A dwarf euonymus bush in fall. Courtesy of All Things Plants.

So, that is, in fact, a dwarf euonymus bush in fall.  228th Street in Sammamish is, or maybe was, lined with these (I say “was” because we never go down that road any longer, so things may have changed), and back when the city redid our rock wall, I asked Chris if we could put some in, because I love that blaze of red.  It’s very intense.  (Most of the year, when it has leaves (spring to fall), they’re a deep evergreen color.)  Well, Chris is always amenable to garden changes, so we put some in.

Here is a picture of one of our dwarf euonymus bushes in fall.  Oh, well.


Panorama from the Room

Posted: November 22, 2014 in Ramblings

Taken by Chris with his phone and stitched by me.

On the first day we arrived.  All the photos from after this were too blurry (from snow) to stitch correctly.

On the first day we arrived. All the photos from after this were too blurry (from snow) to stitch correctly.


Posted: November 21, 2014 in Ramblings

Wow, this morning started off so dully but after my blog post it really picked up.  We went to the swim center – which actually has 2 big, curly water slides (the kind in a tube) – and there were so few people there that the Young Master got to go on the water slide 40 times!  Yes, forty!  Chris and I floated around in the regular pool, chatting about this and that, and watching an increasingly-exhausted Alex first run, then walk, then plod up the steps to the top of the water slides.  He had a ball, and I’m hoping it tired him out to get a good night’s sleep.  Then the three of us went outside into the hot tub – while it was snowing! – and splashed around by ourselves for a while.  After that, some appetizers at the same restaurant as yesterday (no wine, no entrees), and now we’re bunked down for the night.  Snow has continued to fall, and the Snoqualmie Pass is closed:  we seriously hope it’ll be plowed and open by the time we leave tomorrow.  But we have put Suncadia back on the “possible short vacations” list, if only for the near-unlimited water slide enjoyment that Alex got.

The Suncadia Report

Posted: November 21, 2014 in Ramblings

So we’ll start off with a little history.  We decided that 2014 was going to be another “explore local areas on short vacations” years.  In January we sat around and looked at a map, and picked out quite a few drivable places.  The first place we went to – Harrison Hot Springs in Canada – was a memorable vacation for a lot of bad reasons (in a nutshell:  “things to do” closed because we went in the off season).

The second one was our trip to Bend over Valentine’s Day.  This was a mistake trip, made because we were discussing a couple of places (Brasada Ranch, Suncadia Resort, and Skamania resort) and I accidentally booked Brasada, in Bend (which was the furthest of the 3 options) for a 2-day weekend!  This was pretty successful, except that (a) Brasada itself is quite a ways from any of the civilization in that area, and (b), it was a 6+-hour drive one way!  Not so good for a 2-day trip, and tempers were hot when we got back.

So, remaining on the list, Skamania and Suncadia.  We decided on Skamania for the ‘big vacation’ (1 week) and it was so enjoyable that we’ve got the Columbia River gorge on our short list of retirement places.

That left Suncadia.  We weren’t really planning any more vacations this year, but when Ant and Clare had to back out of their Thanksgiving trip, we chose to book 2 nights at Suncadia, which is the closest one of all these places to home (78 miles).  Unfortunately, being the idiot that I am, booked it for the nights of the 20th and 21st of November instead of the 27th and 28th. So, here we are, a week before Thanksgiving.

On the positive side of things:  the lodge is beautiful and the hotel room (a suite) is stunning.  We all agree that we could probably live in a home this size (though it wouldn’t really be our first choice, of course).  We have a view of some river (small, like the Schuylkill) and mountains opposite.  The other positive thing is that it’s snowing, although that cuts down on the visibility of the nice view.

Otherwise?  A big fat MEH in most cases, and active disgruntlement in the rest.  This resort appeared to be right off I-90, and it was, but we had to meander all around the local small towns to find the entrance (our in-dash nav didn’t even know how to get us there).  Finally we found the entrance, and it was about a 3-mile drive through bare, wooded areas, just to get from the entrance gates to the lodge!  Why?  Very meandering, could have been nice, but by now we were feeling put-upon and cranky.  Seriously, as the crow flies, this lodge is about 1 mile from 90, but driving, we had to drive ten or more miles of meandering just to get here.

The one hotel restaurant is insanely expensive.  Well, we ordered steak and wine and appetizers and dessert, so that’s partially our fault, but still.  These places really ought to offer a lower-key place with a lower price tag.  Tumbling out of the Jeep after this crazy drive, we just wanted to grab a bite to eat, but nobody wanted to get back in the car and meander back to the town to find a place!

Ah, yes.  The town.  The resort is actually situated between 2 towns, Cle Elum and Roslyn.  Both of these towns have that ‘derelict PA mining town’ feel to them.  Cle Elum’s main drag is about a mile long, and Roslyn’s about 2 blocks.  Roslyn is all restaurants/pubs, a general store, a gift shop, post office, and hardware store.  Cle Elum has a couple more things (including a Safeway and McDonald’s, hah), but that’s about it.  We did find the Cle Elum railroad museum, but it’s an outdoor walking loop, and since it is 32 degrees out, nobody wanted to hike it.  So we came back to the hotel and will be swimming this afternoon.  I hope the pool is good.

We should have done more research before coming here.  There’s really nothing in the area to do in the off season.  During the summer, guests can kayak, ride horses, whitewater raft, zip line…all that stuff we did at Skamania…but in November, nada.  I guess that’s good.  If we’d been horseback riding when this snow started…hah!

So, here we are, another failed experiment, but at least we know it’s not worth repeating.  If you were loaded and just wanted a luxurious hotel room, then this would do, but otherwise…nope.

Veni, Vidi, Vente

Posted: November 3, 2014 in Ramblings

No, this is not about Starbucks.  I just need someplace to vent.

Right, well, I finally got my Fluevog fit issues sorted.  Yay!  Started looking for all the Mini family releases that I’d loved and considered unwearable (see my 2/11/13 post if you really want details).

Issue #1:  Fluevog has discontinued the Mini family.  Boo hoo!  This was undoubtedly the iconic silhouette and there are so many that I love.

Issue #2:  Despite the fact that they often permit stores to custom-order otherwise discontinued styles, they are not allowing any stores to order more Minis.  Boo hoo!

This means all I can do is source existing store stock, or ebay.

Now, existing store stock is not such a bad thing.  There are two stores (unfortunately both outside the US) that still have good stocks of Mini family shoes:  Raspberry Heels in Poland and another one in Canada.  Raspberry Heels is an awesome store; they have a great online presence, clear pictures with good descriptions, policies stated clearly, and the occasional 30% off sale, which is always a help.  Of course they have nothing in stock that I want.

Issue #3:  The Canadian store, on the other hand, has no website to speak of.  I have spent the last 2 weeks going back and forth with the owner on email about styles she has in stock, trying to get pictures of them, finding out about pricing, etc.  She’s got four pairs of shoes that I would love to own, but…she marks them up 25% over what Fluevog charges (so you know they’re not cheap by any stretch of the imagination).  She never has sales.  One of my friends received a defective pair of shoes from her that clearly should never have made it past the factory’s quality control, let alone out of a retail store.  She’s been trying to sell me a pair of boots with ‘paint marks’ on them.  I feel like every conversation with her is one step forward, two steps back.  I love these 4 pairs of shoes that she has…love ‘em a lot…but am very leery of spending this kind of money with this kind of service.  Yes, she’s friendly, and I understand she’s trying to run an actual brick-and-mortar store while also dealing with web inquiries, but…

Today I asked, just on a whim, if she’d give me a discount for buying all four pairs.  Honestly?  I would have been happy if she’d offered 10% off.  Instead, it was a flat-out no, with the disclaimer that she pays the retail sales tax and shipping.  I don’t see that Canadian retail sales tax should apply to an international sale.

Anyway, in short, I’m venting because there are too many negatives here.  Perhaps if I had the chance to go to her store and try on the four pairs of shoes, she’d make a sale, but every email exchange has been irritating me more and more.  I’m probably going to save my money for something new from Raspberry Heels, or just keep watching Ebay.

Vente finito.

Online School is Great!

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Ramblings
Sardonic child...

Sardonic child…

Coming to you live from Barnes and Noble café!


Posted: October 26, 2014 in Ramblings

Before the power outage, we’d planned to head up to Kirkland’s Marina Park today for four things:

  1. Eating lunch at the Wilde Rover (Irish pub)
  2. Feeding the ducks at lakeside
  3. Taking photographs of feeding the ducks, lakeside
  4. Meeting Joy, who had purchased a pair of Fluevogs from me, to make the handoff.

So, this morning we were a bit worried that Kirkland might still be powerless, but that would only have scotched #1.  We could do the other three items without needing power.  We packed up our gear and headed out.

Despite quite a few downed traffic lights, we made it to downtown Kirkland and discovered they had plenty of power, so we got to do all four things!  Joy brought one of her dogs, which thrilled Alex (he still desperately wants a dog but we won’t get one because you-know-who will end up doing all the work).  The weather was also dry (though overcast).  The worst part was the very stiff breeze!  I crumpled a cracker in my hand and flung the crumbs into the air for the birds, and all the crumbs flew back into my face.  A nearby lady started laughing at me.  It was too cold and windy to stick around and distribute the entire bag of bread, so we zippied it up and came home.

Here’s CP’s best photo of the day:

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1520.

Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1520.

And mine:

Same kid, different ducks.  He's wearing his Fluevog camo BBC boots.

Same kid, different ducks. He’s wearing his Fluevog camo BBC boots. Taken with my HX50V.