On the library stool in February...

When I got my library card, that's when my life began.
- Rita Mae Brown

Barry Maitland is a new author to me, discovered when I found one of his books on our library's Choice Reads shelves. I loved it, so ordered up the first books in the series. May as well read them in order, even if I did jump the gun a bit with The Raven's Eye. Others read are The Marx Sisters, The Malcontenta, and Chalon Heads.

While I was at it, I also ordered two books from another favorite author, Chris Grabenstein.  This month it was Fun House, and The Mojito Coast.

And one more impulse grab from Choice Reads, Sarah Addison Allen's Lost Lake. Worried that this would turn out to be a fluffy romance novel (which I don't read), I actually loved it.

With some projects on the table and not much time to read, I did manage to take another read of Peter Watson's, Reading the landscape. I love the thoughts and suggestions for photographing landscapes (my first love).

Two cookbooks came home from the library this month. I chose Plenty More for the February IG cookbook group, and plan to try more recipes from it. I also got Baking with Julia Child. I wanted to bake bread, was ready to bake bread, but decided not just yet...  I did enjoy reading through the book, though.

Road trip

We're heading off on the back roads today, for a weekend of fly fishing with family, and visiting with friends.

We started with breakfast at the North Bend Bar & Grill.  We love the homemade corned beef hash here, but make sure you sit in the bar. The service is much better.

We took some back roads we weren't familiar with, and saw some wonderful old farmhouses and barns. Kittitas Valley has so many heritage barns, and a newly minted barn quilt trail that's fun to see.

An hour after we arrived to visit with friends, the whole weekend changed. A week of solid rain filled the reservoirs and they had to start dumping water into the river we'd planned to fish. So we rescheduled the fishing trip, then spent the weekend talking and playing with the dog until we wore her out.

We finished the day with pizza in town, and the next day, spent the morning driving around the lower county, going to yard sales. It wasn't the weekend we planned, but it was still a great time.

Before we left town, we had lunch at one of our favorite diners, the Red Horse. It's filled with gas and oil signs and memorabilia... which I love.


Channeling the 1940s today...

When I went down to the basement to start the laundry today, I realized that the best light in the house (for the next half hour, at least) was in this corner that gets light from two sides. So I turned my back on the laundry, and brought down a vase of red roses and a couple of favorite things from my farm kitchen.

WayRite kitchen scale (in my favorite 1940s Nile green) : Screen-printed vintage tablecloth 


Red, red rose... (TT)

This vase of roses has graced the sideboard in my farm kitchen for the past week, slowly opening up, releasing a soft fragrance. Each time I walk past, I stop and inhale the very essence of a perfect rose.

Linking up with Kim Klassen and Texture Tuesday...  using the Isobel texture (Multiply @ 45%)


Simple days...

This morning the brightening sky woke me to an icy white world outside my windows. The house stands on the hill above a pasture that slopes down to an overgrown pond, and everything was glistening and white.

For maybe the last time this winter, I pulled on wool socks, grabbed my down jacket and gloves and camera, and slipped outside to see what I could see.

Frost-rimmed primroses, always the first to bloom in the perennial garden.

Icy weeds, with diamond sparkles as the sun rose above the hills

The farmhouse, dreaming in dawn's light

My little piece of the world doesn't get more beautiful than this.

As I walked back to the house, the orchard was alive with birds. I topped up the birdfeeders, then put the kettle on for tea and started the oatmeal.

I love the simple days.


Washington barns

If there's one piece of architecture I love in this world, it's barns. Horse barns, cattle barns, hop barns. English and Dutch gambrel. Gables and broken gables. Salt box. Hip. Bank barns and gothic barns and round truss barns. Monitor barns. Octagon barns.

     Broken gable barn outside of Ellensburg, WA

Chalk it up to my lifelong love of horses. When I realized, at a very young age, that barns were a pretty good indication that horses were nearby, my horse passion grew to include a passion for barns, too. And when I grew up, I came to appreciate the architecture of barns, and just how practical they can be:  the ultimate examples of form fitting function.

The only regret I have about the small farm we own, is that it doesn't have a barn. I always wanted one of my own, preferably the same vintage as my 1923 farmhouse. Our area is full of barns that date to the teens and twenties, built by the Finnish farmers who settled the valley I live in. But if my property ever had a barn, I've not found any signs of it.

One of my favorite barns stood on the horse farm next door, a huge broken gable barn that was built c. 1910. It sheltered horses for decades before neglect and age took its toll. One day I drove out our road and glanced toward the barn, as I always did, and half the barn was gone. It had just tumbled to the ground. Within a week, the barn was torn down and gone, as if it had never existed.

When I retired three years ago, with a list in my hand of the things I wanted to do, photographing barns was at the top of the list. I had the notion that even if barns fall to the inevitable ravages of time, or are destroyed in the name of progress, if they're preserved in photographs, they'll never be forgotten.

I have a feeling that finding barns to photograph will become another lifelong passion.

Kibler barn on the Kibler family farm, Walla Walla


Eating me out of house and home...

The vet prescribed an appetite stimulant a couple of weeks ago, and James has already gained more than a pound. That doesn't sound like much, but for a cat who had dropped below 5 pounds, it's a pretty big deal. Another couple of pounds, and we'll all be pretty happy.


In the city...

We had a meeting in the downtown neighborhood of Belltown this morning. Since our parking is comped, we always stay around for a few hours. Walking, lunching, shopping... it's all fun, especially on a nice day like today.

The Pike Place Market is just a couple of blocks from here, and that's usually where we find a place for lunch. Today it was the Steelhead Diner, at the north end of the Pike Place Market. We actually went there first, then wandered around and checked out everyone else's menus, then ended up back here. It was a great choice. My blackened fish tacos were so good, spicy and flavorful. Saucy black beans, tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, and lots of shredded red and green cabbage. Yum.  I ate every bite, then wanted to lick the plate. Dave had an excellent Cuban sandwich made with green tomatillo salsa instead of mustard. The bread was house-made, and the toasted crispy crust was amazing.

We hung around through the lunch crowd, enjoying our wine. Then we wandered over to the Market. I came armed with a list of produce, but first stopped to photograph the spring flowers that are starting to come in. The tulips, the hyacinths... so beautiful. Just wait a few weeks; this is by far my favorite flower market.

I love shopping for produce here. I walk up and down the row of farm vendors and check prices, then choose a farm stand and just tell them what I want. It's pretty early in the season for much local produce, but I was still able to get everything on my list. Except for the lime leaves and curry leaves... and a rutabaga.

Anyone know where I can get lime leaves and curry leaves?


Playing in the light... (TT)

This afternoon there was a break in the clouds. The upstairs bedroom was flooded with light, and the sun break lasted long enough to let me photograph the sprays of lily of the valley shrub that I brought in yesterday. The buds are already bursting into bloom in the warmth of the house. I always bring forsythia branches inside at the end of winter, but it's the first time I've tried forcing the Pierus.

There's something so special about the first blooms from the garden... even if there's snow on the ground (and I wish there was), it makes it feel like spring is right around the corner.

For Texture Tuesday, this image has a layer of Kim Klassen's Touch-a texture @ 34% soft light

An antique English ironstone pitcher : Two of a dozen red roses that dried perfectly : 
An antique damask tablecloth that belonged to my mother : My dad's structural engineering 
textbook : A delicate drawn-work linen cloth, made by an unknown ancestor



Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.

I woke up at 4:00 this morning, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I went upstairs to read, and the moonlight was streaming in the windows. The moon was gorgeous, soaring in and out of the clouds, brilliant silver above the trees. The stars didn't have a chance, but the wind-driven clouds couldn't block the moon for long.


Winter walks

We have a breather for the next few weeks, and I’m trying to take full advantage of it. The weather is hit and miss, but I still try and get out for a walk. Like all Northwesterners I’m sure the other shoe will drop (winter is still out there... somewhere), so I am ‘stocking up’ on my miles. Winter will come eventually... and then I’ll be stuck indoors.

The hardest thing about our rainy winter days is the lack of light. Sometimes the days are so dark, you can't tell the difference between the hour just after dawn, and the middle of the afternoon. The sun will peek out and everything becomes brilliant. And a few minutes later, it will be so dark you have to walk outdoors just to see well enough to read.

So my plan to use the upstairs bedroom, which faces east and south, as a place to photograph still lifes (one of my list of fifteen in 2015) will have to wait for a bit, until the weather changes for the better. Until the light returns.

Until then, I will find my light in the outdoors... and I will walk.


Tulips in the window

Aren't these tulips beautiful? I wanted more pink roses, but they've more than doubled since I bought roses a week ago... from $9/doz to $20. I hope the price goes down again, once we're past Valentine's Day. Until then, I will love having tulips in the house.

Three blooms got bent when I did the first water change, and I arranged them into this antique ironstone pitcher, and put them on the kitchen windowsill.

I love how the morning light picks out the dark veins in each petal.


Tied with a green ribbon (TT)

What drew me to this particular bunch of roses wasn't the gorgeous pink color. I fell in love with the pale green edges. I'd never seen this variety before, and thought they were simply beautiful. I've used this bunch of roses for several Texture Tuesday posts... I just couldn't stop photographing them.

I'm linking up with Kim Klassen and Texture Tuesday today. The texture is Cotton @ 55% Multiply


Love letters...

My parents met in their home town of Denver, Colorado. When my dad moved to Seattle to study architecture at the University of Washington, my mom stayed behind. And that began four years of letters between them. Letters filled with the wonder of discovering a new town, classes and new friends, and football games in the winter. Letters about family back home, visits to parents, how old friends were doing. When my dad graduated, they decided to make the Northwest their home. My mom left family behind and moved to Seattle, where they married and started their new life together.

We never knew these letters existed, until my sister found the box after they died. She carefully arranged them by date, then sat down and read every letter. Then she passed them on to me. They showed us a side of our parents we never knew, a side that most children never get to see. And I am grateful for knowing.