Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This 'n' That....

Retirement is an interesting journey.  People ask me all the time if I "like" it....geesh, what's not to like?  I now get to spend all the time I want in the morning reading thru the Bible instead of rushing thru it just "to get it done" for the day, reading my devotions, planning my day, organizing the chaos of 25 years worth of "hurry, hurry, hurry".  

And...I get to work on all those projects I've had stashed away for "some day"...well, "some day" is here!  Here's a sample of what's been taking up my time:

blanket for Wally, made from old sweaters 

table runner for a Christmas gift

sweater that will take a looooong time to finish

quilt for "some day".... :)

I'm loving my Zumba Gold class...my neighbor tells everyone I'm pole dancing!  :)  And after the first of the year I'll be volunteering with the literacy council, something near and dear to my heart. So I don't understand people who wonder if I'm bored....bored is not a word in my vocabulary!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Means.....

It's time for Stoney Ridge Farm!

The "new" barn, where the pumpkin donuts are made and where you can pay for pumpkins, squash, gourds, apples and pears

Jessi helping with pumpkin donuts

Derek designed these amazing chandeliers inside the barn, made from hundreds of canning jars!

There are fall decorations everywhere, it's a photographer's paradise

Pumpkins and fluffy clouds, can't beat this, especially since it was POURING when we got there in the morning!

Wally working the entrance gate

Two wild and crazy "kids" working the entrance gate

Would you buy a used car from these people?

Two more Saturdays to go, come out and see us!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Next Generation

Sometime in the late 80's the pastor of the church we were attending at the time met an extraordinary man, Werku Golle,  from Ethiopia at a pastor's conference.  The friendship that was formed between Gus and Werku has had far-reaching and long-lasting effects. They formed a plan to forge their two churches into a sisters church organization and in 1991 eight pastors from areas around Addis Ababa, primarilly Dilla, in Sidamo, Ethiopia came to Bellingham for a 3-week internship.  

Werku and Halleluia Golle, Jessi aged 7, and me...ageless

We volunteered to host two of the men, Essayas Roba and Boko Bedecho.  Essayas was in his mid 30's and Boko was in his late 60's.  Our accommodations were not as luxurious as the other pastors' hosts, but what we lacked in luxury we made up for in experiences.  We took them everywhere.

Essayas and Boko in the Skagit Valley tulip fields

Essayas, Wally, Boko and Jessi at Heather Meadows, Mt. Baker, this was the first time they had ever seen snow!

They were all able to meet the woman who, with her husband, had led these men's parents to the Lord in Ethiopia in the 40's.  It was an emotional reunion when she made the trip from BC to Bellingham to spend the day with these men.

I don't remember the names of all the men, but Boko is third from the left  Essayas is second from the right.  On Essayas' right is Bekele Gedecho.  Bekele had a burden to reach the next generation of children in Ethiopia, he had seen too many of them falling away from the Lord as they grew older and he realized that they were not being discipled.  Gus and the church made the decision to sponsor Bekele so he could attend Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, to further his Biblical education and prepare him to create effective teaching materials for the children in Ethiopia.  

Many years earlier Bekele had been a bright young student at the university in Addis Ababa. At the time Ethiopia was under communist rule and the government conscripted him into government service.  When he was commanded to commit an unlawful and immoral act for the government, he refused and was jailed for 6 years.  Shortly after his release, the government was overthrown and a new regime was installed.  The day after he left for Bellingham, officials came to his home in Dilla to arrest him; they viewd him as a threat to the new government.  This meant that he could not return home to Ethiopia when he graduated from Trinity Western. It was a difficult time for him but he continued to work on his children's ministry materials and began sending books and other materials to his church in Dilla.  After another 6 years, his wife Trunesh and his 7 children were able to come to America and emigrated to BC, Canada, which was a simpler process than the US in those days.  It had been 12 years since they had all seen each other.  What a reunion!

Yesterday we attended a luncheon hosted by a Lynden church to reconnect with Bekele and Trunesh and some of their children who are now all grown.  

This photo is from about 6 years ago, most of these "kids" are out on their own now, some are married and living in Alberta and others are working and living in the BC area.

Two of his good-looking "children"

Trunesh and their youngest daughter

Bekele and Wally...hmmm, we've all gone grey!

The fabulous Ethiopian dinner:  injera, lentils, homemade buttermilk cheese, split peas, potatoes and doro wat (spicey chicken and egg stew) so very good!

It was wonderful to reconnect with these amazing people who have endured so much and still praise the Lord for their many blessings. Their friendship is one of the many gems God has brought our way.  And now a whole new generation of Ethiopian children are learning of His grace, mercy and love and are serving Him wherever possible.  Egziabher yimesegan dehna!

Monday, September 22, 2014

In Praise of the Public Library

I found this book

on the new book shelf at our local library.  It's a compilation of photos of libraries taken by Robert Dawson between 1994 and 2012.  There is a foreward by Bill Moyers, an afterword by Ann Patchett and essays by Isaaac Asimov, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott, Philip Levine, Dr. Seuss, Charles Simic, Amy Tan, E.B. White and others.  The photos range from the grandiose

dome of central library in Milwaukee, WI

to the bare bones

abandoned library in the deserted town of Jeffrey City, WY 

and the essays highlight the more-than-ever need for the public space that libraries have provided over the last two centuries.

For me, the library has always been a haven through the years.  I didn't really discover public libraries until my family moved from Maryland to New Jersey when I turned 13.  It was a difficult move for me on many levels; I was socially inept, shy and lacking in confidence which made the transition from the single-sex private schools I had attended up to that point to the co-ed public schools in our new town fairly traumatic.  I sank like a stone.  But, our new town had  a big, lovely library with librarians who could spot one who needed a life jacket. I was given my own library card and shown to the reference section where I opened a world of art, architecture, nature and cultures that brought me back to the surface and launched me into the stratosphere.  I was hooked.  In all the moves I've made over the years, the very first thing I have done after unpacking the dishes was to head to the library and get my card!  It's no wonder, then, that I ended up working in libraries in our school district.  

But times change, and so have libraries.  Once the repository of books, they are now a combination of computer lab, social service annex and havens for the homeless and/or mentally ill now that our society no longer seeks to care for them.  Many of the photos in this book are of libraries that have had to close because of lack of funding. Ann Lamott's essay tells of the 2004 "emergency read-in" at the library in Salinas, CA, that was in danger of closing.  This is Steinbeck country, how could this be? They managed to draw enough high profile entertainers to keep the funding going, but if it can happen in Salinas, it can (and has) happen elsewhere. 

In Bellingham, we have tried to encourage our city leaders to build a new library several times over the last 10 years without success.  This despite the fact that for years our circulation statistics for a town this size were the highest in the country. Because of the economic downturn they had to cut hours and days they were open. The city did, however, manage to build a giant new art museum and restored our old movie theater into a new venue for concerts and such.  The fees and tickets for these are out of reach of half the population of the city, but the poor and marginalized don't count these days.  So who cares if there's a library to serve them?

I was amazed by some of the photos of the libraries in this book and I admit I was envious.  Maybe the "new library" will evolve out of the new Little Free Library movement.  Several of these boxes have sprung up in town, but I haven't actually seen anyone taking or replacing a book.  Somehow, it's not quite the same.  And I still want a library card!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Livin' In Mitford

Twenty years ago I was perusing the "new books" shelves at our local library and ran across AT HOME IN MITFORD by Jan Karon.  It looked intriguing so I checked it out and after about 3 chapters I was completely in love with the North Carolina mountain town of Mitford and its cast of quirky characters.  I was so smitten that I wrote a 3-page letter to Ms. Karon singing her praises and thanking her for giving me some good old-fashioned story telling that didn't involve infidelity, divorce, murder or any of the other "issues" that pass for story-telling these days.  I don't generally purchase books, I keep the local library's circulation statistics in good order or I find things at used books sales.  But I have bought every book Jan Karon has written, including the ones for kids!

Several years ago she decided to put the town of Mitford to bed and wrote a couple of spin-off books about the life of Father Tim, the main figure of the Mitford series.  They were on a much more serious note and, although they were good, they were not the same warm-hearted  faire that we were used to in Mitford.  

So imagine my delight when I discovered on her website that she was planning two more Mitford books.  And look what came in the mail:

I was going to launch right into it, but then I decided to do what I'd been claiming I would do when I retired...reread all the original series.

I've made it thru books 1 and 2 so far, so maybe by Thanks giving I'll be ready to open the cover of this new one.  I can hardly wait 'cause I'd rather be in Mitford!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

If April Is the Cruelest Month....

Then September is the kindest month--at least in the Pacific Northwest.  In general, we enjoy the bluest, clearest, sunniest days this month.  There is no humidity so the mountains that surround us are crystal clear.  We took advantage of this by heading up to Mt. Baker yesterday.  The parking lot was packed, cars were parked all along the road on the way up to Artist Point, the highest point one can drive to on Rt. 542.  Although there were many folks on the trails, we were still able to find a little solitude by taking some of the offshoots of the trails and we were rewarded with amazing views.

Once you reach Artist Point, you can actually see Mt. Baker in the distance.  Many people stop at Heather Meadows which is just below the point and mistakenly assume they are looking at Mt. Baker when, in fact, they are looking at Mt. Shuksan.

Check out the glaciers !

Mt. Shuksan reflected in a "puddle" along our trail

More glaciers on another nearby peak

Another view of Shuksan

The intrepid hiker heading up the trail

Resting along the way and admiring the view

I needed a rest, despite my wishes, my body reminds me I'm not 25 any more!

A "cool" ice cave that had formed on a hillside

The "pot of gold" at the end of this hike are the wild mountain blueberries that grow all over the hillsides.  They are elusive, though, so it takes patience and a keen eye to find them.  Bu

But once you find a patch you can settle in for the long haul, if your back and legs hold out from all that bending over!  -They are basically ground cover at this altitude.  They don't have long to flower and fruit before the snows set in again.  But with perseverance and patience...and Ibuprofen...you can end up with this....

The sun started to set so we headed back home and stopped on the way back at the Maple Falls Cafe, a nondescript little place that has, hands down, the best burgers I've ever had. The last time we stopped there I had the John Wayne Burger which I thought could not be topped.  This time I had the Clint Eastwood burger--pork and bacon marinated in beer, topped with marinated grilled onions, provolone (not the "American" kind, the good, sharp Italian kind) and peppers.  Surely it can't be topped!  And when the waitress asked me if I wanted regular fries or yucca fries I knew I had to try the latter.  Never heard of such a thing and I'm glad I didn't miss out.  They were crisp on the outside and soft and mushy on the inside, kind of like fried mashed potatoes.  The taste was crisp and clean...definitely addictive.  Good thing this place is a 45 min. drive away!  All in all it was a banner day.  One of the kindest!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peggy Had A Party

Each of our local high schools employs a campus monitor, someone who is responsible for keeping kids in tow, in class and in line.  At the high school where I was employed Peggy was our campus monitor.  She is a 5'2", red-headed, Irish Catholic born and raised in Boston, MA.  Do not let her size fool you; her unique blend of tough-love and genuine care for the kids has won them over.  For the most part, they desire to please her and it usually only takes a raised eyebrow from Peggy to stop any "issues" from escalating.  

Peggy and her husband live on a tiny lot situated on a hill on the south side of Bellingham.  They have managed to turn that small lot into a cozy, homey place to gather and for an end-of-summer party she invited me and the office staff from our high school for a homemade, wood-fire pizza party.  Her husband has built a wood-fire oven in their front yard

 right next to the grape-covered arbor that holds the table and chairs for their guests.

Peggy is a gourmet pizza maker and we had our choice of 5 different pizzas:  pesto/chicken/onion/roasted pepper/mozzarella
 red sauce/salami/onion/roastedgarlic/mozzarella
 white sauce/chicken/veggies'feta
 white sauce/vegies/mushrooms/pesto/mozzarell
 and for dessert fig/walnut/caramelized onions/walnuts/brie.  Oh my gosh, I ate way too much, but one has to try them all.

First you have to toss the dough

Then you have to add the toppings, not too much or it won't slide off the paddle very well

Then you need to get it ready to slide it into the brick lined oven that has been going for hours till it's just the right amount of hotter than....

Time to slide it in...it only takes a few minutes to cook at this temperature

Everyone is hungy and ready to eat!

Umm, there are no photos of the finished product, I was too busy eating!  It was so delicious; it was enough to put hair on your....face!