Country roads...

The woods along the private road were bursting with life today. So beautiful, I went back to the house for my Nikon, skipping my neighborhood run in favor of a slow stroll so I wouldn't miss the little details.

And later that evening, this young buck came up from the pasture to graze on the new blackberry leaves along the patio.


Kibler barns

When we were in Walla Walla county this spring, we drove a lot of back roads in the MX-5. the first day we took an evening drive out Mill Creek Road, then wandered along Spring Creek. And around a bend, across from a brilliant green wheat field, I spotted the most perfect white farmhouse. We stopped for a closer look, then drove on, and slammed on the brakes again when we saw the barn:  the most perfect, immense barn, painted white like the house. I've never seen a barn of this style before.

Before we left town two days later, we retraced our tire tracks so I could photograph the barns, and learned that this farm was established in 1870 by the Kibler family. The barns are so unique I had to know more, so when we got home, I did a bit of research.

The Kibler family left an enduring legacy in the Walla Walla Valley, through the agricultural structures they built. Four barns were built from similar plans, each constructed for members of the extended family, and two of the Kibler Barns remain in the family to this day. The white barn on the original farmstead, built in 1918, was accepted in the first round of nominations to the Washington Heritage Barn register (along with my brother-in-law's family barn on Vashon Island).

My favorite of the four is across the green wheat fields from Kibler Farm. It's the biggest of the Kibler barns, painted red with white trim, and was built to stable 48 draft horses. Can't you just imagine this barn full of huge horses at the end of the day? The grooms rubbing each horse down after the day's work, tossing hay down from the loft into each manger, bedding each stall with fresh straw, the horses munching their evening hay. The best barns are horse barns.


How many calories?

Caching the power trails in Eastern Washington was a blast, especially top-down in my MX-5 roadster. Power trails are strings of geocaches along a single road, 500 ft. apart (or as close as roads and landscape will allow).

Here's the drill:  Dave drove, I grabbed the caches. Stop close to the coordinates. Open teh door, step up (e.g. haul my ass out) out of the MX-5. Walk or climb to the cache GZ. Squat down and locate the container. Sign the log and put it back. Stand up. Walk back to the car, sit down into my seat again. Repeat. In four days, about 470 cache finds. I broke all my geocaching records: best day, best week, best month, best year.

It was so much fun, but hard work, too. Imagine walking, jogging, and stair climbing all rolled into one, for 6-8 hours a day.

So my question: how many calories an hour can I claim for geocaching powertrails in a sports car?


Yellow and black

We're heading east this morning, and before we left town we topped off the MX-5 at Costco, just a few blocks from two of our closest friends when we lived here.

It's been strange, being here the past couple of days. In some ways, I feel like I'm sneaking in the back door of a house I used to live in, looking for the familiar in a place of so much change, and wondering what I'd do if I turned a corner and saw a face I knew.

Our last stop before leaving town was a visit to this small nature preserve, green and wet and alive with the sound of birds. In spite of being surrounded by houses and traffic, it's a peaceful place, and we took time to linger.


In the wind...

The constant wind must have been a challenge to the people who placed the geocaches in the wheat fields above Kennewick. We've had our eye on these power trails for a couple of years, and it was great fun to come here for a few days, to this place we called home for more than seven years.

We used to bring our dog up here to run free, and we'd forgotten how exposed it is. Rolling hills, but the wind doesn't care about that. It finds a way around. In every direction there are fields being plowed for planting, interspersed with brilliant green fields of wheat and potatoes and peas. Beautiful, but exposed. To sun, to amazing views, and especially, to endless wind.

We found containers under rock cairns, and half-blown out of guardrails. We found containers in holes in the ground, coated in dirt, with a hunk of wood on top. We found containers stuck into pipes too heavy to blow away, and film cans wired to signposts. We also found containers being guarded by big hairy black spiders with white spots, and by even bigger (but harmless) black beetles. It became a habit to poke at the containers with the end of my pen before putting my hand anywhere near them.

My hair blew into tangles, and I almost lost my hat countless times. And once I had to wrap my arms around a signpost to keep from blowing away, while holding onto the container and trying to sign the logs. It made me giggle.

Yesterday a storm blew through and it rained. Today the air was crystal clear, and the views from the Finley hills were gorgeous.



Clear blue in Eastern Washington. An old friend from our Tri-Cities days once told me that if there's even one cloud in the sky, she feels cheated.

I feel the opposite. A clear blue sky is like a blank canvas—nothing interesting has been recorded yet. I love the ever-changing canvas where I live. I think I'd stare up at the sky, longing for more, if all I ever saw was plain blue.

I can't begin to count the hours I've spent watching the clouds above me. Lying on my back in the pasture on a warm sunny day, listening to my horse munch grass, the red-winged blackbirds trilling down by the pond. Looking up, watching the clouds roll by.

Or tipping my head back in the roadster, watching the sky as the wind blows through my hair, the interplay between blue and white, the shapes changing as the wind blows through them.

To my mind, clouds make all the difference in landscape photography. So many images wouldn't be worth taking, except for beauty of the sky. So wherever you go, don't forget to look up.



Garden rooms. Outdoor spaces. Secret gardens. This little outdoor sitting area at Cultura Winery is one of the most inviting places I've ever seen. Nestled between the winery and tasting room, with an orchard behind, it beckoned me to come in and stay awhile.

The doorway is framed by a trellis made from rustic wood, which also framed this beautiful old Dutch door. They added an antique door knob to each half of the door, to complete the illusion of a working door.

It's a perfect example of repurposing. The door had outlived its usefulness indoors, but found new life in the garden.


Bud break...

The Martin Scott vineyards in early May... just a hint of what's to come.


In tune...

This spring, my second since retirement, has been the best gardening year since I first planted my cottage gardens two decades ago. Maybe it's the slower pace, knowing that I can work anywhere in the yard, wanting to make each garden space perfect, having all the time I need. If I need to walk away before I'm done, and move to a different task, it doesn't stress me.

Each day I walk out onto the front porch, where I can see all my perennial gardens. And each day, something new is in bloom.

This single clematis bud caught my eye, standing proud in the morning sun. There would have been more, but an incautious shifting of the container broke a stem.

This clematis stirs so many memories in me. It's the variety we chose to plant in our yard in West Richland, our first house together. We planted clematis at the top of a retaining wall in the front yard, so the vines would spill over the wall and show their blooms to the street. But instead, the silly vines grew toward the only vertical surface in sight: the front of the house. 

When we bought this house and acreage, the first spring I was thrilled to find the same clematis, trained to grow up the downspout at the end of the garage. It was so laden with blooms, it started to pull the gutter off the building. So Dave cut it down. The next year, it grew from nothing to a blossom-laden vine that grew along the sidewalk, all the way to the end of the garage... nearly 70 feet long. I wish I'd taken pictures of it. I pruned it back each year, and it died one winter in a bitterly cold ice storm.

I replaced it a few years later with the same variety, the only one I considered. Why mess with a good thing?


My day...

Watered the plants around the patio. Hostas with their quilted texture are my favorite foliage.

The Lady's Mantle is full of buds, and the leaves collect the morning dew.

Hauled the camellia and lilac prunings to the burn pile.

Weeded and mulched the hollyhock border.

Counted the buds on the pink double peony... there are forty one!

Filled the bird feeders in the orchard, an everyday chore.


In bloom (TT)

Playing in the garden in black and white today.
Even though I'm surrounded by the colors in my cottage gardens,
I love the simplicity that black and white brings.

Linking up on Texture Tuesday today... you can find more images on Kim's blog.


Surrounded by pink...

Our patio is surrounded by mature rhododendrons, gorgeous huge plants that were so small when we moved here, and have grown so big in nearly thirty years. They are planted around the edge of our concrete patio, bushes of vivid pink, dark red, burgundy, bright red, and pink (which blooms at Christmas each year). My favorite opens up dark rose pink and gradually changes to soft pink with a dark spotted throat.


Books for spring

I'm loving my new Trader Joe's cookbook, so I went looking for more and found Deanna Gunn's The Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook. And that led me to Sara Foster's Casual Cooking. My kind of cuisine. Easy, tasty, wonderful food.

I scored some felt remnants at a yard sale recently, and went looking for ideas of how to use it. And I was amazed at the range of books the KCLS has on using felt in projects (as well as how to turn wool into felt). So many cute ideas, from toys to pincushions. Kata Golda's Hand-Stitched Felt, Super-Cute Felt, and Fa-la-la-la-la Felt.

With the world springing into life all around me, my photography turns in that direction. I'm loving Clive Nichols' The Art of Flower & Garden Photography and Edward Parker's Photographing Trees. Gorgeous photographs, great ideas for improving mine.

Between pulling weeds and running around with my camera, I've found time for a few pieces of fiction. German writer Nele Neuhous' Snow White Must Die was pretty wonderful, and I look forward to her next book. Even better was Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Next up are two by a favorite author, C.J. Box:  Breaking Point, and Stone Cold.

And finally, Simon Armitage's Walking Home: A Poet's Journey. I can hardly wait to read this book. It's a poet's tale of walking the backbone of England, 256 miles in 19 days.


Baby violets part 2...

A few weeks ago, I snipped off a few African violet leaves and put them in water to grow roots.

This morning I got out pots and soil to plant the violet leaves that have sprouted in water on my kitchen windowsill. And saw something completely unexpected:  each leaf now has sprouted a tiny cluster of leaves, where the roots and stem meet.

Not expecting this at all, I had no plan. So I compromised:  two leaves went directly into soil, with the new crown just at the surface. The other two leaves will remain in water until the new crown of leaves has grown bigger, and then I'll plant them.

It's truly wonderful to see nature at work, isn't it? I'm looking forward to seeing which approach, dirt or water, will work best. Then I just might have to cut a few more leaves to turn into brand new violets.


Something new...

There's something new in our little farmhouse, something we've not had since leaving our "modern" house in West Richland 30 years ago:  a bathroom fan that didn't have to be plugged in and take up two feet of counter space.

Every update to a nearly century-old farmhouse is a challenge, but our bathroom remodel has been much more complicated than it should have been. This is partly because the original remodel, back in the late 1960s, was not well executed (or conceived). The bathroom straddles what was once the original bathroom and a hallway (we think) that ran between the original dining room (our current bedroom) and the kitchen. We figured this out when we tore out the vinyl flooring and found the remains of an interior wall.

We thought this would only affect how we installed new flooring, but no. Turns out that instead of replacing the original plaster ceiling and leaving the high ceiling intact, and bringing the plumbing up from the basement, they added a false ceiling to hide remnants of the old wall conceal the plumbing. So adding a simple bathroom vent was a bit complicated. We had to tear up floorboards in the attic to expose the old ceiling, run wiring from the hallway, and chisel out (using the modern equivalent of a Saws-All) a small U-shaped gap in the false ceiling joists for the vent pipe to run through.

The outside vent screen went in last weekend, and today Dave installed the lighted fan and ran the flexible vent pipe. Then it was time for a test shower. No steam fogging our mirror or window... success!


Lilac arbor...

I almost cut it down, this long branch from one of our old lilac bushes. It's one of the last remaining lilacs from thirty years ago, when we bought this property. Over the years, we've cut the old trunks down and let the suckers replace them, trying to keep the lilacs viable through windstorms and ice storms.

My sister encouraged me to let this one live, this horizontal branch that extends from one lilac bush to the next. When the lilacs burst into bloom this spring, I was so glad I did.

I love how the lilac arbor frames a window into the orchard, and the tumbled-down pasture fence beyond.


Horse duty...

I am horse-sitting for the next ten days, while Jess is in Syracuse first for her college graduation, then for a well-deserved vacation.

The farm is just up the road from me, with large pastures and an antique farmhouse like mine, but with a wonderful old rustic barn. I always dreamed of having a barn of my own, a place to keep my leather goods and saddles, where I could line up my boots in a row, ready to be laced up before a ride. A place with a cozy corner to call my own, with a comfy chair and desk, a place to hide out for a while each day and think about nothing but horses.

Jessica's two are pasture horses like my own were, coming up to the barn for evening feeding. It's been a decade now since my last horse moved on, and all it takes is walking into the barn and calling for the horses, and I'm right back there... those amazing years when there were always horses within sight and sound.



The perennial bachelor's buttons have burst into bloom, encouraged by nearly a week of warm, sunny weather. With care, they'll bloom through June. They open up right along with other blues in the garden: forget-me-not, grape hyacinth, and bluebell.

Nothing says "Welcome to spring" quite like the blues.  Is it any wonder blue is my favorite flower color?