Wednesday, September 6, 2017

No Labor Day

I fully appreciate that Labor Day was started to honor the workers, and in fact there is some slight connection to the workers party back in the days when Russia was a Communist society, but when one is retired, the whole point is to be able to celebrate the holiday without feeling any sense of angst that the following day will cause any pain because it is 'just another day.'

Wayne in the Woodpile 2017
However, there is no law that states a retiree must be working any day of the week and watching someone else work is perfectly allowable. So I did. I watched my companion, Wayne, stacking wood for his daughter and her husband while they were managing the Kittitas Fair, showing swine, eating fair food and riding rides.

Unfortunately, I am not very good at just watching, and for awhile, until I got over the impulse to do more, I actually helped stack wood. Finally, as I honored Labor Day as the time when people who used to work can now sit back and simply relax, I got this photo of Wayne, who is also retired but unwilling to relinquish his hold on activity, finishing up nearly two cords of wood. Great going, Wayne.

We did do a drive later that day up a route called the Canyon Road from Yakima, WA, to Ellensburg, WA. Apparently with all the warm weather the Yakima River is warm enough for folks with inner tubes (and other floating devices) to float down it for miles.

And as we saw a few folks doing this and have heard it's a lot of fun, I think this has to be on my bucket list for next year as a sporting thing to do.

Heading up Canyon Road toward Ellensburg, WA.

The hazy conditions are caused by intense smoke being blown
in the area from Oregon, Washington and Canada.
Are there any tubers to be seen?


Cruisin' down the river on a Monday afternoon...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Goal Achieved: Solo Show of my Art in Sequim

This piece of art is the most recent one I have completed, and I like it so well that I've created my new business cards using it. It is the focal point of my first show in Sequim, representing fall, and my show will be in the 1st Security Bank, 114 Sequim Ave., Sequim, for the First Friday Art Walk (Sept. 1) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and hanging there until Nov 30.
I call this one "Autumn Birches" but they could just as well
be poplars, alders or cottonwoods. I was deliberate in
making the design balanced and abstract and am happy with
the result, using some latex paint for resist. It's about
14 by 16 inches on 300 # paper.
I had a goal when I moved here to have a solo show, and now after several group events and a special solo show in Everson this spring (hosted by my very special friend, Carol Joy), the time has come. It's been an expensive proposition to have my art framed, even getting frames from various yard sales and other locations and having them matted by my art teacher has not diffused the costs much. 

The four in my Moonlight Series, done earlier this year, will be featured on one wall. I've had several folks suggest I should do some more of them, and I'm thinking about that. The objective, when I first started them, was to do female night creatures with their young. 

One of my artist friends said they had a sort of mystical quality, and that was certainly my objective. I will wait until after the show to get some feedback about them and perhaps that will influence me to do more. They were fun to do, and that is the criteria for me... it has to be fun -  not work.

I'm also including my sunsets from Massachusetts, Florida, Colombia, and Washington, and a variety of my birds, fish, and scenics. I am also putting up my photographs of certain places in Colombia and Washington. If there's a theme, it's my seeing the world with the sun and the moon, kind of appropriate for my astrological solar return year.

There will be hanging many of the fall pieces done during the latter part of last year as well. It took me most of the morning to get them all hung, labeled and secured so they don't get off-level during these next three months.

My new sweetie, Wayne, was not available to help me as he is wrestling pigs and grandchildren in eastern Washington. But my dear friend Jenna will come tomorrow before the actual reception to make sure I've got everything level, good lighting and help me set up for the food part of this event.

I will be offering up my "Blue Ribbon Plum Syrup" with cream cheese and crackers as the treat, thanks to Wayne for pushing me to be in the Clallam County Fair and winning that accolade. So, for those of you who are too far away to come, perhaps there will be some reception photos I can add in here later... and I will miss having you around!!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Clallam County Fair Week

Years ago... I mean, really YEARS ago, I was a 4-H'er and took part in the county fair where I lived in New Hampshire. So it's been a long time since I entered anything into any kind of judging environment.
Wayne sets up his floral entries in the Dahlia category.
Wayne's Hollyhocks
My new companion, Wayne, has (for all the years I haven't been in fairs) been doing them with his late wife, Barbara. They used to enter flowers, vegetables as well as canning, and before that he was entering livestock as well. So he is very experienced in fair requirements for all categories.
Wayne's Pink Stargazer Lily entry.
This week he was intently focused on getting his entries in place and encouraged me to enter a couple of my canned items as well.

So I entered my raspberry jam, my strawberry jam and the plum syrup (which was supposed to be jelly) that we both made. He said it looks like we have done very well with blue and red ribbons for all the Home Arts entries!! (I will post an update later.)

He entered some salmon he caught and canned, peaches, jam and one of the plum syrups, along with at least 30 or 40 floral entries.

All those blue ribbons for Wayne!!
Wayne's White Stargazer Lily.
On Thursday (Aug. 17) he went to volunteer in whatever locations that he might be needed. I think this is a difficult time for him because it is the first year in two decades that he is not doing it with Barbara and while initially he was not going to do much of anything at all, it appears that my encouragement with the canning was the catalyst for him to step up and out and be at this year's Clallam County Fair.
Wayne was 'in charge' of cupcakes
for the little ones' competition.

Two of Wayne's dahlias were blue ribbon
entries; others got reds.
Sunday, Aug. 20: And his entries have done very well... many blues, some reds and lots of compliments from folks who know him well. Including trying to prevail upon him to do some big work next year.

For me it is a delight to realize that all these years after I watched and learned from my mother about making jams, I learned enough to produce a top quality product, competing with some of the best! And honestly, I want my grandchildren to learn these skills, too, not just for the fair, but for their own fare. I really love my jams on hot toast, with a nut butter or on ice cream... ever tried hot raspberry jam on vanilla ice cream?

Fair days are about over in Clallam County, but there is still a big fair in Ellensburg over Labor Day weekend where Wayne's grandson will be entering a hog for judging, following in his grandpa's footsteps.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Day at Seahawks Training Camp

"We are 12!"
The first to arrive claimed seats and began the waiting line.
It was a first for me, a relatively new Seahawks fan, to spend the day at the Seahawks Training Facility on Lake Washington in Renton, WA. My new travel buddy, Wayne, has a daughter, Susan Smith, who has been a Seahawks fan all her life. (He started following them when they first started back in the 70's.)

At her invitation, we got up at 2:30 a.m. to drive from Sequim over to Renton via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. And as the traffic was lighter than expected, we got to The Landing just after 5 a.m. so we met up for donuts and coffee. And other fans began arriving shortly thereafter.

These were the other early arrivals. Soon this line would be
bent so that folks were across the street and down past the
Pro shop.
Wayne Smith and Wayne Ratcliff walk and chat as they waited
for the beginning of the processing to start.
By 7 o'clock, we saw the line lengthen quickly from our initial group of about 50 to 500 and by the time the busses arrived there were over 1500.

We were quickly processed through the security system and funneled through the scanners into the next bus in line.
The entrance to the security and clearing staff to make sure
we weren't going to disrupt the day with any devices.

More folks arriving at The Landing.
The drive to the Training Facility was delayed by morning rush hour traffic, but we were all eager to get there so I don't think most of us noticed that it took longer than our return trip.

As our bus pulled in, we were shouting "Sea-HAWKS!!" so loudly that that staff commented on it. There was a band playing and photo opportunities with the DJ and three of the SeaGals.

Wayne Ratcliff with daughter, Susan Smith, and her husband,
(also named Wayne) at the Seahawk Training Facility.
Once off the bus, we were lined up in front of a gate which opened just at 9 a.m. Folks ahead of us (not too many) began running up the hill to the other side where they claimed spots on the fence for watching. Those were the folks who had experience at the routine. Others continued to arrive until after 11 a.m., but the team was out on the field by 10 a.m.
Wayne in his element with the SeaGals!!

At the top of the field, there were vendors with food, snacks, drinks and hawking lots of Sea Gear.

My breakfast on the road had been a homemade PB&J with blueberries and coffee. But that had been hours ago and by 10 a.m. I was ready for some pizza. Perhaps it was the sun, the field, the energy, but a huge slice of cheese pizza was just what was needed!

There were a lot of tall men in the line, and in one of the photos I took, it was hard to spot my pal. And they all had on their fan regalia, so trying to find a tall guy with a Seahawks hat was pointless!

Where is the tall guy with the Seahawk hat that I came with?
Once the team took the field, we were glad we had put our chairs just behind the line because lots of folks claimed a spot at the fence and our seat location gave us a little elevation to be able to see over their heads.

At the Gate waiting for it to open.
But as the sun rose higher in the sky, there was no protection and with the hazy skies it got very hot very quickly. By 11:30 I had to escape the direct sun and settled myself in the shade of a vendor tent for a short while.

I think if I ever do this again I will bring a tripod and my telephoto lens. My handheld Sony camera with the distance lens was challenged by the light and the space between me and the subjects.

On the field, the team begins to stretch and move.

Everyone down for pushups!

Cam Chancellor shows a move to the right.
Defense shows off some moves before the crowd.

My best shot... Russell Wilson launching the ball.
The training has, apparently, in the past included team members coming over to give autographs and be available for closer photographs. Not today. Not one came over. Not even any representatives. And, in fact, most of the training, scrimmages, etc. took place on the other side of the field. By 11:30, I wasn't the only one climbing the hill to leave.

But it was an awesome experience to see in person (if at quite a distance) some of the fellows I have watched play these past few years. And I got some new items for my own team regalia... but best of all I spent time with folks I am growing to love. What could be better than this?
The crowd begins to thin out as folks leave the arena.

Wayne and 'Sandy Banks' taken by Susan Smith.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Square Dancing at the Cranberry Museum

I didn't even know there was such a place as Greyland and that it had a Cranberry Museum. Now I have been educated. 

On August 3, Wayne and I arrived in Greyland, which is just below Westport, the fishing capitol of Washington State (they say) on the western coast of the U.S. The day we drove in, it was still blistering hot and hazy from the fires to the north.
Cranberries on the bush, a few weeks from ripening.


Cranberry fields in Greyland, WA.
Beach

Beach walkway to waterline of Pacific O.

Driftwood and native plants.

Unique fencing along Highway 12, Greyland, WA.



The owners of the museum are also the recreators of the Fulford Cranberry harvesting machine, making a new version of a very successful invention to harvest and prune cranberries. Chuck and Gwen Tjernberg have made the museum the focus of both historical and industrial times in Pacific and Grays Harbor counties.

I learned that cranberries do not require being in a bog to grow but that flooding the land they are growing it on makes it easier to do a wet harvest. Coming from Cape Cod, it was an assumption on my part that all cranberries are harvested wet, but the Fulford machine is designed to harvest dry and prune at the same time.

Wayne (tallest one) with dancing friends.
Ocean Spray is a business which is cooperatively owned by the farmers, and berries are classed as being top quality for the fresh market or second quality which used for juices and canning. Last year the top quality berries sold for about 89 cents a pound while the second quality sold for about 30 cents a pound. Most of the berries from the dry harvest have a top quality rating, while wet harvest berries are rated second.

First shipments go to Canada because they celebrate Thanksgiving in October. If there is a late harvest, it can severely impact shipment dates with a domino effect.

We enjoyed the tour that Gwen gave us, enriched with her personal knowledge of the industry.

Later that day we met with long-time friends of Wayne’s, Ann and Les Kilwein, over some lemonade and chips in the RV. When we were packing to go, I never thought about having snacks on hand for guests, but now I know enough to have something available for anyone who might show up.

Square dancing at the Cranberry Museum, Aug. 2017.
RV life is not that different from land-living, but being more close-knit, folks are more likely to share time and adventures over food and dancing. And like sailboat live-aboards, friends are made quickly. 

There does not seem to be a disparity in relationships just because you have a larger or smaller travel home; what is the division appears to be whether you are a weekender or a ‘real traveler’ for longer periods of time. 
Round dancers include caller Randy with Mike and
Marion Freely in the back.
Eventually there comes a time when even the most seasoned of RV travelers has to give up life on the road due to health, family or financial concerns but with the membership in the square dance ‘family,’ gatherings can still happen for that connection of friendship. 

Gwen and Chuck did a skit for the final act of the three-part weekend, poking fun at all the retirees with getting-ready-for-bed issues... putting the cat out, locking the doors, etc. with the group getting a big laugh at the end. It was a lot of fun!!
Chuck gets up (again) to fulfill Gwen's bedtime request.
This is what has been happening at this camp-out; folks that Wayne had not seen for years came to share in pot-luck and/or dancing and he appeared to have enjoyed greatly renewing those friendships.

The River Hoh and Lake Quinault

Continuing the journey to Westport for the square dancer camp out, and
Kayaker with packs paddling down the Hoh.
Thanks to Friends of Wayne, who are probably scattered all over the U.S. and maybe even in foreign countries, we found a welcome at the home of Mary and Dave Christensen in Lake Quinault.

But first we stopped along the Hoh River for a lunch with an awesome view and two kayakers making their way downstream. It was already heading toward the triple digit temperatures the National Weather Service had been warning us about, so we didn’t linger.
Home away from home

Back on the road, the purple foxglove, white daisies, fireweed and other roadside flowers and weeds made a colorful quilt of colors muted by the haze from the British Columbia fires. 

Dave and Wayne were forestry buddies in the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during the 80s when Wayne moved to Lake Quinault. When we arrived at their lovely home (which I shall sweetly refer to as ‘Mary’s Meadows’ because the smell of the budding grasses in the motor home as the dew was evaporating), there were two donkeys to greet us along with the largest Chocolate Labrador, Ollie, I’ve ever seen.
A drive around the lake was the afternoon excursion, which included stopping to see an old friend, Marilyn Wiesse, who used to cook for different restaurants and was a neighbor.
Wayne and Marilyn laughing about old times.
Wayne learned she will be heading to Yuma with her husband in the fall, so there was some chatter about meeting up again later as we waved goodbye.


Back at the Christensen’s, it was finally cooling down and the couple cooked us up some  incredible hors d'oevres of elk meat (their game) with home-made pickles (her canning) and salmon (his catch) spread over great crackers and sweet iced tea. Dinner was called a ‘gut-bomb’ of ground venison, fresh fried potatoes, vegetables and a home grown garden salad. SOOO delicious!!
View for breakfast at "Mary's Meadows"


"The Relatives"
We sat around a fire pit without the fire (it was still over 80 degrees) and talked for awhile and then it was off to the RV for the logger to saw some “ZZZZZs” while I read a few pages on my Kindle. 

The windows were open so I could enjoy the quiet sounds of a farm settling down for the night… bugs buzzing, donkeys chomping the grass, birds calling to others to nest, chickens clucking and blackberries growing. Bliss.