Sunday, November 16, 2014

A.W.L...Absent WITH Leave...



It’s been a long time since I have blogged, but I know that you all will be forgiving because I have the very valid excuse of being engrossed in planning a wedding.

And, yes, I have been engrossed…but not totally immersed. There have been a lot of decisions to make, and people to contact, and plans to formulate, and actions to execute. But I have not been overwhelmed, and all-consumed.

I surely hope that I won’t find out, in less than two weeks that I should have been…

The beauty of the short timeline wedding is that there are lots of things you just can’t do…no time…Scratch it off the list. Keeping things simple is a must, and it helps to keep life on track as well. We are looking forward to a happy day, but I do not feel like this event has completely taken over our lives, which is good as I would go nuts if it did.

I hope I’m not premature in these declarations.

I’ve heard that it’s not a good thing for the M.O.B. to be nuts when the wedding day arrives…or even before it arrives. Afterwards? That is the time to be nuts…and I may be then. Certainly, I will be very tired…that happy satisfied kind of tired, I hope!

In the meantime, we have squeezed in a couple of showers, in the wedding tradition. Except not exactly…My introvert, the Bride, declared in her younger years that she would never – make that NEVER, EVER -- go to a bridal shower in her honor. These festivities seemed a scene of torture to her, where the honoree was subjected to the stares of the guests as she opened their gifts, expected to make cogent comments about each one. Frivolous and silly games were played, and way too many questions were asked about dresses, and honeymoons, and future plans. Horror of horrors, she had even heard the bride questioned about the arrival of future children!

None of their business, you know! And if you are an introvert, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you’re an extrovert, you don’t get it, and you think the introvert is ungrateful for not wanting to party with you.

Extroverts: we are wrong!

Anyway, now my dear introvert IS the Bride…and her dread of such festivities did not magically disappear when that ring went on her finger.

Unfortunately, the Introvert Bride is well-loved by her families, and they were longing to shower her with love and gifts and celebrate in the best way possible.

Such a problem to have! But it was a quandary.

As a testament to their love for The Bride, they crafted casual celebrations that would keep her discomfort to a minimum. They even offered to leave the gifts unwrapped. They left the silly games off the agenda. They refrained from prying questions, and excessive expressions of attention.

As a testament of her trust and appreciation for the love they wanted to show, my Introvert Bride compromised on her NEVER, EVER and we enjoyed two lovely family parties.
 

The first was the traditionally, non-traditional Likkel Couple’s Shower. Girls in attendance buy presents for the Bride. Guys in attendance buy presents for the Groom. It was a new, and admittedly, odd concept to Jon, the Groom – but he came away with some cool stuff – not the least of which was a case of Tabasco sauce and toilet plunger.

Hmm…that sounds really bad when you say it like that.

I mean someone got him a toilet plunger…and someone else got him a case of Tabasco – but they didn’t mean for those to go together.

This isn’t getting better, is it…

Well, suffice to say he got those items and an awesome flashlight, coffee mugs, Christmas light timer, a huge cast iron frying pan for camping…Guy stuff! And now he appreciates the concept of buying for the Groom.



Caitlin got lovely kitchen and house stuff – and though Jon had suggested shop uses for some of the items, they will not be allowed anywhere near it. He got his own presents, you see.

It was a fun night of teasing, joking and much laughter.

Yesterday, it was the Honcoop’s turn. All the Honcoop girls who could make it, as well as Jon’s mom, Kay, and sister, Kat, gathered for brunch at Deb’s house.



Caitlin loves brunch, and we enjoyed the delicious food and some good visiting before she opened her gifts…many more lovely things for her kitchen and new home with Jon.

The Little Girl Cousins, Madelyn and Brielle, helped bring her gifts and take away wrapping paper, and were generally a delightful distraction from Caitlin being the center of attention.

It was another fun celebration…It doesn’t hurt so much to be loved on after all!

And now we are less than two weeks from the wedding day…All that is left to do is the last minute stuff. We have thought about it so much that we are itching to do it.

It’s going to be a happy, happy day. It won’t be perfect – but it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, whatever happens, Jon and Caitlin will be husband and wife…with a whole host of loving people behind them who are sharing their joy.

It’s pretty wonderful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hear ye! Hear ye! -- In which I make an important announcement...


I haven’t written a word about an exciting development in our family this year out of respect for the parties involved.

But I really wanted to shout out that our girl had a beau…and a great guy he is!

So now that it’s official, and that great guy has declared his intention to make our girl his wife, I am pleased to announce that Caitlin will be marrying Jon Tuben this fall.

A year ago, this same girl was telling me that she didn’t know that she wanted to get married…And that was ok, though I thought it might be more lonely than she realized. I think she was so accustomed to lonely that she didn’t know the difference.

And then God brought Jon into her life! Thank you, Abby “Yente” Gavette, for introducing them. Your instinct was spot on…or divinely inspired. Or both.

Jon and Caitlin are a good match. They complement each other well, and we are so grateful to see such a good man love our daughter. It is a blessing that escapes description.

So now, we have jumped into the deep end, and are planning a wedding on a short time line. This may be more courageous than we ought be -- with a mom who values practicality too highly, and a bride that is overly introverted.

We’ll find a way…The goal is for them to get married, and that will happen even if the napkins are paper…cute paper, at least.

We started our wedding adventures with the selection of a dress. Caitlin invited our mutual friend, Tami, to advise. We like her style. We trust her to guide us…and in one fun afternoon, we found the wowser dress! Oh my! My girl is so gorgeous in it! Peach bellinis were consumed in celebration after this success and reminisces of weddings past were shared with the bride-to-be. It was a sweet afternoon, one to remember.

In the process of discovering THE dress, I was allowed to touch these:
…and rifle through them as if they were regular clothes. I was heady with such access to beauty, sparkles, lace…{sigh}…I’ve always wanted to do this, but, alas, bridal shops frown on those who come in to look without having a bride along.

I made sure to savor the moments.

And I will make sure to savor the moments to come. Despite our challenges – being highly practical and overly introverted – we will keep in the forefront the blessings that this wedding brings, and do our best to celebrate at every opportunity that God is gracious and gives us what is good for us.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Sunday Excursion in which We Pay It Forward...


 
I woke early on Sunday morning. Not ready to leave the comfort of my cocoon, I reached over for my Kindle, positioned my reading glasses to least painful position, and started in. After a while, I could tell that Randy was stirring, but I was still a little startled when he asked, “What do you think of this idea?”

Obviously, already a gorgeous day, he wondered if I would be willing to do a day trip up the North Cascades Highway, and over to the area of Washington’s Big Burn. We’ve been curious to see how some of the areas familiar to us looked after the devastation of this summer’s wildfires and subsequent mudslides.

Of course, I was in! Because: 1)No cooking all day, 2)Beautiful country to see, 3)Curiosity satisfied, 4)More reading in the car, 5) The Farmer was actually thinking about doing something other than work!

In a half-hour, we set off.

No freeways were involved in the pursuit of this day trip. On Highway 9, we stopped at the Blue Mountain Grill for our breakfast. Then on to Sedro Woolley, and there my reading stopped as the scenery is not so familiar to me, and lovely.

We enjoyed the sights all the way up to the Diablo Vista, where it is required that we stop and take a picture…to add to my collection of pictures at Diablo Vista over the years. It’s tradition!

Two young couples were standing at the fence just in front of where we parked, and as we exited the car Randy greeted them like old friends. “How are you folks today?” They giggled at his familiarity, and then came forward to ask if perhaps we might be able to help them. They were coming from the east and a few miles before the overlook, had realized that their fuel light was on. Did we have any gas that they could buy to make it to the next gas station? And did we know how far away it was?

They were slightly panicked, and sheepish, and, well, desperate. And very, very appreciative of any advice we might have.

Of course, we had no extra gas can along, and neither did anyone else around the parking lot. They were driving a Toyota, and having experience with Toyotas and fuel lights, we figured that they probably had enough gas to get back to Newhalem, 14 miles down the road. But they didn’t know how long the fuel light had been on before they noticed it.

Randy suggested that we follow them down the hill so if they ran out of gas, we could take one of them on to go get some. The road between Diablo Vista and Newhalem is not exactly a great place to have to walk to a gas station.

They were a bit incredulous that we would do this for them, but we assured them that we were willing, and happy to be of help.

What we didn’t tell them was that we knew how they felt, as we had our own experience with running out of gas in the wilderness…

Years ago, in Eastern Washington, we were on our way to camp at Sun Lakes. We were pulling a rented camping trailer, with a borrowed Blazer, and were driving through farm country. Out in the middle of fields as far as we could see, Randy says to me, “How soon to the next town?”

Say what?! This made my head swivel, and I replied, “There isn’t one…Why?”

“No reason…just curious…” Yeah, right…

He stuck to his story for a while, then admitted that we should have filled up at the last town, but he was sure we would make it…not far to go.

True, it was not far to go…However, the road we were traveling was built over what is the equivalent of monstrous molehills, so we were constantly going up…and down…Until suddenly, we only went halfway up…and then stopped…Three little kids in the car, and not a town to be seen, or even a wide spot in the road.

Fortunately, we were not traveling alone…but this was in the days before cell phones, so it took a while before my sister and brother-in-law noticed we weren’t following them anymore. A bunch of back-tracking, and then a 20 mile run to get gas, and we were back on the way to the campsite…though Randy had now committed a memory-making faux pas that will haunt him for the rest of his days. I make sure of that.

…All this to say, that we had sympathy for those worried young couples.

When we got to Newhalem, we found out there is no gas station there, and it was 14 more miles to the closest one. So, we headed down the road again. We had learned from the kids that the readout said 3 miles to empty, and knowing Toyotas as we do, we were pretty certain they would make it…But not sure enough to leave them.

Oh it was fun to see their happy faces when they pulled into the gas station in Marblemount! They were effusive in their thanks, and still a bit incredulous that we would take the time to do follow them. And they thought we were pretty smart, knowing they would make it there. They shook our hands and thanked us repeatedly.

It’s okay, kids…just paying it forward, as they said they will now do also.

We resumed our adventure through the Methow Valley where there are burned trees, and orange-brown bare land for miles and miles. There are houses standing just a short way down the road from where a pile of blackened rubble where a house once stood. It looks so random. There is evidence of burning right up to the edges of a lot of homes, ranches and orchards, singed fruit trees around the edges. Burned trees next to half-burned tress…The volume of land affected makes me think it must have looked like Hades as the fires moved through.

 
All the yellow trees on the hills have been burned. 


 
Washed out roadway...

 
Burned landscape, mud flow in front.
 
Our loop down 153 and back up 97 brought us through Pateros & Brewster, and the mighty Columbia that was an obvious boundary for the fires. We caught 20 at Okanogan to head back west. Near Loup Loup Pass we came through an area that had also suffered the flash flooding and mudslide. The road was being repaired from the wash-outs, and the houses beside the road had visible mud lines up their walls. Trouble upon trouble for those people…so sad! The rainy season is coming. One can only hope that the rains will not be so harsh as to cause another catastrophe there.
 
As we traveled west, and reached the Diablo Vista/Marblemount stretch, I told Randy that 4 times over those miles was enough for one day for me. We had to laugh…Our day had not quite gone as planned, and we were headed home much later than expected, but it was a great adventure day in our beautiful northwest. 
 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Enjoying the morning...


It was a lovely morning for a walk. In fact, I wore a jacket, which I have not done for a while, and my ears felt a little nipped by the cool as we started.
Daisie was a little uncomfortable as well. I can always tell when she is, because, every minute or so, her nose bumps my right hand asking for a treat – always the right hand because she knows the treats are in my right pocket. Anyway, if it’s wet or cold, or too hot, she seeks a lot of comfort in treats as we progress.
She’s getting kind of particular in her old age. I was a little surprised at her reluctance to get out of the house this morning.
I thought it was lovely! Cool, a little foggy, but the sun streaming.
The Farmer was already out in the field rototilling. The neighbors were also out in the field, and too far away for me to determine what field operation was underway. Two neighbors are taking out large fields, so to our east there is a lot of open ground – which should be interesting when the northeaster blows.
It was a time for pleasant reverie and contemplation…Although the heavy dew revealed that I have a leak in my boot; and there was a tiny stone in one. There was just enough room so that at each step it could roll around and be in position to pierce another spot on my foot. Two stops to stand one-legged, and shake out the boot, yielded no relief. Farm girl problems…
Not enough annoyance to try again, and not enough to keep me from thinking about the loveliness around me, the blessing of this beautiful summer, and to think thoughts of dread about the box of peaches that is crying out to be canned as soon as I get the equipment assembled.
Oh, it’s not that bad. I need to spend a little thought to remind myself how it used to be when I canned. Three little kids underfoot, needs to be attended to, refereeing to be done, training to accomplish while half-filled jars of peaches browned on the counter…3 hours of work accomplished in 6 hours of time. And now the task is optional; then it was mandatory…money must be saved! It’s so much easier now; and I’ll be glad I worked today when I eat those peaches in January.
When Daisie and I returned to the house, I got her a “toothbrush” (doggy dental chew) as is our routine. It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to feed her, or even take her out for potty this morning before I headed out to walk. No wonder she was reluctant to go! I was doing it all wrong! Daisie is very religious about our routines, and notes with her behavior (quizzical looks, quiet whining) when I have deviated from the proper order. She tried to hang back when I headed out the door, but I was oblivious. She tried to let me know that she was hungry by asking for treats every minute – but I didn’t get it.
Humans can be so obtuse! Sorry, Daisie.
Daisie may have flexibility problems, but I have discipline problems. Having a dog that can keep me on the right track is a gift that will increase in value as time passes.
Well, as long as I pay attention to her.
All in all, it was a lovely start to a Friday…and now, on to the peaches.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dog Days and Nights...


We’ve taken care of the grand-dogs a few times this summer. Olive and Angus were over for 2 full weekends, and Macy, a five day stretch while her people were being back-up musicians in Saskatchewan.

Macy, hanging out while I browse the internets...
 Compared to the Littles, Macy is a breeze. She just likes to be with you -- even to the point that early in the morning she would sneak up the stairs and stand outside the bedroom door, moaning low to remind us that she had been alone for a long, long time.

Of course, Daisie was aghast that Macy would have the audacity to travel up the stairs. The noive!

But that’s about as bad as it gets with Macy. Well, except for the drooling that occurs when she is excessively excited. And her beautiful long black hair…which isn’t quite as beautiful when it isn’t on her…But attitude wise, she’s a good old sock and loves her people!

Extortion, Littles style. This is what happens when demands are not met.
 
The Littles, however, are a whole bunch of demand. Olive’s love must be earned, and Angus’ love must be endured. His expressiveness is unceasing when it comes to jumping his hellos and kissing your face. Don’t turn away and try to be shy! He’ll make sure that you don’t doubt his enthusiasm for your attention. He is only briefly confused when you finally yell at him to stop. He’s sure you don’t mean it.

Olive, on the other hand, needs to be coaxed, cajoled, and sometimes threatened to hold still long enough for you to touch her, much less to pet her. Only her Girl (Caitlin) and The Boss (Randy) are allowed special dispensations for affection. The rest of us are at her mercy.

And mercy is not her gift.

Another interesting facet of sitting the Littles is that they are accustomed to sleeping on Caitlin’s bed…and their expectations are high when it comes to staying with Gram and The Boss. We decided early on that they would be granted the special privilege of going upstairs. Daisie has never been allowed all the way up the stairs, and now has a phobia about doing so. We actually can’t get her to do it. By contrast, we could never get the Littles to stop doing it…so we just gave up and called it a privilege. Sorry, Daisie.

We situated the crates at the foot of the bed but, of course, the Littles ignored them and leapt onto the bed and after a few wrestles of joy, they cozied up while I watched TV.

But when The Boss came to bed, I put them in the crates. They did well until 3 am, when I heard Olive scratching, and crying just a little. I decided to ignore this, as I know that Olive can make it the whole night without a potty break. I played dead…even after Angus began to join in.

However, The Boss responded to their call…which came as a shock to me! This never happened when we had children…and that’s all I’m going to say about that because NOW?? FOR DOGS??

Ok…moving on…The dogs dutifully went potty outside, and then raced pell-mell for our bedroom, making flying leaps onto the bed, and had a round of joy wrestling.

It was as if they were saying, “We did it! We did it!”

And to my continued shock, The Boss got into bed – and left them there. Whereupon, they snuggled right down; Angus in the crook of my knees, head resting on my legs; Olive sprawled out between The Boss and I. They knew a good thing when they saw it…And we all went back to sleep.

For a while…

An hour or two later, I felt a polite poke on my arm…and then another, more insistent. It was Olive. What could she want? She’d already been out; she was already on my bed…And then I remembered that she’s a burrower…Before I got poked again, I lifted the blankets, and she dove in, wriggling down to my feet. In minutes, she was asleep again.

I have to say I now understand why the Kings and Queens of yesteryear always had a little companion dog. They certainly help keep you warm – and when you consider the damp, cold, drafty stone edifices in which they resided, it makes a lot of sense. It was the equivalent of an electric blanket…

If you could find an electric blanket that also farts.

I would have thought I was accustomed to this…uh…happening? Eventuality? Atmospheric condition? Whatever…But in this case, I was severely outgunned by the number, and in a couple of cases, the power of emitters in the bed.

Severely…We need to find those Littles a different kind of food!!

Anyway, as the sun began to come up I looked across the bed to see The Boss’ head on the pillow, and in between us was Olive, still snoozing comfortably with the blankets up to her shoulders and her head by the pillow – just like us people. My legs were terribly stiff from not daring to move and wake up Angus, who was so comfortably ensconced with his head on my knees.

As soon as the room was light, it was wake up time, and any thought of waking slowly was gone as soon as the Littles roused. They prefer to start the day with calisthenics that are accomplished by wrestling each other as if the bed were a ring…And believe me, they use all the corners, and cross it often. It is quite invigorating in a very irritating sort of way…

The worst of it is that they – and this does remind me of the days of young children – awoke completely refreshed, and ready to take on the world. I, on the other hand, felt as if I had been used as a piece of furniture…Which, in fact, I had been.

The next night, The Boss dispensed with the crates, and the Littles spent the night cozying up to their favorite piece of furniture – me. The Boss slept well, as did they, and that is truly like the old days – and nights.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Penny-wise...pound-foolish...


In our corner of the Pacific Northwest, it’s been a season that can truly be called summer! Oftentimes, our summer is a week long, and is over before we recognized it. Not this year! We’ve enjoyed summer weather day after day…and that means the ground is very dry, and my flowers and garden are in need of serious watering.

I’ve been very faithful about doing that…and then one day, this showed up in a box on our porch!

 

The Farmer had watched me drag around my plastic hose cart as much as he could stand, and purchased, put together, and enhanced with special features this new wonder. (During harvest, no less! That is love…)

I already had a hose cart that I had purchased myself. However, I have this…thing…about buying equipment for outdoor endeavors.

I don’t like to pay much for that stuff. My conviction was that I would spend no more than $40 on a hose cart, and if that meant the wheels didn’t turn very well, and the cart would drag along sometimes when I pulled out the hose, so be it. I’d rather pay $40 for a hose cart and drag it around, than pay $140 for one and not be able to buy an extra top and a few thrift store treasures.

The Farmer doesn’t get this…thing…that I have.

And watching me wrestle the hose cart (which to me is still better than wrestling 100ft of hose), was getting to him.

So now I have a hose cart with all the bells and whistles!

The wheels are perpendicular to the direction the reel turns: no more dragging cart.

The tires are big and bouncy and roll so easily on the grass.

The reel locks in position, and can be left unlocked as well.

The Farmer attached a little storage bin for my sprinklers and nozzles.

The Farmer permanently plumbed in a valve so that I can regulate the flow to the sprinkler with just a twist, or 1/8 of one. This is a quantum leap in quality over my previous cart, whose plastic fitting regularly shot out the side of the cart as the water flow began with its fits and starts. I always had to hold it in until the spitting was over, and hope that nothing happened while I was away from the cart.

And The Farmer didn’t plan this one, but it also serves as an exercise machine. Due to my lack of acumen on which direction is left-loosy or righty-tighty on said valve, and the length of the hose on said cart, I do quite a bit of walking back and forth before I get the water flow right.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Watering is SO easy now…and I have to admit that those extra dollars have everything to do with it. Sure – you can buy a hose cart for $40, but now I see that, even though it’s quite a few dollars more, convenience isn’t a bad purchase either. Right now, it’s making me happy every day.

Sometimes this Dutch girl just needs to suck it up, and pay for the intangibles.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

About wrapped up...




We’ve had some exciting times here as the season winds down. On Tuesday, July 22nd, we had the crew’s favorite night of the year when we worked until 10:30pm…Working under the lights -- for some reason I can’t determine, they always find it magical. I could hear their chatter and enthusiasm all the way back at the house.

And I’m good with that. Yay! Go crew! I can’t tell you how happy I am that you set the record for the longest day ever worked at Randy Honcoop Farms…and therefore, we could, without worry, let the next 2 days be lost to rain. On Friday, they returned to work, and we found minimal mold problems because of that long day of picking as many acres as we could.

Those kids rock…all of them!

This past Monday, everyone was prepared to do it again…not because of imminent rain, but because we were going to have to bunch up picking to have enough fruit to run the plant. At 9am, we sent them out into the field, all hyped that this day might also end under the lights…

A half hour later, we were consulting with our processing partners (my sister Erin, and her husband Larry) about halting all processing efforts as production had dropped off dramatically. We didn’t have much to pick to complete our last order, and feared we wouldn’t be able to pick enough to fill another truck…At least not without weeping and regret and gnashing of teeth…which is caused by running the plant many days with small amounts of fruit.

So one short hour into the day, we called the machines back to the house and broke the news that there would be no picking under the lights; and, as we were switching to picking into barrels, half the crew would have to go home.

I don’t like doing that.

But they were all very game about it. All the boys stayed to set up the pickers for barrels and get the new set up going. The girls headed home, and I suppose that after a little bit of relaxation they weren’t feeling so bad about not picking under the lights.

Since then, we’ve been rotating crew members in and out as we need only 2 people per machine instead of four. Picking into barrels is easy…and can be boring…And messy. Dried leaves, and little dried up berries, and crunchy stems stick to the machine with the juice of the old, soft withering fruit that is left. At the end of the day, there are big piles of leaves and this kind of detritus where the crews clean up the machines before they are washed.

I always look at these piles and, seeing all the dry little berries, wonder how much more we would have put in the freezer were it a perfect world, and all these littles could become big, red & juicy.

But I think these thoughts out of curiosity this year, not regret, because it has been a great season, with lovely large fruit, wonderfully manageable weather, and a reliable, hard-working crew. We have been blessed.

Yes, we are tired…but a good kind of tired…the satisfied kind.

The Farmer is already moving on to the next farming tasks, and there will be more time to enjoy some summer activities before Fall moves in.

June 30 start, August 1 finish…a fine season, just fine!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life (leslieisverbose.blogspot.com) and one where I can vent. (leslievents.blogspot.com)