Saturday, December 24, 2011


Well, we’re back home again, vacation over and back to the grindstone!
Everything in the RV looks so midget size compared to the house we were just in! I opened the dishwasher and couldn’t help but think: “awh, how cute!”
It’s nice to be back though. Being able to find things right away again, I mean, in how many places can things be around here after all, and we missed our ‘own’ festive Christmas decorations.

Merlin went straight to bed, his own little fuzzy one, and Sadie climbed on ‘her’ couch and let out a deep sigh. No more sharing of attention and defending your toys against a strange cat and dog!

Before we left we toured the neighborhood one evening to look for Christmas lights. It’s a beautiful area during the daytime with very nice houses and pretty yards but wait until you see what happens when it gets dark during this time of the year!
People come from around Newberg to see it.

I finally got around to use Picasa to create this picture collage (thanks again for your help on this
Judy! Now if I only could 'live writer' to work!) ).
Now Doug is back again, the office is also back in ‘full’ swing.
Normally it is kind of quiet around this time but apparently not this year (just my luck)! What doesn’t help off course is that ‘log-me-in’, the computer program we set up so I would be able to work from the RV,  has some major glitches, the printer doesn’t work and, oh yea, the Internet of the Park is slower than molasses!
Add to that that I’m still pretty slow in getting things done so needless to say things are a little hectic for me. I’m swimming as fast as I can but am close to drowning at times!
Hopefully next week we’re ‘caught up’ and I will be able to catch my breath.

This is my ‘sweat-house’!

James recuperated enough from his cold so he could get Doug’s waterfall working in the backyard last week. It needs some more work and some nice planting around it but it’s a pretty good ‘fall’ with lots of water and nice sound effects.

It has been quite cold again; a few days ago we woke up to a ‘winter-wonder-land’ after a night of
26 F!
Very 'Christmassy' but the heater goes non-stop so the utility bill probably won’t be pretty this month!
The water line froze but the water in the tanks never does so we’re doing fine.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Katie finally delivered a healthy baby girl. Unfortunately a week overdue and per caesarian but all is well now and that is the most important thing. I bet they’ll have the best Christmas ever!


Also, the ‘dutchies’ are back! Remember the Dutch guy (Gertjan) and his Mam I talked about a while ago who was looking to buy a farm but couldn’t get a visa and had to go back to Holland since his tourist-visa expired. Well, he’s back and here to stay (for a while) after getting a visa for a year in Amsterdam at the American consulate!
I’ve never seen a guy so happy, he’s practically floating and back at looking at farms to buy and rental places to stay in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twin Trees in Fog (© Kerik Kouklis)

The fog just didn’t want to lift this week. It started very heavy in the mornings and basically stayed of a pea soup consistency all day.
Everything was wet and grey and it was very cold on top of that. ‘Water-cold’ we say in Holland, the sort of cold that chills you to the marrow. You know!

I brought out my hand knitted socks, my warmest and made a promise to myself to finally try to finish another pair that I’m already working on for a year or so.
’Needle-ss’ to say, I’m not the worlds fastest knitter!
I’m knitting both socks at the same time from the toe up on 2 circular needles, something I taught myself to do with instructions from an e-book I bought.
Since I don’t do it often enough I still need the book but the socks come out great! I like the little circles in these cuffs!

These are definitely days to curl up with a good book and a nice pot of tea!
Maybe you remember that I used to have an enormous amount of books and that I sold them all (it still hurts a little) when we were ‘downsizing’.
That Christmas James got me a NOOK which now is my prize possession!
I wanted the Nook for it’s ability to download e-books from the library to save money on buying any since I cannot store or display them any more.
I still have a valid library card from San Bernardino which is a huge county and therefore has lots of e-books and I also found out that the Houston Library sends you a free card if you live in Texas! Since we have our mailing address through Escapees in Livingston I applied and they sent it right away, you don’t need to pick it up in person. Here in Dayton I seem to be able to get one too if I can show them some mail that was delivered to the campsite.
All those cards give me access to their on-line libraries where you can download 5 books at a time and than read them for 2 weeks max after which they just ‘disappear’ from your reader. Some libraries have a huge selection and some are just ‘getting into it’ so the more cards you can get from the larger libraries the better your selection will be.

One other thing I like about a reader is that you can read in the dark! No more fumbling with book-lights or lamps in general which keep James from sleeping.

Since Doug took his family on a cruise for 10 days we moved into his house on Thursday to take care of his dog Bentley and their cat Mercedes. After some initial hissing fits all animals seem to get along fine, there sure is enough space for all of them!
It’s like a vacation for us too; the house feels huge after living in the RV for so long! And those kitchen counters!
We also don’t have to commute to work for a while which is very convenient. James steps out of the backdoor right onto the job site and I don’t even have to leave the house since the office is upstairs.

James got a bad cold over the weekend; I stay away from him as much as possible because it doesn’t look like he’s having fun, which is also much easier to do here than in the RV!
He’s working on placing rocks for the waterfall and steps to the upper tiers in the yard which turns out to be not the easiest of jobs. They’re big rocks and weigh a ton! Fortunately he has a worker since a week or two, Adam, who comes in 2 days a week, but even for the two of them it’s a hack of a job. They’re totally worn out at the end of the day!

I’m in charge of the office now, not that there’s anything happening this week while Doug is gone, but Katie is officially on maternity leave now so I am it!
Speaking of that, her due date is today, I hope she’s OK since I haven’t heard anything yet!

Monday, December 5, 2011

After 10 days of rain they’re now predicting 10 dry and sunny days in a row! Sounds good to us!
It does get a lot colder again though with these clear nights which means we have frozen car windows in the morning and pretty frosty grass.

So far no frozen roads yet but it can be very foggy until around 11 am so we're taken it easy on our daily commute to Newberg.
James works on a pergola in Dougs yard, part of which will be covered.  He put up some massive beams after making a decorative cut at the ends.

It’s time to bring out the Christmas decorations and we hang a string of colored lights on the awning.

We get some Christmas music going to get in the ‘spirit’,  decorate our tiny (but cute) Christmas tree and hang some garlands on the trim around the slides.

Voila, Christmas has arrived, time for some (spiked) eggnog!
We have some freshly baked speculaas with it. This is a special dutch treat that’s eaten on the 5th of December when we celebrate Sinterklaas!

On the evening of the 5th, Saint Nicolas, who was a spanish bishop in real life and has his birthday on this day, is supposed to drop of a (jute) bag of candy and presents at the homes of kids who have been good (where have I heard that concept before?).
He comes with his helpers, black Petes, and if you were bad, they'll put you in that same bag and take you with them to Spain! Enough to give any child a trauma for life! I mean, who comes up with this stuff?
Anywho, the candies and cookies are good and I never got into that bag so it's nice to remember the good old days when that was basically all you had to worry about.

Traditionally a hearty soup or stew is eaten on the same evening to offset all the sugar that you're going to overdose on later that night so I made a nice pea soup, 'snert', we call it in Holland, in my crockpot.

Over the weekend James re-organized his 'office' again and got rid of more files and a colour printer that we never use.
We also set up our computer so that we can access the one in Dougs office to enable me to work 'from home'. Sweet!