Shout out to September

Looking out my kitchen window, distracted by the picture perfect snow covered pine trees beckoning just outside, it dawns on me that for the next five months or so I will eagerly embody every winter cliché imaginable. Hot chocolate, wonderfully spiked with espresso vodka and bourbon, is at my side. Heavy wool socks are pulled up high, at least two other garments are fleece. Abandoned in the middle of the floor, my boots are slowly loosing their coating of snow. Surrounded by this winter bliss it seems a mighty fine time to throw together a few notes and photos from warmer days.

September was with us just a couple a months ago, now it seems so distant. The month kicked off with a work outing. Co-workers and partners cruised from brewery to brewery on the Cycle Pub. It looks like a trolley but is powered like a bike. Pedal! Pedal! Pedal! Someone needs to tell the Olympics about this.

Pedaling off the pints?

Next up it was time to get moving again but this time not far at all. We relocated from our apartment in Bend to a little A-frame house in Sunriver, a resort community south of town. Steve now has a five-minute bike commute to work. Mine is a bit longer but overall seems like a good trade. More space for us both and Steve gets tasked with dinner more often than not.

The highlight of September rolled in later in the month in the form of Momma Peg flying in from Kentucky.  My momma if she chooses can be a touch tenacious. Still, I worried about her flying from Lexington, KY to Redmond, OR with connections in Atlanta and Salt Lake. She hadn’t flown in many years and we all know that flying these days can test the mettle of even the most seasoned traveler. She pulled it off without a hitch.  Now I can remind her of this any time she gets turned around in the mall. If you can make it through ATL you can remember which door you came in at Macy’s.

Momma Peg’s adventures in central Oregon included bagging a butte, wading in a glacial fed lake, and hiking through lava fields. We also headed over to the coast for a few days. We took in many beautiful views, visited historic lighthouses and actually saw whales on our whale-watching trip.

Less than 24 hours into the Oregon experience we hike up Tumalo Mountain, 7775' !

And then cool off in Devil's Lake.

No lack of wading in cold water. Here the Pacific.

There she blows! Starboard bow! Its a gray whale!

Now on the surface I might seem like the most eccentric member of my family. There was that whole quit my job to travel around in a van thing. But no my mom wins the eccentricity award hands down. Nothing illustrates this more than the story of what turned out to be my mom’s most beloved souvenir of her trip to Oregon. One day the weather was on the stormy side, so we drove to different overlooks to just watch the ocean swirl and heave. At one of these spots there were a couple old buoys bouncing in and out with the waves. Tracing their path back and forth was a little hypnotic. With each inbound wave it looked as though they were going to wash in for good only to be tossed out to sea again seconds later. Mom did comment on how neat it would be to have a buoy to take home. Can’t say I wasn’t warned. Later that night she heads off for a walk on the beach well ahead of Steve and me. A bit later we track her down. What has fished out of the brush line between the road and the beach? Yes, she found herself a stinky, barnacle encrusted buoy for her very own. Somehow they flew home together. I feel sorry for the TSA agent that inspected that bag.

Treasure?

It is time to refill the hot chocolate but first a huge THANKS to my mom for making the trek out to Oregon. She is the first family or friend to visit us since we left Kentucky. Hint, hint to the rest of you!

Ya'll come see us now ya hear!

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A Legacy

As the story has it, at least in my mind, I as an infant rebelled so strongly against the intended babysitter that my Papaw Herby was recruited to look after me. Soon after my Granny Tressie retired from school teaching to see that looking after me was done properly. Tressie and Herby were my dad’s parents and lived less than a half mile from us on the family farm.

I was a lucky toddler. I followed Papaw as he moved cows from one pasture to another. I snooped on the bee hives from a safe distance. My ponies lived in the barn behind their house.

Their garden was a masterpiece. If they grew it, I ate it. More praise has never been heaped on a child for eating greens and turnips.

Sure I was their pampered only granddaughter but they could be tough. As a first grader, I knew better than to show Granny a worksheet that didn’t have a smiley face on it. I showed her all the good ones. The others I stashed in my mom’s car. Then you know it, we drove her to the fall festival at school. The “talking to” I got when confronted with those minus 2’s and 3’s….she waited until bath time when I was spending the night. Naked, lectured and getting scrubbed to with in an inch of my life. That was Granny.

Papaw died seventeen years ago but Granny she passed away just this week. Being the oldest of eleven surely made her the tough gal that she was. Besides keeping me honest, her life included a long teaching career, much of it in a one room school house. During WWII she worked in a Michigan factory. And of course there was her passion for gardening. As a child I didn’t think we lived on a real farm because we didn’t earn our living from it. As a grocery shopping adult I know we had quite the farm. More than once I’ve heard, “They fed half the county.” A big garden with plenty to share brought them both great satisfaction.

In a changing world they lived life on their own terms….leaving a cherished legacy for a stubborn granddaughter.

Tressie with her students at Baker School. She is back row with all the hair.

A Farewell to Fried

Fish & chips are nothing if not fun eats. The flaky batter, the crispy fries, mmmm who could ever not indulge in such delight?

Some of my earliest memories involve wrapping my head in those cool paper pirate hats from Long John Silvers. I’m really surprised LJS isn’t bigger than McDonald’s. Clown versus pirate! Who wouldn’t pick the pirate?

Anyway I did grow up and gave up most fast-food, fried food, greasy food, you get the picture. I grew up to be a health nut and with each rotation of the calendar I naturally steer further away from fried foods. I’m not a total prude. I do indulge but my treats are mostly of the cheese and grape variety.

But of course there is that one glorious exception.

Back in the days of regular life, Steve and I spent the occasional weekend in Nashville. An REI store was there and the downtown always provided great fun with shady honky tonks, trendy boutiques and good restaurants. Our favorite spots was this his Irish pub, Mullligans. The Sporting Paddys brought the house down and we all sang along to timely versions of “What Do Ya Do With a Drunken Sailor?” I’ve been to many Irish pubs that are beyond lame and stale but something about Mulligans felt otherworldly, perhaps not quite a true Irish bar but many notches above the typical. And oh the fish & chips…back then we got along just fine.

Those Nashville days are now years long gone but I did find a new place to indulge. Eamonns in Alexandria, VA. They’ve got a little corner place on Kings Street right in the heart of Old Towne. They serve fish & chips and only that. Your choices are large or small and then you must pick between an array of tartar sauces. Their only draft is Guinness served up thick as syrup. I don’t like Guinness but I like it there. Steve and I often hit this place after a long morning of playing with our niece and nephew. We stagger in, probably not looking so good, order way more than we need, then dive in, comparing our tartar sauce selections like they were the fanciest of wines.

In recent visits though I’ve noticed a rift has come between my and my beloved. My tummy feels disgusting after swimming with the fried fish. I believe that because I so seldom eat anything fried that I just can’t handle it. I’ve heard of longtime vegetarians not being able to digest meat even if they wanted. While I can digest my fish and chips, it so upsetting to my stomach as to make it not any fun at all. But the thought of no more fish & chips….

We’ve been traveling along the Pacific Coast for sometime and until a few days ago had not stopped at a seafood restaurant. We sautead scallops in the van one night and another time I made clam chowder but I had steered clear of my fried delight. Recently after a big driving day we rolled into Bellingham, WA. We were looking forward to getting a feel for this popular little town and what better way than a nice dinner out. So off we go to Big Fat Fish Company, a place more elegant than the name implies. I do it. I eagerly order up their halibut fish & chips. After not more than three or four bites my stomach is wondering why I’m pouring cooking oil into it.

I tell myself, “Don’t let on. Keep eating.” I don’t want Steve to know my misery. I don’t want the, “you know better” and “I didn’t dare talk you out of it” comments and as he sits there all smug eating grilled salmon and vegetables.

You see Steve has learned something that I’m still learning the hard way. While my heart longs for the mood fish & chips bring, a mood of blue collar indulgence, an imagined taste of gritty Britain with bar fights and drunken sailors, my stomach has about as much tolerance for the actual eating of it as a sixteen year old does for guzzling booze. While a sixteen year old will stay the course, I’m nearly twice those years and wise enough to know that I’ve beaten myself, what with this healthy lifestyle.

With sad heart but peaceful stomach, I’ll cut another piece of cheese, refill my wine glass and continue to wonder how a clown tops a pirate.