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: https://sanjuanupdate.com/2020/06/island-senior-coping-with-coronavirus-how-is-your-mental-health/?fbclid=IwAR0SovuUQW_UvxAMLkvHmcxAt_n08XNrtIyyioo4rQ9j2Tv156rdZ3hXwkw

“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.

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Space_Lady

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.  http://www.gingerbredpoodles.com/

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.

Where did July go?

bestThe Fourth: July whizzed by faster than ever this year.  Started with a bigger bang than ever.  That’s because I rented the Grange Hall for a fireworks watching party.  First came the  parade.

Fruit and Friends:  Our friend Gene and his wife Jennifer made their annual visit to Roche and we had a lovely visit there and at Peggy Sue’s.

20180706_182413_HDRBut mostly July was about picking fruit and baking with fruit.  Raspberries dominated, although it has been a fabulous year for all kinds of berries (and cherries). Fortunately there were a number of fun potluck dinners with friends so that we didn’t end up eating all of these desserts by ourselves.


In July I also made a lot of trips to the mainland, often meeting friends for lunch in Anacortes.  Walking on and enjoying the ferry without the hassle of a car.

The Project

I promised more about the cottage–tearing the bathroom off, pivoting clockwise, and eventually raising it up 9 inches, putting a foundation “skirting” around it, and then building a better bathroom.


Whew.  We are turning the cottage today (8/3) I’ll let you know how it turns out in my next post.

P-Furs and Fun
This past weekend Roger and I both ventured off-island for a concert with two of Roger’s favorites bands from the 80’s–the Psychedelic Furs and X.  My sister Jeannette and her husband and our friend Michelle joined us at the Woodland Park Zoo.


And that’s where July went.


Leaving Friday Harbor

June Gatherings

June Gatherings


Art appreciation and art participation.  Saw several art studios on studio tour weekend.  On Fridays, my friend Francie and I have been making object d’art out of willow sticks.



My friends and I have been taking lots of walks, along the Zylstra Lake property and at low, low tide a False Bay.


Spa weekend was fabulous–we went to Afterglo Spa at Roche this year.  And we saw a Gee’s Bend exhibit at the art museum.



dismantling the porch on the cottage.  Wait ’til you see what’s next! (July post)


Thankstween got moved to Solstice!  This year we all rented cabins at Ovenell’s resort in Concrete, Washington.  That’s in Skagit County, so easy for our corner of the state to attend.  Dad just turned 96 this month.  He’s not in hospice anymore and enjoyed seeing the whole family together.

The first night was pizza at a local restaurant. We took over the party room.  Here’s James showing us how to properly eat pasta.

That night some of us drove up to Newhalem to Ladder Falls.  They turn on colored lights after dark so here are before and after dark pix.

Saturday we went up to see the Lower Baker Dam outside of Concrete.

Bjorn and family came up that afternoon and music and games were played and food was prepared and eaten.  And a fun time was had by all.



Baskets of Fun


Cathy and Mary visit

Someone asked who my high school friends were that visited last month. Haven’t changed a bit in 50 years.  Here they are at the lavender farm. After they left a college buddy and his wife sailed in to Roche Harbor.

Basketry Conference

The following week it was on to Tacoma for the National Basketry Organization Conference at University of Puget Sound campus. I took a class in Bull Kelp from Shannon Weber of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Here are a few baskets from various classes and teachers at the conference.
NBO Conference Link

I had a lot of fun hobnobbing with basketmakers I have known and known of over the years. Lots more pictures where those came from. But here is one of the baskets I made in kelp class.

While I was in Tacoma I had a great evening with a lot of Ellisons at Lil’s house in Twin Lakes.

After I got home and recuperated somewhat, it was time for “Encampment” at English Camp and Roger and I donned our 1859 apparel to attend the Candlelight Ball.

Plum Excitement

The next day, we found half of our Japanese plum tree on the ground. We picked about 75 lbs of fruit off of it and then just gave up. Roger bolted the torn trunk back together. I guess we’d better pick the plums still on the tree tomorrow or we may lose another limb.

unbearable fruit

frankenstein tree

easy pickin’ from the ground

I’ve also been picking tons of berries. The last of the raspberries, the boysenberries in full swing and tonight–the first quart of blackberries!

We’re having a heat wave. It got to 90 today on the porch. But worse, forest fires smoke from British Columbia has blanketed the area and air quality is very bad. Makes for beautiful sunsets, though.

Party Down Thornbush Style

Party Down Thornbush Style


The beautiful bride–Bree


July galloped along at a frenetic pace.  It was party, party, party all month long.  To recap from the beginning of the month, there was the trip to Seattle for a concert and a Mariner’s Game and a day at the spa.  This was followed immediately by the Fourth of July and a visit from my niece Bina with her two kids in tow.  Two days later we hosted a potluck dinner.  That takes us through the first week.


Bree, her mother Lil and her new in-laws

The next week took us to Tacoma for our niece Bree’s wedding.  It was a glamorous affair.    Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.


draft horses pulling a log out of the woods

The following week we were to receive more guests, but they had to cancel. Disappointing, but it gave us time to go to another potluck on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and also to get ready for the next big event–a Forestry Workshop at Thornbush!

About 24 people attended a full day of demonstrations and a tour of our property, the “food forest”, the bandsaw mill operation, the biochar demo, and a picnic in the courtyard.


click on to enlarge


The workshop was fun but it interfered with our usual participation in Encampment, down at English Camp.  We did manage to visit the following day (and host a potluck dinner at our house with the usual suspects.)


Lunnette and Lisa

Moving right along two days later we were visited by some very good friends from the good old days.  And we managed to go whale watching late one afternoon.  We really caught a show!


photo by Naturalist Heather MacIntyre

Mary, Nancy and Me

Mary, Nancy and Me

Mary and Nancy left on Thursday. On Friday I went with my walking partner Elizabeth to a Friday Walker hike that included American Camp where a band was playing in honor of the 100 years of National Park.
IMG_7810 (2)
And so it continues. I’m exhausted just telling you about it. I’m going to bed.