Feeding the neighborhood...

It's 17 degrees this morning, and the "wet side" is pretty darn dry and cold and white. Yesterday I was up before the dawn, in time to watch the snow fall. And all day long, I watched the temperatures fall steadily, from 33 at 7:00 a.m. to 22 when I headed for bed at 10:00.

All morning yesterday, two little hummingbirds flew back and forth, from the bushes to the porch, trying to get at every last bit of food in the bottom of the feeders.

I didn't know that we have one type of hummingbird that doesn't fly south for the winter. They like to stick around and enjoy our (usually) mild winter, feeding off the nectar so many people happily provide. But I wonder how many leave their feeders out this late?

So I hauled out the stepstool and took the feeders down, one at a time. When I reached for the last feeder, the little male was there instantly, a foot from my face, chirping, wings whirring. Was he worried that his food was going away? Or was he excited that someone was bringing him a fresh supply of food? I hope so.

This morning I got up early, and hung one of the feeders before dawn, before the birds woke up and needed food. And I'll be swapping feeders throughout the day, hanging a fresh one and bringing in the other when it starts to freeze. And hope that it's enough to keep these little birds alive until our days begin to warm up just a bit.

I grinned when I saw the pair of birds sitting on the feeder an hour later, and laughed out loud when a third hummingbird swooped in for his turn. I'm pretty sure this guy missed the memo about heading south... Rufous hummingbirds aren't ones to overwinter here. It may cause an endless battle over the feeder, too. I've seen both males chasing around, but not actually sitting down to eat. Silly males!



Snow, the first snow of the season, is falling. I always look forward to this day each winter... more so now that I don't worry about the roads, and getting to work without slipping on ice.

But I did not expect this. Getting up in the dark this morning, grabbing my sweats and slippers, and noticing how very white it was outside the windows. I peeked through the blinds, and the front pasture was covered in white. It was too dark to tell whether it was frost or snow, but I opened up the blinds and lit a fire, and sat back to watch.

It was 33 degrees out, chilly enough. And as the temperature began to fall, so did the snow. Huge billowy flakes of the stuff, thicker and thicker as daylight arrived. The wind arrived, too... at times I felt like I was inside a huge snowglobe, with my pastures and woods and farmhouse snugly inside of it.


Books for October and November

Road trip over (where I didn't open my book once), family sent on their way home to Australia, the weather turned cold and icy, and nothing whatsoever on the calendar, November was a great month to catch up on my reading.

Elizabeth Joy Arnold | Book of Secrets
Jeffrey Deaver | The Skin Collector
Kathy Reichs | Bones of the Lost

Michael T. Harvey is a new author to me, but apparently not to everyone else... all the books were at the library  | The Chicago Way, We All Fall Down, The Third Rail, The Fifth Floor

I'd just started in on Book of Secrets when the new Diana Gabaldon arrived... oh, boy...

And just a few quilting books to browse:

Lisa Boyer | That Dorky Homemade Look
Carolyn Forster | Jelly Roll Scraps
Verna Mosquera | A Sewn Vintage Lifestyle
Sue Pfau | Quilts from Sweet Jane
Weeks Ringle | Transparency Quilts
Amy Smart | Fabulously Fast Quilts


November moments...

For those weeks I was without a computer, and unable to write in my blog, here are a few words to mark those weeks... just so I won't forget. Twenty words or less, and I'll get back to my life.

Nov 2... A flu shot gave me the flu. A day in the city, lunch at Matt's, then shopping at the Market. Days of monsoon rainfall. Schooner Exact for brews and nibbles with friends.

Nov 9... Bourbon dinner at Duke's on Alki. A day at the cabin to pick mushrooms, clean gutters, and winterize. Wine pick-up party at DeLille. Arctic temperatures.

Nov 16... Jim's retirement party. Windstorm for 5 days straight. First power outage with a generator, yeah! Dinner out with close friends. Lowest weight in 20 years.

That's it...  done.


Finding the words...

I've struggled lately with finding the inspiration to write, and being without a computer didn't help. On the one hand, it's been fun to write the old-fashioned way, in a paper journal. But writing in my electronic journal, the one I've kept ever since I got my first PC in 1983, is much faster, and I missed that efficiency... because my fingers could keep up with my thoughts, those thoughts kept on flowing.

The weather this month has also been a challenge... wet days of monsoon rainfall, followed by bright blue days of bitter cold, followed by nearly a week of high winds (and power outages). I usually don't mind being out in the rain, and love to walk in the snow. But all this bad weather kicked me into nesting mode, and I felt like hibernating.

Not being outdoors with my camera was really the hardest thing... photographing indoor scenes, the small details of my life, doesn't come easily to me. I've always preferred to photograph the world around me, looking for new views and new vantage points to capture familiar scenes. Landscapes and trees, lakes and snow-covered mountains is much more "me."

So... what to do about November? I think I'll just let it go. Post the things already written, the photographs I've taken, and move on. Catch up, live in the moment instead of the past, and enjoy each day as it comes.


On being without...

The last few weeks have been challenging, to say the least! My old but much-loved Dell laptop finally gave up the ghost, leaving me without a computer. While Dave (my own personal computer troubleshooter and all-around expert) tore into it to figure out why the screen kept going dim, I was without access to my blog. No desktop publishing software to write my daily journal, no way to edit photographs, and just as I'd caught up with my blog... I fell behind again. Arghhh!!!

It still might be possible to fix the Dell... we'll see. But I've moved on, and am now the proud owner of a Lenovo Yogo 14. I've only had it one day, but my software and files are restored, and I'm slowly bringing everything back to what I'm used to. So far, I'm loving it!

So...  what to do with my blog. Do I go back and bring it up to date? It's  been fun, writing my journal with pen and paper, like I used to do thirty years ago. But the amount of catching up is daunting. 

So maybe I'll just wrap up November in one neat package of thoughts and photographs, and get back to "normal." 

Guess I'd better decide soon...


Huevos in a bowl

Huevos Rancheros is one of my favorite breakfast meals. I've learned ways to make this dish healthy, but while staying on Henry's Fork in Idaho recently, I learned how to make it easy to eat:  just use a bowl.

Layer your favorite Huevos ingredients on top of 2-3 crisped tortillas in a big bowl, and top with cilantro and a slice or two of avocado. I like to add a couple of strips of bacon on the side, but you could also grill up some chorizo. Yummy.

Oh, and if you can, find a sunrise to reflect in the edge of the bowl. Your breakfast will be even better.


Fall fishing?

We'd hoped to do more fly fishing this year, especially after our amazing time spent in Idaho, fishing the South Fork and Henry's Fork. But once back home there was a flurry of family time, helping Natalie and Anton get ready to head back to Australia after nine months in America. And pruning. And mowing pastures. And dinner with friends, the wine crush, and wine release parties. And repairing the wood stove before winter comes.

And then there was the rain. Buckets of it, falling day after day after day. Grey skies washed with water that looked never-ending. It did... finally. And then came the cold winter winds and days that never made it out of the twenties. Brrrr...

One day I may be a rainy-day fisherman. But for now, I prefer that the water stay in the river with the fish.


Open range

We spent a lot of time, and miles, in open range on our road trip. We saw more deer and elk near the roadways than cattle, but were always on the lookout for anything with four legs. Especially moose, once we arrived on the west side of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. And ironically, in that country, the high country of eastern Idaho, we found that moose... but also found more cattle on roadways than anywhere else on our trip.

East of Island Park there's a long back road that leads to Cave Falls, and an unexpected back door into Yellowstone National Park. I lost track of the number of times we had to slow down to shoo cattle off the road, sort of a Pilot-as-cowboy move that had us in stitches.

This country speaks to me, the high grasslands and rocky mountains of the West, and I've grown to love its scenery. There are enough trees to keep the landscape green and interesting, but enough open land to let you see for miles.

Being there reminded me of a friend from the Tri-Cities. Chris grew up on the western side of the Cascades, and loves the trees and mountains and sheer green of western Washington. But he prefers the east side of the state. "Trees are beautiful," he always said. "But not when they get in the way of the view."


On being single-minded...

There are things to do outside. Fence repair and pruning and putting pots away in the shed for the winter. But the weather is awful, wet and windy followed by cold and windy... and all I want to do is stay indoors and tend the fire, and sew. I feel a bit guilty about turning my back.

A bit.

But not a lot.

It might be the weather that's made me want to do handwork. Or maybe it's just that it feels good to sit and enjoy the fire and watch movies, and still create something with my hands.

I got a taste for hand-piecing on my first quilt, and hoped that one day I'd tackle that most classic of handmade quilts:  the lovely Grandmother's Flower Garden. This year, with a couple of road trips planned, it seemed like the right time to get started. With each piece the same size and shape, it's the perfect project for a road trip, when you still want to enjoy the scenery outside the windows.

There is such satisfaction in handwork like this... watching the stack of completed blocks grow, and watching my stitches growing more sure, more accurate and quick. All winter long, when the days grow dark and the storms come, I'll keep my work basket within reach. Bad weather permitting, perhaps I'll finish this quilt before gardening season rolls around again.

Because then I will feel guilty about turning my back on the outdoors.


Writing by hand

Last year I designed a fabric cover for a composition book, and made several for Christmas gifts. And once I had it figured out, I made extras 'cause choosing fabrics and beads and buttons was just too much fun! One is for my daily journal notebook, and another has a pad of graph paper inside. I keep it in my sewing room, and use it for sketching ideas for quilt blocks.

The colors in these two covers ended up being my favorites... I love the dark rich purples and golds and greens. I gave one to my sister for her birthday, and kept the other for myself.

Each cover has a crazy quilt band, a great way to use up some of my scraps (and practice my paper piecing techniques).

I also loved this winter-themed cover, made from scraps of a border-print fabric I picked up at my first Shop Hop. A buck for as much fabric as you could cram into a small zip-lok bag? Love this kind of challenge... I think I got a couple of yards of remnants into that bag!

When we headed to Colorado this fall, I took one of my notebooks with me for the first time, and I loved using it. I just tucked it inside the leather bag I use for a camera bag, and took it everywhere with me.

The size is perfect for writing on my lap, and I remembered a long-ago shorthand class in college, and the trick for filling a steno book:  you write on only one side of each sheet, all the way to the end of the book.

Then turn the book over and fill up the blank pages. I tried this on my composition book, writing just on the right-hand pages. When I reach the end, I'll take the book out of the cover, turn it around, slip it back into the cover, and fill up the blank side of the pages.

For a right-handed person like me, this works great, especially in the car. The side I'm writing on is always the one that's firmly on my lap, giving me a stable platform to write on. the most stable way to write.


What cats do...

Do you ever wonder what your cat gets into when you're not looking?  It scares me more than a little, when I see what she does right under my nose!

This morning I had just settled down on the sofa for my first cup of tea, and James jumped up, made a beeline for Dave's mug and took a long drink. Yikes... best not leave any water containers within her reach anymore!

I grabbed my camera but missed the money shot, my cat with her head buried in the mug. Doesn't she just look self-satisfied?