A wedding in the country...

Chelsey and Dan tied the knot in front of her grandmother's barn, surrounded by family and close friends.

The ceremony was the shortest in my matrimonial memory, followed by an open-air reception with food cooked by the groom, and pies cooked by the bride's mother and grandmother.

Afterwards, the wedding was dismantled, and stacked on the deck.

And then came the after-party, hours of laughter and reminiscing, story-telling and sharing memories... and pizza.

Tracey, younger sister and bridesmaid.

Chelsey and Tracey are the daughters of our oldest and dearest friends, who made us a part of their family and shared their daughters with us. It's been a very special journey, watching them grow from little girls into the beautiful young women they are today.

I can hardly wait to see what comes next!


The Ellensburg Red Horse...

If you love gas and oil memorabilia, you will love the Red Horse Diner in Ellensburg. It's stuffed to the rafters with colorful porcelain and neon signs, old gas pumps, pedal cars, road signs, automobile signs, gas station and tire signs. There were brands I would never have heard of, if it wasn't for American Pickers on the History Channel.

And the food's great, too.



Fall in the city...

It was clear and cold this morning... just a wee reminder that winter is right around the corner. We may not have snow like some western states, but I'm starting to feel the change. The trees feel it too... I picked apples on a warm and sunny afternoon just a few days ago, and today the leaves are turning yellow and starting to fall.

I finished reading The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James, another of her charming "what if" novels about one of my favorite authors. There are so many wonderful books about her and the books she wrote, but my favorite is still The Jane Austen Book Club. And the movie, of course! And did you know there's a national Jane Austen Society?

James and I took a ride to town this morning; it's time for her checkup, and she needed her shots so she can play with her new kittie cousins.

Tonight we dressed up and headed out to meet friends in the city, first for an educational single-malt tasting event by Glenlivet, followed by dinner. After a long week (for all of us), it felt good to relax and laugh with such good friends.


The last tree...

It's so sad that the last apple tree from the old orchard finally gave up the ghost. We'd planned to take it down; the bugs had gotten into the trunk and we were worried it would come down in the first heavy snow.

Turns out we didn't get the chance. The heavy rains last week loosened the roots, and it gently tipped forward until it was leaning against the pump house.

I will miss looking at its gnarled and twisted branches, the way they curved above the small replica of our farmhouse, as if to protect and shield it. I will miss the first flush of brilliant green leaves each spring, watching the apples swell and turn color, the fall colors, the way the snow covered the branches. It was one of my favorite scenes to photograph.



Where did it come from, this urge to get my house in order before winter arrives?  I have no recollection of my mother doing this, but the seasons have always had their effect on my nesting instincts. In the autumn, when the days shorten and the air turns crisp and chilly,

A room at a time, I haul around my bucket full of cleaning tools and sprays, and clean every single surface. Waxing the clear fir floors, polishing the glass in the picture frames, dusting off the old quilts that hang on the walls. On hands and knees to clean the tile under the claw-footed tub, using a flashlight to see behind furniture I can't move.

I can take my time, knowing there are enough days to get everything done, to pause and take time to enjoy the gleam of wood and sparkling glass, one room at a time.



I gathered a basket of Red Delicious apples and Anjou pears from the orchard today. A riot of green and red color, stripes, and brown speckles. Does anything say autumn better than this?


Stomping grapes...

Well, sort of.  Today is the first day of the 2014 crush, and we're helping out at DeLille. The first semi-load of Sauvignon Blanc arrived mid-morning, and our job was to sort the grapes before they went into the press. It was fun and sticky and tiring, but we had a great time and met some nice folks. The winery provided lunch and a couple of bottles of wine for each volunteer, welcome additions to the cellar.

We got the hats last winter, when we helped bottle the Chaleur Estate Blanc.

A cluster of Sauvignon Blanc grapes, looking gorgeous on the hood of the MX-5.

Talk about a moving target... not only were the grapes moving, the big flat table vibrated to help them move along. Not the easiest photograph!


Classic John Deere

The John Deere is getting some much needed work, before we tackle the big job of the year: mowing pastures. Our local welder (Dave's new best friend) just fixed a broken mower deck on the riding lawn mower; now he's fixing the damaged front brush guard for the tractor, and straightening and reinforcing the brush guards for the big Ford rotary mower.

My work is less critical but oh so satisfying: giving the JD its first bath since we bought it in 1986, then cleaning the oxidation off the paint to make it shine. Who knows... I might even give it a coat of wax.

Since Dave had the tractor out of the shed, it seemed a good time to check it over and make a list of what needs to be done. And I got out my paint cleaner and did a few test spots on the paint, to see if the paint will clean up like I hope it will. Then I used the compressor to blow off debris. And when I leaned over to clean off the engine mounts, look what I found... this huge twig and moss nest. It's actually a pretty clever place to build... accessible from two sides, completely out of the weather, and practically invisible.


Quail in the orchard...

The resident family of quail, two adult pair, has been stalking the bird feeders lately, and roaming from pasture to orchard, even hanging out on the patio in the evening, just before the sun sets. We've been waiting for the babies to arrive, to know the nests are vacant, before we take the John Deere out and mow down the blackberries in the pastures.

This morning as I washed dishes, I glanced out the windows to the orchard, and there they were, both families. One had two half-grown chicks, the other had five newly fledged chicks. The males were on guard as the rest roamed, looking for seeds and bugs.

Last year our one adult pair had 13 chicks, and they were so comical to watch. The first time we saw the babies, they were so small their heads didn't come above the level of the grass. All you saw was the grass moving, so you knew the babies were there.

I like to think that one of those kids decided its parents were pretty cool, and came back this year to raise its own babies. Maybe next year there will be six adults raising their babies here at the farm.


Back to school...

The smell of autumn was in the air this morning... 47 degrees and cool and moist, like the woods at the ocean. The feel of back-to-school was in the air, so many memories. Of finishing up my books for summer reading club. Riding the bus into downtown Seattle with my mom and sisters to shop for shoes at Nordstrom, back when Nordstrom was just a shoe store. Fabric stores to look at patterns and fabric, then hovering over Mom as she sewed, the endless exciting fittings of clothes for the first day of school. Waiting for class schedules to arrive, and calling my friends to see if we shared any classes. And finally, that first day came.

When I became an adult, autumn still came with that same sense of urgency. As though all those years of starting back to school forever embedded those feelings in my very being. The anticipation, the excitement... but most of all, the feeling that anything was possible, and the future was yet to be written.