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Packing & More Birthday Suprises

Turning 54 isn’t so bad! I got calls from Bill, Erin and Katie. Connected with my sibs and mom, and wrapped up the day with a birthday serenade.

We finally bit the bullet and forced ourselves to get our packing done for the Europe trip. After a couple hours of pulling items from drawers and cupboards, and packing and unpacking items, I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.


Bill scored at the grocery store today! Sudoku puzzle cards! We’re try to keep those mental juices flowing during the 24 hours of flying and down time between Fairbanks and Brussels!


Bill finished replacing our new door knob after multiple trips to the hardware store for the correct specifications. We have a “special” door latch. Seems it’s not the standard size. After two trips to the hardware stores we now have a working door again!

Later I was sewing neck coolers for the trip when I heard laughter coming from outdoors. (I was braced for it after a mysterious telephone tip by someone with a unique French accent.)

Upon opening the door I was serenaded by three has-been chicks. Yup! It was the LLL gone big hair. They were pretty impressive singing happy birthday with a concertina back up while smoking bubble gum cigarettes at the same time. (Talented bunch I run with!)

Thanks for the wonderful birthday brightener ladies! (I didn’t ask where they were heading for the rest of the evening…..)


Can’t forget to mention the wonderfully healthy birthday muffin from “The -Not-So-Good” Kim.  Going to have to get this recipe!




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Walkers, Home Arew, and Apple Pie.

Tonight we invited some friends over to help celebrate our birthdays. Bill had whipped up two apple pies and I put together that easy mock tort recipe.

Decorating was easy. Forget the balloons and streamers. We decorated the house with this week’s Eagle Quality sales adds to dazzle our friends.






About 10 minutes before people began arriving while I was putting the finishing touches on the front door, (more Eagle Quality adds), I couldn’t get back into the house. The knob wouldn’t turn. Here’s Bill trying to get things fixed before people arrived.




We never did get it fixed. In fact we had to take the knob off.

Of course there were lots of gag gifts revolving around senior discounts, bad hearing, poor health…. etc. Check out “Bill’s Thrill and No Frills Airways”! That Kim Park. You never know what to expect with her!!!



Here’s Bill trying the walker out for a turn.




Wilcox’s gave us a bottle of their home-made red rasperry wine called, “Chateau D’ Wilcox”




Judy did a wonderful play on words for the hard of hearing that wished Bill luck in his flight instruction endeavers.




55 and 54 years old! Whew! where has the time gone?!?




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It's Double Nickles For The Birthday Boy!

Happy Birthday Bill!

Double Nickles: The Big 55!  And was he ever excited.  He now can shop at Eagle Quality on Senior Discount Day,  (every Thursday) for a 10% discount.  Here he is perusing his first adds…..


As soon as I returned from my trip south I called Eagle Quality and talked to supervisor Janessa to let her know what a big deal this was for Bill.  She jumped right on board and created  “Eligibility Requirements” for being “allowed” to shop discount Thursdays.


As soon as Bill left to do the shopping, I jumped on my bike and headed over to give the check out clerks the heads up.  When Bill came through the line they were to act like there was a problem.  Whether he was a “legitimate” senior.  The guy working the isle that Bill went through was great.  He called the supervisor and she came over with the official guidelines that he had to read and sign  in order to become an “official” senior discount customer.  It was at about the third clause when he realized he’d been had…..



 Janessa was great humoring my quirky idea of a gag.




Here’s a copy of the “official” guidelines.  One of them was:

“Your wife will know you’re a senior citizen when she wakes up to find you sitting in your bathrobe out on the deck with the pellet gun in your lap waiting to lay into those pesky squirrels raiding the bird feeder.


Happy Birthday Billy!  I love you!

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Back Home In Alaska

I did’t get back into Anchorage until after 8:00 pm. After Bill got a little dinner we headed to Chris, Robin and Aron’s place. Here’s Robin showing off her latest knitting project. Pretty fun!


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Oregon: The State Of Cherries and Roses

I have fallen in love with Oregon and am ready to go back.  June is a beautiful time to visit because the floweres are in bloom and the cherries are ripe.  The cherries are amazing!  We picked cherries from trees in Steve Richardson’s relatives  and Angela’s property.


The trees were loaded!


Angela and Ryan’s home was taken over by 11 people the night of the wedding.  Some slept in tents, some on couches, some on the front porch, as well as bedrooms. Though I didn’t get any picture, they live in a picturesque early 1900  home.

The next morning Steve and Teresa and Ryan shuttled 8 of us to the airport and the train station.  Katie and I were the ones heading to the train station.  Since we had lots of time to spare we got to go to the Portland Rose Garden.  Amazing!






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Congratulations To Mr. & Mrs. Taylor Austad!

What a nice wedding! The weather cooperated, the park was pretty, the wedding party and family relaxed and having fun.

Katie and Riley Norris posing before the wedding.


The Norris family were 6 of the roughly 20 Valdez guests. I took this picture as Riley was heading up the isle throwing rose petals.



The father of the bride and the bride.


More Valdez Friends.


Katie’s buds.


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Old Friends & Wedding Fun!

I had an opportunity to meet up with the parents of the groom and some fellow teachers from my staff at a little bistro in downtown McMinnville.  group-011.jpg


Sara and Brenda go way back. What a fun reunion for them!



I touched base with Katie when I returned to the hotel. The girls in the bridal party were throwing a little party for Julie. Check out the “beautiful” outfit they thought she should wear….



Group facials were the next part of the program. Here’ Hitomi, Julie’s friend who flew from Japan for the wedding.



Aren’t they cute?



Group Shot! (Sorry, it’s a little blurry!)



Sara was the big prize winner for the evening’s game.



Julie checking over tomorrow’s “To Do” list.


And because the big day is already here, I can tell you, so far it couldn’t be a prettier one. Blue sky and sunshine. All the best to the happy couple-to-be!


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I Think I Hear Wedding Bells!

Steve’s job in life right now is the official taxi service for this Richardson/Austad wedding. Yesterday he spent about 7 hours shuttling people from the Portland train station and airport down to McMinville.  He was at it bright and early again this morning. All he says he needs is a spreadsheet to follow and he’s a happy camper.



We decided this man needed a little recognition. Hence the “Richardson Transport Service” pin. Oh, the orange noise maker is to help herd those individuals that can’t stop talking and get into the van.




A busy day for the wedding party! Everyone headed over to the park where the wedding takes place tomorrow to get things spruced up for the event. Here’s Angela, the point person behind this production. Oh! And this is Jack, the latest addition, or “edition”, to the Richardson clan.



And this is: “The Book”. I’ve been seeing this just about every step of the way since arrival. It doesn’t seem to get too far from Julie or Angela. Sorry for the blurry pic! (Julie humored me with a pose.)



I personally think Taylor and Collin get the award for the most disgusting part of the clean up detail. I didn’t catch the picture of Taylor mopping the ceiling in one of the outhouses. Hmmm Don’t ask what was up there, but here’s Collin plugging away.



Everyone was great and pitched right in. Erin was on bleach mopping detail also.



Katie doing her part.


Yesterday Taylor had a bit of a monkey wrench thrown into the wedding event count down. Their car went on the blink. Luckily the place fixing it gave the happy couple a loaner. A big thanks to Jim Doran!



The happy bride-to-be and mother-of-the-bride!


Group discussion on where the wedding party will stand and folding chairs should be set up at the park.


It’s been fun catching up with Peter and Erin. A very fun couple!


Also fun watching good friends catch up! Teresa Harris, Katie, Sara Wilcox, and Nick Sorum.





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Last Leg Of The Journey

Mark dropped me off bright and early Wednesday morning at the MPLS Airport. My flight to Seattle was uneventful. I had a brief stop at Los Vegas where I was all set to try my luck on the slot machines scattered throughout the terminal. But I learned there are no coin operated slot machines at the airport, just bills or credit card. Soooo I faked it!


It was wonderful meeting up with Katie at Pacific Luthern University. We took her friend Christina, and Jess Holden out for Italian food. Jess looks great and seems to have all kinds of great plans for the future.


There are floweres in bloom throughout the northwest right now.  This lilac bush on campus was in full bloom.


I felt so pampered at Katie’s house! Her room mates were sweet, Katie gave me her bed while she slept on the floor, and there was chocolate, fresh flowers, and a gift waiting for me! What a sweetie! (the gift is a stamper of a little man holding a coffee cup with the words: “Thanks a latte” underneath.”  The LLL will be impressed!


Katie showing off her bed and cozy set up.


Dallas, one of Katie’s room mates, got us to the train station in plenty of time.


I loved using Amtrac. It was inexpensive, clean, spacious sitting areas, plug ins and tables for laptops, a movie to watch, fast food to order, and, did I say cheap?! The view was interesting and at times quite pretty as we headed south towards Portland.

Katie was kicking herself because she had forgotten to pack a deck of cards. Do you think that slowed her down?!? Not in the least. Here’s a picture of the deck of cards “we” made with some trusty notebook paper and pens. Yup, I got roped into helping too!


We had planned to leave our luggage at the Portland station and explore until late afternoon, but when we got off the train Steve and Teresa Richardson were waiting to wisk us away. (They were the wedding taxi service.) We headed on to the airport in their rented mini-van to pick up Sara Wilcox and Collin Duncan. Once that was accomplished we headed south towards McMinville.

I’d heard Seattle/Portland area traffic is terrible. It’s all true! It took a long time to travel the 30 miles from the airport to McMinville. Once there we had a brief chance to meet up with Julie and Taylor before Steve dropped us off at the Red Lion Inn.

Katie pretty much disappeared with her buddies for the night. That was fine by me. It’s given me a chance to catch up on my blog, check email, call home, and soak in a hot bath. Wonderful!

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Fun In The Cities!!

After a wonderful time with Bill & Erin at the cabin they headed down to Brainard on Saturday for the baptism of their new god child. I know how busy this summer has been so far for them. It was great having a little of it to share!

Sunday, after sprucing up the cabin, I took time to bike down the trail one last time, and walk around the cabin for one last look at the beautiful location Grandpa MacDonald picked back in the 1920’s. We’ve been blessed with a beautiful place to spend with family over four generations.





Zac and Bun picked me up  and we headed down towards Nisswa where we met up with Jody at a nice little coffee shop.


By the time Jody and I got through the “Sunday-coming-back-from-up-north” bumper to bumber traffic, and back to her place, Marilyn was there and Mark had burgers ready to throw on the grill.



Jody and Mark have a couple of new family members I needed to be introduced to. Meet Satch in his summer hair cut!


Jody and Mark have been taking Satch to puppy school. Here’s Jody showing off her new boysatch2.JPG.

I love Jody and Mark’s backyard! Between the tyle work, grill, grassy area, and flowers, it’s a wonderful place to relax on a sunny afternoon or quiet summer evening.



But that’s not all! Meet Sugar,  Jody’s parrot. She found him at a nursing home. The care Sugar was receiving wasn’t the best. After some complaining, Jody ended up taking him home with her.


Jody’s been working hard to train Sugar not to bite as well as to feel comfortable in their home, and learn a few new words.When you walk into the house it’s not long before you’ll hear: “Jody”, or “Hello”.


Monday morning we walked up and around the cornor to a wonderful little coffee shop. Great coffee, yummy rolls, and nice ambiance. I love getting my sister fix!


Monday was a busy day. After breakfast Jody took us to her work place. Drat! I didn’t have my camera with me so I couldn’t take pictures of the beautiful building she works in or some of the many great people.

We headed down to the St. Croix River and found a nice little place right by the water to eat at called “The Dock”. (Notice the paddle wheel boat in the background.)


Once again, no pictures for Tuesday. Another beautiful day in the city. Low humidity and a nice breeze. We ate breakfast in the back yard then out for a little more shopping in her neighborhood. We all scored finding wedding and baby gifts and a few things for ourselves.

Once again, Mark treated us to an early dinner of porkchops on the grill. After we ate and a few hugs, Marilyn headed back home.





Jody and I made a mad dash for some quick showers and headed to an awesome musical called, “The Doves”. Once again, no camera! Drat! This was a story of a Motown “has-been” group that makes a come back after many hassles getting back together. The actors were incredible and the music all Motown classics. I loved it!  It was the icing on the cake to a wonderful time with Jody, Mark and Mar in Minneapolis. Another leg of my brief vacation over too quickly. Jody and Mark were wonderful hosts. I hated to leave.




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