Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What happened to Thanksgiving?

We have a traditional Thanksgiving  every year, and this year our tradition took us to Lopez Island.  Yessi and I visited Lopez this summer.  She hung out on the island for a few days while Jacaboo and I did a kayak adventure.

Benton, World's most Handsome (Used to be Cutest) Aussie,
 with Mt. Baker in background.
Anacortes ferry terminal has some new boardwalks which are very nice,
and Benton thoroughly enjoyed running on them.
The weekend before Thanksgiving we had our yearly feast, a week before everyone else.  No ferry lines, great weather, wonderful people and the beautiful Pacific Northwest made it the perfect winter weekend.

Since then, Yessi and I have been working hard on our property, clearing brush, mostly invasives, from our 2 lots.

YessiYe on Lopez Island

We had a barbecue on the 'real Thanksgiving', official with the fire department and all.  Our barbecue pit met their approval and the captain complimented our 'to code' fire: using only cut fire wood, the soup pot simmering away perched on a couple flat rocks lining the pit, a metal ring along the top and a pale of water nearby.

Yessi and Benton, the cutest Aussie and the cutest Chinese蛇怕热多iin弹劾我热烈地。

Recycled wood fence and a Heart shaped puddle!
I felt bad for interrupting their (the volunteer firefighters) Thanksgiving and have no idea who called them.  Our lot poses some interesting challenges, but I think our biggest challenges will be fitting into the odd social dynamics within this transitional neighborhood.

There will definitely be some challenges with our neighborhood, but so far we really enjoy spending time over there and the lot is looking better and better.  We've almost completed our recycled wood fence, have done restoration planting on about 800 sf of the property, and are currently working on getting power to the site.

We also had a small gathering at our lovely cottage on Coles Road, with Fran, Ed and Benton, for one "Moore" Thanksgiving.  This was Yessi's first thanksgiving since it's not a very popular holiday in China. Fran and Yessi worked together in the kitchen and the meal was fabulous.  Somehow I escaped any preparation of food by keeping busy outside!

FrEdLeYe having one "Moore" Thanksgiving, this one in our cabin!

Yessi looking out over the lovely farm land on Lopez Island.

Worlds cutest Yessi and Aussie, side by side.

We've been busy, and now another two weeks have gone by.  Thanksgiving came and went early it seems, and Christmas is right around the corner.  It's fricking Christmas already!  How did this happen?

Yessi and I, Mt. Baker in the background.

Two years ago now I was in Auckland, opening a care package from my mom in a horrible youth hostel in Auckland.  Last year I arrived at Sea-Tac from China on Christmas day.  Now I'm living in a cabin in the woods with Yessi, working on building a house, and having lots of fun along the way.

The Thanksgiving crew, walking the trail along the top of the rock bluff.

Wow, how time flies!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Yessi gets a taste of true America

Yessi and I love our little projects around the Moore Estate. Last weekend we moved a bunch of stuff out of the cabin so we could build a 15' long counter/desk along one wall.  Since Yessi and I are working on so many projects, she needed her own work station and I needed a place to work that wasn't on my drafting table so I could do more drawing.

Yessi does some more work on the Moore tractor.
We got a few BAPOW'S from FrEdLey and hauled them over for Moore shop work.  The barn is a great work space with a large clean concrete floor and big doors that open, large enough that we could work on 16' boards without having them outside in the rain getting wet. (this actually requires 32' of space in a straight line)

Another Falcon first down!!!  Go Falcons!!
While we were working, Lance had some Moore projects to do, one working on his old Ford tractor. We have him a hand replacing a hydraulic line and then decided we'd go the the South Whidbey High School game, as recommended by Gary Piper.  For many years he's been going to the games with Willard and it seemed like a great thing to do--and it was!

It seems Yessi just got off the Plane, and here she is on a Planer again.

The Falcons are a single A team and were playing a well established AA team.  They get another single A for effort, and I feel bad for them because it was the last game of the season and they got destroyed.  As Mr. Piper said during the game though, " cheerleaders destroyed theirs so we're about even"!!!

Yessi in coveralls with yellow tractor, grease on her face and a wrench as big as her arm!  
So, our America day involved driving around in a big diesel ford Truck, milling beautiful old growth wood for a project in our cabin, working on a tractor and going to a football game.  I'm thinking this is pretty American, at least it would be pretty hard to do any of these in China!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Yessi Ye raps

Yessi, growing up in China, has much different music tastes than mine.  Perhaps you've gone out to a Thai or Asian meal and heard music in the background, part american pop, part ancient oriental, part lost due to language translation?  It's not pretty, in my opinion. So I'm teaching Yessi to Rap.  Of coarse I'm no musician, and when I say Rap, I'm really using the slang for rappelling, which is to lower oneself down on a rope.

Yessi at Mt. Erie in Anacortes, WA, rappelling for the first time ever and not too happy about it.

Yessi has never Rapped before and was very scared.  I thought she might not make it over the cliff edge.  In fact we moved the rope to another set of anchors that had an easier start to help her out.  She was so nervous she was shaking, but we had two instructors, one above (me) coaching her and one below (Ashley of WOW and  DHT) holding onto the ropes ready to emergency break Yessi if needed.

Yessi manages a smile even as she shakes with fear during her first time on a rope, ever.
Like always, Yessi rises to the challenges I present her with and I'm very proud of her for completing her crash course in climbing without a climbing crash, of course!

Fixing up the Bruiser Cabin

High above the little town of Langley, tucked deep in the woods out of sight and far away from the reaches of the sun is a little cabin in the development of Talking Circle.

Scary little unfinished cabin back in the woods
If this building was an old trailer, only the most daring would venture inside.  It's easy to picture a horror movie a midst the large fir trees, with broken glass for windows, the stalker bursting through tattered OSB and an endless chase through the giant ferns.

Tar paper and butyl tape creating a moisture barrier for scary little cabin back in the woods.
 But it's not, it's a cabin, built by skilled carpenters with no sense of architectural detailing.  Cute but unfinished with odd details at the windows, rafters not on lay out, corners framed improperly, and connections between additions unresolved.

Shingles (and Yessi's smile) begin to transform scary cabin to cute cabin.
And for almost 20 years it's been tucked in the woods, half scary dark dungeon, half cute cabin in the woods.  Now, we're finishing some of the more important details to make it weather proof and provide protection so it can survive another 20 years.

Salvaged blue metal panels and black window flashing juxtaposed to weathered OSB and tar paper unter towering fir trees create a contemposcary architectural look.
One of my first recommendations, was to finish flashing the windows.  Ideally, window opening sills are taped with a butyl tape prior to installing the windows, then the windows is installed and tar paper, more tape, and flashing are installed from the bottom up so that they all overlap and shed water to the outside.
Cutest Chinese in the world (Yessi Ye) next to the Cutest Aussie in the world (Benton)  in front of the Cutest cabin in the world (Bruiser Cabin)
We weren't able to do these windows like I would from scratch, but we made them lots better.  And then finishing the siding which included setting sheathing nails, tar paper, butyl tape at the corners and then siding which on one section was cedar shingles and on the addition to the addition, metal siding which was salvaged from Skagit River Steel and Recycling.

This large picture window was transformed from a large whole in the wall to an architectural feature with metal trim and siding.
And it's transformed from scary to contemposcary and when we finish, it will be contemporary.  Given the history, the location, and the color of the salvaged metal siding and custom metal trim (black and blue) I'm designating this the 'Bruiser Cabin'!

Though working on this cabin under large trees is dark, needing lights even on sunny days, it's also very sheltered and dry.  Two days Yessi and I worked on the siding while the heavy northwest fog soaked any object it touched, but under the massive trees which seem to soak up even ambient water, we were able to stay dry.  All in all it's been a very fun place to work, the community is wonderful, the owner is terrific and the improvements look great leaving us feeling satisfied and with enough money for another few weeks!
Bruiser Cabin, Talking Circle, Langley, WA, USA

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lighting the DHT in Langley

Lighting the Dog House tree, First and Anthes, and why.

DHT as seen from Langley Whale Bell Park
photo by Janet Ploof

In the lovely town of Langley, at the corner of Anthes and First was once the center of town, back when the Dog House Tavern was up and running.  It's amazing how one business can change the look, feel and culture of an entire town.

Fran Abel, last year in a bucket installing some lights on the tree.
Langley has been years in recovering from this loss and finally other businesses are filling the void.  If you want to hear music you can go to Moe's; if you want to watch baseball you can go to the Village Pizzaria; if you want to just hang out you can go to the Commons; and if you want coffee you can go to Useless Bay Coffee Co.  We now have more options than we once did when the Dog House thrived.

Janet Ploof shows off her skills with a zip strip.
But there is still no true replacement for the community after the huge hole left by the death of Pete and the closure of the Dog House.

Upon lighting the tree, many more people are using the park and walkway to the waterfront.  
The new businesses in town are all good, but they can't totally replace the vibrance and the diversity that the Dog House provided.  Perhaps it was the alternative home provided for the youth of Langley, hanging out on the bench or working for Pete.  Perhaps it was the nostalgia of a business that had been around for many decades.  Perhaps it was the old historic building, mysteriously perched on a steep bank, linking first street to the Water.  Or perhaps it was the huge Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Pete at the Dog House for the entire village.  Come one; come all!  If you can bring a pie,  please do, but come no matter what.

Janet Ploof picking up garbage behind the Dog House Tavern.
Whatever it was, Langley misses the Dog House!  It's gone from the center of town to a big dark hole.

dbBrad doing a little dead limb removal at the same time.
But there are people who are trying to remedy this, who understand community and commerce.  The Dog House no longer looks vacant and empty, thanks to the wonderful revolving displays provided by Langley Main Street.  Through their volunteer efforts the windows are washed and lit and displays change depending on the season and the town's activities.

Ashley Taylor of WOW (Wander on Whidbey) on Belay

Despite the closure of the Dog House, remedies are at work.  One way to fill the dark corner is to light the  magnificent Oak Tree in the park, right next to the Dog.  As you come down Anthes this winter, you will surely see the hundreds of lights.  It is fun, it brightens a dark spot, it serves as a focus for the eye and it makes walking down to the water fun rather than scary.

dbBrad goes out on a limb for Langley!

These wonderful winter lights are good for Langley,  good for business and its thanks to Main Street.  For the past two years of lights we owe thanks to Janet Ploof,  Fran Abel, Yessi Ye,  Ashley Taylor,  dbBrad and Cato Company.

Ashley Taylor of Wander on Whidbey and the Braeburn ascending the tree to install lights.

Yessi is back, but only for a short period.

Yessi has come back to live with me here on Whidbey Island.  We had hoped we'd be working in China for TuTwo, but that didn't work out.  There have been many long Skype calls as we assess our situation, where we want to live and raise children, how we want to live, what we want to do, etc.

Yessi with her Visa, good for a year as long as she leaves in the next two months!?
Of coarse we both want to be with our families in our home country, but we can't both be at home. Yessi was disappointed as she told everyone I'd be coming to China.  At first she though I was changing my mind.  Im not, and I would very much like to live and work in China, at least part time. But right now there is more opportunity for us in the Seattle area.

Yessi doing Moore gardening.

The ideal for us would be to live in Xiamen 5 months of the year and on Whidbey Island the other 5 months. Wait, that leaves two months!! Okay, then we want to continue our adventures and our traveling the other two months of the year.

Fran and Ed looking good in their Ibex outfits.  Of coarse, Benton, still the world's cutest Aussie, looks good in his fur coat.
Currently we are looking for small odd jobs for both of us to sustain the costs of living.  We have a great cabin at MooreVille, just outside of Langley and love it.  Yessi is very fond of the garden, her first, that we have created.
Yessi arrived just in time to see the Mushroom Extravaganza we're having in Washington this year.  In the Cascades, in the Olympics, and here on Whidbey Island, mushrooms in numbers I've never seen before.  This is the year of the Fungi!
And again, our plans have changed.  We thought she'd be able to stay until April, but must return in January, 3 months less stay.  We both know that immigration, marriage, children will be difficult topics for the next few years and there is no amount of planning that will add certainty to what awaits us in dealing with US immigration.  I'm drawing on my Freestyle skills from hiking all last year trying to recognize that we can't predict what will happen, we can only solve problems as we go, one at a time; and most important, that we have to enjoy each day of the process of getting there.

Carving pumpkins was new to Yessi.  An odd treatment of a food source, and kind of wasteful, but this is America and she did have a good time, as did Fran and Ed.  And we still have all our fingers!
Right now, Yessi and I are just trying to survive.  We may be able to extend her Visa with the help of an immigration Lawyer, but of coarse that takes funds we are very short on right now.

Durham property overgrown, but getting better and better.
In the mean time, we continue to work on our property in Clinton, little-by-little.  Getting rid of invasive weeds, clearing diseased trees, planting natives and building a fence are our priorities.  Soon we will begin building a garden shed.  When we have enough money, we will apply for a permit to build a house and a shop, but that may be a while.

Yessi learning the art of cedar shingles.