August 2013 with Grandma

Day 1 with Grandma

29 August 2013

Johnny Walker Gold for my arrivalIt’s time for another trip with Grandma! I arrived last night in time for steak dinner with baked potatoes, peas & salad, and since Grandma had already enjoyed all the Johnny Walker Blue Label I got her for Christmas, she decided to open a bottle of Gold for us to share. We were still talking at 11pm when we decided we should get to bed!

Grandma slept in much longer than I did, which was fine for me to have a leisurely morning the first real day of my vacation. Of course it rained overnight and was still raining off and on, the first rain they have had here in 60 days, a rare dry summer for Seattle! Glad it waited until I arrived…hrmph! We finally decided since it was only spitting off and on, we should still take the Kingston Ferry then drive down to Bainbridge Island where I’d never been before. Since there are too many stairs, Grandma stayed in the van while I enjoyed the wind in my hair up on deck, including some iPhone panorama fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Panorama from the Kingston Ferry

Silly Hair Britta on the Kingston FerryWe were lucky that the rain stayed away for our ferry crossing, so I stayed out on the deck the whole time. It was so windy it was hard to keep my eyes open for a photo, especially when the sun finally came out, but the funny curlicues in my hair in this photo really cracked me up! I even caught the return ferry in the background.

Wine Tasting at Eleven on Bainbridge IslandWe drove through some nice trees across one small bridge to Bainbridge Island, parked and thought we could walk up and down the little street to see what shops or restaurants looked interesting. I saw a wine tasting room across the street so I suggested we go there first, then walk down that side and back up the other side of the street to the van. Eleven Winery is carbon-neutral, and says all their profits will go to charity. No chardonnays (woohoo!), the pinot grigio, Viognier and a Donella were quite good, and their syrah port was sold out but their white port was too sweet for Grandma but excellent for me!

Torrential Downpour!By the end of our wine tasting the sky had turned gray, and it started pouring down hard! Even Grandma was shocked at how heavy it was! We were hoping it might let up enough to keep browsing, so we looked in the shop next door since there was a wide overhang, but it just got worse and worse! Grandma had left her umbrella in the car, so I took my raincoat out of my bag, ran to get the van & drove down to pick her up. My shoes were soaked pretty good by the time I got Grandma and her walker into the van! We decided we could at least drive around the rest of town to see what we could see before we left for home, and maybe find somewhere to eat dinner.

Lovely marina view dinner at Doc's Marina GrillI had googled Bainbridge Island on my phone and found a whole bunch of restaurants, including one called Doc’s Marina Grill that sounded good and not too expensive. In our driving tour we turned a corner, and there it was! It was still raining hard so I dropped Grandma at the curb and parked. Grandma was to chilly in the slight breeze or it would have been nice to sit on their covered open patio. Even inside in our booth we could still see the nice view of the marina.

The actual marina view from Doc'sGrandma thought their margarita sounded tasty, so I decided it was Margarita Thursday this week since I’m missing Margarita Friday back home! Grandma had tempura prawns & chips, and I had Dungeoness crab risotto, and I still have leftovers. Very tasty!

Driving in the rain on Bainbridge IslandIt was still rush hour time so we didn’t take the ferry to Seattle to make a loop, so we drove back north the way we came, waited another half hour for the return ferry, then after a quick grocery shopping trip in Edmonds, we were home by 8:30pm. Grandma wanted to go to bed early but I looked at my watch while we were talking at it was 11:30 already…oops!

Tomorrow we’re having lunch in Bellevue at my aunt’s house with a couple of my grandma’s friends. Sounds like it might be all ladies who lunch? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day 2 with Grandma: Ladies Who Lunch

30 August 2013

Carol, Doug and DaisyToday my aunt Carol invited my grandma, two family friends, and me for a nice lunch at their house in Bellevue. Here are Carol, Doug and their new dog Daisy in front of their house. I haven’t seen it with the shutters, and rarely in summer when everything is blooming, even her windowboxes! She has a gorgeous garden.

Carol and her famous Pavlova dessertLunch was delicious, with individual quiches for each of us, dinner rolls, and a salad of poppy-seed dressing over lettuce, red onions pears, oranges, pecans and feta cheese that was so good I had two full helpings, and Carol loves making her famous Pavlova, this time with summer peaches…yum! Grandma was so full from lunch all she had for dinner tonight was a few tortilla chips!

Daisy is a cutie

Carol and Doug got a new little dog Daisy a couple years ago. She is a cute little thing, and weaseled her way into the dining room where she wasn’t supposed to be. Funny how she blendsDaisy enjoys tummy rubs into the carpet!

She obviously wanted her tummy rubbed more than pets on her head or back! I could barely get a photo of her without her tummy bared to the sky! ๐Ÿ˜‰

These are the schoolhouse where Grandma taught, the Clouston house, and the Bergstrom house, all in North Dakota. I’m not sure I have these photos in my family collection, so I snapped a quick pic so I can Schoolhouse, Clouston house and Bergstrom house in North Dakotadouble-check in my copious notes for Grandma’s biography project.

Ladies who Lunch, taken by DougWe were done eating by probably 2pm, but we were still chatting until after 4pm! Joanne is in her 80s but still dances on stage with a retired follies group in Hawaii where she lives most of the year now, and boy is she a character with a lot of stories! We finally got coordinated to leave around 4:30, high rush hour of course. Before we left, I wanted a photo and my arm wasn’t long enough for a selfie this time, so Doug graciously took a picture of us Ladies Who Lunch: Joanne, Jonelle, Helen with Daisy, Carol, and yours truly!

We got back about 6pm, but Grandma wasn’t hungry for dinner, so later I ate my leftover crab risotto from last night that really hit the spot. We tried turning on the TV but her Comcast box seems to have quit and I don’t have that myself so don’t know how to troubleshoot it very well. Since she still has service in her office where the internet box feeds the TV, but neither the family room or her bedroom, it seems that the main TV box gave up, and the mini box in the bedroom can only function with the main box, since it doesn’t work connected to either TV either. I guess we will need to call Comcast and see if they can come on Tuesday before I fly home. It’s always something!

We have an early day tomorrow since it’s at least a two-hour drive to get to the Ellensburg Rodeo, so Grandma actually went to bed before 10pm for a change! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day 3 with Grandma: The Ellensburg Rodeo

31 August 2013

Britta's Last Ellensburg RodeoThis picture is from my last visit to the Ellensburg Rodeo, when I was 5 weeks old, so since I picked Labor Day weekend to visit Grandma, she immediately bought rodeo tickets so I could go again! My grandfather was in the King County Sheriff’s Posse for many many years, and both my aunt and mother were rodeo princesses at different times, so it was a big family thing for many years.

Snoqualmie National ForestWe got up earlier, and were on the road by 10am instead of the 9:30am when Grandma wanted to leave, but it was because it always takes her so long to take her morning pills. :) It was a long drive but an easy and pretty one, down I-5 through Seattle to Hwy 90 through Snoqualmie & Wenatchee National Forests, then into flat Eastern Washington, turning off for signs to Ellensburg. Grandma’s hands are too shaky now to take iPhone photos for me, so I safely sneaked some photos out the windshield bracing on the steering wheel.

Driving Through Eastern WashingtonAfter the tall mountains and the forests, it seemed like a drastic change to the flat golden fields of Eastern Washington. Several more miles through the fields, and we finally turned off for Ellensburg.

Traffic getting to the rodeoIt took awhile to get through town since there was plenty of traffic getting to the various parking lots. We finally got in, with our handicapped sign on the dash, asking how we could get Grandma to our seats. Luckily they had little golf carts as shuttles, so a nice chatty retired guy drove us through the backstage area where the princesses were saddled up and waiting, right up to the end of the building where our seats were! There was a ramp, but that took so long, Grandma decided the 8 steps were easier. Our seats were the second row of benches, which was perfect for Grandma as well as seeing. Grandma immediately started talking to the young family sitting next to us, mom with the tiny baby in her ams, and the oldest son was my buddy the whole show, letting me step on the bench next to him to get out instead of climbing across other people to get to the stairs. Grandma was comfortable even in her jacket for most of the afternoon, very glad we were in the shade since it was a very hot day!

Lots of people at the rodeo! We made it to the rodeo with time to spare before the opening ceremonies!

I’m very glad we made it in time for the opening ceremonies, since the King County Sheriff’s Posse opened the show. Can you see all their fancy silver studded tackle? That’s what Grandpa used to do for many years. It looks like there might have been two women now in the posse, since I saw some longer hair with more feminine body shapes, like the one holding the flag here.
King County Posse opens the ceremonies Can you see all the fancy King County silver studded tackle?

Everyone rode in with various flags for posses, sponsors, etcAfter the posse entered, all sorts of other posses cantered in with their flags, like the Ellensburg Posse, and sponsor flags too. When they were all out on the field, it was vey impressive!

After some bareback bucking competition, the princesses rode in doing the “death ride.” My mom remembers doing this when she was rodeo princess…since they had to wave to the crowd while running at a full gallop, they had to rely on the other riders to guide the horses into the gate at the end! The princesses definitely have flashier outfits than the tailored suit my mom wore in the 1960s. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Princess doing the death ride The death ride around the field

I didn’t always hear the official names of the events, so pardon me if I mislabel some of these. I didn’t get any good photos of the bareback bucking horses, but I got examples of all the other events I think, like calf roping here. When they would change and reset for for a new event, there was entertainment between, like parading the bareback bucking horses while explaining how they are bred for bucking, or this fabulous fancy lasso expert! He could lasso around his horse and himself while cantering around the field! Very impressive!
Calf Roping Fancy Lasso Work Fancy Lasso Work Bucking Horses on Parade

Here are steer roping, saddle bucking behind the hilarious rodeo clown, whose banter with the announcer was hilarious all afternoon, then bull riding looking pretty much like the bull riding machines!Steer Roping Rodeo Clown and Saddle Bucking Bull Riding Bull Riding

The next event was barrel riding, which was all cowgirls, and they were impressive. The girls got their horses to go so fast, and scooting around those corners caused quite the dust clouds!Barrel Racing Cowgirls Barrel Racing Cowgirls

Stubborn Bull Wouldn't Leave!There was more bull riding after the barrel racing, but the funniest was when this bull decided he would NOT leave after he bucked his rider off. All the pickup guys and even the fancy lasso guy all had their ropes on him, and he still wouldn’t budge! It was quite awhile, then I guess the bull finally gave up and went into the gate. I guess that’s the definition of stubborn! ๐Ÿ˜‰

After the rodeo was finished, we tried looking around the fair, but it was even too hot for Grandma so we didn’t get very far. Inside the 4-H hall I couldn’t resist taking photos of the wool exhibit for all my fiber arts friends. :)
4-H wool exhibit for all my fiber arts friends 4-H wool exhibit for all my fiber arts friends 4-H wool exhibit for all my fiber arts friends 4-H wool exhibit for all my fiber arts friends

Grandma sat on a bench in the shade, watching the kid’s version of the mechanical bull, while I quickly checked out the rest of the fair, including a teal ferris wheel…heehee! Finally the line was short enough I could get a giant shaved ice which really hit the spot…yum!
Teal Ferris Wheel at the Fair More of the Fair

It was too early for dinner in Ellensburg, so we headed back on Hwy 90, watching the scenery changed from the flat grasslands to the forests and mountains again, including Lake Natchez, and finally the floating bridge across Lake Washington and the tunnel back into Seattle.
Leaving Eastern Washington Back to the Forests and Mountains Lake Natchez from Hwy 90 Wenatchee National Forest

Margarita Saturday for dinnerSince we were back near to Grandma’s house by 7ish, we tried a new Mexican restaurant Grandma had seen in the paper, so it was Margarita Saturday! Puerto Bonita was nicely decorated and had good service, but my fajita quesadilla was gigantic and it didn’t have any fajita flavor or ingredients. The bite I had of Grandma’s wet burrito was very tasty. Grandma thinks the Mexican place in downtown Edmonds is still better.

We got home about 8:15pm to a ton of messages from people checking in on Grandma, but also from Jim & Linda that they’re in Seattle overnight after all waiting for their son, so they’d like to stay overnight if possible instead of heading back to Yakima. Grandma called her back & said sure, so even though we were both tired from our long day and neither of us sleeping well, we stayed up, showing Grandma how to use my iPad to read the last 2 days of blogs, plus all my Halloween ghost updates from last year. Jim & Linda arrived about 10:30 or so, and at 1:30am we looked at our watches and were shocked! Latest night yet…oops! I was so sleepy I was trying to load photos from my phone and my eyes kept crossing so I gave up at 2am. Jim & Linda had to get back home to host a pool party so they got up early & left while Grandma & I were still sleeping…we both sure needed the sleep!

Even though it was long, it was a very fun day! Even more photos are in the gallery if you continue reading! Not sure about Sunday plans yet, so we’ll see what happens next… :)


Day 4 with Grandma: Theo Chocolate & Anthony’s Seafood

1 September 2013

Barely squeaked into the last tour of the day!Neither Grandma nor I felt very rested, even though we tried to sleep in after Jim & Linda quietly left early in the morning. Grandma wanted waffles again so got those ready while I did my T-Tapp exercises outside again, then I looked up the Theo Chocolate tours in case there were any left, since we knew they were closed on Monday for Labor Day. There was one slot left at 3:30 showing open, but I didn’t want to pay in advance since we weren’t sure if there were too many stairs or too much walking for Grandma, so we decided to gamble and ask when we arrived. We took Greenwood instead of any freeways, but the chocolate building was farther down where Phinney changes direction several times. Some of those hills with narrow residential streets reminded me of Astoria! We made it and the shop said there were openings in the 3:30 tour so just walk over to the tour door. By the time we got there, the person in front of us had taken the last spot! Argh! I said if I’d known that I would have run & let Grandma catch up! Since we were only 2 people, she was able to squeeze us in. That was at 3:10, and instead of walking back to the shop & back again, we stayed sitting A real cacao tree as our guide tells us about how chocolate is madethere, taking a photo with our funny hair nets on for the tour. We heard several people come up after us and not get in, so we were very lucky to be the last ones to get on, since all the tours the rest of the day were booked solid. She said “this is the hot tour right now” so I guess that’s true? I only heard about them at all because my cousin Kathleen posted on Facebook that she went there a few weeks ago. I guess being the first organic & fair trade chocolate maker in the US everyone wants to visit them. :)

The beginning of the tour was seated in a small room with 5 different chocolates to taste as our guide described and showed us how cacao is grown and chocolate is made. I knew some of this already but it is still interesting, and our guide was a bubbly girl who was entertaining. Even the 85% dark chocolate was quite good and I don’t usually like darker than 70%. After that portion, we had to wear hairnets to enter the factory floor. Since they have to keep it at 98F, they have a room with windows on all sides with air conditioning so we could stand in comfort and listen as the guide explained all the machines.
The Theo Chocolate Factory Floor

The Confectionary RoomWe only walked through the actual factory floor for a short trip to the confectionary room, and it was even hot for Grandma, so I’m glad for that little room! In the confectionary room they make their truffles and fun creations. I saw they hang their silicone mats when not in use which would let them dry without sticking to things, so I might try that in the future! They gave us samples of truffles, so I made sure Grandma got to try one of the Scotch truffles. She liked it!

Walla Walla Onion Truffle...very good!Our guide mentioned a Walla Walla Onion Truffle they have right now, so we got one for each of us to try…very tasty! Those onions are very sweet in the first place, and it tasted like they carmelized them before adding them into the chocolate. I kind of want to try making some onion chocolate myself now! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I figured this could be my place to buy some birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and thank you gifts, plus they have Partner Bars where portions of the proceeds go to good causes, so I spent awhile shopping…and when I thought I was done, the clerk pointed out that if I got this or that handpacked instead of pre-boxed, I could get the tour 10% discount, so I went back 3x before I actually paid…ending up still spending about $150! At least it didn’t take up as much physical space in my suitcase as the Mexican chocolate & mole sauce assortment I bought in Oaxaca that took up half of one side of my luggage!

Anthonys at SunsetWe had thought we would go to the Chiluly Glass Garden and Spaceneedle since the weather was so nice, but after the tour Grandma was tired and asked to go home before dinner. We had a break, then we went to Anthony’s in Edmonds on the water, just in time for a nice sunset dinner of delicious seafood. Yum!

Kingston Ferry Returning at NightBy the time we were finishing dinner, the return ferry was coming, all lit up, with just enough daylight left to see some mountains and clouds in the background. I almost got out my good camera for this, but it was moving so fast, by the time I dug my camera out of the bottom of my bag, I think the ferry would have been docked!

You can keep reading for a lot more photos of the chocolate tour…hopefully more downtown Seattle tomorrow!


Day 5 with Grandma: Seattle Waterfront & Home Again

3 September 2013

Grandma Making Blueberry PancakesGrandma decided the leftover waffle batter should become blueberry pancakes, so here she is making them for us! We had thought we would try the Chiluly glass garden and maybe the Spaceneedle, since Linda had told us even with the big Bumbershoot music festival going on at Seattle Center, the south road into the garden was open and worth seeing. But Steven called during breakfast and had been to Bumbershoot on Sunday. He told Grandma there were “too many druggies” so we should avoid that area completely. I had mentioned trying to eat at the On the Seattle Waterfrontfancy place Canlis they keep talking about, so he recommended we go there. So as I was finishing my breakfast, I looked up Canlis on my phone, finding the number first for Grandma to call for a reservation, but as no one was answering, I finally found their page that shows the handful of days they are closed each year…and Labor Day was first on their list. Zero for two!

Linda had also mentioned the Argosy cruises were nice, so I was able to get a AAA discount and book our tickets online for the 3:45pm harbor cruise, so we headed for the Seattle Waterfront. We parked in a lot one block from the pier which was also one block over from Fried Clams on the Seattle Waterfrontthe end of Pike’s Place Market. The one block was pretty long, so Grandma went very slowly but she made it! She thinks she needs more exercise like this to heal, and I agree, but we need to be careful she doesn’t overdo it either.

Spaceneedle and BrittaWe got checked in for our cruise just fine and I left Grandma sitting at the gate while I strolled a bit more, including finding fried clams to go! I needed some protein since it was already 3:30pm, and boy were they tasty! Grandma even had a few. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was soooo hot in the sunshine…hotter than I have ever been in Seattle! I really needed the breeze but Grandma didn’t want to go up the stairs, so I went up two decks for the breeze and the view for awhile. I got a lot of great photos, and this is the closest we got to the Spaceneedle. :)

Britta and Grandma on the Argosy harbor cruiseThey tried to sell this to us but I sneaked a photo ;)When we turned around to make our circle, I went downstairs to spend the rest of the cruise with Grandma, so I was able to get this photo when we were heading back to the pier.

Of course they take photos of you in hopes you’ll buy $10 prints, but I sneaked an iPhone shot of this one. Grandma isn’t looking at the camera but it’s pretty good of both of us! Glad she listened when I begged her to wear something with more color than her cream sweater! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I remember Ye Olde Curiosity Shop from when I was little, especially the gruesome “mermaid” hanging from the ceiling and the mummies in the back. Since it was only the next pier over from our boat, I convinced Grandma to let me take another look. You could spend hours looking at all the weird stuff in the cases, even real shrunken heads, taxidermy of two headed creatures, turtle skeletons, almost anything… and you never know when or where I might get Halloween inspiration! ๐Ÿ˜‰
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Pike's Place MarketWe started slowly walking back along the waterfront, but Grandma was needing more rest breaks. We saw two bike rickshaw guys, and the first guy’s price was only $3 to the elevators up to the market, so that was worth it! He had to move the bike down to the street so the curb height helped Grandma get up into the seat, then we were set. Most of the market was closing already, no fish-throwing happening, but there was an excellent moving bronze statue lady!

Sunset Seafood Dinner at Palisade on Elliott BaySince Canlis was a bust, Grandma thought of a nice place on Elliott Bay but couldn’t remember the name so we didn’t make reservations and just gambled. We found it and only about a 10 minute wait so that was perfect! Very nice staff, excellent food, good cocktails, a waterfall and fishpond inside, a player piano on a platform above the bar, and a stunning view of the marina and the Seattle skyline! We split the crabcake appetizer, a different salad for each of us, one cocktail each, and shared the creme brรปlรฉe trio…and even with 20% tip (very difficult to convince Grandma to tip that much!) our total was only $85 with both of us pleasantly full. We had yet another night talking until almost midnight! I’m so glad I have a grandmother I can talk to. :)

Goodbye to Grandma's House AgainSince my shuttle was picking me up at 4pm for the airport, all we did today was run errands like gas, groceries, picked up her new checks at the bank, and more computer lessons. I did finally take a chance to feed some carrots to the goats and the horse, so you can see some cute photos if you continue to see the whole gallery below. ๐Ÿ˜‰

On the plane now for the flight home! I really enjoyed my trip but didn’t sleep well all week, so I am looking forward to my own bed tonight and hope my three kitties allow me some good sleep!