Saturday, January 31, 2009

Let's Take a Drive

The weather was halfway decent today so I took a drive.

I wound my way around parts of Skagit Valley, from Fir Island on the south end to Edison up north. Just before reaching Bayview State Park, a series of new telephone poles were laying along the road waiting for installation.

At Ease Soldiers

I stopped at the state park where I saw a few eagles in the distance. The wind was blowing strong enough for a kiteboarder to enjoy himself. Personally I thought it was too darn cold to be out there, even with a drysuit on.

Escaping Boredom on a Board

Beach Scenery

I drove across country roads that I'd never been on, searching for things that made me want to stop and snap a photo. I was surprised by how many others were out driving around enjoying the day.

Skagit Barns

I'm trying to learn more about the different settings on the camera. I might get my own so I can continue to take photos when Karl is out with the other one. I believe I'm starting to have separation anxiety whenever I don't have the camera with me. You see things and go "If I only had the camera!"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Why You Don't Wear Mascara on Days Like This

Today was a very emotional day for me. It was the last day of work for several of my co-workers.

I was doing okay, keeping a stiff upper lip, until my boss came to say good-bye. I almost lost it but I held myself together and didn't cry.

I finally broke down when one of the women I've been friends with was leaving. She was crying so it made me cry, too. I know we'll still keep in touch, however it is sad thinking she won't be there come Monday.

Since most people left before lunch, the afternoon was very quiet in our area. I think on Monday the reality will set in.

I tried to take some pictures of a plane doing stunts at the airport this afternoon but by the time I got my act together, the pilot was finished. Too bad, the sun was actually out today.

But here's a picture taken down near our community dock yesterday evening.

Sunday Lake

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Moving Pictures

These were shot while coming home from work today. My husband was driving the truck and the sky was just beautiful. No time to pull over and take pictures so I took these right through the window.

I-5 at Island Crossing

For more SkyWatch photos from around the globe, click on the logo below.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I've Moved

No, no, no. It's not what you think it is. I moved to a different office today. At least I started changing offices. Now I am back in an office that I used to be in several years ago. What a pain it is even moving offices. But, it is giving me a chance to clean out a lot of "stuff" I've accumulated over the years.

Today, I also went out to our proto building where we used to prototype boats during development. It was extremely sad to see most of the equipment and things cleared out. The building is quickly becoming a hollow shell. I have such fond memories and this transition is very difficult to watch.

I almost feel like I have "survivor's guilt" because I will still have a job after many of my co-workers are gone. This coming Friday will be hard for me because several of my friends will be leaving. I am not looking forward to it at all.

Karl and I went to the Seattle Boat Show after work. Not to buy a boat, but to attend a seminar on kayak fishing. One of the guys from the fishing forum that Karl is on was the presenter. I found it very interesting and realized that Karl definitely needs to get more safety gear for kayaking. I want him to be safe out on the water, especially if the kayak should tip over (or do a "huli" as the yakkers call it).

It certainly wasn't as fun to attend the boat show as in previous years. The excitement just isn't there like it used to be. Yes, I saw the 245SB that was the last new boat program I managed. And yes, I saw a lot of the other boats that I've played a part in developing. My heart just wasn't in it however.

No pictures today either. It was lightly snowing on the way in to work and I didn't feel like taking any on the way to Seattle. Maybe tomorrow will present other opportunities.

I know I have so much to be thankful for -- a good husband and kids, food in my belly, a roof over my head and a job to help pay for it. I just don't like the feeling of sadness that has enveloped me these past few days and I need to get out of this mood.

Monday, January 26, 2009

They're Ba-ack!

It was soooo cool! We took the dogs for a walk down to the lake after we got home from work today. As we were walking back towards the house, we heard the sweet song of the trumpeters as two of them glided overhead. Next came a flight of a half-dozen more and two more groups after that.

The lake is partially frozen AGAIN, but it looks like there is a spot at the other end of the lake from us where the swans can spend the night. I think they may have landed on the ice and then made their way to open water.

It's not the several hundred that we are used to seeing, but some is definitely better than none.

It was C-O-L-D this morning. At 7 a.m., the temp was 21 degrees. There was hardly a cloud in the sky as we drove to work. We had a good view of Mt. Rainier today.

Mt. Rainier

How was your Monday?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Say it Ain't So!

So it started snowing last night, just enough to cover the road surfaces. This morning we had less than an inch on the ground. It has flurried on and off throughout the day, but no additional accumulation. Thank goodness!

Barn in the Stillaguamish Valley

I went picture hunting around lunch time today. I saw several eagles, a beautiful hawk and many bird hunters. My guess is that they were hunting geese so I steered clear of those areas.

Eagle along Pioneer Highway

Hawk near Mark Clark Bridge in Stanwood

It's a quiet Sunday and I'm enjoying it. Hope you are, too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Out of Control Pantry

I'd like to tear our pantry entirely apart and re-do it, but that costs more money than I have to spend. The shelves are too deep to make it easy to find things, they aren't adjustable, and it doesn't take long for the pantry to look like a disaster zone.

Today's project was to clean it out and straighten it up. A quick trip to the hardware store beforehand for a few baskets, and the update commenced.

Pantry Before

Because the shelves are deep, items have a tendency to get pushed to the rear and forgotten. I checked the expiration dates on foods before I put them back on the shelves. Lo and behold, I filled our kitchen garbage can up with expired foods. I recycled where I could but some things were just too messy to deal with recycling.

I'll see how long the neatness lasts in the pantry. At least I can close the doors.

Pantry After

At some point, I know I need to rip the current shelves out and totally re-do it, but for now I'll have to keep it as is.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Arlington Airport

The fog had not completely rolled back in Wednesday evening so I was able to capture the sun setting over the Arlington, WA airport.

It has been difficult to see much of the sky these past few days because of the fog. It was gray and dreary all day today. I will be glad when it clears out.

To see more pictures of the sky around the globe, click on the logo below.

Smokey Point, WA

It's been a foggy week around here. And cold, too. Yesterday when I was on my way to work, I stopped to take a picture of the sun trying to burn through the thick fog in Smokey Point, WA. I was hoping to get another picture today without the fog for a comparison. No such luck. Still thick fog all day. On a clear day, you would be able to see Mt. Pilchuck in the background.

View looking east from the Whidbey Island Bank parking lot

I've read that the place name of Smokey Point, WA originated from the name of a restaurant that was located at the crossroads. The Smokey Point Cafe was a 1950s outdoor barbecue restaurant so named because of an ever-present plume of smoke coming from it. A Rite Aid drugstore sits on the site now. There isn't a "point" in Smokey Point either.

I think it should have been called Smokey Point because of all the fog that occurs in this area. Smokey Point can be foggy, and I mean dense fog, when other areas are clear and the sun is out. It's like you are enveloped in heavy smoke but without the smell. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Way Back Whensday

Everyone say "Cheese"!
From left to right - Karen, Susan, Rick & Sally; January 1966

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where Have the Trumpeter Swans Gone?

Typically this time of year, our lake is home to several hundred Trumpeter swans. We've noticed over the past few weeks that the swans are not here in the evening. We've got a flock of Canada geese hanging around, but no Trumpeters.

We suspect that the snow storms over the Christmas holidays and the subsequent freezing of a large portion of the lake surface made the swans depart for other accommodations. I saw a few this past weekend in the fields not too far from the house so I know some are still around, just not on our lake.

We miss the "music" they brought to the neighborhood as they returned each night to rest.

Trumpeter Swans - A Year Ago

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Monday Morning Blues for Me

What a way to start a week! I received an email from my former boss asking me to talk to him first thing Monday morning, which I did. I was offered a position on a new team that was being put together to work on boats in Europe.

I wasn't the first choice for the job. The person originally slated to fill the spot opted to take a new job with another company. I was asked to fill his shoes and big shoes they are at that. But I am ready for a new challenge and feel grateful for the opportunity that is being given to me.

I accepted the position which will allow me to continue with my current employer, just in a different capacity. It will involve traveling to Europe and I am looking forward to it.

I sent an email to Okanogan County earlier today to advise them of my change in status. I didn't hear anything back so I hope everything is okay. I wasn't offered a job from them so officially I didn't decline a job with them.

Now I feel excited to go to work again. It was getting very weird and depressing going in day after day and still will feel strange as others continue to leave. I almost feel guilty that I am being allowed to stay on.

Karl took me out to dinner tonight to celebrate. It is a relief knowing I don't have to job hunt for the near future and two paychecks will continue to roll in and allow us to finish the house and guest cabin in Okanogan.

I said lots of prayers over the past few weeks and indeed feel blessed by Him.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fishing Fun Day Sunday

We had a beautiful day in the Northwest today. Afternoon temps were 48 F and the sun was shining. Hard to believe it is still the middle of winter.

Karl met up with some kayaking fishing buddies at Lake Goodwin this morning. We had worked it out so I would bring over the goodies for grilling burgers around noon.

I had to turn around halfway to the park and go back to the grocery store because I brought just about every BUT the burgers. They were at home in the freezer. DUH!

Jelly & Buddy went along since the weather was so nice. I think they enjoyed themselves although most of the time they were on their leashes. Gotta keep them safe.

Chef Karl Grilling Up Burgers

After lunch, I walked down to the lake where several strands of floats were lined up along the beach. I decided to snap a few pics since they looked so neat with the sun shining on them.

Then I came home with the dogs and ended up taking a long nap. I hope I can sleep tonight!

Karl didn't catch any fish today (or yesterday either), but still had a good time out on the lake. If every cast hooked a fish, it wouldn't be called fishing. I think two straight days of kayaking wore him out since he fell asleep just after 8 p.m.

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SkyWatch Friday - Okanogan Sunset

I liked this sunset picture so much, I'm trying something called SkyWatch Friday. It's a place to enjoy skies and views from around the globe. Hopefully I get this entry right. If you want to know more about SkyWatch, click on the logo below this picture.

This was as I was leaving the house Thursday night to head over to Twisp, WA.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fun and D-O-N-E

It's been a busy couple of days.

I took my typing test yesterday and scored 71 words per minute. Not bad, I say. So I met the 30 wpm goal for the job. Another part done.

Then I went up to our house to take some pictures of the surroundings. I wanted to make sure Karl could see what it looked like this time of year.

Snowy Splendor

Looking back down our road

Afterwards, I went next door and spent the afternoon visiting with Amanda and playing with Cody & Aly, the young'uns. I don't know who had more fun - the kids or me!

It was a totally enjoyable afternoon and I look forward to doing it again, minus all the snow of course.

Our House from the Neighbor's Driveway

I left at sunset to drive back to Twisp. The light on the basalt ridge near the house was just awesome. I'm not the greatest of photographers, but I think I captured some of the spectacular sunset.

Basalt Ridge at Sunset

I went for a walk with our friend, George, and his dog this morning. It was a bit chilly. The hoar frost on the trees and plants was pretty.

A Coat of Hoar Frost

Then the turkeys made an appearance in front of his house. I must have counted 9 or 10 of them.

Why did the turkey cross the road? Why, to get to the other side!


Today, I had my 15 minute interview with a panel of 3 women from the Civil Service board. I don't think I made a good impression on one of the women. Oh well, can't please them all.

If I get the job and take it, it would be a huge change for us. On the other hand, if I don't get it, I will be okay with that, too. There was at least one other candidate for the position that I felt was worthy of getting it. I hope she does get the job. I may have another opportunity that I will know more about come Monday.

Speaking of Monday, that's when I will know about the clerk's position.

Right after finishing the interview, I headed for home. I made it in about 4-1/4 hours. The pass was clear, only hit one patch of ice that made the truck squirrely, and then got stuck traffic from Monroe to home. Rush hour. Yuck.

It felt good to get home and be greeted by Karl and the animals.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Round One - Finished!

Today I went to Okanogan for the first part of my Civil Service test. Today's test was supposed to start off with the typing portion (which it didn't). Instead we started off with a vocabulary test (I missed 2 questions), then a filing test (I missed 3, dagnabit) then a reasoning test (where I scored 100% - woo hoo). We wrapped it up with a spelling test that was not scored.

The top 15 scorers would then "advance" to the interview round. I was #2. Not bad. The #1 finisher sat next to me during the test. She was a nice gal and if she got the job, I think she'd do real well at it.

I have to take the typing test at the WorkSource center in Omak sometime before the interview on Friday. I'll try to do that tomorrow or first thing Friday morning.

Before I went to for the test, I drove up to the cabin since I had time. Yup, there was snow there, approximately 12" to 18" deep. Some spots I was up to my knees in it. I trudged through it up to the cabin from the road. After 1-1/2 trips, I decided I would need to stay in town for the evening. I wasn't willing to risk it in the dark.

The test was supposed to go until about 4 or 4:30 p.m., then I would need to grab a bite to eat. That would put me up there in the dark with just a flashlight to navigate the distance to the cabin. I could do it...if I had to, but decided not to deal with it.

I'll try again tomorrow when I have more time. I'll also be able to take pictures for posting later.

For now, I'm staying at a friend's house in Twisp for the evening. That's why I have internet access.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Necesito Una Siesta

In other words, I need a nap.

After receiving the notice yesterday (because I failed to get the mail out of the box on Saturday), I did not get much sleep last night. Too much running through my brain and I had a very difficult time shutting it down. What sleep I did get was very restless.

Do I go over after work on Tuesday or should I get up early on Wednesday and drive over in time for the test (which isn't until after lunch)? Do I get a hotel room or try to stay at the cabin? WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?!

Questions, questions.

A nice little power nap after work helped to put things in perspective.

Luckily, the weather at Stevens Pass is supposed to be good Tuesday and Wednesday. I'll be taking the camera and hope to get some get photos during the trip.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Testing 1-2-3

I received notification yesterday in the mail, although I got it out of the mailbox today for my Civil Service test in Okanogan this coming Wednesday. I'll have to take a typing test, too. If I pass that, then the interview is on Friday.

I'm not quite sure how I feel at the moment - excitement, nervousness, fear. So many emotions are coursing through me.

Excitement - the reality of moving east getting closer. Of course, there is no guarantee I'll even get the job.

Nervousness - having to take a test. I do not enjoy taking tests. Do you?

Fear - of the unknown. What happens if I get the job? Selling the house, Karl's job, living accommodations while the other house gets completed. So many things to think about.

When one door closes, another opens.

Prayer helps.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What a Difference a Week Makes

We came home early from work today because there was talk of shutting I-5 North down at the Arlington / Island Crossing exit. The interchange itself was closed because of water over the ramps and at one point only two lanes were getting through. Rather than risk getting stuck without an alternate route home, many employees left early including us.

The docks at our community lake are under water except for the floating section at the end. You can't even get to them unless you are wearing hip waders.

Community docks under water

The Stillaguamish River went over its banks and flooded the valley between Silvana and Stanwood.

Stillaguamish Valley between Silvana & Stanwood

It is just amazing how much water is around here when just a week ago we still had plenty of snow on the ground from the storms at Christmas.

The Stilly was scheduled to crest this afternoon at record levels. Many people will have a mess to clean up when the river finally recedes. I am thankful we are not affected at our house.

Hope your weather is good today wherever you are.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Pain in the Neck

I had a followup visit with the doc today regarding the herniated disks in my neck. Good news! I don't need to go back to him for further treatment. Only a few more visits left in physical therapy to finish up the strengthening exercises. Yay!!!

Now I can work on getting things done around the house and hopefully over at the cabin.

I applied for a job in Okanogan during the holidays. It is for a clerk's position with the Sheriff's department. Stay tuned. The move may be sooner than we think.

In the meantime, the job hunt on this side of the mountains continues. Less than 3 months to go. Each day gets harder and harder as more people leave the company. It is so hard seeing friends go out the door with their box of possessions from their desks.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Project for Charlie

Charlie is our double yellow Amazon parrot.


Yesterday, I decided that his day perch needed a makeover. I searched the web for ideas and came up with one for Charlie made out of PVC pipe & fittings.

After breakfast today, we went to Lowe's so I could purchase the necessary materials for the project.

Here is the finished project. It fits onto the original playpen nicely and is very secure. I built steps covered with jute on one side to help give him more exercise, and a place to hang a few toys to chew on. I want to work on adding something to hold wood so he can chew on that instead of my floor or door moldings.

Extreme Home Makeover - Bird Playpen Edition

All of this is just fitted together, no glue. The PVC cement is toxic to birds so I certainly didn't want to use it.

I would like to get a few new toys to hang on it including one with leather strips that he loves to gnaw on. I'm hoping that the revamped day perch will help keep him from getting bored.


Charlie has been a unique addition to our family. He traveled up from South Texas in the summer of 2003 with my mother. At that time, he was her bird. She had rescued him from a lonely existence.

We don't know much about Charlie's past, including how old he is. Parrots can live 60 or more years. He came as part of a house purchase when Dr. Mary Lou (Mom's ex-boss) bought an older home to use as her new office. The older lady who lived there had passed away and the bird and a cat came with the house.

During the day, Charlie lived out on the covered back porch in a small cage. At night, he was brought into the kitchen until the next work day began. He did not have much interaction with people and Charlie most certainly did not like Dr. Mary Lou. Bite, bite, bite was all he wanted to do to her.

Parrots are very social creatures and need lots of attention. Mom, being the soft-hearted person she is, felt bad for Charlie and started bring him home at night. She bought him a new and larger cage. Before long, Charlie belonged to Mom. She still couldn't handle him but at least he would let her clean the cage without biting.

When it was time for Mom to head north for the summer, Charlie (and Stormy, the cockatiel who was another rescue) traveled with her in the Rialta motorhome to Washington State.

During Mom's stay, there was a death in the family that required Mom to fly to the east coast. When Mom and newly-widowed Aunt Linda returned, the two ladies decided to go traveling in the Rialta for a while. Charlie and Stormy stayed with us.

Neither Karl or I had owned a parrot or cockatiel before so we bought books to learn more about caring for them. One book said that Amazons may not be the best bird for novice owners. Uh oh...what were we getting ourselves into?

Aren't I a handsome fellow?

But we persevered and educated ourselves about them. We gave Charlie lots of attention but kept our fingers clear of his beak. Around Christmas, I finally got brave enough to touch him. He loved the scratches on his head. Before long, he would sit on my hand. Progress!

Over time, Karl and I grew attached to both birds and asked Mom if we could keep them. She agreed to it.

We purchased an even larger cage for Charlie and Stormy moved into his old cage. We lost Stormy about a year later due to old age (according to the vet). She was the sweetest little bird though and I would own a cockatiel again.

Charlie loves to "talk" and sing. His vocabulary of sounds is quite extensive (at least I think so) and we still hear new things occasionally. He enjoys having his head and neck scratched and a foot massage now and then.

He also understands the command "no bite". He will however, bite strangers, including my mother who was the one that rescued him in the first place. Ungrateful bird. Karl and I are the only ones he will allow to touch him.

Amazon parrots have the temperament of a 2-year-old child. He can have hissy fits and scream to the point you want to serve roast parrot for dinner. We've given it some thought on a few occasions about re-homing him with another family, but Charlie is part of ours. We made the decision to care for him for the rest of his life and that's that. Even if it means having a 2-year-old who will never grow up.

Ahhhh, the joys of owning a parrot.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of our family and friends! I hope 2009 brings great things for you and yours.