After Lorena and I got married, we decided it would be easier to just get married again in the US. We had planned to do it on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. We missed it by one day. It was a fifteen minute affair in the County Clerk’s office of Palm Beach County, Florida. I thought I should just put this here for the sake of posterity.
Duane and Josiah, our new painter friends, finished up the painting for the remodel yesterday. It completely changed the appearance of the entire main floor of the house. Lorena was ecstatic with the result which the only measure of success. We have really enjoyed eating lunch with the painters every day and we will miss that a lot, but it is very nice to be able to see the hardwood floors again (they were covered with paper and blue tape to protect them from the painting process). Mark came in on Tuesday to put in the base moulding and finish a couple of other items on the punch list. He is scheduled to be here on Friday to do the final pass. The kitchen now looks pretty close to how it will appear when it is complete, but we will wait until it is all done before we take some pictures of the final result.
The painting started early in the week, but has proceeded in small steps. The windows were sanded, primer coat was applied, there was more sanding, etc., etc. Hopefully this phase will be complete by the end of the weekend. We have not, as yet, seen the actually color that was selected except for the ceilings which are, unsurprisingly, “ceiling white.” Actually, this was a much bigger process than we thought it would be. The preparation and attention to detail is pretty amazing. We are very happy that it is Duane and Josiah doing the work. Duane in particular is a perfectionist.
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.
Home is now Centralia, Washington. We have seen the remodel in real life and we love it. Pictoral evidence follows. In too much need of some shut eye for anything else tonight.
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.