Monday, November 29, 2010

Kenmore Wildlife Watch – Great Blue Herons

Behind the Kenmore Park and Ride lot is the Great Blue Heron Sanctuary. I noticed it when we first moved here while on a walk exploring Kenmore.

Well, what I really noticed was the double-sided sign at the Park and Ride that describes the Sanctuary. I walked to the back of the Park and Ride and saw the fencing, but other than that I couldn’t really tell that there was a sanctuary. Ever since that day I have looked toward the Sanctuary, but never saw any clues that the Great Blue Herons called the area home.

Last year in Salem I wrote about nests I spied in winter when the leaves had all disappeared from the trees. This year I was recently surprised when walking through the Park and Ride. I looked up and saw the naked trees. And within the naked trees are the nests. Lot of them.

It was like Great Blue Heron condo city!

This is the tree on the far right in the pic above.

There is a webcam for the Sanctuary – although it is currently offline for the season – and I am going to remember to check it out in the spring. Maybe I can see some baby Great Blue Herons waking up in Kenmore!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 in Kenmore, Washington

We had more snow today and Mike got busy and built a stylin’ snowman! We also took time to take stock of how grateful we are for the important things in our lives – our health, family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It was snowling lightly on Sunday morning as I began to prepare the Birthday Feast for Cheryl and Pat.

On Monday morning there was a light blanket of snow in Kenmore - the truck was barely covered. I got up and drove to work at the regular time.

It was snowing while I was driving and the traffic was slow, but I made it to Redmond without any problems. I have a window at my desk and as the hours ticked by, I could see the snow piling up. By noon I decided to skip lunch, wrap up what I was working on, and head home. That was the best decision I could have made!

I got home fairly easily…it was smooth going until just a couple of miles south of Bothell and then traffic got real slow. Nevertheless, I was home before I knew it and I was very happy about that. Mike and I watched the special TV news that interrupted regular programming (hey, this was a big deal!) and began to learn just how bad it was going to get. The temperature was below freezing so all the snow that fell turned to ice. And here in Seattle we don’t know how to drive on ice. Many, many people abandoned their cars on freeways, highways and side streets and began walking. Metro buses were sliding sideways or over railings. The multitude of hills compounded the matter. There were wrecks everywhere.

It got real cold and the snow continued to fall. Mike wrote on our Weber BBQ table, “C&M I LOVE YOU” – isn’t he cute?

We got a fire going and Mike took some kindling and wood to four of our neighbors so they could have a cozy fire too.

Tuesday morning I got up and realized that I would not be able to drive to work. By now we had about 3 or 4 inches of snow and the truck was covered. We live on a hill and have to be able to stop at the bottom or risk sliding into traffic on Bothell Way. No thanks...not even gonna try. I thought about taking a bus to work, but that didn’t seem like a viable option either so I decided to stay home.

Although it was cold, it was clear and sunny and around 10:30 Mike and I decided to walk to Safeway and pick up a few things we needed. Right off the bat Mike slipped and fell coming down our hill. His wrist is terribly swollen and he may have broken a finger or two. We went home and he changed into his Harley boots and we still walked to Safeway...the cold weather was easier than actually putting ice on his wrist!

I wasn’t surprised at the lack of traffic. Normally this road is very busy at this time in the morning. And if you think that is water on the road, think again. That is pure ice!

And here’s something we rarely see in Seattle – a truck with a snow plow attached to the front. I wonder if this guy is making some side money today...We got home and Mike found that a neighbor’s water heater exploded so he helped to install a new one. He finally finished, we had dinner and then settled in in front of the blazing fire.

I’m up this morning and it is around 17F. It is pure ice outside and I won’t attempt the hill. I’ll see if it warms up any and maybe go into the office for a few hours.

But for now I’m going to bring in more wood for the fireplace. Stay warm, Seattle!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things That Happened in 1955

In no particular order...

Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
President Eisenhower sent the first US advisors to South Vietnam.
The average wages were $4,130 per year, and the minimum wage was raised to $1.00 per hour.
The average cost of a new house was $10,950 and the average cost of a new car was $1,900; a gallon of gas was 23 cents!
Albert Einstein, developer of the relativity theory, died.
Congress ordered all US currency to say, “In God We Trust.”
The first cans of Coca-Cola are sold - up till then it had only been sold in bottles.
The Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.
Ray Kroc started the fast food chain, McDonalds.
The theme park, Disneyland, first opened its gates.
Elvis Presley made his first TV appearance.
James Dean’s stars in the movie East of Eden; James Dean killed in car accident near Cholame, California. was the year of many great births:

Bill Gates
Steve Jobs
Whoopi Goldberg
Kevin Costner
Bruce Willis
Cheryl Stadler Ryan and Cynthia Johnson – yep, that’s us, same day, same year!

And if you do the math you’ll see that since Cheryl and I were born in ’55 this year we will be 55 years old on December 1st. Same with Disneyland (turning 55) and that’s where Cheryl will be partying on her birthday. So this year we had an early celebration with dinner at our place.

Here’s to us! Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back to the Grind says, “It means back to what you usually do, i.e. work, school, etc. It comes from the term ‘grind stone’, but has since built up its own meaning.”

That sounds about right...I usually work. I just had one long vacation. But I had a blast the past three days. Like I said, I like a schedule. And I stuck to my goal of getting in a power walk all three mornings before heading to work.

The abundance of new information I have had to process has been challenging. It’s like a mental marathon and I’m doing pretty well. I’m also using Microsoft Office 2007, instead of Office 2003 that I have on my laptop, and that has been a little tricky adjusting to the nuances of 2007. But, hey - I’m smart. I can do it!

The thing I didn’t like was the commute. Ugh. I drove the truck all three days. And Kenmore to Redmond is a tough drive up I-405. But coming home is worse. Every day I took a slightly different route home – none of which were much better than the others - although taking a route entirely off the freeway was less stressful. It’s hard to keep the clutch going in and out! My left leg is getting quite a workout.

I have figured out a way to get to work using the bus system and I will try that next week. I’m not sure that it’s faster, but it has to be less nerve-racking. And easier on the environment and clutch…we’ll see.

For today and tomorrow I’m going to enjoy the weekend! We may have snow in the Seattle area and that always makes for excitement because we don’t “do snow” very well in Seattle. Stay warm and stay tuned!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Workin 9 to 5

What a way to make a livin
Barely gettin by
Its all takin
And no givin
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
Its enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

(Dolly Parton had a different sort of take on work...)

It was exactly six months. We got back to Seattle May 15, 2010. I accepted an offer for employment November 15, 2010. I had no idea it would take that much time, but it did.

Wednesday I started my new job in the Legal Department at a large, humble company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. So far, sooooo good.

I was ready to go back to work. I like the “regularity” of work – getting up at the same time every morning, heading out for a walk (well, I’m going to try to keep up that habit), having a cup of coffee at home, feeling excited about what may happen each day, wondering how I might be able to solve the problems I face, and then coming home and sharing my day with Mike.

There is a lot to learn and I need to get up to speed quickly. No worries. I’m ready. And I’m grateful to have a job. It was risky leaving Salem and my job, but we made a plan, stayed the course, and here we are.

Thanks for everyone’s support while we toughed it out (Jejeje...yeah tough summer flying on Kenmore Air, kayaking in the San Juan Islands, biking at Alki, Shilshoe and Lake Washington, sailing on Lake Union, riding the Duck, BBQs galore!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

School Reverses Course After Ordering Student to Remove American Flag From Bike

Update on my previous post follows:

Cody Alicea, 13, rides his bicycle with his American Flag attached.
A California school has done a U-turn after it forced a student to remove an American flag attached to his bike, saying the Stars and Stripes could spur racial tensions on campus.

Cody Alicea,13, had been flying the flag on the back of his bicycle for almost two months to show support for veterans like his grandfather, Robert Alicea.

But just in time for Veterans Day, school officials at Denair Middle School told Cody he would no longer be allowed to display the flag, citing complaints from other students.

Now, after a public outcry, the school has decided that the grand old flag can come back.

Superintendent Edward Parraz says the school was trying to avoid racial tensions that stemmed from a "little issue" that arose when Hispanic students brought Mexican flags to school on Cinco De Mayo.

"That's when it all kind of started, and I think it carried through so that when Cody started doing his flag everybody said well why isn't he getting in trouble?" Parraz told

Click here to see Parraz's interview with

So the school asked Cody to remove the flag, both to keep the peace and for his own protection.

"It was a safety concern that that particular campus supervisor called at that particular time based on information she had heard," Parraz said.

Cody says he complied with the request to avoid trouble, but he asked the school to reconsider because he believed the decision was wrong.

Click here to see Cody's interview with

"I'm supposed to be free in this country and I should be able to fly the flag wherever I want to," he told Fox40.

Apparently, he wasn't alone.

Parraz says the school got flooded with so many complaints from upset parents both inside and outside of Denair that he was called into to "handle the situation."

"It was crazy" he said.

Parraz says the school decided on Friday to allow Cody to display his flag again, and now it will be shifting its focus to the students who complained.

"In no way did we want to take that right away from Cody," Parraz told Fox40 on Friday. "…We think we know who the instigators are that were trying to do that and we need to meet with their parents and those students to just kind of explain that this isn't what we want to have. We want to make sure that our kids can appreciate a safe environment and be able to have the American flag."

If you read my blog regularly, you probably have noted that I don't usually take on HOT topics. But in this instance, I felt compelled to express my disagreement. What do you think about that? Do you want to know what I really think about stuff?

p.s. I haven't let the original issue/dispute drop. I'm in the middle of email exchanges with the School Board. I continue to dispute the original decision and the fact that they waffled after the controversy does not make it all better with me.

School Doesn’t Allow Student to Fly American Flag on his Bike in the United States of America!!!

You’ve probably already heard or read the story. We saw it on the Friday evening local TV news and I’m mad as hell. I’m so mad I called the superintendent for the school district, (209) 632-7514, and left a scathing message Friday night. I think that whoever made the decision should be fired. I encourage anyone who feels strongly about the situation to also call and express your sentiments. Read on:

DENAIR, Calif. -- A Stanislaus County school is forcing a student to take an American flag off of his bike.

Thirteen-year-old Cody Alicea put the flag there as a show of support for the veterans in his family.

But officials at Denair Middle School told him he couldn't fly it. He said he was told some students had complained.

So now the eighth-grader folds up the flag and puts it in his backpack while he is in class.

His father, Robert Kisner, said his son should not have to put the flag away.

"He's got that flag on his bike because he's proud of where he comes from," Kisner said.

But the superintendent said he's trying to avoid tension on campus.
"(The) First Amendment is important," Superintendent Edward Parraz said. "We want the kids to respect it, understand it, and with that comes a responsiblity."

Parraz said the campus has recently experienced some racial tension. He said some students got out of hand on Cinco de Mayo.

"Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they'll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don't really want," Parraz said. "We want them to appreciate the cultures."

Parraz said if a disruption arises over a flag, they want it to be taken down to protect the safety of all students.

The teen's mother said she hopes to talk to the school principal to work something out.

Outside of the school, a large U.S. flag flies from atop a flagpole.

For crying out loud, this is a kid in the United States of America who wants to fly the American flag in the United States of America in support of his family and Veteran’s Day. How in the world can there be any controversy regarding this situation?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Veteran’s Day Lunch at Applebee’s Restaurant 2010

If you saw my post on Thursday you know that in honor of Veteran’s Day Applebee’s Restaurant offered a complimentary meal to all active duty military personnel and veterans.

And last year I wrote about our visit to the Salem, Oregon Applebee’s on Veteran’s Day with our friends and landlords, Betty and Ron. This year I invited two of Mike’s Marine friends to join us for lunch and let Applebee’s say thank you to them for their service. Unfortunately, they both cancelled at the last minute so Mike and I went without them and had a great time!

I love how they have the little USA flags flying and the “Welcome Veterans” painted on the front doors.

Mike struck up quite a conversation with our server, Elijah. He recently moved here from Kentucky and his dream is to buy a sailboat. That was all he needed to say…they yakked and yakked about different types of sailboats. And Mike told him all about the Center for Wooden Boats and Elijah plans to check it out and possibly become a volunteer there like Mike.

Part of the Applebee’s deal is to bring something that shows that the veteran served and a picture in uniform qualified. So there’s Mike in uniform, joining us for lunch - jaja. Thank you Mike and to all other Americans who are serving or have served our country!

Friday, November 12, 2010

ProLango Career Mixer Powered by

I read about ProLango Career Mixers in last Sunday’s Seattle Times. The description follows:

ProLango Career Mixer Powered by cultivates relationships between job seekers and hiring companies. We discourage handing out resumes or elevator pitches and instead advocate building strong sustainable relationships.

Both companies and candidates have benefited from building relationships at these mixers and many have found employment by attending these events.

It was going to be at the Hard Rock Café in downtown Seattle, Monday night from 6:30pm to 9:00pm – a gathering of job seekers, employers and people who have jobs but want to expand their work-related network. People with drinks in their hands casually “mixing” with others. Different from a job fair in that there would be no tables with employers handing out trinkets or candy and accepting resumes. Plus, there was a Career Transition Consultant scheduled to give a presentation about “How to find a job before the holidays.”

I’m still looking for a job and I’m using resources such as WorkSource Washington workshops, online software tutorials and assessment tests, temporary employment agency information/feedback, and I’ve gone to one job fair…so I thought, why not go to a mixer and see what that’s all about? And why not bring Mike? The ad said to bring your friends! And Mike’s my friend. We both signed up online and printed our tickets at home. The mixer was free, but we needed to have a ticket to get in.

So Monday night Mike and I got dressed in our best "business casual" and went downtown. There was a fairly long line at the Hard Rock Café and it was a little chilly. Soon enough a woman got in line right behind us and we struck up a conversation. Unfortunately (for Mike and me), the conversation quickly turned into a sales pitch from the woman. She sells pre-paid legal services and I guess she thought we looked like a couple that needs legal help. NOT! We have our wills and our power of attorney docs…we’re all set…but she gave it her darndest. As the line moved inside, we were shuffled upstairs, tickets were taken, and nametags were stuck on our jackets. But we noticed the pre-paid legal services woman was pulled aside. She didn’t have a ticket and I don’t think she was allowed to go in…

Once past the ticket table we were ushered into a large open area with a four-sided bar in the center of the room. There was no music (unlike the downstairs section of the Hard Rock Café where music was blaring), but the sound of human chatter was excruciating.

We hit the bar (where I noticed almost all of the bartenders donned a hat of one kind or another. When did bartenders start wearing [weird] hats? I bartended for years and can’t imagine how hot that would make you with a hat on your head. ??) I digress.

We ordered a white wine and a non-alcoholic beer. That came to $14.89. I paid with a $20 and left a $2 tip before almost fainting. For crying out loud, the mixer was for people who don’t have a job = people without a lot of $$. Not to mention that my wine was served in a small, plastic cup. Although after looking around I saw lots of people drinking wine in glass stemware. HMPFF! I was dressed well...what was up with that Hard Rock Café bartender???

I calmed down and had to practically yell out the details of the bar purchase to Mike. It was waaaaaaaaaaay too loud in there to have a decent conversation. Nevertheless, we were there, we had our obligatory adult beverage in hand, and we wanted to make the best of the situation.

We moved about the room which by now was full with people looking at nametags and yelling out greetings to each other. I decided to venture out of my comfort zone with Mike, but I just could not do it. Me, the social butterfly. I couldn’t bring myself to just start talking to anyone. For one thing I knew I’d have a hard time hearing and understanding any conversation. But more than that was that the entire situation seemed so contrived. So fakey. Put me in a bar without an agenda and I think/know I could have several new friends before the night was over.

Within the hour Mike and I left the Hard Rock Café and went home. We were disappointed – I’m not sure if the disappointment originated within ourselves or with the mixer itself. Would I ever try another mixer? Maybe. Maybe not.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran’s Day 2010

It seems more important than ever to honor the men and women of the United States of America that serve, or have served, in the military. And once again Applebee’s Restaurant is saying THANK YOU by offering a free meal to all active duty military personnel and veterans today. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I recently posted about WorkSource Washington and one of the job search workshops I attended. I was not at all satisfied with the workshop. Module Six, of the six module program, was on last week’s calendar. It was titled Interviewing Techniques and since I had two interviews scheduled I decided to give WorkSource another shot. The description of the workshop follows:

Being able to handle an employment interview is a necessity for any job seeker. Learn helpful interviewing tips, and practice your interviewing skills in a supportive, realistic environment.

You might have the best resume ever, but if you don’t interview well, it won’t matter. Being able to handle a job interview is a necessity for any job seeker. Knowing what employers are looking for, and being prepared, are absolute musts. In this workshop you will learn valuable interviewing tips and have the chance to practice answers to frequently asked and sometimes difficult questions in a supportive, realistic environment.

Learn how to complete applications, develop resumes, and design cover letters that will attract employers and lead to more interviews.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the workshop, satisfied with the information provided, happy with the instructor, and pleased that it was an interactive workshop – there were 18 of us and we all shared experiences and role-played throughout the three hours we spent together.

The following day I had a 45-minute interview with a panel of three. I had already submitted my letter of interest, resume and writing sample. The interview was the next step in the process. And guess what? The first two questions for me were the EXACT SAME FIRST TWO QUESTIONS we practiced answering in the workshop. I rattled off my answers and felt I was off to a good start. The next step in this job application would be another in-person interview and then “working” in a pseudo database to see how the candidate navigates though the maze. I should find out if I make it to the next step in a week or so.

Two days later I had a 15-minute interview with a business owner. This was the next step after completing the personality test and the cognitive test. The first question was the EXACT SAME FIRST QUESTION we practiced answering in the workshop. I provided my answer and continued on through the interview. The next step in this job application would be a two-hour “test drive” – actually working for the business and having the business owner observe and see how quickly the candidate catches on. Yesterday I was informed by email (using a template response in black with Dear Cynthia in blue - nice...) that a better qualified candidate was moving on to the next step, but if that doesn't work out I'd be one of the first to be considered.

Boy, getting a job has sure changed over the years, huh? Writing samples, tests, “working” before getting the job...guess it’s a sign of the times. So many applicants for each job gives the employer the opportunity to find the best of the best.

For any job hunters reading this, I suggest you rehearse answers to the following two questions:

1) Tell me about yourself. Tailor your answer to the job to which you are applying. Don’t talk about yourself as if you were talking to a friend. Talk about selling points that will help you land the job. This is the question stressed in the workshop and it was the first question posed to me in both interviews last week.

2) What are your strengths and weaknesses? Again, tailor your answer to strengths needed in the job to which you are applying. As for weaknesses, spin it in your favor, but be careful to be honest. This one is hard. That’s why practice answering it before an interview helps.

That’s it. Only time will tell how I did in the panel interview. But no matter what, after that workshop I feel much more prepared to do well in any interview.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Answers to A Quiz for People Who Know Everything

Following are the answers to the quiz questions. Please bear in mind that I didn't make up the quiz or the answers and if you want to dispute any answer feel free!

1.The one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends is boxing.

2. North American landmark constantly moving backward is Niagara Falls . The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.

3. Only two vegetables that can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons, they are asparagus and rhubarb.

4. The fruit with its seeds on the outside is strawberries.

5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? It grew inside the bottle. The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.

6. The three English words beginning with "dw" are dwarf, dwell and dwindle.

7. The fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar are: period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation mark, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.

8. The only vegetable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh is lettuce.

9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with "S" are, shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilts.

Soooo, how’d you do? I got rhubarb!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Weekend Quiz for People Who Know Everything

I’m not sure if this quiz was emailed to me because of my earlier post this week with the cognitive test, but here goes...

There are only nine questions. This is a quiz for people who know everything. These are not trick questions (although they may be considered tricky). They are straight questions with straight answers.

1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?

6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters 'dw' and they are all common words. Name two of them.

7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.

9. Name six or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter 'S'.

Check back Tuesday for the answers!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pablo Picasso

...aka Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso (gotta love Wikipedia!)

We are not huge art fans, but when the grand and varied works of Picasso hit town at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) we had to go. SAM describes the special exhibit with the following:

The works in this exhibition come from Picasso’s personal collection—works of art the highly self-aware artist kept for himself with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy. Drawn from the collection of the Musée National Picasso in Paris—the largest and most important repository of the artist’s work in the world—the exhibition will feature work representing every major period from the artist’s prolific output over eight decades.

So we ordered our tickets online and set out for SAM and our 11:20am entry time on Thursday morning. When we arrived at the museum it was already filling with people and there was a long line for those of us who printed our tickets at home. Soon enough we entered the exhibit.

We were offered, and accepted, audio devices with which we could listen to 20 or so descriptions of some of the highlighted pieces. These recordings provided so much information about the art, the artist, and his life. It really made me think about the meaning behind the final product. Without the audios, I would have been lost - and lost out on so much.

The collection includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and metal pieces. It was very nicely laid out, gallery by gallery, in chronological order with each gallery highlighting a specific time frame in Picasso’s life.

Mike’s favorite was The Matador, an oil on canvas, from 1970. I was captivated with Portrait of Olga in an Armchair, also an oil on canvas, completed in 1918. Olga was the first of Picasso’s two wives, although he had multiple mistresses over the years.

I could go on and on, but words do not due the art justice. Go see it!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Autumn Colors on the Burke-Gilman Trail

When I head out of our apartment, toward the Burke-Gilman Trail, this is the first view I have. That’s Bothell Way in the foreground, the Sammamish River and fog in the middle, and the luscious trees in the background.

It gets better with fewer electrical wires in the picture.

Once I cross the street and actually hit the trail, I am treated to sound barrier walls covered with ivy that is a brilliant rose-red hue right now. The colors are a real treat for the eyes.

Tall trees form an arbor while the leaves fall gently to the ground.

The bridge is dark with the fog hugging its sides.

The river runs slowly...almost at a standstill.

Wayne Golf Course last spring.

Wayne Golf Course now.

This tree hugs the shoreline. The colors are real. Autumn is here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Here's the one pumpkin we were able to harvest from our garden. Turn up the volume, but don't let any kids see's pretty scary!