Thursday, September 7, 2017

Clouse Sibling Reunion in WA

It's been five years since I've been to visit Washington, so this was the year to go again and it was Phoebe's turn to go with me.

Tonya's new place near Yakima, WA was the meet-up spot. Mike and Nettie had been at a family camp in Montana and drove over from there to spend some time with us. They live in Virginia, so it really was great how it all worked out for us to get together. Cory lives in Seattle, and he took time off of work to be with us.

Jordan is Jonathan's age. 
He's on the autism spectrum; he likes to take electronics apart, play with Playdo, and he was working on K'nex while we were there. He was very sweet to Phoebe and I and gave us hugs and kisses on the cheek. 

My dad was there a couple of the days too. Mom is in Louisiana helping my cousin's family with their baby who has had several surgeries in the past months.

Mike and Cory laughing at some video or meme. 

This was a highlight of our time. The last evening together, the siblings went to Cowiche Canyon for dinner. Tonya got a pork chop and I got a salad and we shared our meals. Very nice atmosphere. Modern/woodsy decor. I found out I'm not the only one who likes to listen to other people's conversations in restaurants. Cory said it's an introvert thing ~ we're very aware of what's going on all around us. 

We also finally discovered the one thing that we all had in common: none of us voted for Trump. We've all grown up going down different paths, so there were a lot of interesting conversations, especially between the two brothers. But it wasn't ever mean or ugly or disrespectful. Thanks, boys!

All us siblings got to be together 5 years ago at the family reunion, but we didn't hang out with just the four of us or anything. I don't think the four of us have hung out like this since I left home for college. I have to say it was so refreshing and enjoyable! 
I love you, Mike and Tonya, Cory and Nettie!

Aupa got the kids a raft and took each of them out on a pond. Tonya and I got a spin in it too.

We hiked to a woodsy park and found a calm spot to get in the Yakima River.

Joshua is into making slime, so he and Phoebe made quite a bit of it together.

Each day, the air quality got progressively worse as smoke from surrounding fires of the Northwest rolled in. The last day, as we were driving to Seattle, you could look directly at the sun without sunglasses. I don't think Tonya or Cory are in danger, but some towns are evacuating.

Grandma is living with Aunt Mary in Tacoma, so we stopped by to see her for a few minutes before heading to the airport. I think I'm a lot like Grandma in personality. She told us some stories from her growing up years. Her dad was a farmer in Nebraska. She lived in a sod house. She and her two sisters always shared a bed until they left home. They lived in town for a couple of years, and she decided to take herself to church one day (her parents were not religious, she said). At some point her mom followed. Then her dad and then her sister. 

Dad made these yarn bowls at my request. He made the bowls out of cherry wood for Elizabeth's birthday. He made my longish yarn blow from wood from Grandma's barn (he made one for Grandma too). She recently sold her property in Deer Park. I'm not sure if the barn came down or what, but we have wood from it now. 
I absolutely adore these!

When we first arrived in Seattle, it was too late to drive to Tonya's, so Cory had gotten Phoebe and I a nice hotel room on the lake (Lake Union? not sure which one). 

Fancy breakfast with a beautiful view (before smoke, thankfully).

We drove through the Cascades on the way to Tonya's. Phoebe took lots of pictures of the mountains. I do miss those mountains.

Tonya's backyard. She made a good move when she decided to buy a house in a small town. The school's are smaller and seem like they'll be a better fit for her boys. And you can't go wrong living in a farming community. She's surrounded by apple orchards and corn and vineyards. 

Aupa made gumbo for us ~ So delicious! We had it for several meals over the week because I'm not going to get good gumbo for a while. 

Phoebe and Joshua riding in Aupa's truck on the way to the River. 

Tonya's backyard pool. Uncle Cory is a great uncle to the kids!

Shadow is Tonya's new puppy. She's beautiful and a sweetheart. And she gets into everything!

The sisters! We were the middle children.

The calm place of the Yakima River. It took us a while to find a good spot since the river was flowing so swiftly. 

Aupa and Phoebe duking it out over Monopoly. They put the rest of us out. Aupa called it quits at 11:00 pm because it could have gone on for quite a while. 

The siblings sitting around and chatting. We covered many topics. We talk about politics and economics and our health issues these days. 

I wanted to include this picture of all four of us siblings, Mom and Grandma. She came to visit us in Louisiana one year, so this is us picking her up from the airport. We don't have a lot of pictures that include all four of us.

Grandma and Aunt Mary have their own little farm in town. They have chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, ducks.... And a nice garden. Grandma has always had a large garden. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

We Celebrate Our 17th Anniversary and An Eclipse

A week or two ago we dressed up and went to a new restaurant in downtown Cibolo.
We've been kind of partial to cheese plates since we got one on an evening cruise for our 5th(?) anniversary.

So delicious and so filling!

This is the Linnea flower Phillip painted for me a while back. He had the image printed on greeting cards (linen textured!) for me. The first one will be sent out this week to a little baby girl, newly born, named Lanaya.

This guy came back to see us! I've been keeping an eye out for him. He's our one-legged male grackle. I figure it's the same one over and over. How many one-legged grackles can there be that visit our yard? There's another one who limps; his left claw is curled up like it hurts him. I wonder what causes these injuries? 

We got a 60% eclipse here in San Antonio. My sister got a 90% one in Yakima, WA. We should get a pretty full eclipse in 2024. We will purchase glasses far ahead of the event to avoid price-gougers. 

But Ms. Monica came over to celebrate her birthday that day. Our gift to her was a cake that Elizabeth made for her. A very elegant cake based off of a picture Ms. Monica showed to us. She brought soda pop (Manzana and Fruit Punch), and we sang to her and ate pieces of cake.

Jonathan was our eclipse photographer. 
None of us in the neighborhood could figure out how to get the picture using the eclipse glasses and our phone camera. So everyone passed their phones to him. 

Eclipse shadows as described by World Book Learning: 
"This happens when sunlight passes through a very small hole, as it would through a pinhole camera. Such a tiny opening gathers and focuses the light that passes through it, projecting an image of the light source on the other side. On a normal sunny day, you might notice circles of light projected over the shadows of tree leaves. Those are images of the sun projected through tiny holes in and between the leaves. On eclipse day, these circles will become crescents. Look at the shadows of leafy trees, tightly woven baskets, or other objects that have small holes in them to try to observe this effect. You can also make a small hole with your hands by interlacing your fingers." 

Several families came out during maximum coverage. We had a friend give us a pair of his eclipse glasses, but he wasn't too sure about their certification, so we put them over a pair of sunglasses and it seemed to work out fine. 

I really enjoyed eclipse day! We were in and out during all of the four hours or so of time. We did some nature journaling and had Ding Dong ice cream sandwiches (I found what I could that was cheap, round and sweet). It was really fun to celebrate the day with our neighbors!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Harris' in Town

Cody and his kids stopped in to see us for a few days after a long trip around the States. We're grateful for their friendship and the efforts they make to see us.

Dinner upon arrival.

I'm pretty sure that's Star Wars they are watching here. 

BBQ and ice cream in Cibolo. 

The girls did some domestic knitting and baking. 

We didn't do too much. They had been traveling for a month or so and were pretty tired out, so we mostly stayed at home and hung out. I took the kids to the hill one evening and we hiked to the top. We went swimming for an hour, we watched movies, we went to church Sunday morning. 

An enjoyable time to renew friendships.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ecclesiastes 3

 "God's beautiful but tantalizing world is too big for us, yet its satisfactions are too small. Since we were made for eternity, the things of time cannot fully and permanently satisfy.*"

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

(*from my Bible's commentary)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Nearing the End of Summer

Elizabeth made Croissants for the first time, and they were THE best! 

Phoebe was working on BB8 for a couple of days there. 

The kids have had lots of trampoline parks this summer between their own birthday activities and others inviting them to birthday activities. This one is Altitude. It's a little more of a drive from our house, but Jonathan likes the openness of it.

I took the three youngers to the skating rink one 1/2 price day. 
Liz stays home from actives more these days and enjoys her time alone. 

At a fun splash park in New Braunfels.