Thursday, June 26, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Heading South

photo above - Blue Star Memorial plaque, Oregon.
 
It's time to head South and make our way toward California.  As we drove through the state of Washington, I kept noticing wonderful sunny, yellow wildflowers that remind me of California's yellow Scotch Broom . . . only the ones in Washington are gigantic.

Unfortunately when my hubby is driving he drives with a mission in mind; "Get where we're going without delay"  so I missed many an opportunity to photo these impressive wild flowers.

Somewhere in the state of Oregon, John pulls into a rest stop where I manage to retrieve my little camera and snap a few photos. 

Photo above - Emblem of USA flag at the base of "The Blue Star Memorial Highway" plaque.  Flag is made using red, white and blue stone chips and wood.  Looks like it could use a bit of straightening up but I'm sure that both the weather and the tourist are hard on it.
 
photo above - Wildflowers at Oregon rest stop.
 
I'm lucky at this particular rest stop as there is an area lush with yellow Scotch Broom and beautiful Queen Anne's Lace.
 
 
Back in my high school days, one of my assigned science projects was to collect wildflower specimens, and press and dry them.  After they were adequately preserved, I had to take the pressings and make them into a notebook.  It took weeks of work, first to collect the many samples of flowers, along with their stems and some leaves, and then the time consuming process of pressing them between sheets of paper and under a fair amount of weight, and allow them to remain untouched until thoroughly dry.  Since a flower press was not among my possessions, I had to round up all the biggest, heaviest, books available in our home.  Thankfully we did own a set of Encyclopedia Britannica and they really carried their weight  during this school assignment.   [pun intended] :)
 
I gained a lot from that science project, it taught me the names of many of my area's wildflowers and I learned a bit about each plant.  For instance I learned that the stems and branches of these yellow flowered Scotch brooms  were indeed once used to make brooms for sweeping.
 
Photo above - Close up of the Scotch Broom flower cluster.  It is considered a noxious weed but what a pretty weed it can be when blooming.
 
Photo below - I have never before seen such a large and beautiful Queen Anne's Lace blossom.  It was huge, about the size of a dinner plate and absolutely perfect.
 
When I see all the divine flowers that are grown up in the Northern states it makes me envious.  Deep in South Florida our soil is sandy and lacking in rich compost, the humidity is high and encourages mold and mildew on plants and our southern heat discourages many plants from establishing themselves.  As for bugs, they are pleantiful and ravenous for anything with a tender green leaf or stem.
 




Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day Tripping Back to the 50's and 60's":


photo above - Part of the interior of XXX Root Beer Drive-in.
In my last post I told you about how  John's old school chum, Ken,  spent the day with us and how we toured some of their old stomping grounds.  Today I'm continuing with this saga but felt it deserves its own separate post.

After spending a good portion of the afternoon driving up and down  little roads that led into lakeside neighborhoods  we headed back towards town.  Suddenly Ken was struck by an idea.

"Do you like root beer?"  He asked, with an obvious motive in mind.

I nodded affirmatively while John was slightly less enthusiastic.  "Well, I like an A&W float every now and then."

"I'm not a big fan of A&W "  Ken went on " To me it has a sharp flavor.  The best root beer, bar none, is triple X.  I find it has a smooth, creamy taste.  Whenever I'm in Issaquah I always have to stop by the triple X to get my Root Beer fix."

Like me,  John had never heard of triple X  Root Beer,  but Ken was quick to fill us in on all the pertinent facts.

photo above - It was a busy place, granted there are many empty booths but the majority of the customers were outside having their gigantic burgers  and frosty mugs of famous XXX Root Beer "al fresco" on the outdoor patio.  I found it difficult to get a clean shot of the interior without someone walking by - here I caught the flying hair of a hurried waitress.  Must admit she has lovely locks - long and shiny.  

XXX Root Beer's history is long, dating back to 1895, it's long but it's an interesting history;  the following is my synopsis . 

Basically XXX  began as a beer brewery but diversified into soft drinks.  With the onset of prohibition, XXX Brewery switched over from beer production to solely producing its line of soft drink.  There was a period of rapid growth and popularity and XXX Root Beer Drive-Ins were quickly spread across the continent.  But as fast food establishments emerged they began nudging out the smaller local drive-ins and diners,  XXX began to experience a decline in its number of locations.  


photo above - As is apparent, the interior of XXX is chock full of vintage memorabilia and tons of retro pieces. 

In 1960 it was suspected that Sassafras, an ingredient used in the making of a number of soda fountain drinks, was a carcinogen, therefore the government banned its use in all food and drinks.  Companies were given a one year "grace period"  in which to convert over to safer ingredients.  It took time but eventually  "flavor chemists" were able to find safe alternatives that would keep XXX Root Beer's historic creamy flavor along with the frothy head that draft root beer is noted for.

Photos above and below - More of XXX's interior. One could spend days looking through the place and never see everything that's on display there.  It was truly overwhelming. 

In summation, the fast food chains pretty much took over and now there are but 2 of the old, original XXX  Root Beer drive ins left in existence;  one in Issaquah Washington and the other in Lafayette , Indiana.  These 2  drive ins still use the same creamy tasting, root beer syrup to make their draft Root Beer.  

Photo above - Fantastic vintage jukebox.  You don't see many like these anymore, especially ones that play the old 45's.

If you'd like to read a more in-depth history of XXX  it can be found HERE




Photo above - One enormous gum ball machine.
Photo below - I had my hubby stand next to it to give a perspective of its size. Yep, it's one really big dispenser.
 

As a side note, the Issaquah XXX Root Beer Drive-In is also well known for its summer car shows as their website can attest to:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Best Friends Forever -

photo above - Ken on left.  My hubby, John, in light blue on right.
 
Before we left on our trip out west, my hubby, John,  was in contact with Ken, an old school chum of his.  Since we would be in the state of Washington Ken made arrangements to drive to Issaquah and spend a day with us . . . or really with John.

It was enjoyable to hear these two close friends reminisce about bygone days, the kids they knew back then and how time had changed people and places.  During this conversation I also learned that Ken had been a couple of years behind John in high school.  Back then it was,  and probably still is today, uncool to associate with lower class mates.  However John and Ken shared common interests; they both lived around Lake Sammamish and they both like fast engines and things with fast engines  such as boats and cars.  Theirs was a friendship that would last the test of time and of distance.

When Ken arrived at the hotel we lunched together.  I sat and quietly ate while the two old chums talked and caught up on several years  worth of their lives.   Ken was full of stories about the many changes that had occurred to their old home town of Issaquah and to some of the kids that they once went to school with.
Conversations went similar to this:
"Hey John.  Do you remember Billy Dan-fangle ?"  Ken inquires.
John looks puzzled and shakes his head negatively.  "Can't say as I recall the name."
"Oh I'm sure if you had met him you'd remember."  Ken replies adamantly. "He was a scrawny kid, clothes were worn and dirty.  You could smell him from down the hall.  Don't get me wrong,  Danny was a really nice kid and he and I were good friends.  
He used to live in this area before Issaquah got all built up.  His folks had a farm here and about nine kids to raise .   They were about as poor as they come.   Don't think Danny had more than a couple of  changes of clothes and maybe one pair of shoes back then.  He always looked unkempt and, as I said, you could smell him coming.  Poor kid, the family didn't have running water in their old farm house so it was a luxury if Danny got a bath once a week.  They were good people, hard working, honest, respectable but dirt poor people.
Well time changes.   Bull-Dozer Corp wanted to build their corporate office out this way and had plans for a big development.  They offered the Dan-fangles a pretty penny for their hundred and some odd acre farm.  Over night the Dan-fangles  became multi-millionaires.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer family.  I like to see things like that happen to deserving people."
 
I couldn't help but be fascinated by Ken's stories of the past; the people and the places.
After lunch Ken suggested it would be fun to drive around  some of the old haunts that he and John grew up in.  So a drive around  some of the neighborhoods  around Lake Sammamish became our agenda for the afternoon.
 
photo above - a view of Lake Sammamish.  Most of the lakeside is private property, off limits to the Have-Nots such as myself, but someone had propped open a wrought iron gate with their flip-flop, giving us egress to the lake shore and the view.

Now a days we all know that lakefront  property is prime real estate, the crème de la crème of location - location- location.   Therefore our tour consisted of  comments such as:
"I don't believe it !  That used to be where Timmy Wagsworth's house was!   By God, it's been torn down and there's a mansion there now! "
 
 "Oh look!  That house is where  Trudy Pick-a-Lily lived.  Well I'll be,  it's just like it was back when we were kids. Hasn't changed a bit."
 
 

Unfortunately time had done away with both John's and Ken's old childhood homes,  but time can never erase all the memories that were made there.  The summers spent on the lake, swimming, water skiing or just cruising the lake in a boat
Things may change but some friendships stand up to time and distance . . . BFF.  :)

 


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Class of 1959


 Admittedly I am not a fan of class reunions but this was my hubby's 55th year reunion of his High School class of 1959, it was one he truly wanted to attend.  Most of the people there I did not know and had never met before and though everyone was quite cordial, there were moments when I found it grueling to sit through a long rendition of; "Do you remember so-and-so?" or, "Hey remember old Ms. What's-her-name who taught typing?"  and then there was always the, "Egad do you recall the time that you, me and Fibber McGee went and ...?"  Well, that last one was kind of fun to listen to. :D
 
The photo above is of the reunion reception desk. Joan, the lady sitting, greeted each guest with a warm, lovely smile and genuine friendliness. 
Wish my photo was sharper but I had to use the zoom feature and even then I had to crop to get a closer perspective.  Yes I'm still using my little Canon PowerShot A70, it's about 15 years old now and sports a band of blue Painter's Tape wrapped around it to keep the broken door to the memory-card chamber shut.  If this door isn't firmly closed it doesn't make contact and the camera will refuse to function.  The great thing about the A70 is that it's small and lightweight.
 

The above photo is of 2 of my hubby's classmates.  Unfortunately neither he nor I recall who the gentleman in the picture is.  The lady in the photo is Karen,
she and Joan are the ones responsible for preparing this and all the past class reunions.  Together they located classmates and kept in touch with them. Granted there was one classmate that insisted on not being found, once they had found him he promptly disappeared again.  Both Karen and Joan worked to find a suitable facility in which to host the reunion, they coordinated the catering and the set-up of the tables and banquet room.  It's a hard and dirty job, not many would be willing to take it on but these two ladies have done reunion after reunion and they've done it wonderfully and with pleasure.
 

The photo above was taken in the banquet room, each table had a bouquet of white roses with a small pennant stuck in its center - the pennant was in purple and gold my hubby's high school colors.  Speaking of my hubby, John, he is the shorter man in the white sweater, next to him is Don, one of his class of 1959 classmates and long time friend.
 
All in all the reunion was an enjoyable event, John got to meet and converse with a number of his old high school chums and many memories were rekindled. Will there be a 60 year class reunion?  Perhaps.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Westward Ho Amigo

 

Photo above - Taken at the Hampton Hotel in Issaquah Washington.
I found myself enchanted with this cool arrangement of hanging lights.  It's a attractive way to fill up the upper space in an entry with a very high ceiling.
 
Our trip out West was pleasant and though we ran into a few snafus, most of the time things went smoothly.  We flew out of our local Sarasota/Bradenton airport to Atlanta, Georgia, the flight was on schedule and arrived on time.  However our flight out of Atlanta met with over a 2 hour delay and a near riot. 

They were preparing to get ready to board (which is not exactly like preparing to board) one of the passengers was traveling with an infant but did not bring along an infant car seat.  The passenger was told she would have to purchase a plane seat for the infant (and by infant we are talking about a baby between the ages of 3 to 6 months old).  The gate attendant was adamant that this procedure was necessary.  Meanwhile we all waited and waited and waited.  Finally someone in the crowd shouted; "Boo! Bad policy!  Let the lady and her baby on the plane." And then others joined in agreement.  Of course this now warrants a call to security and a whole lot more waiting.

Eventually things were sorted out and the passenger and her baby were allowed on board.  As for the passenger who first shouted out, I'm not 100% sure but I think they escorted him off for questioning.  At an airport it's important to keep your mouth shut.

It was a fairly long flight from Atlanta to Seattle and once our plane landed we still had to pick up our luggage at baggage claims, rent a car and then drive to Issaquah.  Hertz rental cars had graciously upgraded us from the fuel efficient Toyota we had requested, to a Nissan Altima.  Naturally we didn't think twice about it until I sat down inside the vehicle.  I looked around for the keys and found something sitting in a cup well of the car's console.  I picked it up and found they were Key-less Remotes.

 
above - key-less remote for the Nissan Altima
 
Naturally being the fossil that I am, I had no idea how to use one of those gadgets and was curious to see if my hubby would know.  After he had stashed the luggage in the trunk and got inside the car, I nonchalantly handed him the "keys" and said; "Good luck!"  
 
John, bless his heart, tried for a couple of minutes to start the car and then went to the Hertz office and asked them for the Toyota that he had requested in the first place.
It was really for the best as it would have taken us forever to figure out how to operate the Altima, plus the Toyota got better miles-per-gallon.  We ended up getting about 35 to 37 mpg at highway speeds.
 
When we at last reached our destination; the Hampton Hotel in Issaquah, we pretty much crashed.  Even though it may have only been 10:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Savings Time, we were running on Eastern DST which put us at about 1:00 a.m.
 
I took the photo of the Hotel lobby light fixtures the following day when I was almost alive and sort-of-functioning.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Photographic Dementia



There was a time when I used to recover quickly from traveling but now that I'm . . . well, let us just say "older". . . it takes me much longer to get back into the swing of things.  For most of this week I've been busy playing "catch-up" with laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and reading my favorite blogs.  Though I've taken several photos during my trip I have unfortunately done little with them and they are still snuggled safely within my camera's memory card awaiting download.

One of the reasons I haven't rushed to release my photo hostages is because I am completely overwhelmed by my existing photo files and am now cognizant that I am in dire need of a better way to file, store and organize them.  Over my five years and four months of blogging I've amassed an impressive stash of blog photos . . . I've also discovered, much to my dismay, that when I move a photo file it can affect my blog adversely.  The effect is similar to the dreaded exclamation point embedded within a triangle pictured at the top of my blog.

So I have been trying to backtrack, locate those missing pictures and retrieve them, at times my attempts have been futile and I fear that I may have inadvertently deleted a photo from one file only to have it deleted permanently from my photo cache.

I would love to hear how you handle the storing and filing of your online photos and am open to any and all suggestions . . . short of abandoning this blog and starting over from scratch . . . which, seriously had entered my mind on a couple of occasions.  But only briefly.  :D


Monday, June 2, 2014

Too Much Too Soon


Update June 2, 2014-  On 8/26/2013 I blogged about a great new website market place for handcrafted arts and crafts items.  The site was called Craftinest.
Unfortunately Craftinest is no longer online.  No one knows what happened.  Though Craftinest did post on their facebook page that a fire had destroyed much of their sites equipment and they held out a promise to us that they would repair the damage and get the site back up and running promptly. . . that promise is yet to materialize.   As I update this post is has been  over 8 months since anyone has heard from Craftinest. Craftinest has not bothered to update their facebook page nor notify any of their many shop owners as to what is going on. All our emails are returned as undeliverable. We have pretty much given up hope that Craftinest will repair the fire damage and reestablish their website. 
 Personally I believe that Craftinest grew too quickly, that the inundation of so many artists and crafters overwhelmed them and their sites ability to handle such an enormous influx of shops and traffic. 
Craftinest came online around the time that Etsy decided to change their definition of "Handmade", embracing the items of artists and crafters who have their work manufactured for them. When Etsy made that announcement it created an exodus of vendors fleeing Esty to find more promising venues.  I recall that another, well established site, Zibbet, actually crashed due to the volume of people requesting shop space.  However Zibbet was in a position to rectify the problem quickly and efficiently, Craftinest, in it's infancy, was not prepared.
The loss of Craftinest is sad as it held forth so much potential . . .  but sometimes things are simply not meant to be. 

Below is my old blog post of 8/26/2013 -

*********** 

When I first sent off my application to apply for an online Craftinest Storefront, I figured they'd be a marketplace much like Etsy or Artfire, only without the supplies vendors and vintage shops. However Craftinest is more like a hybrid between these standard marketplaces and having to construct one's own website. . . minus all the HTML hoopla. With a Craftinest store the search engines call up your shop and not the marketplace. This was explained to me by Samantha in the correspondence that I've copied and pasted below:

Hi Anna,

Our format is definitely different from Etsy (and it’s many clones) with more of an ecommerce website format. Each store is basically its own mini-ecommerce website... with the mall being the central hub to bring all stores together.

As for your store domain, it is only available in the following two formats:

Sub-domain: http://almostprecious.craftinest.com

Sub-directory: http://www.craftinest.com/almostprecious

Sub-domains never use the www in front of it. However, if someone types in http://www.almostprecious.craftinest.com , the browser will automatically forward to the proper http://almostprecious.craftinest.com  format. So you can use either.

One thing that I did want to add to the whole store domain issue is that Etsy only forwards the request for your store domain to their own etsy.com address. At Craftinest, the store domain is an actual sub-domain that persists throughout the buyers experience.

On Etsy:

http://www.almostprecious.etsy.com forwards to http://www.etsy.com/shop/almostprecious

http://almostprecious.etsy.com  forwards to http://www.etsy.com/shop/almostprecious.

And the item listing URL’s don’t include the store domain at all. . .

http://www.etsy.com/listing/156715014/red-jasper-acorn-earrings-olive-jade

Whereas at Craftinest:

http://www.almostprecious.craftinest.com forwards to http://almostprecious.craftinest.com

http://almostprecious.craftinest.com stays on http://almostprecious.craftinest.com

And the store domain is included throughout your entire store. . . including item listings, categories, info pages. I’ll use another store as an example with an item listing URL of http://twolittlewitches.craftinest.com/find/1399-Bunny-Rabbit-Kids-Wall-Art-Print-for-Kids-Room-Girls-Children-Decor-by-Two-Little-Witches

So as you can see, your store domain is more present with Craftinest. In fact it’s more useful when you look at the results in search engines. To see for yourself, type in “Almost Precious Etsy” into Google and you will notice one result for your store - www.etsy.com/shop/AlmostPrecious.

Now try using the sample store from above by typing “two little witches craftinest” into Google. Not only is the store domain presented as twolittlewitches.craftinest.com , but there are several results since all listings and categories use the store domain too.

Hope that helps... Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

And welcome to our little nest.

Samantha

The Craftinest Marketplace
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