North Cascades VAC Rally

About a week after returning from Camano Island, I had fixed up the problems I found with my remodel (all minor), and we headed back up North to Rockport, WA for a Vintage Airstream Club rally. It was at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, a beautiful county park right on the Skagit River. We had two loops mostly full of Airstreams, with a big field and picnic shelter in the middle.

I was hoping to get some fishing in, I brought my fly rod and gear, but the water was so high from the spring rains, there were no banks to fish from!

The hills around the campground were beautiful, with their heads in the clouds.

This is at a nearby campground we explored while wandering. Beautiful moss covered trees!

We stopped at the Oso Landslide Memorial. I remember watching this on the news. It’s so sad. Such a beautiful area, my heart goes out to those people killed, and the survivors, of the sudden, enexpected landslide that wiped away their neighborhood. That hill in the distance is where the land slid off the face of the hill, and came all the way out to the highway behind us, wiping out everything in its path.

I don’t know what this mountain was called, I was thinking it was White Horse or something. There are amazing mountains everywhere around here. We headed South and did a loop drive around through Granite Falls to Arlington on Hwy 530. At one point we stopped for a quick nap and I took Navi for a quick walk, and there was a deer right by the road watching us! We stopped for lunch at a little thai place in some town and Navi was able to join us on the patio.

Her first time eating out!

I think this was Dave after we got back from an afternoon of wandering, doing tech support for his Dad.

The next morning Dave woke me up at 5:30am to tell me there was a siren going off! Indeed, it sounded like an air raid siren, Id never heard anything quite like it!

It went off for a couple minutes then stopped, and silence! What does that mean? Was the river next to the park about to wipe us out? Did we need to evacuate? I looked outside and expected to see people standing around discussing it, but nobody was up.

So I dressed and took Navi out, and saw lights on in a neighbor’s trailer and knocked, and asked if she knew what it was, and she said she didn’t, but figured we would hear more if it was important. I tend to think a siren is always important!

So Navi and I wandered down to the next loop where my friend/coworker Janet was camped, and knocked to see if she was up, and she was, but she didn’t know anything either. Meanwhile Dave was looking online for emergency alerts and couldn’t find any. I ended up chatting with Janet about work and stuff for a bit.

Later that day my neighbor had gone into town and bought something at the hardware store, and the clerk told her a log truck had crashed, and the siren was how they call the volunteer fire dept out! Mystery solved!

We decided to head East on Hwy 20 and explore more of the North Cascades National Park. Last time we were here we went as far as Diablo Lake, and turned back. Well, it turns out the best roadside views are juuuuust past it: Like, literally around the next bend.

Oh my goodness, so pretty! The turquoise water is caused by glacial runoff. The mountains are so high and craggy! And this is only half the view!


Looking at the tourist brochure, I saw something called the Liberty Bell, and I wanted to see that too, so we kept driving. The good stuff is always just a little bit farther! And when would we ever be out here again? We kept driving until we were on the dry side of the state.

Totally worth it!

We stopped at a roadside viewpoint, and Navi did great walking around all the people, even with the narrow pathways at the stop.

We went all the way to Winthrop for lunch. It’s a little old-timey looking tourist trap. Old buildings and wooden sidewalks. It was packed even though it was a Friday. We got a lunch and went and sat in a shady public area with picnic tables to eat. We could watch people playing mini-golf down below the deck. And of course, on the East side, it was HOT, so I tried to keep Navi comfortable.

On the way back we stopped to play in the snow. I couldn’t believe there was still snow!

Dave being a goofball

We got back too late to join our fellow campers for potluck, but boy did we have a full day!

Navi did super on this trip, but by the end she was getting pretty tired of the whole thing. Tired of strangers coming into HER trailer to check out the remodel, tired of people trying to pet her, and tired of going for rides in the car! She really did good though. It is asking a lot of her.

Concrete is just down the road from Rockport, and they are, obviously, very proud of their concrete.

On the way home we stopped at a McMennamins and thought we would just grab lunch to eat in the trailer, but then saw they had a patio, and dogs were welcome! So Navi got to eat out for a second time, and she had a nice safe little corner next to our table. the hostess brought her a little cup of water, and even came back with a piece of bacon for her later!

So other than getting through all the usual Seattle traffic (which runs roughly from Everett to Centralia it seems) we had a nice safe drive home, and another adventure was in the books!

Camano Island

Our first planned trip with the newly remodeled trailer had to be scrapped because the Flex broke down and was in the shop having it’s rear end worked over. But finally we were able to make it out and try somewhere new – Camano Island, WA.

Because it was close to July 4th, Scott & Sherry were out camping, so Navi got to go camping with us. She doesn’t get car sick anymore, but she really doesn’t enjoy it, so we try to leave her home as much as possible, but this time she was trapped with us.

We got an amazing spot at Camano Island State Park. No hookup, and it could only fit a smallish trailer, but it was perfect for us, and look at that view! The park was pretty full, and this mid-week opening was the only one I could find all summer.

This spot was tight! I would not have wanted to try and squeeze a big trailer in there, the spot was curved and uphill. It was tricky even with the tiny trailer. The tow vehicle ended up side by side with the neighbor’s picnic table, but our spot, being behind the trailer, actually felt very private. The only thing we would have enjoyed more was if there weren’t so many mosquitos!

The new layout was a hit. It was really nice to have a bed always available for lounging, and the table for meals.

What a view from the door!

It’s hard to see but if you look out on the horizon you can see Mt Ranier.

We really enjoyed watching the boats go by on the straight. We spent a day cruising around the island from end to end, found a nice park to picnic in with a view one day. Another day we picked up lunch at a nice resteraunt at the golf course and took it to a nearby beach to sit on the logs and eat, but it was a bit awkward. I guess we are grown-ups now, we’d prefer a picnic table, at least! Still, we had fun exploring.

Seattle, on the way home. I always get a kick out of seeing the Space Needle!

The Only Dog

Navi has handled losing Barclay better than we have. She quickly realized ALL the toys, treats, and attention were hers (well, some goes to the cats, but they don’t count). She was a little scared going for walks alone without her gregarious big brother by her side, and the first few walks she spent slinking around with her tail down. I tackled this by taking treats and a clicker, and clicking whenever she saw something scary. The idea was to teach her that 1) those things get her rewards 2) quit looking at the scary thing and look at the person with the treats. That has been working really well, and she is getting much better at walking on a loose leash too, because I’ve been clicking for that as well. She’s getting more confident and likes going on a walk to sniff things and get treats.

Since it’s Christmas season we are getting lots of deliveries for her to bark at, so she’s happy to have a job. When she’s not barking at the front window, she is under my desk or trying to get pets from me while I’m trying to work. She comes up and lays her head on the desk next to me to get attention. So cute!

She’s a good girl.

Lately she’s been getting snappy about having her nails trimmed, so I am working on training her to let me use the dremel on her nails. It’s so much easier to train one dog than two. With two dogs, the other one is always trying to nose in on the other dog’s training time. Now we only have to worry about cats.

Lockdown in the time of Coronavirus

I guess we’ve been hearing about the virus in China for a month or so, but it has suddenly hit us hard. With the knowledge that this bad new flu is circulating, but without testing capability, and an already overtaxed medical system, we are now in semi-lockdown. The play we have been rehearsing for over a month (Much Ado About Nothing) is on hold until later in the summer, I’m working from home, and people are wiping out the grocery stores (glad I went to Costco with friends and stocked up a couple weeks ago). Crazy times.

I had just settled on a plan to expand my photography into family portrait work, and decided that this summer I would train and do any odd jobs I could get, and hone my craft. I bought a new (used) lens just for this pursuit.

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This is a Sony f/4 70–200mm. It takes really sharp pictures with nicely blurred backgrounds. I’m really happy with the few test shots I’ve done.





Combined with my full-frame a7ii, this is certainly a rig capable of producing high-quality images.

I also plan to dedicate any ‘hustle money’ I can make to my meandering Mustang project. But who knows when things will get back to normal, when I can start hustling, if I will even care about the Mustang when this is all over. Maybe priorities will change? Right now the poor Mustang is buried in the garage under shipping materials leftover from Christmas. The toy shipping season has stretched out significantly. Things are still selling now in March!

But I don’t mind working at home. I’m hanging out with my hubby and dogs and cats:

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surrounded by all my craft projects I’ve been putting off. Like my ‘learn to paint’ project. I’ve got my paints, I’ve got my easel, all I need is time.

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I can FINALLY follow along with BOB!

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It’s actually kind of nice, but I’m only a few days in. We will see how it feels by the end of the month! I hope to sneak off for some fishing when the weather warms up next week. We will see how it all goes. I’m just hoping people handle this sanely, take care of each other, remember to be kind and considerate, and we will all ride out this strange time, stay healthy, and be back to normal sometime this summer.

Until then I’ll try not to spend too much time riding the range in Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (13)

Barclay has some ups and downs

One night after an uneventful day in July, Barclay was restless and whiny and couldn’t lay down and go to sleep like he normally would have after dinner. He would come bark at me like he wanted something. We even took him for an extra walk, but he still couldn’t settle down.

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I was really worried since it was out of character, so we took him to the vet around 10pm, and the vet decided he might have hurt his back, gave us some pain meds and sent him home. We got home and I took him outside for a potty break, and he flopped over on his side and had a seizure! We called the vet and they said we could bring him back in, or observe him and see if the pain med helped, so we decided to do that since it would be less stressful. But he continued to be whiny and restless, and just couldn’t go to sleep. By then it was 2am, and we were all very tired, and he just couldn’t stop, then he had another seizure and threw up, so we raced him back to the emergency vet.

This time the vet said she thought the whole thing was seizure related. The vet decided to keep him, and we were waiting in the exam room while they got a spot ready for him in the back, and I put him in my lap and he finally fell asleep for a couple minutes, he was so tired!

They gave him medicine to stop the seizures and kept him until the next day, but we were there until after 4am by that point. So i called in sick to work the next day and worried about him all day. Wednesday afternoon he came home, and they gave him an anti-seizure medicine, which sedated him a bit. The vet said it would get better in 2-3 weeks as he got used to the medicine. Navi was happy to have him back, and hung out right with him.

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But it’s was hard to get him to eat. We were fussing over him, trying to get him to eat anything, because he was never fat, and I’m worried about him not eating enough. I bought him different dog foods, people food, baby food, but nothing much interested him. Dave and I were handfeeding him all kinds of good food just to get something in him. He seemed like he would take a few bites to be polite, then turn his head away to say he was done.

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Also, he was waking us up multiple times a night barking for what seemed like no particular reason. Everyone was getting really tired. It was like having an infant in the house. He didn’t mean it though, he was tired too!

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After three weeks of this, he wet the bed overnight a couple times, so I talked to the vet and she decided the side effects were too much, and had me wean him off of the medicine. We quickly saw improvement, with him getting his appetite back, sleeping better, and not being so groggy.

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So far so good. He is 11, and has been very healthy, though he did have two or three seizure incidents over the past few years, which the vets could find no reason for. He hasn’t had a seizure since that night. Hopefully he will not have any more issues for a while.

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This year’s Garden – Spring

When we lived in the country, I had a lovely big garden that I worked very hard on. The last year I was able to do it I was really getting the hang of it, and grew lovely big tomatoes and squash and herbs and really enjoyed myself. But then I went back to work full time.

Eight years later, we no longer live in the country, but I still want my garden. One constant problem in our current backyard is the plum tree. It produces a bumper crop of plums every year, and the ones that fall on the ground get eaten by the dogs, who also chew up the pits, which are bad for them. So after surrounding the plum tree with a dog fence for a couple years, we finally put up a proper fence around it.

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And I thought, hey, this looks like a good place for a garden! So last year I did a little raised bed and put cauliflower and kale in it, and the aphids and slugs ate it up. I did a few tomatoes and basil in pots as well, and that was more successful. So this spring I decided to really go for it. I’ve always wanted tall raised beds so I wouldn’t be on my hands and knees weeding. But in order to have a nice garden in spring, you have to start well before that, by planting seeds in February.

I started out by spending early winter watching videos on YouTube, my favorite channel being The Rusted Garden . I find him very relaxing to listen to, and he makes it seem easy, gives simple instructions, and basically doesn’t add a bunch of drama to it. Just good, straightforward advice, and he’s even in the same planting zone, though on the other end of the country, so his advice on timing is pretty accurate for this area too.

I ordered seeds for a modest garden from Territorial Seeds, as I always did for my country garden. They are in Oregon, so I know they will sell stuff that works in the NW, and I’ve always had great success with their seeds (not so much with the usual garden center seed packets, those have generally been very hit or miss in germinating).


A month later, I was thinning them out and moving them into dollar-store pots.

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Next thing you know I was taking them out for visits to experience the wind and the sunshine, but bringing them back in if it got too breezy or chilly.

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So, this experiment was going well, time to get the garden in order. The garden area was covered in failing weed barrier. I want my raised bed plants to be able to reach down to the soil if they want to. So I pulled up the weed barrier where the beds are going. I also thought I would put a little shed in there, but once I spaced out the footings for an 8 ft shed, it was going to take up the whole garden 😦

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Chives went in pots, broccoli went in the existing bed, and we tore down the old arbor in the yard and temporarily piled it in the garden so the dogs wouldn’t get stuck on the nails in it. That sort of felt like we were going backwards for a bit.

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And those tomatoes and peppers just kept getting bigger! I planted six of each type I wanted to grow, and didn’t expect them ALL to do so well! I picked my favorites and potted them up, and offered free tomatoes to all my friends. This is mid April. Maybe next year I won’t start the seeds until March!

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I built raised beds out of 2x4s and cedar fence boards. I know they won’t last forever, but if I like them, I figure I can make them sturdier later. I filled them lasagna style – straw, grass clippings, old leaves, more grass clippings, dirt from the other side of the house, and finally 6 cubic yards (4 bags) of raised bed soil.

I should mention I had lots of help throughout the process.


Our yard bloomed early with Deadnettle, Grape Hyacinth, and some bulb I call bluebell. The fruit trees were blooming and the yard was alive with birds and bees and friendly bugs. I wanted to encourage this, so I just left it alone and enjoyed it!


Navi was doing a bit of rototilling over by the apple tree to take care of our mole problem. She got two of them!

They also followed me into the garden one day and caught a baby rabbit that was hiding in the Rosemary bush. Barclay caught it and let Navi have it and she ate the whole thing (ugh!) They will never forget that, and are always hoping to find something else hiding in the garden, so they are not allowed in there anymore.

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Finally we had a late last frost in early may, and a week later things looked safe to put my little friends in their new home! Two of the big heirloom tomatoes and one cherry variety here with two mini bell peppers, two more cherrys, a pepper, and a slicer in pots near the patio.

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Then I mowed the Deadnettle when it was done blooming, and the yard looks great! All the clippings went into the next raised bed, where I topped it off with raised bed soil, and planted greens. I know it was a little late for cool weather crops, because we started getting hot temps, but I wanted to try. Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Spinach, and Radishes.

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The pots by the patio were looking good, and I added pots full of parsley, cilantro and basil seeds.


About this time I realized the water by the house was a LONG way from the garden, so I looked online and found a used rainbarrel setup. This way I can fill the barrel every few weeks, and water out of the barrel.

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I added a third big bed for beans and cucumbers, and I will build a trellis for those, so I thought they could share a bed and a trellis. Then three low beds for squash, since they will need room to spread out. Zucchini, Butternut, and Acorn. I also mulched all the beds and pots with pine shavings.

I added some flowers outside the garden gate for color. Those pots inside have a bunch of different herb seeds planted, but they are slow to come up.

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The tomatoes are doing great, but I read that Marigolds and Basil are good companions, so I added some marigolds, and a couple different varieties of Basil in the bed.

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And that’s about it for spring. We are definitely heading into summer now (despite the monsoon rains we got the past week, with temps significantly cooler than the previous week which was in the 90s). The tomatoes are covered in flowers this week, and a few little tomatoes have started forming. It’s really amazing to see food growing from plants I started from seeds! It’s like a little miracle every time.

Nothing to do now, but kick back and enjoy our patio.

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Winter Artwork

Wow, it has been a long, cold, boring winter. I don’t remember a winter that has been this cold, or snowed so many times. We usually barely get any snow, and usually get none at all. But this winter…well, at least the dogs enjoyed it!



Not sports car weather!



I do love it when the trees look like this, especially against a bright blue sky.



And I love the dramatic shadows cast by the low winter sun.


Tree Shadow

So I cleaned it up in photoshop and made a piece of art of it. That is actually a pretty nice way to pass the time when trapped inside by winter cold.


Mount Navi

Winter Navi.

We also went to a Winter Woolies horse show and took some photos. I love doing horse photos.

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English Horse 4


And then for something completely different:

boats in the bay

This piece was made from a screenshot from Red Dead Redemption 2. I added the textures to make the sky-glow and painted it. I was really happy with how it turned out.

So that’s how I’ve been fighting the winter doldrums! Luckily it is almost over, and spring is on its way.

A ‘Me’ Party!

The Photo Club assignment for this month was to make a composite photograph, so I composited the heck out of that challenge! I set the camera up on a tripod and raced around changing clothes and setting myself in different scenes around the room, then merged them all together with a little photoshop magic, to produce a party of ‘Me’s hanging around the house with the dogs.


Backyard remodel

Last year we did the front yard, taking out the overgrown bushes that the previous owner had put up to create a buffer between our house and the crack-house across the street, and putting in a nice lawn. That went very well, and it is still looking beautiful. This year the project is the back yard.

When we moved in the backyard was a formal garden, with pathways and sitting areas, a big dahlia garden, a vegetable garden, and a flower garden. The previous owner had been retired, and he obviously spent a LOT of time working on it. It was a maintenance nightmare for a couple working folks like us. So we had slowly cut back on the formal stuff anyway, but this year the lawnmower wouldn’t start in the spring, and by the time I got a new carb for it and got it running again, things were extra out of control.

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So we rented a walk-behind string trimmer, and I worked my butt off mowing it all down. I was kind of sad to see it go, because it reminded me of our pasture in spring, and I loved watching the grasses wave in the breeze.

With everything back under control, I figured it was time to begin the backyard remodel I had been planning. There were a few problems. As previously mentioned, Navi is a digger, so any gardening needed to be fenced away from her. Also, there is a plum tree in the corner of the yard, and the dogs enjoy eating the plums and chewing up the pits, which are toxic, so I had it temporarily fenced off with a dog x-pen, but it was not a permanent solution. I have this plan:

backyard plan

Which I have deviated from slightly as my desire to have a garden got stronger. When we lived on the farm, I had a huge garden, and I worked really hard to get better and better at it every year, and I hated to give it up when we left. This year I finally got my act together enough to put in a tiny container garden with a few tomatoes and peppers and herbs. But I would like to grow our own lettuce and greens as well. So I took the corner marked Bushes on my plan, and fenced it off to make a garden, and keep the dogs away from the plums.


We had a lovely mild day, not too hot, not too sunny. Mowing and weed-wacking commences…


Then we went to Lowes and found a no-dig fence style we liked. They have stakes that you pound into the ground, and then slide the fence panels onto them. Tall enough to keep out the dogs, and they look nice.


The corner already has a brick outline, but it was curved, and the fence could not curve as much as the bricks, so we made the fence line fairly straight and left the curved areas outside it for planting some bushes to soften the area up. We also got a nice no-dig gate that fit perfectly in the little entrance-way.


Completed. Now the dogs are unable to get to the plum tree, or any planting beds I want to put in there.

We continued mowing and trimming around the rest of the yard.



Much better! Still needs clean up, but it will get there. This is where I want a stone patio eventually.


Dave gets a well-deserved rest and smooches from Barclay ❤


Day 2


The garden area has these two brick circles, one on either end. This one had a greek statue on it, and it shifted and she fell over a couple winters ago, so now she is up on the patio. I am not fond of these brick circles, they look sloppy, and appear to be full of debris – broken bricks, old tile, etc. I want to take one down and reuse the bricks to outline a garden bed.

So I started tearing the other one apart, and discovered 1) it gave shelter to the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen and 2) it was hiding a stump! I picked through the bricks one by one, brushing off spiders and tossing them into the fenced area, then arranged them into a curvy garden bed.


Leaving behind the stump, which is much less obtrusive than the brick circle had been.



Meanwhile Navi dug holes big enough to stick her whole head in! That’s the next area to work on.


But that’s enough work for one afternoon. I stickballed Barclay until he was worn out and jumped in the tub to cool off, and called it a day.


Bonus – tomatoes growing in my container garden – yay!