Saturday, August 7, 2010

If Those Walls Could Talk....

There’s a small home for sale in the Panhandle of Texas. It’s in the small town of Borger, which was a “boom” town back in the 1920’s. This is the house that Tonya grew up in; in fact it was the only home she lived in from her birth until she was about 17 years old. This house was the home to a very loving family; one that loved and was loved by all the members that lived there. Oh, only if these walls could talk, what stories they could tell.

The small home was built in 1945 by the Phillips Petroleum Company, and it resides in a neighborhood that is known as Philview Camp. There were a lot of firsts and lasts, beginnings and endings that occurred within the walls of this home.

The original house was small. In fact it only consisted of 2 small bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, a small living room, small breakfast nook, a dad, a mom and 2 young boys, and eventually a baby girl….. it was a happy family. It was home, and it still is.

Tonya’s Dad was employed by Phillips and one of the benefits they offered to their employees was that they could rent one of the company owned houses as long as he worked for the company, for a whopping $16 a month. Now you might think WOW!, only $16 a month for rent? But keep in mind Dad’s hourly pay was only about 58 cents an hour back then!

In 1958 Phillips agreed to sell the houses and her parents bought the house for about $2,000. Tonya was 3 years old when she can remember her dad working on an addition that was being built on to the house. By the time the construction had been completed the small home had nearly doubled in size. It had an extra bedroom, an extra bathroom, a dining room and a nice large living room.

If the walls could talk they would tell you stories about those that lived under the roof. Such as the 2 young boys that grew up to become responsible young men; graduated from high school, married and moved into homes of their own, beginning lives of their own. How the dad worked hard to earn an honest living in order to provide a roof over his family’s heads, sadly he only lived about 6 years after the completion of that new addition to the house, leaving his wife to raise a 9 year old daughter, alone. There would also be stories of the grandkids and great grandkids that came to visit and how each of them was spoiled in their own special ways.

There would be stories of great neighbors. Like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting most summer evenings, for as long as Tonya can remember, they would all sit on their front porches in the evening, visiting with one another and watching as cars and life goes by. Many of them either lived next door or across the street, and had lived in the neighborhood as long as we had. They were extended members of our family.

These stories are just bits and pieces, little things, but all precious memories to those of us that lived there.

This small house was a good home to all of us that lived under its roof. We hope the house will be s happy of a home to the next family as it was for all of us.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Break 2010

It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten very excited over Spring Break. We know it’s not the time of the year that we want to make a long week-end trip someplace due to the crowds, and it’s been a while since we had kids that were on spring break… so it’s been just like any other week in March. Not this year though…

We have known since January that Whitney planned to come home for spring break. After everything that she has been thru in the past several months, she needed a break. And we needed her to come home for a while.

Heather has a brother that has been living in the Pacific Northwest for about a year now, not too terribly far from us. He was in need of his furnishings and Heather was asked to drive a U-Haul truck from Houston, TX to Olympia, WA. She and the kids started out on Saturday for a 2500 mile 4 day adventure arriving on Tuesday evening.

So for Spring Break 2010 we had a house full of “chiln” and we enjoyed it all. It’s been a while since we’ve had that much activity around our house. We tend to forget how active a 9 year old boy and 11 year old girl can be, and how hungry they are!

Whitney was able to rest and relax the first several days that she was home, which she needed considering that she broke her ankle a few weeks ago and had a “sweet” boot (as she called it) to carry around with her everywhere she went. Her and Bill were able to make it to “The Mountain” on Monday to go shooting. Nothing bonds a daddy and daughter better than a day of sharing gunpowder, guns and target practice!

Once Heather and the kids arrived we got a few day trips in; Vashon Island Ferry ride, Paradise Valley of Mt. Rainier and a Whale Watching Tour! (Unfortunately Whitney had to fly back to Utah before the whale tour).

Vashon Island and the Washington State Ferry
For our visitors that have never been here before (Hunter & Sierra) we always try to get in a ferry trip. Since we were late getting away that day we opted for Vashon Island. We had not been there either, so it was new to us too. It was a great little island, and we got in 2 ferry rides, they were fun, but really short… while on The Island we came upon the Point Robinson Lighthouse.

Since the Point is commonly shrouded in fog, Point Robinson began as a fog signal station in 1885 and the light was added in 1887. The current lighthouse was built in 1915, with a 38-foot tower and fifth-order Fresnel lens, which allows it to be seen for 12 miles. The light was automated in 1978, using the original fifth-order Fresnel lens

Paradise Valley of Mt. Rainier
Thursday we woke up to one of us not feeling up to par, so Bill stayed home with G’ma E and missed out on our adventure to Paradise. Paradise is the name of an area at approximately 5,400 feet on the south slope of Mount Rainier. Virinda Longmire named Paradise in the summer of 1885 while she viewed the wildflowers in the alpine meadows there. The National Park Service says that "Paradise is the snowiest place on Earth” where snowfall is measured regularly. 93.5 ft of snow fell during the winter of 1971/72, setting a world record for that year.

We all had a great time! The kids got to see a real volcano, sled down the slopes at Paradise and see a pretty awesome waterfall! We also had the rare treat to be able to see a naturally occurring phenomenon a snow doughnut!

They only form under a perfect storm of occurrences. It's formed by a mass of snow falling off of a cliff or a tree into the snow pack. And if the snow and temperature are just right, as gravity takes over, it pulls the snow down, and it rolls back on itself. Usually the center collapses but when the hole stays open, it creates a shape that resembles a gigantic powered sugar coated doughnut!

The kids had so much fun sledding down the slopes, even though we had a couple of crashes it will be a time in their life they will never forget.

Gray Whale Watching Tour

Saturday morning we were on a timeline! Whitney had to be at the airport for her flight back to Utah, and we had to be in Everett by 10:30 for Gray Whale Watching tour, again this required 2 vehicles.

Whitney was dropped off at the airport and made it safe and sound back home. Bill met up with the rest of the clan at the Everett Marina for the boat trip.

We had an awesome time. G’ma E loves riding in boats and we had a beautiful day for a boat trip. Before leaving the marina we were treated to a little show by one of the local resident Harbor Seals swimming around the pier popping it’s head up at one place and then another. On the way out of the marina, we saw three California Sea Lions resting on a buoy. While we were on the water we also saw Bald Eagles, Blue Heron and various other birds.

The real show was the Gray Whales. We cruised northward, and eventually found a gray whale near Hat Island. The naturalist on board introduced the Gray to us as Number 531. 531 showed us his tail flukes on numerous occasions. Eventually Capt. Carl had him lined up perfectly with Mount Baker in the background.

After returning to land we were all ready for a bite of lunch so we had a Whale Tail-gate Party. We partook in “dolphin safe” chicken salad sandwiches and various other items. We had fun, the weather was beautiful and the kids were able to run off some excess energy.

Sadly this was the beginning of the end of our Spring Break 2010. Heather and the kids had a hotel room near the airport since they had an early flight. We were more than willing to get up on Sunday morning to get them there in time, but she felt as if she was putting us out (it’s also hard for grandparents to compete with an indoor swimming pool…haha).

Sunday morning was strange,, so quiet, no activity, not much cooking of breakfast. Now life begins to get back to normal for a week. We have a lot of leftovers to eat (everyone that knows Tonya know how she always “over prepares” for house guests), beds to change and laundry to do. We enjoyed everyone so much… hopefully we can do it again sometime.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Anniversary Trip 2010

This year, as with most we try to get away for at least a long weekend (it’s not every year we can get to spend a week in Hawaii or the Caribbean), and most years it involves ocean waters. Of course living in the Pacific Northwest makes coastal travel quiet easy. This year we chose The Misty Valley Inn Bed & Breakfast in Forks, WA.

We would like to clarify something, if you happen to be one of the bazillions of people that follow the Twilight Series you know all about Forks and this is great, however, we are have not read the books, so we aren’t one of you. We chose Forks because we love the Northern Coast of Washington State.

We both took off work early on Friday to drive over to the Olympic Peninsula (leaving Mom at home alone for 2 nights). It was about a 4 hour drive. We found the Misty Valley Inn without any trouble; their website gave really good directions! Once we arrived at their door we were greeted by Rachel and immediately felt as if we had arrived at the front door of a long lost friend.

Rachel gave us the grand tour of the guest areas of their home before showing us our room. As we followed her we walked by the buffet in the formal dining room which hosted the most tempting chocolate cake with raspberry filling, lemon bars and brownies (all home-made from scratch by Rachel). We knew this had all of the makings of a good anniversary trip. After some friendly persuasion we indulged in cake and coffee before retiring to our room for the evening.

Our bed faced the biggest set of sliding glass doors we’d seen (close to 8ft) which provided us with an unobstructed view of the meadow. As we began to stir the next morning it wasn’t long before we heard a light tap on the door; when we opened the door there was a tray in front of the door, 2 cups of coffee, and nice hand-made note card with today’s information and a tiny vase of fresh flowers. We enjoyed our coffee while we continued to take in the view out of our bedroom.

We joined another couple for breakfast in the dining room. Breakfast… where do we begin? There are really no words that could possibly do it justice. Rachel recited the breakfast options to us on Friday night and took our order; Bill selected the omelet and Tonya the Irish waffles. The meal began with fruit juice, homemade muffins and warm spiced fruit, and this was all before the main entrees. I guess the best way to sum up the experience is that if you left the table hungry, it’s your own fault!

After a brief recovery period (seriously the breakfast was phenomenal, huge and unbelievably delicious) we headed out on the day’s adventure. The January weather in
the Pacific Northwest is iffy at best. Drizzle, rain, cloudy, sun breaks (another Northwest term), and fog are pretty much the common theme this time of the year. We had planned a hike around Lake Ozette but considering the fact that we are “fair weather” hikers we thought we would just take a scenic drive so we headed toward Neah Bay and the Makah Indian reservation.
We purchased the required “recreational” pass at the Makah Tribal Center and headed to Cape Flattery. Cape Flattery is the most northwestern point of the lower 48 states. Once we arrived the rain stopped so we donned our walking sticks, cameras and headed out for a nice walk. It was gorgeous! The trail is very well maintained and for the most part a boardwalk trail. Bill commented that the trail was maintained better than anything we’ve walked in the National Parks or Forests in Washington State. In our opinion we viewed some of the most incredible views of the Pacific Coast.

We had originally planned a nice dinner to celebrate our anniversary at one of the lodges in the Olympic NP but we weren’t really that hungry (considering that we were still wearing that mornings breakfast, another one to look forward to on Sunday and that chocolate cake & lemon bars) so we grabbed a light dinner in Forks and went back to the inn for the evening.
Sunday morning pretty much played out as did Saturday. There were a few differences, new breakfast companions, new entrée choices and we had to think about heading back home. We did decide that we would go back for a night in April, this time taking Mom with us.

Rachel and Jim were so kind and could not do enough for us. We had our hands slapped more than once for trying to refill a glass of ice water or take a dirty coffee cup to the kitchen. Rachel would remind us that we were there to be pampered and take it from us; she is a professional in that field.

As we made our way home we had hoped to hike to the Sol-Duc Falls but the rain stopped us; however we did stop at Salmon Cascades falls and will hike to the falls in when we go back in April (weather permitting)!

It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend and a great way to celebrate our 15 years together.

Lessons Learned:
· We are “fair weather” hikers
· A whirlwind romance can result in 15 happy years together
· Bill’s handcrafted walking sticks are keepers!
· The $10 we paid for an annual pass to the Makah reservation was worth the money

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Married My Best Friend

15 years ago today I married my best friend! Bill would tell you that it pays to advertise (most of you know that story) and I would agree. He’s the one that makes me laugh, the one I share adventures with and the one makes life worth living. He’s makes me whole.

I love you Babe….

I found this poem and thought it summed my thought very well.

This Day I Married My Best Friend
Author Unknown

This day I married my best friend...the one I laugh with as we share life's wonderous zest, as we find new enjoyments and experience all that's best....the one I live for because the world seems brighter as our happy times are better and our burdens feel much lighter....the one I love with every fiber of my soul.We used to feel vaguely incomplete, now together we are whole.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom is 90 years old today!!! She has had an incredible life, one which has included being raised during the Great Depression, had three “adorable, successful, beautiful” children, married the love of her life in 1937 and unfortunately buried two husbands.

Being raised during the depression era Mom was definitely not wasteful, in fact she learned to be, let’s say “thrifty”. One of her many old sayings (and if you know her, you know there are many of saying) goes,“you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip”. She can stretch a dollar.

Mother was much more careful with a food budget than I ever have been; she freezes everything from potato chips to cash. And as it turned out, her good sense resulted in more money in the bank. Being a child of the depression, she knew how to scrimp with such things as re-using aluminum foil, plastic cutlery, plastic bag and saving “nice” bags she gets from places. Our favorite though has to be always keeping a ziplock bag handy in her purse or pocket so you have it handy if you come across and “all you can eat” event, because everyone knows you can “crisp it back up in the little toaster oven”.

Does your mind grasp being 90 years old? It is so hard to believe that so many things we take for granted were not even in existence when she was born. Can you visualize, even a small percentage, some of the advances that have occurred in the fields of technology and medicine that have occurred in 90 years? Her life has been a history lesson.

Let’s think back,,,, In 1920 Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States, the population of the US was only about 106 million, the average annual salary was $1234/year and the cost of a first-class stamp was 2 cents and Prohibition began (thank goodness that didn’t last)!!!

There have been 17 different Presidents in 90 years, can you name them?
Automobiles had recently been invented and horses and mules were still the common method of farming.

A lot of things that we now take for granted which have all come into being during her lifetime:

· Penicillin was discovered
· Television was created- originally only in black & white
· Nuclear Bomb not only was created but the power was harnessed to provide energy- most homes did not have electricity or indoor plumbing in 1920
· Microwave Oven- most homes heated and cooked with wood or coal in 1920
· The “Pill” (which was the first drug used by “healthy” people to prevent something rather than by the sick to treat an ailment)
· Commercial Air Travel- distant travel was by trains powered by steam locomotives in 1920.
· Space Travel- the first rocket was launched in 1926 by Robert Goddard
The Barcode, do you remember ever purchasing an item without one?
· Social Networking, think about this next time you read a blog or “Friend” someone on Facebook
· GPS- map and compass was used in the 1920’s
· Laptop Computers- electronic calculators didn’t become commercially available until the 1970’s
· Text Messaging

It’s also hard to believe that all of the following have occured in just 90 short years :
· Astronomers discover Pluto
· The Empire State Building is completed
· The Golden Gate Bridge is completed
· World War II begins
· The first Social Security benefit checks are paid out
· DNA was isolated
· Man Travels to the Moon
· Jonas E. Salk developed the first experimentally safe dead-virus polio vaccine
· Alaska and Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states

Mom, what an amazing life you’ve had. You’ve been dealt a difficult hand in this game of life, but in our opinion,, you played it well!

We love you

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Saturday Spent in The Kitchen...

Happy New Year! It’s 2010? It seems that we just don’t have the time to update the blog like we would like. It also seems that we in the past year there hasn’t been all that much going on that we think that anyone would be interested in reading about and for sure nothing to photograph. But we are going to try a bit harder this year.

Tonya & Mom started their Saturday morning in the kitchen to try something new, by the time they walked out some 8 hours later… they had prepared 11 supper type meals for the freezer!

While Tonya was doing her Christmas shopping she found a book and thought it would be a good gift for a friend of hers and then she thought shoot, I’ll just get myself one while I’m at it. The book was called “Once-A-Month Cooking”. So with Bill was out of town, Tonya & Mom went to work in the kitchen and began what turned into more than a full day of meal preparation.

Over the past few years we have been customer of the local kitchens where you go in and make your meals from their ingredients which are already “prepped”. We found that it was something that we enjoyed doing together and that the quality of their ingredients was top notch. And you knew what is actually in your meal; no hidden surprises. Doesn’t everyone really like to know what they are eating?

Not only do we like knowing what ingredients are in our meals, we like having supper together. That’s right, we still all sit down together (and not in front of the tv) and have supper together (okay the tv is on in the background but we don’t sit down with our plate in front of the tv). We actually have dinner time conversations!

The real time busters of the day were the things these “kitchens” provide as part of their service: find the recipe, do the shopping, do the food prep and do the clean up! Once you get to just putting the meals together and slapping them in a Ziploc bag it’s a cinch.

Some of our future suppers will be Chicken & Dumplings, Texas Style Lasagna, Macaroni & Cheese with Ham, Apricot Chicken, Italian Slow Cooker Chicken Country Style Ribs etc… if you are in the neighborhood stop by, we’ll have leftovers… None the less they had a good time and if the meals are as good as they sounded we will do it again.

Thoughts to Ponder…
*A full day in the kitchen results in quality bonding time between mother & daughter
*There is a reason that Rachael Ray can cook a meal in 30 minutes

Merry Christmas from the Whitfields 2009

Dear Loved Ones,

We trust this letter finds that each and every one of you has had a good and prosperous year, a year with more ups than downs; a year that has been filled with more joy than sorrow. As we reviewed the 2008 letter it seems all of the events happened longer ago than just a year. 2009 has been an interesting one for us.

We started our year with Bill resuming his job search after our Christmas vacation in Texas. He left no job unapplied for if it even remotely applied to his experience & skills. He had several companies express interest, several interviews, but nothing came through. By the first of March Tonya was starting to become concerned as to how much longer this might continue when he got a call asking him if he was still interested in the job he applied for back in November??? Bill had to think hard as to which job or company the call was from. We know now that Bill has been blessed by landing a job in 4 months, but at the time we didn’t realize this. We also know now that we were blessed when Bill was laid off, you see he had not been happy at his previous employer in several years and he thought he would just hang on until Tonya retired from Boeing then we would move to New Mexico and he’d grab some type of job there for a few years. He is working for General Construction, a company that is a division of Kiewit Construction, he loves the job but hates his commute (135 miles round trip) and typical 10 to 12 hour days (Tonya still isn’t adjusted to his new hours, especially supper at 7:00PM and she misses their time together). Our thanks go out to everyone who added us to their prayer list. We are blessed in many ways and having jobs right now is one of these blessings.

G’ma E (Tonya’s Mom) is now living with us here in Washington. Back in February she became very ill, so ill that it resulted in about 2 weeks in the hospital, and of those 2 weeks over 10 days were spent in CCU. Tonya traveled to Texas to be with her mom as well as to lend support to her brothers, Mom was a very sick woman, but she continued to regain her strength and around the 1st of March Tonya was able to return home and brought G’Ma E with her. It seems that she needs a more help around the house now (this legally blind thing keeps her down more so than her other problems) so we have discussed things with her and we’ve all agreed that she will be living with us. Plus she is a big help for us too, she has her daily routine around the house doing a lot of little things that we would let go until we found more time. Again, we are blessed to have her with us. Mom will be 90 next month.

The three of us made the trip down to Utah in August to move Whitney’s belongings in a U-haul trailer. We ahs planned on stopping at Glacier national Park on the way back to Washington, but we ran out of time. So we decided to make the drive to Montana on Labor Day weekend. We made the trip and had a great “road trip”. Glacier Park is beautiful and definitely should be on everyone’s “must see” list.

Brittany is doing great!!! She’s still working full time, should complete her Master’s this summer and scheduled to take her Professional Engineering exam in April; she has a very full plate. And with all that going on she was able to come up from So Cal to visit us twice this year. We missed out on so much of her life during the time that her and her dad lost touch that we are blessed that she is back in our lives.

Whitney also returned to Utah this fall. She is beginning a new adventure in her life, she’s a freshman at Southern Utah University there in her “other” hometown of Cedar City. She has her focus set on a career in Human Resources. She also landed a job working in the admissions office. She seems to be settling into life back in Cedar and being a full time student and not getting the paycheck she was used to. We miss her oh so much, but we are so, so proud of her!

Billy or as he calls himself, William, is doing well. He is living & working in Jackson Hole, Wy. We don’t hear from him as often as we’d like, but when we do it seems that he is enjoying life there and of course is still skateboarding when he has times.

Christopher & Heather got married in February. Their wedding was so pretty with their closest family and friends. We not only gained a daughter but we now have two grandchildren. Sierra is 11 and Hunter is 9. It’s so nice to have younger ones in the family again; it’s been a long time. The happy couple insisted that Tonya bake the wedding cakes, so she did her best (so has anyone made the time-frame connection here, the wedding and all the prep took place during the time G’Ma was in the hospital…. check-out the old postings on the blog) Christopher continues to look for work like so many others in this country, please pray that he will be lead to a full time position soon; in the mean-time he’s a full time “Mr. Mom” while Heather works hard to support their family right now.

Jeremy & Daesha are doing so good. Daesha has been working part-time and is enjoying the extra time that she has around the house for her scrapbooking and other household projects. She and Jeremy really got into making preserves this past summer and we can’t wait to go down and sample their goods. Jeremy is still working with the local school district there in League City and seems to really like what he is doing there. We really appreciated the way they opened up their home to all of us during Christopher & Heather’s wedding, including hosting a dinner after the wedding for Bill’s siblings Karen & Ronny , Don & Diane , and Whitney, so we had a chance to relax after all of the wedding prep.

We love each and every one of you’ll and we continue to pray that you will each be blessed with happiness in 2010!

All our Love,
Bill & Tonya