Raspberry Sky~

There is something wonderful about getting outside on a beautiful ‘almost spring’ like day.  The first spikey green of the tete e`tete daffodils are poking up, promising bright bouquets in the not so distant future.  I had the company of my baby granddaughter in the morning, so we bundled up and did a little walkabout.  Across the yard to the chicken coop, I crunched on grass still a little frozen from Jack Frost’s visit in the predawn moonlight.  At the wire enclosure we watch the hens bustle and scratch, the baby mesmerized by their hum and movement.  My flock is colorful, a kaleidoscope of feathers in rusty red, gold, black, cream and gray with combs of red flopping on their heads. They recognize me as the girl with the kitchen scraps and huddle close as I unlatch the gate and set down a bowl of leftovers cleaned from the refrigerator.  After chicken duty, we sat on the porch swing for awhile, and I told her stories of sitting there with her big sisters, swaying and singing songs.  She told me stories as well, and I only wish I could understand the language she learned from the angels as she awaited her arrival last June, I know she had some cool stuff to tell me about.

My neighbor stopped by for a dozen eggs, I said, ‘they don’t get any fresher than this!’ as I handed him the carton.  We talked about the weather and the chickens and the elation his two girls felt as they marched on Saturday, (one in Seattle, one in Munich!) His wise words as he walked back down the sidewalk resonated with me and have made me smile from my heart out, “What is happening in the White House does not diminish the blessings of my life. My home, my family, my friends.” I believe this is true, and easier to believe on a crystal clear northwest day.

After the baby went home for her nap, I dragged my pruning nippers, gloves and bucket out of the potting shed and headed for the garden.  The ground is still too wet to work up with the TroyBuilt, but with my Muck boots on, I could slodge out to the raspberry patch for some clean up.  Getting to work I snipped out last years canes and heaped them in a pile.  The new whips, supple and a little bit prickly, I braided together, then wound them on the wire supports stretched between the posts. I love the nice clean look of the vines bending along, knowing in only a couple of months green leaves and blossoms will obscure the wire and the hum of honey bees will guarantee bowls of plump red berries in June.  Raspberries on Cheerios, raspberries on ice cream, raspberry jam~ summer in a jar. The hope and promise from Mother Earth that to everything there is a season.

As I look through the raspberry vines to the azure sky, I find myself humming a song from my youth, written by the wonderful Pete Seeger, adapted from Ecclesiastes and put to music by the Byrds~

To everything there is a season…  A time to gain, A time to lose, A time to rend, A time to sew, A time for love, A time for hate, A time for Peace, I swear it’s not too late…

I swear it’s not too late~




We took a drive to the north on Saturday.  The day was brisk, more blue skies than clouds, with a bit of sunshine now and then.  The mountains along I~5; Mt. Pilchuck, Whitehorse, Mt. Baker… Wow! They are regal in their repose.  A deep blanket of snow, white against the blue sky, sets up each mountain for a perfect calendar shot. North of Burlington, the drive through the valley, offers stretches of farmland and woods.  (If you take Chuckanut Drive, you also get salt water and San Juan islands in your view finder.)  We were heading for Lynden, so we stayed on the freeway this time.  I love the drive into town, a tree lined avenue with houses, neat and tidy, leading to an all American main street.  The Dutch village has some fun shops to explore and I came away with some cute little pitchers to add to my collection of ironstone.

On the way back home, we stopped at the Conway Pub for a late lunch.  This historic eatery has the most delicious fish and chips, oh my yummmm!  The place was packed, everyone from families with little kids, to some Harley dudes, to a table of women in their bright pink hats, resting up after their march in Bellingham.  We sat in a corner booth, enjoying our meal, the music on the jukebox and the general hubbub of a local meeting place.  After lunch we walked about the town. I saw these old cement steps, mostly obscured from view by evergreen branches.  They lead nowhere.  The house or business is gone, and has been long enough that these trees have taken the place of wood or mortar.  I wonder what the story is?  What dreams began on these four steps?  It’s fun to imagine, isn’t it?  The history of our area, though young compared to our east coast, and embryonic compared to our friends in Europe, it is our history none the less.

As this month of January winds down, and the squares of our calendars show fresh new days, let’s enjoy our place, this beautiful place we live.  Visit a town we haven’t before, hike a trail, walk a beach.  The steps are there… take ’em!


Sweet Dreams~

In sweet slumber, dreams waft in and out.  It’s a warm summer day and daisies bow on the breeze.  A flicker swoops from the tall evergreen, a hummingbird zips above the window box, thirsty for nectar the fuschia offers.

Each dawn brings a new day. We wake, sometimes to a sky lit pink as the sun rises from behind the Cascades, sometimes to a sodden gray as clouds cloak our mountain range and drench the green we’re so famous for.  But each new day holds a promise.  All of the old sayings might ring as cliché, but they truly are based on facts, even as they are repeated by the ‘old wives’.  Silver linings and bright sides are sometimes just what we need to push forward, and who’s to fault that optimism?

The promise of our children and grandchildren, their brightness and hope, is really what it’s all about.  I think of times spent with my grandma, around the picnic table, shelling peas or shucking corn.  We had her old radio tuned to KWYZ, the staticy  music kept us company.  My kids ran to the barn and jumped in the hay, chased barn kittens and picked apples.  Our world was hemmed in by the Snohomish river to the west and Mt Baker to the north.  Our worries were uncomplicated, would there be another picking before the frost?

Time passes.  Grandma’s die and kids grow up. The world turns and the dawn break. That truly is the promise, isn’t it?  Long after I am gone, the tides will ebb and flow, life will go on. So today, I will live fully and with intent. We can all aspire to do so.  So let’s draw  kitten whiskers on our cheeks, put on our super~hero masks, get a good night sleep and dream of a bright tomorrow.

Pleasant dreams~


A New Year~

This was meant to be my first blog post at the beginning of January, but I ‘lost’ it, somewhere in cyberspace.  It showed up this morning… don’t know why, but, here it is! Happy New Year!

It started snowing in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, a sprinkling of flakes, dusting the bleak December ground with a clean, white coat.  I was planning a quiet evening in, so the slippery roads didn’t worry me.  I say, half jokingly, that I will bring in the new year with my cousins in Norway.  The eight hour time difference puts me watching the ball drop around 4 pm… perfect!  I’m ready to bid farewell to 2016.  As Jimmy Buffet says in his song, ‘Trip around the Sun’, this year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake.  The long and bitter presidential campaign left me feeling a sadness and fatigue I have not experienced in my sixty years.  I am, by nature, a positive soul.  I am content at home, surrounded by family, friends and pets.  My home life fills me up, and when the yard is full of kids tossing a football, swaying on the old tire swing or collecting eggs from my colorful flock of clucking hens, I am in my happiest place.  My intention is not to write a political essay, so I will just say I was not rejoicing on election night.

December found me still cloaked in a fog of despair, and my traditions were my saving grace.  As I pulled boxes from under the stairs, Christmas music filled the air.  Sentimental ornaments, released from their year in storage, held more meaning for me.  The paper angels my kids made in kindergarten watched sweetly from the tree top as I hung every single thing saved through the years on the green boughs.  Cedar swags wrapped in twinkling lights draped across the doorway and held the overflow of ornaments when the tree filled up.

…and then there was Cooky Day… Years ago, my sister and I started a day of baking.  She’d come early, laden with flour, sugar and butter to add to my stockpile and we would bake, frost and sprinkle to our hearts content.  When I think back, I wonder ‘what were we thinking??’ I guess we thought it was up to us to keep the world supplied in Christmas cookies, because we filled enough plates and tins to make a dentist happy for sure.  I lost my sister almost twelve years ago, but the kids and I continue the tradition on a smaller scale. Until this year.  This year I needed the company and kinship of young people to counteract my doldrums.  I live in the same house where I raised my two, mid thirties kids, and they have blessed me with six beautiful grandchildren under the age of eleven, and they all have lots of friends.  The more the merrier might be my mantra, and explain how I ended up with seventeen kids, three babies and nine young moms in my kitchen on the third Sunday in December.  To say it was wild would be an understatement, but my little farmhouse was filled with rosy cheeks, powdered sugar frosting and lots of sprinkles.  My mood lightened even if the bathroom scale didn’t.

The reality is, in the grand scheme of things, I am a speck of dust, a flake of snow, but in this little corner of our great Pacific Northwest I am in charge of my own happy heart.  As we set our sails for another new year, what ever lies ahead, family and friendship is the glue that will hold us together.

Happy New Year!






Life Letters~

I was looking through an old journal the other day, and I came across a letter I wrote to myself (I was 44), from the perspective of myself as an eighty year old. Seventeen years have passed since I wrote the letter. I have less than twenty years to go before I am that eighty year old.  That’s a lot of math on a rainy Wednesday morning, but the letter is fun…

March 2, 2037

Dear Friend (that’s me!),

Oh it feels so good to be writing to you, it’s been too long.  When was the last letter?  Oh, yes, on this date in the year 2000!  The new millennium.  The new century.  Remember how tired we all got of hearing that?  The end of the world, computers crashing, banks losing our money.  Of course we never worried about any of it anyway.  What would have been the point?  It’s like the survivalists saving up food stores for the end.  If the Earth blows up, collides with an asteroid or worse, what good is ten gallons of water going to be?  Besides, it’s all about control.  Can I control it?  No. Then let it go.  That has been a good motto to live by, once we got the hang of it.

It’s hard to believe our kids are so much older now than we were then.  It has been wonderful to watch them grow and move into the circle of a new life.  I like to think there are still lines connecting our circles, safety lines, strung with love.  Lines to let out when they need space and to reel in when they need support. And weren’t the grandbabies fun?  I felt, and still do that that was what I was training for my whole life.  That tiny life brought forth by the life I brought forth, completed my circle.  Not a day goes by that I don’t whisper a ‘Thank you’ that I was allowed the privilege of staying on this Earth long enough to be a grandma.  And look!  We’re into the greats now!  What joy!

If I must think of just one good thing that goes with living a long, full life, and that is hard, because there are many, it would be along the lines of Mark Twain’s verbiage, “Most of the things I worried about never happened.”  Wrap that up with, ‘this too shall pass’ and ‘Let go, Let God’. Those simple lessons are perhaps the hardest to learn, especially for those of us who need control in order to keep on an even keel.  I’m glad I didn’t wait for eighty to figure out that control is just an  illusion.  Just when it seems everything is ‘under control’ someone tosses a cosmic monkey wrench into the works and it’s ‘back to the old drawing board’ anyway!

It has been a comfortable life.  Digging in and rooting in one place isn’t for everyone, but it has been good for me.  There was a time when I thought of travel, but it really wasn’t a natural thing for me.  I have enjoyed some backroads and trails, and still love the idea of the road less traveled, (Robert Frost’s, not M. Scott Peck’s), but I need my solid foundation of hearth and home and family and pets waiting to welcome me from my sojourns, so I can’t be away too long.

And so it goes, my friend.  We continue on this journey, every day more thankful for the gift of life and health, as we bid goodbye to some we’ve known.  I wish you well in these twilight years, and pray you still have, ‘…miles to go before you sleep…”

God Bless you, love, your friend





“Take the first step in faith.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just the first step.”

*Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as we observe the birthday of Dr. King, shall we reflect on his words? He wore many hats in this lifetime, pastor, activist, humanitarian, leader, believer. He believed that people could be better.  He had faith that they would be better. In one of his most famous, and probably most often quoted speeches he spoke of this faith.  He delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech in Washington D.C. in 1963.  Over fifty years later his words are still a call to action.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.  It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.  I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed:

‘We hold these truths to be self~evident: that all men are created equal.’

…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  I have a dream today.  That one day… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.  I have a dream today.”

Dr. King didn’t live to see our nation elect Barack Obama, as our first African American president, but he spoke to the possibility.  His words carry the weight of promise and faith.  His dream has become a reality for some, even as we continue to struggle with too many of the same issues today.  Our country has it’s challenges as we journey deeper into the 21st century, but if we reach out to our fellow man with friendship in our hearts, we can overcome.  With a pinch of faith, our mountains could become mole hills.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…

Nothing will be impossible to you.”

*Matthew 17:20

Keep the Faith~

Ice Storm~

In the  pre~dawn darkness, still cozy in my bed, the sound of the ringing phone brought me out of my slumber. My early working hubby is calling.

“Hi Dougie, what’s up?” I try to sound chipper, as if I’ve been up for hours getting all those chores done.

“I didn’t know if you saw the report, school is two hours late because of icy roads.”  Isn’t he thoughtful? and no, I hadn’t seen that report. Time to get my wheels turning, I guess.

I called my daughter-in-law to let her know, ice or no ice, she’d have to go to work, so she could bring the boys up here for the bus.  Aren’t we lucky that the kiddos can catch the bus right in front of Grammie’s house!  I made my coffee, and puttered around a bit. I thought about two extra hours with my guys.  What should we do?  Something other than a mind numbing morning show or game on the tablet. Read?  Always an option, but two hours?  We might need a little more substance.  Cookies.  We can mix up the dough, put it in the fridge and roll it out after school.  Perfect solution!

The boys were delivered safely, and we got on task.  Aprons, check. Wash hands, check. Preheat oven, check.  Choose the cookie… no, we’re making sugar cookies… “But Grammie! I want to make the kind you squeeze out. Dogs. Blue dogs. No, trees. Green trees”… Choose the cookie… Spritz, check.  You just can’t argue with a six year old. Out came Grandma Goodie’s old ‘Mirro’ cookie press and we got busy. The boys hovered and helped for awhile, adding the ingredients to the Kitchen Aide. Butter and sugar, a nice fresh egg, flour, then while the mixer did it’s job, “Come on, let’s go outside and check on the ice!” and they were gone.

Grammie in the kitchen with a bowl of yellow dough, an empty cookie tube, and an assortment of shape deciding attachments.  Hmmm.  I can make an executive decision in the absence of my helpers.  Red food coloring soon tinted the dough a lovely pink, and I slid the heart disk into place.  They came in to warm up, just as I was squeezing the last of the forms onto the baking sheet.  “Grammie! I wanted blue! Blue dogs!”  Hmmm…Here, help me with the sprinkles.

With the cookies cooling on the counter, our two hours were up.  The icy roads, kept the bus from driving by my house, so we had to walk to the corner.  It had warmed up enough that the pavement was safe, and puddles frozen earlier were splashable.  I saw them loaded up and on their way before turning to head towards home.  Will they remember this morning twenty years from now?  Maybe they’ll be navigating an icy road on their way to work and think of it.  I hope so.  I hope that whatever waits for them on this road of life, these times are tucked in their hearts and the memory of a late arrival and a batch of cookies bring them a little smile on a winter day. I hope so.

Winter Method~

Dark falls soon in January.  By 4:30, the twilight has settled into the evergreen branches, closing the gaps that daylight opens each morning.  Cold seems colder when it’s dark and damp, and I pull my collar up to my chin as I trudge across the yard toward the chicken house.  Not quite ready for the roost, the hens hum their evening song as I unlatch the door.  Gathered closely, they wait for me to toss their evening scratch, their song building in anticipation until it hits the ground. Busy in the pecking of it, they pay me no mind as I reach into the straw filled nest and stuff the eggs into my pockets.  I can’t help but smile as I think of the egg basket, sitting on the table in the kitchen.

Back in the house, I set about my evening chores.  Methodical.  The word pops in my head as I settle the beautiful eggs in a carton and tie on my apron. Methodical:  habitually proceeding according to method. That’s me, and I kind of like the definition. There is a certain comfort in the process. I haul my big Norwegian dough board from it’s place beside the refrigerator and set the oven to pre~heat.  Into my old yellow bowl, I measure flour, salt and baking powder, then cut in the Crisco until it’s mixed together just fine.  I can almost hear my grandma whisper, “Buttermilk!” as I pour enough 1% milk to make my dough ready to pat out. On the flour dusted board, I form it into a nice, soft round, and cut the shapes to go on the baking sheet. Methodical.  Habitual. Peace and contentment.

I slide the biscuits into the hot oven, and take the lid off the soup kettle to give it a good stir.  Thick and bubbly, chock full of veggies and last night’s roast beef, it’s the perfect supper for a winter night.  The timer beeps for the biscuits.  I bring my simple meal to the table and call him from the other room.


“Imagination is Everything”

*Albert Einstein

I see the tips of stark branches reaching toward the steel gray sky. Whipping in theJanuary wind, slapping the sides of the old shed, and scraping on the edges of the metal roof.  Fat, soft kittens, the pussy willow are burgeoning.  Hold on little kitten!  Hold on!

January in the Pacific Northwest is a wild, rambunctious month.  No more twinkling lights and evergreen boughs, January winds blow clear the cobwebs of a year just past and set a bank canvas for spring to splash her color, scent and life all over.  Its hard to imagine spring, on a bitter day such as this.  To imagine searching for a shady spot to lay in the grass, face up to the sky, pulling stories from the shapes of clouds as they waft along.  To imagine nestling swallows, and the throaty songs of tree frogs at twilight.  But imagination is everything, according to Uncle Albert, so here I go~

I imagine a warm sneaker day.  A winter day according to the calendar, but in she sneaks, on a warm breeze.  She wraps around the corners of my barren flower beds.  She’ll coax and inch or two from the daffodils that are poking spikey heads up through hard, brown dirt.  I smile knowing the frills on their bonneted faces are tucked safe for now.  I will let my chickens out to scratch about the pasture and laugh at them as they run across the yard, their gait much like little boys about to lose their britches.  I’ll tidy up my potting shed and organize my weed bucket and gardening tools.  I don’t need an imagination to know I’ll be needing those soon enough!

The ground hog is weeks from his prediction, as is our own ‘ground frog’, Snohomish Slew, waiting for his February ‘frognosticaition’.  Is more winter in store?  Snow flurries and frozen ponds?  Or will we welcome an early spring?  On a cold and blustery January day, it is nice to imagine the latter.  Imagine…