Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Remembering Ron

This morning one of our most favorite people in the world passed away. His name was Ron Faulkner. He was a Briton, a good cook, a great husband and a very funny fellow.

I met him & his wife Betty 14 years ago when I was going to school in London and needed a place to go for Christmas. My step-aunt & uncle introduced me to these people who they had traveled with on the Continent. Instantly the Faulkners made me feel right at home in their Bournemouth-area manor. I spent both Christmas and Easter holidays with them. After that, I saw them on two separate occasions in the U.S. when they were visiting friends in Oregon between 1995 & 2003. Then Ken and I visited them at their home en route to Italy in 2004 & again in 2006. They had decided in 2004 that their international traveling days were over because it was more difficult post-9/11 and harder on them, but they made one exception. In 2005 they attended our wedding in Salem, Oregon. I mention all the visits with them because each time actually felt like it would be the last. Ron and Betty were in their golden years when we met and because we spent a lot of time talking about ailments, tablets, hospitals and doctor's visits, it clearly was a huge part of their lives. (They even took me to the hospital where Ron had treatments as a stop on our sightseeing tour of the town and we ate lunch there.) Each goodbye was truly heartbreaking but when the next opportunity came to see them, our time together was precious and memorable. Today I reread all the sections of my journals that chronicle the times I/we have spent with Ron & Betty. Reoccurring themes: the food, people they know who are literally living treasures, stories Ron told and appreciation of their amazing marriage & true partnership. Despite the hearing aid and the pacemaker, Ron didn't miss a thing. He may have slowed down as he got older but he was still a man of the world. He met his wife Betty in grade school and he knew she was the one even then--this March they would have been married 62 years. He served in WWII in the British Royal Army as a nurse over in India. He grew a profitable business selling items to tourists at the English beaches in SW England. He traveled all over the world with his wife and enjoyed sailing on the QE1 & QE2 ships. He cooked very well and cracked funny jokes. He even introduced me to his version of Baked Alaska: a block of ice cream encased in meringue flash broiled in the hottest oven imaginable. Ron, we are better people for knowing you. May your rest in peace.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

San Juan Islands Trip: Video

This is a short video of our trip featuring a sea lion, alpacas, Mona the camel, Mt. Baker and a Ken Moore original song about eating carrots.

Monday, January 19, 2009

San Juan Islands Trip, Part 2: Orcas Island

Our favorite gas station.
The latter 3 nights of our vacation were spent on Orcas Island. The day we arrived the weather instantly improved from the fog & overcast. We stayed at the Resort at Deer Harbor which is now run by a travel club my dad belongs to. It is only through him and some quick thinking by Ken that we secured this fantastic little bungalow, situated on the water. With a gas fireplace, king bed, Jacuzzi tub and private outdoor hot tub, cable tv & VCR/DVD player—we were set.
The night we arrived, we could not think of anything more enriching to do than watch the classic and much praised Citizen Kane. I’m still not quite sure why this movie is regarded as so revolutionary except that Orson Wells directed, produced, wrote and starred in it under a contract with exceptional creative control in a time that studios did not give that up. His negative parody of newspaper magnate W.R. Hearst caused an all out media blackout of anything regarding the film in the many national media outlets controlled by Hearst. Clearly Orson Wells and the studio took a huge risk with this film and probably didn’t make very much at the time of its release. But now it’s very highly regarded. Check out this song by The White Stripes called “The Union Forever”—recognize those lyrics? First order of business on our first full day there was charging up Mt. Constitution. Normally you can drive all the way to the top but because of winter, they closed the road 1.5 miles from the top. We parked and trudged through melting slush and compact snow. The sun came out in late morning and there were odd warm breezes that came over us. They say the islands have a micro-climate all their own and I would agree. Ken and I were the only ones up there as we reached the lookout--the exclusive taking-in-nature party that no one else was invited to. We called Dad and told him we made it to the top, he couldn’t believe that I had voluntarily agreed to go on a three mile round trip hike. Little did I know that we would be doing another hike the next day too but it was welcome physical activity. The next day’s hike had a steeper ascent, no magical viewpoint payoff and took us longer. But there were a few cool things along the way. The restaurants on Orcas are plentiful and, unlike San Juan, tend to function year-round. We didn’t have a bad meal out the whole time. However, our complimentary continental breakfast at the resort left quite a bit to be desired due to the spoiled OJ and lack of options. But it was free and not heavy so we were fine with it. Shopping is better in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) but that wasn’t really our focus. I think we only ended up buying a book of sudoku puzzles, a cat toy for Oliver and some postcards/stamps on Orcas. Friday night was a banner evening because Ken got to have his favorite thing for dinner (crab) and I got to watch my most favorite show (Battlestar Galactica) which aired a new jaw-dropping episode. We’ve decided this vacation was a total success. While it didn’t start out exactly like we thought it would, good fortune and the “spirit of vacation” took over. We were surprised too because neither of us had even looked a computer in a week and yet the world did not end... But it came to our attention via concerned emails and voice mails that many of our friends and family didn’t know that we were away. Oops.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

San Juan Islands Trip, Part 1: San Juan Island

(To all of you whom we neglected to tell where we were last week, apologies.) Originally we’d planned to go to a tropical destination for this January vacation (the first extended vacation by ourselves since our honeymoon in 2005). But it just didn’t feel right given the economy and the fact that we wanted a truly laid back and restful vacation. Ken orchestrated all the research and booking for this San Juan adventure. We had wanted to get to Victoria but the ferry service to there from Anacortes shuts down in winter (and now we hear they may discontinue it permanently.) So began our trip to San Juan and Orcas Islands. On a physical level, a “vacation” is basically the opportunity to sleep in a different bed. For better or for worse, I find that as I’ve gotten older my accommodations have become more and more important to me. Gone are the days when I could sleep on the floor, a couch or squeaky, motion-transferring, saggy bed and awake rested. But that is part of traveling and expanding one’s horizons, right? So that said, you can imagine that the beds we slept on were less than optimal but we managed. The first day of “sight” seeing was more about us imagining what we would see if it wasn’t so foggy. All bundled up and virtually alone at every place we went, we wandered around the American Camp, Whale-watching point (no whales this time of year though), Lime Kiln Lighthouse and other various places along the water. We did see an elephant seal in the water and that actually was pretty exciting. San Juan Island definitely has a rustic, down-to-earth charm that the entire island shares—except for Roche Harbor. Re-imagined to be a yacht stop for the rich and famous, it is attempting to build-up with million dollar condos and high end shops. It’s currently serviced by one restaurant with overpriced, badly cooked food with terrible service. Needless to say, we were not impressed. But Roche Harbor did have this chiming clock tower that would play “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at Noon and 6pm. That became the theme song for this trip. Roche Harbor is also home to an eclectic and prolific sculpture park and the gaudy, unfinished mausoleum of the town’s founder John McMillan. Visiting in the off-season, we risked missing the most notable restaurants because they shut down for a few months. But the trade off of not having to deal with other tourists and always having a place to park made it worth the sacrifice. The only other time I had been to San Juan Island was with Austin, Angela & others about 6 years ago. Austin and I had stayed in a cabin while the others camped behind it. It was in a place called Snug Harbor. It took 2 days of driving by it several times to realize that this place was located just up the road from the B&B Ken and I were staying in. The B&B was a replica of a native people’s long house. It had been remodeled by the current owners to accommodate guests downstairs and be their residence upstairs. It faces a tiny inlet and is owned by delightful and knowledgeable island dwellers, Patty and Jerry Rasmussen. She is a former caterer and made us unbelievable gourmet breakfasts. On top of that, the first moment we arrived at the long house, Patty took out a map and marked all the notable things on the island worth seeing—this was extremely helpful. One of our most favorite things to do is to see/interact with animals. There are a few alpaca farms here on the island. Krystal Acres was nearby and had a store full of Alpaca products. I bought some gloves and socks but as we got to talking with one of the owners, I asked who their vet is. They indicated it was a woman named Jackie in Mt. Vernon who happens to be Shannon’s oldest sister, who also went to WSU and was my roommate (with Shannon) for a year. She is a renown Alpaca vet and they adore her. With this connection established, they offered for us to come have a look at the baby alpacas that they were weaning for subsequent halter training. One of the owners asked since I went to “school” with Jackie, if I too was a vet because they had some questions. Sorry to disappoint--but if you want to know how to download a game to your mobile phone, I’m your gal. Patty also told us about a lone resident camel named Mona who lived on a farm by the winery. She said we could take a carrot to Mona and feed her through the fence—everyone did it. She warned us to be careful because sometimes she spits. So on the last day on the island we found her and Ken became instant friends because he had the nice juicy carrot. While she looked so friendly and sweet, I’ve never been that close to a camel and I was envisioning that she would spit on us at any moment. But she didn’t. Up next, Orcas Island…

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Oliver in the New Year

Oliver is trying to be helpful. Here he is helping me put the Christmas Ornaments away. Good kitty.

Hello 2009

We spent our New Year's Eve with our worldly, delightful and (did I mention?) good-looking friends Sean & Shannon. Dining at Ponti for their prix fixe menu kept the choices easy and the conversation flowing. I did question the judgement of serving Monte Cristo dough balls with Huckleberries as dessert--seems like an odd heavy choice. But alas, we got to do what we love best: eat and engage in riveting conversation. But I must confess, Ken and I were in bed by 11pm. Oh the shame! 2008 was a tough year on many levels. To me it represented a sort of coming clean and shedding of unrealistic expectations in the economic and political arenas. Personally it was a year of discovering what is really important to me and letting go…a little. I am really glad that 2009 is here. It’s a clean slate that stretches out like a field of newly fallen snow. No footprints, no dirty slush--just endless possibility to place one foot in front of the other where no one else has stepped yet.
Photo taken from HERE.
Things I’m looking forward to in 2009: 1. The Obama Presidency 2. Depeche Mode’s new album 3. Playing more Rock Band & singing karaoke 4. Finding out who the final Cylon is 5. Eating strawberry ice cream this summer from Empire Ice cream 6. Listening to the “Day and Age” album by The Killers 1000 more times 7. Spending time with my beloved friends, family & husband 8. More blogging, twittering, googling and youtubing 9. Seeing Watchmen & Wolverine 10. Starting a monthly savings plan

Friday, January 02, 2009

Oliver and the Magic Flute

Ken noticed on previous occasions that Oliver responds to the sound of the flute. A few nights ago, here was the scene in our kitchen:

If you follow this blog or know Oliver personally, you also know that he can be aloof, uninterested and sometimes confused. But the flute seems to bring out the best in him. Even replaying this YouTube video in his presence gets his full attention. Ah, the mysteries of the animal kingdom.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Snow driving...remember that?

With the snow and the headaches of driving in it well in our rear view mirror, I thought it might be fun to just revisit some of the moments that made this Christmas truly memorable.