Sunday, June 28, 2009


I never had any indication that our windmill was unhappy with us. How could I have known such a thing? But apparently it yearned for greener pastures and in the big windstorm this past week, with its blades spinning furiously, it levitated off the ground and flew over the fence and into the greener pasture it was looking for--the horse pasture. I didn't see it, but our friends who were working on the concrete dove for the ground in case the helicopter/windmill flew their way.

And speaking of flying, my boy is coming home! While we sleep tonight, Bruder's plane will be roaring over the ocean, bringing him back to the United States.

In his absence, we painted his room, hung trim, installed blinds, and made what I think is a pretty darn cool guitar display. When Lucy saw it she said, "I feel like I've stepped into a Pottery Barn Teen catalogue." Rose was speechless and Cholita just said, "Awesome." Let's hope Bruder likes it too. Since the windmill flew the coop, I've had a bit of a complex.

P.S. Cholita is obsessed with the hanging guitars. She asked if she could touch them and I told her in no uncertain terms that she could not. "I can touch the red though, right? The paint's dry, so I can touch the red." I couldn't necessarily argue. "Yes, it's dry. I guess you can touch the red." So she touched the red rectangle, but I knew her fingers were hungry. Then she pulled an age-old trick. "Mom, look over there." And being gullible, I fell for it. "What?" I asked turning toward the bunkbed. "Oh, nothing." I looked back and she was innocently stroking the red paint, but I know better. That little stinker touched the guitar.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hard rock and warm fuzzies

Lyle came home for lunch every day last week. In the past decade, I can count on one hand the number of times he's pulled himself away from the office to see me mid-day. But the pizza oven evidently holds a special place in his heart and he can't be away from it for any significant amount of time.
Lyle poured the forms for the oven, grill, and firepit on a day off and then started work on the courtyard early on a Saturday morning.
He carved stones...

He poured, he smoothed, he carved, he poured, he smoothed, he carved....

And called his efforts on the first day good.

Then he had to return to the office and let the work go on without him. It was hard, but with the lunchtime visits, he still felt connected.

Charlie oversaw the work while he was gone and seemed happy with the progress.

And today we've reached the front walk. One more day, and the pouring is done. Then the concrete gets colored, we put down topsoil between the joints, and plant creeping thyme.
Our good friend and concrete genius, Forrest, told Lyle that when he moves, he'll give him his concrete mixer. It was as tender a moment as I've seen in many months.
"Lyle, I want you to have my mixer."
"Oh, no, I couldn't take it."
"I want you to have it, man. There's no one else I'd give it to."
The sun was dropping behind the Olympic mountains and they stood together in silence.
"Thank you," Lyle finally managed, too choked up to say more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

ABBA, meatballs, and Bjorn Borg

Last week these items pretty much summed up our knowledge of Sweden. But we are slightly more enlightened since our Swedish house guests arrived. They are a family of 12, with 8 of them staying in our third floor. One of their older daughters attends our church and we offered to have her parents and six of her siblings stay with us during their 2 week visit. They spend their days at their daughter's apartment and we just visit with them in the morning and at night. Cholita adores them and has trouble going to sleep if she hasn't seen "the Swedish people" arrive back home. The dogs love them even more and wait at the door and whine . Apparently Charlie and Olaf now understand commands in Swedish. I never knew our dogs had such a gift with languages.

The Rosen children all play different instruments and they do concerts around Sweden. Our kids excitedly told us it's like having the Von Trapps in our attic--- without any Nazi tension.

With our new found interest in Sweden, I took the girls to our town's Mid-Summer festival.

The dancers arrived by boat and were lead by a violinist to the maypole.

The outfits alone made me want to cart my kids over to the Sons of Norway Lodge to sign them up for dance classes.

But my girls' reluctance to join hands around the maypole was a sign that maybe the classes wouldn't be successful. And getting Bruder into lederhosen seems unlikely.

Horns blasted from the street above, signaling the arrival of the Vikings.

They looked like they'd been at sea for many years.

And isn't it cold in the north?

No bother, their old bones were warmed by the bonfire. And thankfully the eldest Viking didn't remove his vest.

The girls made floral wreaths for their hair.

And Rose had her face painted.

It was a beautiful evening in our lovely Scandinavian Washington town. I'll never hear "Dancing Queen" again and not think of our wonderful friends from Sweden. And if we ever visit, we know we've got a place to stay.

Our dogs will stow away in the luggage.

Bruder and da' Buddha

It's amazing to see these pictures and know Bruder is half a world away. The giant Buddha was certainly impressive, but the first thing Bruder told me on the phone was that the 100 Yen stores are AWESOME! He and his friend, Brandon bought air soft guns and have been in battle mode since then. Teenage boys are an interesting breed.

I've been airing out his room in his absence and used half a tub of spackle repairing holes in his walls. Despite his destructive tendencies, we miss him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sayonara Bruder

Today, for the second time in my life, I watched one of my kids walk onto a plane all by themselves. The first time it was little five year-old Rose. We were heading to Beijing and she was heading to Boise.

This time the child is older, but heading much farther away. Bruder is currently 5 hours and 10 minutes into his flight to Japan, with 6 hours and 17 minutes to Tokyo, but who's counting. He'll be staying with our good friends, the Fry family and will have a wonderful experience. I fully expect him to see the sights, eat some sushi, learn about the culture, and (knowing the Frys) come home an Eagle Scout.

Since he was flying solo, we got him "unaccompanied minor" status so we could walk him to the gate. He was horrified when we checked in and he was given a bright red United badge to wear prominently on his chest. Somehow (hmmm, how did it happen?) it was lost between check-in and gate. The gate agent asked him about his badge. While Bruder stammered and stuttered, he was given yet another bright red badge. If the badge makes it off the plane, somewhere on his person, I'll be shocked.

Cholita was all smiles while we waited for the boarding call.

But her mood changed rapidly when Bruder got into line without her.

"I'm going too!" she screamed.

"Bruder! Bruder! Come back!"
If he thought the red badge made him rather conspicuous, the hysterical screaming toddler didn't exactly help him blend into the woodwork, or accordion walkway, whichever the case may be.
I wonder if he could still hear her when he got on the plane?

As Bruder's chariot to Japan pulled away, Cholita waved and said, "Oh, this is horrible."

But she rallied on the airport train.
Sayonara Bruder! We miss you already.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pink porches, projects, and a birthday

Two weeks of all-quiet on the blogging front. It wasn't for lack of material, just no time to plug my camera into the computer. I refinished the porches and Cholita got one look at the pink primer and was so pleased. She sighed a happy, contented sigh and proclaimed it gorgeous.

When she saw the brown paint that went over the primer, she couldn't hide her disappointment. "Oh, Mom. Yuck."

We laid a drip line around the plants in our mound. And covered it all with mulch. The plants can get the water they need for the first couple of years and then they're on their own. My goal is to eventually do as little garden upkeep as is humanly possible, while still growing things a little more lush than cactus and gravel.

Construction on the courtyard has begun! With the help of a sod cutter, another area of grass is gone.

The current dustbowl will soon be a faux flagstone (shaped concrete) courtyard with creeping thyme growing between the "stones". Lyle made the 10 foot circular form to mark out where a water feature will go. It might be something like this self-circulating bubbling urn or it might be a small pond; we're not sure, but it will be something wet.

Lyle is totally revamping the hot tub structure and will build an arbor off the back to shade an eating area. Behind the eating area will be a fire pit and built-in grill and...the piece d'resistance....

The pizza oven. Lyle has informed me that it can cook a whole pizza in FOUR minutes. Granted, I don't know how many hours it will take to get the oven up to the scorching temperatures needed to accomplish such a feat, but Lyle is extremely excited. I suppose when a husband begs for an oven, even a seven foot tall oven, you should grant him his wish.

Our lovely Rose turned 8, and true to form, the climbing rose was in full flower for her special day.

We went to Red Robin where Rose was pestered by the mascot

And sung to by the waiters
And made to feel very special.

Much to Cholita's dismay, only the birthday girl was given dessert. Cholita's begging began politely enough, but it took very little time for her to be literally down on her knees loudly pleading for a bite.

Lyle was very involved and oh-so-helpful as the battle over the sundae escalated. I felt like Elasta-Girl yelling to her husband Mr. Incredible, "Engage! Engage!"

He may fall asleep at dinner, but man, does he get stuff done. I'll keep him.
Oh, and the sunsets have been amazing.
Still to come: The Von Trapps in our attic, Rose is Electric, and Bruder goes to Japan....