True to the land...

This two-story gable barn still has its old-world character, with an ancient row of trees lining the road that leads to the doors. You'd never guess that the inside has been spruced up so it can be used for weddings. I love that the owners cared enough about the history of the farm to make sure that the barn remains true to the land that surrounds it.


A little light reading...

Winter is usually when I catch up on my reading... I devour new releases from my favorite fiction writers, loving those chilly days spent by the wood stove, sipping a mug of tea, with a cat on my lap.

But this year I made myself a promise: to get outside more, no matter the weather. To walk the trails and drive the back roads looking for photographs. To focus on photography books instead of fiction, to keep learning.

Today, DW went in search of plumbing supplies for our expanding laundry room project. Oh joy. But I tagged along, and read this while I waited in the car. It's a tough read in many ways, but stuffed with great information. And since most of my photography is landscapes, and since in our climate you take what you can get when it comes to weather and light, I hope the book will be a valuable resource.


Bug in the woods...

For quite a while now, I've wanted to explore the Danville-Georgetown open space park, and pick up the many geocaches there. It's a few hundred acres, named for one of the coal mining towns that used to be there (Georgetown), and the railroad that serviced the area. It's a popular place for horseback riding, which is evident by the parking "lot:" a quarter-mile long extra-wide strip along the road, perfect for horse trailer parking. Today there were nine trailers there. As I headed off down the trail, I wasn't thinking about caching... I was thinking that if I still had horses, I'd be hauling out here to ride these trails.

In spite of all the horse trailers, I had the trail to myself. I found my cache, and also a rusty red VW beetle in the woods... and I wanted to walk further than I had time for.

It seems to happen way too often. And I say "next time" way too often. I'll have to work on that.


A barn in winter...

Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding;
And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.
-- Walt Whitman

Finding old barns to photograph has been a mission of mine this winter, and I've found myself out on the back roads in all kinds of bad weather.. rain, wind, temperatures in the 'teens. But the weather didn't bother me. It's been fun to get onto roads I've never noticed before, and find barns on roads I've driven a hundred times.

This beautiful broken gable barn stands on an old farm near my own farm, but the star of the show is the old farmhouse and cluster of 100 year+ farm buildings... with Mount Rainier in the background.

Linking this beautiful barn today on Tom's Barn Collective.


One of those...

Moss creeping across a stone pillar, Franklin Cemetery

I couldn't sleep, and at 5:45 I finally rolled out of bed and pulled on sweats. Thirty degrees and cloudy, but no snow on the ground... or the horizon. Bummer...

Between household chores (yawn) I worked on a quilt, then pulled myself away to start the laundry. And on the very first load, the washer broke. Really? It was the end of the day before hubby could take a look, and 15 minutes later he knew exactly what was wrong, and had ordered the $8 part to fix it.

I love that he can fix anything that breaks.


Sheep standing guard...

This barn... I think I'm in love with this farm and the old barns, even the sheep. If anything could drive me to pick up a brush and try my hand at painting, this farm just might do it.



Twice in the past week I've visited this old red Dutch-style barn on the Enumclaw Plateau, and both times, Mount Rainier has been shrouded behind the clouds. On Friday the "clamshell" was visible on the horizon. It's what the locals call the craggy set of foothills that appear to cradle Mount Rainier as it rises out of the hills to its full 14,410-foot height. The shape of the barn is very similar to the shape of the mountain, and it's frustrating that the mountain is hiding behind the clouds. Next time the weather clears, another trip to the plateau will be in order, and I'll post more photos.


Barn, revisited...

A couple of days ago, I went back to the perfect farm on the northern edge of the Enumclaw Plateau. The weather was different, with more blue sky and clouds than the Tuesday before, and warmer temperatures. But the barns were the same, and the same sheep were snoozing in front of the barns. The weathered colors were the same, and the beautiful setting was the same. The sheep were still curious, staring at me on the other side of the fence.

I wished I'd been able to cross the fence and get closer to these old structures. Maybe one day I'll ask permission, and get to do that.

But for now, I'll come back when I can, and stand there on the side of the road. I'll watch the change of seasons, and marvel at the weathered red paint of the barns, the tall trees, the golden grass, and the sheep.


Hobart barn...

    Up against the foothills in Hobart, a Western-style barn surrounded by stone walls

When I come across a new road to explore, it doesn't take much to make me turn the wheel. If I'm lucky, the reward is an old barn or farmhouse, or a building built a century ago, and abandoned to nature.

Finding this barn made the love of horses shiver inside of me, and I sat on the side of the road, the engine idling, thinking of long-ago horses who made their lives with me. When we finally bought our own little farm, I finally got the beautiful old farmhouse I'd always longed for.

Maybe, just maybe... the next farmhouse will come with a barn.


Road by road...

    Pasture in Hobart

Today I followed a road I'd never noticed before, navigating by touch and sight and curiosity...
and found a row of trees along a ridge, rising tall above a pasture, waiting for spring, and leaves, and new life.

But winter isn't over, and the dark ridge of mountains may soon be snow covered, competing with the white winter sky, giving the trees even more contrast for their silhouette.


Red truck...

It was a complete accident, a glance sideways as I drove toward a sharp corner, a bit of rusty red and bright chrome tucked behind a row of trees.

I kept going toward my goal: a red barn trimmed in white, with a good-weather, jaw-dropping view of Mount Rainier. There was no view of my favorite mountain that day, the clouds were down to the clamshell of foothills that hold up the mountain. But I got my barn shot, then came back to find that red truck.

Studebaker. 1940s vintage. Red with black fenders. That's all I know, but I'd like to know more.


In search of...

Today it was supposed to rain. But when I got up, the clouds were breaking up and the sky was too
interesting to ignore. Because of a cold and sore throat, I'd already begged off from my sewing group. So there was nothing to keep me indoors.

So I took off for the back roads, heading south to the Enumclaw Plateau in search of barns, farmhouses, and lone trees. With fingers crossed for a glimpse of Mount Rainier.

And before it started to pour, I found everything I hoped for. I stuck to the unfamiliar roads, and found this old farm, with two old barns, bare trees, and sheep. As I got out of the truck, a great blue heron flew overhead, close enough to touch, heading for the pond that's just out of the photo. This turned out to be the lull before the storm; the sky to the west was beginning to break up and patches of blue were peeking out. Twenty minutes later, the rain started and never stopped. We got more than an inch of rain today.

The Enumclaw Plateau has my favorite collection of barns and farms, and today I found barns, trees, foothills full of snow, and even an old red truck. But the mountain never made an appearance.

. . . . . . .

Linking up with the Backroads Traveler's Barn Collective.


Bits of me...

I can't walk on a beach without picking up a rock or bit of beach glass to bring home. Most people like sandy beaches that warm up in the sun, and feel good squished between their toes. I prefer rocky beaches with noisy surf, beaches where I can walk for hours looking for agates and jasper, or even pieces of old brick that have been scoured by the waves. Those are the beaches of my childhood, when my family spent every vacation on the Oregon coast, bringing home a bag full of rocks to run through the rock polisher. In my upstairs bathroom is a glass jar of those beautiful stones from my childhood... black and red, striped and heart-shaped, white quartz and agates of yellow and gold and copper.


Duck pond...

Duck pond near Peshastin, WA

Frozen water... there's a lot of it around here, after a few weeks of sub-freezing temperatures. The ponds in our small valley are frozen, and there's ice on the creeks. Our own pond stays shadowed all day long, hidden in the trees, and it seems to be a magnet for ducks in the wintertime.

When we moved to our small farm, there was a duck house floating on the pond. It was painted in the same colors as the farmhouse:  Williamsburg blue with bright white trim. When it started to fail, we rescued it, storing it in the barn for safekeeping. We always intended to repair it and move it back to the pond, but never did.

In years past, we'd be skating on our own pond by now. We used to have skating parties, invite family and friends, and build a bonfire to warm our hands by. I'd make a big pot of soup to feed everyone at the end of the day. I loved those parties. Our pond is overgrown now, and we can't skate there anymore.



    E. R. Rogers house, Steilacoom

This is the year to paint our 1923 farmhouse, and everywhere I go I look for paint colors on historic homes. I know the perfect combination is out there: house, window trim, and accent color.

Our little farmhouse is shingled from top to bottom, and has wide trim boards and molding, and wide boards frame the double-hung windows.

In Tacoma and Steilacoom, we saw many homes with our architecture, painted in a soft sage green with white or cream trim. One had dark rust for the accent color (and front door), one had dark mulberry, and one had dark green.

I really liked the mulberry.

This beautiful house was built in 1891 and has been a private home, a boarding house, a restaurant, and is currently a law office. It's been completely restored, and stands along the waterfront with views of the Anderson Island ferry, the south sound islands, and the Olympic mountains.



I woke to icy roads and cars in the ditches... snow turned to freezing rain and delayed schools, but all was well by 10:00. So I went to my quilting group, where the foot pedal for my antique Featherweight shorted out. A friend brought antique quilts to share, and a beautiful green and white hexagon quilt came home with me. I cached solo along the Green River, and made cabbage soup for dinner, with a bottle of cabernet sauvignon from the cellar.

It was my favorite kind of winter evenings... a fire in the woodstove, a cat sleeping on a pad in front, and hand sewing to work on.


Bare branches...

On the third day of the new year, we braved the icy wind and took a walk on an abandoned road that snakes along the Green River. The wind rustled through the dead grass and the bare branches, and our feet were silent on the old blacktop. When we turned around and headed back toward the truck I spotted the new moon, framed in the branches of a winter maple.


Scene and story... December 2016

To me, winter was always the season to spend indoors, reading and sewing, sitting by the fire with a cat on my lap. And maybe I'd get some of those chores done... like cleaning out closets.

There were years when spending time outdoors in the winter was required, and I got used to being cold all day when we skied, and cold when I had a horse, and exercising the beast was a requirement no matter how cold or rainy or snowy it got.

But that changed in August of 2015, when we decided to go out to find a geocache every day, until we hit 500 days in a row. Now I find myself going out in all kinds of weather, and I look forward to it for much more than just that one geocache.

A day in December brought that home in a big way. DW and I started the day with a walk on a section of the Snoqualmie Valley trail near Preston. The morning was foggy and beautiful, and the trail beckoned me to come explore. We found our geocache, and as I turned to follow DW back to the Pilot, the early morning light took my breath away. I dropped everything to grab my camera and record this scene.

The rest of the day we explored the back roads, and were treated to stunning views of the Cascades dressed in the season's first real blanket of snow.

. . . . .

My friend, Sarah, has a new linkup on her blog, Paisley Rain Boots. Each month, we'll post a photograph from the previous month, and write a bit about it. This is mine.



A day on the Tacoma waterfront, exploring. From the Chihuly glass fountain, frozen in the 17-degree morning, to the grassy public spaces along Ruston Way, it was a morning to learn about the history of the old waterfront, long gone.

All day it was sunny and clear and cold, and I don't think I was warm all day. We ended the day in Lakewood for dinner and a beer with geocaching friends, old and new.


A year ago...

This wee kitten had her second bath. We cuddled her in a nest of bath towels until she was on her way to being dry, then parked her right in front of the wood stove. She spent the next couple of hours "washing" every bit of fur until it was dry. (Don't you love the "drumstick" pose?)

Today, a year later and at almost 13 pounds, she no longer fits on this padded cat bed.

But she's just as entertaining on bath day.


Better late...

This little photo shows what I love to look for in the woods... the detail of rock and moss and leaf and bark that when joined together, makes a forest.
. . . . .

Four years ago I set a goal for myself: to learn more in-depth the photo editing software I've used for years, Photoshop Elements. I know so many people who have moved on to Lightroom, and I'd love to do the same. But this is the software I have, and I know there are better ways to edit my photographs.

On the last day of the year, I went through my photographs in search of one photo to illustrate each month. As I browsed, I was disappointed to see so many dull photos that didn't tell a story. While I'd prefer to not take this kind of photograph, that's another goal. I don't want to have to tweak my photographs. But if a quick fix will bring life to a photograph, I'd like to know the best way.

And as I learn new skills, I'll practice on those disappointing photographs, instead of just deleting them.


Winter hike...

What to do on a sub-freezing day in January? Going for a hike sounded like a good idea. So we bundled up, and off we went. We recently learned about the Sequalitchew Creek trail near DuPont, which runs from town all the way to Puget Sound.

This is a great trail... not too steep, well maintained, through a beautiful canyon lined with tall trees and ferns. There is a lot of history here. At the lower end of the trail are signboards that tell about the Native American people who lived here, the early settlers, the duPont wharf, and the early railroad. You can walk all the way to the rocky beach; the trail runs under the railroad tracks through a double concrete tunnel. One side is for foot traffic; the other still has the narrow gauge track.

The only steep part of the hike was when we climbed the switchbacks up to the top of the hill, where the duPont plant once stood. The trail runs between the old security fence and the edge of the bluff, with a peek-a-boo view of Puget Sound, the Olympics, and the south sound islands. The trail runs through a canopy of trees, so gorgeous in the late afternoon light.

One last little discovery was down a side trail, which led to a clearing on the edge of the bluff. Nothing remains of the 1841 observatory that once stood here, but duPont marked the spot with a monument.


First day...

Woke early to 31 degrees, happy to find snow on the ground
Read "Wicked Autumn" in a quiet house, with a mug of lemon tea
Got muddy finding a rock wall geocache
Cleaned the kitchen
Brushed Madison, but she never got her bath
Finally put away the camping gear
Started the laundry
Put away Christmas, but left out the winter decorations
Had leftover pizza for dinner, with a bit of chocolate for dessert
Organized photographs from 2016
Thought about what project to take to Material Girls
Worked through some Photoshop Elements tutorials