Peeking

I got a big box in the mail the other day.  Cora approves.

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A February Sunball…

It was sprinkling Friday morning on my way to work.  That’s the norm in winter.  So I was delighted when it came time for my lunch walk, and I was greeted with this view!  That dazzling orb in the sky!

 

I admit, when Google photos had its way with the picture, I decided that I liked the effects.  For the sake of full disclosure, it is edited…

I hope all of you are enjoying this long weekend!  Happy Birthday to all our best Presidents!

Book Review: The Witches

I have read a few books on the Salem Witch Trials and have been fascinated by how it all went so far… So when The Witches: Salem, 1692, by Stacy Schiff, popped up as available on the library website as I was looking for new audiobooks, I was interested.  Into the download folder it went…

This book started off differently, with a history of the Puritan ministers in Salem and Salem Village, as well as the conflict that existed among the villagers at that time.  Wood was already scarce, and whether a minister had to procure his own wood or have it delivered by the congregation was an issue that lead to some deep seated feuds over the years.  Who knew…  She gives several examples like this, where day to day relationships had been breaking down for years.  Add to that the fact that the Massachusetts Puritans seem to be really litigious, and you have a group of people who seemed bent on settling scores.  It makes all the finger pointing make a lot more sense, all of a sudden…

She pulls in the transcripts of the trials when possible, while pointing out that there are some trials that seem to have no transcript at all.  Even the most complete transcripts are mediocre at best, filled with summary, huge gaps and interspersed with opinion and bias.  What is clear from the transcripts is that the judges took confessions as fact, and denials as just another opportunity to wear down the accused.  I bet by the time I’d been in a filthy, cold jail with no food for months, I’d be willing to cough up a confession too if I were offered mercy.

Schiff breaks down the statistics of who went to the gallows; how many confessed vs. denied, how many had seen previous witchcraft allegations, how many were involved in a land or other legal dispute with another villager.  She also broke down the behavior of the judges and other key players long after the trial: who regretted, who repented, and who steadfastly stuck with their original decisions.  It is fascinating when seen in the light of day, and when considering who had something to gain by getting you out of the way…  In Puritan New England, just like now, it was a case of “be careful who you cross.”  It seems we haven’t changed all that much…

The Witches: Salem, 1692

 

Schiff’s book, although relatively long, makes for an interesting read.  She supports her findings with research – there are a lot of footnotes.  She breaks new ground on the topic, offering plausible background context for how the mass hysteria got underway and how it was permitted to continue.  Her writing style draws you in and kept my interest until the end.  A worthwhile read.

 

The Surgery that Wasn’t… Yet…

All has been pretty quiet in Biz news lately… He’s been doing well, using his three remaining front teeth and his mostly-worn-down molars to eat a complete diet of equine senior pelleted food.  Sometimes he gets beet pulp, if he likes it that day…  His weight has been good, and his skin has been good, and he’s overall just been hanging out – good.  I like that.

About 10 days ago I noticed he didn’t want me to look in his mouth at his incisors, which I do whenever I am out to see how they are doing.  At some point they are going to have to go.  Last Friday night he REALLY didn’t want me to look in his mouth…  NOT. FOR. ONE. SINGLE. SECOND…  He’s hurting…

Saturday morning I was on the phone with the vet’s office to discuss proceeding.  Antibiotics, painkillers and a vet appointment at the clinic this morning to x-ray and remove those last three teeth.  I was sure of it…

Well Biz had another thing in mind.  Because he can never do anything the easy way…  The incisors are fine.  Still stable.  Instead, it is the canine teeth; the two lower canines in particular.  And don’t get me started on why horses have teeth called canines?

Canines are harder to extract, because the roots are more deeply embedded in the jawbone.  It means a harder surgery, longer healing time, and more potential for complications, especially when both sides of the mouth are affected.  So his x-rays and photos were emailed off to an equine dentistry specialist, and my vet will consult on the best option.  Pull the whole tooth, or cut the tooth off at the gum line and let the gum heal over the root of the tooth.  Biz, it seems, already decided that the second option is the preferred method, because one of his upper canines has already broken off at the gum line, and the gum has healed completely over without us even noticing…  The body is a fascinating thing…

 

Getting down on his level – waking up from the sedative…

In a couple weeks, we will make the return trip up to the clinic for round 2.  Wish an old man luck!  Sometimes it’s hard being 30…

Sunset Solitude

The sunset last night was a stunner.  I walked out of work a few minutes before 6, and saw the light beginning to fill the sky; at the time I thought the light was fading and that the sun had already set…  I chatted with a friend who happened along as I was standing there watching, talking about the light. I then walked to my car, noticing the light was getting brighter and more colorful.

Had I made it to the beach just a few minutes earlier, the light would have been a bit more beautiful, and had I had more than just my cell phone with me… But I was happy to be greeted with this…

The peace and solace one finds when standing on a beach watching a particularly beautiful sunset.  It must be God’s way of saying, “You can keep going.  You got this…”

 

Walla Walla 2017: Relaxation

Day 2 – Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday morning Lelani and I were both up early (I mean remember I had basically slept the entire day before!), so we took a walk around the neighborhood and just enjoyed the quiet morning.

Historic Sharpstein Manor, Walla Walla

 

Historic Home, now apartments

We got back, had the hotel breakfast, relaxed some on the hotel patios, and then the whole gang wandered over to Bacon and Eggs for cocktails.  When on vacation you might as well go heavy on the relaxing!  We all enjoyed cocktails – I had a Grapefruit Mimosa – YUM!  Then we did a bit of shopping (Walla Walla has some really cool little shops), and found a shop called Trove that Paula loved, because their logo is a Fleur de Lis.  She loves Fleur de Lis, and Trove had some really cute stuff!  We also went to the farmer’s market, and checked out all the fresh produce and craft items. I got a pair of earrings and a pendant made from recycled glass bottles. They are gorgeous! Sadly, I broke one of the earrings (turns out glass earrings don’t fare too well when dropped on concrete), but I have been using the second earring as another pendant for now. Next time I am there I will be sure to get another pair of earrings – or several!

My Grapefruit Mimosa at Bacon and Eggs

We also went to the Museum of Unnatural History. It is a tiny little place, created and run by a guy named Gerry Matthews with a very strange and creative imagination. He spent his career working in the film and commercial industry.  Most notably, he was the voice of Sugar Bear, the mascot for Sugar Crisp cereal – now known as Golden Crisp.  I am sure everybody my age remembers the voice!  He then retired to Walla Walla and created this museum, a play on the many Museums of Natural History… Let me just say, Wow. There was just so much bizarre going on in such a small space…  The exhibits are – well, there are just no words.  He was there when we visited and he was happy to answer questions or dialogue about his creations…  Lelani and Joel LOVED it! Paula HATED it! Brandon and I were fairly neutral. Let’s just say I won’t be decorating my home in any of his motifs.  It just goes to show that we all have different tastes, and different creative minds.  If you want to visit, it is free (he accepts donations), worth a visit, and clearly a labor of love, but it is only open Saturdays from 10-2 or by appointment.  If you do go, I guarantee you won’t leave without an opinion! Keep in mind, I limited my photos here to the PG-13 stuff, but there is A LOT more to see.

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Saturday afternoon we went to the Morrison Lane tasting room. Morrison Lane is a family run winery, owned and operated by my friend Shawn and his family.  Shawn has been the winemaker for several years now, and the wines are delicious; I especially enjoyed the Rosé, the Syrah, and the Carmenere.  The bottles have artwork depicting the Lewis Chessmen, a group of 12th century chess pieces that were discovered at the Lewis Bay in Scotland in 1831. I love the tie in to history with the labels! Both Shawn and his parents are kind and personable, and love speaking with guests about their wine; we sat around for a while chatting and revisiting some of the wines.

Saturday evening we went over to Shawn’s house for his 50th birthday.  A backyard BBQ with amazing food; chicken skewers with peanut sauce, Thai noodle salad, pasta salad and lots of local beer and wine. We sat around talking and enjoying the hot Eastern Washington evening.  There was laughter – a lot of laughter – of the “what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla” variety!

 

Walla Walla 2017: An Inpromptu Pub Crawl

Day 1 – Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day weekend 2017 was a blast! My friend Brandon asked a bunch of us if we wanted to head over to Walla Walla for a long weekend getaway, and who am I to say no to a trip to wine country!  We were planning to relax, hit some wineries and breweries, and go to our friend Shawn’s 50th birthday party!

There was just that little bit of a planning hurdle… An issue, because I couldn’t drive that Friday. You see, I had a colonoscopy first thing that morning. Yep, that’s right. Even though I am only in my early forties, my family history has cursed me – my mom and great grand-father both had colon cancer at age 50; my GGF died at age 50 too from his cancer. So I get to enjoy this joyful rite of passage every 5 years! More often if I have polyps! So much YAY! Sorry if this is so TMI…  Seriously though, get those colonoscopies – they suck, but it is better than dying an early, painful death.  Ok, that’s it for the public service announcements.  On to some troublemaking…

Luckily, my friend Lelani was game for a wine weekend too and we met up after I had finished my procedure, eaten some breakfast and taken a shower. She generously chauffeured my heavily drugged up butt (no pun intended) down to the rendezvous point with Brandon and Joel, where we piled into the back seat of Brandon’s SUV. I brought along my favorite pillow and snoozed most of the way over, including sleeping through the giant Memorial Day weekend traffic jam on the mountain pass! Drugged travel may just be my new favorite thing – I slept through almost all of it!

Stopping for gas – I look so conscious!

We stopped in Ellensburg and went to the Iron Horse Brewery for lunch, although I have no real recollection of my lunch or beer there. Blame that whole drugged up thing. And yes, the doctor told me no alcohol, so don’t tell him or my mom I cheated…  I do remember the food and the beer were delicious.  I remember we sat at a table by the window, so that’s something right?  We piled back in the car, and we set off driving the rest of the way to Walla Walla. By we, I mean Brandon was driving.  And I went back to sleep for a longer nap!

Our other friend Paula met us there and our party was almost complete! We met at the Burwood Brewing Company, a brewery that is in a collection of buildings right next door to the Walla Walla airport.  It is a very cute setup; the other buildings have wineries and breweries, so it is a perfect area to spend some time.  (Note: while writing this post, I looked up Burwood and it seems they moved locations.) We had a beer at Burwood (the first one had long since worn off and I was awake now!) and sat out in the sunshine soaking up the warmth. I’m sure my friends had to tell me things that they had already discussed on the drive over, that I had slept through. Oh well!

The Walla Walla Airport Winery/Brewery complex

 

The gang at Burwood – sun!

We were by now getting hungry, so we made our way over to the hotel and got checked in and refreshed. We stayed right downtown at the Red Lion, so it was off on foot to find some grub! We wandered a little bit around downtown and settled on the Mill Creek Brewpub. The food was ok, but it didn’t knock it out of the park for me. I had a sandwich of some sort and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Clearly that whole day is a bit fuzzy…  The conversation was good though, and it was great to catch up with my friends!

After dinner, we did a bit more wandering around town, although to be honest, downtown Walla doesn’t really have much of a night life, which surprised me.  It is a college town after all, with a huge wine-making and and craft beer industry.  We stopped for a drink at Whitehouse Crawford, a restaurant which is located in an old factory building – the architecture was amazing.  I just had water there, so I can’t tell you how good the cocktails are, but they looked good!  Our friend Shawn met us there, and we spent some time catching up chatting.  It was great, since it has been years since I saw him!  When we headed back to our rooms for the night, I crashed and slept deeply!

The gang at Whitehouse Crawford