So Long My Friend and Many Happy Adventures - August Newsletter ~ 2021

My friend Sandy. My happiness for her on her official retirement from real estate is bittersweet. It’s always hard to say good-bye to such a pivotal time in your life.  I met Sandy Edwards and her husband Roger 28 years ago as new clients thru a job transfer from Washington. Sandy & I immediately hit it off and became fast friends. We couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds - she, the epitome of the gracious Southern lady from Virginia with impeccable style and manners, and me, the ‘tomboy’ farm girl who only knows two gears: full-on and stop (aka: sleep). 

The important things we had in common: work ethic, love of God, family & country, truth & loyalty - we really should have been Boy scouts. Except for that pesky penchant for getting into mischief together. Sandy’s earthy sense of humor, beautiful naïveté (gullible-ness), and my ‘What have we got to lose?’ attitude led us on many unexpected adventures.

Once when looking at an acreage property w/electric fences: “Hey Sandy, touch that fence for me and see if it’s on…“  Whoever thought she would actually do it?? Or returning a pair of shoes to a store to get that darn plastic security lock taken off that the clerk had neglected to remove when I bought them. Looking thru the doors, I saw the security bars we’d need to pass thru to get to the register; I turned to Sandy and said, “Can you hold this for me for a minute?” handing her my sack w/the shoes in it & rummaging through my purse and moving quickly through the door. Helpful Sandy immediately grabbed the sack for me. I held my breath & glanced back. Sure enough, as she passed thru the security bars, the obnoxious alarm went off blaring loudly - complete with bright red lights flashing for good measure. Sandy froze like a deer in the headlights. I kept on walking.

 I know, I was definitely the rotten sister, and she, the kind caring one who would have been mom’s favorite. But somehow, fast friends we stayed through the ups & downs, tears, laughter and shenanigans. My friend Sandy - I love your warmth, generosity, innocence (not-so-much-anymore :-), and always saying yes to my ill-conceived ideas!

Bidding adieu to a chapter, but not saying goodbye… Laters ~

~ xoxo brenda

GRATEFUL- A Letter from the Heart  August 2021
Picture It! Oregon, Labor Day 2020...from east to west, north to south Oregon was pretty much on fire. To those who lost their homes, land or some that lost their lives I am truly sorry. For those that worked long hours, barely saw their families and had to also deal with the COVID restrictions during those hot, smokey and dry hours I wish for a better fire season. But sometimes we may not get what we wish for with this year already has been too dry and very hot. (a few days of 100+ degree temps - WOW!)last year it was powerlines, this year it could be an unattended campfire, someone smoking and throwing it out the window, shooting a gun at target practice, or farm machinery driving down the road. So just remember this year it could happen again if you are not careful.

Part of my husband's job is wildland firefighting. He got a call in the middle of the night that the area by Otis has a wildland fire. He rushes out of the house and that’s when the 2 months of barely seeing him begins. I too have worked as a wildland firefighter during my summer months of college - so I get the strain and being tired, however, times are definitely different and being at home just waiting, waiting, and waiting until he zombies in for maybe 4 hours of sleep and a bite to eat. After knowing that he is okay, eating and at least trying to get some sleep the nerves calm down. Oh, and trying to give our (at the time) 6-year-old son attention because throughout the weeks you hear “where’s dad and when will he be home?”.

In the meantime, part of the Beachie Creek Fire is heading Southwest and many homes are in the fire danger path. Living in Albany even though we are out of the path we too also got the effects of the fire - red skies, smoke in the air, and ash falling like snow. My husband is trying to concentrate, watch out for his guys and get them what they need as well as concentrating on the direction of Beachie Creek - since his parents live in the path and are away.  On Tuesday morning I get a call telling me to grab what I can for hoses and sprinklers from our house and head to his parents to at least get some water on the house. The neighbors probably think I am crazy because I head out the house with hoses and sprinklers in hand, throw them in the truck and cautiously speed down the road. ;)

We all remember but just a little side note - but after all of that you have to be grateful and maybe a little understanding. :) You have to be grateful for those that come home at night, grateful for those that come together as a community to help out others, and you have to be grateful that in the end everything will be okay. Last Labor Day and the following months when the fire was still going on I am grateful that we all got to see everyone come together, help out those that really needed help. Sometimes it is a little heartbreaking that it takes a horrible event for those to come together as they did but in the end all that matters is that WE came together. 




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CHASING JOY - A Letter from the Heart  June 2021
Lately, I feel a constant reminder of a need to find joy in my life.  This year, more than last year is testing me every single day.  Such a simple concept yet it can be difficult to obtain.  Finding Joy used to be easy for me because, for the most part, I am a glass half full girl or if it's not full, grab the wine or water bottle and begin pouring until it is full.  Full glass = joy!  Easy? Right!?!

Tiny treasures discovered throughout the day can ignite joy all by itself.  Like accidentally flipping the lid to the frozen jam container and hurriedly attempting to juggle it without the lid landing face down on the floor and helplessly watching as it lands…face up!  Yes!!! Winning = a little joy…or discovering a clean, but slightly soggy 10-Spot in the washing machine = more joy!

Shopping is a favorite past time, but with Covid-19, my espadrille escapades have been halted - mostly awaiting designers to step away from the “little house on the prairie” styles and back to the future or at least back to the present - Little house on the Prairie apparel = no joy.

I laughed out loud at the cars parked at Thomason’s Auto Dealer on Highway 22.  White car, gray car, black car, white car, black car, black truck, gray truck, white car… you get the picture… no other colors = no joy. Making me giggle because I noticed = a teeny-weeny bit of joy. FYI: we in the PNW like color…not  Miami Vice/Florida flamboyant, but you know, give some choice besides white, black, or gray. (Says the girl who drives a black car).

As the spring days of April unfold, it delighted me to see more sunshine than the usual on the Santiam Canyon menu. It brought forth remarkably fragrant Daphne, sunny Daffodils, and richly carpeted lavender Azalea’s = more joy.  Anxiously awaiting the green tops of my burgundy miniature Calla Lilies = no joy but lots of hope and a tiny bit of faith.  By the way, a nice April means a drizzly month of May equals a +/- on my joy scale- we need the rain.

After a feast of early Saturday morning pancakes, my granddaughter Waverly is all dressed up and excited for her T-ball game = joy. I lost the “Not It” game; relinquished to explain to the 5-year-old, since it’s raining outside her T-Ball game was canceled = no joy + tears (meltdown).  Successfully negotiating a trade of her T-Ball uniform in favor of her swimsuit for a dip in the Hot Tub with her Papa = 20 minutes of joy and peace in Mudville…

One of my biggest joys is spending a precious hour for lunch in at North Third in Stayton with my teammates.  We talk, text and email several times a day but the act of sitting face to face with them = a bonfire of joy! Gosh, I miss seeing my work family everyday…

The last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 delivered fire, ice, death, and illness in epic proportions to my doorstep.  I cringe when the phone rings which is difficult in my line of work as it normally works as a lifeline.  At times, I feel as if I am melting into a silken puddle on the floor like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. I find myself absorbed so deeply in the puddle; I have no desire to move. Yet, each day I rise, slowly but purposefully in search of hope for peace, with the stability of faith and as much joy as my exhausted heart can find. 

Joy can be elusive. Remember, there are days you may have to chase it around the block and tackle it to the ground.  Seek it out and find it in the little things.


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BETTER LATE THEN NEVER. I HAVE NO FEELINGS... A Letter from the Heart March 2021
Looks like it is my turn for the monthly Letter from the heart. What to write about for the first letter of the 2021?  Hmm... Maybe that amazing trip we took - that did not happen.  Does walking up and down the road for exercise count as a trip?  School?  Nope, unless someone wants to teach me how to do this new math.  Zoom meetings are welcome and encouraged.  Maybe politics and world events would be a good one (yeah not touching that with a 500-ft pole!). I guess Hello 2021 Goodbye 2020.  There - my letter is done.   LOL. 

 Our 2020 was all about surviving and adapting this past year.  We did survive, but I am serious about someone teaching me this new math.  Help!   There is one thing that I do love to do.  I love to cook, and when I say cook, I mean BBQ.  There is just something about the smell of freshly grilled meat or vegetables with a cold beer in my hand.  If it’s BBQ related, I am all about it! From Facebook groups, Food Network, and even Pinterest - there are actually a good number of great recipes on Pinterest.  Guys go ask your wife, she will show you.  Just stay away from the home improvement projects she has pinned. I have a couple of recipes that we tried over this last year that I would like to share.  The first being bacon-wrapped Oreos. I know - it sounds so weird, and an unusual pairing.  But try it - it’s now a family favorite! You’ll be surprised, and it just might be a new guilty pleasure. The second is something I’ve been working on since I saw it on BBQ Pitmaster a few years ago.  Bite-through bone-in chicken thighs. This is chicken that when you bite into the skin does not tear away but melts in your mouth.    


Bacon Wrapped Oreos:


1. 1-Package of Oreos.  Feel free to try any kind of Oreos. I prefer the double stuffed.

2. 1-Package of thick cut bacon cut into halves.

BBQ Seasoning of your choice. I like Honey Hog by Meat Church BBQ out of TX. 


Preheat your grill to 275 Degrees.  I prefer a pellet smoker with a mild smoke pellet such as Cherry, or Apple for this. Place the bacon-wrapped Oreos directly on the grill grate and cook for 20-30 minutes depending on your preference for doneness of the Bacon. One hack I’ve learned is instead of placing the Oreos directly on the grill grates, use a stainless-steel cooling rack, and place that on the grill.  Let cool and enjoy. 


BBQ Smoked Chicken Thighs


1. 6-8 Bone-in Chicken Thighs

2. One Stick of Butter.  Kerrygold Irish Butter is excellent

3. Johnny’s Seasoning salt

4. Garlic & Herb Seasoning (the one at Costco is great)

5. Black Pepper

Aluminum Grill pan


              Preheat your grill to 185-200 Degrees.   I like a maple, oak, hickory blend pellet for this one.  Try the Lumberjack Pellets available at Cool’s Feed & Pet Supply in Albany.   They are a great blend.   Place the chicken thighs skin up in the pan and season with Johnny’s, Garlic & Herb, and Black Pepper.  Flip over and do the same on the other side of the thigh.  With the thighs placed skin side down, and fully seasoned, cut butter into 1–2-inch cubes.  Place butter cubes all over chicken, and in the cracks.  Put pan inside smoker, and smoke for 1-2 hours or longer depending on how much of a smoke flavor you want.  Turn your grill to 300 degrees and cook for another 45 minutes. Then finally turn up the grill to 365 degrees and place chicken directly on the grates and cook for another 30-60 minutes depending on what you like for doneness.  I prefer my chicken to around the 180–185-degree internal temperature.  Let cool and enjoy!


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YTD 2020 – MORE THAN WE BARGAINED FOR ~ A Letter from the Heart October 2020
 Well. 2020. How do you describe it except to say that it feels a little like being inside a pinball machine in a game that doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. I don’t think I need to recount the whole year because we’ve all lived it, up close & personal. So I’ll offer a few humble observations instead.  

Biggest disappointment: News media & politicians. Actual reporting appears to be a lost art. Attempts are no longer made to report the news in context, with perspective, neutrality, never mind any historical reference or empirical data - all things that used to be valued, even required, in the ‘news’ of old. My dad used to love Paul Harvey & sadly, ‘The Rest of the Story’ is certainly never reported anymore.

Politicians?……………………………………………………………. Yeah. ‘Nuff said. 

Words I would be happy to not have to hear again for a long long time: “unprecedented”, “decisions based on the data”, “Bombshell report!”, “whatever-phobe”, “social distancing”, “the science is settled”, and so-on ad nauseum...

Modern culture & language – Twitter, Youtube, social    media and reality shows set the example now and glorify the ‘self’ as in self-involvement. Rudeness and callousness are considered cool. We don’t prize or teach the other ‘selfs’ - self-control, self-restraint or self-sacrifice. These are the hallmarks of maturity and absolutely necessary in becoming a real adult, capable of self-governance & maintaining a free society. I fear that more and more people are willing to trade their rights as free-born American citizens for empty promises of being taken care of.  

Regarding all of the social unrest, my biggest concern is what it has morphed into. Less of a discussion about race and more of a demand for conformity of thought. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl, author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, after losing most of his family in the Holocaust and surviving Auschwitz, was asked if he hated the German race. His response? “No. There are only two races, the decent and the indecent.” It is appalling to me that decent people are being told and even convinced, that they are indecent. We must find our way back and stand steadfast in our love for our neighbor. 

My biggest inspiration this year comes out of the tragedies of the wildfires. Courage, hope, resilience and that love for our fellow man - all of these have risen to the top in the midst of our most dire time in this canyon. Everything else fell away and friends & neighbors all stepped up and showed what we’re made of - Americans with faith, compassion and resolve working shoulder to shoulder with each other. Many who have been lucky enough to know the grace of giving have also had to learn the grace of receiving from those who so much want to give. 

I hope we hang on to this grace. I hope we remember that the vast majority of Americans are good, kind and decent people. I hope we keep extending a hand to each other; I have a  feeling we’re      going to need it in the times to come.  

~ Brenda 


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Visitors From Florida - A Letter from the Heart -August 2020
I just returned from taking my daughter and two granddaughters to the airport for their return flight to Florida after a two-week visit.  My house and heart feel a little empty and quiet.  It was SO nice to have the extra company and enjoy some “normal” activities again.  The constant masking up and noticing the closed businesses as we went about our merry way was a reminder that things are not normal yet.  Even though this left us with an undercurrent of sadness and longing for “the good ole days” when we could freely go anywhere, we managed to have a most wonderful time.  

First, we took a road trip east to Sunriver for a few days with the Floridians and our oldest son and his family.  Although the usual activities were somewhat limited or not available, we took lots of nice long walks, rode bikes, played games, ate delicious food and relaxed, even got some time at the uncrowded (for once) SHARC swimming facility. 

Next up was a trip south to Winston where we drove through the Wildlife Safari. Our collective favorite was the cheetah whose life partner is a cute dog.  The two of them were snuggled up together like two peas in a pod.  We were told that the dog is the alpha partner of the two, and the cheetah follows him around, doing whatever he does. :) 

From there we drove on to Grants Pass and went on an amazing jet boat ride down the Rogue River.  So fun, and the scenery was incredible!  We saw many beautiful homes on the river followed by lots of wildlife and beautiful nature views; however, the crowd favorite was the jet boat 360 spins and the fast stops … lots of wet hair and giggles.  

After a return to home base and a day of rest, we started preparations for our 4th of July blast.  We knew that the usual built-in entertainment of an afternoon parade by the front of our house and evening fireworks across the street was not going to happen, so we rigged a parade route on our patio and had our own two-float parade with a fully decked out star-spangled 3-wheeler and wagon.  Spectators were treated to bags of candy pitched at them with full force from the floats.  Fortunately, there were no reported injuries.  The fireworks also did not disappoint.  Our own were great, plus more (perhaps not legal) spectacular neighborhood fireworks than I’ve ever seen.  

Our last hurrah was a short hike at Silver Creek Falls.  I’m always awestruck by the amazing South Falls, such beauty so close to home! 

We were blessed with beautiful weather for pretty much the whole visit, and I know our Florida family appreciated a break from the humidity.  We miss them so much already and are looking forward to their next visit! 

Happy Summer! Mary 


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*The Rat Pack with Jack Daniels in Nashville

GOING THE DISTANCE - A Letter from the Heart -June 2020
     Social distancing, we’re all in this together, uncertain times, and (not) my personal favorite... the new normal.  We have heard them over and over to the point of nausea. I long for the normalcy of the past, while holding hope in my heart for the future that will return to the “old normal.” I spent the end of March convinced I would never live through this based on the respiratory aspect of the virus.  If I catch a cold, my nose gives it a complimentary cup of coffee, a Google road map straight to my lungs where it takes up residency for 6-9 months complete with a bladder-busting cough. Good Times! Today, after digesting information on this wicked little virus, I am confident I had it between Christmas and the middle of January complete with the loss of taste and smell.  Thank heavens for the Z-Pack!  

     In March, Real Estate was deemed an essential business and our team gratefully accepted the challenge ahead of us.  We have many buyers in the market actively looking for property, with the most popular being the under $400,000 price range. Inventory continues to be the greatest stumbling block and we are again seeing multiple offer situations.  Showings now require a health questionnaire filled out and signed by the buyer, masks, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer (hanni-tizer as my 4-year-old granddaughter calls it) shoe covers, and nitrile gloves for everyone opening cupboards, closets and doors.  Some sellers are opening all the cupboards and turning on lights to be as touch-free as possible. Our business meetings advanced with online webinars,  Microsoft Teams and Zoom as the primary way to communicate with not only colleagues but also clients and customers.  I am not going to lie, I do love the convenience of a MS Teams meeting comfortable in my leggings, old sweatshirt while curled up on the couch. I also like the opportunity to have my video feed on or off if I do not feel like gussying up.  I have access to the office although its officially closed.  Some meetings do not go as planned and it is the digital version of Hunger Games; adapt or die scenario.     

     I have curbed my discretionary spending in cautious anticipation this little virus will keep us distancing for the next year. I am saving an incredible amount of money on petrol and shoes. I have shopped online for Groceries at the Stayton Roth’s and found it to be a painless process. Bless the grocery workers!  I did gear up and braved Costco on a TP hunt. I have not bought TP for 6 months as I was one of the losers who missed the feeding frenzy/hoarding event.  Now, I am getting down to T minus 12- Defcon #2 readiness condition. Where, oh where is a Sears Catalog when you need one?  Within the next two weeks, I may have to send the grandkids out on a scavenger hunt for a super soft double-ply.  Scarlett is a serious little soldier and I am confident she would canvas the neighborhood successfully fulfilling her mission. As a spoiled native Oregonian, I have only pumped gas 3 times in my life, twice in Washington and once in California.  Floating on fumes, I pulled into the Albany Chevron.  I waited.  And I waited.  Finally, an attendant came out and said, “we are self-serve now.”  Yikes! Yay Me!  I get to take instructions from a teenager on how to fill my tank.  He explains the process. First, pay. Second, put the pump in the tank and pull the trigger.  3.  He walks away.  4. Learn by doing: Lock the pump handle to keep gas flowing. 5. Note to self:  Do not lift the little lever inside the pump handle while withdrawing the nozzle from the tank.  6. Dribble gas on my paint job and fill the little space between the tank and the little door.  7. Mentally admonish the inexperienced attendant. 8. Clean up the smelly mess.      

     I found myself folding a little piece of tin foil to save and was reminded of my Grandmother who witnessed the Great Depression and saved every little sliver of soap in a glass bottle. She was very thrifty and despised wastefulness.  I am sad to have 4 concerts, a flight to see my nephews in Mississippi in April and Cirque Du Soleil with my Family in June, all canceled.  I miss my crazy, fun work family; our weekly breakfast meetings/office tour at the Little Beaver in Lyons, especially Dan’s El Rancho omelet ala carte.  As I search for the good, I have gotten to see my parents more often, I have tackled many home projects, the yard looks great, and so far, I have scanned and edited 2500 color slides and B & W negatives on to my computer- a project I have been trying to do for years.      

     I wish I knew how this was all going to play out.   My current plan is to keep working,  have some fun, learn to “snakke Norsk” - speak Norwegian, exercise and lose a few more pounds, let go of some things I no longer need, hang out with my granddaughters, help others when I can, oh… and finish my taxes…
~ Leslie

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I  MAY BE ONE OF THOSE PARENTS - A Letter from the Heart March 2020
When I was younger and playing sports I was always irritated when my mom would yell in the crowd - “Hey Iverson, lose the attitude!” I would get so mad, but I was very competitive when it came to playing with my team against rivalries. We wanted to win fairly and when it wasn’t fair we got even more competitive - which is when the attitude tended to pop out.  So this is where my letter from the heart heads towards…”Yelling” parents at sporting events. 

As parents, you want your kid to at least attempt to be involved in a team sport, especially when both parents themselves, grew up playing sports. Have them experience that team camaraderie and learn to be a team player. This past winter we signed our son Wyatt up for basketball and this spring he will play t-ball.  He’s really gunning for soccer this fall, though. He says it’s his favorite because he plays it at recess with his friends. 
Do you have a kindergartener or do you remember when your child was that young and watched them play sports? It is quite comical. We practiced once a week and had a game that coming Saturday. So for 1 hour and 15 minutes (which got shorter and shorter as the season progressed), we watched 10 little pre-school/kindergarteners run up and down the court. 

God Bless the coaches that had the patience! As we are watching we all want our child to succeed, but at the same time, you have to let them play, riiiight? Learn to be a team player and pass the ball, guard your person, and make baskets. However, as I am sitting on the   sidelines I noticed myself “yelling” at Wyatt to “guard your person, watch for the ball, shoot the ball,” which I believe is standard for most parents no matter what age you are, hence “Hey Iverson, lose the attitude.”  However, that prompted Wyatt to stop what he was doing because he heard mom. Plus it would make him run by and wave and tell me he loved me, which is adorable, but even though we don’t keep score...get your head in the game kid! 

After the first couple of games my husband, Michael, who is super competitive and also wants Wyatt to do good and likes the sport but looks at me in the car ride home and says “you got to stop yelling at him. He focuses on you and not the game.” Oops my bad, it’s not like I was the only parent out there encouraging him/them. ;) 

By the time the 4th Saturday came around, I didn’t  “yell” as much, I sat back and let them enjoy the game but secretly hoped that the game would catch on...yes I know he is in kindergarten and he will grow into the game if he chooses to stick with it. Blah, Blah! But as parents, you have to cheer them on.

Well the season ended at the end of February and he enjoyed it and I minimized my encouraging of the game. However, he is more excited to wear his basketball shoes as his school shoes now. LOL   

 ~ Jen

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Holiday Break- A Letter from the Heart Jan/Feb 2020
I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday break.  Life is almost back to normal in the Johnson household after a very traumatic Thanksgiving.   My wife who is a nurse ended up drawing the short straw at work which meant she was working Thanksgiving Day. It was going to be a day of survival for the girls and I.  It’s just not Thanksgiving without Mom!  The girls and I decided to hatch a plan of boycotting Thanksgiving turkey dinner for a day of pizza and football - ok, I'm the one who hatched the plan but I knew I had the girls at pizza. I knew my chances were slim of getting away with this since the extended family all love the traditional family day full of feasting & fun, but I was trying my hardest to make it happen!  I did invite the entire family over, and the girls planned on making pumpkin pie for dessert. Of course, all of this fell on deaf ears.  I even got the Look of Shame from Grandma letting the three of us know this was never going to be a possibility.

And then - Wednesday night happened.  What’s that wise old saying? Be careful what you wish for...

It was like any other normal evening for us. A 2-hour bedtime struggle (it might have been 3 hours though with the anticipation of the holiday the next day), but the house was finally quiet.  And then - the 1 am awakening. I hear a bloodcurdling scream coming from the girl’s room.  I leap out of bed and start sprinting.  At least that’s what I envisioned in my head.  I think a more accurate picture was me falling out of bed, running into the door, then the wall (with a few choice words in-between). 

 I opened the door to see something out of a nightmare.  Hadley is on the top bunk leaning over the railing in full hurl mode. I was fully awake now. The sudden stomach bug had her barfing all over the floor, and - Piper’s bed below. I look down to find Piper on the bottom bunk. Eyes wide open and white as a ghost, she was glued to the corner of her bed with a look of absolute horror on her face.  I ran to the kitchen to grab a bowl for Hadley, which at that point was useless. Ewwwww - off to the shower for her! Traumatized, Piper laid awake for hours just thinking about it and no amount of Dad-speak could convince her it was safe. Mom to the rescue! She was finally able to convince Piper that this is just a one-time occurrence and not likely to ever happen again.  Finally, full exhaustion got everyone back to sleep!

So I did get that day of football after all and quietness with the girls. Just instead of pizza, it was chicken   noodle soup, 7up, crackers and yellow hazard tape draped across the front door.  

 ~ Drew           


October 2019  A Letter from the Heart

And While We're At It
Why is it that something that starts as a simple project always seems to grow into the ‘While we’re at it, why don’t we just go ahead and...’ game? This is what always tends to happen whenever we do any kind of updating or improvement on the house. I say “we” as in my hubby and me. Ok, it’s really just me that takes that path. Every. Time. 

   I don’t think it would happen so often though if Hubby hadn’t shown me that he can do pretty much everything: framing, pouring concrete, wiring, building cabinets, love me for 40+ yrs... Pretty much anything! How do you resist that? 

   Soo, now we’re in the middle of the Mother of All Home Improvement projects on our house.  And it all started with deciding it was time to replace the roof. And while we’re at it, let’s make it a metal roof so we never have to do it again! But really, while we’re doing that, we need to replace some fascia & soffit that’s showing some signs of dry-rot under the eaves. And you know, while we’re at it, maybe this is the time to go ahead and add those shed dormers upstairs that we (I) always talked about. Think of all the light it will add! This is really the time to do it you know, before that roof goes on. Because after all, it’s going to be a permanent roof now.

   So far, so good. As we worked our way around the house replacing soffits, we got to the back deck and I said, “You know, we really ought to put a cover over this deck so we don’t have to go out in the rain & snow every time to get wood for the woodstove. It’s dangerous really, walking like penguins on a frosty deck just to bring in a few pieces of wood.” And then I said the magical words I always say (that my husband said he is going to engrave on my headstone): “I don’t think it would be that hard. Or take very long at all!” 

 So of course that meant that we needed to go ahead and tear out that living room wall instead (while we were at it) and expand the living room that’s always been a little too small. But still do the covered deck also of course (safety first after all)!

   And you know, since we’re doing all this, we should really get rid of that stupid 45° angle at the kitchen sink window (that I just had to have when we originally built the house) and square that off - it won’t be that hard - it’s just a little 2 foot section there and think of the improved views & functionality we’ll have! To be fair honey, you’re the one who always hated that 45° window so I’m just giving you what you always wanted. So what’s a little extra foundation and roof-framing work? It won’t take very long at all. Except that it now changes the countertop, cabinet run and location of the sink. And it only makes sense to go ahead and put in larger windows there too while we’re at it to take advantage of the views! Ooh, and while we’re at it, let’s open up that other wall into the living room & put the coffee maker on the new counter over there so it’s more convenient. Hmmm it only makes sense to go ahead & move the microwave over there now too. Hey honey, what do you think about doing a full kitchen remodel while we’re at it?


September 2019 

Where did the summer go?  I can’t believe that Fall is upon us!  My summer seemed to go by even faster than it normally does. Between remodeling, a portion of our house, visits from both our North Carolina and Florida families, welcoming our 6th amazing grandchild (1st grandson!), plus a busy real estate market, my head is still spinning a little.  :)

A special treat for us was that after her parents and little sis went back to Wilmington the first week of July, our 12-year-old granddaughter, Emmy Jane, stayed on with us until the middle of August.  It was so wonderful to have time to enjoy her and not feel like we had to rush to do everything 

we wanted to do.  With Jim working out of town during the week, it was especially nice for me to have someone to chat within the evenings.  We would have our cup of tea and sit outside and enjoy the awesome summertime weather.  We played lots of Yahtzee and cards, had home “spa nights” with facials, and lots of giggles.  She also got a taste of real estate and went on a couple of home inspections and showings with me. We listened to some great audio stories in the car and went to the coast one weekend.  Lots of fun stuff!  

It did take a little getting used to having an almost teenager in the house since Jim and I have been “empty nesters” for 20 years now.  For one thing, how can anyone sleep so much?  She could sleep in until 10:00 or 11:00 if I let her no problem, even if she went to bed at 9:00!  I remember taking care of her when she was a baby and trying so hard to get her to sleep...boy that changed!   Also, I like to run a pretty tight ship on keeping things picked up and yikes…her “stuff” was all over her room which made me twitch, so I had to not look most of the time.  Also, her idea of a special meal out was Dairy Queen chicken strips…every…time.  At least she was a cheap date! 

I hope she enjoyed her visit as much as we did.  Now that she is gone the house seems so quiet, but we are looking forward to future visits from her and the other east coast granddaughters as they get a little older.  Now it’s time to pull out the sweaters, pumpkin spice whatever, and enjoy the fall.  Christmas will be here before we know it! 

Happy Fall

~ Mary

August 2019

When I last wrote, I had finished a dinner outing with several ladies from my class.  In the months to follow, Donna Syverson Baumann and I continued to plan our 40th Class Reunion for Santiam High.  We eventually gathered at Donna and Vic’s farm on July 13th.  Twenty-five of forty-three of us gathered that day.  Taking advantage of technology, we FaceTimed with one classmate unable to attend in person.  He was able to speak with each of us and it was fun to catch up with him as well as everyone else. 

I discovered one person I hadn’t seen for at least 37 years, currently lives in Aumsville, is a long haul trucker and has a several acre farm!  Imagine being so close and never run into each other. 

We paused and took time to honor those of us we lost by sharing stories, charming tidbits and tattling a teeny bit.  Laughter and tears flowed freely as we memorialize those we lost way too young.  We thumbed through our yearbooks, photo albums, shared photos from our phones and genuinely had a great time. We reminisced about grade school teachers, giggling being tied into chairs with jump ropes, book reports, Miss Alice Smith our librarian, First Grade; Mrs. Barnhardt and Mrs. Parker, Second Grade, Mrs. Schaer and Mrs. Benefield, Third Grade; Mrs. Dorothy and Mrs, Phelps, Fourth Grade; Mrs. Dorothy and Miss Grimstad, Fifth Grade; Mr. Hovey and Miss Opalka, Sixth Grade; Mr. B and Mr. Poole, Seventh and Eighth Grade teachers; Mr. Suckling, Mrs. Wright, Mr. Glover and Mrs. Wells.  Each was instrumental in the formation of the people we have become. 

One thing we all agree, we had the VERY BEST CAFETERIA COOKS in the State of Oregon.  Gladys Podrabsky and Edna Ross spoiled us rotten!  There was a little argument over the best meal, Chicken and Noodles, Hamburger Gravy over fresh mashed potatoes, Pizza, Oven Fried Chicken, Fresh Apple Crisp, Texas Brownies, or the Chocolate Cake.  The one item we did agree on was the freshly made rolls.  At least 5” high and 4” wide, these hot, buttery pillows of yeasty deliciousness would bring even the mightiest among us to rush to the front of the lunch line.  I bet that doesn’t happen anymore!

Just before our delicious potluck meal, one of our favorite teachers, Mr. Herb Bastuscheck honored us with his talent for Bonseki. Bonseki is a Japanese art form he learned from a master while teaching English in Japan. He is the only non-Japanese citizen with the distinction of becoming a master in Bonseki.  It was the first time he had performed in front of people for 14 months since he had been diagnosed and treated for Brain Cancer. He did a magnificent display piece and explained the philosophy behind the art. 

One remarkable thing about our class is how many of us started the first grade together and graduated.  (15 of us were there and 21 from the class as a total. )

After dinner we enjoyed visiting, swapping stories, sharing travel secrets, catching up on family news, roils of laughter and the best karaoke the cows have ever heard.  Visiting into the wee hours of the morning when we finally said goodbye!  Until we meet again, or until the kidnapped Santiam ’79 sign shows up to tell us where to go on our next adventure.   

  ~ Leslie

July  2019

Summertime! The time for family vacations, pool parties, and last-minute shenanigans before school starts. Well if you are part of our family the pool parties and the last minutes' shenanigans may happen but the family vacations are put on hold.

If you all remember many, many moons ago, my husband Michael works for the Oregon Department of Forestry and summer is the busiest time of year for him.  No rest for the wildland fire season, which means very little rest for those wildland firefighters and all the men and women associated with the fire season trying to keep the fire on the ground and out of the trees.  It doesn’t seem like a busy year right now,  but those folks are hard at work making sure those lighting strikes, smoke sightings, or man-made fires do not grow into something more.

So this is the time of year we plan our family vacations so when fire season is over and the rain starts hitting the ground it’s hell or high water  - The Curran Family is out! This year our son, Wyatt is begging us to take him to Disneyland but unfortunately not gonna happen. We want him to be a little bit older so he can last all day, momma’s never been and she wants him to keep up. LOL

This year, actually almost every year (except 1 - I think) since we have been married, we have done road trips to see parts of the countryside & city life of multiple states; heck we even did a road trip for our honeymoon. Well actually we flew over to Portland, Maine and road tripped through Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire - beautiful states.  #LovedIt!

Surprisingly for how much my husband drives for his job he loves to hit the open road,  maybe it’s the fact that he isn’t a big fan of flying and he states “it relaxes him”. Hey as long as I get bathroom breaks and we are able to get out of the car once in a while to stretch and take photos I don’t mind either. You get to see a lot of countryside you may never would have seen - also who doesn’t like taking photos at 80 mph. :) Plus the work phone gets put on silent, lab top/iPad are turned off until we hit a hotel and we all shut down for a bit (except the occasional selfies/pictures to send to those back at home)!

This fall we are headed down to Texas, yep - you guessed it - Waco, via airplane then driving home. Yes it may be extended periods of time in the car, yes I need to keep a 5 1/2 year old entertained, but think of the sights and the experiences we will have. However, this is the longest road trip we have done - could be a great time or we could all be on each others nerves by time the trip ends. You just never know, but it will be a great family time either way.

~ Jen

May-June 2019

Soo…our family is in a bit of transitional phase right now.  We have made the decision to build a house in the next few years.  We’re even tossing around the idea of trying to do 80% of the build ourselves with family and friends helping out (huh, will they stay family & friends?).  I think we might just be out of our minds.  Help! 

Until then, we are living in a 1900s, no-foundation home with maybe 1000 square feet.  Just a little cramped for a family of four.  Oh, and did I mention - only 1 bathroom for three females (and 1 very easy-going male).  The walls are closing in.  I need a space for sanity reasons.

So - Outdoor/BBQ space 1.0 was launched.  It all started with an old blue 10 x 10 canopy, charcoal BBQ, propane grill, and an LED headlamp.  It kept me dry and able to BBQ in all types of weather.  I’m the type of person who will grill in a foot of snow in my running shorts.  Only one little mishap during the testing phase.  When you think you have something anchored down, take my advice and ADD additional anchors.  Very quickly, 1.0 turned into 2.0.  The headlamp just wasn’t doing it.  Enter Christmas lights and the world’s longest extension cord.  Lights and power – check!  Now, how can I watch live sports out here?  Problem solved - iPad and WIFI, yes!  The space was really starting to come together - that is, until it all came crashing down.   Who knew a canopy doesn’t have a 30-year roof life?  One too many snowstorms this year.

 Time to go all-in on version 3.0. Picture something that you might see at a State Fair food booth.  Installation of a larger 10 x 15 canopy with three times the anchors plus an additional 50 sq ft of space!  I just couldn’t leave that space empty.  I really did need an excuse to finally try out a Traeger.  One side dedicated to the Traeger and the other to my old trusty charcoal BBQ. I’m really doing it all for the family after all.

 But there was still one thing missing.  How could I get a bigger TV?  Who doesn’t need a bigger screen with picture in picture??   An old cable spool for a table, and a 49” TV with the DishTV App.  We’re in business - 24/7 sports entertainment!   Think Jed Clampett, State Fair, and something you might see at a down-home tailgate party.  The Frankenstein Outdoor Space is finally complete (or is it?).  Could I install a dedicated heater and maybe some removable walls?  Oh! And if anyone has a good idea for an outdoor recliner, send them my way.  #mancave #manpeace #happyfamily

Drew    February 2019

April 2019

Ok, my mother is going to hate me for this story but what’s that ole saying – something about             permission vs forgiveness…

Growing up in a family of six with 4 kids, there was always some kind of one-upsmanship game going on. Being the youngest, I rarely won any of these battles but every so often I would triumph in some inconsequential coup or another. In our family, we loved to scare the bejeezus out of each other and the easiest/most satisfying target of all was our mother. Poor sweet mom.

Most of the “Brenda-ANN!’s” in my life were the results of surreptitiously sneaking up behind my mother while she was vacuuming, pulling the plug to shut it off while yelling at the top of my lungs, “BOOOOO!!” just to watch her attempt to run in mid-air trying desperately to escape.

We never tired of this game even when we ended up ‘on restriction’ (known as the more p.c ‘time-out’ now) in our rooms for 2+ hours at a time for punishment. But the game entered a whole ‘nother level when I discovered quite by accident my mother’s real terror – frogs. Poor sweet mom.

One late afternoon, my mother was in the bathroom, I was at the kitchen table doing homework and my father was watching the evening news when suddenly we heard ear-splitting screams coming from the bathroom followed by banging, thumping, crashing, door-rattling and yet more screams. Horrified, my dad & I leapt from our seats and raced to the hallway (I made sure dad was faster than me though), where dad attempted to open the door to save my poor sweet mom from the axe-murderer that had to be in the room with her. But the door wouldn’t open! Wave after wave of squeals still came from behind the door while my dad yelled, “You’ve got to open the door – I can’t get in!” Chaos continued to erupt  so dad raced around to the outside window trying to get in another way. He jumped up & down trying to reach the bottom of the window sill yelling at mom to open the window & jump.

In the meantime, she finally got the door open and dad, panting, red-faced & sweating, ran back in to make sure she was ok. The upshot is, he found a tiny little green tree-frog cowering in the corner. In her panic to get out of the room, mom had accidently yanked open the huge old linen drawer by the door rather than the door itself (how in the world…?) which then prevented the door from opening.

We were so relieved that everything was ok and then my dad took one look at my face, pulled me aside and sternly told me this was NOT funny and that people’s fears are nothing to play with while I solemnly nodded, taking in every word.

I did wait a respectful amount of time before accelerating to the next level of Scare-the-Mom            competition with my siblings. Later that summer, the family had gone to a blueberry U-pick and we were working our way up & down the rows. Hot, tired & bored, I reached the end of another row when I looked down and saw a big fat brown dirt clod and thought to myself, “Huh, that looks just like a toad.” Instantly, inspiration fired in my head and suddenly I was running towards my mother, the dirt-clod cradled in my hands. I just couldn’t stop myself. All of my dreams of glory at the thought of finally besting my siblings were about to be realized.

“Mom! Mom! Look at this toad!!” I yelled while racing straight for her. Startled, she looked up confused, finally made out what I was yelling and immediately dropped her bucket of blueberries which rolled everywhere (uh-oh) and took off like a shot in the other direction screaming, “Brenda-Ann! Brenda-Ann!!” I started laughing and sped up, trying to show her it was just a dirt-clod after all and she panicked, even more, trying to pick up speed (she wasn’t a very good runner) & screaming louder. I could see my dad coming on the hustle from around the corner and it occurred to me that this might not have been a very good idea after all. I didn’t know whether to continue to try to catch mom & reassure her or ... In 2 big strides, my dad overtook me and grabbed me by the back of my neck (not easy with a speedy 12-yr old tomboy). I tried to weakly laugh it off and kept repeating, “It’s just a dirt clod!” over & over but mom was long gone out in the parking lot by the car trying to get in for safety. Poor sweet mom. All of the other nosy U-pickers in the field had come running over to see what the ruckus was all about and dad’s vise-like grip on the back of my neck never loosened.  My punishment was a lot more than just restriction for a few hours this time.  Although my dreams of glory lay broken at my feet, my brother’s admiring looks pretty much made it all worth it.

Another one my favorite stories about my poor sweet mom’s travails came just a few years ago when I got a frantic call at work from Mumsie saying breathlessly, “Brenda! You need to come here immediately – just as fast as you can!” I couldn’t get any other information out of her, so quite alarmed, I lit out of the office & headed to her place about 10 minutes away. As I drove up to her house I saw that a vacuum cleaner was sitting smack in the middle of her front lawn. “How odd…”  I thought. I raced in the door and came upon mom sitting calmly in the front room reading a magazine.

“Mom! What the heck..who…what happened?!”

“Don’t you worry about it,” She replied. “I’ve taken care of it. You just didn’t get here so I grabbed the vacuum and vacuumed up that thing! I just need you to go out and take that vacuum bag away.”

I emptied the vacuum bag and found the ’thing’ – another rather dazed little green tree frog that had the misfortune of ending up in my mother’s house.

Poor sweet mom.


March 2019 

     I grew up in a large family with many siblings…it’s rare that ALL of us can get together, but my 3 brothers that live close by and I do our best to meet as often as possible.  The goal would be once a month or so, but as busy schedules have it, it usually ends up a few times a year.  We did get together recently for pizza at my house. One brother brought a box of old family photos, about half of which we had not seen before. There were lots of giggles looking at hairstyles, and outfits of our childhoods. What struck me the most was the memories that the photos triggered for all of us about what we used to do for fun.  Of course with the age differences we all have different memories, and even if it is the same event we all remember it a little differently, but hey, close enough!

    We remembered that the brothers who weren’t afraid of heights, used to climb to the top of the tallest fir tree and take photos of us below, we looked like ants!  I also remember a brother climbing up that same tree and dropping a big yellow Tonka dump truck just to see if it could survive, it did…barely.

   We were lucky enough to have a trampoline and if the big boys got tired of “launching” our youngest brother into the ozone we would play wild dodge ball games. Trust me, if you got hit it hurt! 

     I also remember a bunch of us sleeping in the back yard on the ground. Once in the middle of the night, the neighbor’s cows got out and walked right through to where we were sleeping, I don’t know how none of us woke up OR got trampled on, but we know it happened because of all the cow-pie evidence surrounding us in the morning.  After the cow incident, we would set up Dad’s old army tent for sleep outs, so we would be safe.  

    We lived on a small farm and in the summer and on Saturdays if the weather was nice and chores were done, it was guaranteed we’d be outside coming up with some sort of shenanigans.  Whether it was building ramps for jumping with our bikes, building forts, water fights, or the dreaded dirt clod fights, we’d stay outside except to eat. My poor mom on rainy days!  Usually, we ended up in the basement roller skating and “rough housing”. 

   Although I only had 3 kids of my own and we lived in town, their childhoods were actually very much like mine in that if the weather was nice they would be outside coming up with something to do whether it was riding bikes, playing basketball in the driveway, or playing with the neighbor kids.  On rainy days I only wished we had a basement!  

   I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything and I hope that the littles of today experience the same!   

All the best! Mary

February 2019

Rendezvous at Ritter’s- Santiam High Class of ’79 Girls Night Out
Forty years is a long time to be out of high school.  A reeeeaaaaally long time. In November, Amy messages me on Facebook. Her idea is for a bunch of local girls from our class to meet for a dinner in Salem. Hey, I’m game!  A little background on these ladies. Connie is one of the new kids on the block.  She came from Detroit our Sophomore year and as fate would have it, now lives a couple of doors down from me. We were cheerleaders our senior year and her heart is as big as her voice. 

            The rest of us have known each other pretty much since first grade at Gates Primary.  We learned to read with Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Barnhardt. We sang My Country Tis of Thee with Mrs. Schaer on the piano. Mrs. Benefield’s room smelled of chalk and Crayola Crayons. Multiplication tables and cursive were on the class schedule for Mrs. Phelps and Mrs. Dorothy’s classes.  It was the 60’s, we were not allowed to wear pants; only dresses but spent most of our recess time on the Monkey Bars anyway!  We loved playing “in the woods” and couldn’t go past the dreaded “red markers” without serious consequences.  After lunch, Mrs. Etzel shook our milk cartons to make sure we didn’t hide the peas or broccoli we didn’t want to eat. If you were caught, you lost 10 minute of recess time on the wall. 

            Charlotte was the first person I met when my family was transferred to Mill City.  We started first grade together and one of the funniest things she ever said to me was after she was chosen as an Angel for the School Christmas Program. I was upset she was picked over me and she told me “you can’t be an Angel, Angels have long hair”…. Yep, you guessed it - Pixie cut for me, no wings in my foreseeable future. 

            Renita is a gem and was one of the masterminds behind “the” murals at Santiam.  She takes sarcasm to the next level and her humor is contagious.  Wanderlust fuels her soul, logging 1000’s of travel miles. She sports a very interesting and exotic passport!

            Tess is another clever lady currently espousing her new-found talents on the potter’s wheel. She is     throwing out some awesome pieces, pun intended. Tessie’s dad was a State Police Trooper like mine, and we spent a lot of time together as kids. I loved visiting her farm in Gates; the cows, chickens, eggs, ducks and geese and Popeye, her chicken-lickin’ dog.  (Yes, there is a story there…and how on earth do I remember the name of her dog? I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday.)

            Tree and her family moved around a bit but continued to come back to Mill City. Once settled in, she showed off her talents as a painter on the mural and later as the owner of the Mill City Independent Press.  She still has the same quick smile, the best giggle and the best family story. 

            Coming from one of the most talented family’s in the canyon, Amy’s bedroom was the original Niagara Post office! Now she owns her own design and animation company. You have probably seen her work and didn’t even know it!  Amy’s gentle heart and sweet smile made her a favorite among everyone. She also held the most epic Halloween Parties! 

            Only my hairdresser knows for sure, in my case, it’s true.  Linda knows it all and yes, indeed, she is my stylist and keeps my hair from having too many bad Leslie days. She is the best listener/chairside therapist a girl could ask for.  Charming and soft spoken, she has a heart of gold. 

            Cheerleading, college roommates, weddings, our first pregnancies at the same time with kids within two weeks of each other, Donna and I have been through it all.  She is one of the strongest, most intelligent, hardest working ladies I know.  She has seen the tears and the triumphs.  Her best talent is a reverse handstand through the sunroof of a Tahoe… and her poodle gig will bring you to tears… laughing. 

            For most of us, it has been years since we have all been together. As we reminisced, we found commonality in our past, with marriage, divorces, parents, kids, and travel. We shared stories and laughed… and laughed and laughed. There is nothing in the world that can make you a kid again but, being around childhood friends (accomplices) is a good way to start.  We look forward to our July Class Reunion, and yes, this time we will invite the boys.  

Best, Leslie

January 2019

2019 Redo, Rework, Reinvent


Sooo Christmas is over and the New Year has passed. I had my tree down and decorations back in totes waiting patiently in the garage to be put back into the attic on December 26th. Being home with a sick child you get a lot accomplished. Usually I try and leave it up until the weekend after, but I was on a roll. Even my husband was a little surprised when he came home from work that it was all down and the tree was sitting on the front porch. Now I have bare shelves and totes filled with every day décor also waiting patiently to be put back up.

However, this year I have decided not to rush on getting all that back up. I want a clean palette to re-invent our home. Like so many out there I am a big Chip and Joanna Gains fan. I love their style or should I say her style, so when her design book came out I pre-ordered and waited for its arrival. Since it has arrived, I have only gotten through one section - what can I say life and holidays happened. ;) Most of it is stuff that I already knew or have done myself throughout the years, but it is always nice to have a different perspective on the same ideas. We all may like the same style or a variation of that style but to see it in pictures or someone else’s ideas, even your own style can be swayed.

I have decided (nope haven’t discussed with the hubby yet) that I am going to rework, redo, reinvent different areas of our home. 2019 is the year to reinvent. I am going to focus on one area of the book and then apply what I have learned or have been reminded about within our home. I love color so probably won’t have many white walls, but maybe I can squeeze one in somewhere….nah! Sorry JoJo!

We have been in our home for a little over 3 years - we did the basics when we moved in; painted, added carpet in one room, took down the lovely brown paneling, installed an office area, redid the laundry room…yada, yada, yada. Now after 3 years, I am ready to change it up once again.

My husband is the outdoorsy, hunting, ‘less is more’ type of guy so basically, he doesn’t care how I decorate, as long as the horns can stay up he is happy. I like to mix it up all the time, so my style is kind of allover – farmhouse, modern, vintage, VERY minor rustic. Living in an older neighborhood, updated 1975 ranch style home, I feel that trying to mesh these different design trends tends to be too much. Our home doesn’t have that open floor plan (yet!) and the rooms are smaller than newer homes, lighting is horrible…I think you get the idea.

So behold – Reinvent our home in 2019! My first task is the entry way. It is not very big, so I am going to re-work this area. Remove/add different furniture and update the gallery wall, make it more inviting when you walk in. After that we will see were my design skills and Joanna’s book take me. Stay tuned - you never know where I will end up by the time it’s my turn again to write a letter from the heart!  Jen

October 2018

Morning Monsters?


Well, looks like it is my turn! What to write about... No new additions to the family, no family trips, nothing at all. We are a pretty boring family once school starts. It is just an accomplishment for everyone to get out of the house, fully dressed, hair done, and on-time!

A typical morning for the Johnson family starts at 6 am with Cassi being the early riser. I guess growing up on a farm has her conditioned to be a morning person. Heck, sometimes she’s up by 5 am. I don’t understand. I just don’t get it. I usually start the snooze button assault around 6 am. You would think after the 2nd alarm/4th snooze button, and fresh coffee brewing I would be up. But that’s only a 50/50 chance. Did I mention I am NOT a morning person?

Getting the girls up and ready is where the real fun/torture starts. Hadley (my oldest) is the spitting image of her mother. Alarm goes off at 6:15 am, and she is up and ready to tackle the day. No worries at all. Dressed, hair done, breakfast made. She will even make and pack her own lunch. Not bad for a 3rd grader. Efficient, organized and calm - that is, unless she isn’t happy about my morning progress (or lack of) and time management.

My youngest, a big grown-up kindergartener this year, is not a morning person either. Piper oh Piper - who, or what are we going to get this morning?? Is it Dr. Jekyll, or Ms. Hyde? Or better yet, how early is Ms. Hyde going to come out. Will she get out of bed without assistance? Or is this a rip-the-covers off & drag her out by her feet morning? Yeah, she loves that. I can tell by her high-pitched shrieks. Even if it is a successful awakening, there will be something along the way. One constant with Piper is her knack for wanting to wear dresses every day. For some reason, she doesn’t realize she lives in the Pacific Northwest. A summer dress just doesn’t work when it’s raining and 40 degrees outside!

Of course, all of this going on is why Hadley has been ready to be out the door for the past 20 minutes. Hadley has a BIG phobia about being late. We start edging closer to the “go/no-go” time. The pacing will begin. Soon, she starts doing laps around the house, fists clenched, trying to urge her sister to hurry up! Picture the bunny on Alice in Wonderland. We’ve always make it out of the house and have yet to be late. Tears have been shed on the way to school. But never late! And this is a morning with Mom at the helm. But on the mornings when Mom is gone by 6 am for her job as a nurse, it’s just Dad & the girls. I don’t think I’m ready to share that story yet...


September 2018

It’s A Dog World


Dogs? I’ve always loved dogs. As a child, we had no fewer than 3 dogs at any one time and I welcomed every one of them into the house and right on my bed at night-time. I never gave a thought to my stay-at-home mom cleaning every day. Next thing I knew, I was all grown up, out on my own & suddenly realized I no longer had my very own built-in housekeeper. I decided I was much too busy to own a dog of my own that I would have to take care of.

So, marrying a farmer, I was happy to transition to farm dogs who preferred sleeping on the porch or in the barn with the livestock. They were working dogs - which means their extensive training led them to turn the cattle in exactly the wrong direction every time.

It’s a familiar & regular occurrence. Hubby: We need to move the cattle today. Are you ready? Me: Yep! Should we lock the dog up? Hubby: Naw, he’ll be fine. The ensuing explosive expletives from the men as the dog #bertjojolucysam turned the cattle AWAY from the gate at the very last critical moment were loud, predictable and oddly poetic in their familiar cadence & rhythm.

After our last dog Sam decided he preferred g’pa’s porch to our own (can yousay24hrtreatsanytimeiwantthemandgpaisjustoneBigSoftie?), Dave said he thought he’d wait to get another dog until Sam passed on (so he ‘wouldn’t hurt Sam’s feelings’ - whaa??). But he also remarked more than once how much he missed having a dog at his heels every day as he went about his daily work on the farm. He also said that he thought he’d like to have the dog ‘come inside’ at night this time. I just smiled indulgently and chuckled quietly to myself. No way - no how was my internal thought - farm dogs are always muddy and dirty and they like to roll in dead things. I wasn’t worried about it – Dave rules the farm, I rule the house.

Sooo, as I was wracking my brain trying to figure out something really special to get him for his big 6-0(!) birthday this June (I’m much much younger than my husband - 3+ yrs at least); I suddenly had a flash of inspiration - a puppy!! He would be SO surprised and happy (becausehubbyisjustaBigSoftieaboutdogstoo).

But I only had 1 week - ackk! - to find one. As luck would have it, I found a pretty little 10-wk old mini-Aussie pup in Prineville. My lovely daughters immediately took the day off work for Our Great Conspiracy and we made the trip over the mountain and picked him up. Cassi kept him hidden overnight and we revealed the surprise @ a big birthday breakfast the next morning since there was no way we were keeping that pup hidden until the barbecue that night! The surprise on his face was priceless. It’s probably one of my best moments as a wife I’ve ever had – total score.

After all day with the little wiggle-buns, I agreed that we should probably let him stay inside (just in the laundry room though!) for the first week or two while he got used to the new place. So here we are 3 months later and he hasn’t quite moved outside yet...Indeed, Shep has expanded his realm to the living room. And the kitchen. And pretty much every other room in the house except for the bedroom (I MEAN it when I lay down those ground rules! Kind of).

And now I’ve turned into one of those “I’m a Momma of a Fur-Baby” (I admit it, I always rolled my eyes at you people...) but we’re busy laying down the law with Sheppie (ohyouarejustSOcute!). AND we’re continuing strict training because I can’t stand a dog who doesn’t mind or have any manners (ohmigoshyouarejustsooosweet!). Good and faithful companion to my husband. All -dog who likes to roll in dead things. I’m moving you out any day now.

You special special dog… Brenda

August 2018

An Alarming Story

We installed a home security system a year or so ago. Overall it has been a super easy system to operate, but we have had a few snafus. The first one happened not too long after we set it up. Hubby Jim set the alarm and left to run some errands, about half way down the street he realized he forgot something, so he turned around and came back planning to quickly grab whatever it was and head back out. As he stepped inside he heard the telltale beeping, letting him know the alarm was armed and he just needed to put the pin # in. No problem, he could remember the number, but what he forgot were his glasses. He could not see the numbers on the buttons and ended up just hitting all of them which of course didn’t work at all. The alarm company called, but unfortunately he was a little rattled by then and couldn’t remember the “secret word”. By the time he got out to the driveway a policeman was pulling up in front of the house. He laughed when he saw it was Jim. Gotta love a small town!

Lesson # 1 learned- keep your glasses handy!

The second snafu was a little bigger. We had been out to a Rotary fundraiser and got home about 11 pm on a Saturday night completely tuckered out and ready to crash. On this particular night however, Jim was to go to his monthly “nocturnal adoration” at church. Catholics may know what that is, but for the rest of you, it’s sort of a “prayer relay” where one Saturday a month the church is kept open all night and differ-ent groups go in and pray for an hour and then the next group comes in to relieve them and so on. His hour on that Saturday was 1-2 AM. I was sleeping soundly when he left, however, about 20 minutes later I woke up, used the bathroom, went right back to bed and fell immediate-ly back into a deep sleep. The next thing I know I’m having this weird dream that people are yelling in my house. It sounds like they are say-ing, “Stayton Police! Stayton Police!” As much as I tried, that just didn’t fit in with the dream I was having, so I reluctantly opened my eyes in time to see two police officers in my bedroom! I thought to myself I MUST still be dreaming but my instincts told me it was real. I sat up and said something like “what the…?” I must have been a sight because they looked about as scared as I was feeling. They said “Sorry ma’am! Sorry ma’am! Your alarm was going off and we tried to call, but did not get an answer.” They asked me my name and I told them, then they asked where my husband was and I said, “He’s at church”. I saw their eyebrows raise, I suppose it sounded a little suspicious…at 1:30 in the morning. By now I think they were feeling sorry for me, looking as I did- hair standing on end, wild eyes, and believing my husband was in church in the middle of the night. They backed out as quickly as they could, no more questions.

In my groggy state I still wasn’t sure what had happened and I started thinking maybe someone DID break into the house and they were still hiding inside. I had no idea if the police had searched the whole house before they found Sleeping Beauty. So I sat up in bed with the lights on and waited. Imagine Jim’s surprise when he walked in. He wanted to know what the heck I was doing wide awake. I told him I had some action while he was gone. “Oh…?” By this time I had figured out what had happened and told him that the police had been in our bedroom. “Oh…??!!” Yes, I told him, you can’t set the “away” status on the alarm when I’m still in the house. “Oh!!!!”

Lesson #2 learned- don’t set “away” on the alarm if you aren’t all away, OR don’t get out of bed!


June – July 2018

Play Ball!

Wow the last Baseball lineup for the year!  Where has the year gone?  Has it really been two months of practice and games.  Is school really out?  

I was lucky enough this year to take over head coaching duties for the Mehama Coach Pitch Team.  I use the term “lucky” very loosely. Thanks Amanda for deciding that having a   baby somehow took precedence over coaching this year! You would think being an assistant coach last year would have prepared me for this. After all, they’re just 1st and 2nd grade kiddos. It certainly can’t be any harder than a real estate transaction with all the moving pieces from clients, lenders, home inspections, etc. Yeah, famous last words...Turns out I really wasn’t ready for this!  Case in point: the first practice of the season.  April rain drove us into the gym.  Parents and players started to arrive, and tennis balls were handed out to play catch - I didn’t think it was a good idea to hand over real baseballs in an enclosed gym with 1st and 2nd graders. Find a partner and toss the ball back and forth - pretty simple right?!  Ha! Inside of 30 seconds, Ryan and Pete (my 2 trusty companion coaches) and I look up to find complete and utter chaos.  Tennis balls flying all over the place.  Kids running back and forth, and the screaming, lord almighty, the     screaming (did I say this was a boys & girls mixed team?). Let me just say, there is a whole separate decibel level that little girls can reach that boys can’t begin to touch. One look at Pete & Ryan and I could tell we were all on the same page - time for laps! Those kids were some of the fittest in the league by the end.

Let’s just say that first practice is a thing of the past.  It only took all season, but we can now warm up properly.  No more flying baseballs strung throughout the field.  Oh, we still have our occasional “shaking head moment.”  Quit climbing the dugout fence.  No! the bats are not swords OR light-sabers.  And do you really need to go the bathroom for the 4th time during a game!  Really?? All joking aside, these kids have come a long way.  Hearing them call out plays in the field - music to my  ears - “1st or 2nd!” or, “Any base, any base!”  Plus understanding that a 3rd out means they get to bat again.  Which of course is their favorite thing - hallelujah!

A big Thank You goes out to Assistant Coaches Ryan Orr and Pete Cakebread.  Plus thank you parents! And additional thanks for the parents who taught their kids AC/DC’s TNT. When you have a dugout full of kids singing “TNT it is dynamite” you can’t help but smile. 

~ Drew

May 2018

Sometimes you can choose your Family

Under any circumstances, losing a family member is difficult to deal with. Even more so when the person is a recluse and didn’t have anything to do with your family. Scott and I are dealing with this now. His birth mother was seldom in his life and would pop in and out on occasion. She chose to distance herself from us although we made several attempts throughout the years to contact or visit her. I only saw her a couple of times in our 40+ years together. Our wedding day was one occasion. She never met our daughter Kendra and only saw Kelsey once. It makes me sad to think she never witnessed any of those important “firsts;” Christmas & Halloween, steps, teeth, bike wrecks, you get the picture.

A neighbor, Victor, called Scott to notify us Geri had passed away. Victor found Scott’s info in Geri’s belongings, the girls photos in her wallet and was quite shocked to find out Geri indeed had family. She always told him she was alone and had no one.

In our time with Victor, we discovered a charming, gentle individual who took Geri under his wing and watched out for her for the past 14 years since her husband Denny passed away. Victor helped with lawn work, running errands and grocery shopping. Scott and Vic traded stories about their upbringing and the similarities were astounding. Vic’s Mother was absent from his life while growing up and he had no relationship with her as an adult. I think this is one of the reasons Victor and Geri had such a special bond. Listening to Victor’s stories about Geri gave us some peace to know she found someone with whom she could communicate and trust.

Victor, his fiancé Julie, neighbors Chris and Fran shared meals and companionship and became her surrogate family. It was Fran and Vic that found her after she passed away. Scott and I traveled to Spokane upon the news and were nervous and skeptical of what we would find. After hearing other people’s horror stories of issues over survivorship and legal “stuff,” we found these people to be kind, warm and inviting. Geri knew she was in failing health and she communicated to Vic her final wishes, which we were able to carry out with his help. On a warm, partially sunny day in May we traveled to a beautiful waterfall at Hawk Creek Campground on Lake Roosevelt where the Columbia and Spokane rivers converge to say our final good byes. We were truly blessed to have family; Geri’s sister’s family, cousins and our new-found family members Victor, Julie, Fran and Chris in attendance. 

Hugs, Leslie

Huggie Time - Letter From The Heart - April 2018

My 4 year old son likes to have “huggie time”. For those that don’t know what huggie time is, let me tell you;  you step back, open your arms up really wide and run full speed into the other person’s arms, then squeeze super tight.  This is something he and I usually do and once in a while he will throw dad a bone and let him have huggie time as well. It’s kind of a mom and son thing.

Usually done at home, not out & about or when I drop him off at daycare or preschool. He especially likes to have huggie time when his little chores come up. I will ask “Wyatt can you please pick up your toys?” and the response I get is “first we must have huggie time.”  He will step back, open up his arms and run full speed ahead yelling ‘HUGGIE TIME’, and I say it back maybe not as loud but it makes him happy plus if I don’t we will have more huggie time’s until I do. Of course this is not a bad thing.  “Ok Wyatt   huggie time is over please pick up your toys, NOW” but then I get “one more huggie time?” Can you see the cycle that he is starting?

Frustrated mom because I have stepped on another match box car or a lego, dad laughing because he sees the angle the 4-year old is going for, and a messy house, but of course he will get one more huggie time.  You probably are all thinking, ‘wow the 4 year old runs the home’ but would you give up “huggie time”?

Here is one reason I will never give up “huggie time”…during Super Bowl weekend they always do these heart felt stories of the team’s fans, and one that stuck was the Philadelphia Eagles fan…’Dutch Destroyer’.  He was a 10 year old boy that lost his fight with cancer last year who got to meet the team and hang out with them for a day.  As I watch this segment on ESPN, mind you with tears in my eyes, I sit back and look at the floor think, wow our house is a disaster.  But you know what, after watching him run around with his head cut off trying to stay out of the hot lava, jumping from blanket to blanket, and watching that segment it doesn’t matter if the house is a total disaster. He gets to be kid and like so many, they don’t get to be. 

Yes he will get his toys picked up, yes mom will be frustrated, and dad will be chuckling in the back ground but at the end of the day, he gets to be a kid and mom gets lots of hugs, excuse me “Huggie Time”.

To be honest I probably will never turn down a huggie time because soon he will be too old and that phase will end or life could change at the drop of a hat.  I would rather remember the huggie times and the messy house then not to be able to take advantages of the hugs. What is the saying you see on Pinterest…”Sorry the house is messy we are making memories” and those are great memories to have.




Tear It Out Tear It ALL Out! - Letter From The Heart - March 2018

The time comes in every couple’s life when they stand glumly at the threshold of their bathroom and say, “Out. It’s all gotta come out…”.  That was the case in hubby Dave’s and my life finally one day. I have to say that being a professional realtor/broker for the past 30 years, I’m really quite good at telling people what they need to do to update their homes and perfectly terrible at seeing the same thing in my own home. It came as rather a shock one day several years ago when I was brushing my teeth that I was staring down at the very same 4” white tiled countertops and shiny brass light fixtures (installed w/such pride back in 1995) that they were the exact ones that I had been recommending to clients for several years to tear out and update. Whaa??

No matter - a little updating is no big deal. After all, Dave and I built our own house, remodeled other   houses, built misc shops & barns and are big do-it-yourselfers because, I admit it - neither of us really like to go on vacation or have any ‘real’ hobbies (& not just because we live on a farm w/animals to take care of. Ok, so 90% because we live on a farm with animals to take care of).  So tearing out walls is kind of our thing. We can always accomplish that between chores.

In the scheme of things, it’s just a bathroom after all! Step One: figuring out what to replace everything with. Plus it’s so much easier than the old days when I had to pore over random magazine pictures to    figure out what I liked. Now I had Pinterest! And Houzz! And Google! And all right at my fingertips any time of the day. Or night. Ok! So...Step One took 3 years to complete. When you can’t stop scrolling because by the time you finalize the 23rd detail, the first 3 details were no longer what you wanted after all. There was always something better. More beautiful. More just-righter! Aughh. I hate indecision so I’d just put it away for months at a time. Until my hubby reminded me that no decision really was a decision. And as a matter of fact he said, he was just fine with the old bathroom just like it was anyway.  Well, that certainly spurred me to action, so I started showing him pictures all over again of different ideas which prompted pretty much the only reply I’ve ever gotten to the question, “What do you think of this?” 

“Looks fine to me honey.” Huh. That seemed pretty noncommittal. Maybe I’d better just keep looking. Until the first weekend of January 2017 when I heard a horrendous crashing noise in the bathroom and came upon Dave, sledgehammer in hand, calmly dismantling the long countertop of the vanity. The doors were already off all of the cabinets. “Aackk!! What are you doing?? I’m not ready yet!”

“Well you are now,” he said.

There was no going back. I ran for boxes to empty everything into that was now spilling out of the cabinets. Kind of embarrassing really. Does anyone really need 5 pairs of tweezers (who even knew??). Is makeup still good if it’s only been expired for 6 years? Gah, 3 garbage bags later, I had it pared down to 5 (big) boxes of stuff for me and 1 (little) box for him. This is what we love about you men – such simple needs. We had the bathroom completely gutted by the end of the day. Yep, we’re   pretty good at tear-out. We figured out the Timetable In Our Minds –  average bathroom remodel: 2-3 weeks when hiring a professional, so we figured 6-8 weeks since we’d be doing everything including tiling & building the cabinets ourselves. We figured we’d splurge and hire out part of the rough plumbing.

Let’s see, that was January of 2017. What is it now? March of 2018? And we’re getting close, really close! One must always remember in the Timetable in Your Mind you must allow for: Birthdays, farm work, getting groceries, grandlittles (my fave!), unexpected extra good weather (who’s inside during good weather on a farm??), your real outside job, holidays (especially Christmas - that really takes time. Tip: start your project right after Christmas so you have plenty of time before the holidays roll around again. Oh...wait). I think back fondly on the first few weeks when it became obvious it might take a little longer than the Timetable In Our Minds, and our youngest daughter would come home to visit and make funny jokes like, “You guys probably won’t be back in here before Easter!” And we’d laugh and laugh…

Upside? I think Dave & I have rekindled that old competitive romantic-camaraderie. Like when we realize we both have to use the facilities at the same time and take off at a full-out sprint for the ½ bath (& only toilet on the main floor). We’ve kind of progressed to a mini-home version of the WWE at this point – less camaraderie and more all-out war but it IS exhilarating. We did have to set a few ground rules, ie: no grabbing someone by the back of the shirt & yanking them back so hard that all the buttons pop right off as the perpetrator hurdles over your fallen body just to make it there first. David.  

But anyway, we’re sooo close – after all, it’s not like it’s going to be Easter before we get back into our bathroom!  And I laughed and laughed…




Cows, Cats, Kids...Or Ho-Hum! - A Letter from the Heart - February 2018

Since I am a buyer’s agent one of the main components of my job is to show homes. I LOVE looking at homes, so this is one of my favorite “tasks” when working with buyers. Much of the time the homes are somewhat cookie cutter and “same old, same old”, but now and then there will be that special home, the one that makes me almost want to put my own home on the market and go for it.  Actually, showings are kind of like that too…usually pretty uneventful, but sometimes…well, let me just share a few examples of the not so ho-hum showings.

There was the time I was showing acreage property to a couple and a herd, a BIG herd, of cattle which was WAAAYYY across the field when we walked through the gate started running straight for us. The couple I was with were farmers and did not seem the slightest bit concerned.  I, on the other hand was sweating bullets, heart pounding. These were big cows and there were lots of them!  My mind was racing…”if I take off at a sprint now, I would probably only have to beat one of these two and I would be safe” and then “no, maybe cows like to chase the runner?” and then “It would probably look kind of bad if I ran and let my buyers get trampled”. So, I finally decided to just play it “cool” and position myself in the middle of the couple as we walked the property (a little awkward, yes, but better safe than sorry!). The cows charged up snorting and slobbering but luckily did no harm, in fact they kind of left us alone once they realized we weren’t going to feed them. Crisis averted, but my heart rate stayed in fight or flight mode until we were safely on the other side of the fence again!

Then there was the time I was showing a gorgeous new construction home to a nice young family.  Their little boy was cute as a bug and just full of energy. It was dark outside, so we stepped on the deck to get a peek at the back yard.  All of a sudden we heard the little boy screaming at the top of his lungs.  He had slipped back inside and gone straight for that tempting little blue shut off valve for the icemaker and turned it on full blast.  It is incredible how much and how far water will shoot out of one of those!  He was drenched and the beautiful floors and cabinets were too!  We ran in and immediately got it turned off, but we had nothing to wipe up all that water. I took off my cardigan and used that, the husband took off his shirt, and the wife ran out to the “blue house” by the street and came running back in with huge wads of toilet paper. We finally got all the water sopped up, but then we had to pick up all the tiny white flecks of toilet paper that were left behind. Took forever, but it was like it never happened.  Note to self, “keep a towel in the car”.

Another time I had a showing at a home we were told was empty, but when we opened one of the bedroom doors upstairs we noticed a lump on the bed, which turned out to be person. Yikes! Once I pulled up a long driveway on a country property with my clients and the soon-to-be (menacing looking) ex-husband stepped out on the porch and said there was “no way in hell he was going to let us look at his property” must have been an ugly divorce!  Beep! Beep! Beep!  We’re backing up!!!  One of the most dreaded snafus is when a family pet (especially a cat) sneaks out.  I’ve discovered that cats can’t be caught unless they want to be. Oh, and alarms, nothing like a blaring siren to put a person in panic mode! The more I write the more fun memories pop back into my head. I definitely prefer the ho-hum showings to the above, but the exciting ones are definitely more memorable! 




A Realtor's Story - Taking A Ride on The Seller Side - A Letter from the Heart - January 2018

It was the summer of 2007 and in the span of four months, my wife and I both graduated from college, got married & started new jobs - and because that just wasn’t enough, we decided to buy a house too.  Our first home was a 2-story, built in 1958.  It was like stepping back in time in this house – “retro” we liked to call it.  Orange formica countertops, yellowed pine cabinets, and black-iron stamped hinges.  One upstairs bedroom even had green shag carpet - yes, we had a disco room! But the topper was the upstairs bathroom.  It sported a pink toilet, pink bathtub, and baby-puke green tile.  Heck, the head of the shower was about shoulder level when I stood in the tub.  But we were young & eager and knew that with enough elbow grease we could make this a home! 

So we moved in & couldn’t wait to get started on our first project.  The bathroom was the winner - we gutted it down to the studs - #demo-day!  I still remember looking at that empty shell trying to envision the end product - no vision.  Luckily for me, my wife had vision and with the help of our parents (thanks mom & dad!), we came pretty close to completing that vision. Over the next 8 years, the projects never stopped: new roof, new windows, new deck, new front entry porch and back patio complete with my manly fire pit, just to name a few.

In the summer of 2015 it was a time for a change, and we decided to move from Idaho back to Oregon and I began my new career in real estate.  Our house in Idaho went up on the market.  We were nervous, excited, hopeful, but mostly scared out of our minds.  I was pretty confident - since I now had my real estate license, I “knew” more than the average man on the street, right?? Wrong. The Idaho market was a whole different market than the one I was working here in Oregon. We waited for that first offer to roll in. The house was seeing great activity, but no offer.  We were starting to get concerned and turned to our Broker for advice -  she reassured us to just hang tight. Finally, after 45 days on the market we had our first offer!  A couple of counter-offers later and we were under contract. The first hurdle had been crossed. We were on to the home inspection, and after two long weeks of being on pins and needles, the inspection came back with no repairs needed!  That was one big sigh of relief and the excitement started to set in. Hey, this was easy!   

 Until it wasn’t…. it all came crashing down.  We were just two weeks away from closing when everything fell apart.  The buyers purchasing our home were selling their current house, but their buyers backed out two weeks before closing!  That in turn led to the termination of our sale.  Painful - we were so close. We went back on the market with an aggressive “Price Improvement”, commonly known as a price reduction… Bring on that buyer!   Instead, Mother Nature decided to step in and devastated my hometown & the Kamiah Valley with a wildfire that destroyed 50 homes, 75 outbuildings, and over 50,000 acres of land.  Except for our house. It wasn’t touched. Yay… The entire town of Kamiah and surrounding communities came to a screeching halt.  With that came another aggressive “Price Improvement”.  We were now into the winter months with limited activity and the town of Kamiah struggling to recover - the market was slowww.  Spring came, and still no offer.  With that yet another “Price Improvement”.   Are you starting to see a theme?  Was a foreclosure or short-sale in our future?  We decided to try one more “price improvement” before crossing that bridge.  With that final price reduction, we had reduced our sales price close to $50,000 – true pain.   Fingers crossed. Let’s get this house SOLD!

Well we found the bottom of the market with that final price reduction.  Two weeks and one counter-offer later, we were back under contract.  The home inspection passed again and everything was falling right into place.  Was this the time?  Finally - closing?  Of course, not!  These buyers had to sell their home back in New Jersey and had a pending offer BUT their home inspection didn’t go as planned and they went back on the market. Aughhh, would this rollercoaster never end??  They assured us it was a good market and they would resell quickly and luckily it did. They went back under contract two days later. Here we go again! Three weeks later, they passed the home inspection.  The appraisal was completed on our house in the following two weeks, and luckily came in at value with no lender callouts.

This was it. Our family finally closed on the sale of our Idaho house on February 10th, 2017 (a day in infamy) after two long years.  It was a mixed bag of emotions at the signing table.  We were so happy to close this chapter in our lives and finally move forward.  While this was a tough ride for our family with the amount of “price improvements”, multiple hiccups, and Mother Nature, we realized that it was the first home we lived in when we got married.  It was the place we brought our babies home from the hospital, the place they learned to walk and talk. The place we worked on and transformed and loved.  Despite the struggle, it has good memories, and we are so thankful for our friends and family that helped us with house projects and supported us through the long months.   

I shall always have a deeper appreciation and empathy for buyers and sellers going through the process of buying or selling a home. I’ve learned that a good broker is worth their weight in gold and that a sense of humor (along with a little Tylenol and a good bottle of wine or three) goes a long way. Many obstacles, stress & frustration can be avoided(!) with the right people in your corner – thank you to all my Corner People! 

Now we are on to the next journey.  As I nervously watch my wife pinning new house plans on Pinterest... 



The Lucky Leprechaun - A Letter from the Heart - Year End 2017

After several years of dragging my feet, I finally relented and purchased a travel trailer with my husband Scott earlier this spring.  I was reluctant to give up the convenience of our beat-up Coachman Motor Home: The Lucky Leprechaun (dubbed so on the first rainy camping trip with my then “future” son-in-law Josh).  The Leprechaun has been a big part of our lives since 2001. It was given to Scott by his good friend John, when he passed away from cancer. 

Epic stories lie between the cheap warped paneling of the walls, leaking vents and every piece of fallen glitter on the outdated orange carpet.  We enjoyed many pre-dawn trips to Newport or Netart’s Bay to dig for razor or horse neck clams. It served as home base for Stayton’s Relay For Life when Kendra and I served as Team and Luminaria Committee Chairs.  For many years, we spent the Labor Day Holiday at the adorable little campground behind Marion Forks Fish Hatchery.  Like most camping trips, it’s all about the fire pit, setting up camp and the camp food. Our camp outs aren’t much different.  I inherited my Grandmother Vera’s love and recipe for homemade Clam Chowder.  I prefer “One-Pot Wonders” for camping and started the pot to cook.  I think Josh was about finished with his second bowl before he piped up and said he had yet to see a clam in his chowder.  Everyone started looking for the clams in their soup too.  OOPS!  I forgot to bring clams for the chowder.  So much for a well-stocked pantry in the Leprechaun.  It’s also amazing how resourceful and creative one can be if you forget to pack Maple Syrup for Pancakes.  FYI, a warmed mixture of peanut butter and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup makes a pretty tasty substitute.

FaerieWorlds.  Costumes. Glitter.  Celtic Music. Mythical Creatures. The World of Froud.  The things my daughter can talk me into all because of the love of the movie The Labyrinth and the Star Wars saga.  My first indoctrination to the festival was a parking attendant in a sequined mermaid costume with seahorse pasties wishing us “Faerie Blessings!”  Immediately turned to Kendra and said, “if I see naked people you are so dead…”.  We laughed it off and continued to go for the next 8 years, always promising to bring the Leprechaun and stay the whole weekend.  In 2013 and 2014 we made good on the promise also bringing our friend Harmoney and my niece Samantha. 

There were times we prayed the darn thing would start to get us home. At times, we prayed it would stay running.  It had a habit of acting up (dying in intersections).  I got good at keeping my foot on the brake and gas at the same time to make a left turn if I had to stop at a traffic light. 

RVing is a learning experience.  The first thing we learned was to make sure all the cupboards are closed and latched when traveling on the twisty road to Hebo.  Kendra can attest to the bump on the head by a weighty camp lantern.   I learned an itty-bitty RV fridge comes with a $1500.00 price tag.  I learned to swing wide while taking a turn.  But most of all I learned that even though I had to give up the Lucky Leprechaun, no matter where we go, we will continue to make memories as a family and I will continue to forget what to pack, even with my list in my hand. 

Now, what do I name the new trailer?  Maybe I will wait and see what transpires at FaerieWorlds next year… Leslie

 Clamming with the lucky leprechaun