Heart Smart

So this past Wednesday was my long-awaited angiogram. I don't know if the cardiologist appreciated my insistence on having it done and not just taking her opinion as "good enough". I know I feel much better! There were so many symptoms, etc leading me to fear I may have a bad heart:

  • It runs in both my father's and mother's (and even stepfather's!) family
  • I have mildly high cholesterol
  • I was having lots of chest pains, then the event on the plane which many medical personnel agreed sounded like a heart attack
  • My EKG, echocardiogram and stress tests all showed abnormalities
  • My general practitioner saw what she thought was damaged tissue from a heart attack on my stress test.

Long story short - I'm fine! That's a huge weight off my mind!

Now - for anyone needing an angiogram, no need to fear, it was quick and painless. The hardest thing about it was having to lay flat for 2 hours afterward, to avoid opening the wound in the large artery. Everything else went smooth as silk...

Hey, Look! A Mustang!

That became our mantra while on Kauai.

The mantra began when, last year, Rick noticed so many mustangs being rented by the tourists, and many of them convertibles. It begins to be funny once you notice, in tourist areas it's like nearly every third car is a mustang!

This year I had a different partner for my annual trip to work on my parents' house on Kauai - my "darter", Rachyl! And being that this was her first trip I got to be tour guide once again! Yay! When I go just to work I don't get to enjoy the island, but a partner is an good excuse for a few lazy days.

So after our arrival, our lunch at Costco with the folks, picking up supplies at Walmart and Safeway we hung around the house for most of the rest of the day. Nearer sunset I became antsy and decided Rach and I should check out a couple local sights. So we drove into Kilauea to check out the lighthouse overlook and then a quick trip to a new favorite of mine, Kahili beach. By the time we walked down to the water Rach was pretty much worn out so we went back to the folks' and vegged.

Rach was there for a total of 9 1/2 days and we managed to fit a lot into those days. We had a nice time, although the heat was extreme, it's the hottest year I've experienced since my first visit back on '04. Poor Rach learned about life in Hawaii in some of the worst weather conditions! Fortunately our car had really good air conditioning and the folks even turned on their AC from time to time.

Most of the sights were repeats of those I've seen in the past but whenever possible we did something slightly different. Like Polihale Beach. Instead of turning right at the big tree, we headed left toward the Queen's pond. It's a a shallow pond with a sandy bottom surrounded by a protective reef, the only safe place to swim in that stretch of beach. We had planned to watch the sun set there at Polihale, like I've done a couple times before. But we got there a little early, ate our dinner and had to turn away from the water so as to not get blasted by the sun as it was going down. It wasn't very enjoyable, so we got back in the car and headed back toward civilization. We were driving along the highway and noticed a truck turn down a dirt road toward the ocean so I pulled over to see what was out there. There were a few cars and a big tent, it was an unmarked beach park. So I flipped a quick yooey (sp?) and we parked. There was a group of young folks doing some jumping photos, they seemed to be having fun. We walked down the beach past them and waited for the sunset, which would be much sooner since we killed some time driving. It turned out to be an amazing place to shoot one of the most perfect sunsets I've seen on Kauai. There were just enough clouds and Lehua Island, off the coast of Niihau, was the perfect subject to have in the foreground! Thanks for mixing things up Rach, it was perfect!

One afternoon we tried to get a parking spot in Princeville to go to the Queen's bath (apparently Queen Emma liked the water...) and found the 10 or so parking spots filled and at least 3 cars just waiting for a spot to open up. So I decided we could come back another day, earlier in the day so as to possibly find parking easier. So that's what we did and it turned out to be - by far - the BESTEST visit I've ever had there! We parked (a huge feat in and of itself!), the lava rocks we had to walk over were not sizzling, the pond was clear, warm and nearly devoid of visitors! After we got our fill of snorkeling and fish viewing we sat for a while and watched the sea turtles a few yards down the rocks toward the trail.

Mom's chicken gang is healthier, happier and more beautiful than I've ever seen and her tomcat, NMC (not my cat) or Chester or Ono or She (since mom insists on calling him a her) was at least as lovable as last year, if not moreso. He made a bird mess nearly daily, thank goodness the dove supply appears to be virtually endless.

We saw so much: Makauwahi cave, Shipwreck beach, Ke'e beach, Waimea pier, Waimea canyon, Kalalau valley, Opaekaa and Wailua falls, Salt Pond beach, Ahukini pier, Ninini and Kilauea lighthouses, Hanalei Bay & pier, the park at the end of Kuamoo Road. We ate lunch, sat in the water and watched the oama fishers at Anini Beach, watched the sun rise at Aliiomanu park and went to the Smith's Luau. We had a breakfast at Kountry Kitchen and a dinner at Hanalei Gourmet. And had our traditional dinner at Duke's on Rach's last day...

We did manage to squeeze in some work at the folks' house. We got the supplies for a bookshelf, mudded, taped, painted the wall behind it, then built, installed and filled it. It came out beautiful and now they want them built all over that whole wall! We also cleaned up the garden on the front of their house. After Rach left I had a couple large projects and lots of little ones. I set up an outdoor sink, table and cabinet for mom to be able to work at while seated and on the cool side of the house, so cleaning and bottling their noni juice will be easier. And there was a new desk for dad waiting to be put in place and the completion of the corner where the bookshelf went so well that I suggested that, while we were tearing up dad's corner anyway, maybe I could get the drywall hung, mudded, taped and painted all simultaneously. It really displaced dad for a few days but I think, in the long run, he's happy we got it done. Now he has the nicest spot in the house!

The best big surprise for me was the impossible luck of getting an empty seat next to me on the flight home for the third time, seat 9E was empty, I was in 9F, and a beautiful, clear night to see Seattle from the air. For a time now I'll be going back more often, it's time their house was done, it's been 9 years already!

Lily Lat

That's how I always referred to Denny and Heather's sweet kittycat, Lili. Yes, past tense. 

While I was in Hawaii I got a text from Denny that simply said "Lili died". After some conversations and time had past it turns out that it quite possibly was a spider bite. Whatever it was, it was fast. In a way, it's good, that it was fast. But not that she had to go. 

I didn't know Lili well but in spite of the fact that I was just an occasional visitor she was always a very friendly cat. She was a family member for over 8 years. But one of the worse things about her absence is that she was Gage's cat.

I asked Denny how Gage was taking it and his reply was: "Depressed, he takes all day to eat. We would fill their bowl in the morning and he would sit and wait for her to eat. I think he is looking for her cuz I see him wander around aimless."

Bye bye Sweet Lily, you'll be missed...

Weekend Getaway!

Yeah, OK. We just got back from Ireland not that long ago but we discovered on that trip the difference between a vacation and a trip. Ireland was NOT a vacation! It was definitely a TRIP...

We have here in the PNW a very short summer and so we have to take advantage of every minute of it. So we took a 3 day drive. Yes, ANOTHER road trip! We love where we live and there is so much of it that we haven't seen. So we covered another area, this time the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area. It's mostly on the Oregon side but the Washington side somewhat as well.

Wanting to steer clear of the beaten path we opt for side routes that we haven't traveled yet. I discovered on this trip that the black lines on the map say "gravel sections in some remote areas" in parenthesis. OK, so we'll try to stay off the black lines! We started out on one just south of Mt Rainier. Beautiful countryside but not-so-great roads. Eventually we got to our destination, the Columbia River. We'd been to the area once in the past, on a motorcycle outing that included an unfortunate mishap, so had an idea of what could be seen. I've been trying to get some shots of vineyards, close up and overall and I knew we could find some there in a town called Maryhill. There's also a Stonehenge replica which is interesting only the first time. We found the vineyards with baby grapes on them and got some interesting stuff. There were also orchards heavy with fruit, beehives, tractors, an old gas station and a 130 year old church (the closest thing to an Irish ruin in this area!). We also found some basalt columns again like in Ireland and Iceland as well!

We enjoyed driving along the river and all the sights. We didn't realize the Columbia was so popular for water sports, some areas were thick with kite surfers, sailboards, jetskis, etc. We made it to the bridge over to Oregon right about quitting time so we found food and a room. We brought our tenting supplies but decided this wasn't the place to try to find a place to pitch it. We got the last available room at a big chain motel which included a decent breakfast.

We managed to get on the road before 9 (!) and began our exploration of the Oregon side of the Columbia. Instead of the massive interstate highway we found the scenic historical highway 30 which was lined with campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, waterfalls and other ways to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. It was only about a 10 mile stretch but was lined with a pretty white wood fence on one side and packed with distractions to make you stop. One person told me there were 71 waterfalls. Well, we only stopped for 3. Multnomah Falls was the most famous and, hence, packed. It was a beautiful day, nearing the end of summer so everyone was enjoying the out-of-doors. I'm happy to see so many people taking pictures. Granted, the bulk are using their cell phone cameras but at least that's something!

There are numerous dams along the Columbia (which means the river was much smaller when Lewis and Clark had to figure out how to cross it...) and we decided to visit one, Bonneville. Others were named John Day, the Dalles and McNary. The dam itself was only a sight to see across the way, the actual mechanical part is only available for guided tours. But the fish aspect, the fish ladders, hatcheries and underwater viewing areas, were interesting. There were some beautiful plantings as well.

Rick decided we should also see Palouse Falls back here in Washington. We'd been to the Palouse area for a springtime photo outing, to shoot the rolling patchwork fields but didn't see the falls. Well, when we looked at the map it turns out the falls are nowhere near the rest of the Palouse area, there's about 50 miles between them. Having our tenting gear with us and on the hot side of the state we decided that would be our night to tent. Then I saw that there was camping available right there at the falls!

So as we started getting near the falls we began to look for a place to eat. There were only a few "towns" on the map and they all indicated they were the same basic size town (less than 2500). The first was Connell. It had 3 restaurants but not quite what we were looking for. So we moved on to Kahlotus. This ain't a town! and the map shows a lake - there's no lake either! OK, on to Washtucna. Um...the roads were all torn up and they were putting in sidewalks. But all the businesses were closed and even looked empty. So we drove back to a Frank's tavern we saw on our way in. The lady owning it met us outside an explained that they were renovating. She suggested we try a marina just past the falls we were planning to visit.

The marina at Lyons Ferry on the Snake river was open and exactly what we were looking for! They had beer and sandwiches and we could even eat outside! Our beer du jour was a peach hefeweisen from a local brewery and used local grown peaches! Yum!

After our perfect dinner we headed back to the falls to pick a camping spot. We checked things out and it looked like all the sites were taken when we found the handicapped spot open to anyone after 6 PM. OK! It was a gravel spot and right next to the potty and water spigot. Not the greatest. Oh well, we're right here at the falls. So we set up camp real fast and ran to the falls and got some evening shots which were perfect for getting the smooth flowing water look! Camp was overall OK but reminded us just why we prefer to throw a tent out off a lonely dirt road, all by ourselves. I took advantage of the dark environment and attempted a star trails shot. It wasn't stellar but my best attempt so far. The bright light at the left is a bunch of people wandering around out in the desert with flashlights.

We tried a few more shots the next morning but the sun was too intense and the waterfall is in a hole in the shade, they didn't turn out great. While we meandered around the area we spotted a marmot and a bunny. We quickly broke camp and headed back to the restaurant we passed up in Connell the night before. After breakfast we pretty much headed straight home and accumulated a total of 950 miles on this road trip.

It was a great adventure! Next up - - Kauai with my daughter!

‹---teeny tiny bus

Completing the Ireland Circle

Bye bye Bunbeg house! This one we weren't sad to leave behind, it became the joke of the whole trip. So what's on the agenda for today? The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland! It was about a 3 hour drive from Bunbeg. But there would be stops along the way, not a doubt in our minds...

We entered Northern Ireland but no one was prepared to catch a "snap" of the sign so Rick found a spot to turn around and what greeted us? A big sign for a "car boot sale"! We'd seen signs previously and didn't know what they were so Sarah researched it - it was a flea sale of sorts. People had stuff to sell and they sold it out of their car boot - or trunk, as we call it. Being this rainy part of the world, though, it was indoors and was mostly just tables, a few cars with open boots but mostly just tables. Sarah and I enjoyed looking for treasures and found a few!

We decided to travel along the coast and saw Mussendem temple - kinda. Northern Ireland is not as free with their relics. Everything is inside a wall with an entrance fee. The whole area was too "improved" and we decided we preferred the old Republic of Ireland with its narrow, twisty, wall-lined roads and relics and ruins everywhere you looked, most with free access and friendly people who are eager to help you find them. We did see a lot of beauty, the Antrim area is stunning. But we kept our stay in NI under 24 hours.

One good reason to move on was the exchange rate. The republic uses euros which have an exchange rate of 1.32 dollars to a euro. NI uses British pounds. The exchange rate for that is 1.55 USD to a pound. Ouch!

We drove on enjoying the views as best we could as the rain increased until we finally reached the Giant's Causeway. We had flown over 6000 miles and just driven for 3 hours to see it so, rain or no rain, we were going. It was a 15 minute walk to the columns. I had my rubber boots and was gonna use them! At least that way my feet were dry! The rest of me? Well, I put on 2 pairs of leggings to start the day, they were all rather thin and it wasn't warm so I double layered them. In all that rain I decided to add a pair of light denim jeans. So my legs would be dry. I was wearing a sweater over a lightweight turtleneck. Then I put on my so-called water-resistant jacket. That was about as good as I could do. I grabbed a plastic bag to keep my camera in and we headed off.

We got little audio players to describe what we were seeing and in the introduction it mentioned that the screen might be difficult to see in "bright sun or driving rain". Haha!

We walked out to the columns and did our best to explore and take pictures. But, boy! was it raining! Our pictures all came out blurry, my camera even began to malfunction somewhat. I was soaked to the skin and we were just about to head back to the car when the rain stopped and the sun came out! All of a sudden everything had color!

There is a swinging bridge or rope bridge called Carrick-a-rede right near the Causeway and Sarah wanted to check it out. It did look like fun but, as was the norm for that part of the island, there was a fee, a little too much to cross a footbridge. We opted to pass.

We kept driving on Causeway Road a bit til we could head south in Ballintoy. Dunseverick Castle was a little ruin on a hill surrounded by cliffs and right on the shore and there were sheep grazing in and around it. Quite a stunning sight, one of my favorites.

We drove through more of the Antrim forests and finally started looking for a room again. We passed a B&B on the edge of a town, then some cottages and never stopped. That was all we could find for 3 towns. It was becoming panic time again. Sarah and I spotted a hotel in Armagh - the Charlemont hotel. We made Rick stop and see if they had a room, even though it didn't look too good from the outside. It was actually nice once inside so we got a room. It felt good to get out of the car: They had a reasonably priced restaurant so we grabbed dinner and crashed. 

Tomorrow is our last day...


We started to leave without having breakfast when the girl at the front desk questioned that decision and informed Rick that he'd paid for breakfast. Whew! Glad she said something! It was our most expensive room (considering the exchange rate) and we almost wasted some of what we paid for!

After breakfast we drove the rest of the way out of the country and were glad to be back in the prettier country. Just 3 more sight I'd planned for the day. Then we could go back to Dublin if we felt we needed to.

We found the Fore Abbey and it was in another very delightful setting. The weather was working with us this day, it was beautiful clouds and comfortable temperatures, no more rain (at least not until later).

There was a lot to see at this sight, on both sides of the road. There were the oddest looking striped cows grazing in front of the abbey. I researched them and found them to be "Dutch belted" cows. We wandered and took our share of pictures, then headed back a few hundred feet to the town so I could use the restroom. Sarah visited the little shop and bought herself a piece of rhubarb pie. I visited with the owner lady and asked if she knew where our next destination was. It was the ruins of a church in the woods called St John the Baptist church, near Devlin. She hadn't heard of it so she went to google it and was still gone when Sarah finished her pie and we left. I wrote her a quick thank you note on a napkin.I had rather detailed instructions on how to find this particular spot but was still not seeing it so I just went to a couple doors right there and asked if they knew where it was. They did and were more than happy to give me directions.

There was an arch with a gate and it was locked. The lady in the bungalow across the street was supposed to have the key but she wasn't home. Well, I was wanting to see this for months and had come all this way. I wasn't letting a locked gate stop me, the people were all of the opinion that we could go in so I looked and we cold just walk around the arch!

I went in and climbed through a fence into a cow pasture because the woods was behind it. Rick and Sarah walked on the other side of the fence. We ended up meeting right at the entrance to the church, them on one side and me on the other.

We wandered and got some shots and I decided to go out the way they went in. I saw a gate with a sign on it (from the back) and said "what does it say?". Rick said it says church property. I got to the outside and it basically said stay out! Oops! I didn't see it on the way in. Oh well, we didn't do any harm.

Now we were pretty much free to do whatever. Oh - wait! the Wonderful barn in Lucan, right on the way to Dublin!

I thought it was more surrounded by apartments, but instead it was actually in a nice park-like setting. And the clouds were perfect for photographing with an old structure.

We finished up there and chose to head in to Dublin. We felt we were ready to try to navigate the Monster Dublin. Sarah had a specific shop she wanted to get to and it was closing at 6 so we had to hurry. We managed to find everything in time and then grabbed some dinner in another pub.

On our last night I booked a room at the Smarmore Castle in Ardee. On the way there we pass through the town of Slane which is completely encased in temporary fences with openings only at each home's driveway. There was no construction or anything visible to explain the fencing. When we arrived at Smarmore I asked "What's up with Slane?" Our hosts, Peter and Eileen, tell us that the night before there had been a Bon Jovi concert and there were 45,000 people in attendance in the Slane Castle. This is a town with a population of less than 2000. Eminem will be there in August and some concerts there have had as many as 80,000 in attendance!

The room I'd reserved (the Earl's Room) wasn't available so they offered us a choice of 2 other rooms for the same price. We picked the one that had a separate room for Sarah, the Count's Room. It was beautifully decorated and comfortable. We just wish we'd had a little more time to spend there. Their internet left a lot to be desired, but other than that it was perfect! Sarah and I decided to wander out in the dwindling light to try to get some pictures before it was totally dark.It was sprinkling so we put on our coats and went out. And closed the door. And didn't have the key. And didn't want to disturb the owners.

We got a few nice shots in the evening light and then had to figure out how to get back in. We found the window to the room that Rick was in and decided to find something soft to throw at it to catch his attention. But first we tried shooting our flash at the window to see if he'd see that and check out the odd light. No chance. So we found some small sticks but had to throw from the corner of the house. I finally hit the glass and ran back to see if he'd come check out what made the noise. It worked! He came to the window and I signaled to him to open the door. So that wraps up our trip. We drove a total of 1770 miles. Now all that's left to do is get to the airport and onto the plane.

THAT is a story in itself.

<--- castle cat

Ireland Road Trip, Installation #3

On our exploratory drive toward Sligo we ran across Newtown Castle on the N67. It was another one of those refurbished castles (mortar!) which are less interesting, too clean and unrealistic. The keeper of the castle opened it up early once again. Most of the towns are asleep until late, Irelanders (they're not all Irish) seem to be much more laid back than those of us from the States. Anyway, I think we enjoyed the resident chickens and cows more than the castle.

We drove on into Galway to try to find an Enable Ireland Charity Shop (thrift store) and ended up right in the middle of the tourist section of town with lots of street musicians and colorful buildings. Sarah could finally do some serious shopping and we found another Murphy's Bar, whaddya know 'bout that!? (Sarah's mother is a Murphy, FYI). After spending a couple hours enjoying the chaos we headed to Headford to try to locate another obscure ruin I'd found and wished to photograph - Ballycurrin Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is the only inland lighthouse in Ireland, situated on Lough Corrib next to Ballycurrin House, which I neglected to get a picture of. It was a nicely maintained old house with a cottage on the lake that I'd wanted to rent for a night, but this time of year they only rent it by the week. When we got there it was once again a pretty day and there were kids swimming in the lake right at the lighthouse! I got my shots but it'll take some work to remove the kids!

We put the pedal to the metal and made it all the way to Sligo (SLY-go). Now we had to find a room. We checked on one and she referred us to another back on the main drag that may have a room for 3 (we learned to ask for help by now). I ran in to check if there was a room to let for 3 travelers and Mary, the hostess, was more than accommodating. We got our room, the best room on our trip up to then, and she proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes or so educating us on the town history, customs, and gave us a map and restaurant reviews and prices. She also shared that the town was celebrating the poet, Yeats, birthday with special meals (Yeats' celebratory Nobel Prize meal of sausages and wine - the only food and drink he had in the house when he received news of the prize in 1923) and that there would be an open air concert in the Sligo Abbey Ruin, right downtown and for free!

We chose to eat at Hardagon's based on Mary's reviews and it was exactly as she'd described. We ate our dinner then wandered over to hear the concert. It was a string quartet called No Crows and the female member also played a piece on the saw! I'd never heard the saw played - it was awesome and haunting. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and wished they'd had CDs on sale there so I could have bought one to enjoy and have as a souvenir.

On our walk back to Pearce's B&B we finally saw an Ireland sunset. I was in love with that town and could easily see myself living there.


Friday we headed out in a northerly direction toward a room I booked months back and was extremely excited to finally stay in - Bunbeg House.  It was advertised as a beautiful house on a harbor and I was really looking forward to it. But we had miles to go before we'd get to experience it.

Since we ended up part of the Yeats celebration we decided we'd have to stop and visit his grave in Drumcliffe, it was so nearby. It was a very pretty graveyard. With a church in the center, of course.

Our next planned stop was at Ahamlish Church ruins near Grange. My notes took us right to it. The church ruins weren't nearly as interesting as they showed on the web. They had been boarded up and now inaccessible but it was, again, in a very nice setting.

We happened upon Mullaghmore and the beautiful Classiebawn House outside Cliffony on a loop road that wasn't advertised as a scenic route or given any kind of announcement even though it was very worthy of such a fanfare. We enjoyed the detour, then got back on track.

Next we spotted Creevykeel Circle, a "court cairn", otherwise known as a large circular pile of rocks with some strange smaller circles. Someone was buried somewhere in there, maybe many someones.

Our next stop was in the town of Donegal, Donegal Castle. Rick and I had driven around this site on Google maps to see exactly where it was and where we'd have park. It was a pretty well preserved and somewhat refurbished structure with one room decorated something like it may have been when it was in use. It added a little to see how it may have felt to live in a castle. Except for the glass windows, well, that era may have had glass, but they didn't have the heaters. But I think once the place was warmed up it may have held the heat well and been rather comfortable. Before glass windows I'm thinking they may have used shutters and then maybe tapestries to cover the windows and block out the cold. Maybe I'll have to research it...

There was a group of crafters' shops just outside of Donegal that we stopped to inspect and the one that caught our attention was the tweed maker, Clare. She collects weaving machines and rebuilds them as she can. She was using one 100 years old in the shop, it was interesting and she had a nice variety of spools of brightly colored wool.

We continue on through some of the "burren" area, lots of rocks and apparently lots of peat bogs. I found a Kingdom Hall on the R262 north of Frosses! Not much to look at but the only one I'd seen so here's a shot of it.

We knew we were in the peat bog area because we found peat logs drying near the Maas area. I forgot that I wanted to see this, again, I wasn't aiming for it but it just was there, in our face!

The time had come, we got to Bunbeg house. It was dreary, rainy weather but that wasn't the only thing that made the House disappointing. It was just disappointing. The room was cold, most residents had turned off their heaters, it was June, summer, you know?!? The water pressure was poor, the shower head kept drooping, there was mildew on the walls and ceiling in the bathroom. Wifi only worked in one room and it was only marginally acceptable. And the harbor was just a small waterway that went around a large concrete parking area filled with dead, dry-docked boats, some sitting on trailers with flat tires. Oh yeah, the hosts were never anywhere to be seen and appeared bothered when you beckoned them via the buzzer they provided in the lobby.

So the room kinda sucked big time - but dinner at Sean Ogs was terrific! We ordered the fish and chips and the filet of haddock that they served was HUMONGOUS!!!

So we're getting near the end, next up - the rest of the story...

About Me

My photo
After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.