Archive for November, 2010

The Women’s Retreat

November 15, 2010

Now, you know I like road trips as much as the next monkey, more than almost anything, but for crying out loud, we had just gotten HOME from one, and what do you know, but the lady tells me I have to get to go on another little trip with her!
She told me I was going to the “Women’s Retreat”.  Just me and about 30 other ladies. Hmm… I considered it might not be that bad.

The drive up the coast was marvelous, the driver of the van was so steady, so secure, I only made a few navigational suggestions.

I think you should step on it!!

I fell asleep in the van after a while when it got dark. I heard that we got a little bit lost, and turned back to the correct road only after seeing many wild animals and no signs of civilization. I regretted that I had left my post.

No harm done, we arrived at what appeared to me to be a desolate outpost. Dark. Bobcats. Foxes. Stars. I was not sure I wanted to leave the safety of the van, but as we entered the lodge, I beheld what  turned out to be a haven of loveliness! Warm candles, beautiful music, glorious autumnal decorations, friendly ladies smiling and hugging.  I decided it was safe to stay. 

But just about then, the ladies really started pouring in, and let me tell you, the squawking and laughing started up and pretty much did not stop til late in the night! It was at that point that I realized I might be in  over my head. For safety purposes, I scurried up the stairs to the room I was sharing with the lady and two of her friends. I got under the covers, and said,”Wake me for meals or anything having to do with trees, but please, count me out of all this squawking!”  Even with my head under two pillows, I still heard a rooster crowing at about midnight I think!

Now, I had thought a retreat was something where everybody sits quietly and stares at the sky and trees and leaves, and thinks about how grateful they are for all the good things they know and have and can enjoy, all without shrieking and laughing and squealing. I guess ladies do things differently than monkeys.

I have to admit that even though I pretty much stayed in my nice room, I did hear them get quiet a few times. In the morning, I heard them downstairs singing beautiful songs unto the Lord, and then I heard them listening to a  wonderful sounding lady on the Big TV Screen say a whole lot of really wise and encouraging things. I think they might have even been having some thoughtful discussions, and praying for one another while I rested.

So I decided it might be safe  to come downstairs, and contribute to this retreat.

For one thing, they obviously needed my help during their free time. They all decided to make  little notebooks that reflected the autumnal beauty which surrounded us at this place.

First, I had to demonstrate correct paper handling.

Scissors can be sort of tricky

Next, I showed them how to gather natural elements.

Natural leaves and twigs, natural ribbons...

Of course I had to oversee the glueing and sticky parts.

That's it, you are doing just fine...

Can everyone see? This is how your book should look.

The weekend drifted by with more beautiful songs unto the Lord, more thoughtful discussions, more times of listening to each other. There were even times when a beautiful Gift Fairy would appear to bestow gifts upon unsuspecting people for good reasons. Reasons like: they were away from their baby for the first time, or they had hiked 10 miles with their friends in the free time, or they had told an embarrassing story about themselves that made everyone laugh.

She was like a dream.

 So I guess they really did think about what they are grateful for, and how good God is. It seems like they were making good friends with each other in fun new ways. They still kept smiling and laughing and hugging and even crying. 

And I think I heard the rooster crow a few more times.

I really am glad that I went.


The Beautiful Pacific Northwest

November 5, 2010

Even a monkey can only spend so much time eating. Some of the rest of the time we had to do some visiting and sight-seeing.

Relaxing with relatives, I know how to do that!

We had to show each other all our pictures on our laptops.

And this is my summer vacation...

We had to take a ferry boat ride to Seattle.

This is the boat.

This is the skyline.

Hi the Lady! Hi her mom!



We had to sit on the deck in comfy chairs.

It's like living in a tree house.

We visited a little farm in Albany, where the kids milk the cow named Heidi, and the milk is so fresh and so creamy it makes your head spin.

She runs the stand AND milks the cow!

We explored trees in the front yard in Albany.


Look, I'll show you how to climb up and down.

These leaves are everywhere.

The Northwest is more beautiful than I remembered. Everywhere the trees were golden as sunlight, fiery red, bright yellow, orange as a pumpkin. Even though it rained a couple times, the skies were unusually clear and sunny. It made the whole world glow. Big monkey was so impressed with the countryside, the nice people and the good food, that he is eager to come back some time. But you know,  even when we left the Northwest, and drove back into the top of California, we were greeted with a beautifully grand sight.

Shasta looms before us.

I guess even California is beautiful, too.

Thanksgiving Halloween

November 2, 2010

“Two Holidays Collide on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Film at Eleven.”
HA HA! I am not really a newscaster, it’s only me. But let me tell you, that is exactly what happened. I thought we were just going on a road trip so I could see some more of this great nation. I mean, that’s enough, right? But it turns out our destination was Bainbridge Island, Washington, and for a very good reason: the lady’s cousins were having a  HUGE gathering of relatives in order to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner all together. October 30th was the only date that worked. Well, I mean the only date that wasn’t, say, September 1st or July 4th.

So while everyone else in America was carving pumpkins and polishing candy corn, and making spooky costumes, all the people here  were making stuffing, and mashed potatoes and cranberries and gravy.

A correctly placed tablecloth really sets the tone.

She chops just the way I tell her to.

I suggest more fruit and less sausage for the stuffing.

And the hostess had to go to seven different stores in three different cities to find a turkey that was big enough because it isn’t really Thanksgiving yet.

But it was totally worth it.  First, dozens of cousins started pouring in the front door, and the hugging and the helloing didn’t stop for a long time.

Everyone come in!

Big Monkey and I were allowed to stay at the party, but it all made me sort of nervous, so I hung back on the edges with the man.

The hostess is in the pink shirt. She is hiding in back, too.

Then I started to get into it. They were all telling jokes and laughing hard, and eating plates of snacks before the big dinner. I met some of the lady’s cousins.

Packy tells the best jokes.

Two toms. Neither of them are turkeys.

The cousins even have kids that are cousins.

I met an actual Pilgrim Woman, who lost her head one year, but the Dad drew on a new one.

Her head was redone by the Dad.

Authentic Early-American roast turkey.

And Big Monkey met an actual American Indian. The Indians and Pilgrims were only paper, but they came to help re-enact the feast.

Tell me about the maize.

Best of all, I got to participate in the fun family tradition that these cousins have. Everyone gets a piece of paper shaped like a turkey tail-feather by their plate, and they write on it what they are grateful for this year. Then they mix them up in a basket and the kids read them out loud, and everyone guesses who wrote it.  All the  feathers had great words on them, like: “I am thankful for family and traditions and good food.” And: “I am grateful for smiles and laughter with family.”

So much to be thankful for.

Mine was really easy to guess.

I Am Thankful For Bananas.

But I really am truly grateful.