Sunday, July 31, 2016

Work and Play!

Today's project was exciting and a fair bit emotional, too. Michael remembers helping Dad G build the greenhouse. He loved to putter in here.  He would start the plants here for the three garden spots he loved. We are at a place where we could tackle the inside of the greenhouse. All those spots were FULL of berries and trees. There are still some vines to remove and beds to build up....but look....light is coming in and the promise is there. I could imagine Dad's pleasure at having it nearly workable again. He loved tomatoes from his greenhouse! 

   There is still quite a bit of "growth" to the left and back of the windows....Nolan was tasked with clearing the back wall of the greenhouse!
GREAT job.....
These garden spots are overgrown...before we're done,  we'll try to reclaim at least one of them. The other one was in the notorious SE Corner, which we are still valiantly trying to clear and reach a neighbor's fence. 

Alex trimmed the walkways, and did a bit of work for a neighbor too. 

Michael thinks we can clear this spot in a day and make a seating area with a great view of the river. Mom G is all for it....this is the "fern garden," though it seems the  fern needs to be uncovered and liberated from various other things that have gone "hog wild."  This spot is in front of the house - overlooking the river. 

Stacia and I did a couple of loads of laundry, folded and restocked laundry, moved trunks around, continued to work on organizing the front and corralled recycling to get it out from underfoot.  As with any other house, houses simply don't stay organized as long as a tree stays pruned....we take breaks to go outside and see the progress.... today on our break we captured this sight. It can get discouraging to put in 6 - 8 hour days, week on end, and feel  you're making very little progress, but when we step outside we see visible progress everywhere. LOL 

We played tonight! No work at all - we sat around the fire and enjoyed fellowship with a dear family from our last assignment! How fun they came to visit the area! We had s'mores, fruit pockets made over the campfire, laughter and great conversation....
Michael, Ed, Ben, Cherri, Jonathan, Alex, Nolan, Stacia
 It did my soul good to see Cherri! Sometimes you just need a hug from a friend who has been through some "life" with you....especially when you've not made a ton of new friends in your new location, yet.  
Me and Cherri

Benjamin was EXCITED to cook and SERVE marshmallows

Jonathan has gorgeous eyes! and a lovely inquisitive nature as well! 

I didn't take one photo of the fun camping tool they brought to share - but I found one on Google. It's a pie iron! We made fruit pies tonight at the campfire -  the possibilities are endless.  They brought the ingredients, and then  left them and the cast iron pie iron with us! I've been tired of s'mores for several weeks....Have you used one of these before? What kind of pocket or pie would you make? 
Via Google Images
It was a good day in every way! It's nearing midnight and we need to get an early start on the work tomorrow. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Swimming for the Pacific - Take 2

Michael grew up swimming the Smith River.  A huge perk of our extended stay in the area is for the kids to have the time with Grandma AND to enjoy the river and hikes Michael loved so much at their ages.

Most days Michael is in pain....and some days the tremors are bad and his balance is wonky.....this has made working out increasingly difficult. Swimming is an exercise he can do... He has prodded the kids into swimming too. He likes swimming rapids and long swims. Nolan and Alex have joined him for the long swims. They did a couple of practice runs and then hit upon a goal:  to swim from the forks to the mouth of the Smith River.  This will take several long swims to accomplish.  Stacia is doing great on the practice runs and can swim a few rapids, but isn't confident enough to go on a two or three hour swim.

On their first swim, they swam from the forks of the Smith River (a spot we drive by daily to get to Mom G's) to the Footbridge at Jedediah Smith State Park.
NPS photo via Google Images
Footbridge at Jed Smith - via Google Images
Nolan was sick and missed today's swim. Mr. Dave joined Michael and Alex to swim from the Footbridge at Jed Smith to Templeman Grove (up hwy 197). This 3 mile swim took 3 hours.  Here's the spot where Stacia and I met the swimmers on the Smith River at Templeman Grove.

Alex and Dave
Don't bother telling me Michael shouldn't be doing this. He needs exercise. His neurologist told us to go make memories and that is what he is doing. If not now, when? He knows his limits and will not push beyond what he or the boys can accomplish in a day.  

Michael is disappointed to report he found a school of suckers in the swim today. He and some friends thought they'd cleared out the river decades ago. There are still none in THEIR part of the Smith River, but they are making a comeback.

We plan a quiet evening....

Friday, July 29, 2016

Surprised at the Beach - #WYFF

We had an awkward, unexpected experience today which we've debated sharing. Michael suggested we go into town, run a couple of errands, have lunch at the ocean (I can't get enough of the ocean!), and then drop Nolan off to work before heading back to the Redwoods. This was a plan we all approved.
The gap is where I was sitting before I got up to take the picture and the surprise happened
 Before we headed to town I checked our bank and ebenefits to see if the VA and the DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) were playing nice yet. Nope. We are FINE - but I would LIKE to see all of our disability pay, our retirement pay and retro pay in our account. We do qualify for concurrent disability and retirement due to Michael's rating.  I was fussing about our "expense tracker" and getting "tense" about the ratio of income and expense.

We put our "go to town" clothes on - as opposed to our "work clothes." It was good to go to town. The benches by our van were taken and so we walked a bit down the embankment and found a nice bench. We sat, fed squirrels, enjoyed the view and ate our lunch.

Do you see what's captured Yuuki's attention? I was surprised she didn't chase them. She was content to simply sit, stay, stare and menace. 

I had packed sandwiches for the kids. Michael had a couple of boiled eggs, veggie sticks, cheese, meat and crackers. I had apple slices and almond butter. I was a bit cold and wrapped in our blue picnic blanket - the flip side is tie dyed. I did at one point check to see if Michael had any veggie sticks left. I had a bag at my feet - our "warm bag" for things which don't fit in our little cooler/lunch bag.

Are you picturing this with me? I'm wrapped in my tie dye blanket, enjoying lunch on a bench with family, eating my apple slices. Content.  I got up to take a photo, and a woman got out of her car and hurried up to me.

She handed me $10.

I was taken aback.  I wasn't quite sure what was going on or how to respond.

I told her thank you, but we were fine.

She said, "I know you can't cash checks, and this is all the cash I have, but please take it." She turned and walked away.

I sat back down. I showed Mike. We weren't sure what had happened and then we "got it." She thought I needed money. I wasn't begging. We have no signs. We were fairly respectable looking.

She was in a car behind our bench. We continued to sit on the bench, me holding the $10 and trying to figure out how to get out of this without awkwardly insisting we are not homeless....

Before she left she came up to ME again. She handed me 6 inches of a 12 inch sub sandwich. She said, "I promise I didn't touch this half. Please take it. I want you to have it." I tried to tell her again I was fine, but in the end, I smiled and told her thank you.

 Beyond being amazed we were taken as homeless - though the kids thought it was a hoot - this event stirred many emotions in me. There are still people with very big hearts all around us! This woman was insistent on giving, and her gift reminded me if there comes a time when we are truly desperate, God will be our source (the VA and DFAS are merely the current source).

I felt quite a bit of guilt for having 1/2 of this woman's lunch and her $10. I decided to pay it forward.  Her gift will bless as she intended and, I imagine, in a few ways she didn't intend.
Still don't know what said "Give me $ and lunch"
One of our quick witted children said, "Let's leave mom on the bench and see if she can collect enough money to buy a new RV."

Oy Vey!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Week 8 - Missing Blog Posts

Where have the daily blogs gone? Our days have a fairly predictable pattern. We go over to Mom G's in the morning and work. The kids break at 3 or 4 to swim. I come home to cook dinner. We go to bed.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe these will suffice for the missing posts. 

Activities not shown in photos: running errands for ourselves and Mom G, grocery shopping for both, household chores for Mom G, laundry for all of us, more organizing....

Early on I blogged the day we uncovered the greenhouse. We then moved on to working on the trees in the power lines and driveway....but this week...Michael and Alex liberated the greenhouse. To refresh  memories - this is what the spot looked like on Monday. 
Not really "Before" because you couldn't see it at all before. LOL 

They are holding ONE ROOT of one Cork Elm
 When we're all done, I envision being able to plant some pretty flowers in this bed. The roses will be back. We may eventually get the trees out of the greenhouse....they've taken over everywhere. NEVER plant Cork Elm.  Stacia and I were so inspired we decided to tackle some greenery which is overgrowing its bounds. Mom G told us they are monbretia, and you can see below  they DO have a pretty little red flower. The problem comes when they are tangled in berry vines, taking over garden spots, spilling into the easement, and taking over the driveway.

These bloomed before we arrived. It was time to tackle them....we cut them back, careful to leave the bulbs, and we did the same up the fence line. They're pretty ugly when he flowers are gone and the greenery is browning. 

We uncovered an address! All the greenery we've not touched are grape vines.....we'll work on them after we harvest the grapes. 

Cork Elm roots are tough....but not as tough as Stacia.

I am so pleased with how the kids have stepped up to help. Michael is a great supervisor, and he is working his tail off too, but there is no getting around the fact he pays a heavy price and has to stop before he would like to stop. The kids pitch right in and pick up any slack Michael and I leave. It really does my heart good, I need to be more like them. Here Stacia and Alex have finished the fence line. I envision a fresh coat of paint when time allows. No fence showed when we arrived. 

The apple tree Michael pruned in June is bearing.... a few branches of plums have been grafted in.....

In order to keep Michael off the ladder, I conquered my fear of ladders to pick some plums for Mom  

 This is a good place to mention neighbors. Three have stopped by repeatedly to chat and offer encouragement.  We've been loaned tools, given advice, offered RV spots and the use of burn piles. Would you believe one neighbor stopped to complain? He rents nearby and prefers the yard overgrown. It appears he's been helping himself to fruit and would like to continue to do so. We're nice. We'll share.  BUT we aren't leaving your favorite tree tangled in the power lines so  you can poach fruit without being seen. ::snort::  Let us know you'd like to wander through the self-pick oasis - if Mom G doesn't have plans for it - help yourself.

Below is an amazing photo. I had no idea Michael was going to deal with this. To the right is the shed and in the back of the photo is the back of the greenhouse. This area was TOTALLY taken over by berries, grape vines and Cork Elm. One couldn't walk through here. The path has re-emerged. It still looks a bit overgrown - as the grape arbor was to the left and over a path. It didn't stand up to the weight of the bears. But we are looking at a huge crop of grapes.  We'll look at fixing that and cutting back grapes later in the year.

 This is the kind of brush we've been clearing in our search for the fence line. We have removed so many cork elm that we can now see the neighbors roof line....Stacia picks all the berries she can reach before we continue working in this section.

We found a 3rd wheelbarrow

 A perk of working here is the amazing, all-you-can eat, fruit buffet. This week we've had YUMMY apples, a couple kinds of berries, a nectarine or two, and plums to choose from. 

I suggested a machete, but it has proven difficult to find a real one in America. 

The chair around the fire feels really good at night. 

Nolan isn't in a lot of these photos as he had a couple of days off. Off from us - he is working for some college friends who live in the area.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Spectacular Sunday

Dad was released to come home on Sunday. It will be several months, according to the doctors, before his strength is back. They are also in the process of evaluating and changing meds for his various ailments...rating the priority of which ones to treat...treatment of one ailment can cause side effects for the heart - it's a jigsaw puzzle.  Us "kids" have realized it is an asset for one of us to understand the drug/medical picture for Mom and Dad. This was the second time we've been at the ER in July with Mom first, and now, Dad. Both times there were many questions about the extensive meds taken. Sherri, Will's wife,  is being informed by doctors and Mom and Dad and is getting up to speed to be our "go to" person for meds for Mom and Dad. We love you Sherri!
I told Dad the next time he wants to have a family reunion, we can go directly to the reunion and skip the ER phase. All three of us kids were home....what a blessing Nate and Heather were in the states and that Will and Sherri live in the same town.
Yes, that is Josiah at the end of the table. He drove down from Seattle on Sunday and back on Monday. He wanted to see Gpa for himself and get a bit of family loving.

We stayed an extra day to help with the transition back to home, and to visit with Josiah. After Dad got settled, we left them to grab some peace and quiet, and went to lunch. Look who I got to see - not nearly enough this trip - but the trip was about Dad. ::gasp:: The sweet outfit is from my friend, Marvie.
Bella appears to love sticking her tongue out at cameras. ::snort:: 

Monday morning we said goodbye to Mom and Dad and Josiah and headed back to our place in the Redwoods.

Group hug

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hook in the Park

 Movies in the Park are a fun, weekly event sponsored in the Springfield area, by the Willamalane Park and Recreation Department.  Krista and CoRielle joined Michael and the kids for a showing of Hook in one of the local parks.

Popcorn too! Maybe Arielle doesn't approve of movies in the park?