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

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: 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:

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

July Comet

Neowise comet photo by Paul Walsh

Beautiful space dust or portent of doom?

Neowise or neonotsowise?

A July without the parade on the Fourth and pigging out at the Pig War picnic was—quiet.  Watched some fireworks from my bathroom balcony, but they were four miles away in Friday Harbor—so not as impressive as last year’s from the deck of the Grange. I did manage to see the comet one night.

Let there be light

Work on the cottage continues and this month we opened it up with a window and a skylight.  Too bad there are no guests to appreciate the change.  But our Covid-19 count went up dramatically (from 19 to 26) after the tourists started coming.  The County Health Department is pulling back on the application to go to Phase 3. So we’ve asked our friends to wait awhile longer before visiting.

Maggie Mae, pre-haircut

The dog days of summer continue:  Suki and Maggie bashed into my bad knee on the 7th and I’m still limping a little.  Maggie got her first “real” haircut since the lockdown in March—it’s a short summer do.  She’s made some new friends with Jack the poodle and had a playdate with Freya and goldendoodle Piper.  Suki remains her BFF. And the 22nd marks her first anniversary with us-whew!  What a year it’s been.


Lots of Zooming, visiting with folks six feet apart on the deck, video-chats and phone calls, our first book club in person outside. Connecting with people as best we can.  The tyranny of the harvest continues with raspberries, fava beans, garlic, collards all being harvested.  The Japanese plums are next.

Bree introduces twins to aunties

And for me, the important news is that Francie and I have started populating the Forest Path at the Roche Harbor Sculpture Garden with our art(?) We’ve even convinced some friends to help us.  Inspired by each other and our Pinterest Boards, we’ve come up with lots of ideas and will probably spend the rest of the summer and most of the Fall decorating the woods.

Meanwhile, Roger is doing some landscaping, planting Fall vegetable crops, helping with the Grange remodeled kitchen, and zooming on several agriculture-related committees.  Oh, and Farmers Market every week, selling eggs to friends and neighbors and did I mention the new skylight?

What we are trying not to do is too much doomscrolling, being around crowds in town, or obsessing over the state of democracy in the U.S.  Breathe in, Breathe out.

Piper, Maggie, and Freya in the dog days of summer

June – Four months in

This pandemic theme is really getting old.  Our county is verging on being in Phase 3 which means some establishments are opening up and gatherings outside are allowed.  Masks are required in all businesses and where social distancing cannot be maintained.  Tourists are arriving and not all of them are on board with the mask thing.  People are on edge.  A recent column written by a friend in a local on-line news source made some recommendations:

“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.*”

Roger and I are trying these strategies.  Especially the maintaining a routine at home part.  A few “normal” activities restarted, i.e., I went to the dentist and had some medical appointments.  I am still zooming yoga but I’ve also resumed an in-person yoga session albeit outside and with limited people.  (rained out this week)

Other routines include walking with friends and dogs.  Reading and streaming movies and television shows.  Gardening is going great except for all the slug damage (hate those slugs)  Trying not to look at the news feeds too many times during the day*.  And I just counted, we met in person with friends (outside) fourteen times in the past month.  Not including zoom meetings, yoga, and Farmers Market.

New routines include plenty of meetings, mostly on Zoom.  Most of these meetings have to do with socializing and keeping in touch with friends far and wide.  And making more masks.

Our one big adventure this month was venturing off-island (gasp) for the first time in six months.  We went to a Costco and loaded up.  And we met up with other family members in some cabins on the Skagit River just west of Concrete.  Each of us had our own cabin and were able to keep six feet apart around a campfire.  So music and gratitude.  We’re ready for another six months of island life.