Cocooning in the Cottage

With Covid. Caught at the tailend of a road trip with my friend Nancy to see friends and waterfalls from here to Montana and back.

iconic Snoqualmie Falls

Avoiding I-5 I drove to Nancy’s past Snoqualmie so why not stop for a picture? Next morning we drove over Chinook Pass Through Yakima and stopped to see my brother John and his wife Marilyn for lunch. They just celebrated their 49th anniversary. Whoo-hoo!

Spent the night in Pendleton which has a nice historic downtown. Did not get a pciture. Next day it was on to Picabo, Idaho to visit my cousin Rose. We had to travel through a lot of smoke from a recent fire. In fact, smoke followed us all along our journey. It is fire season in Idaho and Montana. Rose was the perfect tour guide. We went to her quilting group’s annual picnic. Next day toured Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Rose took me on an adventure climbing through a Lava cave. It was difficult! After a brief rest she drove us through Haley and Ketchum to eat at Sun Valley Lodge. This was all new territory for me. Thanks, Rose!

Our next stop was Dillon, Montana where a friend of Nancy lives. Dillon had a fun antique store called Gracie’s. It had historic buildings. And Nancy’s friend Ronnie had dogs! Two were doodles!

So Dillon was a success. The next day we arrived at our ultimate destination, Linda and Tom’s place on a ridge near Livingston. Nancy and I visited their place in 2009. There have been some changes–notably they are building a guest house. We heard elks trumpeting, saw a bear, had a strange bat/moth experience. It was wonderful. But smoky.

We stopped in Bozeman on our return trip to visit with Nancy’s grandson Noah. We went to the Montana Ale Works in an old Great Northern freight house. Cool place but I think this is where I might have caught Covid. Will never know for sure.

Nancy and Noah

Onward to Lolo Pass. What a beautiful drive. We stopped in Orofino at a place right on the Clearwater. Still feeling pretty good at this point.

view from our balcony

The next day was our much anticipated trip to Palouse Falls. I hadn’t been there since my Pullman years and Nancy had only driven by the sign. Even though this is the lowest water time of year, it was still a wonder, coming out of the desert like it does.

remind you of Dry Falls from my April trip?

We spent the night in Sunnyside which is completely different topography from our night on the Clearwater. What variety on this trip. Our last day, we left Sunnyside to take Hwy 12 “White Pass” home. There had been a fire near Packwood a few days earlier so we felt we were taking a chance. At Clear Creek Overlook I found another water fall. Bonus!

Clear Creek Falls

By this time, I was feeling pretty run down and had a serious headache. I took a test in Eatonville and it came out positive. What a surprise after the umpteen negative tests I’ve taken in the last two and a half years. Not wanting to infect Nancy’s husband, I elected to make the long trek home that night. Getting in about 10 PM, twelve hours after leaving Sunnyside. What an ignoble way to end a gorgeous journey.

So far, Nancy, Linda and Tom have all tested negative. fingers crossed.

But as many of you know, I have a sweet little cottage with a very nice bathroom. And my husband has been feeding me. So I will get through this. So long for now.

(friends, I know many of you read my posts on your phones which is fine and easy. But the formatting is much better if you read them on your browser.)

July and August by the pix

The beginning of July was quiet.  Still Covid conscious, we did not attend the Fourth of July parade this year.  We had family over for traditional BBQ on the porch.

Spent a lot of time mowing as the wet Spring gave the grass quite a boost.  But I managed to enjoy the water and go on group walks to various gardens around the island.

Near the end of the month my friends came up for a few days and we enjoyed showing off the island and our new, improved cottage.  And the new carriage doors finally arrived and were installed.  A good month for home improvement projects.

Segue into August and the improvements and visits from friends continued.  Jay helped Roger fell several “mostly” dead alders when he came for a week.  And then our new range hood arrived and Roger and I put it up ourselves (whew) with the help of large books and a hydraulic lift.

The BIG event of the month was Emily and Will’s wedding at the Chihuly Garden at the Seattle Center.  Saw a lot of family we had not seen in quite a while and the ceremony itself was very nice with a fantastic setting.

We topped this off by meeting with the Ellison side at Lil’s house in Twin Lakes where we met Bree’s twins Kloe and Kaia for the first time.  They’re two already!  And James’ boys have grown so much since we saw them last.  (I know this is all cliché, but it’s true!)

This is us

Not missing a beat, we collected two of our grandkids on the way home.  The San Juan County Fair started immediately.  Roger and I volunteer for our various organizations and we had the kids so—yeah, we were tired.

After a ten-year hiatus, I decided to enter the Trashion Fashion again.  This time with a costume created from long collected Rosamonte Yerba Mate packaging.  It is shiny and red, black, and gold and is from Argentina so of course I went as a flamenco dancer.

The twins had joined us so four grandkids in all.  There was a lot of game playing, some pond activities, train rides, sand castles, and a lot of sitting around looking at devices.  And at least one possible case of Covid before they all went home on Tuesday.

This week we are resting up for the next round of activities.

That’s Azolla, Folks!

April Adventures

April First. Grandtwins turn sixteen. Celebrated with Pho lunch in Burlington.

April Sixth: Road Trip with friend Francie and her dog Chulo. First Day, made it to Wenatchee with stops in Index and Leavenworth.

Sun halo above Index

April Seventh: Wenatchee to Republic with stops at Dry Falls, Bridgeport and Omak.

Dry Falls

April Eighth: Republic to Kettle Falls with visits to Rachel in Rose Valley and April, Tony and James in Curlew.

in front of Rachel’s place

April Ninth: Kettle Falls to Spokane (Colbert): Stopped on Lake Roosevelt beach, toured Joe and Cheryl’s place, stopped Colville, Chewelah, Loon Lake. Stayed at Mary’s.

April Tenth: Colbert to East Wenatchee via Highway 2, Grand Coulee Dam, Ephrata, Quincy. Worry about pass conditions spurred us westward a day earlier than planned, eliminating our exploration of Spokane.

Grand Coulee Dam

April Eleventh: East Wenatchee to Friday Harbor via I-90 with blizzard in Vantage, stop in Ellensburg.

Of course I’m leaving out tons of pictures of scenery and family, but this gives you an idea. We covered most of Northeast Washington. We laughed, we cried. I’ll make a photobook like the one I made for our trip to Olympic Peninsula in 2019.

April Fourteenth: I got a haircut

Fourteen Years of Retirement

on January 31, 2022 I will have been retired for fourteen years. That’s one year more than the time I spent in Metro Operations as a driver and first-line supervisor and three shy of my time in Service Development. So many of the people I worked with and trained in Scheduling have since retired. The ones that are left have been working remotely since March 2020. I’ve been back to Seattle just twice since the pandemic started almost two years ago.

my retirement party–the twins are almost 16 now

It was a quiet Christmas at Thornbush, but it wasn’t woe be gone. No one died and we were not stuck at an airport for three days like some people I knew. It snowed so there was just the three of us, Roger, me, and Eric. My washing machine broke mid-cycle and Eric was able to finish washing the clothes. I guess you could say I got a new washing machine for Christmas. It came on the 12th Day.

Like I said, it snowed– a lot! My friends were not able to make it up here for New Year’s between the snow here and in Seattle, the new Omicron virus and need for testing, and the ferry system which has been understaffed and canceling trips right and left.

The whole world seemed snowed in

limbs fell in the heavy snow

We finally got to see the kids to open gifts on January 9th. Masks and all.

kitten socks

I helped teach a second class on how to make beeswax wraps for the Transition San Juan Waste Reduction Team.

lots of beeswax wraps made my students

And now that the snow has finally melted I’ve been outside harvesting willow. Hopefully, I will have time to make some baskets this coming year.

Work on the cottage bathroom continues. This week I finished painting and most of the varnishing. Roger repaired multiple pipe breaks under the cottage from our freezing weather. Oh, did I happen to mention the frozen pipes over Christmas? He’s also spent a great deal of time building the kiln that will do everything: make biochar, heat the house, dry the wood, make wood vinegar, and perhaps bake some bread as well.

Maggie Mae and I have taken some great walks by ourselves and with our friends and their dogs. I’m trying to get a couple miles a day in or one mile and some yoga. My life here at Thornbush is very rich. Even under lockdown. Life in Seattle, in an office, at a desk seems very remote indeed. But not that remote. I had another busdriving dream just last night. You can take the girl off the bus but cannot take the bus out of her psyche.

2021 Wrap Up

Warm Wishes from Roger, Anita and Maggie Mae

Strange year (again).  Roller-coaster of believing Covid-19 was behind us and finding out that was not the case.  We were vaccinated in January and February, actually travelled a bit in May to visit with family.  We spent much of the year working on the cottage and milled and put up all the siding on the cottage addition, had it painted and tiled. And then we boostered again in Dec.

family gathering in Winthrop

One highlight for me was my 50th High School gathering in September.  Roger focused on building a new kiln to replace our “turbo-burn” which heated out house for the first 18 years of the 20 that we have lived here.  We had some good visits with kids and grandkids.  And of course, Maggie Mae played a big part of our mental health in dealing with lockdown and social isolation.  In August, she and I participated in a dog show, one of a few outdoor activities that we felt safe enough to participate in.

The beauty of the island and of Thornbush in particular is a blessing and a comfort in good times and bad.

We have plans for an active, productive, and more social 2022. Be safe and well, everyone!

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.

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)

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!

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.