Random thoughts on Saturday

School dreams.  We all have them.  There are numerous variations on the situation where you find yourself in class, and it’s test day and you haven’t reviewed any of the course material.  The textbook is a fat volume of stories and you haven’t opened it all semester.  And you’re naked.

I have been having an entirely new variation on the school dream.  I am playing in an orchestra, and it’s concert time.  I open my violin case, and my violin is just a pile of sticks.  Or my bow has broken in half.  This one actually has a small connection to something that happened to me in real life.  I opened my case, and one of my bows had lost half its hair!  Another time, I opened my case and discovered that I had bugs, and they had eaten away part of the tip of my bow (you could see the little bite-marks-gross!). I had to fumigate the case and get the bow repaired, which just happened a couple of weeks ago.

On an entirely different subject, I feel a brag coming on.  I have been keeping a running tally of my finances lately, to show progress toward my goal of financial independence when I retire.  My total of investments at my primary investment company, Vanguard, is now comfortably over a million dollars.  About $650,000 is in my retirement accounts.  I am now a “Flagship” investor at Vanguard, and am entitled to a free meeting with a financial advisor, which I intend to set up sometime in August.  And in keeping track, I discovered that I have run out of digits on my little calculator!  Frustrating, but in a good way.

Last weekend, we took our first drive of the season up to the Diablo Lake Overlook in the North Cascades.  I have zillions of pictures of that area, but I always take my camera and get more.  Here are a couple.

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This is the Skagit River around the town of Rockport.

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This is Lake Diablo.  People for scale over on the left.  The water is always that bright blue-green color, as it is glacier-fed.  However, the temperature that day was about 85 at the overlook, and 92 at Newhalem, the town just where the road goes into the mountains.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It’s Leavenworth Time!

Once again, its mid-June, and time for the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  Hubby and I took last Thursday and Friday off from work, and drove the 2 hours up US2 to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth.  As usual, it was a beautiful drive, with nice scenery all the way up and over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth in Chelan County.  The pretty town was much the same as previous years, but we did notice some changes on Front Street, the main “tourist trap” (but we love it).  This building had been repainted in front, and there was a new business there.

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There has always been an outdoor store on the main street, but this year the facade had been re-imagined too.  Nice!

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And inside the Festhalle, we saw more changes to the decor.  There was some new wall art.

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And a new piece of equipment.

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Of course, Leavenworth is nothing without the accordions!  There was a special exhibit this year, of very old instruments.

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And, of course, the new ones, on sale at the booth of Tempo Trend Music of Victoria, BC.

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The competitions brought out many new players who we had not seen before, and a few familiar faces.  I especially love the kids, ranging in age from about seven to teenagers.  Here’s a group picture of all this year’s kids.  Those guys on the ends are this year’s judges!  On the left is Emmanuel Gasser of Canada, who has been competing since he was about eight years old.  On the right is everyone’s favorite pro, Gary Blair, from Scotland.

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I also took some video with my brand new iPhone.  This act was the best of the entire festival.  Every time I play it, I get all teary-eyed, since they are so cute!

Of course, I had to do my obligatory pilgrimage to the Taffy Shop on Front Street.  I found  a new product they are selling!

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The proprietor says they are selling like hotcakes.  But here is a fixture at the store that never fails to bring smiles.  How long has it been since you saw one of these?

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All in all, another great year at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.

A Trip to the Olympic Peninsula

The week after Memorial Day, I took a solo trip to the Olympic Peninsula, to use up some vacation hours, and get away from the constant stress of work.  I jumped in the trusty old RDX (old, from 2008), drove onto the Kingston Ferry (where the fare-taker asked if I was really a senior!), and headed over to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  It was a nice day, and I was going to familiar territory.  No maps or charts needed-just point the car in the right direction and go.  Down Highway 101, west toward Sequim first.  I spent two days in Sequim, and one day in Port Townsend.

I arrived in Sequim around 3:30PM, and checked into my motel.  Then, I took a drive up into the hills south of town, to visit property owned by a work acquaintance.  He is a sailor, and found a nice piece of land near the John Wayne Marina.  He gave me directions, and I found it fairly easily.  This is the view from that piece of hilltop property.

View from Shaun's property

He wasn’t joking when he said he had a view of the water!

I was impressed by the house of one of his to-be-neighbors.  Nice place!

Million-$ house

After that, I drove down to the John Wayne Marina.  I have to say that the name is more impressive than the place.  But it has a nice quiet beach.

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View-John Wayne Marina

I still had daylight left, so I drove back to Sequim, and out to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, where I had plans to spend the next day.  It was too late to go down to the Spit, but I drove along the approach road, and stopped at a couple of the overlooks there.  I actually got some very nice pictures.

There are lots of these bushes at the top of the bluff, with pretty flowers-they are wild roses and are everywhere.

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This is the view north over the bluffs down to the Dungeness Spit.

Bluff Overlook

Here’s the view looking south.  All the way to the right (west) is Port Angeles.

Looking South

Straight down below.

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This is the Spit itself, to the north.  It is five miles long, with a lighthouse at the end.

Dungeness Spit

And look what I saw!  A Bald Eagle, flying below me.  When was the last time you saw a bald eagle flying below you?

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Actually, they are pretty common here in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s still a thrill to see one.

The next day, after a lazy morning doing nothing at all, I headed down to the Spit for a hike.  I actually got to use my National Park Senior Pass for the first time, as the refuge is part of the Olympic National Park.  It was foggy, and that fog did not lift all the time I was on the path and down to the Spit itself.  Well, I already have hundreds of Dungeness pictures from previous trips, so I took a lot of artsy pictures in the fog, and even captured some wildlife.

The path down to the Spit is through a stand of second-growth timber, and is actually very pleasant.

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I have no idea what these orange flowers are, but they are common around the Spit.  Followers?

Weird trees

I was taken with this apparently-live tree growing around a dead one.

Path to the Spit

Above is the path down to the Spit.

And, of course, what’s a National Park without some guilt?

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I found a nice “nurse log”, where a dead tree nourishes new, living plants.

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As I rounded a bend in the path, I got my first view of the Spit below, in the fog.

First view of spit

Some of the trees beside the path looked positively eerie in the fog.

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Path in fog

As did the Spit itself.

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I really loved all the beautiful driftwood on the beach.  Many of these must have been huge trees when they were alive.  And people have added their enhancements over the years-lots of little piles of rocks in the branches and crevices.

Huge driftwood log

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Doesn’t this one look like a log-shark?  It sure did to me! Or maybe a wolf?

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Beaches in Washington tend to be rocky, rather than sandy.  This is due to the fact that granite and basalt form much of the foundation around us, and what falls off ends up on our beaches.  Even the rocks are beautiful.

Rocks sand surf

Rocks

I took this one-minute video, to give you a sense of the beach that day.

Behind me, to the east, is a small bay, in the crook of the Spit as it winds its way north.  A little white-crowned sparrow was sitting on a piece of driftwood, seemingly posing for me.  I didn’t get too close, but he let me take his picture.

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And then he turned around.  What a pretty bird!

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More pictures of the bay, and the grasses along its beach.

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beach grasses

I’ve always been fascinated by driftwood, with the bark still on it.

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And a couple of more sights on the path back up the hill to the car.

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empty nest

The next day, I drove up to Port Townsend.  I first stopped at Chetzemoka Park, overlooking the harbor and downtown.  Here is what I saw there.

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Chetzmoka rhody

Chetzemoka arbor

flowers

Plants

After spending a while at the park, I went to check in to my bed-and-breakfast inn, the Ravenscroft.  It is a beautiful building, and I had a nice room on the second floor.

Ravenscroft

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Here’s the view from there.

View from BnB

In the evening, I took a stroll downtown.  Port Townsend is a touristy place, with lots of nice gift shops and restaurants.  Its harbor is picturesque, and I found some features this time that were not there the last time I went!  It looked like someone had fun piling up the jagged rocks, making “rock people”.

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RockPeoplePier

The next day, I did some sightseeing around the area, where I had not been at all.  I first drove through town, and admired the many old houses around.  PT has a reputation for having many Victorian-era houses that are well-kept (and very expensive).  Many have been re-purposed as apartments or bed-and-breakfast inns like Ravenscroft.

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Then, I drove south out of town, and headed east toward the water.  I discovered Indian Island Park, which consists of Lagoon Beach and Mystery Beach.  They were really beautiful.  I especially got a kick out of the river-pools running into the main body of water, because they were shallow enough to observe all the crabs-dozens of tiny guys under each rock and on top of the rocks too.

Lagoon Beach

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How many crabs?

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This is Nordland, Washington, on Marrowstone Island.

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BlueBoat-Nordland

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All too soon, it was time for me to head back to Port Townsend to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island.  When I boarded the ferry, I took lots of pictures of the PT harbor, and the fleet of sailboats out that day.

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PT-Harbor

PT-Sailboats

Ferry-wake

Once we hit Whidbey Island, I exited the ferry and headed for the south end of the island, from which I was to board another ferry to Mukilteo, near home.  The last sight of my trip just totally made me laugh.  The car in front of me in the ferry line pushed every one of the standard Progressive buttons, and was not at all shy about advertising its persuasions.  Typical!

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Resist Hate, except for President Trump!

All in all, a delightful getaway.  I had a great time, and came back refreshed.

Friday, on the Santa Monica Pier at Sunset

Yeah, it’s basically a cliche, isn’t it?  Who hasn’t seen pictures of a sunset off the famous Santa Monica Pier?  I first saw the attraction way back in 1999, on my first adult trip to the area.  I remembered how beautiful it was, and jumped at the chance to repeat the experience.  February can get cold, and it was about 54 degrees with a brisk wind.    Here’s what we saw.

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The view from the little park on the street above.

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This gentleman was playing an amplified Erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument.  Very nice!

PierPeople

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SunsetSurf

SouthSurf

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The pier has an amusement park, with some nicely-lit rides.  I was taken with the Ferris wheel, which looked like it was wrapped up in the roller-coaster.

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And later, after the sun sank below the horizon, the lights came into their own.

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Just good fun.

SoCal Interlude: Patterns

Over the weekend in California, my eye was caught by the many interesting patterns I saw in the hotel, and outside in nature.  Some were repeated, some not.  A guy at the hotel front desk told me that the carpet pattern in many places was the Golden Poppy, which is found in California.

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This pattern and variations was found in many places in the hotel.

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This one is on a high-back sofa in the lobby.

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Then, there was an interesting side table, with a marquetry top, and metal stand that worked very well together.  Pattern on pattern!

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Then, if you looked up, you could see the right-angled patterns of the windows and walls on higher floors.

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I was taken by the pattern on the elevator doors, too.  My readers will know that I am a fan of the Art Deco period, and this looked like a pattern from that period of design.

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Even the walls and ceilings carried eye-pleasing patterns.  The first one is the front of the front desk, and the second one was the ceiling in the restaurant.

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Nice lattice patterns-different execution of the same basic idea, and both very pleasing to the eye.

Speaking of eye-pleasing, this is what greeted guests stepping off the elevators behind the front desk.  I just loved the colors.

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And, finally, this very pretty mirror on the floor where the Hillsdale seminars were held.

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Patterns, patterns everywhere you looked.  Definitely not boring!

 

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

This week, we went to Southern California for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, the subject of which was Politics and Principles.  The venue was a nice Hilton Hotel  near the John Wayne Orange County Airport.  Over two days, we had a President’s Club reception, a nice dinner, with remarks by Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of the college, and an excellent lecture by Andrew Roberts, on The Importance of Churchill for Today.  He brought, and signed, copies of his book on Churchill.  Which weighs about 5 pounds!  I bought one, and from just the first few pages it is going to be a joy to read.

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The second day, there were talks by Peter Schweitzer, who spoke on the corruption of America’s political elite (which we are all familiar with already); Dr. Arnn, who discussed American Principles and Public Policy;

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Christopher Bedford, on Trump and the Media;

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And Dr. Shelby Steele, who discussed the current state of race relations in America.  I know of him through his excellent writing in the Wall Street Journal, and I was excited to hear him speak.

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I was very lucky, because on Saturday as we were just packing to leave, I actually met Dr. Steele in the hotel corridor, so I got a chance to exchange a few words with the man, who is very gracious.

The Hillsdale program ended Thursday at 3:00PM, so we had the rest of the day free.  We headed over to the nearby South Coast Plaza Mall, which is any shopper’s dream.  Inside the main court, we saw their wonderful Chinese New Year display.  They did the Year of the Pig proud!

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That’s a pretty happy pig, sitting on all that gold!  But you really have to look up to get a real feel for the holiday.

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The epitome of Festive!

On Friday, we headed up to Santa Monica, to meet a Ricochet friend of ours.  Ray really wanted to see Venice Beach and its Canals, and our friend offered to take us on a stroll, and then out for lunch.  It was a bit later than we planned, but we had a nice walk.  Just in case you are not familiar, the “canals” of Venice, California, are narrower, and much shallower than the real Venice!  But one of the canals is named The Grand, and people whose houses back up to the canal milk it for all it’s worth.

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That’s their house number on the left!  Very creative painting on their wall.

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Very pretty, but that water is about two feet deep.  No danger of drowning if you fall in.

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We figured that the owner of this yard was a modernist type of artist.  Both the tree with the crows, and the legs above, are in the same big yard.

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When was the last time you saw a dinghy with a figurehead?

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This is definitely Southern California!  Ripe lemons!

Of course, when we were done and back to the car on the main road, what should we see across the street?

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Yep, the homeless encampment.  It was like we’d never left home.

 

 

It’s Been A Year

It’s Been A Year

2018 has been quite a year in the RB49 Universe.  We survived just fine, but not without some bumps and bruises.  Well, whose life doesn’t have some bumps?

On January 2, we got a new Grand-Niece, when my nephew became a Dad.  She’s a cutie, and I’m going to her first birthday party tomorrow.

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Also in January, I received a promotion and a raise in salary at my job as a Buyer at an aerospace company.  Later in the year, I received another raise in salary.  But along with that promotion came lots of new responsibilities connected to the re-organization of our department, and I have to admit I have felt overwhelmed at times.  When I left for the year on December 21, I had over 800 emails in my inbox that I simply did not have time to get to.  And when I logged in today, I found that, even though my contacts are aware that the company is closed, they are still sending me email and expecting responses!  So I know that when I return I will have a full docket.  Sigh…it’s a burden being indispensable! Oh, and I almost forgot.  On January 2 I celebrated my tenth anniversary at my company, which is big for me, since it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed at any one job.

In the “bumps and bruises” department, for the first time since I have been married (2003), I spent so much time in various dentist’s chairs, I maxed out both dental insurance policies!  I lost a bridge that had been in my mouth since age 11, when one of the two anchor teeth turned out to be rotten, and I lost a molar for the same reason.  So in 2019, one of my first items of business will be to get an implant where the bridge was. Well, when you get to be age 69, stuff tends to start falling apart.  I come from a family with bad teeth, so it’s not unexpected.

In April, we did a whirlwind Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Colorado Springs, where we met up with our Ricochet friends and attended some very interesting lectures.

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In May, another of our Ricochet friends happened to be in Seattle for a conference, so we went downtown and had a nice dinner.  In June, yet another of our Ricochet friends came to town, and a bunch of us did some sightseeing, and a tour of the Boeing factory, and had another nice dinner, a bit closer to home.

On a sadder note, also in May, my brother-in-law succumbed to liver disease, and my sister was left a widow.  We are closer now that we were before, and I have come to understand better, how much she has always done for our family.  I surely appreciate her more.

Throughout the year, Hubby and I took our normal amount of day trips, to the Diablo Lake Overlook in the North Cascades, and to LaConner in Skagit County.  In July/August, we went on the Hillsdale College Cruise to Hawaii and back, and my readers will have enjoyed my essays on the subject.  Well, it’s December, so here’s a little reminder.

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At the end of August, Hubby had a total knee replacement operation, and he was out of work for the entire month of September.  I got a lot of exercise, going up and down the stairs bringing him stuff in our bedroom.  He has bounced back, and recovered nicely, and has resumed playing easy squash at his athletic club.

In November, we went to Victoria, BC for an accordion function with Hubby’s band, and had a nice time reacquainting ourselves with the town.  So here we are now, in the last week of the year 2018, and all in all it’s been pretty good.  We are both healthy, safe, and gainfully employed.  2019 will be a bit unsettled, as my company was sold in the fall, and the sale will close in the third quarter.  We have no idea what our fate will be, but we expect some big changes, and some job cuts.  Normally, the company who bought my company, has a reputation for “slash-and-burn” tactics when it buys another company, but this time may be different as we are about equal in size.  Who knows, I may be required to retire next year, even though I sure don’t want to.

Just two days ago, I again got in my car, and drove to Seattle to participate in the University Unitarian Church full-length Messiah Sing/Play-along.  My stand partner was there again, and we had a great time playing the awe-inspiring music of Handel, and listening to the big choir sing the inspiring words, all taken from the Bible.  It just makes my heart sing, and brings a smile every time.

One thing I do know is that this blog will continue in the New Year.  I heartily wish all my followers and readers a Happy New Year, and very best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2019.