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

May Wonders

Some of you may be wondering what is going on with the cottage remodel these days.  Unfortunately, since the travel ban, our guests have not arrived and so the impetus to get things done has stalled.  There have been a lot of fiddly things.  Not much to look at.  For instance, the vent for the toilet was placed.  Roger’s time on the roof sawing that hole scared me enough to ask him if we could rent some scaffolding for when he saws the skylight openings.  No way, man.  We can build our own scaffolding.  Which is what we did last Sunday.  We also have hot water now.  In this picture you can see the water heater sitting snuggly under the addition.  No more wildly fluctuating hot and cold showers my friends!

The Willow falling down over the henhouse did show up on Facebook.  But since this is a record of events for the year I will include it in this blog as well.  A little bit of excitement on a windy afternoon in late April.

Evelyn Jane Jones 1938

May is a month of many birthdays in our family.  Almost as many as April.  On May 2nd, my mom would have turned 100.  Here she is in her HS Senior Photo.  My brother-in-law Tom turned 60.  And I had a birthday as well.  Thanks to all of you who sent cards and greetings.  A weird time to celebrate—I even had a Zoom bday party with good friends. 

Maggie Mae had a May birthday as well.  She turned one on the 21st.  I don’t have any fabulous pictures of her—she moves too much.  And my dog grooming skills are not quite there yet.  I’ve given her three haircuts since the quarantine began but she still looks quite shaggy.

The Farmers Market is going great guns for the Grange Booth.  Roger has been selling biochar, trees, berries, eggs, and even some of my parsley.  But they are playing by the rules and practicing social distancing.

Who are those masked musicians?

As in the previous two months, a great deal of our coping comes with being outside, digging in the garden, mowing the paths, and appreciating the ever-changing landscape.

The fawn lilies were out at the beginning of the month, that gave way to service berries, then hawthorns, and the dogwood are at their peak. Rhodies, roses, ceanothus, lilacs, iris.  The fruit trees in the orchard really put on a show this year.  More than usual to make us all feel a little better?  One wonders.

Stayin’ Alive at 65!


At Duck Soup

Picking up the story where I left off, in honor of our 30th Wedding Anniversary, Roger and I took the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Oakland for a few days in late April.  We were met at the Jack London Square station by my niece and her two children.  We then drove to Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley where we had tons of fun riding the Redwood Valley Railway, a carousel, and visiting the Botanical Gardens.

We stayed in Berkeley that night and took BART to San Francisco the next day.  In S.F. we spent a lot of time at the Ferry Building and riding streetcars and cable cars.  It was quite the transportation holiday.  Here are some pictures: pictures of trip

Click above link for 44 photos of our fabulous vacation.


A week after we got back I was on the go again to Seattle for a meet up of some Metro friends for lunch and then a Mexican themed party at my friends Diane and Craig’s house.

Meanwhile, Spring is busting out all over here at Thornbush.  We’ve been gardening, mowing, making raised beds, and enjoying the outdoors through walks with friends.


Partied with friends the week of my birthday and then I was off again on another trip, this time to Portland to attend the Association of Northwest Weavers Guild’s Annual Meeting.  My friend Karen came down with me to visit her daughter.  And I also managed to see my dear friends Lou and Wes and their dog Micro.


Lindsay’s House

Tilicum Crossing

Now I am actually going to stay home for awhile.  I’ve started a new random weave sculpture, we’ve got some home renovations planned, and of course, there is always the gardening.



Home Improvements

Can’t lie to you, it’s been a terrible month since my sweetheart Suzie Q Poodle died.  But I’ve been trying to keep very busy and I do have a few accomplishments to show for it.  The best and biggest is not from me.  It’s the electric backup system for our home’s radiant floor heating system.  Now, if Roger is sick or just not inclined to go out in inclement weather to build a fire we still stay warm.  Our electric bill, though, is sure to climb percipitously.


twined willow bark

First I’ll backtrack a bit and let you know that I went to a basketry retreat at Seabeck on the Kitsap peninsula in January.  Took a couple basketry workshops and reconnected with NW Basketry Guild members I’d hung with last July in Tacoma.


Audrey turns 8

Stayed with friends in Brier on the way back so I could celebrate granddaughter Audrey’s eighth birthday.  Just a day trip to LaConner but Roger and I loved spending time with her.


All winter I’ve been working on my first “rep weave” project– placemats.  I was able to finish them in February.  Plan to use the same weave to make a rug–hopefully this year.


knotless netting

I showed some of the San Juan textile group how to use waxed linen to make knotless netting around a rock or solid object last month.  Next week I am leading a group of SJC Textile Guilders to Bellingham to see a stunning display of basketry at the Whatcom Museum.  So on Feb 7th my friend Laura and I took a reconnaisance trip to check it out.  Beautiful day coming home on Chuckanut Drive.


Nan at Afterglow Vista

My friend Nan came up to visit me (and console me about poor Suzie).  We got hit by a late winter snowstorm that dumped eight inches in a few short hours.  The next day I went out to check out the animal prints in the snow.  Mostly deer, but others were quite mysterious.


not deer, but what?

Accomplishment #??? We did our taxes. Get $47 back. Wheee!


Done deal. I’m an art collector!

And then, out of the blue, I did a most compulsive thing.  I bought art!  A friend who is moving off island sold me a Jack Gunter original.  I could not pass it up but I believe my extra-budgetary expenditures are depleted for the year–and it’s only March!


Rose’s Quilt

So Roger helped me put up my new painting and we balanced the look of the room by hanging the quilt my cousin Rose made for me a few years back.  They both look great.

Two weeks until Spring.  I’m working on a basket project and waiting impatiently to get out into the garden.  Have planted some flower and vegetable seeds in the propogation house.  I need to keep very busy.



Collecting April thoughts

It is my ninth April in retirement. Nine years of wildflower walks, fruit trees in bloom, chicken mayhem, start of Farmers Market, birthdays to celebrate. What else is there to say?

Thai iced tea, anyone?

So, to reiterate:

Here are Lenora and Iliana showing off birthday dresses from Hawaii.

Roger has given his truck a conestoga wagon look. This is to transport the trees he is selling at the Farmers Market.  We are expecting big things from the market this year as Roger has added fruit trees to his inventory.

The shooting stars are in bloom both on Mt Young and Cady Mtn. Friday Walkers have recently walked in old Argyle– a town abandoned once it was decided the bay was to shallow so they all moved to Friday Harbor. And a hike to the top of Cady Mountain to look at wildflowers and old, very old, oak trees. One has been measured to be 500 years old!

click on to enlarge–have you read “the Hidden Life of Trees” yet?

So there you have it, this La Nina Spring may be the coldest that I can remember, but children have birthdays, bulbs come back to life, and old trees continue to fill us with awe.

No Foolin’

In February, I kept up my activism by joining the Friends of the San Juans and others on a trip

to Olympia to  advocate for the passage of a Safe Shipping Act that would protect the Salish Sea from possible spills from the 800 ships a year that carry crude oil to China from Vancouver and Bellingham.  The bill did not pass, but perhaps it will next time around when Democrats have regained the Legislature.

Look for me over on the left side by the “I”

I got a terrible cold after that and basically wrote off the next couple weeks. But then:

Corbin’s Birthday! Roger and I went down for the day a couple days after his birthday and
brought him some outdoor toys which we played with even though it rained about an inch that

Corbin opening present(s)

Anita and Roger plus the rest of the grandkids

The weather continues to be cold and wet so you can imagine my delight in an invitation to join a good friend on Maui in March. Here is a set of pictures from that fabulous trip:


Right before I went to Hawaii I was fortunate to say good-by to a dear friend–Jim Sesby-who passed away on his 69th birthday. We are attending his memorial this afternoon. Meanwhile, my Dad’s health is declining but we are intent on celebrating his 95th birthday in June. Carpe Diem, my friends, Carpe Diem

Let’s Talk Turkey!


Anita attempts to feed turkeys at Island Haven Animal Sanctuary

The turkeys seen above were saved.  The ones described below were not so lucky.

On October 29th the Barreca family gathered in the home of Jeannette and Bill in Olympia and enjoyed a fabulous feast (including turkey) and many other delights.  We were entertained and entertained ourselves with music from the Inlaws and Outlaws–a house band.

Bjorn and his family were all in attendance–and looking forward to their Halloween in a couple days by donning their Harry Potter costumes:


We had a lot of fun at Thankstween.  And we were able to follow it up a few weeks later on the “real” Thanksgiving with another visit from Bjorn’s tribe.  They helped out by preparing the corn for milling and eventually cornbread.  We also ate a 17.5 lb turkey–okay, I like leftovers.


Oh yes, another highlight was Iliana finishing up “dandy lion”.  A yellow cat we began last summer.  Lenora helped also.


Lenora, Iliana and dandy lion

Rounding out the month, our trip to Bellingham to pick up Roger’s birthday present.  A new table-saw.  I haven’t seen it in action yet–something about rewiring the shop.


I think he is eyeing some drill presses in another part of the Grizzly showroom

We spent birthday proper with friends at Paradise Lane.  Bowling is now an annual birthday event.

Somewhere in this month a real turkey of an election.  Where is our sanctuary?




Sitting on Top of the World

Sitting on Top of the World

May is my birthday month and it has been glorious.  The weather, the flowers, the fun–all has come together this month.

Got my first two sets of visitors the first week and have been going full blast since then.  Today, May 23rd, is the first day I feel the pace has slacked off a bit.


Marc & Nancy visit us on Mothers Day Weekend. We show them Mt. Grant

Marc & Nancy visit us on Mothers Day Weekend. We show them Mt. Grant

Thornbush has had a lot of bird visitors also this month.  Including a couple barred owls who decided to take a dust bath in our road one afternoon.

owls on road

My birthday week included these owls as well as dinner out with good friends at our local Sushi Bar and the next night at the Pub and the next night at the Wine Bar.  This overabundance of eating out was due to my hosting two willow basket teachers at Thornbush over the weekend.  Katherine Lewis, renowned willow basket maker from Dunbar Gardens in the Skagit Valley came over to teach a class for the Textile Guild and she brought an assistant, Maria, from Orcas Island.

IMG_2389 (2)

Maria giving some encouragement to me as I “fitch” my basket.

The fun continued on into the next week with a trip to Anacortes with friends for a pedicure and lunch at Anthony’s and another lunch at Roche two days later.  Then it was time for Roger and me to get serious about our willow and alder demonstration at the National Park’s “bio-blitz”.  We were just a side attraction.  The main purpose of the blitz is to take inventory of plants and animals.  But we dutifully loaded up the truck with material and set up under a huge juniper tree for the day. link to bioblitz info

Yesterday I walked up Mt. Finlayson with Elizabeth for the first time since the new road opened.  Another beautiful day, we saw fox and deer and at the tail end of our walk, this eagle called out for our attention:


click on picture to make bigger

Yes, it’s been quite a month.  And there’s still a week until Memorial Day!

Face of a Killer

Face of a Killer

Sometime the news isn’t so great here at Thornbush and we can’t shy away from it. This isn’t a Facebook Posting where only the good news gets shared. This is a report that chronicles events come what may. And this month, besides all the nice evidence of Spring and the birthday celebrations I have to swallow my pride and admit—that my poodle killed seven of our chickens. Whew.

DSC_3536 (2)

You would think that after eight years of being around them, of being trained to stand guard and never chase them, that she would know in her heart what was right and good. But this month for some reason she decided she loved feathers. Loved them so much that she went after them whenever possible and gradually gathered her courage until one night, when both Roger and I had gone to a neighbor’s to celebrate the Equinox, she struck.

Oh, the carnage! We had to look for her in the chicken yard with only a flashlight, stumbling on carcass after carcass, feathers scattered from here to tomorrow, until we found her working over her last victim. She was wild. It took us all a couple days to settle back down. Me, to clean up all the feathers, Roger, to burn what was left of the cadavers and rig up the electric fencing again for the upper chicken yard, the surviving chickens to face the world again, and for Suzie to throw up all the feathers she ate and reflect on what she had done.

We brought the last four from the garden up to the “compost yard chickens” and they have melded in quite well. Suzie has left them alone after just one jolt of “tough love”. We are now down to fifteen.



And now for some good news. We had a very nice visit with “the kids” to celebrate Corbin’s Fourth, Iliana and Lenora’s Tenth, and Ethel’s somethinth birthdays. We took them to the Childrens Museum in Everett. A highlight was seeing Audrey drive a bus–she seemed a natural.


And of course, it is Spring. I heard it was the rainiest winter on record in Seattle and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was here, too. And the last few days have been glorious. Too bad I sprained my knee last evening and have it wrapped and elevated instead of being outside gardening. Then again, I am making progress on learning how to crochet. And you have gotten this post.



November Arts and Crafts

sculpture by M. Michaelson

sculpture by M. Michaelson

It started raining in late October and made up for lost time in November.  The month ended with a cold streak–heavy frost one month later than average that stayed around for over a week.  In between squalls the first weekend of the month, we attended an art opening which included our friend Peggy Sue’s recent work.  I neglected to take pictures of her work but many of you have received birthday cards by her from me .  Also at the show was a young sculptor by the name of Maria Michaelson.

lion by M. Michaelson

lion by M. Michaelson

The following weekend my friend Monique came up from Seattle to go to a basketry class with me by Peena Tinay.  I’ve already posted on Facebook but for you non-FBers here is another picture.

basket ala Peeta Tinay

basket ala Peeta Tinay

And remember this?  It was a messy warp last time I mentioned it (in September).  Ta-Daaa!  a double-weave table runner in “Windows” Pattern.  There’s a little more warp left on the loom so I hope to make a follow-up piece.

completed "windows" double-weave runner

completed “windows” double-weave runner

Soon enough, the real Thanksgiving (see last month’s Thanksween) came around and we enjoyed a nice meal with friends and family.  But the real celebration came that weekend when Roger celebrated his 60th birthday with a bowling party.  Brother Guy sent a bowling shirt of their dad’s which I’m sure made Roger bowl that much better.

bowling in Paradise

bowling in Paradise

Roger modelling his dad's shirt--note the name "Ellison" on L shoulder

Roger modelling his dad’s shirt–note the name “Ellison” on L shoulder

And so ended the month of November with much to be thankful for.

Anita and Roger Nov29, 2015

Anita and Roger Nov29, 2015



sculpture by M. Michaelson