After Mark attached all the drawer pulls yesterday afternoon, he stayed all evening to install the stove hood. It is not quite all done as he has to add some flashing on the outside of the house where the blower fan resides. Still, we can use the stove and hood now and we are quite pleased with it all.
Things are spinning back up again. Today, Mark put glass in the cabinets that needed them and add drawer pulls to the already installed cabinet door pulls. He also plans to have the stove hood up and working (with a little more work required for some flashing and other things when he comes back. Wednesday, the paint guy will start his work on the kitchen and living room. We can hardly wait to have this all finished.
I did something yesterday I have not done in a long, long time: I turned off my telephone and just spent the day with the family. We tried to figure out when was the last time we had all been together as a family in our own home–not in apartment, not at a funeral or other event, but at home. The reality is that we have been very distributed for a long time. With Lorena and I in North Carolina or in an apartment in Texas, or Oregon, Kelly in Seattle and Christian in Tempe, it has taken some effort to get together. We have only been able to manage it a handful of times since we left our home in North Carolina, so it was very, very nice to be together again even for such a short time.
We did not do much. We went to church and ate out a couple of times, but mostly we hung out at home. Lorena and Kelly cooked and we talked and talked and talked. Kelly went home to Seattle last night. Christian is leaving to spend a couple of days with her in Seattle before he returns to school in Tempe. Lorena are trying to work out how and when we can do it again.
It is a beautiful sunny day, but smoke from forest fires burning all the way up in Canada. The Canadian border is over 200 miles away. We can not even see the high school on the other side of the river. If the smoke haze was not there, we would be able to see Mt. Rainier right in the middle of the image. The picture where you can see the mountain (zoomed in a little more than the other) was taken a month or two ago.
We had a great time with Mark here yesterday. He did a lot of finish work on the kitchen including the adding of three missing can lights in the ceiling, undercabinet lights, cabinet door alignment and the placement of all the cabinet door pulls. He put the stove hood in his van when he headed home last night so the exhaust fan could be added “at the factory” instead of in the field. They have the tools and special skills to do it. He will be back next week to add all the drawer pulls, the moulding in the living room so we can paint and install the stove hood. We are getting awfully close to being done.
One additional thing we discussed was the addition of a gas fireplace close to the kitchen so we can have it set up similar to our house in Raleigh. It is a great idea, but will require that a window be moved. Mark said he was up for that small addition, but probably not much more. We still have a few months to work on him although I am pretty sure we do not have a winning hand when it comes to the apartment in the basement. We have not yet given up hope.
Well, we finally got the Washington plates mounted on our car. We retired our Texas plate to a place of honor in the garage. The only thing left now to make it official is for me to go down and get my license changed. That will have to wait until Friday or sometime next week, though because I am headed off to work in Canada for a couple of days.
Driving through Seattle was so bad last time that I decided on a new strategy for this trip. I hope to leave the house by 4:30 AM if Lorena can kick me out of bed in time. Then, I hope to head back pretty late on Thursday so I hit Seattle at 10 or 11. I am not sure that will work, but anything will be better than last time when we took six hours to make a four hour drive. And we saw NO wrecks, but lots of stopped traffic.
We are absolutely going to have to get a zoom lens for our camera. Lorena saw this bird on a tree–I have no clue how she first spotted it–and got the binoculars. It is a beautiful bald eagle. The tree is one that is very close to the Chehalis River, so I am assuming this one was doing some fishing.
We woke up this morning and saw a lot of smoke off in the distance. The smoke column on the left has been there for awhile, but it seems like the one on the right is new and we are not sure what it is. Maybe some of the folks who live around here might know.
I know, I know, we will get tired of deer pictures before too long. We have lived in this part of the world and the reality is that you can get these kinds of pictures just about anywhere in the U.S. I remember going to Princeton, New Jersey to do some work at Bell Labs and we saw tons of deer out the window of the conference room where we had our meetings. Still, we like them and want to remember our joy in seeing the deer because after we plant our garden, we know everything will change. Lorena was only a few yards away from this little guy who spent the entire heat of the day under a small bush beside the deck knew we were there and knew looked right at Lorena when she was taking the pictures.
Most of the West (Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and California) as well as Florida, Minnesota and Nuevo Leon were well represented at the nicest Easter dinner we have attended in many a year. The highlight, of course, was two beautiful, well-behaved young girls in their Easter dresses. It was so nice to have Eric P. with us again and our amazing and insightful friend, Phil D. was with us, too, so it could not help be make for a stellar afternoon. We had ham, scalloped potatoes, tons of other fixings and sat around the table for at least an hour after we finished evening with coffee and a 43-step, hand made cake. It really does not get much better than that. Now Lorena and I have something to which to aspire when Easter comes around next year. Look how satisfied Eric looks after that phenomenal meal. Then, to top it off we were serenaded with guitar music (CK and Eric are both pretty amazing in that regard). Thank you CK, Joy, Sophia and Olivia for the best Easter dinner in a long, long time.
I am trying to to show a more humble side to myself and I guess it is true I had nothing to do with the beauty of the flowers in the Pacific Northwest, but right now I am struggling a little. I have very much enjoyed the bluebonnet season here in Texas because they truly are beautiful. That being said, it got a little bit wrecked for me after seeing the insanely beautiful pictures of the tulip fields in Washington state and also knowing those fields pale in comparison to our own beloved tulip fields in Oregon–Woodburn in particular. It just does not do this field of flowers justice to look at the pictures. You kind of have to be there–one of those Grand Canyon/Crater Lake kinds of things where you give lip service to acknowledging the grandeur of it and kind of roll your eyes when no one is looking. Then you see the real thing, up close and personal and becomes very much a religious experience.
Being from the Pacific Northwest, we have fairly high expectations when it comes to wildflowers. Our dear friend Marie Mounce sent this bluebonnet picture she took about a week ago. The exceptional quality of this years bluebonnet crop is the talk of North Texas and I have to admit they truly are beautiful and abundant. There are fields and fields of them just about everywhere. We understand now why the bluebonnet is the Texas State Flower.
The purchase of the house in Washington state where we expect to live starting in May is not scheduled to close until March 31, but all the insurance is bought and all the fixes, approvals and escrows are in place. The seller has signed off on everything pertaining to him. The banks and title company have everything they need so all everyone is waiting for are our signatures and the close date so the money can be released and we can have our house. We are scheduled to sign at 3:30 this afternoon in the office of the apartment complex where we live here in Texas. These are trepidatious moments, but it is all good. We did all we know to do and believe we are in a good place.
Mark P., our kitchen remodeler is chomping at the bit to get started. The cabinets, appliances, flooring, back splashes, sinks, faucets, counter tops, lighting and all the other required decisions, big and small, have been made and hopefully set in concrete so Mark can start as soon as he and his team have access. We are tired of waiting and want to get started.
Update: DONE! God willing, we will have a house on March 31.
Our new friends, Bob and Gena E. (we have so many common, old, old friends and things in common they actually feel like old friends) ran up to the house we are still trying to buy in Centralia and took a picture of these snowdrop flowers. Lorena loved them and is dying to get some more things planted around the place and start cleaning up the yard. There is just too much stuff to do both inside and out on the place it is going be a few years to get it how Lorena wants it but we are both, very much looking forward to the task. Now we just have to make it all the way to closing.
2016 was a strange and wondrous year for Lorena and I. A semi-chronological list of what happened does not do justice to a year fraught with emotion and challenges, but that is all I have in me today (forgive the selfies, I am indulging myself today):
After returning to Oregon from North Carolina in 2015 to spend a year in a beautiful fourth floor studio apartment within walking distance of two grocery stores, my work, a plethora of restaurants, Lorena’s beloved Anytime Fitness and two grocery stores so we could be closer to my aging parents (Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah), we felt we needed to move to Texas to be closer to Grandma Conchita across the border in Monterrey, Mexico.
I was offered a position with a company in Lewisville, Texas that has a wonderful product that literally saves lives in hospitals. I had worked with them previously and liked the people, so I took the job and we moved into a small, one bedroom house close to my work. Since we now had only one car, Lorena drove me to work and picked me up every day. It turns out we loved doing it that way.
Lorena was able to visit her mother (Grandma Conchita) more and Grandma Conchita was able to come to Texas, too.
By happenstance, our apartment was within walking distance of an excellent Anytime Fitness facility and Lorena, with a little more free time on her hands, was able to up her game to the point where she is on the verge of passing the 12K meters mark for an hour on a Concept II rowing machine–an amazing feat. She is hoping to hit that goal early next year.
Lorena visited Kelly several times, but only once since we moved to Texas and that was for a house buying trip in Washington (more about that later).
I (Dad) went to visit Kelly in Seattle once since we moved to Texas, too. The trip was for a job interview in Seattle because we realized Grandma Conchita was in good hands and in good shape, but my parents were heading down hill. Two very good things happened on that trip:
It turned out to be the last time I would see my mother (Grandma Sarah) alive. Kelly and I had a wonderful long visit with her where, even though she could only say a word or two, we talked, held her hand an stroked her forehead, read her the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7, Psalm 23 and the epistles of John all in her beloved King James Version bible, sang hymns with the help of Grandpa Milo and prayed together. We cried quite a lot, but it was all good and a fond, fond memory I will always cherish.
I interviewed with a start-up company in Seattle made up of Microsoft, Amazon and Google people. I learned, definitively, that I want to do something else with the rest of my career than work at a start-up company in Seattle.
Grandma Sarah died in November. For a number of reasons, we postponed her funeral until January, but have now put that on hold due to Grandpa Milo’s current condition and will wait to see how he responds in his current condition (he suffered a stroke and caught a bad infection, but is out of immediate danger, though very weak and in rehab for now) before we plan to reschedule it so he can attend or not based on his capabilities.
I received a great job offer from a company in Vancouver, British Columbia who would allow me to work from my home anywhere on the west coast, but I would have to fly to China and Europe on a regular basis. Fortunately, my current company here in Texas offered me the same flexibility, so it has put us in the position where we can move back out west and still have cause to fly to Texas regularly. I will do it regularly for my work and Lorena will mostly fly through Texas on her way to visit Grandma Conchita in Mexico.
We wanted to buy a fixer-upper house somewhere in Washington (more tax friendly than Oregon for the likes of us) so we could be close to both Kelly, Grandpa Milo and a decent sized airport. We settled on Centralia where Lorena went to look for houses, but found one with a great view of Mt. Rainier so we decided to do that instead. We made an offer, it was accepted and now we have found a bunch of stuff that needs to be fixed before we can buy the house. If we can get that worked out we will have a new (to us) house sometime in February. If not we are back to apartment living until we can find something.
That brings up to where we are now. Life is still in upheaval, there are lots of challenges and opportunities ahead, all of course, depending on the will of God.
I have not been so consistent in my writing over the last several weeks, but interesting things are happening. Not so surprisingly, writing in this blog helps me sort through things a bit. Lorena, her mom and I all attended a church convention in Georgetown this weekend. We saw a lot of old friends from North Carolina and Mexico, ate some great food and got refocused on what is truly important. One of the really fun things that happened was a talk I had with an acquaintance who works in the very area of the Quantum Topology where that won a Nobel prize for three physicists who came up with and developed the idea. Microsoft is currently funding a very big effort called Station Q to build a quantum computer using these concepts. It could have huge impact on what it is possible to compute if they can get it to work. It will be fun to watch this, especially now that I know someone directly working on it.
Barbara King’s advocacy of the old canard that rejection of neo-Darwinism is equivalent to belief in a literal six day creation is a very tired meme. Her ignorance and intransigence on the topic surely appears to be willful, too, as evidenced by a couple interesting push-back articles. An article at Evolution News and Views (ENV) gets to the crux of the issue when they call her out for not acknowledging the real and growing scientific controversy about the veracity of our current understanding of neo-Darwinism:
She does not bother to rebut intelligent design. After quoting responses that talk about the freedom to believe and about learning all of the evidence, she notes, “So in response to these remarks and others like them, let me say it loud and clear: Freedom to believe anything one wants in the religious sphere is incredibly important.” But she goes on to state: “Science isn’t about belief.” King buys into the simplistic equation of science, whatever it may say at the moment, with “truth.” She accordingly dismisses the scientific controversy over neo-Darwinism.
There is another article at pjmedia discussed and linked in the ENV article that is also worth a read. King whiffs badly when tries to address the pjmedia article by ignoring the meat of the objections and talking around the edges. Both the pjmedia and the ENV articles are worth a read. In the meantime, it was great to get a timely reminder of the fact that there are huge swaths of knowledge and truth for which science cannot account (h.t. Stand to Reason and William Lane Craig):
Logical and mathematical truths – science presupposes logic and math.
Metaphysical truths – e.g., the idea that the external world is real.
Ethical truths – e.g., you can’t prove by science that the Nazis were wrong to experiment on Jews.
Aesthetic truths – beauty can’t be scientifically proven.
Science itself – science can’t be justified by the scientific method.
Drew Ryun wrote an article that speaks for me with respect to Ted Cruz and his participation at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Ryun actually knows Cruz and confirms my understanding of Cruz’s character. That is the first and most important thing we have in common. I will let the article speak for itself. The other funny coincidence is that his dad, arguably the greatest middle distance runner of all time, and I say that advisedly, ran many races against my father’s first cousin. I really did not know that cousin at all–I think I was in first grade when he ran in his first Olympics, but he won the very race where Jim Ryun became the first high schooler to run a sub-four minute mile. Having been born and raised in Cottage Grove, Oregon with an amazing tradition of track and field excellence, I was a huge track and field fan in general and middle distance running in particular so I followed all this closely. Who knew that Jim Ryun would go on to be a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and truly one of the good guys when it came to his politics. I surely sounds like he raised his son right, too.
I appreciate Amazon for its convenience, but really have a love-hate relationship with the company. Like Apple, they are notorious for treating their employees badly, but unlike Apple, they have some products I value, chief of which is the ability to buy products inexpensively and have them arrive at my doorstep two days later. I also find them to be a very convenient place to purchase books for my phone. The problem with my phone is that as I get older, it becomes harder to read. Therefore, when they put their Kindle Fire on sale for $33.33–for Prime Day (the price has since gone back up to $49.99), I bought one. I think the product is actually an OK product. For $33.33, it borders on great, because I really want to read my books on a bigger screen with bigger font. Lorena can do her social media thing (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) a lot better, too. Of course, we have to be within reach of Wifi to access the online stuff and they have a lot of the obnoxious Amazon apps in your face all the time. For me it is not so bad because I usually stay a book or two ahead on my purchases, so even if I am on an airplane and finish a book, I have one or two in reserve. For Lorena, though, it means she will still have to use her phone when she is out of the house. We bought two of these things, one for us and one for Kelly. I am having a hard time deciding whether or not to give the second one to Kelly
Bottom line: If you have a specific reason to buy one of these things