I went to the desert in February

this is what it looked like

My friends Diane and Craig live in Palm Springs half the year and I decided February was a good time to see what it was all about. And yes, I took Covid Rapid tests going and returning. And yes, we wore masks when we were inside. Diane took me to Moorten Botanical Garden to check out the desert flora.

I arrived in time for a birthday celebration in the secret room of the Tonga Hut

We decorated golf cars for a Valentine’s Parade around the Community Center where they live. First prize went to the Tiki Car and 2nd to the Queens of Hearts.

They took me lots of places including a Farmers Market, a Vintage Market, nice restaurants. But my favorite day was when we went to Joshua Tree National Park.

Thank-you Diane and Craig for a wonderful sampling of your desert life. It felt good to get out of the rain.

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.

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

Transition to Spring

Transition to Spring

Pretty Boring title, eh?  But apt for this month of February.  Only two major things happened this month.  A record breaking flood of our little stream along with lots of others in all of Western Washington.  And Maggie was spayed.  Which was traumatic for all of us.

As I reported last month, we got a lot of rain in January.  And the 31st put us over.  The stream flooded cutting new channels and spreading into a huge area.  The culvert onto Zylstra property buckled.  Don’t know how that will affect us in the long run.

Maggie did not adapt well to the “cone of shame”.  We stayed up with her for two nights and took turns watching over her for several days.  Finally, we borrowed a onesie for her to wear and she was much better off.  But we still had to leash walk her for another week.  All is well now.

Roger and I have joined the Transition Movement that is starting up on this island.  Lopez got there first with their mission “Fossil Free by ’33”.  I’ve joined a Recycle, Reduce, Reuse group and Roger is in the Ag group.  If you don’t know about the Transition Movement here is a quote from one of the start-up team members:

“The rapidly unfolding climate emergency necessitates greater local action by our community and the county. We know that our electrical power, food and material deliveries and summer tourism dominated economy is fragile with regard to serious disruptions that lie ahead of us.
The global movement called Transition gives us both a large network of other communities around the world who seek greater self-determination and a grass-roots, participatory, informal way to take purposeful action locally on the issues of greatest importance today and in the uncertain future

The rest of the month was mostly reading, watching Netflix, and crocheting a new hat while watching Maggie convalesce.  Taking walks in between storms and taking quite a few naps. Sounds like a pretty good retirement.

Also of note, Roger and I are in two different book clubs and we each hosted our respective clubs this month.  His is ABC– Apocalypse Book Club.  So you can see that this uncertain future is weighing heavily on us.  No surprise, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to Presidential debates and caucus results.

Spring is just one month away.  The signs are everywhere.  Also, the sawmill is up and running, boards have been made and placed in the cottage bathroom project.  So–progress!

 

 

Between Storms

Solstice Party

December 21st Solstice  we had a party at the Grange and invited the whole community.  And they pretty much came.  Everyone wants to celebrate the return of the sun.  I am writing this post five weeks later.  Still waiting.

Christmas Still Life
Joy!

Christmas Day was very quiet for us.  We celebrated with children and grandchildren the following weekend in Everett.

New Years

A day and a half later, the gang came up to celebrate the New Year.  They brought the party with them with fireworks, masks, scavenger hunt prizes and plenty of food.  Fun was had by all.  Then they left and it was very, very quiet around here for a few days.

So I had another dinner party.  This one was Sicilian themed.  Alice and I made arancini and I served a full Italian: antipasta, pasta, fish, spumoni.  Our guests joined Roger with their instruments and made sweet music together.  Good way to get through the winter doldrums.

All through this my neighbor and friend with a young Aussie have come over once or twice a week to play with me and my puppy.  Suki and Maggie are BFFs.  At least I hope so. 

Maggie and BFF Suki

And then this happened:

Smart Car?

Maggie’s First Snow

Dogs love snow.  At least most dogs I know.  This snow was more than we normally get, but only a few limbs came down and the snow left very quickly.

Flooding Creek

Followed by a ton of rain.  Rain, wind, rain, wind, rain, you get the picture.  All the ponds are full.  All the streams are rivers.  No roads are washed out as yet.  But more storms are approaching.

Cama Beach

In the middle of this, Audrey turned 10 and we took her to a very stormy beach on Camano Island to celebrate.  The ferry was an hour late taking us home due to high winds.

That’s what is happening here at Thornbush this month.  If you would like a more meaty report you should try my brother Joe’s:    https://barrecavineyards.com

He had a lot of snow, too, but that got him thinking . . .

Roger and I have switched from NPR every morning to listening to music or podcasts like Hidden Brain.  And in the evening we stream tv shows from the 90’s and Ken Burn’s Country Music series.  We’re looking for the calm.

My Southwest Road Trip

Feb 3

Beat the Snow out of Bellingham on our flight to Tucson to start the trip. Arrived in Mesilla, NM at friends of my travel partner, Laura.

Jeep Compass and Me

Feb 4

Hike up the Organ Mountains to Dripping Springs where the Van Patton Hotel once stood along with the Boyd Sanitariaum. In the evening, we attended a show by Roy Zimmerman at a Unitarian Church.

Organ Mountains

Feb 5

Trip to White Sands National Monument in morning and Zuhl collection of Petrified Wood in the afternoon.

Petrified Wood from Zuhl Museum

link to Zuhl: https://zuhlmuseum.nmsu.edu/highlights/

Feb 6

On our way to Santa Fe we stopped in Hatch for photo op and San Antonio Owl Bar and Café and to see Sandhill Cranes at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Stayed at the el Rey Court which brought us back in time to Old Route 66.

Feb 7

Took in three major museums in Santa Fe: Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Folk Art Museum, Indian Culture Museum. Finished the day off with a fabulous tapas dinner at La Boca.

Feb 8

Long trip from Santa Fe to Williams, AZ on I-40 with stop in Winslow, AZ to see a corner made famous by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. Williams also heralds back to Route 66 days.

Feb 9

Fun two hour train ride from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Besides the magnificent views, I was pleased to learn about the Hopi House designed by architect Mary Colter.

Feb 10

Left Williams for a scenic trip through the Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona and on to the historic mining town of Jerome and lastly to Prescott, AZ at an equally historic, art deco hotel with the odd sounding name of Hassayampa Inn. Hassayampa being an Apache word of the “upside down river”.

mural in Prescott

Feb 11

Surprise! It snowed that night so the trip on Hwy 89 through Wickenburg was a little icy, albeit beautiful. Reached our friends’ home in Goodyear (bought by the tire company to raise cotton used in the making of tires back in the day) where we planned to stay several days.

Feb 12

Went to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) that several people recommended to us. It was sure worth it. Worth a trip to Phoenix just for this museum. We spent six hours there and saw 6000 instruments. Check it out for yourselves: https://mim.org/

Feb 13 thru 15

Hung out with our Goodyear friends drinking the Kool-Aid.

Feb 16

drove to Saguaro National Park to see the cacti and then into Tucson for the Rock and Gem Show. Great way to spend our last day in Arizona.

Feb 17

Tucson Airport was deserted at 9:30 in the morning when we arrived for our noon flight to Bellingham. Waiting took as long as flying but we made it home safely and Roger picked me up at the ferry at 6:30 (7:30 Mountain time)

Now was that not a great Road Trip?

Meanwhile, Back at home:

fallen willow

To See all 166 photos on Flickr or any subset of them, here is the link:https://www.flickr.com/photos/myake/collections/72157705464574731/

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

JOY

Season’s Greetings to Everyone

Our rollercoaster of a year is ending with a smooth coast. A solstice card I received said “Amidst the darkest days, new light appears on the horizon.” After looking back over my posts of the past year, I see that all sorts of great and wonderful events took place. But for me, 2018 is the year that my dog died, I had a stroke, and then cancer. Dark days, indeed. If you are interested in those things, you can look at the months of February, April, August, and October.

But if that is old news to you, let’s press on with the good things that have happened in the last month:

So above are examples of a very, merry Christmas with family and friends. And that wasn’t all that happened this month. We finally got our new oven!

Roger installing the new oven

Also, December in the San Juans can be very beautiful.

So here’s to the new light of 2019 that beckons with promises of more time with friends and family and road trips and perhaps a new beloved pet. A 2019 that is cancer free, healthy, productive (new bathroom on the cottage?) and much to be thankful for.

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.

20180119_170634_HDR

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.

20180121_153044_Burst01

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.

20180217_111859_Burst01

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.

20180213_122506_HDR

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.

20180221_131259_Burst01

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.

20180222_144924_HDR

not deer, but what?

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

20180228_135005_HDR

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!

20180301_124719_HDR

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.