Small Town Dreams

Small Town Fantasy

A few days ago, I wrote about my road trip dream. Another dream I have is living in a small town. I have this idea that living in a small town would somehow be really cool. A place where everyone knows your name and everyone is friendly. I’d have a nice little gentleman’s ranch (or farm) and a huge garage/shop to do my projects in. My nearest neighbors are a good half a mile away (because I like my privacy).

I’d have a nice landscaped yard with a farmhouse. Maybe some chickens in the chicken coop producing a few eggs for my farm. A nice vegetable garden and some fruit trees so I can make my own fruit preserves.

In reality, it would probably be fairly dull and boring because I’m lazy. I don’t like to mow my lawn (that’s why I have kids), I hate weeding, and I can’t grow any vegetables. I haven’t a clue how to can a peach or make jam (but that is what the internet is for, right?). And I really don’t want to have the responsibility of chickens. That seems like work to me. My farm would be boring because I wouldn’t be doing anything.

This isn’t to say that my life in the suburbs isn’t currently boring. I’d just swap the boring life of the suburbs for the boring life of the rural countryside. Sure, you have your choice of grocery stores to visit and activities to do here in the suburbs. But is it that much different than living in a small town? You watch the same TV shows, you surf the same internet, and your car is using the same fuel. You might have more restaurant choices but do you really go out that much anyway? Do you try new restaurants now? Most likely, you eat the same food and meals when you first moved to your current home. Let’s face it, going out to Applebee’s isn’t that exciting.

However, I wouldn’t mind moving to a small town and accepting my introvert nature. A small town is more appealing to an introvert person like me. Hence my strong desire to move to a small town.

In my next blog entry, we’ll learn about my urban living dream.

Yes, it is my fault: A pumpkin patch adventure

This afternoon we actually had some good weather here in the Seattle area so we headed off to the pumpkin patch.  Well, it was us and 30,000 other families.  The first pumpkin patch was pretty muddy (go figure we are in the very wet Pacific Northwest).  As we drove through three huge mud puddles in the parking lot,  in my car (I knew we should have taken my wife’s car), we decided to avoid the mudfest and go to the other pumpkin patch.

Is one muddy field less muddy than another?  Probably not.  Just another misguided notion that one field is less muddy for no logically reason.

We went to Carpinito’s which was the same pumpkin patch that we went last year.  On a side note, my children insist that we got our pumpkins from the local grocery store and not a pumpkin patch.  I think we went to pumpkin patch, not the local grocery store.  We’ll agree to disagree but let’s agree that I’m right…as usual.

Upon our arrival we had to park in the overflow parking which should tell us that is already crowded.  I quickly grabbed the first parking spot (located near the exit).  I like to know where all the nearest exits are…just like on an airplane.  I gave the clear instructions to pick small pumpkins because we needed to pick them out and then carry them all the way back to the car.  The car which is located in one of the furthest parking spots possible.  Walking with a 33 pound pumpkin ten feet is ok, walking half a mile is quite a bit harder.  Add in a muddy field and it gets all the more fun for the family!

As we are walking through the muddy field, my family is quick to point out it was muddy.  Yeah, of course it was muddy; it’s a pumpkin patch.  Because it is muddy, that is why I wore my rubber boots.  However, my family didn’t.  Who’s fault is that?  From what my family says…it is my fault.  Earlier in the day, they all walked by me as I was putting my boots on, I should have instructed my family to put their boots on.  We were going to a pumpkin patch, it will probably be muddy due to all the recent rain, and it is a real field (which involves dirt and mud).

Needless to say, we got the pumpkins with bit of mud on our shoes.  Of course, my daughter likes to pick out a heavy pumpkin (which I had to carry).  The pumpkin weigh station is at one end of the field, our car is at the other side, so I ended up walking from one end of the field to the other side of the field with a heavy pumpkin, and then back through the same field to my car. Yes, the car parked as far away as possible because in my great planning thought I should be near the exit.   The two points (weigh station and my car) being as far apart as we could possibly make them.

We made it safely back to the car, no one fell in the mud, and the pumpkins weren’t dropped.  Overall, a successful pumpkin adventure.

River Rafting on Tieton River

Over the recent Labor Day weekend, my son (age 12) and I experienced a very fun river rafting trip down the Tieton River. I had purchased two Groupon certificates at for a river rafting trip at 51% off with a river rafting company named Orion River Rafting. I have never river rafting before but have always wanted to do it so when the Groupon coupon came up I was very interested. With an adventurous glee in my eye, I click on the purchase button on my computer and set the wheels in motion.

Fast forward a 5 months later when my certificate is about to expire in less than 20 days, school has started, and I’m about to get slammed with work. I called and made my reservations and was delighted to get two slots for the Saturday September 3. I figured they would be full but they had some spots open.

The Tieton River is located in Naches Valley area of Eastern Washington and roughly a 3 hour drive from my house. It is a very pretty drive over through Enumclaw, past Greenwater, and past Mt. Rainier (and through a small section of Mt. Rainier National Park). The drive over on a sunny day is well worth the trip in itself.

The Tieton River is river that is used for agricultural purposes and the water flow is restricted until the month of September. Then they release the water from the Rimrock Reservoir, pushing up the level of the Tieton River up and creating a whitewater river rafting experience.

Our trip was on a beautiful sunny day, the air temperature 85 degrees. Water temperature was said to be around 45 degrees. One thing I liked about Orion was everyone was given a wetsuit, wetsuit booties, a helmet, and a PDF (personal floatation device). The rafts could carry up to nine people but today, we had four customers and one guide on our trip.

Overall, this was a very fun rafting trip with Class II and Class III rapids. There is a diversion dam to shunt off irrigation water that produces a Class IV experience. It was pretty mild and as long as your guide does it correctly, it isn’t a problem. Our guide Rachel was very good and we didn’t hit any huge rocks. At one rapids area called “High Noon” you have to decide to either go thru the less traveled route (with a chance of getting stuck on a rock) or take the full on ‘into the huge boulder we might crash route’.

Our guide sent us thru the tamer section and we did high center the raft precariously sideways. We felt like we might be in trouble but it ending up not being a big deal. Being stuck did allow us the opportunity to watch two other rafts hit the boulder sideways. The river pushed one raft up and one of the rafters fell one. It was pretty sweet to watch firsthand (and be glad it wasn’t you!).

The rafting trip is roughly 3.5 hours long. We is a fairly constant river, the water was lower since it was the beginning of the release. The Tieton River flows through a beautiful canyon and Highway 12 is sometimes visible from the river. Most people onshore would wave when we floated by.

We all had a great time on the trip and I would recommend it. Being my first river rafting trip, it scores a 10 for fun with me. At the river level we were floating at, I thought it was a good causal ride with a few good rapids but nothing too scary. For a beginner going out for a short day adventure, I’d recommend it highly. I really can’t wait for my daughter to turn 11 so she can go on a trip like this.

Here is the link to Orion. http://leavenworthriverrafting.com/

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome!

Camping

I’ve decided camping is what middle class America does so they can experience what homeless people do every day. You get to see people dress like bums, not shower for a few days, wandering around, lots of dogs barking and yapping, kids screaming and yelling (much like a school yard), and parents sitting around a campfire drinking and chatting about the world in general which is just like sitting around a 55 gallon steel drum in an abandoned warehouse (just like a homeless bum).

I actually enjoy camping because I’m an Eagle Scout. I’ve done a lot of camping and backpacking. I like cooking with a propane stove and Dutch ovens. However, I’m now getting older so I prefer camping in good weather (which doesn’t happen very often in Western Washington). I now camp over the Cascade Mountains in the beautiful hot deserts of Eastern Washington. I have given up on camping three days in solid rain and have run away to the dry heat of Eastern Washington.

Besides rainy Seattle camping weather, I also don’t like camping in the snow. It really isn’t enjoyable. It’s cold, your body heat melts the snow so then you are wet and cold, and you have to sleep overnight in an igloo or a tent. Now, that is cold. Cold and wet. Yup, not really fun at all.

However, I do enjoy camping in the warmth of Eastern Washington and the sunshine. The kids like camping too (can’t say the same about my wife) so the experience is enjoyable. And it is warm…not cold or wet. You can lie in your inflatable air mattress, safely situated up on a cot, the wind rustling through the leaves of trees, manicured lawns beneath you, the state park watering the lawns at 2 am (thus waking you up with the fear that your tent is getting soaked but it’s not).

What better way to enjoy your family than camping? Sure, you could get a nice condo on Kauai or even at Lake Chelan but is that really going allow you the stress of cooking on a small propane stove, keeping your kids from lighting themselves and each other on fire, wondering if the eggs in your cooler are still good, and whether or not you should kill the campers next door (who though it was hilariously funny to pretend they were cats and meow at 1 am).

Camping is about bonding with the family and picking ashes out of your scrambled eggs. I recommend it to everyone.

You never know what is going on in someone’s life…

Sadly, it has been a while since I have been able to pull together a blog posting. I know this disappoints Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) and a few of my loyal relatives (that actually read my blog). It has been a tough past three weeks for me. My grandmother Ruth passed away on April 2 after a fall in which she hit her head and had bleeding on the brain. She was 91 years old and lived a very full life. Yet, I still had a hard time with her death. The last grandparent I had died was my Grandfather Dieter and I believe that was roughly 16-17 years ago.

I haven’t had to deal with a lot of death in my family for the past few years. My wife had her grandmother died a few years ago. However, my Grandma Ruth’s death was particular hard for me due to how much of a wonderful lady she was. She was the matriarch of our family (on my mother’s side) and she helped a lot of her children and grandchildren out over the years.

I enjoyed her company and have good memories of her that I’ll be able to live with for the rest of my life. I felt relived that I was able to say good bye to her before she passed away. I’ll miss her but I’m glad she was around for so long. I was definitely lucky to be the oldest grandchild and have the chance to enjoy my Grandma the longest (over my other cousins).

This isn’t to say that I was jealous of my younger cousins since they had the opportunity to live with her. Granted it wasn’t the best for them to be able to live with her because she was more of a parent than a grandparent. I got a good chuckle out of them talking about her discipline (which I luckily missed!). They were able to spend more time with her than I was since they lived in the same house as she did. When I was younger, I thought how cool it would be to live with your grandparents versus your mean old strict parents. After a few of my cousins’ stories I now know that isn’t true.

In the last years of her life, she had Alzheimer’s and really didn’t remember much of what was happening day to day. She would fake it a lot when she saw you. She always greeted you with a warm welcome and would tell you it had been a long time since she had seen you last (even if you had seen her the day before). She might not remember you at that particular moment but she sure did make you feel important. It was always good to visit her.

I suspect that even if you were the biggest loser in life, Grandma Ruth would still make you feel great. She would pay attention to whatever you told her whether it was about the turkey sandwich you just ate, your kid’s failed math test, or the time you dropped a dozen eggs on her floor when you were ten years old.

I’ll miss her but I’m glad I was able to have a wonderful lady like her in my life.

What’s better than cat puke? Spilled Pickle Juice!

I’m proud to announce that at 10:15 pm, I have finished cleaning out the refrigerator after the “Great Pickle Juice Spill of 2011!” Yes, nothing beats having your son announce that at the bottom of your fridge sits a pool of pickle juice ready to be clean up. Instead of sitting down and enjoying a good book or watching some mindless television (who doesn’t like Jersey Shore??), I spent my evening pulling out the bottom two shelves of the fridge, cleaning them off and then….thinking to myself….

…since I am cleaning the bottom out I should also clean all the other shelves.

Out comes all the milk, cheese, eggs, Uncle Ray’s BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayo, Chinese hot mustard, jelly, beer, spinach, carrots, Jell-O, sour cream, etc. Out come the shelves to be scrubbed off with a beautiful solution of warm bleach water, gently scrubbing off the crumbs, dried out spinach, and other odd spills.

Looking into the empty fridge, one can step back and admire the cleanliness that has claimed its stake in the modern world. Yes, inhale softly the sweet smell of a clean fridge and relax knowing your eggs are once again safe from the foul smell of spilled pickle juice.

Thanksgiving 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

My blog wouldn’t be complete if there was an old ode to Thanksgiving this year.  Trust me, this isn’t some sappy “I’m thankful for….” blog about how much I’m thankful for this and that.  Really?  Everyone (well, the two people that read this blog plus Cyndi my imaginary stalker) know that I am a very thankful person (and sarcastic).  Like most people with half a heart, I enjoy the fact that I actually like and enjoy my family and friends.  Unlike the Dr. Seuss character “The Grinch”, I like Thanksgiving and Christmas and the holiday cheer these holidays bring.

However, due to the weather, this year’s blog comes from our home in Kent versus our usually location of Anderson Island.  With all the snowy weather conditions we have had over the past two days, we made the decision to stay home this year instead of traveling and hosting Thanksgiving at the family cabin on Anderson Island.

This decision comes with mixed feelings.  We enjoy the trek to Anderson Island and the adventure of having Thanksgiving dinner on Anderson Island.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday because it has nothing to do with gift giving and presents.  It is strictly a holiday that you get to see family and friends (that you hopefully enjoy) and enjoy a great meal.  Now, if you don’t enjoy the people you are with during Thanksgiving, then you have to come up with some better excuses for not going to that host’s Thanksgiving dinner.  Maybe take a vacation trip to Kauai instead?  (Heck you can stay at http://www.makanacrest.com)

Why waste your time with people that you don’t enjoy?  You distance yourself from negative friends, why not do the same thing with your relatives?  If you don’t like them, why subject yourself to their company?  Why surround yourself with them?  Thanksgiving is like the 4th of July.  It is a holiday that you don’t have to think about, you just have to enjoy it.  Life is too short to waste with stress about family gatherings and conflict.

So this year, hopefully you made the commitment to enjoy your Thanksgiving!  Now, you just have to get through Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

As always, you are more than welcome to leave your comments.

A Birthday Celebration!

Another year and another birthday!

Now most of you would be thinking that I’d be writing about my own birthday, however, I’m writing about my younger brother Chris’ birthday celebration we had in Burien, Washington.  As most of us agree, time does fly by.  With each passing birthday, it is hard to imagine where the time as gone over the years. The changes in our personal lives continue to amaze me.

Reflecting back on today’s birthday celebration, it was nice to be all together and enjoy each other’s company.  Thanksgiving is only a few days so perhaps that is why I am becoming more aware of the passage of time.  We all get so wrapped up with just living from day to day, hour to hour.  It is extremely hard to get together with everyone’s busy schedule so events like my brother’s birthday mean a lot to me.

Overall, it was a good time had by all.  I was able to see my grandmother, uncle, aunts, cousins, and just relax and enjoy myself.  This morning, my children and I created handmade birthday cards embedded with my own unique sense of humor.  We called them “inappropriate birthday cards”.  My card featured a tale of sadness, death, and despair that it was my brother’s birthday.  My son had people getting killed by street gangs and people being mauled by animals.  My daughter decided to change my brother’s name to “Bob” and warned him to watch out for ninja kittens this evening.  Yes, definitely a bit of humor inserted into your family event makes the party much more exciting.

 The food was delicious, the three cakes were wonderful, and the family being together was a great way to finish the weekend.

Thanksgiving and KOTS

Thanksgiving is over and it was a huge success. My hat is off to my darling wife (and I’m not being sarcastic either) because she, our family friend Lynn, and her son Matthew. This was our first year where we cooked the turkey with an electric deep fryer. It turned out excellent. One of the downsides of this Thanksgiving was the lack of KOTS being with us. He couldn’t make the time to come to Anderson Island and enjoy the turkey dinner. This isn’t the first time KOTS has skipped Thanksgiving dinner with us. This deeply saddens his mother and is most annoying to me. Hopefully, he decided to make the right choice and spend time with his dad instead of just blowing off with his girlfriend.

We don’t mind him spending time with his girlfriend. We’d like her to come over for dinner (we haven’t seen her since August). We actually like KOTS’ girlfriend quite a bit. What she sees in KOTS, I really don’t know but that is for another blog entry down the road.

Another reason it was important for KOTS to come was the fact, he had moved out of our house! Yes, KOTS’ pushed his mom a little too far in his lack of motivation and was asked to leave. I didn’t ask him to leave, his mother did.

While cleaning out his room, I removed seven bags of garbage and trash. I discovered a lot of almost brand new clothes that appeared to have been worn once. I wash them and bundled them up but KOTS has picked them up yet. We also had the carpets cleaned but the stains weren’t able to be extracted from the carpet. Sad, that a carpet has been ruined (no other carpet in the house is ruined..hmmm…now how could that be?).

With KOTS out of the house, he had to actually look for a job! Luckily for him, his Dad’s girlfriend’s son got him a job at the construction company he works at. KOTS mom and dad are also helping him get an apartment so he’ll have a place to live (besides here). I’m looking forward to seeing the “before” picture of this aprtment and an “after” picture. Legal note: We are not co-signing the apartment lease if you are wondering. I mean, look at my carpet? Does it look like I’m stupid? Hmm, don’t asnwer that one.

So in the last few weeks, KOTS has been forced to grow up and act like an adult instead of the thirteen year old he’d still like to be.