Thursday, May 30, 2019

Catching Up....

Right after I posted my last blog about my life in Moses Lake, a couple of special friends died suddenly, within two weeks of each other.

The first one was my former boss at the Peninsula Daily News. Rex Wilson moved to Mexico to join his wife, Olga, in their family business and was suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer and just as suddenly left us all behind three months before his birthday.

The second was a fellow I met while traveling about eight years ago, William Good from Florida, and who became, along with his wife Sandi, delightful additions to my life online as well as when they came to Washington State to visit family. Bill was traveling in Spain with Sandi when he had a heart attack in mid-February, less than two weeks after my boss.

I tried to talk to my husband about the grief I was feeling, but he did not really understand the joy that having any exchange with these fellows gave me - their laughter, their quick wit, their expansive natures causing the lights in my world to shine a little brighter. In some ways it felt like my Dad had died again because there were aspects of each of these fellows that must have reminded me of him.

Then, getting over those sad days, my son-in-law announced his Multiple Myeloma was causing numbers to rise and he was going to have treatments again. So I retreated once more and found myself self-diagnosing anxiety and took on the objective of becoming a healer with art therapy.
"Celtic Knot Flower" is a design from another CZT that
I incorporated into a 12 -inch by 12-inch acrylic work.

This art therapy is called Zentangle™and though it is not advertised as a therapy per se, it is well understood that meditation is helpful and this process of drawing certain patterns was clearly helping me.
Something from my journal that has color and light in it.

I signed up for and was accepted to the 33rd session of training for Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT) in Providence, Rhode Island for the end of March and beginning of April, 2019. For four blissful days I did nothing but eat, drink and draw with lots of laughter and fun. I concluded my trip with a fresh lobster dinner to celebrate achieving this certification, feeling pretty sure it might be awhile before the next trip and lobster!

Me with my seminar roommate, Norma G.
from Brazil. We had a good connection
and helped each other along.
Home again, I find I am not quite ready to begin teaching The Zentangle Method because I feel I still have so much to learn myself. But I have incorporated it into my existing art activity and have some fun plans for doing more in the future.

This is a small frame purchased at a yard
sale; making the Zentangle appear to be
more worthy... 

This is a Zendala, using tangles from Zentangle, Inc.

The other shoe dropped when we heard that a relative was
diagnosed with cancer, so I made her a blanket with pink
symbols for healing but it had special meaning for me as
it had patterns I have used in tangling.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Life in Moses Lake ~ February 2019

One of our first sunsets from our front porch.
"Amigo" is a Pug-Chihuahua cross that
we got in January.
As we complete our second month in Moses Lake, we both still agree it was a good move. There were (and are) challenges to be solved with the house, the grounds, but overall that part of our new life is progressing nicely.

A totally impulsive move was to add to the 'farm' animals by getting the closest thing to a sheepdog that we will ever see. Little "Amigo" (friend in Spanish) sticks close to Wayne's heels when outside and is under my feet almost all the time when inside.

Purriwinkle has one safe spot from Amigo...
Purriwinkle, our cat, thinks we purchased Amigo as her own wind-up toy, and Amigo thinks we provided him with a cat purely for the fun of it. They take turns chasing each other around the living room until one or the other falls down panting.

Peaches was a little annoyed at this small intrusion into her life, but as time as gone on, she has taken the high road to be the dog-nanny and teach Amigo what is what.

Peaches and Amigo on a walk.
Putting the finishing touches on a quilt to be
donated to a worthy cause.
It was a challenge for me at first to find like-minded artists as they are not 'front and center' like in Sequim, but now that I have my weekly art group (on Wednesdays) and a connection for instruction on Mondays, I am feeling less isolated from my creative 'flock.'

And I've found a quilting group that adds to my developing skills in that realm as well. It is a group connected to the Mose Lake Senior Center that makes quilts for donations to various organizations.

Wayne has made his connections to the Grant County Fair (They will find out just how lucky they are to have him in August!) and to local gardeners and a Master Gardening group.

His children, for the most part, have been involving us in their activities and we had the great joy to watch two of the grandkids in their Christmas pagents in December.

Zentangle is the art of drawing one line at a
time to create these little bits of art. It's both
a meditation and a creative process I find easy
and fun. I think I will like teaching others.
When we arrived we knew we would have to replace some appliances, but the stove turned out to be a major headache earlier than anticipated, so we replaced it right away. As I spend time in the kitchen I can see that some modifications will make it much easier to work in for the long run, so we are planning to make a few changes in the spring when cooking and eating outside is an option.

We have plans to go back over to the North Olympic Peninsula for the weekend of the 15-16th of February to go to the Blues Chaser square dance with old friends. If the weather is nice enough and forecasted to stay that way, we may take the RV. We haven't been anywhere in it this winter and I think Wayne is getting itchy feet.

At the end of February I head off to Sew-Expo in Puyallup for a couple of days to connect with my pals from last year's event, and at the end of March I have made a commitment to get trained as a teacher of Zentangle (CZT) so I can offer classes here in Moses Lake. That will mean a week in Rhode Island, leaving Wayne to manage the household on his own.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Feels like an Agatha Christie mystery...

Not exactly the "statues" I had in mind, but in a way
they stand in for that element.
If you ever read "Ten Little Indians" or seen the Agatha Christie Mystery "And Then There Were None..." you may have some idea of how I am feeling today hearing that yet another long-term Multiple Myeloma (MM) has announced his acceptance that no more treatments will be done.

Since I started this blog in 2009 to rant, rave and rail against a disease I knew nothing about at that time, I have watched all those wonderful folks fall like the statues in the mystery. Fortunately the person who inspired my blog writing is still with us and he is managing the consequences of the disease pretty well as we mark the tenth year since his diagnosis.

But Mike Gormley and his wife, Lorna, are the latest victims of MM, a far more murderous element than anything Christie could create. Reading that news late last night, I guess I should not have been surprised to have had dreams about most of the others who have already departed. It was a strange party to attend, not unlike the one on Shelter Island where everyone (unknowingly) has a death sentence awaiting them. We gathered around the table and I had a chance to speak to each one, asking how they were doing, commenting on how long the silence has been, etc.

My favorite was Lonnie Nesseler, a motorcycle rider, pianist, scientist and creative personality, who stepped up and said, "It's a new adventure. You can't really describe it to those who haven't arrived yet." Lonnie had been adventuresome in his treatments, and willing to educate readers as well as his medical team along the journey. But I had a toast with Bob Kirkpatrick, who pointed out that I was now a lot closer to where he used to live, which would suggest that we are not really so distant from the Other Side as we tend to believe.

So let us raise our glasses to them all, let them hear their names called out once more in appreciation for what and who they were to each of us, gone but not forgotten.

Peter Boyle (actor), Sam Walton (WalMart founder), John Ricco (author), Andre (photographer) 2009, Hamada (statesman) 2010, Paula (Multiple Myloma Buddy maker) and Sean Tiernan (photographer) 2012, Lonnie Nesseler (educator) 2010, Robert "Bob" Kirkpatrick (inventor) 2015, and others known to me but not listed here for privacy reasons.

Each one was special to someone, each one served a purpose. I guess the reason for posting this is to honor Mike as he prepares to conclude his business here and to support Lorna as she has little choice as a primary caregiver to go along for the ride.

My dearest wish is that we are able to solve this mystery of MM; to find out what causes the bone marrow cells to start running haywire, to be able to give those with this diagnosis something to hope for, if not a cure at least some way to live with it after treatment.

The setting sun shadows Mt. Rainier in Washington State.
And I end by quoting Ken Kesey, "Loved. You can't use it in the past tense. Death does not stop that love at all."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

After the "Near Miss," We Scored a Hit!

The search for a new home had been spanning four months, (see the previous two entries) and now we were taking a break that nearly was disastrous, but fortunately averted.

The arrival in Ellensburg was several hours later than planned, after attempting to find a welder who could make some repairs to the RV hitch, but it just couldn't get done.

Kitchen is updated and easy to use.
Everyone was pretty glad to see us, realizing after hearing the story of the angelic guy who stopped us, how close we had come to a different scenario for the day.

After the party, we returned to the Vantage campsite (almost the same one we were at five months prior) and started reviewing properties in the local area, more as entertainment than anything else. One popped up as being a "For Sale By Owner" in Moses Lake. Only an hour from Vantage, Wayne suggested we just go for a drive and see the area the next day. We made plans with his son-in-law, Wayne Smith, to meet up in Ephrata, also near by.

Living room as seen from the kitchen. master bedroom is
seen to right down the hall.
So on Friday morning, Oct. 5, we drove to the property and the owners were outside working on the yard. We asked if we could walk around and they invited us inside, showed us everything, and we were surprised both at the size and the cleanliness of everything. After looking, we said we had some other places to visit and we drove off to view them. But after less than an hour, we were back, wanting to talk to the owners again about accepting an offer.

Master bedroom has an east-facing window.
Second bath, updated, too.
To shorten the story, here we are just a week later with a signed offer all the way around, the home inspection is tomorrow, we have preliminary loan approval and everyone is hoping for a closing mid-November.

One of the three bedrooms ...

Plenty of yard for Wayne's gardening...

Property is just under an acre of good soil.

An added bonus is a back shed for art or storage.
It started to rain so the house doesn't look its best here, but
its got three bedrooms, two baths and two bays of garage.

Back side of the house; porches both front and back.

We are pretty excited to have found a place that meets all our wants and needs, and all the children are relieved to know their dad will be living closer. We spent several days exploring Moses Lake, finding stores, getting the well tested, and enjoying some of the restaurants here. We will have square dance connections and know where we can ballroom dance once a week.

Moving to this area also means that our long-distance RV trips can get started more effectively without having to drive three hours off the Olympic Peninsula. Moses Lake is an hour and a half from Spokane, also from Yakima, an hour from Wenatchee and Ellensburg, and about three hours from Seattle.

While we will miss our friends in Sequim, Gardiner, Port Angeles, Quilcene, Forks and other places on the Peninsula, we can still visit them and they are more than welcome to come and visit us. We are just off I-90 and we have guest rooms!

And then... a very near miss!

This lavender rose is my absolute favorite. When we move,
it will go with us.
If you haven't read "We've Been Searching..." then I have to bring you up to speed with a four-month search for a new home. Basically we had made a serious offer, backed out, and tried to make several others which did not go anywhere leaving us discouraged. We stopped all searching for a week.

It was during this time that our Realtor was away for some training, so it worked out well. And then, a few days just before she was to return, we re-looked at one home we had excluded because the price was more than we had budgeted but they had just reduced it into our range.

Our agent's brother, the Broker for her company, agreed to meet us in Rochester but when we arrived, he said, "I've just discovered I don't have the MLS key." So he contacted the listing agent and she agreed to come out and open up the house for us.

South side of the home we looked at...
While we waited, we both walked around. Wayne paced out the pasture and determined there was indeed slightly more than an acre of sunny, flat land with no rocks.

I also walked around and noted the North-South placement of the home (Moss on the north side of one of the outbuildings was a good clue.) and could see that there were several places my roses would love.

Something about the location, the air, the feeling of openness was all we both wanted. Then once the agent let us inside, Wayne said, "I've already decided I want this house and land."

Wayne and Peaches are pacing the lot line to see how big
it is and to assess the quality of the soil.
There were the usual steps to determine if we could manage the higher costs and we made an offer which was accepted. But just as we were about to have a house inspection, our loan officer said it would not go with her bank because the house had been moved three times.

Sigh. Apparently the VA will not loan on manufactured homes with multiple moves, even with documentation. So we had to walk away from that most desirable situation.

Discouraged but not daunted, we continued to look and evaluate other properties. But really nothing seemed quite as nice as this one. We saw several places that, again, looked good in the sales websites, but when we drove up the driveway or street, it was considerably less than what was promised. Then a property we had bid on but lost out on was rumored to be coming back on the market. That excited Wayne because he loved all the big metal buildings that place had, but I was less enthusiastic.

"We said we would not settle, and we would not get something unless we both really liked it," Wayne reminded me.

It was time to get ready for his birthday and a party for the grandkids who have birthdays on his day and close to it in Ellensburg. We put all house hunting on hold and packed up the RV. Food and computers loaded, warm clothing, fishing rods, and at 8 a.m. we pulled out of Sequim.

In Tacoma, while heading for the exit to Highway 18, a young man in a truck starting signaling us to pull over. Once we were stopped he said, "Your tow hitch, the one attached to the RV, is coming loose!" If we had not been alerted, it could have been disastrous for us and for anyone nearby... a near miss that necessitated separating the Jeep and the RV and I would have to drive behind again, just like on our honeymoon. We were very, very lucky. Definitely felt like angels were working overtime for us.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

We've Been Searching...

After Wayne and I got married in May, we moved into my 1,100 square foot, two bedroom, two bath, mobile home in the Lazy Acres park and although he took over the little 10 x 14 shed out back, we still found ourselves needing more space both inside and outside.

Wayne is a big, tall man, with a history of being outdoors in massive timber country and my tiny backyard garden, although a challenge at first, soon seemed like a fish bowl for a salmon. I like to garden, too, and there just wasn't enough dirt for both of us.

Gardening is necessary for Wayne's life.
At first we thought we should look for a place to park the RV off the Olympic Peninsula so that we could have both a retreat and a place to launch ourselves on various journeys. As we looked, it soon became clear that any place we would be leaving the RV just wasn't secure enough to be several hours away for weeks at a time. And we kept finding places that had, curiously enough, too many trees.

"What will I do when we are here?" Wayne asked. He wanted to continue his farming life with sunny land and places for dahlias, roses, blueberries and raspberries to flourish.

We started talking about finding some land we might build on, or have a small house on, but then we realized we would be paying large sums of money each month for something that wasn't really an improvement over where we are now.

In July we redirected our focus toward buying a house with at least a half an acre, some sunny space, and close enough to civilization that I could make contact with other artists and quilting/sewing types.

We were drawn to Shelton in Mason County because of all the water near by. But we quickly learned that most homes with water views were far out of our price range, so we began to adjust our vision to include access to water within a short walk or drive. And we found a place.

House in Shelton we almost bought but then we didn't.
It seemed at first as if it was just what we wanted. But it didn't have everything on our list and more particularly, Wayne was adamant that the property boundaries were clearly defined. As we got further into the purchase process (inspection, appraisal, etc.) we discovered that the Seller, through no fault of his own, was using Mason County title information that was flat wrong. They were defining the property based on a lot that no longer existed and the Seller had built a fence along a lot line that was probably two or three feet off the real line, meaning we as Buyers would lose over 250 or 300 square feet of land before we even got started.

We bailed on the deal. And it was a loss, emotionally as well as financially, because of what we had invested in time (driving, gas, meals, etc.) as well as the costs of pre-purchase requirements. But it was the only choice because to go ahead would mean even more costs in trying to get the boundaries clarified.

And after a week of feeling discouraged, we were back on the site looking... and it seemed like every house we liked enough to visit was snapped up by other buyers before we could even make an offer. There was one that was just about to go to auction, a big house, but when we went to see it, it was clear there was foundation damage, roof damage, squatter damage and it smelled of too many unpleasant things to list. But it looked so appealing in the photos!

This is the first house Wayne lived in with his grandfather.
He would have bought that one if the owner was willing to
sell it, but that was not an option. Sometimes hard to compete
against memories like this.
 It didn't take us too long to begin to recognize phrases like "Needs some work," really means, "Take out your check book and plan to spend a year bringing this place into shape." Or "Has wonderful water views..." meant that the view was the ONLY thing to recommend it.

But each time we toured a house or drove by we got a clearer idea of what we really could not tolerate and what we must have. There was one in Hoodsport we loved, but there seemed to be some strange thing going on with the Seller and his Agent about actually accepting an offer. And another one near a lake we put an offer on but were immediately put in back-up position (if that offer fell through, they would consider ours... as the weeks would roll by...) and so it went.

There were some fun aspects of looking. We would text or email MLS numbers for the other one to look at, and then we'd take a day and drive two hours away to see if the house in reality was anything like the pictures. We talked, we argued, we sulked, we cajoled, we laughed and finally after so much action and no results, we took a break for a week - no Internet searches at all.

Lazy Acres garden was a challenge, but not
for long. Less than half of what he once had,
he made the most of it, but Wayne wanted
more space and more sunlight.