Real daisies...

I love daisy time in the Northwest. For weeks, my pastures are full of them, and they fill the ditches and the roadsides with their happy faces. With a little help, they also thrive in my flower beds. My husband calls them "real daisies," and refuses to consider the claim of any other.  When you grow up here, where they grow in such abundance, it's hard to disagree.

Raspberry to salmon...

The color contrast between blossom and berry is amazing... that's the Northwest salmon berry. I'm always happy to see the bright cerise blooms in early May, one of the first blooms in the woods here.

The blooms stand out, but when the berries make an appearance, they hide behind the leaves, peeking out only if you look for them.



Lately it's been a struggle to find a quiet time to sit and write. It seems as though everything is in a turmoil, perhaps a quiet turmoil, but still... hard to settle down and focus on writing my daily journal.

Here's my life the past three weeks: Interviewing roofing contractors. Interviewing painting contractors. Driving around to look at historic neighborhoods to get ideas for paint colors. Pulling weeds. Dismantling a couple of dozen patio pots and moving plants around. Cleaning out the potting shed. Finishing up a charity quilt top. Evening out with the dinner club. Two evenings in downtown Seattle, one for a meeting, the other for a cooking class and dinner. Searching for a new home for 16 beautiful old double-hung windows that came out of the farmhouse (years before we bought it). Washing a pile of old woolen fabric, turning it into felted wool. Planning a family camping trip for August. Getting ready to spend a few days babysitting a lookout tower. Cleaning out the old chicken coop, which was my tack room for all the years I had horses. A PSE energy audit. A drive around Mt. Rainier on the first day Chinook Pass was open (an annual tradition for us). A long-overdue trip to the dump, dragging stuff out of the house, the garage, and the barn (this felt especially good, except that it was 95 degrees that day, and the old truck has no a/c). A pulled back muscle that benched me for more than a week. And of course, our daily geocache.

No wonder my blog has been neglected, and I haven't even looked at the photographs I took in the garden last week. Or quilted any of the quilt tops I finished so far this year.

The roofer starts tomorrow, and that's a big relief. Getting the painting job started will be an even bigger relief. With five buildings, painting is a big job around here, and it will be good to finally settle on a contractor.

And then, maybe I can breathe again, and get back to my normal life.



It was hot before 10:00, but still we rummaged through the house and garage and barn, finding things with no value, loading the old truck until it was full. We had to leave some things behind, an old door that can't be repaired but just wouldn't fit. And lengths of drain pipe that DW just couldn't bring himself to get rid of. I know there's more junk to get rid of, but it will wait for another day.

It wasn't the best day to run around in a truck with no air conditioning. I was wilted by the time we finished at the dump. After wading through fair traffic to get to our favorite pub in Buckley, I thought the gods were looking out for us when we found a parking spot right in front. But no... the gals were swamped and frazzled (kind of like I felt) and their way to deal with the stress was to do absolutely nothing. So we left, headed south away from the madness, and finally found our dinner.

I watered the garden when we got home, and the peonies look as wilted as I feel. Tomorrow will be even hotter, so this may be the end until next year.


Spring in the valley..

The Kittitas Valley in central Washington has a rich farming heritage, and the broad open valley is home to more than a hundred barns. Many are on the Washington Heritage Barn registry, and many sport brightly colored quilt blocks. Because Kittitas Valley is also home to Washington's only barn quilt trail.

It's one of my favorite places to photograph historic barns. The light is beautiful and the views are wide open. Best of all, most of the valley is still being farmed. Some farms are managed today by the third generation of the original families.

Adding this barn to Tom's Barn Collective today. Check out his page for more beautiful barns.


Head of the creek...

We walked the trail from the lake to the freeway, in search of a geocache, but also to explore this tiny new park that links an old homestead site to a huge trail and open space system. We were obviously not the only humans this young buck has come in contact with... he was very curious, and seemed happy to pose for me.



Our nice days have been few so far this spring, but the hours have all been mine to work in the yard. There were so many years where I'd look out my office windows on a gorgeous sunny day, and wish I could be home in my yard. It's just one more beautiful thing about being retired.

I'm downsizing the containers on my patio this year... it will make things easier to manage. I transplanted perennials, cleaned out the rest of the pots, dumped the potting soil into a plastic garbage can, and stored the pots on shelves in the farm equipment shed. A lot of the terracotta pots didn't make it through the winter and the wet spring, and ended up in a bucket of pottery shards. Maybe I can find someone who can use them for art projects? Or they'll end up in the bottom of another container one day.


The Mountain...

A friend recently wrote about spending a few days in a place she used to visit with her father, and how those old memories came rushing back. I thought it sounded wonderful... new sights and experiences to share with her husband, mixed in with the bittersweet memories of days past.

I know people who will never go to the same place twice. I don't understand that... seeing an old place with new eyes is one of the best experiences one can ever hope to have.

Sunrise on Mount Rainier, from Suntop Lookout

Going to "The Mountain" is like that for me. I can't begin to count the times I've been to this national park, let alone the memories that always come back to me as soon as I drive under the entrance timbers.

My earliest memory is from when I was a toddler. My parents were inside a nearby ranger station, leaving me and my sisters outside to watch the ranger's pet raccoon. I tried to feed it, and it bit me. Not hard, just a nip. The scar on my finger is long gone, but I never forgot.

Memories of my favorite mountain changed when I met DW. Our first date was a drive around Mt. Rainier in his red MGB sports car. We took a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and sodas with us, and had a picnic in the meadows above Paradise Inn. Then we walked for a couple of hours, photographing the wildflowers. We were even temporary models for a photographer, who asked us to hold hands and be a frame for the meadows and the mountain in the background. It was the first time we held hands.

From then on, coming to our favorite landmark became a regular thing for us.  We can see the mountain from just about every place we go, and checking to see if it's "out" is a habit of 60+ years. We always pause to enjoy the view, and before we know it, we're dropping everything and driving south. It's a favorite place for a day's drive in our modern red roadster. It's my favorite place to photograph wildflowers.

Chinook Pass was reopened yesterday (we actually mark the calendar when the highway department expects to reopen the road). So of course, we had to drive around the mountain today. The road was wet with runoff, and as expected, Tipsoo Lake and the pass were buried in snow. There was fresh snow overnight, and the trees were beautiful

For an idea of how long and cold our winter was this year, check out this picture from June 26, 2015. Not 300 feet from the snow-covered bathroom building is where I took this wildflower photograph.

Our goal today was a hike to Boulder Cave, about twelve miles east of Chinook Pass, where the snow is gone and the wildflowers are just starting to bloom. It was drippy in the cave, and the ground was uneven and the footing was challenging, even with a headlamp, so the camera stayed in my pack. My cell phone snapped this shot inside this basalt cave.

It was a quick walk through the cave, followed by a not-so-quick stroll along the creek and through flower meadows with the camera, then we were on our way home via White Pass. All that snow is melting, filling rivers and reservoirs and waterfalls with runoff.

The rain held off until we got close to one of my favorite waterfalls, Clear Creek Falls. I had no protection for my camera but got out anyway to snap a few quick photos. All the times I've stopped here, I've never seen so much water thundering over the falls.

The heavy rain and mist in the air made it tough to get a good photograph today, but look at the difference between spring runoff and late fall. This one is from October 2005, when the larches were turning brilliant yellow and the waterfall was a trickle.

After a lot of geocaching along the highway and dinner in Packwood, we turned for home. Driving north on WA-123 through the eastern edge of the park, there were absolutely no cars on the road but ours.

We stopped at the entrance gate, with its huge cedar gate posts, so big I can't reach even halfway around them. I stood in the middle of the road for a photo, arms outstretched, embracing this mountainous place I love so much. It felt like the first time I'd ever been here, but at the same time, I knew I was adding another layer of experience that made all the other times that much more rich.



There's something so satisfying about sprinkling flower seeds into a freshly prepared pot, covering them gently with soil, and watering them in. A plant stake is the finishing touch.

I watched and waited, and just four days later, tiny green leaves were pushing through the soil. And when I took this photo on June 12th, the shoots are setting more leaves and looking good.

My cosmos seeds were from several sources, and ranged in age from 10 months to 10 years. But since they were all mixed together, it's impossible to know what seeds actually sprouted.

I'm going with the seeds my great-nieces collected and dried, with the help of their mom. From their garden on Vashon to my garden... I think that's pretty cool.


Hot stoves...

Tonight was so cool... we were invited to an event at Tom Douglas' Hot Stove Society, his cooking school in Belltown. We prepped and cooked everything from salad and side dishes, to broiled Alaskan black cod and beef tri-tip, to dessert. It was a great experience, working side-by-side with talented chefs, using commercial-grade equipment.

When everything was ready, we gathered around two huge tables in the kitchen, and ate what we prepared. With good wine and excellent company, it made for an amazing meal.


Edging toward summer...

The flower borders around our patio are edging toward full bloom. Everything is a bit later than last year, but the borders are so much more lush and beautiful.


Kittitas Valley barn...

This lovely farm has a killer backdrop: the Stuart Range of the Cascade Mountains. It's impeccably maintained, a truly beautiful old farm in the Kittitas Valley.

Linked today with the Barn Collective.


First pass...

It's a day I look forward to each spring. The day the John Deere comes out of the equipment shed and starts through the front pasture. In the days when I had horses, we never needed to mow. The tractor whacked down blackberries when needed, but mostly we used it for digging holes for fence posts, and hauling branches from the orchard to the burn pile.

But once the last horse went, mowing became a necessity, sometimes twice a year. We just have to be careful to mow before the quail start nesting, and to always leave a couple of patches of tall grass to give birds lots of cover.

It takes hours to mow. The front pasture slopes down a hill to a pond, and is dotted with cottonwood, maple, birch, and fir trees. DW knows where the permanent targets lie hidden: the tops of glacial erratics too big to dig out. But there are other hazards, like tree branches that fall and like hidden beneath grass that's sometimes over my head. I always listen with half an ear while he mows, and cringe when I hear the blades hit a hidden branch.

It's part of the ritual to climb the stairs to the upstairs office, with the best view of the pasture, and see the result of all that work. A beautiful mown pasture, all the bones revealed.



Every year, a small group of talented quilters from my guild get together, and brainstorm the guild's raffle quilt. The quilt will be revealed at our July quilt show, and tickets will go on sale then. But we all got a preview tonight.

It's big enough that even a 6'2" member couldn't hold up his end. And it's so beautiful, no one could keep their eyes off it for the rest of the evening.

Me included.