Friday, April 3, 2015

Not the final blog. #1. The first about friends.

Donna was airlifted back to the University of Washington Medical Center about two weeks after we got home because of sever complications.

Donna then lost her year long battle with AML on March 15, 2015. 
This blog is not about that... it is one of 4 or 5 I will do in part so I always have a little piece of our past to view on paper and Donna's grandchildren may get a clearer picture of their Granny. It's rare that my PC would crash and take with it the external hard drive, but if by chance it were to ever happen then I should be able to retrieve the blog from Google.

Just plain meeting people and asking questions.


Rodney's...Rodney has a BBQ place in the center of the old   Wilcox, Arizona. Donna was always up for trying anything other than a chain restaurant. I remembered her and Rodney talking for more than an hour, most of it about him moving out here from Chicago. Four years later while taking a bike ride through Arizona by myself I thought I'd stop at Rodney's. First thing Rodney says is " HI, where's that lady friend of yours". She never realized just what an impression she left on folks.

Some surfer dude she met on a Long Island, New York beach.

A year or two after 9/11, Donna walks up to give her condolences to the men...they loved her. (thought I may have to fight to get her back)

The owner of a blueberry packing plant in Montana.

Firefighting supervisors in North Fork, Idaho.

One of the firefighters, directing and explaining the helicopter water lifts to Donna.

A contractor in Salem, Oregon that worked for NOAA and explained all about what the high altitude balloons do and record, then allowed Donna to launch

A seasonal logger who was cutting and splitting wood for a backwoods cabin in Montana that anyone may stay overnight.

Donna grab us a private tour of the Oregon State Capital.

A couple of good "ole" boys in Bisbee, Arizona taking kindly to Donna's good natured teasing. It did not matter where we traveled, Donna never set out to make friends, she was just curious about other people.

Some folks Donna met were travelers, such as us.

The group at the Rivers Fork Lodge and RV Park on the North Fork of the Salmon River.

Same resort on the Salmon River, different year and different folks to remember.

"Friends for life".

Age meant nothing to Donna. Ruth, a single neighbor across the street from our house was a substitute mother for Donna, and Donna was a substitute daughter for her in return. Donna was her friend and a casual caretaker for 14 years until the day she died in 2004.

Donna and I have some friends (Sam and Glenda) together that go back 40 years or more, but I'd have to attribute those steadfast relationships to Donna's insistence of always sending a card or two a year from both of us.

I'm sure Nona won't enjoy me putting her into the 40 year club...sorry.

Harold and Fran from our Reno days.

Judy might also get upset if I mention how far back the three of us go. (Judy has been quite the shoulder for me to cry on at times)

Bonnie and Len from our old Reno stomping grounds, always require a stop, according to Donna.

Ah......."The famous lunch bunch"!

Donna was loyal, to a fault, with her lunch bunch girlfriends. It annoyed the hell out of me when we'd be on a short vacation because she'd spend so much time shopping for the girls had to be just right! I'm like "just buy something"..."no, I haven't found it yet".
It matters not how good she was with them, they filled some void in her life I never could...and for that I am eternally grateful.

Lets see if I can remember them all. There's Carie, Betty Jo, Cathy, Kathleen, Donna, Diane and Nancy. 

They'd party at each ones birthday.

They'd party at Christmas, Kwanzaa name it.

Having a party at some bar.

In a campground.

In a didn't matter!

But sometimes they'd just go for long walks, deep in the woods, apparently as long as some shopping was nearby. 

Hours before Donna passed, she required the maximum amount of oxygen they could give her. We'd talk in short 10 or 15 second spurts until I could see her stats plummeting, then I'd would put the O2 mask back on.
Cathy called me and asked if she could call Donna one last time. I told her that Donna phone was off and she is too weak so Cathy asked if she could leave a message on my phone that Donna could listen with.
I told Donna of the message and she just reached out without a word for the phone while I lifted her mask. Donna put the phone up to her ear and it stayed that way for more than 3 minutes. I tried gently interrupting so she might get some much needed oxygen, but Donna had a steel grip on the phone. I later asked Cathy if I could listen to it, then asked if I could publish it... yes to both.

 Hi honey, I'm so sorry that you, Tom and your family must go through this. I just wanted to tell you that years ago, before you joined the group, I prayed that God would send me a friend that was more like me. I'd say, "God I have so many friends and I love them all but I just wish I had a friend that was more similar to me", then you showed up. A little Martha Stewart, so funny, so crafty... you were just someone that was more of my temperament. I secretly thought of you as my favorite. Now I'm going to miss you and I'll miss our cocktails at every get-together...where it was more about what food we'd make and then looking online for new cocktails. Ya, the food was all great but "what are we going to drink tonight" seemed more important. (nervous-laughter) 
Oh honey, when we talk about you it will be sad for a while, but just telling funny stories and keeping you in our hearts will be enough for now. I know that I have an angel close by me and you'll be there watching over us. In the blink of an eye, for you anyhow but longer for us, we will see each other again.
I love you honey and everyone will be there waiting for you, Nancy, your mom and dad, but don't worry we'll keep an eye out for you down here by keeping you close to our hearts and I will always set a place for you sweetie, I love you so much... God bless, goodbye sweetie and I'm not crying,(she was) I just want to laugh and remember all the good times baby. You're so brave, I love you, God bless and goodbye... no not goodbye, till we meet again.

Shortly after this call, Donna fell into a coma, one that she never woke from. I've often thought that this was such a beautiful message to fall asleep to...thank you Cathy

Friday, February 20, 2015

The final Seattle blog...I hope.

Donna's treatment is done for now in Seattle and she is being    sent home, or near to home since her oncologist is in Spokane, for continued care.

Our last day at SCCA was with the typical Seattle weather. While snow is scarce in Washington this year, rain was least in Western Washington.
I was hoping to get an early start on Thursday but things just didn't work out that way. We didn't get back to Issaquah until 6 pm, so some sleep was first order of business.

We left about 5am Friday morning and after rain the first 70 miles, we then had fog all the way to Spokane.
Spokane is just a small Seattle...people, people, traffic traffic!

Soon after leaving Spokane the countryside opened up and so did the sun...why do I like Eastern Washington?

Coming down the hill, with Chewelah in the distance some may appreciate the beauty of the Colville Valley.

The closer we get to home, the forest starts to encroach upon Hwy 395.

The mountain where we live is to the left about 4 miles away. Hard to see but the town of Colville is straight down to the end of this valley, Canada in the distant mountains.

As we turn onto our two mile dirt road to home I see one of my neighbors property about 1/2 mile away, with Xmas decorations up...really?

Ah...home at last, home at last!

While we were gone, our neighbors, all of which we only met when we bought the house 1 year before we had to leave for Seattle, took extra care in keeping a watch over our house. I know when doing a blog that you shouldn't tell people that you are gone, but with 6 "gun tot'en" wonderful, god loving neighbors... we have no worries at all.

Banners on more than one fence welcome Donna home.

Ballons and cards welcome her.

Flowers, in more than one spot...

Red wine (my favorite, they like me)  and chocolates...Who does these things, not in Vegas after 24 years or Reno after's just unprecedented to feel the warmth that this community and neighbors have given us. I thank my lucky stars that after 65 years we found a place where we belong for as many years, is up to someone else. (or as my father would say when he was in his 80's, "don't buy me green bananas"!

REALLY? We have been home ten minutes and the begging starts?

Oh Crap, now they are stalking me? Could you please give me a few minutes to unload and run to the feed store for some alfalfa ...jeeeze! Been gone for 6 months and they remember...a fast moving lumber truck roaring down the Hwy, they'll clueless!

As I went into Colville to pick up some groceries I passed the "mighty" Colville river. I love this really, I do love this valley so much. When we got to within five mile of our turnoff we spotted two sets of bald eagles flying about... you can have the bright city lights, the mediocre weather, traffic, congestion, Whole Foods and Costco's on every corner, (I do like Costco)... me? I love this valley and people in it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seattle's Container Port

I have wanted to see how close I could get to the Port of Seattle, not where the cruise ships berth, but where the "real" longshoremen work. Since we have been in Seattle, there has been a slowdown by the longshoremen because of contract dispute...unfortunately the disagreement has cost a lot of businesses large sums of money because goods aren't shipped or perishable items are ruined, sitting on the docks. (of the bay) :-)

While Donna was getting a pint of blood, which takes about two hours, I slipped out of the clinic and tried to find a place where I could see and photograph the port industry. As usual it was an overcast day, but I thought the fog bank between the ships and downtown buildings was interesting. I never did figure out if the ships were loading or unloading.

This channel held six container ships that I could see, and nearly 50 container cranes. The Duwamish Waterway is fed by the Duwamish River, so the port is a mixture of fresh and salt water between 45 and 50 feet of depth. 

Because the port is a mix of fresh and salt water, these Barrow's Goldeneye are equally comfortable in either type of water. Recently the ports of Seattle and Tacoma formed an alliance to reduce competition, I imagine some job reductions will also take place.

This piling in the middle of the river looked like it had cilantro or parsley growing out of it. Most likely seeds deposited by a bird.

Trucks that are delivering containers and trucks such as this one, picking up a container, must first pass a manned booth before enter thru this little building. I'm going to make an assumption that it's either a bomb or radioactive sniffing machine in the green garage. I didn't get a photo of the manned booth but there was a cop in it who waved me over to him. He said "who are you with"? My answer one, just a tourist. He then takes out a camera and photographs me...I'm thinking like "WTF", do I fit the current profile of a terrorist? Not wanting to get hassled I just waved while he took my picture and moved along to the next photo opportunity. 

Hundreds of trucks are staged to unload their containers while I imagine they would then picking up a container that is just off a foreign ship.

I have no idea whether these containers are full or empty, but there are 1000's of them. Also in the forefront are the 100's of trailer extensions that allow the trucks the extra weight.

Little boys fascinate about cranes and that doesn't end when girls enter the picture. From the age of 2/4 little boys start building elaborate Lincoln Log cranes, now I guess they use lego's but no matter, us kids never lose the love of cranes.

Some like "lonely" cranes, don't ask why it's all by itself...might be a type of crane that lifts boats or barges for repair.

Different and older container cranes.

My favorite...very old rusty cranes, just like the author. I really don't know if they are still in use, but if not...why would they leave them up?

The Duwamish River splits at the port to encircle an island, called Harbor Island, (makes sense to me) with both channels of the split harboring container berths. Also on the island is a large oil tank farm that either feeds these trains or the trains feed the tanks, whichever...there are a lot of tracks and tanker cars.

I was surprised, and a little cautious, after reading this sign. I've heard about flying drones but not track drones.

I may of been a little cautious, that is until I saw this cute little "auto-engine". This one was stationary at the time with ten or twelve cars attached. I wish I could of seen it move, hard to believe this toy would have the traction to pull more than one or two cars. I think maybe the rubber tires drop down to help with traction, but that's just a guess on my part.

This large granary (and it's huge) on the island has a sign for a company called Puratos and Pendleton Flour Mills LLC. We have been to Pendleton in Oregon on the Washington border, and I remember seeing thousands and thousands of acres of wheat growing.

Along the Duwamish River were many marine repair businesses. This barge, flanked by two tugs, seems to be sitting lower in the water at its aft... might be the reason they are working on it.

This train drawbridge is the only one I found that connected Harbor Island to the mainline. 
This concludes my short tour of the port, if I had more time I would of made a better attempt at sneaking into area where I wasn't welcome. 

Time for lunch.

Last night I cruised the net looking for a highly rated asian restaurant that served "garlic noodles" which I love. 

Chef Liao was nearby and rated very high so I got its "signature" Chicken Garlic Noodles to go and took them back to the hospital to savor.

If this kitchen doesn't look like it's straight off a Shanghai street corner, than I'm not the politically insensitive American I think I am!
While the noodles were good, but could of used a lot more garlic, I'm hoping I won't wake up in the morning with dysentery.   They don't come close to Thanh Long's or Crustacean's in San Francisco...they are to die for!