Thursday, June 29, 2006


Birthday parties & RV friends

Yesterday was quite a day. First it was my younger son's 32nd birthday. His brother & I drove to M's house for a dinner & party in their large back yard & got to initiate the "lawn house" (I don't know what else to call it) that J bought him for his birthday. It is about 12 feet wide and 24 feet long, with a roof & sides that are mostly screen (the sides) to allow the breeze through. It is like a big tent or one of those canapies you see in yards over picnic tables but this is much larger than any of those I've seen and it has sides you can close for mosquito protection.

The day sure was different that the one 32 years before when he decided to be born, starting in the middle of the night. We lived on an island in Puget Sound, accessible only by ferry boats that do not run in the middle of the night. I called the dock & we headed there. I thought they started up the boat that was parked there all night but no, they had to contact the one over at Southworth & have it come over to Vashon, then to Seattle. The phone was busy at Southworth. For over an hour. Later a ferry worker claimed he was giving detailed routing instructions to a customer. Sure, at 3am. For over an hour. I hope his girl friend now knows where to go. Anyway, we got to the hospital where M was born about 40 minutes after our arrival. Here is a scanned image of a snapshot that was taken of Annie & M in our Vashon Island house I think in the summer or fall of 1975 so M was a little over a year old. I have been having a lot of fun scanning snapshots into digital images but I sure wish we had done a better job of labeling them with at least the date they were taken!
Ann & Mike in 1975

An RV friend, who I also worked with at Metro Transit for 23+ years, told me another full time RV couple, D & S B, were staying in the Thousand Trails park just outside La Conner, WA. I contacted them & we setup to meet yesterday for lunch at Shari's. That went well and we had a good visit for nearly three hours. I last saw them at Life on Wheels in Tucson where they are instructors and I'll see them again next week in Moscow, Idaho where they will be teaching ten different classes at Life on Wheels again. I wrote here about a visit with them in Boomerville at Quartzsite, AZ last January, too.

The RV life style is perhaps a little hard for non-RVers to understand. You make good friends that you see periodically in various parts of the country as you both travel around. Sometimes these are regular places, like Life on Wheels or Boomerangs like the one at Quartzsite. Sometimes you will just find you are both staying in the same campground or nearby & will setup a meet. Escapees RV Club Boomers BOF has an online site where members let others know where they are, or you just hear like I did from another RVer who knows where you both are at the moment. That is part of the fun of that life style.

Last Sunday I was in La Conner after church to meet long time friends D & J C who, with their four grandkids, were staying a couple of nights in a travel trailer at a campground there that they are members of. They are not full time RVers. They left Monday for Spokane where they will stay in a campground on Long Lake & plan a day trip to Silverwood, a large amusement park in north Idaho a few miles east of Spokane. Silverwood has a most unique roller coaster in that it actually goes through one of their gift stores which makes an exciting ride and perks the excitment level for the shoppers, especially if they don't realize that the roller coaster does that. They have two of the largest wooden roller coasters in the country plus of course the typical cork screw ones that run on metal supports. D & J are my age and are raising their grandkids that range in age from 5 to 12. They are an amazing couple & Godparents to my younger son, the birthday boy, M.

I had a string going, actually making it to four consecutive men's walks from our park to the hospital cafeteria for coffee. I missed it yesterday with too much going on but hope to do it again tomorrow. My Doc last week said I was doing pretty good but he wants to see less of me (about ten pounds) when he next sees me. I don't think my diet is too bad but I know I need more exercise. Those walks sure can't hurt as they are about three miles round trip. I have been paying dues to the YMCA for ten months or so but that hasn't helped. Maybe I should also start going there as well as just paying the bill.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Club Miata NW Tech Day

Today was the tech day for Club Miata NW at K B's house. He has a great garage, one any of us would love to have. There were 13 cars that showed up to have a variety of things done. The weather was perfect, sunny and the high temp got up to about 80. By late afternoon when the temperature was at it's highest, probably J H had the best job, washing & waxing cars in the shade. Here is a photo showing 8 of the 13 cars grouped together:
Miata Club Tech day 01

I understand that this isn't a very common color for Miatas but there were 4 of them together here today. Here are 3 in a row:
Miata Club Tech day 02

Some things were fairly simple, like mounting the front license plate on my car and putting mud flaps on all four corners of this one (Meow, see the license plate!):
Miata Club Tech day 03

One of the two stock horns on this red car had stopped working, leaving it with a kind of weak sounding "toot." These air horns, with the small compressor to drive them, make a much bolder sound:
Miata Club Tech day 04

Two cars were getting new brakes. This one just needed new pads on all four wheels & now has a set of them that are more efficient than the stock pads:
Miata Club Tech day 05

This one, the 4th of those blue ones, was getting all new brakes on all four corners. That included rotors, calipers & pads:
Miata Club Tech day 06

Here is J H at work washing this car before waxing. As I said, he probably had the best job since he was in the shade all day AND had the water hose:
Miata Club Tech day 07

J did recruit some help. Here are two of the ladies who decided they wanted to learn the process & perhaps stay a little cooler, too:
Miata Club Tech day 08

Mazda did finally build a factory hot rod out of the Miata and they called it MazdaSpeed. It is factory turbo charged and quite a bit faster than the standard car. This is the first one of them I ever saw - here is the engine:
Miata Club Tech day 09

A post about Miatas on my blog wouldn't be complete for me without a photo of my car. Here is the rear license plate and it now has an identical one (I think it works better that way) on the front. Arizona, where the car came from, doesn't have them on the front and I think the car looks a lot better without it. But, I guess there is a $101 fine in Washington State for not displaying it on the front of the car. My car now has the front plate, too. I originally got this plate number when I had a British MG but it still fits in the spirit of the Miata:
Miata Club Tech day 10

It was a good day. I got a couple of things done on my car that needed to be done & learned more about doing some other things to them. Some of the work isn't hard, you just have to be willing to jump in and get started. Of course, having people around who know what they are doing does help!


Monday, June 19, 2006


The movie & Father's Day

I did go to the drive-in theater Saturday night to see the movie, "Cars," with the Miata club. It was a short notice event, just setup from the week before, so there were only three cars of us there but it was fun. The negative is that since we are so far north of the equator the sun doesn't set until after 21:00 this time of the year so the film didn't start until about 22:00. It was good and is well worth seing and is a good one for kids or grandkids. There was a second film, some new X-Men film, but it wouldn't have STARTED until after midnight and ended at 02:30 or so, with me still having a 40 minute drive home, so I left about midnight after just the first show.

Sunday I went to church, then Starbucks for my mocha. While there son M & family called to say they were on their way up. They met me there, then we came back to my house to BBQ hamburgers & eat them on the deck. The weather was great & a good time was had, plus good food. They left about 15:30 so J could meet her Dad & take him out for pie & coffee.

After that I checked email & blogs, read the Sunday paper, visited with my neighbors & just generally relaxed until about 19:00 when I headed out for Outback Steakhouse for my Father's Day dinner. Last year Annie & I were in Spokane at Yogi Bear campground on Father's Day & we went to dinner at the Longhorn BBQ, one of my favorite places. When home we have always enjoyed Outback, so I went there. I didn't order a Blooming Onion as one person can not eat a whole one, but I had a good steak. And, my waitress was a neat young lady named Annie! So I guess that in a way you could say I had dinner with Annie again this year. It was a good day, about as good as I could hope for considering who is missing this year.

Friday, June 16, 2006


A test of the new tripod

I bought a new tripod for camera use a couple of days ago. I have had one but it is fairly light weight both in actual weight & in strength. The one I was looking at originally was a Benbo but Pat, the sales lady I deal with at Ken's Cameras here in Mt. Vernon said she thought I would like a Manfrotto 3001 Pro unit better. She had neither in stock but brought them both in for me to see. She was right - I liked the Manfrotto unit better, and I don't think it is just because I like to say that name! Tripods today do not come with a head, or at least the better units don't, so that you can select the type you want. Then you need a bag to carry the whole thing in. By the time I got it all I had spent about as much money as I did on my Sony pocket camera, but I now have a good quality tripod system.

Today in the late afternoon, with a fairly heavy overcast and a few rain drops, I ventured out into the back yard to try out the new tripod with the macro lens on my Nikon camera, so I now have a few more pictures of some of the flowers in my yard. I have set up two of them to post. This first one is from the vine that climbs up over the trellis you go through to go from the deck into the yard proper. I don't know what kind of a flower it is but it is purple:
Yard flowers 8

I do know what this next one is. Annie loved roses and there were two bushes of them beside our storage shed, one red, the other yellow, when we bought the house. I see that I need to go out and trim off the heads that are past their prime so more will grow but there was one yellow one that still looked pretty good, so I took a photo of it:
Yard flowers 9

These were taken by just letting the camera meter the exposure and a little tweaking in Photoshop Elements. They probably both would be better with a bit more depth of field, especailly the rose, but that will have to wait for another day.

Son M & his family came up today and we went to Bob's Burgers & Brew for lunch. That is a place that makes big burgers, with a big price, kind of like Red Robin, but the sandwiches are good. I had a couple of coupons for half off a second sandwich after buying one so we were able to use them and saved almost $9. M is on one of his three day weekends so he will be off work on Father's Day. Son B also got a three day weekend after returning this week from being out to sea a week & a half on his ship, so he will be home with his family for the holiday, too. I don't know what I am doing Sunday after church but will probably go somewhere for dinner. Last year on Father's Day we were camping at Yogi Bear Campground just west of Spokane and went to a long time favorite restaurant of mine over there, the Longhorn BBQ for Father's Day dinner. That place is too far to go this year so maybe I'll just go to Outback. If I took one of the grand daughters they would probably pick McDonalds.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Summer in the northwest

According to the calendar summer is almost here, less than a week away. But we are still having cool, wet weather here along Puget Sound in Washington State. I know that "summer" usually doesn't arrive here until after the 4th of July but I can hope and we did have that week of 80 degree days during the first half of May. I guess I really can't complain as the weather isn't too uncomfortable with daily high temps around 68 to 70 but, with the rain, the darn lawn grows too fast, as do the weeds!

The Miata club has decided to go on a short notice outing this Saturday night and I think I will be able to go. We will meet in Everett, about 30 miles south of me, for dinner at the Dairy Queen, then head for a drive-in theater as a group to see the new annimated film, "Cars." The weather forecast isn't sounding too bad so there is hope that we can enjoy the film with the car tops down. I have pulled a photo from the MG Car Club rally of my car, parked at the casino at the end of the event. Here is my car, complete with it's number 80 from the event still in the windshield:
Blog extra 05

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Example of edited photo

I don't know how many of you have tried using your digital photo editing software to tweak your photos before uploading them to your blog. I didn't do much at first but now find myself making at least some small changes in each of them before uploading to Flickr & then into my blog. I decided to show an example of the difference it can make in a photo. On Dec. 24, 2005 I uploaded a photo of Annie & I that was taken in January, 2005 while we were in the desert at Quartzsite, AZ, with the Boomers chapter of Escapees RV Club. It is a photo taken by a Boomer friend to include in their online photo directory of members. The original photo size was 800 by 600 pixels which will make a pretty good 4x6 photo and an acceptable 5x7. The photo isn't too bad but I felt it was a little too light, especially Annie's skin tone. I will insert that original photo here, followed by the edited version:
Ann_Dick_Phillips at QRang


I use Photoshop Elements version 4. The main changes I made to the photo were to adjust its contrast and lightness, darkening the photo overall. I also burned in Annie's face a little which darkens it in relation to everything else in the photo. I saved the photo under the same name but with "edited" added to the file name so it would save as a seperate file, and saved it as a .tiff file in my album so it would loose no data when saved. The image uploaded to Flickr is a .jpg file as it will not have any more editing done on it and since .jpg files are smaller they upload/download faster than .tiff files do.

Do you notice a difference between them? This type of thing is easy and fun to do. The main thing to remember is to work on a copy of the original file and save it as a copy so you always have the original. As long as you are working on a copy you can do no worse than deleting that copy and going back to the original to experiment some more. Go ahead and try it.

As to the online dating thing. It is now over a week since I responded to the two on Craigslist and I have heard nothing from either of them. I guess I would get a better response if I went to one of the dating services where that is about all they do, but so far my experience with it has been pretty poor.


Saturday, June 03, 2006


Something new for me today

Today I went online to Craig's List and looked into the Personals. There is a section called something like "Women looking for men." You can enter an age range so I entered 55 - 64 as most of those I saw at first seemed to be in their 20s and that sure wouldn't fit me. Thirteen popped up on the list, these all from the Seattle area Craig's List. Two were from places not too far from me, so I took a chance and sent an email note to each of them. It goes to an annonomus address on their system so I have no idea who they are at this point. Won't know unless they choose to respond.

I don't know if anything will come from this, maybe they won't even like the photo of me that I included so won't bother to answer. I have wondered if I am too soon after loosing my Annie, but it is now getting close to a year. I loved being married and was lucky enough to have found a perfect mate for me. But, I am not too old and really would love to have that magic relationship that we shared back. I am hoping there will be someone out there that fits well with me. I don't think I want to go south alone again next winter. More later as whatever (if anything) unfolds.

The nervous newby on the online dating circuit.....

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