Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving That Can Last All Year

What a glorious day it was yesterday, the day America celebrates Thanksgiving.  My day started off with a view of this

I was enjoying watching the many different birds that frequent our feeders in the backyard, when I saw something VERY BIG fly by the bushes in the back.  It was too quick for me to identify it, but then it flew behind the building in the back, so I  tip-toed out the back door and peeked around the corner of the building and there was this owl sitting on the cross bar of the pole that holds up the old clothesline.  I decided to run back to get my camera and when I came back it had moved into the trees.  I zoomed in, clicked my tongue so it would look at me and snapped this shot.  This is a Barred Owl.  I think this is one of a pair that hang out in the park across the street from our home.  I often hear them calling to each other a night.  

Then I opened up my email and saw this wonderful email from one of the missionaries our church supports and I thought it encapsulated my sentiments exactly, so I'm quoting it here:

We have much to be thankful for as we reflect on who God is and what he has done. We just invite you to share in these Thanksgiving reflections.
Thank You Lord…

For Salvation in Jesus Christ. For being adopted into the family of God. That our sins are forgiven. For sending the Holy Spirit to be your continual presence in our lives. For your steadfast love  that never ceases. For the sufficiency of your Word to equip us for every good work. The refuge we find in you that is certain and strong. For your mercies that are new every morning. For the difficulties that you allow into our lives that cause us to cling to you more. That you have promised to never leave us or forsake us. That you have called us to be your ambassadors. That you have committed to us the Ministry of Reconciliation. That we have been be a part of solid churches with Biblical teaching. That we have had the privilege to grow up in a free country. For physical provision our whole lives. We’ve never had to go to bed hungry for lack of food. For the blessing of our daughter and son-in-law that you have entrusted into our care that they love you and are growing in their walk with you. For good health.

Great start to my day and it only got better.  We headed down to Des Moines, south of SeaTac, to meet up with Jessi and Josh who were heading up from OR and to congregate with Wally's extended family.  We had a great time reconnecting with nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and sisters et al.  

The "hors d'oeuvres"

Brother and sister, Traci and Jeff, from Seattle and Vancouver, WA

Step-father and son-in-law, Paul and Steve

 Wally's youngest sister, Terry (from Everett), Jessi and Josh

Terry and Traci

A spirited game of Apples to Apples, we had a blast playing this!

Intense concentration...which one to choose?

Wally's other sister, Kris (it's the cabana at her and Paul's condo that we are meeting at), her daughter, Traci, and her grand-daughter, Mylee

Jeff is winning so far

And the piece de resistance, turkey and all the trimmings!

A wonderful, wonderful day, so very much to be thankful for every day!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bucolic Morning on Vallette Street

Yesterday morning this was the scene out my kitchen window.  Actually I was only about 5' away when I took this photo.  You can see how threatened they are by my presence.  Hydrangea was on the menu.  I don't mind sharing my bushes with them, but it is difficult to grow any kind of vegetable garden with the herds of deer that roam our neighborhood, often walking calming down the middle of the street.

I'm not complaining.  One of the desires of my heart was/is to live in a rural setting frequented by a variety of wildlife.  And the Lord has given me that desire within city limits.  In addition to deer we have a raccoon family that rears their young in a giant tree in our neighbor's backyard, so I see cute little babies wandering thru our yard on a regular basis every spring.  There are coyotes that live in the park behind us, I don't see them often, but occasionally, if I'm out early enough in the morning, I'll see them wandering the borders of the park.  There are a pair of Cooper's Hawks that rear their young in the park as well and in the winter, there are a pair of Barred Owls that frequent the park.  I love to lie in bed and listen to them call to each other. 

These aren't the only desires of my heart that He has fulfilled.  I would love to have a herd of animals of my own, but lifestyle realities have made that difficult.  We don't have a fully fenced yard, so a dog is not an option. neighbors have a wonderful dog, a beautiful Springer Spaniel Llewellin Setter mix,  and cat and we have all adopted each other.  When they are out of town or late getting home I get to go feed and play with them and snuggle and pretend they are mine.  

I've always wanted a big flower garden for cut bouquets.  I don't own this home, digging up the yard is not an option. neighbor next door is a master gardener who grows flowers of her own and also helps design bouquets for one of the county farms that sells gorgeous bouquets every summer.  And on an almost weekly basis in the summer, she brings me huge bouquets.  In return, I bake goodies for her.  

How gracious is the Lord to give us the desires of our heart, even if they are not in the manner we thought they would be!  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Are We There Yet?

I'm not really sure where October went.  We spent a large part of it driving north and south on I-5 to Newberg, OR, where Jessi and Josh live and work.  We spent a week in September there scoping out the areas around Newberg anticipating a move there ourselves.  We checked out the libraries, aquatic centers, senior centers, parks and coffee shops :) of several towns.  We've been looking for housing opportunities but haven't found anything that really fits yet.  So there is no imminent move at this point.  We did see one amazing sight in a park In McMinnville. We were walking on a trail when I spotted something white through the brush.  It wasn't moving initially, but soon a brown full-grown deer moved into sight and the "white thing" moved into the clearing and  lo and behold it was a white deer!  I did some research and discovered it wasn't technically an albino deer because it had a bit of brown on its face and a bit on its tail.  But other than that it was pure white.  Pretty cool....and of course the camera was in the car.

We spent the 2nd two weeks of October down there again.  Well, technically it was only 10 days because we had to come back on Fridays to work at Stoney Ridge and then drive back again on Mondays.  Have I mentioned how much I hate that drive on I-5?  We did make it out to  the coast one day which was a real treat.  We haven't been to the OR coast in years and years. 

We also cooked dinner, did housework, took care of the guinea pig (my grandchild!), and helped in Jessi's classroom.  Our goal was to take some of the pressure off of her while Josh was out of town for two weeks so she could concentrate on teaching and grad school.  We graded papers 

and helped at Family Fun Night and helped in the classroom so she could get home before 7pm at night!

It was all worth it, despite the car trouble we had coming home!  The Toyota was running hot and losing radiator water even though we could see no visible evidence of a leak.  A new head gasket, water pump and radiator later, we have our car back.  The mechanic was amazed the car made it back here from Portland.  That's the old Toyotas for  you....they are tanks for sure!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Movin' Right Along....

I have country in my blood....if you give me a choice between a townhouse in the big city with all the accouterments and a plot of land with a broad view of pasture and a tiny house with just the basics, I'll take the latter.  So it should come as no surprise that I have a yen for tractors, especially old ones.  No I don't have a plot of land, no I have no need for a tractor, but one can always yearn, n'est ce pas?  So a few weeks ago we had a chance to go to Lynden's Antique Tractor Show.  Here's a sampling of what we saw.  It was a great day--hot, sunny, dusty...perfect farm weather!  If you're bored with old farm machinery, you should move on!

There is a "parade" of tractors and other antique machinery.  As they pass the "grandstand", the announcer gives the make, model and year of each entry

Check out this old steam roller

I love this old thing...such classic lines!

 That should be me!

 This one's for's orange!!

 Another beauty "lettin' off steam"

I think this is one of my favorites

 Lined up for duty.

 Then there were the steam powered threshing machines, mighty to behold.  What a boon to farmer's this invention must have been...can you imagine threshing by hand...

 Wheat goes in one end, chaff goes out the other and the wheat berries collect in the special container
 Feeding the beast, takes a lot of heat to produce enough steam to power these machines

From father to son, passing on the heritage...what a treasure.

What a fun day and a glimpse into a life that I'm sure I've romanticized.  I know it's hard, hard work, but what a blessing to have the ability to be in such close harmony with the land and the seasons.  One can still dream....

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

- Tide x 2 = Adventure!

One of the perks of living near Bellingham Bay is enjoying the great beach combing opportunities that the lowest minus tides provide during the summer months.  We took advantage of one of these days to explore the Taylor Shellfish Farms at the south end of Chuckanut Drive.  They were having a festival of sorts which allowed us the opportunity to learn first hand about their operation here as well as their other locations throughout WA.  Because of the extreme low tide we were able to walk out to the oyster beds to learn how they seed and harvest the oysters and clams that they are famous for.  Hot dogs, grilled oysters, steamed clams and other such fare were available for lunch.  So we took advantage and had a great meal.  

This sign met us at the entrance, how could one resist, we had to check it out!

The staff had gathered natural materials and kids could pick out whatever they wanted and create their own fairy house

Some creative Taylor family member created this "lighthouse" made of clam and oyster shells

These are oyster "grow bags" which help keep predators away and reduce the amount of silt that affects the oysters as they grow

The view looking south to Anacortes...the tide is out so far you can barely see the waterline!

Oysters are harvested and packed in bundles like this...these bundles are made of empty shells which will be used for new oyster beds and for other uses such as chicken feed

There is a crew harvesting oysters out the winter, they have to do it at night, when the minus tides occur

Looking back at the farm store--we're way out in the bay! 

Time for lunch!

The day is still young and the tide is still low so we head on over to Larrabee State Park to hike down to Clayton Beach.  We hiked down to this beach a lot when Jessi was little, although she doesn't remember it.  It was known for it's huge sand dune that rolled all the way to the sea.  The sand dune is a thing of the past, it's now a huge "garden" of blackberries and sand peas.  But the beach is still wonderful for walking when the tide allows.

I love shape, pattern, light and shadow, so it's a field day for me with all these sandstone rocks full of holes and pockets and hidey places 

And then I can get all artsy craftsy and start putting crab shells in nooks and pretending like they "landed" there! 

There's someone else who likes the hidey places! 

The window to the sea

The tide's starting to come back in...that's Lummi Island out there in the distance

The beach has its own art forms 

This is a very special flat rock--when Wally and I were MUCH younger, we used to hike down a steep rock cliff to get to this rock where we had the sea to ourselves.  We'd picnic and sunbathe here...but alas, someone has built a house at the top of the cliff where we used to start our climb matter, there's no way we could do it now anyway! 

The flat rock is waaaay out there to the right, so you can see the height of the cliff we had to navigate--it's about midway down the hillside.

Then it was time to hike back up to the road and head home for a hot shower and some ibuprofen...just kidding!