Sunday, November 4, 2012

2012 Vision Walk - Walk Comments

Collage By Ada Hoag

When I was a young boy the idea of being blind was the scariest thing I thought about. I couldn’t imagine how one could overcome the adversity of blindness.

I’m not sure why this was (maybe still is) such a hurdle to me. I grew up around people who were living with and overcoming adversity in their lives. Both my paternal grandparents were deaf from childhood due to scarlet fever; it didn’t stop my grandfather from having a successful career with IBM and being a constant champion for people with disabilities. My father was a deaf educator and the deaf community was a second home for me. I grew up with and watched kids and adults living with deafness and still leading full lives.

Seven years ago I learned that my boys have RP; it tore me apart to think about the impact on them. I was haunted again by my childhood fears. To help deal with my grief I turned to the Foundation where I found kindred spirits, started getting educated and found out what I can do to help. This has grown into a relationship of being engaged with foundation and a commitment to support the Foundation’s work through Vision Walk.

So ... I Vision Walk to build awareness and in that I try to build community; Vision Walking fills me with hope, hope that my sons and others living with and dealing with retinal degenerative diseases will overcome this adversity in their lives and achieve their aspirations and dreams. I walk to do my part to help find cures to these diseases.

2012 Election - Four More Years

My election blog ... also posted on FB.
This is my musings on why I choose Obama and in general why I choose the Democratic party.

1) Diversity – When I see an Obama crowd I see all the colors and nuances of our human rainbow. I know they select who we see in the filmed footage, but I also know the diversity is real. I fundamentally believe this diversity is key to the future of our country; engaging all people in the dialog is what Forward is all about for me. The policy choices in the next 4 years are limited; it is crucial that everybody be at the table, to provide their input and to understand and support the tough choices we have to make. Failure to work together, to listen to and consider all points of view and to be open to compromise and we will go backward; I don’t want to go back.

2) Leadership – Obama inherited a fiscal train wreck. Only one time in our national history did we have a more challenging economic situation – the Great Depression. In fact the Great Recession may have turned out much worse had our leaders not taken the actions they took. I credit Obama for being a steady hand on the tiller through these challenging seas of fiscal uncertainty. I also am aware that we cannot declare victory in our efforts to overcome the Great Recession, but I am certain that we cannot return to the policies of the past and be successful as a nation. I vote for four more years to continue to steady this nation’s economy.

3) Intolerance - Carl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, Mitch McConnell, the Koch brothers, Fox News and other persons and entities who seem to believe so totally in themselves and their ideas that they will not compromise. What are we to think when the minority leader of the US Senate, Mitch McConnell announces two years before the election that his number #1 legislative priority is to keep Obama a one term president? For the next two years our Congress was in gridlock and I primarily blame Republican leadership. The only compromise I remember was on taxes and only when “everyone” got what they wanted in the way of tax relief – extension of the Bush Tax cuts and extension of the Payroll Tax cuts. We can’t keep compromising like that and pushing off the tough decisions on our fiscal problems until tomorrow.

4) Humility - We need to share our ideas, listen to the ideas of others and work together; we owe this to our children. Inflexibility and intolerance are destructive and undermine the principles our country was founded on. I look at the increasing diversity of our great nation with hope and excitement.

If you haven’t voted please do.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

 On Saturday, May 19, 2012, Mary and I joined in with the Interfaith Habitat build on Ainsworth in East Tacoma. For me and like all Habitat builds for me, it was a chance to learn some new building skills. In this case it was the hard work of taking down concrete forms and laying foundation and roof drainage. I followed this with some work on sheathing another home. My hip started aching and after a great lunch provided by another St. Leo volunteer, I was so uncomfortable that I had to call it quits. Mary work on cleaning floors and then cleaning the concrete form pieces so they could be used on yet another new foundation. She also did some wall sheathing work, so we had a chance to work together for awhile before lunch.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, the Olympic Mountains were visible in the distance and we were with 7 other St. Leo friends and Donna who prepared lunch for us. Habitat builds are always a chance for me to feel like I am contributing and definitely learning new skills.  Thanks to Martha Scoville for making this happen.

Mike - May 19, 2012
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 - An Eventful Year

This is a look back on our 2009 - Happy New Year!

January – We welcomed in the New Year with the Taylors and Dan and Kathy Hanson at their home in Hood Canal. We made an outing to the Robinhood bar and grill where Kathy got most of us dancing and this lit a fire under all the patrons before we exited back to the house for games and to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

February – Mike and Mary (Anniversary 30) went to the Big Island for R&R. This included a trip to the East side of the island where we found lots of intriquing tidepools, ghost trees, a visit to Kilauea volcano and on our way back a kayak outing to the Captain Cook memorial where the snorkeling was fabulous.

March – The Zags made it through the first rounds of the NCAA tournament only to lose to Davidson in the round of sixteen. This loss was avenged at December’s Battle in Seattle.

April – Early in the month we were at Pacific City with Russ and Carol for the Birding and Blues Festival and volunteered to help with birding at the whale lookout. Late in the month we celebrated James’ birthday (26th) with a wine tasting weekend in the Yakima Valley. Saturday we met Mike Hogue who is famous in Washington wine lore for his connection to Hogue Cellars; Sunday Mike dropped the birthday cake, making a mess.

May – We met James and Ada at Snoqualmie Falls for a Mother’s day brunch. Memorial Day weekend we flew to Spokane to check-out wedding venues, and settled on Shenanigans for the rehearsal dinner. We stayed at the Davenport and spent time with Matt and Cara who were in Spokane doing wedding prep stuff too.

June – A predominant memory of June was our prodigious strawberry patch. I think we picked a million strawberries – clearly the best year ever in both size and volume. We are still eating them and will be well into the New Year. Mary had knee surgery and still picked strawberries. Our friends from Gaithersburg, the Gores visited. On Father’s Day we went to see the Mariners with James and Ada.

July – This was a busy month that started with a 2 night trip to Vancouver Island. We kayaked, drove to Port Renfrew and visited Butchart gardens; home July 3rd and then off to Hood Canal with James and Ada for Independence Day at the Hanson’s. Mid-month Mary travelled east to visit with her friends Ann Loveland and Jane Poston. Later, Mike flew to Knoxville and drove with Matt and Cara to meet Mary in Atlanta to celebrate Nancy Newman’s 80th, and Cara got to meet the Newman clan. We all returned to Knoxville and then Mike and Mary travelled to northern Michigan (not U.P.) to visit Ned and Nancy at their house on Little Traverse Bay. A day trip to Mackinac Island for bicycling and fudge provided a big water view of the Great Lakes.

August – Mike started yet another new role at Weyerhaeuser; the Technology group was reorganized. Mike continues to support Weyerhaeuser’s manufacturing operations. Late in the month Jay and Ada moved from Ellensburg to Redmond and James started school at Digipen.

September – Over the Labor Day weekend we visited Russ and Carol in Pacific City, recharging our PC batteries before getting into the fall routine. To that tune, Mary is back at school and Mike is travelling to Boise 2 times a month in his new job. On the way to PC we stopped at Apolloni to pick up some of the wine for the upcoming wedding.

October – The event of the year was Matt and Cara’s wedding celebration. Many fond memories including time spent with Cara’s family, breakfasts at Madeline’s, meeting Father Bruno, all the events and mostly having family and dear friends to share it all. The only regret was we did not find enough time to visit with everybody. Early in the month we met James and Ada to do the Brian Carter Wine Stomp.

November –A late summer/fall remodel project – new flooring, doors and some painting was wrapped up. We added new furnishings to the project including a new dining room table. The old table was gone before the new one arrived. On Thanksgiving our neighbors Fran, Jim and Maggie joined us for dinner at our make-shift tables. Fran and Jim are living in Richland but still own their house next door. Maggie is living there.

December – Parties and dinners with friends, a long-awaited wedding of two Faith-Sharing friends, a get away weekend in Seattle, early Christmas with James and Ada before they travelled to Peru, and Christmas with Matt and Cara.

Happy New Year 2010!

2009 Favorites:
Books: The Whistling Season Ivan Doig and The Guernsey Literary- Society by Mary Ann Schaffer (sp?)
Movies: Up, Gran Torino (we finally saw it), Brothers
Walks: Redondo Boardwalk
Bike Rides – The Foothills Trail – Orting to South Prairie

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why haven't you posted a blog

It's Thanksgiving Day and last evening my daughter-in-law, Ada asked me why I haven't posted a blog recently. First I asked her if she had posted anything recently (no I don't have a blog) and then I promised to post one today. It's today.

I had some ideas for today that I would go to St. Leo's for the Thanksgiving Hospitality coffee and treats, but I did not articulate it beyond the thought and so I slept in instead. It was 8:45 before I got out of bed. Mary made an early morning trip downstairs, but was back in bed when I woke up. I noted the time as I knew she had some prep work to get the turkey in the oven. She was up in an instant and we both trundeled downstairs; me to make coffe and Mary to start the prep. The first pot of coffee was called weak and when I tasted it I agreed (I must have missed the scoop count?). I made a second pot and announced it as sturdier than the first, a little something to chew on.
A significant facet of this Thanksgiving is the dinner table. In September/October we had a new floor installed on the main level of the house - the family living area. This project expanded into new molding and doors throughout and then new furniture and new carpets. Sometime in late October we said goodbye to our old red plaid couch (acquired in Gaithersburg almost 20 years ago) and our long lived dining room table (acquired in Moncks corner more than 30 years ago). Both, table and couch went to St. Vincent dePaul for someone else to use. As of today we have all our new furniture except for a dining room table., which I ordered in late October. If we are lucky it will be here before Christmas. This is what it looks like.

So we are having Thanksgiving dinner without a dinner table ... and James and Ada are here and the Pearson's are coming and we are without a dinner table ...
The turkey is in the oven - 10:30 AM so out of the oven around 4 and dinner at 4:30 plus or minus. I have been sitting around doing mostly nothing and Mary has been doing everything including coming downstairs while I was doing my back excercises to give me a kiss ... she is amazing. Last night we agreed that I would do some cleaning, but she is doing most of that too ... I am just sitting around doing my exercises and blogging. I guess somebody has to due it. Oh yeah I looked up a scripture reading and our dinner prayer as we ponder those people and events in our lives that we are especially thankful for this day. For me that is:
Matt and Cara's wedding and welcoming Cara into the family. The wedding was wonderful, getting to know Cara's parents, good friends and family, Father Bruno, Madeline's and all the wonderful events.
I am thankful for Matt's new job at Sacramento State aka Cal State Sacramento. It's still awhile before the new job starts, thankfully ... he has some dissertation work that he can now focus on without the regular disruption of another job interview. Congrats to Matt, I know he will be a great addition to the Cal State faculty.

I am thankful for family with special note today to James and Ada. It is so wonderful to have the two of them nearby in Redmond. I pray for gifts of work for them so that they can continue to pursue their dreams. And pray for safe travel to Peru for the holidays ... I know it will be wonderful to see her parents, sister and brothers, other family and friends. The last time Ada was home was just before their wedding in 2007.

I am thankful for my job at Weyerhaeuser and the new Manufacturing Support role I started in August. I think I may be meant to do something else in this life, but Weyerhaeuser has provided for much and given me plenty of growth opportunities.

I am particularly thankful for Mary who right this minute is downstairs talking to the turkey - two and a half hours into the baking. I have been blessed to have her in my life these 30+ years. There is so much more that I am thankful for, but I will leave that unspoken (or at least unblogged) and close with a ...


BTW - the alternative to a dinner table worked

Friday, August 14, 2009

Woodstock - I Wish I Had My Camera

Forty years ago this weekend my friend David and I hitchhiked from Rochester, NY to the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. We were both 17, soon to be starting our senior year in high school at McQuaid Jesuit. We had been planning all summer to go to the concert and had seriously considered pre-purchasing 3 day passes which I seem to recall were $25. We procrastinated and never did buy the passes, which famously were not needed for what became a free concert. Of course our parents didn’t approve of the hitchhiking, but they wouldn’t let us drive the family cars and they had no intention of driving us the 200+ miles to the festival site. My mother did however drive us to the entrance of the NY State Thruway where we found the first of our two rides that took us to this once in a lifetime event.
As I recall the first ride we got was in a VW microbus, I think I saw my first dreadlocks. Given the age of the folks already in the van when they picked us up, I expected they would be going all the way to Woodstock, but they dropped us off near Syracuse. The second ride was two college co-eds who were going to the concert, we were as good as there.
When we arrived, I presume it was Thursday afternoon/evening, August 14, I believe, we parked about a mile from the concert site and set up camp in the parking lot. We had brought a tent and basic food supplies for the weekend, and we had cash for food and tickets. We started the partying in the tent and by evening moved outside to watch the steady and endless line of traffic flowing into the festival area. Clearly the crowd had exceeded the capacity of the highways and planned for parking. You might expect people to be grumping, but everyone took it in stride. The incoming traffic became a slow winding pot party on wheels. Concert goers walked along side traffic and would jump in and out of cars for a toke or to share a toke well into the evening.
Saturday morning we woke in expectation of a day of music. Early on that morning, we heard the concert organizers had decided to forego tickets and make it free for all comers. Around lunch time we made our way to the concert stage. I seem to recall there was still a little bit of traffic, but it was really at a standstill. There were a few state troopers on hand, but their role was diminished by the size of the crowd, they stood and watched on. Pot, drugs and nudity were all accepted in the new town of Woodstock, already be proclaimed as the largest event of its kind ever. News was viral flowing mostly on rumors, but a consistent message that dominated the weekend was “this is a peaceful gathering”.
At the concert site, something of a natural amphitheatre which was a transformed cornfield on Yasgur’s farm. At 5:07 p.m. on Aug. 15, 1969, Richie Havens stepped onstage, played the opening cords of “High Flyin’ Bird,” and the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair was under way. I really do not recall the order of music, it would have been great to have had a digital camera. Events I recall following Richie Havens were Joan Baez singing about the governor of California Ronald “Ray Guns”, Jon Sebastian, Ravi Shankar. There may have been more, but they are dumped into the Saturday bucket in my memory. After the concert we found our way back to our parking lot tent through the meandering and still peaceful crowd.
After breakfast on Saturday we joined a large group headed off to find a place to swim. Some people were talking about people getting sick, but these seemed more rumor than fact. People would walk off into cornfields and liberate a few ears of corn (cattle feed corn) and eat it on the spot. We finally found the pond and joined in a swim. Perhaps needless to say with this crowd, but clothing was optional and not many were clothed. I really don’t remember if I was skinny dipping or not .. oh for that camera. After the swim David and I headed kind off on our own (if you can be on your own in that kind of crowd) and eventually approached the concert stage from what seemed like a stand of trees. Santana was playing at the time and the music sound tribal as if we were coming on a village in the jungle. We found a place in the crowd and sat down to enjoy one fabulous day of music. Shows I remember for Saturday included Country Joe McDonald and the Fish – he had us all singing a version of 1-2-3-4 what are we fighting for in a peaceful but vocal protest to the Vietnam War. Following throughout the day were Joe Cocker, Edgar Winter, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, Sly and the Family Stone – with a Gonna Take You Higher sing along and probably more.
By Sunday we were exhausted along with a whole lot of folks. There was some rain so we stayed close to our tent or other cover. It may have been that the concert was postponed for the rain. We did not make it to the concert site until the evening. Through the night the crowd slowly started trickling away and still sleepy I found myself dozing as the music played through the night. I recall Paul Butterfield (Dave Sanborn was playing with the group at that time) and Crosby Stills Nash and Young. I know there were other performances that night, but I they are only in my dreams. And in the early morning hours of Monday, August 18, Jimi Hendrix and his newly formed Band of Gypsies made it to the stage, the closing act for the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival.
When the music ended we were a weary and diminished crowd, more survivors than celebrants, passive, perhaps stunned, in small groups in the muddy fields and hills overlooking the stage. It was as if I had lived a dream where a city of a half a million people had come together with a common purpose and a message of peace and celebration, and we got the attention of the world. Woodstock was three days in the garden and I am proud to have been a part of it.
As I recall David was barefoot and shirtless at the end of the concert. The tent was gone, perhaps a conscious decision to not go back and get it. As we strategized on how we would get home we ran into a school friend who unbeknownst to us had driven to the festival and had room in his car. Go figure.
When we got back to school from summer vacation our first assignment was to write on what we had done that summer. I know I wrote about Woodstock … I sure wish I had that essay along with a few digital pictures. My only Woodstock memento is the Woodstock bird which my mother embroidery on a Levi’s pant pocket. The jeans are long gone, but the embroidered bird sits in a box on my dresser, a treasured memento of a younger day when I learned how to make a dream come true. My Woodstock trip was a dream come ture.
“We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon, And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.” CS&N

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bubba Strawberry

Strawberry Hill is a 40' by 6' patch of strawberrys on the rise between our yard and our neighbor's (the Pearson's) yard. The strawberry's were in the hill before we moved in, so before 1995 and have produced a crop every year.

The strawberry crop comes on in June and has been reliable for some summer beverages, smoothies, oatmeal and freezer bags for the winter months. About 3 years ago we removed a hedge that sat between the two yards at the top of Strawberry Hill and since then the strawberries really took off. This year's crop after a good dose of fertilizer after we finished picking last year's berries has been the best ever. We are eating over a quart of strawberries each day between Mary and me with smoothies or in oatmeal, Friday we had strawberry daiquris with our neighbors and this afternoon a strawberry milk shake. On top of this we probably have put 4 gallons in the freezer.

Picking strawberries for a snack is really pretty quick and easy, but start picking by the gallons and it is a chore. As you might expect they aren't all readily visible, you need to get down on the ground and push the leaves out of the way or turn them over to reveal the ripe berries. Early in the season you are competing with the slugs and the squirrels, but as the pace picks up there is way more than these critters can keep up with and the buckets start filling up. And then after you pick them you need to cap them and clean them befor eating. Cleaning and capping is not hard, but it does take some time ... no different than if you buy them at the grocery store, but remember we are working in gallons.

More than half of the fresh berries (and probably 80% of the frozen berries) go into smoothies, which are a pretty regular breakfast for the two of us. I also like to put them in the bottom of the bowl before I add some hot oatmeal (Mike's Macdamia Blueberry Oatmeal).
Last week Mary was inspired to make a strawberry cream cheese pie which always reminds me of our visit with Anne and David Jones when they lived in Steam Boat Springs, we visited just days before their first daughter was born.

Picking last for 3-4 weeks and there are plenty of berries for our friends and family. And as the season winds down the freezer is loaded with fresh frozen berries for smoothies through the winter. The 2008 frozen strawberries lasted until early May 2009 so we don't go long without strawberries here.
And not too long after the strawberries are gone for the season our blueberries start to ripen and this year's crop looks to be a doozy too!