Blue Grouse House Sit

THIS!

All I really need to write is, “This!”  It wouldn’t satisfy anyone’s curiosity, or inform any one.  “This!” tells a different tale entirely.  It’s a tale about the universe putting you where you need to be.  It’s a tale of connection.  So, before you read any further…push play!

 Trusted House Sitters

What got us interested in Trusted House Sitters was the need to have someone take care of our aging dogs. Being gone longer than a weekend had become problematic.  Sally and Tava had us fine tuned to their needs.  Kenneling, even with people they knew and trusted, put Tava into Alpha Dog food guarding mode.  Sally was prone to panic attacks.

Family and friends were called upon for quite a few trips, but that’s an ask that wears out its welcome.  Longer trips required someone for whom the experience of living in our space and communing with our beasts would be an ample return.  It had to be someone with old dog experience. Someone who could fine tune themselves to our dogs’ needs.

The way things worked out Sally and Tava were gone before we used Trusted House Sitters. They spent their last days with us at the island doing things they loved. It broke our hearts.  For the first time in my adult life I was without the companionship of a dog.  Trusted House Sitters became a solution to another need.

We were to take care of Beau.  As fate would have it he spent his last days in the care of his loving owners in a place truly made for a dog like him.  

Trusted House Sitters  is about connection.  Connection with a well-loved member of a household.  Connection with their family, and connection with a place.  Beau had moved on, but his absence was felt.

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Jess and Vikki’s Place

I hadn’t realized how much the constant chatter of life in the city and politics rattled  my existence.  Newscasts have become a marathon version of “Waiting For Godot”.  Someone should say, or do, something substantial.  It’s more like the crows in our neighborhood’s Monkey Puzzle Tree.  They squawk and swoop. They won’t go away unless you look them in the eye and demand it.

Up on the top of the world at the Wright’s place, it isn’t immediately clear why the useless chatter wasn’t asked to depart a long time ago.  Donna and I are meadow people.  We like a view that extends all the way to the horizon.  It gives you room to breathe. This in turn gives you room to let the chatter fall away. 40 acres of elbow room does a lot for the soul.

My constant complaint about traveling to far away places is that most of the buildings we visit are disconnected from the people who actually built them.  I want to know about the craftspeople.  Who designed the building?  Who chose the materials?  Who shaped the materials into a thing of beauty? Who gave the building life?  The aristocrats listed in the guide books seldom lifted a finger. They are the focus of every tour. History after all is the refined practice of name dropping.

Jess and Vikki’s house lives on a more real plane.  If you have done any building, you recognize the care that went into every decision, and every board.  The connection between people and a building turn a place into home.  There were no abstractions here.  I shook the hands that made this place a reality.  I’ve experienced the gilded cages of Versailles.  I’d rather be up on Blue Grouse watching the sky unfold before us.

Things You Can Do in Oroville

Oroville sits perched at the top of Okanogan County next to the Canadian Border.  As a kid my family used to make the four day trek from Seattle to Tulia, Texas.  We passed through a lot of towns like Oroville.  Most of those towns have been lost to interstates, strip malls, Mickey D’s, and big box stores.  Oroville feels like a throwback to an earlier time.  Maybe not the 50’s, but homogenization hasn’t completely taken control.  It’s still a town with character.

Vicky’s Back Door probably isn’t in any visitor’s guides.  It’s a do-it-yourself dance hall, help yourself  to popcorn, there’s beer in the fridge and wine on the counter kind of place. The crowd and the band were local.  Line dancing was the order of the day.  The people were friendly, and it didn’t take long for Donna to get me out on the dance floor.  We didn’t line dance, but we performed our signature move.  When the “We never go dancing!” conversation comes up” I can say, “Yeah, we danced in Oroville.  Remember?” 

Before we went dancing we had dinner and beers at The Pastime Bar and Grill. We had prime rib.  It was the best piece of meat I’ve had outside of Texas.  I’ve been to quite a few highly touted BBQ joints in Seattle.  There’s some folks down in Seattle’s Georgetown who think they are the epitome of bearded hipster pit masters.  They don’t hold a candle to the folks at The Pastime.  The prime rib was medium rare and perfectly seasoned with smoke.  The Naughty Potatoes balanced on a fine line between Heaven and Sin.  My list of the world’s top flavors includes Single Malt Scotch, Humbolt Gold Oysters, Cuban Cigars, and Cooper’s Brisket.  The list has been expanded.

The Highway 97 wine trail in Canada is worth exploring.  From Osoyoos to Oliver there are there are 39 wineries.  Tastings run from free to $6 per person.  We sampled wines at Hester Creek, Burrowing Owl/Inniskillin, Moon Curser, and Gehringer Brothers. Hester Creek has an excellent restaurant, Terrafina, that serves locally sourced Italian inspired fare.

As a rule we favor red wines, but in the Okanogan we were impressed by the whites.  They were crisp and suitably dry. When someone told you to expect notes of peach, lime, or apple you didn’t have to fake it. Those notes were there.  The reds were heavy on tannins, and what I’d call angular.  Things like roundness and velvety finishes were not easy to find.  Moon Curser’s wines were to our taste and we left with a couple of their blends.  The port style wine from Burrowing Owl  awaits the right chocolate dessert.  It wouldn’t be bad spooned over a bowl of vanilla ice cream either.

The thing about small towns is each one has a heartbeat of its own.  On Saturday night in Oroville the heartbeat was at Alpine Brewery.  Brats, beer, beans, and potato salad were on the menu.  So was a lively set by Hippies on Vacation.  Two fine guitarists, a six string bassist, and some tasty drumming held off the threatening rain.  The power of music and a breeze blowing in the right direction worked wonders.

This!

We sat in Vikki and Jess’ living room watching the sky move from sunset to twilight.  Donna was playing the parlor guitar.  I was playing my heavily used Ovation.  We started out playing Will The Circle Be Unbroken.  Donna sang the Buffy Saint-Marie songbook.  We finished up trying out a John Cale tune about life in a war zone.  Dying on the Vine is a song worthy of any Welsh poet.  It’s also a song that’s worth playing into the twilight.  The sky cooperated beautifully.  Up on Blue Grouse that’s what the sky does!

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Thanks to Jess and Vikki Wright! 

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