Thornbush in the Time of Corona

How do I begin?  Things are so different from a month ago.  The outside world news is changing so fast and yet the month seems to have dragged on forever as we watch for any sign of Spring to brighten our days.

Yeah, but he dug it out in just a couple hours

In some ways life has gone on pretty much as normal.  Plenty of things to do around here and we try not to go in to town unless we have to.  Now there’s nothing much left to go in to town for except groceries and we’re pretty set right now.  Plus, we’ve got the chicken eggs and plenty of kale.  We’ve been eating well.

Grandma’s Cove

Roger is selling biochar and bareroot fruit trees at the end of our driveway.  Agriculture is an essential business.  People may be wanting to start their Victory Gardens now.  He also has plenty of time to start the garden and work on the never-ending cottage bathroom remodel because the Grange is closed for business for awhile.  I feel bad for the weddings that had to cancel. 

Spring is taking its own sweet time!  Lots of blossoms on cherry, plum, and apricot.  But too cold for the bees.  Temperatures have been hovering around 40’s as highs and 30’s as lows.  This hasn’t stopped me from taking some great walks with Maggie around the island—American Camp and Mt. Grant.  But it sure could be warmer!

Picking nettles for tea, crocheting a baby blanket, watching a lot of Netflix—these are a few of my favorite things. Roger even has me playing my accordion with his uke once a week.

Today there are 3 cases in the county, two on Orcas and 1 on Lopez.  Non-essential ferry travel has been suggested and construction projects have been halted.  Browne’s is closing their lumber yard.  It will be interesting to see where we are in a month. 


Transition to Spring

Transition to Spring

Pretty Boring title, eh?  But apt for this month of February.  Only two major things happened this month.  A record breaking flood of our little stream along with lots of others in all of Western Washington.  And Maggie was spayed.  Which was traumatic for all of us.

As I reported last month, we got a lot of rain in January.  And the 31st put us over.  The stream flooded cutting new channels and spreading into a huge area.  The culvert onto Zylstra property buckled.  Don’t know how that will affect us in the long run.

Maggie did not adapt well to the “cone of shame”.  We stayed up with her for two nights and took turns watching over her for several days.  Finally, we borrowed a onesie for her to wear and she was much better off.  But we still had to leash walk her for another week.  All is well now.

Roger and I have joined the Transition Movement that is starting up on this island.  Lopez got there first with their mission “Fossil Free by ’33”.  I’ve joined a Recycle, Reduce, Reuse group and Roger is in the Ag group.  If you don’t know about the Transition Movement here is a quote from one of the start-up team members:

“The rapidly unfolding climate emergency necessitates greater local action by our community and the county. We know that our electrical power, food and material deliveries and summer tourism dominated economy is fragile with regard to serious disruptions that lie ahead of us.
The global movement called Transition gives us both a large network of other communities around the world who seek greater self-determination and a grass-roots, participatory, informal way to take purposeful action locally on the issues of greatest importance today and in the uncertain future

The rest of the month was mostly reading, watching Netflix, and crocheting a new hat while watching Maggie convalesce.  Taking walks in between storms and taking quite a few naps. Sounds like a pretty good retirement.

Also of note, Roger and I are in two different book clubs and we each hosted our respective clubs this month.  His is ABC– Apocalypse Book Club.  So you can see that this uncertain future is weighing heavily on us.  No surprise, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to Presidential debates and caucus results.

Spring is just one month away.  The signs are everywhere.  Also, the sawmill is up and running, boards have been made and placed in the cottage bathroom project.  So–progress!



Between Storms

Solstice Party

December 21st Solstice  we had a party at the Grange and invited the whole community.  And they pretty much came.  Everyone wants to celebrate the return of the sun.  I am writing this post five weeks later.  Still waiting.

Christmas Still Life

Christmas Day was very quiet for us.  We celebrated with children and grandchildren the following weekend in Everett.

New Years

A day and a half later, the gang came up to celebrate the New Year.  They brought the party with them with fireworks, masks, scavenger hunt prizes and plenty of food.  Fun was had by all.  Then they left and it was very, very quiet around here for a few days.

So I had another dinner party.  This one was Sicilian themed.  Alice and I made arancini and I served a full Italian: antipasta, pasta, fish, spumoni.  Our guests joined Roger with their instruments and made sweet music together.  Good way to get through the winter doldrums.

All through this my neighbor and friend with a young Aussie have come over once or twice a week to play with me and my puppy.  Suki and Maggie are BFFs.  At least I hope so. 

Maggie and BFF Suki

And then this happened:

Smart Car?

Maggie’s First Snow

Dogs love snow.  At least most dogs I know.  This snow was more than we normally get, but only a few limbs came down and the snow left very quickly.

Flooding Creek

Followed by a ton of rain.  Rain, wind, rain, wind, rain, you get the picture.  All the ponds are full.  All the streams are rivers.  No roads are washed out as yet.  But more storms are approaching.

Cama Beach

In the middle of this, Audrey turned 10 and we took her to a very stormy beach on Camano Island to celebrate.  The ferry was an hour late taking us home due to high winds.

That’s what is happening here at Thornbush this month.  If you would like a more meaty report you should try my brother Joe’s:

He had a lot of snow, too, but that got him thinking . . .

Roger and I have switched from NPR every morning to listening to music or podcasts like Hidden Brain.  And in the evening we stream tv shows from the 90’s and Ken Burn’s Country Music series.  We’re looking for the calm.

2019 Highlights

Just had a look back at all my posts from 2019 and I must say, I had a spectacular year.  Wow.  I really don’t know if I can reduce it all to one post.  You may have to go back and read the whole year like I just did.  But I will call out a few highlights.

Lots of friends (and family) visited this year.  Some for a week, some just for the day.

Three fabulous road trips starting in

February  -most fun road trip taken with my friend Laura to see my friend Tori in Arizona.  Including meeting wonderful people in El Paso, travelling with them to Santa Fe, and riding a railroad to the Grand Canyon.  Excellent Adventure!

April thru the Present– Work starts on the cottage bathroom addition and continues throughout the year.

May – Textile Guild exhibit at the NW Quilt and Fiber Art Museum in LaConner has two of my pieces, my backpack and a random weave canine I call “Sentry Dog”

June –Supernatural road trip to Prince George, British Columbia with my friend Nancy to a weaving conference.  Including visit to Whistler and First Nation Cultural Center there.  And trip to historic Barkerville with re-enactor friend Judy.  And first trip to the magnificent Sunshine Coast.

Also family gathering in Concrete, Washington 

July – Picked up Poodle Pup and named her Maggie Mae.  Puppy and training take over my life.

September – third fabulous road trip of the year, this one with my friend Francie to Olympic Peninsula.  New to her and nostalgic to me visits to Cape Flattery, Lake Quinalt, Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, and on and on and on.

November and December – Reality hits with long illness and quick decline of my father Joe Sr., the Barreca Patriarch who lived a rich full life to the age of 97.  Celebration of Life family gatherings.

December – Trump get impeached.  And busy, busy with family, friends, holiday, and dog

And a Happy New Year!

Ol’ JB

The family of Joseph A. Barreca wish to announce his passing on November 15, 2019.

A Service and Reception to celebrate his life will be held at 12:15 pm on December 6, 2019, at St Francis of Assisi parish, 15226 – 21st Ave SW, Burien, Washington,   Interment at Gethsemane Cemetery, 37600 Pacific Highway S., Federal Way, WA 98003 will precede the service at 10 am.

Joseph A. Barreca was born on June 10, 1922 in a little town west of St Louis, Missouri called Pattonville.  He was the first of seven children born to Italian immigrant parents, Tony Barreca and Rose Venturella.  As a child he helped his father in his truck farming business and sold fruit and vegetables door to door.  During World War II, Staff Sergeant Joe Barreca was stationed in India, China, and the Marshall Islands and worked on radar equipment.

After he was discharged he married Evelyn Jane Jones, a Coast Guard SPAR and Oregon native he met in Florida.  They briefly attended Univ. of Missouri in Columbus but soon moved to Seattle, Washington to attend college under the G.I. Bill.  Joseph earned his Law Degree at U.W. and started his law practice on Saint Joseph’s Day, March 19, 1951.  As an attorney, he specialized in bankruptcy law and was instrumental in the organization of the National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees.  He served as a trustee in bankruptcy from 1954 until 1975.  His private law practice continued for another twenty years.

Joseph and Evelyn raised seven children, eventually settling in Seahurst, Washington and attended St Francis of Assisi parish. They moved to Daystar Retirement Community in West Seattle and to Holy Family parish, and sold their home in 2003.  Evelyn preceded Joseph in death in 2009 after 63 years of marriage. 

Joseph was very involved in parish activities, in Toastmasters, in Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship among many other interests.  He is survived by his sister Mary Jo Rumball-Petre of Simi Valley, California and his seven children: Joe Jr. (Cheryl), John (Marilyn), Jeff (Kathy Kroening), Anita (Roger Ellison), Marc (Nancy Craver), Jeannette (Bill Yake), and Rosalie (Tom Howarth), his six grandchildren: Bina (Joe Brock), April (Tony Houston),Emily Barreca, Nick Barreca, Bjorn Ellison (Ethel), Matthew Yake (Liza), nine great-grandchildren and a multitude of nieces and nephews.

Memories can be shared the on Forest Lawn Funeral Home website

Shoulder Season

What can I tell you?  It’s rained a lot lately.  So much so that mushrooms we have never seen are popping up all over the place.  Don’t just take my word for it, everyone on Facebook is saying the same thing.  It’s weird.

photo by my friend Nancy D

Also, the colors this autumn are fabulous.  I know I say that every year but again, check your Facebook feed.  I’ve been trying to capture it on my phone but it doesn’t do it justice.

There’s been a lot of apple picking and pressing.  We have a couple carboys going and more apples to pick.  Medlars from last year are being made into wine.  Beans are all over.  Picked a nice purple cabbage today. Garlic needs to be planted soon.

And of course, there was the Farm Parade on the first weekend in October.  My brother John and his wife Marilyn were visiting.  And the weather was fine for a walk at American Camp.  This was Roger’s ninth year at managing the parade so he has it pretty well down by now.  And there were horses!

Rosalie and Freya at the Redoubt

Puppy Training goes on for Maggie Mae.  She graduated from Puppy ABC’s and is now in Puppy II.  At five months, she is in her teen years.  I think she’s doing okay.  There are a few more holes in my rugs that I would rather not have.  And a big one in the couch slip cover I made.  Sigh.  But we have found some puppy friends for her to frolic with and that is fun to witness.

lots of rain means lots of toweling

This weekend is the last outdoor Farmers’ Market.  After that it goes to every two weeks and Roger will be indoors.  He sold out of his biochar so plans to have a big burn tomorrow to make some more.

And of course, work continues on—-the new bathroom addition.  Our friend Paul graciously helped Roger put up the roof panels.  Yes, we had two sunny days in a row for that to happen, thank goodness.  Not quite where I wanted it by the end of October but it is practically sealed in against the weather now.

brother John in his most natural position

 Fran from Eugene made the trek up to see us.  It’s only been fourteen years since the last time she was up.  But then, I don’t get down to Eugene much, either.  The documentary film festival is happening this weekend.  I’ll try to squeeze some of that in between puppies, textile guild meetings, farmers market, and a lecture at the library I want to take in.  Yes, it’s shoulder season on San Juan.  Darker and rainier, but just as busy as mid-summer. 

Olympic Trails

Olympic Trails

My friend Francie and I went on a Road Trip to the Olympic Peninsula for the week of September 9 thru 13.  It was wet.  But that’s what one expects when they go to the rain forest, right?

Here is the link to all the pictures:

at Fat Smitty’s

And so, inspired by books such as “Backroads of Washington” and “Weird Washington” we set off to explore.  And we were not disappointed.  First off, after two ferry rides, we ate lunch at Fat Smitty’s.  Decorated in dollar bills from ceiling to floor it fit in nicely with our aspirations for the trip. 

We visited Marymere Falls in the rain and dropped by the Lake Crescent Lodge, ending that day in Sekiu in a very cheesy motel room.  This became somewhat of a theme for us.

Sekiu, WA

The next day we headed to Neah Bay for the Makah Museum and the not to be missed walk out to Cape Flattery.  It did not rain on us on this day.  After stopping in Clallam Bay, Forks, and Kalaloch we made it to Lake Quinault that night.

Francie at Cape Flattery

The next day we walked the 3 mile Forest Loop at Quinault and then headed to Raymond to my friends Brent and Kathy’s house.  We made arrangements to see Kate O’Neal’s art work and visit the gallery in South Bend.  That night in keeping with our theme we slept in a whimsically decorated room at the Pitchwood Inn and Ale House.

imaginary tea in Kate’s eclectic back yard

On Thursday we made our way to Ruby Beach and in a chance, serendipitous, coincidental moment ran into my sister-in-law Brenda and her hiking buddies on the trail coming up from the beach.  Amazing.

Then it really started raining and we made our way to the Hoh.  We saw a Roosevelt Elk on the path.  Then made our way to Sol Duc Hot Springs which I had not been to since I was a child.  It has changed.  We had a nice soak in the rain.  Wish we could have stayed there but no room in the inn and we made our way to Port Angeles. And there on our last day we discovered a fabulous five acre sculpture park called Webster’s Woods at the Fine Arts Center.

dog? in Webster’s Woods

What else has been happening in my world?  Well, Maggie graduated from Lucky Fido Puppy Class, she is 17 weeks old now and 23.4 pounds. Our skylights arrived.  Roger put a porch on the cottage while I was gone, but I wish the roof was further along now that it has started raining in earnest.  Then there is the tyranny of the harvest.  Pears are all picked, not all the apples are ready.  The hazelnuts rescued from the raccoons. And don’t even talk to me about tomatoes!

cuz they’re cousins!

Oh, and visitors!  Lots of visitors.  Roger’s cousins came over from Lopez and my friend Karen from Portland and brother Marc and his wife Nancy stopped in on their way to Vancouver Island.  And more are coming!

Check out the rest of the pix–and Happy Trails to you until we meet again.

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie

You stole my heart but I love you anyway

It’s been Maggie Maggie Maggie ever since we got her last month.  We have her enrolled in Puppy Class with the added benefit of puppy play day mid-week.  There’s been trips to the Vet and some socialization with friends (easier now that she doesn’t get car sick)

at 16 lbs she’s twice as big as when I got her

Roger took her to the Farmer’s Market last week and she got to meet scores of people and other dogs.  Just like Rod Stewart says, she wears me out.  I set low expectations for myself and then fail to meet them.  I look forward to her nap time so I can get anything done but sometimes that has to be a nap for myself.  It doesn’t help that I need to get up at 2 in the morning to give her a chance to “do her business”.

There are a few other things that have happened this month:

Roger bought a Smart Car to get to and from town.  He decided it was not smart to use his ’94 Dodge Truck for the smaller errands he needs to run.  Someday we’ll get an electric car but this satisfies for awhile.

I installed my “Whorls within Whorls” in the yard.  But need to wait until late Autumn to attach the living willow that will embrace it. 

As promised last month, we have done a lot of work with walls and roof on the cottage remodel.  We’ve ordered skylight and talked to the tile guy.  Slow but steady progress.

And then there’s the Fair.  Did my share of volunteering for the Textile Exhibits.  I was in charge of the “Fair Challenge” this year.  The theme was “Put a Lid on It” and it was all about hats.  Collected Styrofoam heads from many people and assembled a display as best I could.  I also volunteered as a scribe to the judge and a docent for part of one day and took a lot of pictures for posterity as I am the Guild’s archivist.

Bjorn’s family came up for the last days of the Fair.  This year the sleeping arrangements were a little odd.  As we have no bathroom in the cottage we opted to rough it out there and give over the house to the young people.  But Bjorn and Ethel also decided to rough it and pitched a tent—leaving the house to the four grands. 

Corbin got the t.v. room.  And stayed for a week.  Big excitement for him was Mindcraft Lego Camp every day from 9 to noon.  In the afternoon he alternated between fishing, reading library books, watching episodes of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and learning to play Chinese Checkers on the board his great-grandfather built.  We also watched  movies at night and I think he was pretty pleased with his week despite being unhappy with the bitey, jumpy puppy.  Next time he sees her they’ll both be much bigger and more mature.

Red is my Color

Red is my Color

Family:  So, starting off with the last weekend in June in Concrete, Washington site of the 2nd annual Barreca Gathering at Ovenell’s Heritage Inn.  Big event this year with uncle and cousins from San Diego, St. Louis, and Craters of the Moon joining our family.  Nieces and grand-nieces and nephews as well.    Highlights were of course, music by the Outlaws and In-laws, a big potluck dinner, plenty of outdoor activities.  And Dad’s 97th birthday celebration to boot.

Independence Day:  This sent us into July 4th activities with a bang (hee-hee).  Both Roger and I participated in the big parade.  I drove a shopping cart with the “Legends in their Own Minds” crew.  We won a prize for best costumes!  This was the first ever food drive during the parade and we accepted a pick-up truck’s worth of food for the food bank.  Roger walked with the Farmers Market gang.

That evening we spent our second Fourth watching the fireworks from the Grange deck.  I brought raspberry sorbet to the potluck dinner that night.  Raspberries have been a big part of this month.

working on the floor now and ceiling next

Projects:  Working on the cottage bathroom, pulling out English Hawthorn, watering the garden, picking tomatoes and scarlet runner beans.

blown glass fish at “Deep Dive” exhibit

Art:  Working on the whorls within whorls, visiting the “Deep Dive” exhibit at our local art museum featuring artists inspired by the Salish Sea.  Attending a concert by the Space Lady at the Alchemy Art Studio on Wold Road.  If you’ve never heard of the Space Lady, check her out at

Jamie knits little bitty socks

Then, in keeping with our keeping it in the neighborhood theme, we went to The Merchant of Venice at Island Stage Left.  And in the same week, on the same road, I visited the Lavender Festival as some of my friends had booths there.

Visiting:  Our friend Jay came up for almost a week and helped in the garden planting beets.  Went to Anacortes one day to visit an old friend, and hosted a neighborhood potluck for a new neighbor.  (featuring more raspberry sorbet!)

That dirty no good robbin’ Maggie Mae

New Addition:  And now for the ultimate Red news—we got a new poodle puppy!  Her name is Maggie Mae and she’s Red.  She was just shy of nine weeks when we got her.  And her parents—Willy and Shelby are both pedigree poodles—also red.  I got her at Pilchuck Poodles in Snohomish.  But to check out how she might look in a year, look at Gingerbred Poodles in Lakewood to see where they came from.

Yes, it is a lot of work and a lack of sleep raising a new one.  She’s got sharp little bitey teeth and is on the willful side.  But she’s also smart as a whip and seems to be fitting into our life here at Thornbush just fine.