Farm Fresh Memories ~

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” **Thomas Moore

Sheets on the line, snapping in the warm breeze, are one of my very favorite things. It’s barely noon, but I picture myself cozy in my bed tonight, fresh scents of summer, lulling me to sleep. Is there anything as humble as a clothesline? It can be as simple as a length of twine tied between two trees (like we do when we are camping) or as fancy as a collapsible umbrella that you can take in and out according to the weather. I even have one made for apartment dwellers, that fastens to the wall to be attached across a room, then rolls itself back in when not in use.

My grandma had the best clothesline. It was a pulley system from her back porch, a mile (it seemed!) out to an ancient maple tree in the pasture. I can still see her laundry stretched above the yard and across the garden. It truly danced on the wind that whipped up from the river. Helping grandma pull it in the late afternoon never seemed to be a chore. Even as a little kid, I felt the sacredness of those times spent on her farm. Summer days filled with endless hours making trails in tall grass and searching for kittens in the dark interior of the big old barn. My brother and sisters and I couldn’t think of any place we would rather be. We grew up sitting around her round picnic table in the yard, her old transistor radio turned to KWYZ while we played cards or shucked corn or snapped beans.

Upstairs at grandma’s house was a huge bedroom. Even with the low, slanted ceilings, there were enough beds for each of us, including grandma. She tucked us under quilts made from five inch squares cut out of old wool coats and and sewn together with feather stitches in contrasting thread. Beneath their weight we had little choice but to lay still as grandma told stories in the darkened room. I loved how she spun the Mother Goose tales into a long and winding adventure where Little Bo Peep bumped into Little Boy Blue and they worked together to round up their restless flocks. Sometimes they ran into Mary and her lamb, sometimes the Billy Goats Gruff tripped along, telling of the wicked troll that lived under the bridge. We’d drift off the sleep to the soft sound of grandma’s voice and the lonesome whistle as the train lumbered on tracks on the other side of the river. In the morning we would tip toe down the bare wooden stair treads and venture into the kitchen where grandma already had a fire in the trash burner and corn meal mush cooling in the pan.

Isn’t it interesting, how our memories are stirred and pop up as fresh as if it happened yesterday when we allow ourselves the time to ‘just be’? Here I am having quiet afternoon, thinking I am alone in my backyard, when in fact I am sharing the space with my younger self, my siblings, my grandma, not to mention, long gone barn cats. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone.” I picture underground springs of memories, that bubble up when the surface is scratched. It’s funny how it works. Here I am, the grandma now, sixty four and counting, but when I think of these old days I am six, or eight, or ten… and for a bit, immersed in the good old days, in my heart I am a child again!

My brother loves to say, ‘those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…’ (or maybe that was Judy Collins), in any case, it is certainly true! We’re busy living and growing up, and then all of a sudden here we are, looking back across the years, wondering where in the world the time went. Today, close your eyes for just a few minutes. Let your mind wander, open the door to the dusty closet where those old times were stuffed so long ago. Pull out a good time and sink into it for a while. I’ve got to go take my clothes off the line…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Empty Nest ~

“I meant to do my work today ~ but a brown bird sang in the apple tree, and a butterfly flitted across the field, and all the leaves were calling me. And the wind went sighing over the land, Tossing grasses to and fro, And a rainbow held out it’s shining hand ~ So what could I do but laugh and go?” ** Richard LeGallienne

I meant to do my work today, but the baby swallows called me to the porch. They poke their downy heads out of the round door of their cozy house and chirp loudly as they wait for their mama to swoop in with tasty morsel.

Waiting for lunch…

The babies aren’t bothered by my nosy watch and I keep my distance so I don’t upset the parents. This house has been hanging on my shed for over twenty years, empty of any inhabitants until last year when a swallow family claimed it. The paint has faded and chipped, but they don’t care about that. Is this the same family returned, as the swallows do to San Juan Capistrano? I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter, does it? I have enjoyed watching the adults glide across my backyard and zoom into the small opening. Look at the swallow as she swoops and soars. She’s like a tiny orca of the sky. Shiny black back that glistens violet blue in the sun and a smooth white belly… tiny orca! I love hearing the first faint peep, peeps, knowing there are small, featherless hatchlings growing inside. Now, as they are about to fledge, I just can’t leave my porch. In a day or two I will have an empty nest, a quiet house.

Coming soon, room for rent…

That’s the way it goes, isn’t it? We have our young, nourish them and keep them safe until it’s time for them to spread their wings and soar. My kids left their cozy nest for nests of their own and are raising their own fledglings now. I like to think we are connected by a thread as thin and tough as a spiders silk so they can always find their way home. The circle of life is infinite even though our lives are finite. We live and learn and grow as time keeps ticking away. It makes me think of an old Mary Engelbreit card that read, “You’re always the same age inside.” The view is the back of a chubby grandma looking in a mirror reflecting a pretty young woman. I love that image, while I laugh to realize that’s me to a “T”!

I will enjoy these summer visitors and the memories of the warm, breeze will cheer me on cold winter days. The one certainty in this crazy world is that summer will turn to fall, will turn to winter, will turn to spring, and I will watch for new residents as I add another ring to the tree of my life…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Good Times ~

“The return to good times is not wholly a matter of money. There is a prosperity of living which is quite as important as prosperity of the pocketbook. It is not enough to make the best of things as they are. Resignation will get us nowhere. We must build what amounts to a new country. We must revive the ideals of the founders. We must learn the new values of money. It is a time for pioneering ~ to create new security for home and family… We are becoming specialists at living.” *excerpt from Ladies Home Journal/October 1932

As we continue to stay close to home to stay healthy, a few good, old words to ponder…

Peace. Love. Amen.

Bluebird ~

The bluebird carries the sky on his back” *Henry David Thoreau

Just as I was leaving my driveway, heading for work, one morning in March a few years ago, I spotted a bird in my front yard. “It can’t be!” I thought to myself. “That looks like a bluebird, but there are no bluebirds here, we are not in their flyway!” I parked my car and watched. No doubt about it, there in my yard were a pair of bluebirds. Dad and mom, husband and wife, brilliant blue and lovely silver. There is good reason for the old line ‘the bluebird of happiness’. Any cares I had that morning vanished as I happily watched the couple flit about my yard.

Mama ~

I was beyond excited! I even had a ‘real bluebird house’ I brought home from Bickleton, the bluebird capitol of Washington, several years before. It had housed many swallow families ever since I attached it to a fence post, could it now become home to bluebird family? He was checking it out!

Papa ~

I enjoyed watching this sweet pair, he was busy! He took a peek in the window of my chicken house and considered hitching a ride into town on the rearview mirror of my bug.

Peeking in ~

Ultimately, they were on their way, and though I have watched for them, I have not had another sighting. Swallows continue to call the bluebird house home and I get a kick out of those babies crowding the small circle of a doorway as they wait for their parents to swoop in with a bite to eat.

You might be wondering why in the middle of 2020, (which could be defined as the year of pandemonium/pandemic/unrest & crummy weather) I bring up this memory. And here is the answer. In the middle of it all, I am reminded that there is hope. Just as I hope someday the bluebird will wing it’s way back to my yard, I hope for a brighter day for our world. We will get through these dark days and when we come out on the other side, we will be stronger for it.

Henry David Thoreau said, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” Today, let’s take a collective deep breath and endeavor consciously. Close your eyes and picture a bluebird, the color of the sky. Feel the summer breeze, warmed by the sun. Dip your toes in frothy waves on a sandy beach. We are not the circumstances we find our world in.

“We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” *Joni Mitchell

Peace. Love. Amen.

Summer in a Jar ~

“I would love to go and live in the mountains… and make jam” * Eve Best

We hurried home in the late afternoon on Friday, hoping to get our raspberries picked before the dark clouds above us opened up. On either side of the row, we plucked the red jewels and dropped them in our ice cream pails. “Does this remind you of berry picking when you were a kid?” I asked my hubby. “Yes…” he answered as he lifted a heavy branch to reveal a trove of hidden gems. We continue picking in silence, and I remember those simple summer days. I grew up out in the country, so when school got out, it was just my siblings to play with, maybe a cousin or two now and then, that is until berry season. My brother and I would wait at the end of our long driveway for the berry bus to pick us up and out to the fields we went. The bus driver was usually a school teacher, one summer it was our school principal (who we greatly admired), I guess they didn’t get enough of us during the school year. In the berry fields we met up with school friends who caught the bus in town, it was quite a social event. I still picture the farmer showing me the proper way to pick and inspect the berry, “Pick the berry and roll it in your hand to make sure it’s perfect, then put it in your box.” Okay… I’d pick my flat full, turn it for a punch on my berry card and keep picking, but mostly I talked. And laughed. And enjoyed the company of my friends. I made a little money for school clothes, though looking back I certainly could have made a lot more, (20/20 hindsight) but we sure had fun!

Keeping a watchful eye ~

Between the two of us we picked enough for a batch of jam. I washed, crushed and measured our bounty into my big Revere Ware pan, stirred in the pectin (MCP because that’s what grandma used) and brought the crimson liquid to a ‘rolling boil that can’t be stirred down’. As I pour in the sugar, it melts into the hot berries, and the color deepens to a rich, ruby red. I make swirling figure eights with my long spoon, keeping it moving as it boils for four full minutes. I love the combination of ingredients and the science of jam. I love the smell as the jam cooks. Alex Rowat wrote, “Happiness is like jam. You can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself.” I most certainly agree! I might take it a little farther and state, “Jam is Happiness!”

We be jammin’

I am never alone in my kitchen. I am shoulder to shoulder with my teachers and their lesson are mine to pass along. My grandmas, my sister; the hum and the bustle of the process is calming to me. Zen. I ladle the boiling liquid into hot jars, wipe the rims and adjust the lids. Just think, jam, spread on toasted homemade bread on a snowy December morning…

~ Summer in a Jar ~

Peace. Love. Amen.

Pretty in Pink~

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time ~ like to have a friend takes time.” *Georgia O’Keefe

An afternoon, a blue, cloudless sky, and time… time to see! The first days of summer have tip~toed in, offering a break from the rain and an opportunity to ponder ‘pink’. In my flower beds and boxes, pink blossoms tumble out and turn their faces to the sun. I imagine they are feeling cozy in the warmth, as I am as I stroll around, snipping spent blooms and checking soil moisture. I love to visit with them as I tend, not expecting a response, of course, but to encourage them to carry on, it’s only June, you know!

Great~Grandma Pederslie’s Old Fashioned Rose

Thirty years ago, my grandma’s last brother passed away, leaving the family home on Meadow Lake to his surviving nieces and nephews, of which my dad was one of 15. The place was sold and items dispersed accordingly. This rose rambled beside the old garage. I brought a start home and it grows kind of wild in the corner of my picket fence. It looks like the flowers we made from crepe paper when we were kids. Petal upon petal releasing the absolute, most beautiful fragrance. One rose in a vase scents an entire room, so think of how lovely this corner smells! I gave one to our PUD meter reader yesterday, she took a whiff and said, “Oh Grandma!” Yep.

Jill ~

My sister gave me a start of this pink flower. She called it ‘Lamb’s Tongue’. Bright pink flowers and silver foliage that is soft as velvet might be classified as a weed, but I prefer wild flower. Jill was a flower child and a creative soul and I love having a piece of her to speak to on an early summer day.


Dianthus! So now that I am taking time to ‘see’ the flower, I notice the edges of the petals are jagged. I am picturing garden fairies with tiny pinking shears trimming them up on moonlit nights. How sweet these fairies are, don’t you agree?


See the foxglove… the outer bell is luscious pink, the inner, pale with a speckled throat. I see tiny hairs along the rim, I have never noticed these before! I love to watch the bees in these tall spires, it must seem a smorgasbord to them. This time of year the road sides are a feast for the eye dotted with this majestic wilding.

Ground Cover ~

This little cutie was purchased as a ground cover to grow around the stepping stones. It’s touted as a ‘step~able’. Could you step on these little sweeties? I can’t!


This is my favorite shade loving annual. I love her spunky nickname, ‘Dizzy Lizzy’ and her blooms that never need dead heading. I buy full seed flats in the spring, and plant the little starts just a few inches apart, so by midsummer she’s a mound of pink beauty.

Million Bells ~

As much as I love impatiens in the shade, I adore Calibrachoa for the full sun. How can these dainty flowers not only survive but thrive in the heat? I myself might wilt a bit, but these troopers carry on. They look like mini petunias, but unlike those sticky sisters, they don’t get leggy and they also don’t require dead heading. They come in so many colors, some single, some double, it’s fun to mix them up in containers and watch them mingle. Their bright color attracts the hummingbirds, which is a much loved added bonus!

Geranium ~

Another old favorite is the geranium. From a distance it appears to be a softball sized flower, but when we really look, we see a flower head consisting of mini flowers opening in unison on sturdy stems. Yes, they do need to be dead headed to enjoy them all summer. A quick snap of the stem when the petals are spent, will encourage continued bloom. The geranium is also a good prospect for ‘wintering over’. It might be hard to think about as we just head into summer, but as we know, the seasons roll along, summer will blend into fall. I remember my grandma keeping geraniums on her back porch through the winter. They’d stay mostly dormant until she coaxed them back to life in the spring.

Gram’s Rose ~

This gem came from hubby’s childhood home in Gold Bar. His mom grew it by her garden gate, and now it climbs next to mine. Dark pink clusters of small fragrant roses, it is loved and enjoyed in our backyard.

An evening ritual is to wander my yard, bucket and snippers in hand. As I tend the flowers through the season, they reward me with continued blooms and natural beauty. The old saying ‘stop and smell the roses’ is great advice, take time, my friend.

Peace. Love. Amen.

Summer Solstice~

~Look to this Day~

“Look to this Day, For it is Life, the very Life of Life. In it’s brief course lie all the varieties and realities of your existence. The bliss of Growth, The glory of Action, The splendor of Beauty; For yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; But today, well~lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, And every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this Day. Such is the salutation of the Dawn.” *Sanskrit

It is my usual morning prayer; Please bless this day and those I love, with a serving of Serenity on the side. But this is not a usual day. This is the Summer Solstice, the day the sun hangs longest in the sky. A day that marks the beginning of long, lazy afternoons at the lake and naps in the dappled shade of the corkscrew willow.

As we open our doors a crack, and restrictions asking us to ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ are gradually relaxed, let’s ‘Look to this Day’ and know that ‘every tomorrow is a vision of Hope.’

Take Care ~

Peace. Love. Amen.

Old Friends ~

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person ~ having neither to weigh thought nor measure words, but pouring them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and with the breath of comfort blow the rest away.” *Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

~ Golden Arm & Fishhook ~

Here’s a story about friendship. Two old guys who have been friends since sixth grade. Who still go by nicknames earned on the high school basketball court and CB radio handles they conjured up in days out jeeping long before wives and kids came along. Who worked together and played together all through these many years. It’s a good story…

It’s a story they shared with me, and their children and now their grandchildren. It’s about checking in and hanging in. It’s about ups and downs and a few sideways… but always it is about friendship.

Thursday found us on a country drive that wound us to the cottage Ron calls home at his daughter’s place. Spur of the moment, unplanned and spontaneous are so often the best kind of times. The stars are aligned and synchronicity slips us all into the places we are meant to be. We sat in the sunshine and talked about happenings in our lives now, and remembered good times passed. When our tummies growled a bit, we loaded up and hit the road for a bite of lunch in one of our favorite towns, LaConner. The three ‘old amigos’, daughter and grand ones, we shared a meal at a picnic table on the channel, enjoying more conversation with each other and a passerby or two. The comfort of an old friend combined with the newness of children was the perfect antidote to the news we are bombarded with these days. The salty air wafted up from the channel as boats, tiny skiffs and giant yachts glided through the water. Stacks of crab pots on the dock below and across the way reminded us of catching our limit in the waters off Guemes Island, when we thought days of cracking fresh cooked crab legs would never end.

Crab Pots on the dock…
The tourists love it, but LaConner is a working town…

Reminiscing the past is great, making plans for the future is wonderful, but being in the moment is best. As we get older and add more life experience to the encyclopedia of our souls, we truly know how precious these days are. Right now we might be masked up and six feet apart, but we are close in heart and thankful for that!

~ LaConner Channel ~

Peace. Love. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Dad~

My Dad ~

Today my dad turns 88. Raymond Lawson. Son. Dad. Grandpa. Great~Grandpa and husband to my mom. A lot of tags and each one is filled with such love and devotion it’s like a well that never runs dry.

Dad, Grandpa Russ & Me ~

I am the first of four kids, who came in stairsteps every year and a half. There are so many stories of growing up on twenty acres at the bottom of Bunk Foss Road. Our house was up a long gravel driveway , nestled in tall cedars. I remember the four of us, lined up on the davenport, in front of our big picture window, dad helping us into our socks and shoes. First he would roll up the stocking and slip it over our foot, running his hand along to make sure there weren’t any wrinkles. Then he opened the laces wide and slid our stockinged foot into the shoe, and starting at the bottom, pulled the laces tight until at the top, he took the little bunny around the tree and tied the perfect bow. “Is that too tight?” “No, Daddy, just right.”

There is a picture in my mind’s eye of the four of us, again, lined up on the davenport, this time on our knees looking out the big glass window. We were waiting for snow, dad was puttering around the yard. I see him putting out his gloved hand to catch the first flake, a grin on his face, knowing how excited we would all be. How many snowmen did he help us build? Like so many of our great times, too many to count.

Dad, baby Mike & Me ~

My dad and I loved to explore the back roads. He knew where there might be a treasure to be found at an abandoned homestead. We’d park along the road, hike through salmon berry bushes that fought to keep us out and then come to a clearing. Sometimes remnants of a house still stood, sometimes just a pile of mossy boards and a flowering quince marked the spot. We never found a pot of gold, but we did find an old coffee pot, which my mom spray painted gold, so I think that counts.

Dad taught me to drive on those same backroads. The clutch was an interesting aspect of the ordeal! It’s a wonder we didn’t end up with permanent whiplash from the jerking, starting, stopping, killing the motor on that cherry red ’63 Impala, but we survived. He was patient, “Let out on the clutch, as you press on the gas…slowly…good…” Thanks to my dad, I am a pretty good driver, I know all the backroads and a road trip is still my favorite vacation.

I grew up, got married, and had kids of my own. So many of the lessons learned from my dad have helped me in my parenting. Loving patience, kindness and understanding are the building blocks he shared with me. His grandchildren have given me grandchildren and I was so proud when they invited him to be their guest at their elementary school’s Veteran’s Day assembly. He spoke of his days as a sergeant in the motor pool while serving in the army. He has told me about being so homesick when he did his basic training in San Luis Obispo and about building a box while stationed in Korea to send a fishing pole home for his dad. Once he missed a plane for R & R in Japan. The plane went down en route. He says, “Boy were my buddies shocked when I came back to camp. They thought I was a ghost!” How thankful am I that he missed that plane!

~Veteran’s Day Assembly~

It’s not too surprising that one of our favorite things to do together at this stage of our lives is to take a drive. Monday morning often finds my dad, mom and me in my car, heading for the scenic route. All the way, I enjoy the stories they tell and the times they remember. So much has changed as we wind the country roads. Development has swallowed a lot of our rural lands, but there is a reverence for good times passed and remembering them together keeps them close at heart.

On our drive up the Mountain Loop, dad told of riding to the Big Four Inn with his mom and dad. He was only 6 or 7, sitting in the back seat playing an instrument he borrowed from school. He laughed when he told how his very patient dad finally said, “If you don’t stop playing that thing, I’m throwing it out the window!” That was the only time my dad went to the inn and it burned to the ground over seventy years ago, but that day, in my car, he was right there. That is how memory works, isn’t it?

~Dad & Mom at Big Four~

Across the pastures from the farm where my dad grew up, there was a bridge across the slough. A drawbridge, he tells of the old farmers cranking the big cement block up to open the way for the snagboat to go through, keeping the channels and river clear of debris. When a new bridge was in order, the old Jackknife Bridge was taken down and floated a few miles downstream. Now it crosses a different slough, and offers hikers a way to explore preserved wetlands. One of our Monday drives found us there. How many times have we crossed this bridge, I wondered. “Oh thousands!” my dad answered. “I kissed your mom for the first time on this bridge.” he added with a smile.

~My Dad on Jackknife Bridge~

Today our family will come together to celebrate this man, our patriarch, our hero. Happy Birthday, Dad! Thanks for the memories… We love you~

…and the greatest of these is love~

Peace. Love. Amen.

Bread as Sunday Morning Meditation

It’s a little bit soggy here this morning. The rains that keep our Great Pacific Northwest dressed in our signature evergreen have drenched us these past few days. In the pasture, the Belted Galloway cows are grazing, the weather doesn’t seem to faze them much. There is something so peaceful about watching them, the calves playfully butting heads while the mama’s low moo keeps them in line.

It’s an inside day, at least for now, and I am cozy in my kitchen. It’s quiet. Surrounded by wooden spoons and old yellow bowls, I am reminded of the sacredness of the place. I pull ingredients whose sole purpose is sustaining life and family. I think it should be Soul Purpose. When I plan a meal, put it together and serve it to my family, it really is the ultimate gift. It shows I took the time, put in the love and called us all to gather around the table. There is concern that the ‘family meal’ is a thing of the past. Lifestyles have changed, families are busy and schedules are hectic. All of this is true, but it does bring to mind an old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” There is still a basic human need to connect and share and the family table is the beginning. Especially now~ the world wide plea to ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ has brought a measure of calm to the panic. Right now we are confined with the folks we hold most dear, our family.

I always say, the meal isn’t even the most important part of this gathering. It could be hot dogs and cold beans, or prime rib. If there are children at home, they can be called to set the table, or mix the muffins. Hubby can carve the meat or scoop the veggies into the serving bowl. Around the table, the art of conversation is learned and refined as topics of the day are introduced. And who helps with the clean~up? Another gathering, this time in reverse, as the table is cleared, dishes are washed, and left~overs are prepared for tomorrow’s lunch.

It is up to us to keep our connections, to share our stories, to build our memories. Growing up a favorite at Grandma Goodie’s house was cinnamon toast. Home~made bread, toasted, buttered and sprinkled, she cut it in little squares and stacked it up on small round plates. My grand~ones didn’t have the privilege of meeting grandma, but when they come over, what do they want? Grandma Goodie toast, and she lives on in my kitchen.

Faith, Hope, Love ~ and the greatest of these is Love

If they happen to pop in today, I will offer them this old favorite, knowing that as I mixed and kneaded on this Sunday morning, my prayers of hope and peace and love for them were worked into each roll of the dough.

Peace. Love. Amen.