The beckoning woods...

The irresistible urge to follow a curving path into the woods, just to see where it leads. I can never ignore it, especially when the path is covered with fallen leaves.Today we went to a small park in Auburn to find a geocache. The green grass was squishy with all the recent rainfall, but the leaves were crunchy underfoot, and after we found our cache, I went around that corner, just to see.


Late bloomers...

The cold snap in October, followed by warm days, followed by storms and torrential rainfall, has done something peculiar to my garden. The butterfly bush and the hollyhocks have new blooms. So do the perennial bachelor's buttons, and the veronica spicata. And in the pasture, the dandelions (oh joy) and the clover are in bloom. Things are blooming that shouldn't be. But I'm not complaining.



A family weekend on Vashon, for a horsey Halloween event, a weaving class, and a visit to my favorite thrift store. All girls, all fun. My great-niece, Ella, is taking riding lessons... another generation of horsewomen in the family! Her little sister will follow in her footsteps soon, and hopefully I'll be able to go watch their lessons.

The horse event was fun on this cold and rainy day. I brought my barn boots and warm riding jacket with me; neither have seen a horse for years, but I kept them just in case. I was so glad to have them today.

One of the games was an apple-eating contest for the horses... they sniffed and slobbered and nudged, and took their own sweet time. Who'd have thought it would be so hard to get a horse or pony to eat an apple?



    The oh-so-cute wristlet from my talented niece, Caroline

A new experiment in thrifting: washing reclaimed wool skirts and sweaters from the thrift store. There's something so deeply satisfying about making something new from something old. My plan is to use the wool for applique, but my niece is already a master at reclaiming: she makes clutch handbags, totes, zipper pouches, and wristlets using reclaimed and new materials. This one spoke to me... the rolling farmland design reminds me of the Palouse country I love.

This wet and chilly day included a visit to the thrift store, a new U.W. Huskies debit card (after the cash machine ate my old one), and a flu shot. The weather system at the farm recorded nearly an inch of rain today, which kept us close to home for our daily geocache. With heavy clouds all day, it was dark by 5:30, another reminder that winter is just around the corner. We need to clean the chimney soon; it's getting colder and I'm longing for a fire in the woodstove.

Wooly things...

Doing things myself has always been my style. Salvaging wool skirts and sweaters and turning them into felt for wool applique is my latest passion.

Like everyone who does laundry, I've made the mistake of washing a wool garment, and shrunk it beyond wearing. But that's all that felting is: washing wool in hot water with detergent, and agitating it. That process mats the wool fibers together, and shrinks it so the grain of the fiber closes up. This makes wool cloth that won't fray, so you can use it for appliqued projects.

Wool applique has become so popular, most quilt shops sell pieces of wool now, and the prices have gone through the roof. So why spend $4 for a small piece of felted wool, when I can shop the thrift stores and buy an entire wool skirt or sweater for the same amount?

So today I made the rounds, and came home with a four skirts, including a black European-made skirt (which will be really cute with boots, so I'm saving it), and a Scotland-made tartan skirt in the Stewart Royal pattern. I may keep this one, too... it's just so darned cute.

Rainy days and wool... they just seem to go together, don't they?


A day in the mountains...

A worrying e-mail from my sister. A splitting headache. Geocaching in Auburn, and finished up the 2016 geocoin challenge. A trip to the fish store, and lunch across the road at Dixie's. Aspirin for the headache, which seems certain to blossom into a migraine (but it didn't, thank goodness). A tentative suggestion that we drive up to Mount Rainier for more geocaching, maybe drive up to Crystal Mountain. Fresh air... that sounded good to me!

Before this summer, I'd never been to Crystal any time other than ski season. This year we've driven up four times, to check out the views, to ride the gondola (missed it by four days), and to geocache. Taking up skiing isn't very likely, but it would be fun to drive up one brilliant winter day and hang out on the patio, and enjoy the snowy scenery.

The new patio-covering umbrella at Crystal Mountain

At the end of the day, after exploring horse camps and trails and driving up to the top of Chinook Pass, we ended up at the Greenwater Tavern for an early dinner. We ended up spending a few hours there, chatting with the bartender, one of the accountants at Crystal Mountain (who we met earlier), a forest service crew, and the owner. It always surprises me (in a good way) that people in small towns are so friendly and outgoing. It's such a contrast to how people act in the city, even a fairly small one like ours. I love spending time in small towns, where people remember how to be neighborly.

Our afternoon in the mountains, near my favorite national park, was the perfect way to chase away a headache on this cold day.


Signs of autumn...

    Fallen leaves and mushrooms, Fox Island

There are lots of signs of autumn here... hillsides full of color as the trees start to change... brilliant vine maples, then sumac, then alders and aspen turn yellow, and the cottonwoods turn into towering statues of bright yellow that fill the riverbottoms with color. Last are the big-leaf maples that change to yellow then gold then bronze before finally losing their leaves in November.

The leaves carpet the land, crisp and crunchy on those sunny days when I love to walk the trails, kicking the dry leaves as I walk. And soft and cushiony when it rains.

Autumn also brings a different sort of carpet to the land... mushrooms. I only recognize one type, the chantrelle. They are abundant on our lake property, and every fall I walk the woods, collecting them and drying them, then freezing them to cook with in the winter.

The rest I am happy to collect in a photograph.



The Green River valley used to be full of truck farms and dairy farms, and an untamed river that wound its way from side to side. When I was a girl, the bends of the river curved around green pastures full of black and white dairy cows, horse breeding farms, and a beautiful racetrack called Longacres. That untamed river also flooded on a regular basis, filling the valley with rich topsoil. That was before the river was tamed with a flood control dam. And then the valley became prized for office parks and light industry, and today the agriculture is nearly gone.

But there are still pockets of beauty, ponds full of cattails and waterfowl, huge tracts of open space now owned and protected by the cities that reside there. And if you look closely, you'll see the creatures that once lived there in great numbers, now living quietly among warehouses and office buildings.

It was raining hard and the sky was dark as we went after a geocache today, and spotted this Great Blue Heron watching for his next meal.



In the house where I grew up, a needlepoint picture always hung on the wall in my parent's bedroom. It was created by my great-grandmother, Katherine Lilley, and the story in the family was that she designed it as well as stitched it.

I loved it dearly, and when I was old enough, I learned all sorts of hand work: embroidery, cross-stitch, crewel, and finally, the difficult needlepoint. But I also grew up knowing that this picture would one day belong to my eldest sister. My mother was named for her grandmother, and in turn she named her first-born daughter for the grandmother she loved so much.F

All that knowledge didn't make today any easier, though. It was hard to watch my brother-in-law pack the picture carefully in bubble wrap and cardboard, ready to carry onto their flight home to Australia. I got to enjoy the picture for many years after my parents passed away, and now it's going home with my sister, Kathie.

And one day, I hope many years in the future, my sister will pass it on to her oldest daughter... another girl named Katherine.



The week has been a blur of stress over selling the truck and camper, catching up on laundry, trying to help my sister pack for their journey home to Australia, This afternoon while folding clothes, I glanced out the window into the front pasture. And saw this trio of black-tail deer.

They are all young bucks, apparent losers in the fall mating season, banding together now for company. Each fall we are visited by a few of these youngsters, but this is the first time we've had three at the same time. The two youngest snoozed the afternoon away together, and the older one had his own sheltered spot under a tree by the pond. And by nightfall, they were gone.

I hope we see them often through the winter months, to graze in our pastures and take shelter under the evergreens, and to provide me with many more photo opportunities.


Cabin time...

The cabin was full of family this weekend...  my two sisters and me, our husbands, plus nieces and a nephew, two great-nieces, and a black-and-white dog.

Usually we have a family weekend before now, but this was the only weekend that worked out. So instead of swimming and fishing and sitting on the beach, we kept a fire going in the woodstove, and watched it rain. But we didn't mind. We played games and cooked and talked and laughed. And on Sunday it cleared up enough to go mushroom hunting: the chantrelles are just starting to poke through the moss.



I feel a bit lost today. The past couple of months have been so busy, it's been hard to catch my breath sometimes. A long road trip to visit family, shorter road trips to geocache and explore, hiking and backpacking, and the crown jewel: volunteering to watch over a lookout.

Now that the summer is past, I'm looking forward to a slower pace, time for friends and family, time for photography. Time to slow down and watch the leaves turn gold and copper and red.

Time for me.