Monday, September 26, 2016

Donna's 63rd Birthday...September 26, 1953

Well, sweetheart, it's been nearly two years since you have been gone and a lot of things have happened.

Your niece Jessica, has had a beautiful young boy named after her husband's father...Tom. Oh yes, and they also moved to Tennessee this year. 

Trish and I have been in contact every few months and it seems to be easier talking to her without one of us breaking down, I appreciate your sister so much more now because of the circumstances.

Our boy is still working at the electrical trade which is awesome, you'd be so proud of him and while I was at their house last week I pointed out a news article that stated the "trades" (especially the electrical field) would be in very short supply of qualified workers for the next 20 years....outstanding, in my opinion. 

                              Kendra Moon!

OMG honey, she looks sooooo much like you did at the same age.

This is you at about a year or so....
Here is your granddaughter...Kendra Moon Zwart, you guys look like twins! This August-September, Lisa had foot surgery and they needed someone to watch the kids. Opa drove down and stayed for two 1/2 weeks to help out until jury duty forced me was so rewarding for me to take and pick up Riley from school and changing KMoon's diaper, it really brought me close to our grandkids.
Your grandson is so over the top about his baby sister. He plays with her, reads to her and of course, teases her. Riley is one smart little kid. He has won awards in both math and reading at school and is a teacher's favorite.
Jason and Lisa are very much in love and happy.
Our other granddaughter, Ashely, continues to excel in school'd we end up with smart kids and grandkids?
Ashely is helping Opa spread a few ounces of your ashes on what I call, "Donna's Mound" and right on the tree that your girlfriends got for you.
You never have to worry about being stuck in one place, I have you spread across much of the west. While in Vegas last December, Kathleen, myself and Carie were spreading some ashes on the tree they had planted for you in the park. A maintenance worker came running over wanting to know what we were doing to "his" tree. After we explained he was good with it, I think he was worried we were damaging "your" tree.
As you can see (I hope) the Paul's Scarlet Hawthorn that the girls got for your mound is doing excellent, just like the one in Vegas...seems everything you touched grows wonderfully, just like in life.
I got to say, babe, you were the top of your field, and you were always so oblivious of the effect that your personality had on the other workers at the Mirage, they loved you. You always tried without success...I might add, to have me say hello to my fellow workers that I passed in the hallway, especially the one I did not know. I tried, I just didn't have your sense of's so lacking today, we need you back.

I believe I may have told you that I went south for the winter this year, partly not wanting to spend that season in our house alone.

While in Desert Hot Springs, I did meet a very nice lady by the name of Carla. We had a few dates before I headed up the coast on the way home. I left the desert and Carla came up to Rincon Parkway for a weekend. From there I went up to Modesto to visit with our son, Lisa and the kids before returning home in March.
I continued talking to Carla and she ended up flying up to see our house and get a better feeling for each other.
As you wanted, I am moving I forgetting or loving you any less than I ever did? No way! 
I do not cry as easily as before when thinking of you, but I do think of you often...yes, every day and every hour. I'm so grateful that Carla is not threatened by you, our history or your presence in our house...this I have noticed because I bring your name up at least 5 times a day and she is very understanding. She also lost her husband 4 years earlier.

Honey, I know what you are thinking before you think it...not to worry...the Trust is as solid as ever and our kids will be the beneficiaries of everything. I understand your concern considering what happened to you when you lost your parents but Carla and I had a frank talk shortly after things seemed to be going well, besides...Carla has her own money so rest assured sweetie, all is well.

Here is replacement, just different. I must be attracted to women that are real, women that are honest and women who always look for the good in other people. We'll see where it goes honey, but I have a very positive vibe with this girl. Carla was born the same year as you, within a month of your birthday in fact...gotta mean something, right honey?

That last night that we were together at the hospital I remember talking to you for hours even though you were in a coma and I was blabbing away talking about nothing and all of a sudden you turned your head with open eyes and looked at me… I knew immediately that your body just relaxed and your eyelids opened. It would have been nice to think that you snuck one last peek at me before you went, but scientifically they’d think I was nuts. I never felt so alone in my life at that moment, even though I had family in the room with me. I'm going to try to keep track of things you've missed, who knows whether you can actually get messages from beyond but here goes. After Vegas, I did what you asked me to do.   I went home picked up the dogs and we went down to see your granddaughter Kendra Moon born. On the way, just 20 miles from home a moose crossed in front of me on the highway… (I knew it was a sign that you were watching because moose were your thing) Your granddaughter is so beautiful and a day early too! Two days later Riley and I went to see Jessica get married. It was a beautiful ceremony, I sure wish you could have seen it…very fancy. After that, the dogs and I went home. Two weeks later I went to North Fork Idaho because I know how much you enjoyed camping there. I was supposed to meet Chrissy in the Tetons as I think my family is trying to keep me busy but I went home after North Fork…just too tired to go on. I've been busy acquiring firewood for the coming winter. I get the dogs groomed just like you did and give them their flea ointment. Haven't gone anywhere but I have taken up walking to try and rid myself of the weight I put on in Seattle. What I really need is you putting me on weight watchers like before, that worked well. We've had a few parties in the neighborhood and there is always the question, "how are you doing Tom" and you know what my answer is babe "I'm doing well". As you and I have discussed in the past, life must go on for the survivor. Do I miss you? Like the dickens!  This week while coming home from Spokane I started talking to you out loud. Good thing I was alone or the boys may have had me committed. I was apologizing to you for only getting three years in retirement before I remembered all the vacations, trips and boats while we worked. We lived half our life in semi-retirement, didn't we. That at least made me feel a little better.  You are still here with me and there is no "till death do us apart", even in death you are my one and only...I love you.Sorry to ramble on babe and I really hope you can somehow see this. You know how important the blog is to me and this place would be where you’d look first. If you can. Spring of 2015

As hard as I may wish...things will never be the same, I'll always have you with me, just not physically. As bad as I feel at times about losing you, I sometimes think of the people that have never had our love, fun or's times like that I count my blessing and hope I gave you all or more than you gave me...Happy 63rd, babe. I love you

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Experiments, inspired by my daughter-in-law... Lisa Blog # 409

Lisa, my daughter-in-law is constantly opening my grandson's eyes by doing experiments, why shouldn't I...even at the age of 68 learn a few things?

Not being a very good cook (and a little intimidated by the kitchen) my girlfriend's sister, Cherie, said I should try this recipe ..."to die for ribs".

The first words out of Cherie's mouth were "crockpot"! Little did she know that I had an extreme aversion to crockpot dishes. I had an ex-girlfriend who insisted on "tuna casseroles", to which I found disgusting. Because of this, I never wanted anything in a much as Donna would beg.

I'll do it! It's not like I can eat the same old BBQ'd steak, night after night. Braise the ribs were the first instruction and it is no surprise I forgot one of the instructions...lightly put some olive oil on braising wasn't easy to clean after that mistake.

After braising the ribs, add ketchup, chopped onions, Worcestershire sauce, Lipton onion soup mix, minced garlic, salt, pepper, one cup of beef broth and one cup of red wine...preferably a good "box" cabernet sauvignon, and crockpot it...on low for 8 hours.


The meat literally fell off the bone. can tell I didn't like it, haha. 

While the meat was cooking in the crockpot, I moved on to the next project. I have been saving my bits and pieces of soap, too small to use, but being on Social Security...I need to save when I can.

The instructions for remolding soap are; use a grater and turn the soap into small pieces. Well, I looked high and low and can't believe Donna left me without a grater...but none was found, so I improvised.

I used our pounder thingy to chop the soap up.

Two hours later, while getting the wok out for veggies, I noticed the must be  grater that I have never seen before...thank you, Donna, I knew you wouldn't leave me hanging.

Soap flakes, with a scooch of water, all ready for the microwave.

So for 45 seconds at a time, I heat the soap.

If I didn't keep my eye on the bowl, it would foam up and overflow.

After the soap became soft and supple, I used a cobbler dish with cellophane to stop any sticking and used the glass to smoothen it out.

The soap should be left to dry out and harden for approximately a week, sitting on the woodstove works for me. All done with the second experiment.

What the hell does this have to do with experiments...nothing!
On my walk today I noticed this red barn and wood fence. I love wood fences and unbeknownst to Carla, who mentioned to me that she loves red barns were a thing with Donna too...weird. 

Today was not a total success I must admit.

I had a boat load of tomatoes, more than you see here, and I thought I might make some salsa. I have made salsa years ago but looked it up on the internet. The most well-received recipe included "cumin"...a spice I haven't worked with before.

I added garlic...because I add garlic to everything...but I will toss the whole batch out because of the taste. I think the cumin is not a spice I particularly care for...should of stuck to my original recipe, but I'll have more tomatoes no harm.
Two out three is not a bad average!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Moving forward...does in no way...mean leaving your past.

It all began with our official coupling on January 1st, 1978.

Our wedding included friends and family, in particular, my best friend Sam and Donna's sister...Trish.

Donna loved her friends and brought me into their group.

She was so true to her lunch bunch, I don't know if I have ever seen a bond like what they had.

Donna loved her moms family, even though she hardly ever got to see them. The family from Kansas was very important to her.

My family was her staunchest supporters. They loved her and drew her into the clan from day one and she loved and defended them whenever I got out of line. Both Donna's parents died before she was 17, so even being part of the "Zwart Clan" was so sweet for her.

Donna's only sibling, Trish, was also such an important part of her life.

Even with me, my family and Donna's family, nothing was more important to her than Jason, our son. Against all her feelings, Donna resorted to "tough love" when it was necessary to keep Jason in line and once again it proved to be the right thing to do.

After Jason, her sister, my family, her friends, Benji probably comes in a close fifth as the loves of her life.

Ya, I came in close behind Benji, I hope.

So, before anyone thinks I may be moving on too soon, let me tell you that nothing and no one will ever replace the love of my life.
I wish I could say I'll see you someday babe, but I burned that bridge in the previous post.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I'm coming out of the closet. Blog #407

I'm so afraid of coming out of the closet and being shunned by friends or neighbors and have stayed comfortably hidden for many years, but someone called me on it and they are right...I'm a fraud.

Someone sent me a link the other day about angels and asked to send this same link to 14 other people in my contact list. I did, mainly because it makes people feel good...much like when I asked for prayers when Donna was sick. Well, one of Donna's friend accepted the link but she thought it was inconsistent of know what, she's right.

When someone says they will pray for you, or they ask me to pray for someone troubled or sick, I always say yes but the reality is...I am sending positive energy their way.

I was raised a strict catholic who got in trouble with the nuns when they said God knows all, what you are thinking, what you are doing and what you will do in the future. Well, I said that if God knows what I will do in the am I responsible for what I was destined to do? That never went over well.

I live in a very religious community which I love, and I will follow though with the customs of the community without a problem, but I am a man of science and I can't avoid it.

We are all comprised of DNA, which dictates whether you will be an insect, plant, fish, reptile or mammal. The story is that God put us on earth as his subjects but why would every other living thing on earth die and decompose...but only one special carrier of this particular DNA be welcomed into some sort of fairyland when they die? Are you telling me that when my puppies die, they are dead, but me (perish the thought) ...being comprised of the same building block material have some sort of "free pass" to Disneyland?

It's inconsistent with a God, that loves all life, would only allow humans into his kingdom. Why put ants, wasps, sharks, Tasmanian devils or cockroaches on earth if this was a PLANNED endeavor? Oh, I do believe there were great men and women, with profound teachings such as Confucius, Muhammad, Budda and Jesus...but do I believe they are the son of God? Well, first I would have to believe in a God, wouldn't I? These were all very holy men who tried to teach people a good way to live their life. People are afraid of death, they think "what's the purpose of living if there isn't a place to go to"? Well, do you think maybe horses, cows, and dogs all think the same way...because in reality, they are built with the same genome that we are with slight variations.

The old testament was written in 6 BC and the famous New testament "The Bible that all the Christians are talking about" was first written 70 to 90 years after Jesus had died. With the average lifespan of 40 years at that time...who is writing these words and how convoluted did they become?
Can you just for a moment imagine how much better my grade school report cards have improved over the last 55 years, I was a star student...not? My history gets better every year I'm alive, it's human nature. It is hard to imagine that in 75 AD, anyone was still alive who knew personally of Jesus or his miracles.

Do I want to rain on someone else's parade...of course not. I just feel ashamed for lying to my friends and neighbors all this time. Donna needed all the good thoughts and support we could conjure up and I wanted (and Donna, for we were of equal mind) all possibilities explored.

Am I worried of a lasting, because if you happen to be correct, and your God judges us by how we love, hate war, enjoy the company of his animals and appreciate the beauty of our world...then I'm in! (it's always smart to have a contingency plan)

I know this will not be well received by some of my friends, but rest assured, we can love all the same without judgment...I hope to remain your friend, always.

Thank you, Cathy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Kayaking on Trout Lake Blog #406

Trout Lake is about 15 miles from home.

The first time I ever went there was when Donna was in between chemo treatments and she wanted to travel somewhere she always did.

Recently, I took Riley up to the same spot to fish. We did catch a few and had a good time even though the wind blew our chair into the was recovered...but it wasn't until the following day that we realized Riley's collapsible rod/reel went into the lake at the same time.

Joanie Christain said I might find an old beaver house at the far end of the lake...I found more.

This beaver house at the back of the lake was thought to be an old, unused one.

The fresh cuttings in front of the house indicate it is...occupied.

Even for a small's hard to beat views like this.

I found another beaver lodge on the lake.

When I got close to the lodge, this beaver showed his displeasure at me for being in his neighborhood.

This great heron was eyeing a dessert.


Not the best focus, I am challenged by my equipment but is does show motion...which I like.

Just another gratuitous

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kayaking on Coffin Lake. Blog #405

I met Joanie Christian in a store parking lot while I was admiring her kayak mounted to a roof rack. We talked a bit about kayaking and my needs. I settled on the same kayak her and her husband, Jim, Elie Sound 120XE. Along with being a little longer, which eliminates some of the swishings back and forth with each stroke, the added length will be more suitable in ocean bays. 

We met at Coffin Lake, about 20 miles east of town, to launch our boats. I takes two people because we have to carry the boats down a fairly steep hill some 100 yards or so to the lake itself.

Joanie was good enough to take a short video for me.

Joanie teaches nursing and Jim is a biology teacher so I am covered if one, I fall in the lake or two, want some algae identified.

We were following a beaver as it cruised the lake. He would come up occasionally to slap the water with its tail in order to scare us away.

Traveled as far as we could down the outlet until a large set of logs blocked our way.

Technically we could have portaged around the barrier, but then we talked about whether it was legal? The land on both sides is privately owned...but not the water.

It is so beautiful and to be able to glide over the water quietly.

With no breeze whatsoever, the reflection is spot on!

While Jim was exploring near the shore, he heard loud snorting noises just behind the trees. This was explained to me that when a moose wants to come by the shoreline in order to eat or drink but there are people nearby, it will snort its displeasure by making loud noises. We set of shore about 50 yards to see if he'd come out, to no avail.

Near home, I spotted this enormous "anvil-head" thunderstorm moving up the valley.
Many thanks to Jim and Joanie for allowing me to join the trip.