Kids These Days

Nala sings “I’m so Happy”
they learn to play Risk
Corbin also plays the uke
They play on the water
They sunbathe?
Then they leave

Tried to take a picture of a fox in our yard–but someone interferred.

May and June zoom by

May and June zoom by

sometimes they go by because I have nothing to say and sometimes they go by because way too much is happening. I would say this time is more like the latter. Two whole months! How shall I ever remember and recount? Having a hard time remembering anyway–Covid brain, they call it. Or in the “before times” we would call these senior moments. Let’s see now . . .

View from our room

Way back in May the big event was a mini-vacation to Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop Washington which is not all that far away in car miles but definitely over the mountain and through the woods. Roger and I stayed at the lodge with half the family some I hadn’t seen for a year and a half. We are all vaccinated now and could hug and go out to dinner with only a little trepidation.

What made the trip even more interesting is that I have friends in nearby Twisp and were able to meet up with them and a mutual friend for a long hike and a fabulous luncheon featuring a garden in a pizza. To top it off, they have a donkey named Maggie Mae.

Me and Maggie Mae

It was great to spend time with my brothers and sister and their spouses, to hike among the wildflowers of eastern Washington, to shop (!) in the westernized town of Winthrop, and to drive over Washington Pass which had just opened for the season. Gorgeous.

So that’s pretty much it for May. Well, I should mention that we hosted a May birthday party for myself and some others and Roger and I went out to dinner at Duck Soup Inn. Those were giant post-Covid activities. In June, no trips–all my friends came to see me. One week we had five different visitors staying from one afternoon to five days. And no, the cottage bathroom is not finished. But there is water and a toilet. We’ve been working steadily on plumbing and tile prep. I’ve looked at tons of tile on line and on a trip to Bellingham. Crossing my fingers we have finally figured it out and ordered the tile. But I digress. It was fun to see my friends and to take a break from routine and actually sit on the beach for a few minutes. We do live in a beautiful place and nature does not disappoint.

Manya, Maggie Mae and Jack at False Bay

Also, the groups I belong to are finally getting together in person. A dinner party here and there, a couple of potlucks, and now meetings in person, not just on Zoom. The Artist Studio tour was fun and well received. I belong to Transition San Juan in the Waste Reduction team and we are hosting Plastic Free July on the island. This includes setting up a table at the Farmers Market to introduce the concept and get people, businesses, and our local government behind the idea. Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Solution

Grange picnic at Jackson’s Beach

The Northwest had a few days of intense heat under the “heat dome” and our island was not immune. Some towns in Eastern Washington got up to 118 degrees but our 102 to 104 was barely bearable especially as we do not have air conditioning. A couple of days were spent reading in my craftroom in the basement. The heat took its toll on birds, bees, flowers and trees. By all accounts its going to be a long, hot summer. No rain in sight.

note the many helping hands

One event that has opened up– the Fourth of July Parade took place. It was very last minute but our governor opened the State up on June 30th. And it you open it they will come. Two years ago my friend Francie got a lot of us together to push shopping carts down the street collecting food for the food bank and the Family Resource Center and we revised it again this year. The theme: Lending a Hand.

Maggie Mae greets Bishop

Looking forward into July–more visitors. Stay tuned.

Mostly Maggie Mae

Rep Rug finished 29″ x 45″
back of a couch for the time being

Finished my rug this month. It’s a rep rug which is a Scandinavian style in which the warp shows and the weft does not. The weft alternates between thin and fat and I used Roger’s old tee shirts for the fat. I’ve made placemats in this style before, but never a rug so I’m pretty pleased with it.

Kiddo the frog

Signs of Spring: frog in our fountain, wildflowers at American Camp.

chocolate lilies (fritillaries)
top of Mt Young

edging back into normalcy

Back last summer I said I would only post if there is something interesting to say.  Apparently, there has not been anything interesting in the last eight weeks—or else, maybe I’ve just been too busy?

So here is a quick summary:

We have both received the Moderna vaccine.  We had a rough day after the second dose, but are fine now and edging back into normalcy.  As you shall see . . .*

I’ve been weaving a rug now for a number of weeks.  It is a new experience for me and I’ve been taking my time with it.  Trying to enjoy the process.

Roger has been way busy with building a kiln to burn wood into biochar with the heat produced used to help heat the house. 

Large limb over path from fir behind the cottage

It snowed in February and that snow stuck around for a week.  I think it pushed Spring back a bit here at Thornbush but we are way in it now.

Waiting for Godot?

Our grandson Corbin got to come here for a sleepover on his 9th birthday.  We rode the ferries back and forth to pick him up and deliver him. *First time in over a year.

People have been asking about the cottage.*  So here is a little of what we’ve been doing all winter:

  1. Take a log from a pile of them in the woods and mill it into boards and battens.
  2. Cut the lumber into the correct length and finesse it a bit with the table saw.

Put as much of it as we have on the cottage addition that same day

Look at Pinterest a lot to see tile ideas for when we get done with the outside.  The shower parts are there but not installed.  The tile guy is coming over this week to check it out. We have hot water and a sink and a toilet. Mostly but not completely insulated.

Ventured on to the mainland yesterday to pick up a yellow plastic kayak from a friend.  Then got to visit with kids and grandkids and take the twins out to a real restaurant for their fifteenth birthday.*

*edging back into normalcy

A String of Wednesdays in January

South Beach 1/08/21

On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 (a day that will live in infamy) the US Capitol was stormed by some crazy right-wing terrorists bent on destroying democracy.  Meanwhile, as far away from Washington D.C. as one can get in the contiguous United States, we watched the mayhem with horror on our computers (not having t.v.)

On Wednesday, January 13th, a major windstorm blew through the Pacific NW.  We were awakened by an alert poodle and heard branches falling all night long.  In the morning we found a limb had hit Roger’s truck.  And another much bigger branch narrowly missed it.  The picture above is from a few days later but I am sure this willow that fell over our road started falling on the 13th More importantly, perhaps, we were out of power for 18 hours. Luckily, our generator was in working order. This windstorm came up unexpectedly—normally Roger moves his truck to a safer locale when high winds are in the forecast.

Audrey’s 11th birthday on 1/21/21

On Wednesday, January 20th, we were glued to our computers for a much better event, the Inauguration of Joseph Biden as our 46th President.  The crowds were not present, but the pomp and ceremony was all we could ask for:  Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks, Amanda Gorman and all.  Impressed by President Biden’s address asking for unity in these perilous times. We were able to lift a glass of champagne with some neighbors (wrapped in blankets on their porch)

Roger’s latest project

On Wednesday, January 27th, Roger and I received our first shot of the Moderna Vaccine by our local Health Department at the Fair Grounds.  My arm is a little sore, but I feel like this was huge milestone in a tumultuous month of a tumultuous twelve months.

heavy frost 1/23/21

2020 Wrap up

zooming into 2021

For several days I’ve been thinking about how to approach my end of the year blog post in this dumpster fire of a year.  I thought about comparing it to 2019 but that seemed just too sad, as 2019 was a banner year for me, including 3 wonderful road trips and lots of social gatherings –none of which could take place this year.  So cataloging the insults and injuries of a pandemic, political upheaval, climate catastrophes did not seem like the right way to go but neither would a Pollyanna/Hallmark movie viewpoint do.  How to find the balance?

In looking for the silver linings I have looked back at previous posts for this year and found a great deal to be thankful for.  These are the very things that saw me through a year full of anxiety, frustration and anger.  If you look back at last June, you will see that only four months in (only!) I was quoting my friend Peggy Sue’s helpful hints at getting through this stress:

“On the Mayo Clinic’s list of self-care for mental health during the pandemic they recommend maintaining a routine at home and focusing on the things you can control. Keeping in touch with family and friends via technology is a suggestion that has proven helpful to me.  Music, books, and gratitude, always good, are now more helpful than ever. They also recommend limiting your news intake and sticking to reliable sources. Sensationalism and hyped up emotional content is not helpful to volatile stress levels.*”

So here is a list of things I am grateful for that have gotten me through this year intact (so far).  You can skip this list and stroll through the posts from this past year for more pictures and detail if you would like.

husband – obviously

Thornbush–  beauty to behold on walks every day and through every window

Ethel at new Mt Vernon home

family – just a ferry ride away in Skagit County we were able to visit a handful of times this  year

sculpture park adventures with my friend Francie provided a much needed creative outlet

my wonderful dog walking friends who come rain or shine to exercise their pets and visit every week with me

my wonderful dog, Maggie Mae who becomes dearer every day

Kloe and Kaia presented to Aunties

Zooming, although not ever as good as in person, has brought several groups of friends and family close even when they live far away

Yoga on Zoom and in person helped me breathe

Time to get a lot of things done around the place including the cottage addition and the garden

My island and all of nature which seemed to go out of its way this year to make up for the challenges

Community was hard to come by when you are self-isolating, but we managed to find it with the Grange and Transition San Juan committees, and the SJ County Textile Guild for me.  And for Roger it was neighbors helping neighbors in a firewood co-op, his weekly Growers’ Circle, the Farmers Market.  And when it was a tad bit warmer, the friends we were able to sit six feet apart from on our lawn and share a gin and tonic and some cheer.

Music whenever and wherever we could find it—including peaceful mornings with Pandora playing instead of the news, playing uke and accordion together, and our first and last dinner party of the year with musician friends in January.

Also, don’t want to go without listing the distractions of books, movies, and even old t.v. sitcoms—thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming services—we’ve relied on even more as the winter darkness and weather have descended upon us.

I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel—so bad.  (OK, that last was a bit Pollyanna)

Of Medlars, Milestones and old Maps

Medlar or “mespilus germanica” is in the rose family.  The fruit is “bletted” before eating and so is a bit like a pear in that regard.  Bletting is a process of softening that certain fleshy fruits undergo, beyond ripening.  Once bletted, medlars become soft, spicy and very rich with an apple sauce flavor.   Medlars were grown by the ancient Greeks and Romans and is native to southeastern Europe.

120 lbs of medlars

We have a medlar tree called “Breda Giant”.  On November 28th we picked 120 lbs and still left quite a bit on the tree.  In the past I have made a spice cake or jam.  Roger has made medlar wine which I quite like.

November 29th was Roger’s 65th birthday.  We celebrated around a firepit with some neighbors and some whiskey and homemade cider.  I also provided a cake.

This week we found out something new about our land we call Thornbush.  At one point our 15 acres was part of a 160 acre homestead registered in 1883 to Joseph Friday.  Yes, that Joseph Friday of Friday’s Harbor fame.  I won’t go into the whole history here because I’ve read at least four different accounts.  I believe this Joe Friday is the son of Peter Friday and an unnamed Cowlitz mother.   Peter Friday was a Kanaka recruited at the tender age of 12 from the Sandwich Islands.  His Hawaiian name Poalima means Friday and that was what the Hudson Bay employers called him.  He later changed his name to Peter when he converted to Catholicism in order marry again in 1870.  I am getting most of this information from HistoryLink.org.

So we found out that Joseph was considered an American citizen while his father was considered English, so Joseph petitioned for the land.  His step-mother Mary looked after the cattle.  Joseph later left to work as a cook on a schooner in Alaska and perished with the rest of the crew in 1895.

Friday Homestead 1883

We think it is pretty cool that our place, along with King Sisters Preserve to the North of us is land that Joe Friday and his father tread in their time.

September Smoke

It feels like an orange snow day.

So everyone else on the West Coast has this same problem and many have it much worse, but as this is a journal of my year, I must cover it. On Labor Day, Sept 8th, a strong Easterly brought with it a ton of smoke from Eastern Washington fires. Visibility was bad. Air Quality–hazardous. this is the same system that brought snow to my friend Linda on top of a mountain near Livingston and the city of Denver which went from 100 degrees to snow is 18 hours.

Then we got a couple days reprieve before the big cloud of smoke from California and Oregon fires hit us. During that reprieve I was able to host a very nice, socially distant, outside dining experience for my book club. We were reading my choice of a classic: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (no relation).

This brings us to Friday, Sept 11th. Already a day of infamy, the massive amount of smoke blew in from the coast on Southwesterly winds. Hazardous Weather Conditions prevail thru until Monday the 14th (when it just might rain).

Sun at 10 AM

Facebook is full of much better pictures of the eerie yellow sky and red sun poking through. I am wearing a mask to walk the dog and Roger did not go to Farmers Market. We are staying indoors even though there are pears and plums and apples to pick. But as I said earlier, our story is no where near as bad as the 500,000 in Oregon who had to flee, the many who lost everything, and even our friends close enough to the fires to begin packing their belongings and making decisions of what stays and what goes.

As was said by others more eloquently, this smoke and ash is what remains of the forests, the farms, the homes that have been destroyed.

In other news of the month, I did get a visit in with family in Mt Vernon for about one hour. Good to see them for even that short period.

cool mask, Ethel!

August Changes

Gentle Thornbush Report Readers,

Covid-19 has caused a lot of lifestyle changes.  My own has not changed all that much, but I am using my time differently.  And I’ve decided that I will no longer force myself into putting together a monthly report.  Never fear, the blog will continue on.  But I’ve decided to have shorter posts with news worthy items only.  No more “did this in the garden and this on the cottage, etc.”

Short and sweet, and no doubt less frequent unless something mighty interesting comes along.

So to kick this off right, here is my news:

I’ve been interviewed  by the San Juan County Textile Guild.  And that interview has been placed on our new YouTube channel along with interviews from half a dozen other guild members.  Here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL0LXKwdSLA It’s almost 12 minutes long and there are pictures embedded in it of things I’ve been working on.

This was in response to the Covid lockdown when members of our guild felt the need to gather on Zoom and help each other through it.  We are calling the series “Woven Together in Pandaemia”

Other interviews can be seen from our website:  http://www.sjctextileguild.org/

Roger’s news is that he is now a licensed ham radio operator.  He will be joining a group on the island who stay in touch with each other weekly on Wednesday nights.  I believe long term he would like others in the neighborhood to become licensed so that we can communicate in the event that other types of communication are limited.

And Maggie Mae’s news is that she loves her dog friends:  Suki, Millie, Murphy, Jack, Freha, and her cousin Scarlet very much!

Nancy has treats
Scarlet and Maggie Mae’s favorite position