Seven cats...

This is the longest I've ever lived without a cat in my house. From the time I was four years old, when a tiny black and white kitten came to live with our family, there's been at least one cat around.

Just two months after DW and I got married, Taffy came to live with us. He was a barn kitten who was born across the road from my in-laws. A feisty, playful, yellow ball of fluff with blue eyes, he fit completely inside DWs bathrobe pocket. (Somewhere there's a picture of that!) He made the move to the Tri-Cities with us, and 7 years later, moved back to the wet side with us. He loved living on the farm.

Taffy was our first yellow cat, and James was our last. In between came Rumble Patrick, Muffin, Tigger, Annie, and Phoebe. We adopted all of them, or they adopted us. James moved in the summer of my 50th birthday, and moved into the house and our hearts during my birthday party.

Travel and house guests and a long road trip kept us from looking for another feline to share our life.
Today, the search begins.


Pioneer cemeteries

A few years ago, we searched out a geocache that turned out to be in an old cemetery... hidden in the woods, surrounded by a rustic iron fence, nearly overrun by trees. But someone made an effort to keep this place accessible, to make sure those buried there wouldn't be forgotten.

I never forgot that small place, carved out of the woods. And now I seek out those places... spend time reading the stones, thinking about the people who lived in this community, wondering what their lives were like. And I take photos.

Last fall we found a pioneer cemetery in the Horse Heaven Hills, again because of a geocache. It's high in the hills, surrounded by fields of winter wheat, exposed to the constant winds. I can't remember ever driving past this place when we lived here, but it's beautiful up in these hills... high and unprotected and windswept, surrounded by sky. Only a few people are buried here, and the local farmers and ranchers maintain it and care about it.

The location of that cemetery we found all those years ago is lost to me now. But one day, I'll drive the dirt roads along US-2 and search for it again. And I will hope that this small cemetery survived, surrounded by its iron fence, protected forever.


Cold mornings...

Bright fall sunrises that wake me up.
Blue jeans and knee socks and a warm sweater.
Weeds and herbs and grass, dusted with frost.
The first "Dang, where did I put the ice scraper?" 
The unbelievable bliss of heated car seats.
Breakfast with a good friend at a favorite restaurant.
Wrapping my hands around a steaming cup of coffee.
Finding a gorgeous red sweater at my favorite thrift store.
Home to build a fire in the woodstove, and write my journal.
Finished reading "In the Kingdom of Ice" (appropriate, yes?)


Growing on walls...

Ireland was full of sweeping vistas of hillsides and fields. Beautiful shorelines, with the wide blue ocean streatching to the horizon. But the stone that frames the distant views holds another, more intimate look at this magical place.

Violets sprouting from a crack in a wall in Kinsale

A flower garden grows on this stone wall in old town Kinsale

Black stemmed ferns grow on this wall inside Charles Fort, Kinsale


Lichen on an ancient wall and water wheel, Dingle Whiskey Distillery

Wall around the Seven Churches graveyard, Inishmore

Stone walls frame the historic waterway in Galway City

Violets on crown of old city wall, Derry

Violets, city wall, Derry

Daisies in opening in curtain wall, Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, County Antrim

A garden grew on this wall along the river

Daisies growing on shelf inside Dunluce Castle, Bushmills, County Antrim

Grass growing on top of Newgrange passage tomb 

Creeper on Georgian townhouse, Dublin

In Cong, a cottage and river wall merge into one, covered in creeper


Change of season...

At our cabin by the lake, there are changes of season, then there's the change to the off season. It's the beginning of what is probably my favorite time there. I love that feeling of aloneness that comes when the summer people have packed up and left, leaving behind the peace and quiet that's missing the rest of the year.

We'll be here for four days this time, as we're closing up the cabin for the winter. We did some exploring yesterday, then DW finished cleared branches and leaves off the roofs, and cleaned the gutters. I cleaned the cabin and cooked, brought in wood and kept a fire going, and tried my darndest to break my foot and ankle, slipping downhill on the debris DW blew off the deck. So I spent most of Friday afternoon and Saturday in front of the fire, with my foot up on a stool.

My sister came in the late afternoon; she's taking a weaving class near here, and is spending the nights with us. And tonight, Jeff and Anna are coming for dinner.

The weather has been cold and clear, the moon rising bright in the sky. In the morning, the sun rises with little fanfare and little color, above a lake like glass.

Tomorrow we head home, and I don't know when we'll be back. We'll see what the weather holds.


Why I go to the cabin...

To be outdoors, closer to nature (although living full-time on acreage makes that less of a necessity). To leave the computer at home, and read a stack of books instead. To have quality time with family and friends. To watch nieces and nephews enjoy this place I love, and watch my brother-in-law teach his granddaughters how to fish.

To sit on the deck long after dark on a summer night, sipping red wine and reading. To gaze at the stars, and watch for meteors and count satellites, with my back to a roaring fire, the lake at my feet. To watch eagles and ospreys dive toward the lake in search of a meal. To float on the lake on a Sunday afternoon, after the weekenders have gone home, drinking in the peace.

I've been there on hot summer days when a sudden storm blew up and dumped an inch of rain in a couple of hours. And in winter, when the lake has frozen over and there's snow on the ground. It's magical when buried in snow, and we're snug inside in front of a roaring fire.

To sit on the deck, watching the lake... with absolutely nothing else I'd rather be doing.


Framed with stone...

It seems as though every view of the lush green countryside of Ireland is framed by stone walls.  
Stone wall surrounding the Rock of Cashel
Post box in stone wall, Kinsale
Riasc Monestery ruins, Dingle Peninsula
Detail of wall, Gallarus Oratory, Dingle Peninsula
Seven Churches (Na Seacht Teampall) cemetery, Inishmore
Farmland walled in with stone, Inishmore
Stone-walled pastures, Connemara
Dunluce Castle, Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland
Stone walls lead from the former village to Dunluce Castle
Stone wall protects cliffside near Dunluce Castle
A wall surrounds St. Patrick's church and graveyard at the Hill of Tara
A high stone wall surrounds the Newgrange World Heritage Site
Trees growing on stone wall near Newgrange


Catching up...

Another inch of rain fell yesterday. Our pond is overflowing; by tomorrow it could be over the driveway. Down the hill from our house, the creek has flooded the county road.

All day yesterday the leaves blew past the windows, stripped from the trees by the constant wind and rain. The alders and birches are bare now, but the old walnut tree is still golden, and the leaves on the big-leaf maples are hanging on.

The leaves scattered across our patio today aren't mine... the dark red maple and bright red oak leaves blew in from our neighbor's beautiful landscaping.

A quiet morning, full of sun and blue skies. A day to catch up on laundry and housekeeping, to pack away my summer shorts and shirts, and look for my turtlenecks. Finished The Sparrow Sisters, and started Tess Gerritson's Die Again.

Tonight I met friends in town for a glass of wine and dinner at our favorite spot for happy hour.

It was a good day.


Farm pond...

It's been stormy all day. Driving rain, the wind howling through the cedar trees, fir branches crashing to the ground, patio furniture blowing around. After a dry summer and autumn, our pond is three times its normal size, making islands of trees that normally stand on the bank.

I ventured out mid afternoon to do my daily geocache, getting as wet as I've ever gotten when caching. "At the base of it" was the hint; I guessed at the base of one of several very wet cedar trees, branches heavy with water, nearly dragging on the ground. Oh well, I thought... that's what raincoats are for (something DW reminded me of just an hour ago).

It's just before sunset now, and the wind is still howling. But the rain has stopped and the very air has turned pink, and just past the cedar tree I can see a bit of blue sky and sunset colors streaking the western sky. Not a bad ending to this very wet day.


Lone trees Ireland

Finding lone trees is a bit of a passion of mine, and I look for them wherever I travel. In Ireland, oak trees are everywhere: planted in double rows along pristine graveled drives leading to stately homes, in open pastureland that slopes down to the sea, standing guard over graveyards. We saw them in spring, newly leafed out in brilliant green. Next time, we'll visit in the fall, so we can see them turning color.

Oak tree growing in a hedgerow, on the walk up to Newgrange