Chilly Hands and Fried Clams

Fried prawns on Christmas Eve are a family tradition. And some years, when we’re lucky, there’s a clam dig. Then we have fried, fresh razor clams too.

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There were two days of clam digging this year. The first you’ll see here where Bob, Keith, Cindie, and Zach easily dug their limit for a total of 60 clams. The second day, Ron, Beth, Justin, Conor, Edwin, Lori and Zach (again) did not catch their limit. After braving the elements and digging for hours, they came home with 3. Sometimes the clams are crafty and don’t spit their little air bubbles up through the sand.

If you want to dig for clams, come to the beach in your big rubber boots; you may have to dig in the surf. You’ll need your bare hands to operate the clam gun, so plan on icy fingers. Plunge the gun in the sand over the air dimple you’ve spotted and scoop out tube after tube of sand until you see a wriggling neck poking from an oblong shell, you’re trophy. Plop it in the bucket. Repeat until you reach your limit – in number or patience.

 

When you get home with your bucketful, it’s time to clean. As you slice and scrub while they wriggle, squirm, and shoot out strange organs, remind yourself of how great they’ll taste in their hot, crunchy coating.

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Visiting Ed and Mary

On our way home from visiting Ed and Mary, we stopped at this canyon.

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Since we stopped there last, a new bridge is in place. They left the old bridge intact which allowed me to take the above photo.

The last time we stopped here, we were with Rob and Cindie when their dog, Cali shocked and terrified us all by jumping up on the canyon guard rail (she skidded to a stop and we enjoyed her canine company for many more years). This sign wasn’t posted back then – apparently some weren’t so lucky.

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But back to the visit: they’re family, they’re friends, and they invited us to come for a visit. Who could resist?

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Here’s pretty Mary. She cooked up all kinds of deliciousness for us: homemade cookies, beef and mushroom kabobs, a fancy quinoa salad, scrambled eggs and banana bread. The girl can cook! And Ed picked out the reddest, juiciest, sweetest, watermelon I have ever eaten.

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We relaxed and chatted on their big porch in the warm summer air.

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I took this photo on the way to Pendleton where we planned to have dinner at a pub. When we arrived, just the sign “closing at 2pm today” hung on the door. But a quick trip to Papa Murphy’s and, voilà!; evening restored.

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Did I mention that their yard looks like a golf course? Look at this! Thank God they have a riding mower.

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Happy times in Hermiston…

Lovely August Evening

Sometimes an evening just feels perfect. It’s the middle of August, and sweet friends sit around our patio table; conversation and laughter flow; the air is warm and the breeze is cool; there is a cloudless sky and mosquitoes are engaged elsewhere; there is wine, strawberry and cucumber salad, rosemary chicken sizzling away on the bbq, and the promise of homemade marion berry pie a la mode.

A captured moment..

The Linen Tower that Bob Built

Here’s how it went.

Since we moved in to our home a year ago, we’ve been looking for a linen tower to fill a large cubby in our upstairs bathroom.

We found one we really liked. Yay!

It was $555. Boo!

We tore out the catalog page and mailed it to Bob with a little note, “Interested in building this?” And guess what? He was and he did!

After some experimenting with stains (vinegar and steel wool etc.), the mix-magicians at our local paint store came up with just the right custom stain color. Bob, Keith, and I worked together – at the same time – staining and finishing the tower and here’s how it turned out.

Thanks Bob!

‘Ta Da’ Moment Foiled by Gullywasher

I’d like to begin at the end of the story.

I stood in the garage in my skirt, tank top, and flip-flops looking at Keith sitting in the VW with the engine running. The look on my face was of disbelief at the Armageddon-style hail storm pounding our house. Just moments before it wasn’t even raining. And if you’d asked me, I would have said that it wasn’t particularly cloudy.

We were upstairs when it started. Dressed to go out to dinner, we decided to open our bedroom windows to let in some fresh air while we were out. “The rain started to pour the second I opened the window!” I said to Keith. “I don’t think that’s what caused it.” he answered. Just a little cloudburst, we thought – we’ll start up the car and wait for a minute.

Back in the garage where I stared out in disbelief.

Keith shrugged his shoulders, turned off the engine and got out. We walked around to the front porch and here’s what we saw.

Look at the size of this hailstone! There were thousands of them.

 

If it were another day, we might have just enjoyed the weather’s wild ride. But you see, the day started this way – with a truck arriving at 7:30 am loaded up with Dark Hemlock Bark, the final ‘ta da’ touch to our yard makeover.

 

19 yards of bark carefully blown and spread around our 70+ new plants and over the bare spots left after several hours of Keith and I clipping, digging, hauling, and raking on the previous afternoon. The bark was smooth; it was beautiful; it was plant-debris-free.

After the hail.

Oh well, off we go with our rakes. We’ll be back soon.

Merry Moments in Sebastopol (in no particular order)

Spending the afternoon at Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa.

Taking turns kayaking around the little islands.

The next day we had so much fun and food that I forgot to take any pictures! We ate dinner and played games at Suzanna’s place. Dori and Dave made Dates stuffed with Blue Cheese and Almonds, Tiny Caprese Salads, Crunchy Chicken, Homemade Plum Jelly….We stuffed our faces then played Balderdash and laughed until tears rolled and stomaches ached.

Before dinner and games it was a 7-mile hike at Mt. Saint Helena in the scorching sun. Beautiful views along the way but giant cell towers and a warning about high radiation at the top.

Just a little smooch.

On our last full day in Sebastopol, we enjoyed the sights and sounds at the Sonoma County Fair. We ate some excellent spaghetti – I’m still in awe of how they made a VAT of pesto coated pasta and kept it al dente for hours! Followed by vanilla ice-cream bars hand-dipped in chocolate then rolled in almond toffee.

Oh yeah, and the rides,

Everest practiced acrobatics, then was spun and squished on the Sizzler with Summer and Maria…

the flower pavilion,

And I must remember the Zing moment of Red Hot Chili on our first night (delicious and, in fact – red hot!), then seeing this in the fair’s fine art pavilion.

And an oh so sweet ending to a wonderful trip.

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Redding High(and HOT)lights

Let’s be honest about Redding in late July – It’s hot. Really hot. But, despite the 105 degree days and 77 degree nights, we had so much fun!

Two of our favorite people in the world. (They’re sweet aren’t they?)

I’m kind of attached to that guy on the left too…

We started our visit walking around their incredible yard and garden.

The next day, to escape the heat and get our hearts pumping, we drove out to Crystal Creek road beyond Whiskeytown lake to the Whiskeytown Falls trailhead. Along the 3-mile hike, little lizards skittered across and to every side of the trail; cute. A large snake napped alongside the trail – my mom and I both missed it but heard about it later; not cute.

Hike payoff! Couldn’t miss this photo-op.

We also got to hang out with our buddies Bryan and Jenn for a while to catch up and check out their amazing kitchen remodel!

 See the whole album here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our way to Cali…

The sun shines bright on us driving down highway 97 from Bend to Redding. We stop once along the way at our favorite rest area near Weed, CA – Grass Lake.

We take a little walk around, admiring the art (ahem.) and the wispy grass swaying where water stood two months ago when we made the trip down to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

I send my dad a text – “We’re on our way and ‘Road Trippin’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers just came on the radio!” Reply, “I’m making Red Hot Chili for dinner tomorrow night!!” ZING!!

There’s Mt. Shasta – almost there!