A tiny forest...

On the top of a cedar post, on a cliff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, this tiny green forest of moss and lichen.



The farm is still hovering on the cusp of spring. The late winter flowers are gorgeous, the lily of the valley bush, the hellebores, the forsythia, the purple primroses.

The daffodils are close to bloom, and the early rhododendrons are budding. The month is almost over, and I'm still waiting for the rains to quit so I can start digging in the dirt.

But until then, the holly trees bridge the gap between winter and spring.


The best barns are horse barns...

We're thinking of another visit to one of our favorite towns in SE Washington, Walla Walla. It's home to a thriving wine industry, is on the edge of the Palouse wheat country, and has some of my favorite houses and barns. It also has hundreds of geocaches, if you're into that (like DW and I are). There are twisty back roads for the sports car, mountains and rushing rivers, snow in the winter and heat in the summer. It's one of our favorite places.

A few years ago we discovered the Kibler barns, a barn unlike any I'd ever seen. So when we got home, I did a bit of research.

The Kibler family left an enduring legacy in the Walla Walla Valley, through the agricultural structures they built. Four barns were built from similar plans, each constructed for members of the extended family, and two of the Kibler Barns remain in the family to this day. The white barn on the original farmstead, built in 1918, was accepted in the first round of nominations to the Washington Heritage Barn register (along with my brother-in-law's family barn on Vashon Island).

As much as I love barns, I also love farmhouses. It's great that this wonderful farm has an equally wonderful farmhouse.

My favorite of the four Kibler barns is across the green wheat fields from the 1870 Kibler Farm. It's the biggest of the Kibler barns, painted red with white trim, and was built to stable 48 draft horses. Can't you just imagine this barn full of huge horses at the end of the day? The grooms rubbing each horse down after the day's work, tossing hay down from the loft into each manger, bedding each stall with fresh straw, the horses munching their evening hay.

Some might disagree, but I think the best barns are horse barns.

Linking up today with Tom's Barn Collective.



We were determined to go hiking today, in spite of the wind and rain, and waking up to 32 degree temperatures.

As we headed west along Crescent Lake, we came around a corner and out of the wind, and there was the most perfect reflection. Hills and mountains, still water, misty clouds... perfectly beautiful.



A few days away to celebrate our anniversary took us to the northern coast of Washington, for some hiking and beach walking, photography and geocaching, and good food and wine tasting. We're staying in our first AirB&B, a cute cabin on a creek.

This pack of feral cats lives on Ediz Hook. The locals take good care of them; they look well-fed and healthy. The first one came out of hiding as soon as we drove in, and before we left, seven cats were sniffing around the Pilot.

We watched the late afternoon sun light up the snowy mountains behind Port Angeles, then headed for our little cabin with a pizza and a bottle of red.



Hundreds of American Widgeon ducks decorate this small pond in Sequim. And one lone Mallard, for a change of color.


In bloom...

In just a week or so, the cherry trees should be in bloom. The buds are swelling, and there's the tiniest bit of pink already showing.


Spring cleaning...

Today felt like the eye of a hurricane... clear and sunny and brilliant blue skies, following days of storms and rain that wouldn't stop. I look out the window and think about things in bloom, of finishing up the pruning.

    Will the camellias ever bloom? I'm waiting...

But I turn my back on the garden. Today is all about cleaning out attics. By the end of the day, my kitchen was stacked with boxes of old electronics and satellite dishes and receivers and computers and modems and mice... all going to a recycling event on Saturday. It's a mess, but it feels so good to have this done. This thing we've talked about doing for a very long time finally happened.

And my biggest attic just got a whole lot bigger.



It's the color of spring, and eagerly awaited each year as March heads toward April. The daffodils are up and setting flower heads, and the forsythia wants to bloom but is hesitant.

It's also the color of the vintage suitcases in my guest room, cute striped and herringbone cases with Bakelite or leather handles. Two more, and I'll have a suitcase bedside "table" for guests. Until then, it's a cute little platform for a couple of Boyds bears.


A morning spent sewing...

    Pieris in bloom around the patio... the only thing in bloom on the farm right now

Breakfast with DW and our friend Larry at Testy Chef, then they went off to work on his computer. I was going to head north or south and look for photographs, but instead I headed for home. A few hours' uninterrupted sewing time was just too enticing to pass up.

A new quilt for a friend is in the works, and so are a half dozen others that are almost completed. Madison came downstairs for a snooze and to keep an eye on me.

My kind of day... quiet, and productive.


Winter barns...

It's snowed a half dozen times this winter (so far)... but the timing hasn't worked out at all for photographing my favorite barns with snow on the ground. To compensate for that lack (which I really feel), I've gone back to other years and other snowy landscapes, to remember some of my favorite winter scenes.

We weren't able to get to Ellensburg this winter, but in 2016 we spent a weekend with good friends, and before we drove back to the west side, I spent a few hours in a blizzard, photographing some of the farms south of town. I was the only one out on the roads, an experience I won't ever forget.

The falling snow blurs the edges, making photographs look like paintings.

Among the several hundred barns in the Kittitas Valley, many are decorated with painted quilt blocks. Kittitas County has the only designated barn quilt trail in the state of Washington.

The valley also has several intact historic homesteads, like this one west of town. I love barns, but exploring a place where old farmhouses still stand proud with their barns is so special.

Sharing my winter barns on The Barn Collective today.


In the rain...

A visit to the cabin to do some measuring today... after breakfast at The Tides with a killer view of Gig Harbor, especially from the ladies room.

Then we spent a few hours geocaching our way to the cabin, exploring some backroads along the way. The rain never let up. The creeks and rivers are swollen and pastures are flooded.

Working our way toward home took us to Key Peninsula, a pioneer cemetery, and an English gambrel barn built partway out over a salt water inlet. It was the only time I brought out my big girl camera, to run quickly out on a bridge and snap a few photos of this barn.



It didn't rain today, the first day in too many to count. So I decided to tackle my own "first:"  the first day of 2017 when I got my hands dirty in the garden.

We have a small orchard next to our old farmhouse, planted by a previous owner many years before we bought our little farm. I can see the orchard from the kitchen windows, and love to watch the trees change through the seasons.

The bare branches of winter are sometimes covered in snow and ice. Before winter ends, the trees start bursting into bloom, starting with bright white blooms on the yellow plum tree, followed by the Italian plum, the winter pear, and the apple trees. The yellow plum is already budding out. Soon the orchard will hum with the sound of bees doing their job of pollinating the blossoms. Then comes my favorite time: when the bright green leaves emerge and shroud the branches in color.

Before I see the first blooms, I try to prune the trees. Nothing drastic, just cutting the suckers before they get too big to manage. (And strip off the moss that grew over the fall and winter.) But that didn't happen this year... my excuse of "too darn cold" changed to "too soggy and rainy" in the blink of an eye, and it still hasn't stopped raining.

So this afternoon when the sun came out, I set aside quilting and journal, grabbed gloves and pruners and my tall stepladder, and headed for the orchard. The rain held off for a couple of hours, and I worked my way from the pear tree to the Italian plum. I was forced to prune from the ground: the first time I stepped onto the ladder, it sunk into the ground all the way to the first step!

Maybe I need to let the ground dry out a bit?



Thursday evening was spent with the church gals, learning about art quilts. This style is completely outside my quilting comfort zone, but I think they're beautiful.

It's the raw edge that makes me cringe; I spent too many decades making clothes to ever be able to embrace a technique that could fray itself right out of existence. But find a way to do this without any raw seams, and I'll be a convert!

The houses are pieced, which I like. The embellishments... the windows and doors, the trees and flower boxes, are fused in place and embroidered (or not). It's all free form and anything goes.

We're supposed to make our own small art quilt for our May meeting, and I'm torn between the houses (which I love), and this floral quilt. It has a batik fabric for the background, and is machine quilted before the applique leaves and circles of flowers are fused and embroidered in place.

Or maybe I'll design a barn quilt. I've been saving some farm and animal fabrics for a wall quilt... this would be the perfect change to try out some new techniques.


Two years ago...

Two years ago today, I was two days into my first trip to Hawaii. I just may be the only person on America's west coast who's never been there before, but thanks to some friends, DW and I finally made it there. And we loved it. Today was another first: pulling on flippers and a mask, and slipping into the warm water to watch fish and turtles in their own environment. I instantly fell in love with snorkeling, and could hardly wait to go again. It was the best thing about the whole trip.


Cut short...

I came home early from a weekend at the cabin, to attend a memorial service for my parents' oldest friend. She and her husband moved across the street from us before I was born, and the whole family have been lifelong family friends. She lived a long, wonderful life, passing away just a week before her 95th birthday, and I will miss her.

Before the service, my sister and I had lunch together in the town we grew up in, talking about our childhood and how much things have changed in our home town. And as we talked, my sister noticed a train moving slowly through downtown, carrying three 737 airplanes on their way to the Boeing plant for final assembly.

Of all the things that have changed, one constant has been Boeing. We grew up on the hillside above the plant, with a view of the Renton airport and rows of commercial jets waiting for delivery to customer airlines. Seeing airplanes traveling through downtown brought back so many memories, we just had to walk outside to take pictures.

It's certainly one thing that sets our home town apart from any other in the country... how many people will ever see this?


Scene & Story | Abstract...

The fishermen arrived at the same time as the snow... so instead of going out on the lake in their small boat, they made a shelter between the truck and a fence, pulled the boat inside, and fished from the shore. For hours they endured gusty winds blowing snow straight at them, but they never quit.

All day I watched it snow, and watched the wind blow. We stayed until mid-afternoon, and I was happy for the extra hours, keeping the fire going and reading, glad I was snug inside.

Sharing today on Scene & Story, a monthly gathering from Sarah & Lee.


Simple days...

Huevos Rancheros, cabin style. A tortilla loaded up with seasoned potatoes, black beans, eggs, turkey bacon, and cheese, topped with salsa. A great start to the morning, especially while reading my new book: the best fishing spots in Washington.

After breakfast, we read and cuddled with Madison (it's her third cabin weekend), then we all took a trip to town to browse through the thrift stores. Everyone settled down for a nap when we got back, but I worked on a quilting project. It rained most of the day; the ducks loved it, but I was less than thrilled about walking to the outhouse in a downpour.

We're the only ones at the lake this weekend, except for the full-timers. Only one fisherman showed up to toss in a line from the public landing, but the fish weren't biting in the rain today.

Madison spent the day by the window, keeping an eye on the lake.

I love quiet days at the cabin.


And so it begins...

For me, the beginning of spring starts with opening up the cabin for the season. It's my favorite place, beautiful and full of memories. Of days spent on the deck and swimming in the lake, followed by star-filled nights sitting by a campfire. Of watching eagles and osprey hunting up and down the lake. Of good food and wine shared with family and friends, and falling asleep to absolute peace and quiet.

The lake was flat calm and full of ducks when we arrived today, but it didn't last. The rains we drove through on our way here soon arrived, and the day turned gloomy and wet. By the time our friends arrived, rivers of water were flowing down the roof and the lake had all but disappeared.

I didn't really mind... we haven't seen these friends for a year, and all I wanted to do was sit and talk and catch up.

It was a perfect day.



I took a walk around the property today, looking for signs of spring. The camellias are loaded with buds, but only one lone bulb has a hint of cerise showing. One small purple primrose is in bloom, and the branches of the yellow plum tree are studded with tiny white buds. The fruit trees are loaded with suckers; if it ever stops raining I'll get started on the pruning. In the wide border hear the house, one of the Hellebores didn't make it through the winter, and the other shows no signs of blooming. As I walked around the patio and along the other borders, everywhere were signs of perennials pushing up through the ground.

Winter isn't over yet; it's wet and cold and the ground doesn't invite any interference from me yet. But soon...