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

Super Natural June

Super Natural June

June is naturally beautiful, but this June was Super. Weather terrific. Flowers abundant. And Fiber Arts stood out as well.

View from Turtle Back, Orcas Island

I went Orcas to attend a workshop on Salish Weaving techniques taught by Chief Jan George who figures into a later story. Before class, I took a hike on Turtle Back.
“Buddy” Joseph warping loom

The next day Roger and I went to a couple Artist Studios on San Juan as part of the annual tour. The Tempestry Project was installed at the Grange. And Mary M and I worked on more willow projects in my back courtyard. I’m calling mine “whorls within whorls”.

We have been working on the cottage. Here’s a pix from early June:

On June 10th I met up with travelling partner Nancy W in Anacortes and we drove up to Canada. After telling the border guard our intent, he told us to be sure to look up Mr. PG upon our arrival in Prince George. But our first stop was Whistler, a place I describe as Leavenworth on steroids. Highlights were a pedestrian corridor to walk, watching trail bike riders go up lifts and come down the course, and a trip to the Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre that Chief George suggested we see and that she helped design.

The scenery between Whistler and Prince George was fabulous. We stopped the night at 100 Mile House.

And then, we arrived in Prince George for the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds Conference. My firstworkshop was not until Friday morning so we had all Thursday to look around the place.

We saw a lot of trains first. At the Railway and Forestry Museum and then a steam train ride (2’ gauge) at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park.

I attended three workshops at the Conference. The first was about Peruvian Weaving. The second, ethnobotany of the region, and the third and actual weaving workshop with hints on easy ways to warp the loom.

Peruvian textile in a purse

Oh, it was a terrific conference. There were exhibits from several guilds, a gallery of individual weavings, a vendors’ area, wrapping up with a fashion show on the last night.

And I won a raffle prize!

We left PG on Sunday, June 16th and found my friend Judy A in Quesnel along with her husband Mike and two dogs, Serena and Jasmine. Judy took us to Barkerville, a historic mining town preserved as a National Historic Site of Canada.

Judy and me at Sing Kee Herbalist building

Judy convinced us to take the Fraser Canyon route to our next destination—the Sunshine Coast. We were not disappointed. Following the Fraser River down to Vancouver is not to be missed.

Fraser Canyon Route along Hwy 1

This had us staying overnite in Chilliwack and then taking the ferry the next morning to the Sunshine Coast. We soon realized that it would take more than the three days we had allotted to do it justice so we just stuck to the South and did not take the 2nd ferry to Powell River. (Another time)

Madeira Park, Sunshine Coast, BC

park in Gibsons with Heron

Davis Bay Pier
Last night at Davis Bay

For more pictures, go to my Flkr album at:

progress on cottage- note more posts



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.

So this is the New Year

So this is the New Year

And I don’t feel any different (song lyrics by Death Cab for Cutie)

Right now it is about 40 below in parts of the mid-west. It is 43 above zero here and very sunny. All in all, January has been exceedingly pleasant, weather-wise. There have been some great walks.

January is Audrey’s Birthday Month. This year we took her to the Seattle Center’s Children Museum and Pacific Science Center. Still trying to take in the fact that she’s nine already!

running the train

The following week I attended the Textile Guild Quarterly on Shaw Island. Our keynote speaker, Betsy Mize Currie showed us some fabulous work in needlepoint. I always enjoy spending time with my guild friends.

painting with thread

A sign things are looking up in 2019–the “upstairs” hens, guided by their handsome rooster, have begun laying eggs.

click on any image to enlarge

February at home

February at home

Shaw Island on January 29th.

Shaw Island on January 29th.

For those dozen or so of us on San Juan Island who are not vacationing in Mexico or Hawaii this month, it bears repeating that this has been a very mild winter.  I heard today that’s it has been the warmest winter since 1945–so far.  We could get a late frost or two in the next four weeks.  I feel sorry for those people in Boston suffering from seven feet of snow.  Meanwhile I am out today in a light jacket planting iris.

It has been a crafty winter.  I mean that in the most positive way.  We are lucky to have a world-renowned basket weaver living on Lopez Island.  Three weekends ago I took a class on Orcas from fellow Textile Guilder Sally Anaya.   Sally Anaya’s website

The following weekend it was making brooms with Skagit broommakers Kevin and Sarah Miller.  They use techniques developed by the Shakers.  Did you know that broom corn is part of the sorghum family?  Broom Class 2015

Last weekend was even more exciting.  Roger and I ventured off-island (!) to our very first “Gathering of Good Friends” in Tacoma.  This is a now bi-yearly event organized by our friends Patrick and Karen who we know through our Encampments at English Camp and our Weaving Weekends.  We were invited to stay with them at Browns Point Lighthouse.


We headed down on Friday the 13th, visited relatives including our niece Bree who lives practically next door to the cottage where we were staying.  On Saturday there was a tea and stroll about the grounds.


And in the evening, a costumed dinner dance.  Many eras were represented although the 1860’s was most prominent.  Roger wore Top Hat and Tails rented from the SJ Community Theater.  I wore red for St. Valentine’s Day.


What a nice group of people.  Looking forward to the next one in 2017!

Musicale - final

click on to enlarge


But that’s not all!  On Sunday, after a great breakfast with our new friends at the cottage, we went down to Tacoma’s museum district to meet with our old friends (okay, not old, good friends who we’ve known a long time) Brent and Kathy.  The TAM exhibit was “Art of the American West” and I highly recommend seeing it if your are able.

All in all a great set of weekends despite the Superbowl loss.  Aloha and Adios.



2014 Highlights


This is my interpretation of the Christmas Letter listing all the year’s activities, or at least the major ones.  For a full description, you can scan down these last thirteen posts from 2014.  If you want to stay abreast of Thornbush activities throughout the year, please feel free to follow this blog.  I will not be “sharing” these to Facebook or Google Plus as I did in the past.  So here then are the highlights:

Roger was Master of the Grange for the third (and last) consecutive year.  He is busy all the time with Grange activities, but I will point to the trip to Vancouver, Washington in June to attend the State Convention and the Fourth Annual Farm Parade as highlights–mainly because I was involved with them, too.  Next year, Roger will act as Overseer which is equivalent to Vice President.  I don’t see his level of involvement dropping anytime soon.

Anita served as President to the San Juan County Textile Guild.  We had many successful achievements including a full range of interesting workshops and the highly popular exhibition in the county Fair.  The Guild also held a Retreat on Orcas Island in October, the first such event in several years.  Next year, I will continue my participation on the Board as the Archivist.

Roger and I were also honored for our volunteer work at the National Park–many years of teaching people how to make things with sticks–by receiving “Volunteer of the Year” award at English Camp last weekend.  We also donned our 1859 outfits for the Fourth of July parade and other living history events throughout the year.

Roger and Anita at British Camp Christmas Party

Roger and Anita at British Camp Christmas Party

Family figured prominently this year as always.  We had good visits from both sides of the family throughout the year.  This was Iliana‘s turn to visit for a week in the summer.  I especially enjoyed taking her out on a whale watching boat and a gorgeous day in August.  This was also the year the San Juan sisters hosted Thanksween for the whole Barreca clan.  Twenty-eight people filled up the Grange Hall with music, laughter, and tons of good food-as always.


As for vacations, we did enjoy a road trip to see friends and family in Olympia and the Long Beach peninsula on a long rainy weekend in February.  And the aforementioned trip to Vancouver for the Grange convention in June gave us the opportunity to see good friends in Portland.  The big trip of course, was my trip abroad with sister Jeannette and her husband Bill to visit our cousins in Southern Germany and travel with them to Northern Italy to meet even more cousins.  Beautiful scenery and beautiful people.  It does not get much better than this.


No big trips planned for 2015. There are a lot of planned improvements to Thornbush in the coming year.  Big events in the extended family as well.  Our warmest wishes to all for a delightful holiday season and joyous new year.

Film Festival and Paper Stars

Following the Ninth is story of Beethoven’s final symphony as a soundtrack to the struggles of East Germans prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square in China, Chile during Pinochet, and Japan after the earthquake of 1983.  The Ode to Joy resounded in my ears for many days after I saw this documentary while volunteering for the Friday Harbor Film Festival this month.

Other good films to recommend include Return of the River about the decision to remove the Elwha dam and Queen of the Sun about Colony Collapse Disorder of the honeybees around the world.  We weren’t able to see many other fine documentaries, but they will be shown again Tuesdays at the Grange this winter so we hope to catch up with them then.  November may well become a great time to come visit us as the Friday Harbor Documentary Film Festival establishes itself.

This past weekend Roger and I took down a willow tree that was holding up a broken limb from the “wolf” doug fir in our courtyard.  I was worried the next wind storm might bring everything down on top of something or someone.  Willows are tricky business to take down.  They almost never go where you are aiming them.  But Roger did a fine job, nothing was seriously smashed, and we cut and stacked much firewood for next season.

Last night I was the program instructor at the monthly meeting of the SJC Textile Guild, Friday Harbor Chapter.  We made papierstern or “paper stars” out of translucent paper I brought back from Germany in September.  Not enough to go around as there was a much larger crowd than I expected.  But I had a lot of tissue paper in pastel colors that worked almost as well.  Here is the Group Pix:

group shot