And they're off...

In my husband's family, everyone's favorite uncle is a retired Thoroughbred breeder and race horse owner, and for years when he came to town, we'd sit and talk horses. I miss that he's out of the business now. I loved researching pedigrees for him, and wish I could do that work again.

We still love when he comes for a visit, and this time DW's sister and brother-in-law arranged for us to spend an afternoon at Emerald Downs. They are part-owners of a horse that races here, and I was excited to see him run. We had a couple of private boxes right up front, and they even arranged to have a race named for Dee (he was tickled!).

Oh, and did I mention the Corgi races? More on the wee doggie races in another post.


My handsome husband and his beautiful sisters

Outriders, ready for the first race

Because "we" were sponsoring the first race, we got to go to the saddling paddock before the race

My favorite entry (he didn't win, but would make a great dressage horse!

Dee, with the "Dee Williams Purse" on the readerboard

Waiting in the winner's circle

Number 7 won going away

I've never been in the winner's circle before!
The guys called this tall gray a giraffe, with his long legs and high head carriage and skinny rat tail.
I love his name: Snowball's Chance.

Second trip to the owner's enclosure to watch the horses come in.

Arrom Bear heading for the saddling paddock

Rocco Bowen up on Arrom Bear, ready to run

Bear finished 5th. They later found out that he has a bone chip in his knee, which may end his career.

Engrossed in the Daily Racing Form

The last race was a mile, which means the starting gate was right in front by the grandstand. A bird's-eye view for us!

My favorite was the No. 5 horse, English Kitty. No. 9, Stuck River, won the race.

Look at all those bay rumps, side by side in the starting gate.

And they're off!

Stuck River won it easily

Family photographs before the last race



My quilt guild makes quilts for cancer patients, kids and adults. We have workshops, make kits using donated fabric, and the women of the guild take them home and make the tops. It's so rewarding. A lot of fabric is donated from quilt shops and we've bought a lot from shops that go out of business (sad).

Looking for quilt patterns is a special love of mine, so I offered to keep an eye out for simple but interesting patterns that the guild can use for Hugs quilts. It's the perfect project for me, and another way I can contribute.


Catching up...

July was a tough month for journaling, both in my blog and in my hand-written notebook. After Suntop, my days became filled with geocaching, gardening, working on the barn, and quilting. With the quilt show, my guild is frantically busy in July. I was surprised we found time to spend a few days at the cabin, and those were my only calm days last month.

It makes me sad in a way, but inevitable. I've never been a "just one thing" kind of girl. Writing, photography, and quilting are top of the list now, and will probably stay there. These are my art, my passion. And some days (or weeks), one of them will be all-consuming. For weeks now, quilting has been my passion.

I don't expect that August will be any less busy and frantic... but I hope to do a better job of writing about my days.


First time...

She doesn't look it in this picture, but Madison took to her new harness like a duck to water, and loved sharing the deck with us. She's actually a lap cat at the cabin... maybe she's clinging to the familiar because being outside is all so new, but it doesn't matter. I'll take it.

Yesterday the weather pattern changed, and smoke from the B.C. wildfires started to move south into Washington. As we drove around the canal and explored the back roads, we could see the smoky haze hanging in the air. We didn't know it at the time, but the smoke would be with us for three weeks, hiding the sky and turning the rising and setting sun into great disks of red.


A cabin by a lake...

Taking this...

Gets me to this. A glorious four days at the cabin.

There will be pruning (a lot of pruning), replacing the storm collar on the chimney, repairing the steps to the lake, swimming, reading on the deck, playing with Madison, quilting, geocaching, and watching the eagle's nest across the lake. 

Twenty years ago this summer, we bought our first piece of property here. And a year later, we bought the cabin next door. In those twenty years, we've shared the place with family and friends, watched a lot of kids grow from babies to adults with kids of their own, watched beavers swim along the shore, and eagles and osprey fish in the lake. Six of our cats have come to the lake with us, curling up by the woodstove and sleeping on the bed, and occasionally catching a mouse. We've seen countless gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, thunderstorms that dumped sheets of rain and lit up the sky, and winter snows and a frozen lake. So many memories, such good times.

Summertime at the lake... heavenly days.


Just my style...

The past couple of days, I worked at my guild's annual quilt show. I am always in awe of the creativity that is on display these three days. I especially love the quilts that mirror my personal style, like this beautiful applique quilt. It was by far my favorite quilt this year.

The appliqued flowers caught my eye first, then the embroidery, and the embellishments. It's clever and whimsical and beautifully made, and the fabrics and colors are wonderful.

The quilt is the result of a class designed to teach machine embroidery, and each of the blocks showcased a different stitch. Once the class was over, the final task was to combine all the blocks into a finished quilt.

Although I think the finished quilt is a bit busy, and admit that maybe I would have assembled it differently, that's the fun thing about quilting: give ten people the same pattern, and you'll get ten different quilts.

I kept coming back to this quilt, to look more closely at the applique work and the flowers, and each time I noticed different details.

I've never done much applique work, but this quilt definitely inspires me to give it a try.


Along the river...

Just five of us at Material Girls today... we had such a fun morning, sewing and talking. We all met less than a year ago, and I feel like I've known these ladies for years.

Our meteor-watching chairs arrived; we're going to the top of Crystal Mountain next month for a high-mountain view of the best meteor shower of the year.

We walked along the Cedar River in the early afternoon, and discovered a beautiful pond, tucked between the river and the trail. When I was a kid, it was a thrill to see a train crossing the river on the old trestle here. And now the tracks are gone, and
I wished I'd brought my big-girl camera.

Home again, to dig up a volunteer wild rose that's way too prickly to keep, then spread wood chips on everything I've weeded the past few days. I quit when it got too hot, and escaped to the cool basement to sew. When the summer turns this warm, I'm so grateful for a daylight basement.



The wild and crazy style of a cottage garden has always appealed to me, especially since I moved into a 1923 farmhouse surrounded by pastures and orchards. I never considered another style when designing my perennial gardens.

This year the gardens grew way beyond my wildest dreams, with lush and vivid foliage and blooms. I weeded early and often, but other than that, really just kept my hands off and let them grow.

There's a lesson here...



Wildflowers are amazing, and in the month of July, truly spectacular. But sometimes simple green can be just as wonderful.



We took an early morning hike down to Sunrise Lake today, a steep downhill walk from the switchback viewpoint just downhill from Sunrise. This might just be the most stunning approach anywhere in Mount Rainier National Park. After the last switchback, it's a straight shot directly into the side of the mountain (or so it seems).

DW hiked this trail decades ago with friends, hiking past the Palisades and camping overnight in a meadow full of springs (and during the night, full of elk and wolves chasing the elk, a long and humourous story that I never tire of hearing). But today, we didn't go farther than the first lake.

I've been leery of this hike for years, because downhill all the way to the lake also means an uphill climb to get back out. But it really wasn't bad. There's just a bit of snow left on the trail, and on the hills that ring the lake. We had the trail to ourselves, found our earthcache, took a lot of photographs of the amazing reflections, and decided to walk clear around the lake before heading up.

From above, the lake is deep green. Down at the lake shore, it's a vivid blue that rivals the sky.


Let it be...

I have tried so many times over the years to grow columbines of pink and lavender and pale blue, and those beautiful bi-color plants of white with yellow or lavender. But somehow they always morph into this stunning dark purple.

So I have learned to let them be... to allow them to grow and bloom the way they want, and be happy with the result. They reward me by pushing their way out of the ground early each spring, growing into lush green mounds, and blooming steadily into early July.



It's the start of wildflower season, and it's looking like a great year for hunting the alpine wildflowers.

At a mile high near Mount Rainier National park, the bear grass, lupine, and paintbrush are in full bloom, in meadows free from snow for just about two weeks.