Saturday, September 30, 2006


A busy time for me

Somehow I seem to be getting busier. My digital photography class is keeping me tied up quite a bit but I am also learning things. As I thought, it is pushing me to do things I probably could have done on my own but now have deadlines for. This is good, I think.

Today I am going to a Miata Club BBQ at the home of one of our members in Redmond at 17:30. Those of us with Mk II model cars are to bring a desert. When I finish this I'll leave for the Krispy Creme place in Burlington for a dozen fat pills, err, donuts. There are only two of these stores in our state at this time and one is here. Then it will take something over an hour to drive down there, plus however long it takes to find the place.

Tomorrow I'll go to church, then I am off on another adventure. I'll wait until later to write about it, but let's say that SW has prodded me to start looking around for a lady closer to home & thanks to the computer... well, more later.

On Monday my older son is marrying the lady he has been going with for over four years. Annie & I were both looking forward to being there but I will have to stand in for her. M, J & K will all be there. I will instantly double my grand kid count as DJ has three sons, all about the same age as my other GKs.

Time to go now if I am going to have time for my mocha, get the donuts & be on the road in time to get there. Oh yeah, there are clouds now after it started out sunny this morning, with showers possible. I will put the top up on the car & take a hat. More later.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


What do retired people do for entertainment?

A friend who used to work at the same place I did sent me this email today. I don't know for sure if it is true or not but it does sound like something Lou would do. Anyway, for those not yet retired who wonder how we old guys pass our days, here is a part of Lou's day the other day:

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day I went down town and went into a coffee shop. (He & I used to do this regularly when we were both working.) I was only in there for about 10 minutes and when I came out there was a Parking Enforcement Officer writing out a parking ticket.

I went up to him and said, "Come on, man, how about giving a citizen a break?" He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. I called him a "Nazi nerd." He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires. So I called him an "idiot." He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket.

This went on for about 20 minutes. The more I abused him, the more tickets he wrote. Personally, I didn't care. I came down town on my bike and the car that he was putting the tickets on had a bumper sticker that said, "Reelect Bush for a 3rd term." I try to have a little fun each day now that I'm retired. It's important at our age.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


My memoirs class & tomorrow's assignment

I have returned to a class I started last year that is offered through the local YMCA, called "Memories to Memoirs." Tomorrow is the second class this session and our assignment is to write something the teacher has called, "What's My Voice," where we write something about a favorite song, with it's lyrics. I have the assignment ready to turn in but decided I'd try to put it here as a blog post. I don't know how this is going to work as the original is on an 8 1/2 X 11 page, too. There is a B&W photo embeded in the original that I am sure I can not put in the same position here that it is on the assignment page, but I'll see what I can do with it. No, the photo is not in the same position but here we go:

Memories to Memoirs – 25 Sep 2006
What’s My Voice…
Dick Phillips

“Jeremiah was a bull frog.” It’s hard to come up with a single favorite song as there are so many that have special meanings to me over the years, but I think that one of the top ones would be “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. It was a number one song for six weeks in 1971 and it brings back some wonderful memories.

This was in our BK era, Before Kids. We were young, had comfortable incomes, and occasionally liked to party. I was the President of the Vashon Island Jaycees, Annie was an active member of the Jaycee Wives Club. Every summer the Vashon Jaycees raised money and put on the Island Festival. One of the fixtures of the Festival was the Beach Party that we threw for ourselves and Jaycees from around the area. It was a true beach party in the early years but by 1971 we had to leave the County Park where we had been holding it, due to the many beer kegs we went through during the night. In 1971 we moved it to a private park in the interior of the Island, so there were no legal problems with our favorite beverage.

The dinner menu was clams, salmon, corn on the cob, coleslaw, garlic bread, ice cream and some times other things, along of course with the beer. We also had live music to dance to. The party started about 5 in the afternoon for dinner and talking and tended to go almost until sunrise. Sometimes we did make it to sunrise. Our favorite band was led by Skip who was a Jaycee in our chapter and they would continue to play as long as anyone wanted them to continue. Their music was pretty good for a local band.

I still remember dancing with my Annie to Joy to the World. Skip & the band could make that song last ten minutes or longer. It was fantastic in the warm night of summer, dancing on the lawn in the light from a bonfire with the one I loved. I suppose the beer didn’t hurt the mood, either. There were other songs that were great from that era but this one I especially remember and love, probably partially because Annie also loved it so. Good vibes, even thirty-five years later.

Ann & I skiing
Ann and I at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort in Washington State, photo in 1969.

Here are the lyrics:

- written by Hoyt Axton
- lyrics as recorded by Three Dog Night (#1 for 6 weeks in 1971)

Jeremiah was a bullfrog
Was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him a-drink his wine
And he always had some mighty fine wine

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

If I were the king of the world
Tell you what I'd do
I'd throw away the cars and the bars and the war
Make sweet love to you
Sing it now...

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

------ electric piano ------

You know I love the ladies
Love to have my fun
I'm a high life flyer and a rainbow rider
A straight shootin' son-of-a-gun
I said a straight shootin' son-of-a-gun

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the world
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

I wanna tell you
Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls

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Thursday, September 21, 2006


A meet with two other bloggers

Yesterday I met Mary Lou and her sister, Phyllis at the Starbucks coffee shop in Burlington. We have been reading each other's blogs for some time now and it was great to finally meet the two of them. Phyllis does work very similar to that I did before retiring, but for a different transit system. Mary Lou is like me, retired now and busier than ever. We prevailed on one of the Barista's to take a few photos of us with my camera and here is one:
Whidbey bloggers & me

After that mocha it was time for lunch, so I had a Polish dog at Costco and bought another 1 GB Compact Flash card for my camera. A year ago these same cards were selling there for $90, now it was $38. Prices on some things are tumbling. I noticed Costco's gas price was $2.59/gal, down a little from last week.

The Check Engine light came on again in my Miata. This has been a problem since the dealer replaced the control computer on a recall back in April. Mazda said today they are working on a software solution and will get back to me in a week or two when they have that solved. I hope they don't have Inspector Clouseau on the case. Oh wait, he is French and this car is Japanese. I guess it will work out okay.

My Digital Photography class is starting off with a real bang. I got the info yesterday online and our weekly assignments are due Fridays, with the first one due tomorrow. I have about half of the reading finished and when I finish this post I'll hop into Photoshop Elements and get to working on the photos we were given to start out with. I won't post them here but will try to do some of my own when we get to that stage.

Rain has come. We are no longer experiencing the driest summer ever, at least for the offical Seattle record. As of last night, this is now the second driest summer on record here but with Fall not arriving until 3-something tomorrow afternoon, I think it will slip to the third driest by then. I miss the nice summer weather!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Testing a new lens

I did get registered for the Digital Photography class at Skagit Valley College yesterday and we already have some assignments. It will be an online class but the instructor is available via phone, email or in person at his office if one needs to meet with him. There is quite a bit to this first assignment. I have completed the first of four things to do in addition to reading quite a bit in two of the three texts. It should be interesting. Today is effectively the first day of the class and this assignment is due this Friday. I am glad that I didn't sign up for the Photoshop class at the same time!

Tomorrow I will be meeting two bloggers from Whidbey Island for mochas. It should be interesting to get to know these two ladies in person.

I have been faithful on my trips to the YMCA to exercise. I hope it will do what I want it to do, have me loose some weight & get into better physical shape, and that I keep up with the program. I really want to do it so think it won't be something that gets dropped.

I finally did get the chance to go out and take some photos with my new Nikor 50mm f/1.8 lens. This would be considered a standard lens on a 35mm camera but on mine is fills the CCD (image sensor) like a 75mm lens would on a 35mm. In other words, it becomes like a slight telephoto, but it is fast in that it opens pretty big to let a lot of light in. It will work better in low light levels than my other lenses.

This first photo is of the small island in our front yard. The red lava rock is new this year, replacing cedar bark. It should be more permanent than the bark. The photo isn't all that great but it does show sharpness and depth of field:
Fall yard 01

Next is a scene in the front yard of my neighbor's house. He painted this manual water pump & set it in place with the old bench. I think it looks kind of neat:
Fall yard 02

Here are some more flower photos, but this one includes a passenger. There is a snail snuggled down into the bloom on the left:
Fall yard 03

These are probably the last of the roses for the season. As you can see I can't get anywhere near as close with this lens as I can with the macro one, but the image is pretty close. This is a slight enlargement, not using quite all of the full frame:
Fall yard 04

This sign came with the house when we bought it and the message on it sure is correct. I am not much of a yard work person but happily the yard isn't too large. I am planning to use more of that red lava rock next year to cut down even more on things that have to continually be done. Anyway, here is the sign:
Fall yard 05

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Saturday, September 16, 2006


Rain has come to the northwest

We have had some rain over the last couple of days, the first at all since Aug 9th and the first of much volume since early July. I guess it is bound to happen as we are in a climate area where there is more precipitation than in a lot of other places. It tends to make the area greener than it is in most other places.

The mail yesterday brought a DVD from GR. He is one of those who I attended school with during our high school years. We got together in Spokane at the end of July with six other school friends. Photos were taken and GR combined them, along with music from that time period, into a DVD. I watched my copy last night and it is really neat. You did a good job on it, GR!

It looks like SW will be a good friend, rather than more. I have to admit to being sad about that but as I said earlier you can never have too many good friends. It sure doesn't help to live 300 miles apart, but she also has different interests in ways to occupy time than I do. But I am trying to be less sedentary. I've started attending a regular exercise class at the YMCA at 08:00 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I will also be looking for more things to get involved in doing.

I checked yesterday at the college and there is still space left in that digital photography class that I want to take this fall. I would take it on a special fee basis as a senior so I am just auditing the class but I can't sign up until the first day of classes, if there is space available. That day is Monday & I plan to go register after I finish my exercise class at the Y. I went ahead and bought the three books listed for the class, all $85 worth of them. I'll post more about this as I get started with the class and I am looking forward to it.

I guess I startled at least one reader of this blog a couple of posts ago by the way I titled the post. She thought at first that I held a memorial service for Huggy. No, happily Huggy is doing fine. The memorial service was for a friend from church. There have been others I should have attended since Annie's death but this was the first one I felt I could go to. I am going to include a photo here that was taken in Feb, 2005 in Yuma, Arizona of Huggy sleeping on the driver's seat of our motorhome. She really does get into some of the most uncomfortable looking positions at times:
Huggy in RV 2

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I'm older than I was on Saturday

I went out in the yard again with my macro lens to see what was left of the yard flowers. I found this white spyder eating a bee on one of the trellis flowers:
Yard flowers 10

I don't know what these flowers are but they are small, kind of colorful and still look good even in the early fall:
Yard flowers 11

I got an email Friday morning from a couple of Escapee RV Club Boomers who have been staying in a campground nearby, inviting me to meet them and another couple at the Conway Pub in the evening for burgers for dinner. The weather was great, I was clear in my schedule, so I did meet them there a bit after 17:30. Here is a photo of the sign on the building that tells the date it opened:
Conway Boomerang 1

And here is the five of us at our table outside on the patio. We are Laurie, Odel, Dick, Bill and Wilda:
Conway Boomerang 2

Saturday I picked up the cake at Costco for coffee hour at church on Sunday, then drove to Auburn to pick up my older grand daughter, K. She came up to spend the night and help me with coffee hour the next morning and to stand in for her Dad who is at sea with his ship. His birthday was the first of our family ones, on the 6th. We had dinner at Denny's when we got back to Mt. Vernon, then to Walmart for a dress for her. After that we went to my house, swam in the pool, then she watched a TV show she wanted to see before heading to bed.

Sunday we picked up a fruit tray, paper plates & plastic forks on our way to church, then had a great coffee hour after the service. My other son, DIL and the birthday girl, K, who will be six on the 13th, came up to help. The coffee hour was good and we nearly finished the cake, so I just left the rest for them to use in the afternoon. That way I was not tempted to eat any more of it myself!

We went to Shari's Restaurant for lunch and to open gifts. K & her brother, J, gave me a neat sweatshirt. M, J & K gave me a music CD with the soundtrack from the movie, Cars, a 100-sheet pack of 4x6 glossy photo paper and a really neat hardbound book J had made up with photos of us all from when they surprised me in Cheney on 23 July, the 1st anniversary of Annie's death, by driving over to spend the time with me. I didn't know something like that book is available but it sure is neat. I guess you can order them with any number of pages from 20 on up to I don't know what the maximum number is. She ordered it from Clark Color Labs which is a firm she has used to print her film based & now digital photos. I do not know the cost of the book but it is nice, the photos are good quality and as I said, it is hard bound and sized a little over 11" wide by a little over 9" high. It really is neat and sure offers some neat ideas for gifts. They are called "Memory Books" on the web site.

After lunch M, J & K headed home while the older K and I went to Borders to buy a book for her, then we headed for Auburn to get her home. SW called while we were driving south to wish me a happy birthday. I got back home about 19:00 to spend the rest of my birthday at home.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


SW's birthday is today, Sep 7th

Today is SW's birthday. She is now older than me. For three days. We were babies in the hospital nursery together in Spokane, although in different hospitals. Back then Mothers were kept in the hospital for a week after giving birth. I think hospitals were more afordable back then than they are now. Who could afford to stay for a week now? This week in September used to have three birthdays that were important to me in it. Now there are four.

I got my driver's license renewed today. It cost me $140. I decided to go ahead and keep my Commercial Driver's License (CDL) as it would be almost impossible to get it back if I let it go. If I want to work as a volunteer driving for a senior center or some other similar place I will need it. So, I first had to have a DOT physical exam. That was at 08:00 and cost $85 but it confirmed that I am still alive. Then I went to the DL place. On Thursday they don't open until 09:30. Not wanting to sit outside waiting for 40 min, I did what I do so well & went to Starbucks for a mocha. Then back to the DL place a bit after 10. The regular license costs $25, plus $30 for the CDL, so $140 for both, with the medical exam. That is good for five years, but I have to have the physical annually. If I want to use the CDL.

SW called me just after 11. The florist had arrived with the bouquet of silk flowers I had ordered. She loves white roses but does have some alergies so I thought silk flowers might be best. She liked them a lot so I guess I made a good choice and so did the floral shop as they had to round up white silk roses. I wish I were over there with her on this special day.

This afternoon my neighbors & I walked back to Starbucks where I just had a cup of decaf coffee this time. I am going to try to walk a few miles every day along with my every other day work out at the Y. Maybe I'll start drinking just a tall mocha rather than a grande. Fewer calories, fewer dollars. Sounds good. That will help pay for the minutes on my cell phone that I doubled tonight. I am already 20 min over my old 450 anytime minutes for this month that doesn't end until the 19th. I've used that 470 plus about 800 free night & weekend minutes already this month. I am finally getting good use out of my cell phone!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Huggy, a memorial service and exercise

I am going to repost my favorite photo of Huggy as many who read this now did not see the photo when I posted it back in Dec. or Jan. This was taken last fall in my back yard with my then new 90mm macro lens, sort of testing it out. That is the same lens I used at the Elvis show last week. By the way, my new Nikor 50mm f/1.8 lens arrived today. I hope to try it out tomorrow. Here is Huggy:
Getting close to Huggy

Friday of last week a friend from church died from cancer. She thought she had beaten this some years ago but it came roaring back with a vengence in July. This was the first Memorial Service I have attended since Annie's on 3 Aug 2005. It was kind of a hard thing to go to but I really liked Trudy and wanted to be there. I am glad that I did go.

I joined the YMCA in Sep 2005 to exercise in order to loose some weight & get into better physical condition. I started out pretty good but fell by the wayside, then left on my Snowbird trip & never got started again. I have continued to pay my $29 per month but haven't lost much weight, except $29 worth in the wallet every month. Well, I went there again today and got a refresher on using some of the machines. This time I think I WILL do better. SW is also inspiring me to eat better (and less) so between the two it may work this time. Time will tell and I'll let you know how I do. I even bought a bathroom scale to check the results, good or not so good.

Today is my older son's 34th birthday. He is in the Navy and his ship is away for awhile so we will celebrate his birthday when he gets back. We got to talk tonight on the phone. As long as I am reposting photos, I think I will repost one of he and Annie that was taken when he was just a few days old. This was with one of my old Nikon F 35mm cameras, using a 50mm f/1.4 Nikor lens, Tri X black & white film and window light. I copied the negative with my scanner, then made the image positive in Photoshop:
Mother and Baby

When I looked at my blog tonight for some reason the side bar was gone. Not just pushed to the bottom, but gone. The posts themselves seem okay and the comments are there but none of the profile, Blogroll, archives or Statcounter shows up. Is anyone else having problems today with Blogger or did something happen to my template? I haven't worked on it for some time so can't understand why it would be corrupted. When I get this posted I'll go back into my Favorites and check some other blogs. It all looked fine this morning. Aren't computers fun sometimes?

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Danny Vernon's Illusions of Elvis show

On Thursday, Aug. 31st I attended another show with Danny Vernon presenting his "Illusions of Elvis" show in the large bingo hall of the Northern Lights Casino near Anacortes, WA. This is my second time seeing his show and it was as enjoyable as the first time, but I did like the smaller room that it was in back in May better as it was a lot more cozy. This room was just too big, the seats too uncomfortable, no table in front of each of us and there were too many people (around 600.) This time I took my camera along and I learned it is hard to take photos with stage lighting of moving performers. Getting good focus was hard and they tend to move enough that there is some blur introduced from their movements. I have selected about nine photos that kind of cover the event and are for the most part fairly sharp. These are all with just the stage lighting, no flash. Flash would have been a lot sharper but I think it looses the feeling of the performance.

This show also had two other performers, one as Buddy Holly and one as Ritchie Valens. I have a photo here of the Ritchie Valens singer but the other was not on long, I didn't go up front near the stage while he was singing and so I don't have any decent photos of him. There are a pair of dancers, "Double Trouble," who are good and dance along with some of the Elvis songs. Danny's wife, Marcia, also performs on stage with him singing backup. Now off to the photos, with a brief description of each:

Here is Danny in his portrayal of Elvis in his middle years. He breaks the show down into three eras- early Elvis, the middle years and the final years. That is his wife, Marcia, in the background singing backup:
Elvis 01

Danny is performing with the dancers, "Double Trouble" in this photo:
Elvis 02

Here they are again. The nearest dancer reminds me a lot in appearance of SW, except SW is not a blond:
Elvis 03

I am sorry that I don't have the name of this performer who is in the role of Ritchie Valens, but he was good & really got the audience participating:
Elvis 03a

This is Danny's late Elvis part of the show, with Marcia in the background:
Elvis 04

Danny's whole show is a high-energy performance:
Elvis 05

Elvis loved the ladies in the audience and Danny seems to also. Here he is presenting scarves to some of them while singing. My DIL was in this position at the show we attended in May but Danny came to her in the audience, plus she also got a kiss:
Elvis 06

Danny does get pretty emotional during his performance. You get the feeling he loves doing this and really gets into his role:
Elvis 07

This is the conclusion of the show with all the performers on-stage. This is the only decent photo I have of "Buddy Holly" and it does not include the drummer nor the two guitarists. The musical backup was by live performers and it was good:
Elvis 08

I have included a link above to Danny's offical web site. You can hear some of his music there and check out his performance schedule as well as see more photos. Most of his shows are in the northwest but I understand he has performed in Las Vegas and other places. If you have a chance to go see him, do it, especially if you are a fan of the music of Elvis Presley.

It was a learning experience for me as far as the photography is concerned. I deleted four times as many photos as I kept due to them not being up to the quality I prefer and really none of them are really great. But, I am learning.

Edit: 5 Sep 2006 - "Buddy Holly's" actual name is Ray Sanchez. "Ritchie Valens'" actual name is Ray Anthony.

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Friday, September 01, 2006


The Lake Whatcom Railway

On this past Tuesday my neighbors and I made the trip north of town to the little village of Wickersham where a railroad enthusiast has really setup a large model railroad. He calls it the Lake Whatcom Railway and you can ride on scheduled trips through out the year. The track extends about three and a half miles north to a nice open pasture area which is the midpoint of the trip. The equipment is old and not perfectly restored, but how many of us have our own railroad of any type or quality? Of course I took some photos and will post about six of them here.

This first photo is of the diesel locomotive that he uses to pull the old Northern Pacific passenger car on the trips. This was a yard switch engine formerly used in the rail yard in Tacoma, WA:

I guess all railroads have little speeder type cars that are powered with a small engine & used to move one or more people around to work on the system, although I don't think I have ever seen one quite like this. It looks like it would be a fun way to get around:

Here is an old caboose that is parked on a spur track in the meadow at the end of the run. I didn't get inside (it was locked) but am sure he has kept it original. Many of these old cabooses have been modified to make cute little gift shops and other various retail uses:

There was a hand car there that was very popular, especially with the children who were along on the trip. Here are a group of them, along with the owner/Engineer, pumping the handle to bring the car back to the switch & onto the siding:

This is a closer view of the hand car and it's crew. You can also see some of the natural landscape here in the northwest in these photos. We have quite a bit of rainfall over the year but the foliage is quite green and lush because of that:

We have returned to the start/finish of the trip. This will show a bit of the inside of the passenger car, along with my neighbor, B, who is gathering up things preparing to exit the train. They had a coffee shop on the train in the area behind the wall that is behind B, but it didn't offer much beside coffee, potato chips and candy bars, at least on this day:

I have been on better train rides but none of them were owned and operated by just one person. He has done very well to get to this position on his own, and is providing a glimpse into history for the local people that wouldn't exist without his efforts. To see more about this hobby business, visit the Lake Whatcom Railway web site.

Tomorrow I should have a post ready about the Elvis show I went to last night, along with some photos.

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