin and I went and stayed on Deer Isle in an old farmhouse owned by the Russell family. Jennifer Russell was the associate pastor at the church the year the Cindy went off and got her advanced degree. Jennifer was wonderful -- she was sometimes serious, sometimes funny, always concerned about social justice and a terrific preacher. Don and she were often a comedy team in the church service because he never knew what was going to come out of her mouth -- and he would roll his eyes and respond surprisingly and the congregation would giggle and laugh. I think Jennifer sometimes did it just so they could have this little routine to add interest to the service. Jennifer once preached the best stewardship sermon that I have ever heard.

Her husband, Rick, inherited the place on Deer Isle from his aunt. The Eaton family had been the first white settlers on the island. The old farmhouse became Jennifer & Rick's refuge and their family's summer place. They were very generous to offer it to me and Martin and I loved our trip to Maine. We knew that Jennifer had Hepatitis. When she left our church, she had some treatment that did not work. A few years ago, she had a liver transplant. Now that liver is failing and she is under Hospice care. It is very, very sad. So our trip to the Eaton homestead in Maine will be filled with nostalgia and compassion and sadness too.

At the same time, my friend Judy is dying from cancer. She found out about three months ago that she had a rare form of cancer in her Bile Duct and it is now spread so far that treatment is no longer an option. She is feeling fairly good right now, but there are no more trips to the hospital to have her stents redone or to have another form of her treatment so she is also on Hospice. Her husband, Ken, died two years ago after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He, too, had a short time to live after diagnosis. My heart goes out to their two grown children who are losing both parents in a relatively short time.

And, my heart goes out to two women who are leaving their wonderfully loving families and who will not see their grandchildren grow up and perhaps not even meet a future grandchild. These are two very special women who have made a difference in many lives including mine. I am sad each day about losing these friends.

Posted by Marilyn at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2009

In Over My Head

I cannot do electronics. That is, I cannot automatically figure stuff out. I can't even read something and learn as well as I learn taking a class and actually practicing with a teacher's help. There is always a huge learning curve for me. I simply cannot understand how my grandchildren can pick up a cell phone and wend their way through all the bells and whistles with such breeziness that astounds me. I just got a new Blackberry and I feel as though I am knocking on the door of a maze without a clue how to get to the other side.

I know that I use very little of the capabilities of my computers. There are probably lots of things that would make using them less complicated and more enjoyable. But, I learn what I have to learn to do the job I have to do and then stop because I feel overwhelmed. Also, it seems to take forever to actually learn new programs or to conquer new heights. The only thing I know how to do after two days with my new phone is to call someone and answer if someone calls me. I'm being flooded with emails because I haven't yet synched it with my computer and all the spam and other dastardly stuff is coming in along with my email messages. I feel like I'm drowning.

The only saving grace is that I know that I've been here before -- many times. I need to calm my racing pulse and take one step at a time. I need to read, reread, and reread the manual until it makes some sense. Of course, it would really help me if people who wrote manuals were teachers instead of programmers. I see no logic in the way the topics are laid out or how they avoid using lay terms that some of us lay people (who are actually reading the manual to learn) might understand. Ignoring the manual, James picked up my Blackberry and immediately began wending his way through all the programs. I did too -- but I kept getting stuck and had trouble getting out of what I got into. When I was asked a question, "Do you want to do A or B?" I had no idea of the consequences of either choice. The first thing I did was to shut down my internet connection. I could find no help in the manual to reverse my error. Fortunately, James meandered through the maze and reconnected me.

I guess I might say that I'm crawling on my hands and knees into the new electronic world. I think I'm a bit along the path having been pushed by my husband and pulled by my children, but I'm lagging behind my grandchildren. I know I'm not stupid. I don't think I'm lazy. I can read directions and follow them when they are in English and clearly written. I don't think I'm unwilling or disinterested. I do know that I am stubborn and that I live in a new age with a new vocabulary that does not come easy. I do not mind being passed up by my grandchildren because I'm proud of them. I don't even mind knowing that I can't do something that an expert can do. All I want to do is follow the signs on the pathway and learn the route. Why is that so very difficult with electronics?

My problem is that I was spoiled by my own resident expert. Anytime I didn't know how to do something, I could just rely on my clever husband to fix it or explain it or bail me out. Not just electronically - in many other areas also. Over the years, he tried to explain to me how things worked but not very successfully. I admit that I may have had an avoidance in any areas that I knew that he could do much better than I could. I used to blame it on the fact that I never took Physics so I didn't understand electricity or magnetics or the makings of the universe. Furthermore, why on earth should I learn something that he could do so well? Of course, one does not anticipate being left to stew in one's juice.

So here I am kicking and screaming into the new century. I can do it. I know I can!

Posted by Marilyn at 11:38 AM | Comments (1)

August 7, 2009


Just returned from three days on Orcas Island with two friends in my writing group. That followed six days in Ashland and I'm simply pooped! Last night Dani invited me to dinner and I went. It seemed like a way to have nourishment without having to go to the store and shop and prepare and clean up -- but in the long run, I was probably too tired although the pasta was yummy and it was nice to visit. Nico had difficulty going to sleep and James was hanging around helping his mom and then me stack the dishes in the dishwasher. I came home and watched a TV show and fell into bed.

Today is dreary and overcast and I'm having trouble getting myself in gear. I don't bounce back as fast as I used to. So, I fiddle around here and try to get stuff done. I have books to return to the library, no bread so I need to go to the store, no money so I need to put a few checks in the bank, no energy so I need to make myself get up and going, no heat and it is a cold day (I turned the heat off for the summer which is usually just fine until an occasional unseasonal day comes along), no energy to walk the dog, etc. etc.

BUT!!!! I had a lovely time in Ashland and Orcas. I got some work done and spent quality time with friends, have an opportunity to put my feet up today and enjoy the quiet, had a great night's sleep, have enough money to live on, plan to go to the Anacortes Art festival with Dani and boys tomorrow, and have a couple of great DVD's to watch tonight.

How fascinating is life -- is the glass half empty or half full? I guess I can take my pick. Isn't it nice to have a choice?

Posted by Marilyn at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 1, 2009

Ashland Vacation #3

I have a pet peeve - gratuitous standing ovations. I believe that standing ovations should be saved for amazing performances not squandered on local events to support friends or children or just to be a pleasantly responsive audience. I may be a curmudgeon but I don't stand for those. I stay seated while everyone around me gets up. There's always some "do gooder" that begins it. Then those around him/her don't want to appear unresponsive so up they jump too. I want to shoot the perpetrator. "Give me a break," I think. "That was a sweet little performance, but not THAT good." Clapping is good enough for those kinds of performances - and a short amount of that usually. This happens alot in towns like Bellingham where local performances are (on the whole) mediocre or a bit above. But, almost never memorable. That is not entirely true. Every once in awhile you might see or hear something that truly amazes you. One example is Leslie Guelker-Cone's Western Washington University chorus. Leslie is simply the best choral conductor around. I would challenge anyone to find someone better. It is exciting to hear her groups.

All this is leading up to the fact that the hardened and sophisticated audiences in Ashland, Oregon, at the Shakespeare Festival are not generous with their standing ovations. They know good theatre because there is nothing else in Ashland. It is an amazing experience to see such high quality performances over and over again throughout a visit. One can anticipate fantastic staging, interesting renditions of plays, and superb acting without fail. But, standing ovations are reserved for the penultimate moment, the apex, the absolutely amazing performance that leave you breathless. It has to be a religious or mountaintop experience. Last year's Coriolanus brought the audience to its feet. This year, it was the World Premiere performance of Bill Cain's new play, Equivocation.

I won't even try to explain what it was about; it was so very complex. Six characters played multiple roles and there were layers upon layers of meaning in every scene. It was a challenge to produce and the Ashland troupe pulled it off with aplomb. What also interests me is how this troupe of actors can absolutely wear themselves out in an afternoon performance of one very demanding play and then show up in an evening performance of Henry VIII. Anthony Heald played William Shakespeare in Equivocation (onstage every single second) and Cardinal Wolsey in the other (onstage almost the whole play). How on earth does he do that? Two complex scripts and two complex characters played in less than 8 hours in two demanding plays! All the troupe double up -- not for them the pampered actors laying around too tired to do anything but deliver a few lines here and there in one performance a day.

Perhaps over and above the creative and emotional feeding that attending good theatre provides, it also provides a lesson in industry. It is always such a pleasure to be here. It is certainly addictive.

Posted by Marilyn at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)