Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer's Almost Gone

We've had summer until today.  We have enjoyed the weather outside as much as possible, given my impending post-surgical incarceration.  These big white puffy flowers have been everywhere this year.  The flower heads are really big.

Thursday we rode out in Carnation Valley.  We stopped at a farm stand and bought produce.  The corn was good, the tomatoes not so much.

And now there is this.  Rain started at 4 this morning.  We've had off and on rain, heavy rain, gusty winds and sun.  Two people have died from falling trees, and at one point 450,000 people had no power.  We had a couple of outages, but they were brief.  It's an unusual storm for August, this usually happens in November. 

The next four days are supposed to be wet.  It may be time to join a gym since we're going to be here until the end of October.  Living in an RV is not as much fun when you can't go outside.

Surgery is on Monday.  I have to arrive at 1:30 in the afternoon.  I'm really unhappy about this start time.  It'll mean getting up at 5 am, eating something, and then sitting around until early afternoon being hungry and thirsty and extremely cranky.  It'll take three or four hours, so by the time it's all over I should be very difficult to be around due to low blood sugar.  I'm trying to have a positive outlook on this, but am failing miserably at the moment.  So, that's what's up in the GPNW.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Peanut Butter

I love peanut butter, but it has so many calories!  Yesterday we were at Walmart picking up the essentials of life (toilet paper and paper towels) and we saw this.  It's powdered peanut butter.  It has 85% less fat than regular peanut butter.   We figured even if it wasn't great, we might be able to use it to make peanut sauce.

It looks like this in the jar.

One adds one tablespoon of water to two tablespoons of powdered peanut butter.

Eh voila!  We have peanut butter.  Jim put it on toast with jelly. He says it tastes like peanut butter.  It's good, and is an excellent low fat alternative.

So, there it is, my gastronomical tip for the day.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Fires in Washington

I swear, watching the news coverage of the fires in central Washington makes me feel like it's end of days.  It's just tragic.  Photo swiped from the internet.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Boating on Lake Union

Wednesday evening, Vicki and Dave surprised Kim, Jim, Jim and me with a cruise on Lake Union.  The Electric Boat Company rents these boats to cruise Lake Union.  They're Duffy boats. Both of those links go to graphics intensive websites, so if your data is limited, you may not want to click on them.  The boats cruise at 7 knots, and have zero fumes or noise.  They are really fun boats.

There are many stand up paddle board users and kayakers on the lake.

That's Dave driving, with the two Jims.

Lake Union has many houseboats. It's a very cool life style, whose popularity has made it fairly expensive.  At one point I think every Seattle resident thinks, "how cool would that be?"

We went out to the Ballard locks. Out by the locks were two trash barges.  Someone has been out picking up dead boats, dead logs and debris.  There were two boats on the pile.

There are also sea gulls.  They are everywhere.

This an old sedan cruiser.  One wonders if the roof was built to support that many people sitting on it.

Here we are at Gas Works park.  Here is a brief clip from wikipedia.
The Lake Station gas manufacturing plant on Lake Union was the largest private utility then existing in Seattle. It operated as “Seattle Lighting Company” until 1930, when the name was changed to “Seattle Gas Company”. Its primary product was illuminating gas (so-called because it was used for lighting) manufactured from coal. The gas was later also used for cooking, refrigeration, and heating homes and water. It was also called city gas to distinguish it from natural gas. The gas was made from coal up to 1937 when the high cost of operating the old coke oven and coal-gas generating sets forced a change-over to oil.
The soil at the park is hugely contaminated from the years of gas production.  Large amounts of dirt were brought in to cap the soil.  It's now a beautiful park.  Thousands of people come here on July 4 for the fire works.

This is the other side of Lake Union.  There are more house boats over here.

The blue house is an older model.  Some of the wood is a little chewed up.  These houses are the old Seattle.

And then there is this.  Talk about not fitting in with the neighborhood!  The new house boats sit on concrete pontoons, and are much better insulated than their older neighbors.

I was hoping it would be easier to see this in the picture - look at the bottom.  You can see the logs that are floating this house.  They occasionally have to be replaced after they're water logged.

We're not sure what kind of boat this is.  We saw another one, where the people were paddling furiously.

This is a fantastic way to see the city from the water.  No real boat handling skills are required.  If you're in the area, you should do this.

We send massive thanks to Vicki for organizing this.  After boating, there was dinner at their house.  It was a perfect evening.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Eat, Ride, Rain

Greetings Earthlings!  At last I have a few paltry photos to share, along with some narrative.  Monday we had dinner at Dave and Vicki's, with Kim and Jim.  KandJ are in the area for a couple of weeks.  It's been awhile since we've seen them, so it's good that they're back.  They were the first people we ever knew who lived in a motor home.  I never would have predicted that we would follow in their footsteps.  NO one saw that coming!
Kim brought a caesar salad bar.  Knowing that I have the palate of a three year old, she very kindly left the anchovies and capers on the side.

We were able to sit outside on the deck.  It was so pleasant.  We have excellent friends, all of whom cook better than I do.

Yesterday we rode out in Carnation Valley.  It was a beautiful day.  Not too hot, not too cold, just right.  This is the always lovely Sikes Lake.  If you look out into the distance, you can not see the mountains.  We had a lot of smoke from the fires.

Today it rained like heck.  Generally this area doesn't get heavy rain, it mists for weeks on end.  Today we had thunder, lightning and torrential rain.  We killed some time this morning playing on Google Earth.  This is the gravel pit down the street from us.  If you look at the top of the picture, you can see a corner of a housing development.  One wonders how close the boundaries of the digging will get to the Highlands area.

Then we looked at the RV park where we are staying.  This is a google street view from 2011.  See the man standing at the back of the pick up truck?  He was our neighbor in 2011.  He had an unfortunate habit of lighting cigars, laying them on the picnic table and then walking away.  Anyway, our 5th wheel is parked next to the 5th wheel on the end with the white van parked in front.  We weren't home when the picture was taken.

Eventually we had to go somewhere.  So we went to Bellevue Square, which is a covered mall.  We spent some time in the Microsoft store looking at Surface laptops and Windows 10.  People who are saying it's just like Windows 7 are, IMHO, mistaken.  It's different.  My hands are going to have to learn a lot of new stuff.  It was pouring.  There are many road closures in Bellevue, and this poor officer was having to stand there and direct traffic.

After the Microsoft store, there was the camera store.  My Lumix G2 has been obsoleted.  This is my new object of desire.  It's the Lumix G7. It's amazing how much smaller and lighter it is than the G2.  It feels very good in the hand.  Allegedly it shoots amazing good video, which is not something I do a lot of.

We left the mall just in time.  Traffic everywhere was unbelievable.  Ours was the only freeway direction that was not parked.  There's a football preseason game tonight.  Between that and the rain, the commuters are doomed.

In other news, are alla y'all keeping up on the progress of the Godzilla El Nino coming our way?  This winter the GPNW will be warm and dry, southern California and the general SW are going to be wet.  Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Fire in Tucson

I swiped this off Twitter.  Apparently there is, or has recently been, a fire on Mt. Lemmon in Tucson.  It's an amazing image.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bike, Hike and Hearing Aids

An entire week has passed since there has been a blog post.  It's difficult, I can not compete with the postcards presently coming out of Ouray.   Mark, Gayle, and others have been providing me with glorious photos of the scenery we are currently missing.  Trying hard not to be bitter, but it's difficult.
We're continuing to bike and walk up the big hills.  My average on the bike is getting faster, so I'm happy about that.
Sunday was the culmination of Seafair, with a day of air shows and boat racing.  I think this is the best thing the Blues do in their routine.  They're flying at about 128 mph, just sort of standing on the air using pure thrust.  Then one of them puts the power on and flies straight up and out of formation.  It's impressive.

In addition to the unlimited hydro racing, which has gotten pretty boring, there were F1 Powerboats racing.  You can see them lined up waiting for the next heat.  Behind them is a small sample of all the people on shore.

The boats have been around for awhile.  After killing a few drivers, more attention was paid to safety, to include designing the cockpit to break away in a crash, and the use of harnesses to restrain the driver.  Their course is much longer than the three laps done by the unlimited hydros and the boats are fun to watch.

There has been hiking in the woods.

The woods are mysterious, dark and deep.  It's also hot and humid in there because there is no breeze.  We may not do that one again for awhile.

Here are a couple of local flowers for beauty and color.

Jim had his hearing tested this week when I went in to pick up my new pink ear plug (keeps water out of ear when showering).  He has hearing loss in the 1500 hz to 8000 hz range.  That would be the range in which my voice occurs.  My left ear hearing drops at 500 hz, so I can't hear anybody.  Jim's thinking about getting hearing aids for the following reasons.  When your hearing deteriorates, the nerve is not being stimulated.  When the nerve is not stimulated, neither is your brain.  These are bad things.  Difficulty hearing is also positively correlated to increased levels of dementia and loss of grey matter in the brain.  So, even though Jim is coping with the hearing loss, it can't be left alone forever.  Since the hearing in my right is still very good, my brain is stimulated.  My left ear nerve conduction is good, but the lack of an ear drum is the problem there. 
Right now we're thinking about what to get and where to get them.  Our first estimate from an audiologist associated with the ENT office was $5,000 for a pair.  Does this seem like a lot to you?  It does to me.  The NYT had an interesting article a few years ago about finding a less expensive hearing aid, which can be found here.  I also found another article on why hearing aids cost six times more than an ipad, which you can read here.   As Jim just put it so succinctly, the consumer is getting hosed.  This is going to be a big budget line item for us.  Jim will need two, and if my ear drum graft takes, I'll probably need one for that ear. The major issue for us it that what ever we're wearing has to work with a bike helmet.  This will probably be an odyssey. 
I did get a surgery date for the ear, it's August 31.