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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tartans and Pipers and Swords Oh My...

This weeked was the Pacific Northwast Highland Games at the fairgrounds in Enumclaw, Washington. We try to get up there every year, and each time we go we have a blast and get sunburned. This year we were especially careful about using sunblock, staying in the shade and my husband even bought me a hat, but we're just not used to 95+ degrees and we both managed to get crispy again this year. No worries though, we had so much fun, it was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Lament of the Piper's Wife

Shortly after our wedding, my husband decided he wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes. He had a set of pipes he had once bought on a whim at a swap meet and then allowed to collect dust for years.

These pipes were old, made in Pakistan - which by most everybody's account means they are of poor quality. But all that didn't matter to Mr. H, he wasn't about to let anyone tell him his pipes were crap, he was going to learn to play them no matter what.

Teacher? We don't need no stinking teacher. This is Mr. Do-It-Yourself we're talking about here.

So he set about learning to play the pipes. He spent quite a bit of time online, researching bagpipes, discussing them in bagpipe forums exploring how-to manuals, and practicing. He spent endless hours on the practice chanter (thank heavens for the practice chanter, much less noisy than the pipes), and after several months of trying to go it alone, he met another bagpipe player in one of his classes at school.

Owen is a 19 year old from Alaska who has been playing the bagpipes for years. He offered to teach Aaron for $10 a lesson. You just can't beat that. From that point, Mr. H's improvement has been phenomenal.

Well until about a month ago. You see, all this time he has been using these pipes that really are garbage. His bag is full of holes. He spends most of his time online researching seasoning and other options for plugging the holes in his sieve of a bag. The bag is so leaky the seasoning leaks out, so he has a garbage bag and duct tape wrapped around it to keep from staining his clothes. His handle online is ghettopipes. It's a pretty good name for him.

The pipes have gotten so bad that at this point they no longer hold air at all, they are unplayable. At some point we're going to have to break down and get him a really good set, but at this point even a replacement bag is out of our price range.

I never thought I would say this, but the one thing I want more than anything right now is to be able to buy my husband a new set of pipes.

Monday, July 25, 2005


I've been battling the same sinus infection for the past 4 years. Finally, one day in a conversation with my physician, I had to come to terms with the fact that I just have not outgrown my childhood pet allergies.

After 4 years with Rufus, through thick and thin, I was going to have to find him a new home. That was 6 months ago. We've been looking for a new home for him, but not willing to settle for just anyone. He's a sweet dog, and deserves to go to a home where he will be appreciated.

One of the individuals who expressed some interest in him had other dogs. I suggested we set up a meet & grreet for the dogs at a neutral place like a dog park. He saw no reason to do that and just wanted to come and pick him up. Just didn't sit right with me.

So here we are, six months later, with a dog I can't live with, but to whom I don't know how I will be able to say goodbye.

Enter Kristianne.

Kristianne has been looking for a dog since she moved into her new house. She works for the same company I do, knows many of the same people I know, and met Rufus at the dog park on Sunday and just seemed to love him.

The big question now is - how will he get along with her cats. We agreed to set up a time to meet the cats and see how that goes. Hopefully she wont lose interest in him in the meantime. She seems like a very nice lady and the house with a yard would be a big upgrade from the little apartment he's living in now.

I'm so torn. I'm delighted that Kristianne is interested in taking him, I think he will be happier there anyways, but he's been my companion for 4 years, and I'm just going to miss him so much.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Three Hour Tour

For Mr. H's 30th Birthday, I took him out whale watching... well that was the idea anyways, but apparently the whales didn't get that memo.

The tour went out of Friday Harbor, so we had an adventure just getting there. We drove to Anacortes, two hours north of home, and then took a ferry across to San Juan Island where Friday Harbor is located.

We tried to have dinner at Front Street Ale House, but the service was so slow - not so much the kitchen, but getting the attention of the waiter (the one with the flat brim baseball hat cocked askew) - so we asked for the food to go and ate in on the boat as it was pulling out of port. The food was a bit greasy, but not bad.

The tour company we used was San Juan Safaris, and I would definitely use this service again. Our Captian was an old sea dog that looked like he'd spent more of his life on water than land, and the naturalist was a young college student who had been born and raised on the islands. They were both very skilled at keeping their guest happy and engaged (there were 20 of us on board) especially after it became apparent that the whales were not going to make an appearance.

We saw lots of eagles and eagles' nests, rhinocerous oclets (horned diving birds), harbor porpoise, seals, sea otters, and beautiful scenery. The most fascinating sighting was also the most grotesque, we came across a tiny island, maybe 20 feet in diameter, with two young bald eagles on it. In the water below were a seal and her newborn pup. By newborn, I mean minutes old. We came up right after ther birth. The eagles on the rock were displaying their pecking order, the older eagle was eating the placenta, while the younger eagle stood by patiently waiting his turn.
We got back to Friday Harbor in time to catch the last ferry back to the mainland. The 9:55 is the milk run stopping at every island on the way, so we got back to Anacortes by midnight. That 2 hour drive back to Auburn was exhausting.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Max and Ilona's Visit - July '05

Max, Ilona, Grandma, and Grandma Candy...

We had a great visit with Max and Ilona and Grandma, and made sure we got to spend some quality time with Grandma Candy as well.

The kids were great, and we had such a good time with them. We had so much fun. But WOW, what a lot of work. We were both bone-tired exhausted after they left. I can't wait till we get to see them again.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

"I don't know if you have a mom, but I know my Aunt Judy belongs to you"

Max trying to figure out how he's related to his uncle.

"I know I can do it. I know I can do it. I know I can do it all by my self."

Ilona trying to buckle her own seat belt. It took five minutes, but she did it!

"This is not my breakfast"

Ilona's response to a granola bar.

On Being an Auntie...

We are now on day 3 of the great munchkin adventure. Max and Ilona arrived with Grandma on Friday night. Mr. H had been a little trepidatious about spending 5 days with my mom and 2 toddlers, but Ilona took care of that when she quickly made it clear to everyone that Mr. H was her chosen one, her favorite, her 'Princess Transportation Device,' and pointedly declared to Mr. H that she needed a hug. He complied. The two are now best friends and Aunt Judy is jealous.

Max is charming and handsome, and at five, quite the little man. He always makes sure to hold the door open for anyone that needs it, even the automatic doors, which he holds open by waving his foot in the air in front of the door. He also misses his Daddy. Every other sentence starts with, "My Dad ..."

There's so much more to tell, but right now we're off to spend the day with Grandma "Candy"

Whew! Aunt Judy is tired.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What comes around goes around

The other day, a friend of mine at work asked me if I had a copy of the Riversong Lodge Cookbook. The book, a mix of recipes and the stories of a couple's trials and triumphs in building a fly-in lodge in rural Alaska had been a favorite of mine. I spent hours reading the stories and even more hours trying out the recipes. But the book had been loaned out to someone many years ago and no longer in my possession.

My friend brought in her copy of the book to give me, she was trying to downsize her cookbook collection, but she likes to make sure her things have a good home. I love how things come full circle like this. And this time I got an upgrade. My old copy was paperback. The new one, hard bound and signed by the author.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Autobiography of a Fat Bride

Every once in a while you come across an author of whose voice you just can't get enough. Laurie Notaro is one of those writers. I'm currently reading "Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood." The chapters are short, 3 page stories that are brief enough to be read out loud - which happens often in this house as my husband pokes his head in the room to find out why I'm laughing out loud.

She strikes me as a cross between Bridget Jones and the chick from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." She's goofy, clumsy, often drunk, and quite confused about what it means to be a grown up. She could be one of my friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cheese Daze

Well it seems we survived another foray down to Papa Russo's trailer by the river. The forecast said rain, so only 25 or so showed up, as opposed to the usual 50+ crowd of aging hipsters. Tent city was considerably smaller, which meant this year we got to nab the primo spot, the one down river from the camp fire in its own little clearing: Quiet, away from the snoring, but close enough to hear when someone else has already gotten up and tended to the fire.

As usual, I ended up not floating this year. I don't know why I never go on the float. I spent my summer in Denali rafting every weekend... But that was work, and I've been overworked lately. The opportunity to just sit there and do nothing for 5+ hours outweighed any benefit that might have been gained by rowing a boat.

There is just something about the quiet out there, the sound of the river and the birds, the clean air... it really helps melt the stress away. I return home with the seemingly contradictory sensations of being hungover and refreshed at the same time - but for that brief period, all is right with the world.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

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