About Me

My photo
Hi, I'm Darryll and I live in Pullman, Washington with my wife and two kids. I'm a licensed Architect and am employed as a Project Manager at Washington State University. In addition, I have my own business doing residential designs in the greater Palouse area. I am a self-taught pianist, song-writer and singer and am involved in the music department at my local church.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunday Drives...

We just bought a new van (new to us, it’s a 2008). We weren’t intending on buying a new van, but after someone decided to not slow down and totaled the backend of our van when my wife stopped at a crosswalk, we had no choice. (she’s ok… bit of whiplash, but feeling pretty good now – thanks for asking!)

Our van was wheelchair accessible which allowed us to transport our disabled son, so we had to order a replacement van from a company in Michigan that performs the conversions. We were without a van (and a 2nd car) for almost 3 weeks as we shopped around, chose one, arranged for financing, worked out the insurance and waited for delivery.

It arrived Sunday morning and we met up with the guy who delivered it in a parking lot. It came in on one of those cool car carrier trucks. It traveled a few thousand miles and saw some rain and snow, so I got it all cleaned up and we took a drive on Sunday afternoon.

A Sunday drive.

It was a lot of fun as we drove around looking at all the wheat fields of the Palouse where we live (this is the prettiest time of year – all the fields are beautiful shades of green). Of course we were oohing and aahing at the things in our new van, but we spent the afternoon taking a drive and being together in our new van.

It made me wonder what happened to the practice of taking a Sunday drive. We grew up taking Sunday drives as a family. These were perfect outings for the Spring or Fall, when the weather wasn’t quite up to camping weather yet, but you wanted to get out and enjoy it. Mom would make up a picnic lunch and we’d take off right after we got home from church. There were a number of lakes, parks and rivers that we’d go to. There wasn’t a lot of planning ahead or buying stuff. We’d just hop in the car and go.

There are probably a few reasons why these are going by the wayside. When gas prices went up, some families might have cut back. As fewer folks went to church, Sunday afternoons lost their uniqueness – they became like another Saturday. As so many other entertainment options increased, an afternoon drive was less of a special thing.

I’d encourage you to try this as a family. Of course, to get the full effect, you’d have to leave the ipods, ipads, iphones, notebooks, zunes, cell phones, dvd players and gps systems at home. But – it might be fun! Give it a try and get to know your family as you enjoy the scenery!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pizza Night, '70s Style!

It seems that lately there has been a lot of discussion about food on the blogs I frequent. We all love food, don’t we?

I felt like I should share what was one of my favorite meals growing up. Coming from a low to middle class family, we didn’t go out for dinner a lot, so we found ways to get around that. We made what we couldn’t afford to go out and buy as often as we’d have liked.

One of the best things that my mom made was Pizza. She used Appian Way pizza crust mix, which came with a can of pizza sauce, and we would make 2 or 3 pizzas at a time. These were awesome. They were big rectangular pies because she’d use cookie sheets to make them, and it often turned into a bit of a family effort. I think having these pizzas might have made me like foods that kids don’t necessary like – things like mushrooms, green peppers and olives. We all got involved in the building of the pizzas and so we had a personal interest in them and wanted to see if the ones we helped “design” came out good.

It was a special night when we had pizza for dinner, because we usually got to have pop with it. Pop for dinner – or anytime for that matter – was a special event. And, since it was so different than our normal dinners, we used to be able to eat out on the picnic table in the backyard, or around the counter island in the kitchen. It was very memorable and special because of how seldom we did it.

…funny how things like that help us to really appreciate our families and the simple lives we had growing up.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cars of the '70s Revisitied

I saw a ’68 Camaro parked today. I had to stop in the parking lot and drool for a spell. Super sweet – totally stock except for some tricked out wheels and tires. Someone said it best when they said that the muscle cars from the late '60s and '70s looked like they were going 100 miles an hour when they were sitting still. The rakish lines, the diving hoods, the wide, flat backends. Two door sports cars with huge doors, and some frameless windows – awesome when open all the way.

My own Camaro that I used to own (all over this page :) ) looked pretty hot, too.

They have done a great job with the Camaro, Charger, Challenger and Mustang with reintroducing the retro versions of these beauties. I think that some people really hate these, and I can understand it for those who are purists. But these are really pretty hot cars.

I probably won’t be getting anytime soon. But – if I ever had enough money to buy my dream car, I but one of these.

Ok – back to reality.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Remember Those!!!

We all get it - “Bloggers Block” – the electronic equivalent of “Writes Block”. I had it bad yesterday so I just sat back and tried to remember…

As I wandered aimlessly about in the deep recesses of my mind (read vacuous, not necessarily voluminous) for something… anything… to blog about, I took a mental trip down memory lane and suddenly remembered reading in Mrs. Izette’s 5th grade class. It wasn’t what we read that I remembered, it was how we read.

There was a reading program that we participated in, and for the life of me I could not remember the name of it or details about it. I called my brother who *always* remembers all of these little, trivial, unimportant things - he claims these memories will all be on “the test” and he’s gonna ace it! I described to him my best recollections and waited for him to simultaneously tell me everything about it and scold me for not remembering. But – he couldn’t! I couldn’t believe it! I glanced outside but saw no pigs flying so I figured that he must really be stumped. We each agreed to call the other back if and when we remembered.

…dinner and the evening – nothing.

…late night drafting and Leno – still nothing.

…slept the whole night – no springing up in bed at 3:30 with the answer.

Then – this morning in the shower – I remembered. I shouted out SRA! That’s it! SRA!!!

Having dashed to the bathroom to rescue me from who knows what, I could tell my wife really was glad I was ok through her scolding me for scaring her half to death.

It was called a Reading Laboratory Kit that a company called Science Research Associates (SRA) began in 1957 and teachers used in the classrooms as a reading comprehension tool geared towards individual students. The reading materials were color coded, and as you read, completed and successfully tested all of the lessons in one level, you got to move to the next level, which was another color. And the really cool thing was the Progress Board that was set up in the classroom. For each lesson you completed, a big gold star was put in that space and it was out there for all to see.

I remember vividly that it was fun, a challenge and really encouraged us to read. There was pride in our hearts as kids as we achieved the successive levels and had the gold stars to show for it. I don’t know if I’m actually a better reader or not because I used this program, but I do remember that it was fun, and anytime you can make learning fun for a kid, you’re doing something right.

The internet is awesome. I was able to find some images from an original SRA lesson. For those of you who can remember these – it’ll take you back. For everyone else – here’s how we used to learn, old school! Click on these and they'll open up full size.

And yes, I did call my brother and taunt him that I had remembered it. That’s one for me to his thousands…but it’s one!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

5 Blasts From The Pasts this ‘70s guy misses seeing…

I took this idea from my friend Darrin over at Dad’s Dish Retro

5 Things This Retro Dad Misses Seeing...(another GREAT blog). Here’s a list of great everyday things gone by…

Lemonade Stands:

These were every bunch of neighborhood kids’ idea of striking it rich in the summer, and we did it all by ourselves! All we had to do was get mom to get us the glasses, make up the lemonade for us, help us find a table and some chairs, bring everything out and set it up at the curb for us, and we were set! Spend an entire afternoon selling cups of lemonade at 5 to 10 cents each and we might make $2 to $3! Split that 4 or 5 ways and were “rich”.

Record Parties

Did you ever do this? A bunch of us would get together and all bring all of our latest records (often just 45’s) and spend a whole evening listening to them together. We’d usually sing at the top of our lungs, and sometimes have a big pizza party, too. Great times of make-believing that we were rock bands, and dreaming of the day when we were really gonna be a band!

Variety Shows

These are now only known by this generation if they happen to linger on a late night ½-hour pitch by Guthy-Renker. Watching Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher, Flip Wilson, etc – so many more than can be listed here. These were awesome and we were treated to a plethora of the big star actors, actresses and performers of the time. There’s no way to even compare these shows to anything today. And what was so amazing about the stars back then is that they could all dance, sing and act and were all good at it!

Kids Dressed up for Things

When was the last time that you saw a family out for dinner at anything but a high-end restaurant and the kids were dressed up for the occasion? Not pressed shirts and ties, but at least clean, well-fitting and nice looking clothes. We used to do this to go out to Denny’s or even a buffet-type meal. Other things we’d dress up for: Dinner at the Grandparents’, shopping downtown, going to a movie, family birthday parties – or a friend’s birthday party – and other gatherings, visiting family friends. It was never an option to NOT dress nicely… it’d sure be nice to see this on some level in society again.

Good Cartoons

Every Saturday morning! They were the good old fashioned ones – deemed too violent for kids today because a certain coyote would get squished into an accordion, or fall to a canyon floor only to emit a little poof of smoke upon impact. They were simple, funny, entertaining and carried no hidden messages. If Mel Blanc were to see what passes for cartoons these days, he’d surely roll over in his grave a FEW times!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Hamsters of my Youth

I love a good blog! My friend Ally on her blog
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
told us all about her hamsters the other day. It’s a great little story and worth the read. If you had hamsters when you were a kid, like I did, then you can rea
lly relate.

My brother and I got two hamsters when we were growing up. They were a lot of fun and we really enjoyed them. We named them “Fatty” and “Skinny” because one was fat and the other was... uh… skinny - kids can be SO creative when it comes to naming their pets.

We were young, probably 8 and 10 when we got them. Fortunately for my folks, they brought us up well and we were good about caring for them as we were supposed to. Not that we didn’t complain at times, but we did our chores when it came to caring for them.

We used to play with them all the time. We built forts out of paper towel and toilet paper tubes for them to run through, we’d use a bunch of old boxes for them to scurry around, and we’d shred paper for them to play in. We always loved to watch them in their cage as they took turns racing on their exercise wheel. We also used to have one of those yellow plastic hamster tubes that they would scamper through.

I know that they got out of their cage periodically and did some exploring around the house. We also had cats and dogs at the same time, but to the best of my knowledge, there were never any serious confrontations.

We had them for a few years. Fatty – who loved to eat – tended to store food in his cheeks. Well, he stored something there a little too long, it became infected and he passed away. It was a very sad time and we cried our eyes out. I remember that right after he died my brother and I tried to watch TV to take our mind off of it. I still can’t even hear the theme from “Love, American Style” without remembering that sad evening.

Skinny died at a later date – a happy, old, skinny hamster. We buried them out in our yard by our sticker bushes like we did with all our animals back then. Someday someone excavating there will find a graveyard of our animal memories.

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Apple Picking Adventure

Growing up in the ‘70s in the Seattle area as teenagers, we were afforded a unique opportunity.

Almost every year in the early fall, the local radio stations starting broadcasting “the call for laborers”. Eastern Washington is one of the most fertile areas for growing apples, specifically Washington Red and Golden Delicious Apples. Whether because of a shortage of workers or a fear of an early frost, the DJ’s would start announcing that the orchards needed pickers.

I had two close friends that I hung with a lot that summer. We had never considered getting involved before, but one particular Fall we decided that we would do it. We’d jump in one of our cars, race over the mountains, pull up to a roadside orchard, spring out of our Hot Rod, offer our services to the beleaguered Orchard owners, and be hailed and financially rewarded as the saviors from the West.

Well – the idyllic quest started out great as we sped East with Seattle in the rear view mirror, wound through the mountain pass and shot out into the hot Eastern countryside by the mighty Columbia River, but it came to a grinding halt as soon as we got to the orchards. Where were the desperate orchard owners and workers who would be welcoming us with open arms? Where were the signs announcing where we could swoop in and save the day? Where were the piles of cash ready to be distributed to all of us willing souls from the West?

So – we pulled into the first seemingly abandoned orchard and sprang forth ready to pick! We spotted a little shack and decided that we better start there. As we stepped inside we found a little desk with a woman sitting behind it. In the best “Ta-Da!” voices we could muster, we announced that we had heard of their plight. had been summoned by the big city radio gods, and we were here to help…

In a single moment, the dream came crashing down. An almost disinterested “What…? was all she muttered as she peered over her reading glasses, cigarette bobbing in her mouth. We stammered out an explanation – she had NO idea what we were talking about, but said that if we wanted to pick apples, we had to go to the labor office in town. Well – as deflating as this had been, surly we’d find the answers and direction (and grateful reception) we’d been seeking there.

Reaching the labor office in Wenatchee, we did find people who knew what we were talking about. And they were excited about us being there and wanted to know how long we were there for. How long? We were just here for the day… we had to work tomorrow… what do you mean “how long”? Apparently, they expected people to come work for a week or two, or even a month – not just a day – and of course the whole day we had committed to was almost half gone now! The nice lady at the office smiled politely, made a few phone calls, and ended up finding an orchard that would take us on for the afternoon.

We rambled up some non-descript dirt road and found the orchard we were supposed to pick at. Once again we piled out of our car and presented ourselves for use. The foreman sized us up, gave us the “I’ll guess you’ll do” nod and led us off down the rows of apple trees. In the 100 or so yards we walked she filled us in on everything we’d ever need to know about the correct way to pick apples. You had to wear this apron-looking thing to put the apples in as you were up on the ladders picking. You had to twist and break the stem at a certain place where it connected to the branch: do it right and the tree would produce from the same spot year after year, do it wrong, and it would take 3 years before that place would produce another apple. As you filled your apron, you had to carefully climb down the ladder and gently release the apples into a big (I’d guess 4’x4’x4’high) apple bin. Repeat this process and fill up the apple bins stacked at the end of the orchard rows.

What we had intended to be a fun day of helping out and getting handsomely rewarded for it had turned into a remaining afternoon of apparently scientific apple removal from fragile trees and balancing on ladders while caring for each apple as though it was as breakable as an egg.

Well – we got our marching orders, scampered up our ladders, and began to pick. It didn’t take long until we figured out that it was really difficult to pick the apples correctly. Being less than mature adults and having our day already turning out much different than we had planned didn’t help us really care about the picking process. It was also a lot easier to pick the apples quicker if we just grabbed and pulled without regards to those little stem thingys.

Get some kids up on ladders and doing a boring, repetitive chore like apple picking, and it won’t be long until some tom-foolery ensues. We ate our fill of apples, threw the cores at each other between the trees, and even tried to see who could throw whole apples the farthest down the hillside we were on. And speaking of hillsides, we had some challenges trying to keep those cherry-picker type ladders upright on the slopes. We had a few close calls, and once a ladder went over taking us all out in the process. Had we not rolled and bounced just right as we hit, there might have been some serious injuries, but instead we just laughed uncontrollably at the silliness of it all.

We did work, or should I say “work” all afternoon at that apple orchard, and between the three of us we actually filled a whole bin. Never mind that the migrant workers who were picking around us had each filled several bins by themselves in the same time span. We felt we had done a great job since we weren’t professionals and had endured certain – although self-inflicted – hazards and limitations.

After we filled that one bin, we decided that we’d had enough. We’d spent more time laughing, falling and eating than picking and didn’t really anticipate our attitude or approach to the task at hand changing much. We sauntered on down to the orchard’s job shack to let them know we were heading out and to cash in.

$11.00. We made $11.00.

Divide that three ways, pay for the gas, pay for the breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks… yeah, it wasn’t exactly a money making venture. But - we had a great time, and it does make for a great story – but heed this as a warning to all reading this that not every time will things pan out the way you plan. So when/if you ever happen upon some similar adventure, take it from me - learn from it, laugh at it in retrospect, and chalk it up to one of those life lessons that goes down as a great memory and an event that shapes who and what you are.