I’ve spent the last several days getting my social media on for Pierce County (Washington) Hunger. If by some stretch of the imagination I haven’t asked you to check our blog, “like” our facebook page, or follow us on Twitter (@PCHunger) it was merely an oversight. Do that right now. Thanks.

I’m out of this for today, but I’ll be back later.

Brain Games

They’re starting a new 7-week course at Senior University here at Tobey Jones, on Brain Games. Big Al and I heard the orientation last week, and it sounds like it will be fun – as well as helping my cotton-wool brain start to retain more. If it works – great!

I’ve been checking in on Lumosity for the past week, and I’m enjoying the workouts, but who knows whether it’s doing any good.

I already work crossword puzzles, Sudoku, play “7 Little Words”, and “Words with Friends”. Other suggestions are blog (check), read (check), knit (check), exercise (check), sleep well (check), eat right (check), etc. I also play bridge, play solitaire on the computer, and research my ancestry.

In any case, whether the Brain Games do me any good or not, they should be fun.


This is a re-post from last year’s Father’s Day post. I’ve posted this several times, but I can’t do any better on Father’s Day.

(This is the eulogy I gave at my father’s funeral.  He died in May 2008 at the ripe old age of 96.)

Papa’s obituary was correct and factual and in that way it matched him.  He was an engineer, and he was nothing if not correct and factual.

For those of you who are touchy-feely personalities, you probably thought it was terribly dry, and you don’t really have a feeling for the man whose life I honor today.

But correct and factual actually embodies him better than many of the other things I can say about him.  That’s not to say he was uncaring, or cold – unless you think the rock your life is built on is uncaring or cold.

To me, he was strong, solid, dependable, deep, supporting, and faithful – qualities I’d opt for any time over sweet, sentimental, emotional, sensitive and demonstrative.

I remember in the movie “Love Story”, the main character was estranged from his father, and said “My father never wrote letters to me, he sent Memos”.  When we heard that my sisters and I looked at each other and said, “So???”  Papa used to always send us memos in school.

To:  Abbie

From:  Papa

Re:  Funds

Do you need any?  How are your grades?

Love, Papa

When Ray was just 2 months old, I became gravely ill.  Al and I were still in college – Al was about to graduate – we had NO money – we didn’t know what to do.  So Al put Ray and me on an airplane and shipped us back home.  I ended up in the hospital for three weeks, Mama was working at a new job, so during that time, Papa took vacation from work and stayed home to take care of the new baby.

I don’t know many grandfathers who thought their “baby days” were over, who would have done the same, but there was never any question about it with Papa.  He just did what needed to be done.

Papa loved to fish and, although he was a loyal churchman, we occasionally could convince him to take us fishing on Sunday mornings – particularly if he had caught a line full on Saturday.  In Arkansas during the summer the only time the fish will bite is early in the morning – right during church.

I remember my sister and I convinced him to take us on a float on Little River one Sunday morning from Cerra Gordo, Oklahoma to Little River Country Club.  Someone would drive us up-river where we would put in about dawn, and then we would float back down to the club.  As I said, this was a Sunday morning, and Papa’s conscience must have gotten the better of him, because we did the middle three miles singing “Love Lifted Me”, “Shall We Gather at the River” and all the other good old revival songs at the top of our lungs.  We sang the verses and Papa provided the oompa-pas.

As an engineer, he always loved to stick his head under the hood of any car around.

That’s Papa with two son-in-laws, two grandsons, and his only son.

Mama was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1993.  Papa took over running the house as Mama became less and less able to keep up with things.  But he didn’t do it like a woman would, he did it like an Engineer with schedules, and flow charts, and checklists.  And he never complained.  He didn’t take up cooking, he took up shopping for microwavable dinners.

He let Mama keep doing the wash – because it was one of the things she could still manage, until the day she emptied the trash into the clothes washer and started it running.  Papa was taking a nap in his recliner in front of a baseball game when he heard a terrible rattling and clanging coming from the laundry room.  Empty bottles and cans were agitating in the washer!  But he didn’t fuss.  He just cleaned out the machine, and put a lock on the sliding door.  He continued to care for her at home until the sibs and I finally convinced him that it wasn’t doing either one of them any good.

He was a great tease and kidder.  It is one of the things that never left him, even at the end of his life.  Clara, one of nurses in the health care unit, said a few days before he died, he was semi-conscious, and she had just finished taking his blood pressure.  She leaned over him to straighten the linens on the other side of the bed and suddenly he popped his eyes open and said “Boo!”  Then he just grinned.

While we lived in New Jersey, Mama and Papa became friends with one of the preachers at the church and his wife.  Orville and Margaret Austin remained friends for 30 years, even though they moved away in 1963.  They really enjoyed playing bridge – men against the women – because the women claimed the men didn’t really know what they were doing.

I think about 7 o’clock last Monday evening, Orville and Margaret and Mama were gathered in heaven to meet him with the cards already dealt.  “Sit down.  What took you so long?  We’ve been waiting for you for 10 years.”

He was my foundation, my rock, my underpinning, my support!  He was my father, and, although we had him many years longer than the biblical three-score years and ten, it was still too short a time.  Someone once said, “You are old when there’s nobody left to whom you are a little girl.”  I miss him.

Chateau St. Michelle Winery and Garden Tour

Yesterday, we loaded in the Tobey Jones bus and rode to Woodinville. It was a fairly long trip (1 hr 15 min), but it was pleasant and we went at the time of day when traffic wasn’t too awful.


We were visiting the Chateau Ste Michelle Winery and Historic Gardens.


The Winery is on the site of the historic Hollywood Farms dairy and garden.

Hollywood Farm

It was called Hollywood Farms because some of the first landscaping in 1910 included rows and rows of holly bushes.

We took a tour of the gardens when we first arrived because rain was threatening. Our tour was conducted by one of the Master Gardeners on the staff there. We waited in front of the château near some impressive outdoor art.


From our vantage point we could see a giant Red Oak and an enormous Copper Beech. (I haven’t seen a Copper Beech since we were in England, and this was a magnificent specimen.)

Copper Beach

From there we walked by a Beauty Bush,

Beauty Bush

and another bush that I think is related to the hemlock, but the guide said she didn’t know of a common name for it. Its real name is Tsuga Canadensis Var. Pendula.

Tsuga Canadensis

There we also ran across some more outdoor sculptures.


From that vantage point we walked up to the rear of the original house, and saw the lawn where the children used to play, with Cypress near the house and Norway Spruce guarding the pool. (I don’t think I got the Cypress in the picture, but I was confused because they didn’t have their feet in the water and there were no knees visible. I guess I’m just too used to seeing Cypress in the swamp in the south.)

Japanese Maple and Fountain

That’s a lovely Japanese Maple in front of the pool.

We walked around the side of the house and saw a Variegated Western Red Cedar that had grown up and made a wonderful playhouse under the branches for the children. I can just see them swinging on the “ships bow” branches, and using them for chairs and hammocks.

Playhouse under the trees

We then proceeded around to the front of the house.

Main House (2)

Down a short path we found the trout pools. Apparently the Stimsons used to send one of the workers out with a net shortly before dinner each day, and he would come back with a fresh trout for the first course. Now that’s FRESH FISH!

Trout Farm

We finished up the tour at the wine tasting room.

Tasting Room

It was just beginning to sprinkle, so we happily went inside to sample the wine. This winery gets its grapes by truck every day, but doesn’t have many vines.


After purchasing several bottles of wine, we reloaded the bus and drove down the road to the Redhook Brewery and Pub for lunch.



The sun came out while we were eating, and we had an uneventful trip back to Franke Tobey Jones in Tacoma – home by the middle of the afternoon.

Lunch Bunch

The Franke Tobey Jones bus loaded up and headed off to Gig Harbor for lunch on Friday.


We headed across the Tacoma Narrows bridge


photo: Washington State Dept of Transportation WSDOT

Before long we arrived at Gateway to India for a wonderful Indian buffet lunch.

IMG_1038 - Copy

Most of the folks had never tried Indian food before, but they all said they enjoyed it. Winnie McNair and Mary Damonte,


Jan Shearer…


and Shirley Robbins, the concierge for the Garden Apartments, who went along as our “chaperone”.


We were all entranced with the light fixtures. Delicate embroidery with little mirrors in the circles.



Big Al particularly had a good time, because he LOVES Indian food and we hadn’t found a good Indian Restaurant until now. (He looks happy dreaming in the sun waiting for everybody to load the bus for the ride back to Tobey Jones.)


I was happy, too, since I got my fill of murgh masala, vindaloo, aloo, biryani, and garlic naan. YUM!


Birds at my Window

Not enough people signed up to go on the Bingo Cruise yesterday, so we didn’t get a chance to go. And it was a BEAUTIFUL day, and would have been great out on the water.

This afternoon I do my presentations about Birds at my Feeder as part of the Senior University here at Franke Tobey Jones. I’m a little nervous, but I figure I know as much as (or more than) everybody else there. I think it will be pretty good with the pictures I have, and using my iPad app for the sounds each one makes.

As I sit here, I can see a couple of Goldfinch, (One of the Goldfinches is part albino, I think, because he/she is completely white where he/she should be yellow or olive, but it still has the black wing bars.)


a bunch of Pine Siskins,


a Robin,


and a Grosbeak.


The hummingbird was here earlier (it likes the hanging basket even though I don’t have a hummingbird feeder).


I haven’t seen the Western Tanager in a couple of days, but I think the pair is still around.


There are also a bunch of chickadees (both black-capped…


…and Chestnut-backed). They are so funny. They come to the feeder and nip in a grab a seed, and then fly off to the tree to eat it.


Those are just the regular visitors my feeder. I also have several kinds of sparrows, the Flicker, and the Stellar’s Jay that I posted about here. All in all, I have over 30 birds that visit my yard, and we see several more in the woods at Point Defiance, and by the Sound.

Summer is here

It’s going to be in the mid-70s today. We should be finished with temperatures in the 50s during the day. The sun is out – the birds are twittering – the season of trips is at hand.

It’s a busy week this week. Yesterday, I had a dentist appointment (all is well). Last night we had a meeting of the Pierce County Hunger Alliance, and we’re looking at getting more organized there.

Today is Bridge day, along with Tai Chi.

Tomorrow I’m going on a boat ride on Lake Washington.

Thursday, is Tai Chi, and then I’ll be presenting “Birds Out my Window” for Senior University with pictures of all the kinds of birds here in Washington.

Friday is Lunch Bunch – going to an Indian Restaurant.

Life is full – the skies are blue – it’s a great day in the Pacific Northwest.

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