Spring and Sprang

Hah, you are wondering about this title, aren’t you? It is actually very clever because on February 23rd and 24th, I took a class in “Sprang” from a world famous Sprang teacher, Carol James. Sprang you see, is an ancient braiding technique used to make clothing before knitting was invented.

So far I’ve made 3 pouches and I intend to make a hat soon. I’m also working on a crocheting project that I will present to this blog when finished. And I’m starting on a very big rug weaving project which got bogged down in trying to clean up my floor loom first.

The next big event was Corbin’s 7th birthday. Roger and I went down to celebrate with him by taking him to the Woodland Park Zoo. We had a very fun day, although it seemed to me that he was more interested in the bronze animals than the breathing ones.

After Corbin’s birthday we celebrated Eric’s birthday, St Patrick’s Day with the Soroptimist Fundraiser,  the First Day of Spring with a “Super Moon”, and the best weather we had seen in weeks.   And Weeks.  So we began doing things outdoors:

Roger began making copious amounts of biochar to sell at the Farmers Market, we made a raised bed for the kitchen garden, harvested lots of willow for a variety of projects, went on more walks, cut down several trees, planted olive trees (!) and pretty much celebrated Spring.


I’ve also been benefitting from physical therapy to reestablish range of motion on my left side.  More decisions about what to do post-cancer are ahead for me.  More on that next month.  And this last week I’ve suffered from a terrible cold which has put a damper on a whole host of projects I’ve wanted to work on.  I’ve been unable to spring into action.


Wait for it

March 13 – Corbin’s 6th Birthday

Took him to the Pacific Science Center for the day.  Hasn’t changed much since we took Bjorn there 30 years or so ago.  A bigger thrill was riding the Monorail up front with the driver.


I finished my basket project– a shade for the lamp in the cottage:


And one couldn’t talk about March without mentioning March for Our Lives wherein the students took to the streets to advocate for gun safety after a terrible shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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March 20  Spring finally showed up in a few spots around Thornbush.  The weather has been wetter and colder than I would prefer except maybe when these photos were taken.

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April 1 – 7  Easter and the twins twelfth birthday came and went. The Friday Walkers came and walked Zylstra Lake property with me.  Roger started back in again at the Farmers Market selling trees and shrubs.

Roger Farmers MarketAnd then, and then

April 12 – 8:15 AM  Roger called 9-1-1 and they came and took me away in an ambulance.  I had stood up and discovered I could not control the left side of my body.  I was experiencing a minor stroke.  Fortunately, the symptoms were no worse than that and went away in a few hours.  By then, I had been examined at our local hospital and flown by helicopter to St Joseph’s in Bellingham.

At St Joe’s I underwent a bunch of tests including an MRI which our local hospital could not provide.  After 24 hours of testing and observation I was released. The trip which  had taken 15 minutes by helicopter took Roger about 4 hours by ferry and car.  We got home about 7pm on Friday the 13th.  Lucky day for me.



It’s Falling

It’s Falling

Snow.  It’s falling from the sky as I sit here in early November.  Big test of Roger’s new heating system–see last month’s report (don’t tell him but I’m giving it a big D so far)  He’s not here to fix it because he has volunteered to be the projectionist for the Friday Harbor Film Festival Grange venue all weekend.  The documentary film festival is in its fifth year and I will be volunteering, too, but only for one morning–Tomorrow.  That is also the name of the film that will be screened where I will usher–Tomorrow.  It’s an optimistic take on solutions to our environmental predicament.  That’s what I need right now–optimism.

the mountain was out

Last weekend we went to my brother Marc’s for Thanksween.  Only, it wasn’t held at Marc’s.  We rented a VRBO next door to him as did most other members of the family and had a VRBO hop–not unlike a Pub Hop–of an event.  Only we almost didn’t make it.  On our way to the ferry at 6am Friday before last, we hit something in the road which blew out a tire.  Took us almost two miles to pull over.  then we took everything out of the back of the Forester to find the tiny spare and the tiny spare jack.  It was pitch black, there was a lot of cussing and fussing.  But Roger was able to change the flat and we still had time for breakfast in town before boarding the ferry.    The story doesn’t end there.  The rim was bent so Les Schwab in Anacortes could not fix it.  The dealership in Burlington was no help nor was the wrecking yard out on Highway 20.  So we drove back to Anacortes and rented a shiny blue Mazda for our weekend away.

Suzie soaking up sun while I was away

I wasn’t feeling all that great about going anyway because Suzie was very sick.  It turns out she has a chronic inflammatory bowel disease and was having a flare-up where she wasn’t eating and I won’t go into the other symptoms.  But, I knew I had a good dog-sitter and could not have done any better if I had been here.  Kept a running e-mail exchange going and hoped for the best.


Audrey is learning to tie her shoes



white river

Besides, I had volunteered to pick up my niece who had flown in to see my ailing dad and attend Thanksween with the family.  Also, because my dad was recently admitted to hospice, it seemed important to visit him and get together with “la mia famiglia”.  Also, I had put a rather large deposit down on the VRBO that we intended to share with the kids and grandkids.

Mia Famiglia at Naches Tavern

Turned out to be a fabulously beautiful trip through Maple Valley and Enumclaw to near Crystal Mountain right on Hwy 410 and the White River.  Gorgeous orange trees and blue sky in sharp contrast to today’s snow flurries.  Last week, right?  Good times visiting with family both siblings and grands. Some more cussing and fussing. Roger got to play his uke with the “Outlaws and Inlaws” so he was happy.  Left for a similarly beautiful trip home, turned in the rental car and still made the earlier ferry in our limping Subaru. ( Four new tires on order.  That’s the way it is with All-wheel drive.)

That was my fourth trip to see my Dad since September 8th.  Last time was to help my sister move him from his independent living apartment to (dum-dee-dum-dum) Assisted Living.  It took us the better part of a day to schlep his stuff in the pouring rain from Building 1 to Building 3.  And still two of my brothers had to deal with the left over mess. (I should not be typing this post, I should be cleaning out all the crap I have lying around so I’m never in that situation.)  Anyway, the hospice team from Kaiser-Permanente seem to be taking good care of him and last time I talked to him, he was in very good spirits.  What his mood will be from hour to hour is always a bit of a gamble.  thankfully, they’ve finally hooked up his tv so he will be able to watch the Seahawks this Sunday.

Cattle Point before the storm

what else?  Oh, took a nice embroidery class in conjunction with the SJC Textile Guild’s Fall Quarterly.  We came into the meeting with a bit of a leadership crisis (ie, no leader for next year) but that was resolved at the meeting–thanks, Val!  And so it is time to finish up on a couple archival photo journals that I am putting together.  A very good project to do while it is 33 degrees out.  Before the bad weather hit I was outside everyday hedge trimming and trying to make up for my time spent convalescing my right wrist.  The battery-driven hedge trimmers Roger bought me are amazing–as my grandson Corbin would say.


And so, the very rich hours of Anita Barreca are wrapping up for another month.  As the world turns . . .

before the snow color



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

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.

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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.



Lows and Highs

It is hard to follow up last post’s contentedness with this post’s sad news, but the day after we returned from our great weekend in Tacoma, Roger was asked to take his dad to see the doctor–Al was not eating.  The next day he was on oxygen, the next day he was placed in hospice.  By Friday morning he had passed.  Thankfully, we were with him Thursday night.  What we thought were our good-byes for the evening were our final good-byes.  You can read an obituary for Alfred Earl Ellison at Evans Funeral Chapel.


Al and Roger on July 4, 2013

It is hard to believe but now Roger is the patriarch of the Ellison clan.  There’s been a lot of losses in the last four years starting with his mother Rose’s death in July of 2010.  However, Al lived just past his 89th birthday and he was surrounded by people who loved and admired him.  We could all wish for as peaceful a transition as it seems he had.

Meanwhile, our various projects do not stop.  Roger is in charge of the Seed Sale for the Grange.  This has kept him very busy.  He used the cottage as a mini-factory to weigh and package all the seeds.

Seeds at the Grange

Also in the past few weeks, I have finally tackled painting the living room.  Given our very tall walls, this was an enormous task that I will have the professionals handle from now on.  Here is documentation of during and after:

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At almost 62, I feel I should not be on those ladders if I can help it.  But I’m pretty pleased with the results.

It was good to get together with family during this time despite the sad circumstances.  And we managed to celebrate a few birthdays in early March as well.  The one I will highlight here is our grandson Corbin’s 3rd birthday.  We were able to zoom down to Everett on his birthday, feed him cake and ice cream and enjoy a couple hours with the kids before we zoomed back to the ferry.


Well worth it to see that beautiful face.

And so it goes.