Saturday, November 27, 2010

Western Washington University Women's Basketball

Last night Wayne and I treated ourselves to a Western Washington University women's basketball game.

Western Washington University
began as a "normal school" focusing on the preparation of women to become teachers. It has evolved into one of six state funded universities in Washington. There's still an emphasis on the field of education, but the over 13,000 students also receive undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, environmental studies, the arts, humanities, science and technology.

Western has a dynamite women's basketball team. This was our first game and we had a great time. It happened to be the first night of a two day tournament. Western played California State University East Bay with a 68 to 39 win. They followed that up with a game this evening against Montana State Northern.

At the half there was a chance for local second graders to play a "game" on the university court. The Blues vs. Reds did an admirable job, with one future star scoring a basket to the roar of the crowd.

Western is the host of many sports and performing arts events. Check out their schedules. There is probably something that you'd really enjoy. -- Margy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Special Friendship

I would like to introduce a special friend who has helped me immensely over the last ten months. Her name is Jeanne. She started as a good friend of my husband Wayne. In fact, on our first date, Jeanne brought cookies for our flight to Catalina Island.

Over the years, we've shared our home and lived near each other. Last January, Jeanne chose to move to Bellingham and found a place across the hall from Mom. Jeanne is a great cook and baker. In fact, she makes most of our dinners when we are in town. When she isn't making something gourmet from scratch, you might find her in one of the local bakeries or specialty shops.

It was fun to have Jeanne come to Powell River to see our special home up the lake. While she was there, she got her first taste of quad riding. Jeanne rode Wayne's red Kodiak and, for a change, I got to be the lead. She also got to go to a Kings hockey game with our good friends Dave and Marg -- friends meeting friends.

When Mom was in the hospital and rehab, Jeanne came to visit all the time. She brought Mom little treats. With all that yucky hospital food, they were really appreciated. Mom also enjoyed all the gossip Jeanne brought from the condo coffee klatches. Jeanne's visits helped Mom reconnect with her life before back surgery. That was a very important part of the healing process.

Now that we are home, Jeanne has become one of the family. She fixes Mom's breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She runs errands, helps with cleaning, and most importantly, shares her time with Mom. They are good friends, and that makes Jeanne an even more special friend of mine.

Do you have a special friend? I sure hope so. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Historic Fairhaven

Bellingham has it's old town sections. One is called Fairhaven. It's a quaint district along the bay with historic brick buildings, restaurants of all types, and numerous little businesses perfect for window shopping.

This monument commemorating the city's start sits in front of an old warehouse on the seawalk/bike path. It's a lovely place for a stroll and picture taking. Fairhaven was established in 1883 by the principal land owner Daniel Jefferson Harris in hopes that it would become the western terminus of the Great Northern Railroad. It didn't and the once booming turn of the century town fell on hard times.

Fairhaven is a favourite place for several blogging friends to meet. Mary Beth comes a little ways north from Stanwood to meet up with Betty and me for several hours of coffee, sweet treats, and browsing. Several of our favourite haunts are the Eclipse Bookstore and Village Books (makes us sound a bit high brow), and Avenue Bread (for our coffee, treats and a loaf for later).

You can find Betty at her blog called Mud Creek Mama. Mary Beth has several blogs. I don't know how she does it. One is more than I can handle. She has Small City Scenes of Stanwood, Holy Houses, day4plus, and Country Charm. Do you have any blogging friends you meet with? What kinds of things do you do? - Margy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Snow Dog

Where our good friend John goes, so goes Bro. Or maybe it is the other way around. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

When John takes his quad for a ride into the bush, he's never alone. Right behind in his own handmade plush box is John's Black Lab named Bro.

Bro likes riding in all types of weather, but his favourite seems to be winter. He's a true "Snow Dog."

The only thing that Bro doesn't like about snow is when it rains down on his head from alders weighed down with a fresh accumulation of the white stuff. First it lands on his head, and then it piles up in his box. Between stops, it makes for a cold nose and butt.

John is always looking for ways to keep Bro warm and comfortable on the trail. A sweater and raincoat keep his body warm. Then there's a hoodie for his head and ears. It may not look dignified, but seems to be a welcome addition to his winter attire.

When he reaches the destination for the day, Bro knows there will be a tasty lunch of crunchy dry food topped with tongue licking good sardines. For dessert there will be pieces of John's sandwich, cookies and muffin. When the meal is done, he enjoys sharing the spectacular views with his human buddy. Man truly is dog's best friend.

Do you know someone who has a pet partner like Bro? Tell us their story. -- Margy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

TV Ears Saved our Family Time

You see it on TV, hear it on the radio, see adds in newspapers and magazines. Claims are big, so you are skeptical, can it be true?

There's lots of hype for a product called TV Ears for people with hearing difficulties. One of Mom's hearing aids died and getting to the doctor for a new set was problematic. The result was VERY LOUD television volume. That made it tough on the rest of us in the room. So I decided to give TV Ears a try.

You can purchase them online for a lot less, but I got Mom's at our local Radio Shack. Easy is worth something I guess. It took a few days for her to get used to the knobs, but now Mom is proficient at adjusting the sound to match her hearing needs. An overnight charge lasts about 10 hours and the ear buds are comfortable, even over her remaining hearing aid.

The add says, "It saved our marriage." For us, they saved our family TV time sanity. We only wished we had purchased them years ago. But better late than never.

If you have someone in your life who needs help with hearing television, give TV Ears a try. We're glad we did. -- Margy

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bellis Fair Mall

On any given weekend, or weekday for that matter, I can find many of my fellow countrymen (and women) shopping in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is the closest major city south of the Canadian border on Interstate 5. That makes it a strong draw for shoppers, especially now that Canadian and US dollars are close to par (equal value).

Some of the prime shopping locations include Walmart, CostCo and Bellis Fair Mall. The mall is strategically located near the intersection of Bakerview Road and the Guide Meridian, both of which can be easily reached from I-5. For shoppers who want a more leisurely approach, The Guide has a border crossing at Lynden/Aldergrove. That is our crossing of choice.

Canadian shoppers are attracted by low prices, excellent value for their dollar and lower taxes. Even if they don't stay long enough for a personal exemption ($50 after 24 hours, $400 after 48 hours, and $750 after seven days), paying the required duty still makes purchases a bargain. Locals also enjoy the wide variety of department stores and specialty shops scattered throughout the indoor mall. Grab a bite at the food court, or take in a show at Regal Cinemas, Bellis Fair has something for everyone.

On the corner of the mall, but tucked away from the hustle and bustle, you'll find the Centre Pointe Condominiums. We chose it as the perfect location for Mom. It's close to the border for us to visit frequently, near excellent medical care including St. Joseph Hospital, and within walking distance of shopping and restaurants. And views of lofty, snow-capped Mt. Baker top it all off. -- Margy

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pacific Northwest Plants: Amanita


Today I took a walk to the mall. On the way back, I found mushrooms bursting through the soil in the parking lot planters.

I'm not much at mushroom identification, but I found an excellent site called Rogers Mushrooms. There is a feature you can use for visual identification.

Based on a search through the site, I believe these are different stages of a mushroom called Amanita. It starts out as a firm, bulbous cap that is white to cream. The upper surface is scaly. As it matures, some of the caps get an orange tint, especially those in direct sunlight.

It was a sunny, warm morning after two days of heavy rain. The mushrooms were growing at the base of pine trees in planter soil that was littered with tree mulch. The mature caps became concave, splitting the flesh in several places.

Do you know mushrooms? Maybe you can help me with the identification. -- Margy

Monday, November 01, 2010

Stick on the Job

Do you know any working pets? Many are high profile such as guide dogs, hearing dogs and guard dogs. You have sled dogs, herding dogs and hunting dogs. You even have therapeutic horses. But you don't often hear about working cats.

What are some jobs for cats? Well, there's the tried and true mouser. Or maybe you'll find a cat "working" in a shop, greeting guests at a B&B or helping out in a nursing home or hospital. All of those pats and pets are good for the patient as well as the working feline.

After twelve years of leisure, our cat Stick Tail has a job. In 2007, he moved to Bellingham to live with my 91-year young mom. When we are in town, we get visiting rights. But the majority of the time he is on the job up in her condo. Here are some of his tasks:

  • Begging for food even if the dish isn't empty
  • Sitting next to her to watch the Wheel of Fortune
  • Crawling in bed after breakfast so it can't be made
  • Staring at the fireplace until it is started
  • Giving her ball of yarn a big whack
  • Sleeping, sleeping and more sleeping

It's a demanding job, but someone has to do it. Who better than Stick (Mom calls him Kitty Cat). Stick now has an even more important role. His picture helped Mom stay grounded through four long weeks of hospitalization and rehab following back surgery. Now that she's home, his furby kind of love is just what the doctor ordered.

Do you know a working pet? Let us hear his or her story. - Margy