Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Amy by a giant redwood stump.

I read in the news today about a massive elm tree in Yarmouth Maine named Herbie, and that having lost a battle with Dutch elm disease finally had to be cut down. Herbie was estimated to be 110 feet tall and more than 200 years old, and when his 10 ton trunk was toppled, the ground shook.
For whatever reason, it is always sad to me when a tree has to go. I think of the history that has occurred in the tree’s lifetime, and the fact that what takes nature years and years to do, people can undo in a matter of minutes.
My family and I have lived in three houses now where a tree had to be cut down. At our current house it was not a sad event. There was a spruce in the front yard that was dead when we moved in and therefore unsightly and dangerous. Removing it made the front yard look better and also allowed more light to reach several old maple trees near it.
Our first house, in Western New York, was situated on a couple acres with many trees. On a clear summer day, with not a cloud in the sky, a bolt of lightening came down and struck an ash tree in the backyard. Tragic yes, but it was the freakishness of it more than anything. My daughter was around two years old at the time and we’d put up a swing for her in that very tree. What really makes me shudder is that moments before the lightening hit my husband was about to take her out to swing! Needless to say, that tree had to go as well, split in two when struck.
The ash tree.

The one tree that we really hated to lose, and put off cutting down as long as possible was a huge box elder at our second house. This tree was old and beautiful and the perfect climbing tree for kids and grown ups alike. It even had a burl on one side that looked like a bear climbing up the trunk. But box elders don’t age well, and this tree showed signs of rot. Once, when the Ellensburg wind was really howling, and we left town to temporarily escape it, I’d joked that wouldn’t it be ironic that if while we were gone something happened to the tree. Well it had!! A limb, almost the size of a regular tree, had broken off and fallen across the road in front of our house and the city had to come with some huge piece of equipment and clear it away. Thank goodness no one was walking or driving by at the time!
After that it was only a matter of time until the dreaded phone call was made. The day the tree company came I didn’t stick around to watch. It was too heart breaking. And when the tree was gone there was just so much empty space, both out in the yard and in our hearts.
Amy with a family friend up in the box elder.

For every tree we’ve lost, we’ve planted something in its place—another tree, a shrub, or some flowers in the new patch of sun that now shines through. In this way, these gentle giants though gone, aren’t ever really forgotten.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Favorite Things

Last week I was tagged by wonderful Suzie over at Itch to Stitch to make a list of 10 of my favorite things. Here are the things I've chosen:

My daughter Amy is without a doubt one of my favorites, and something that represents how much I love being with her is that I still read to her almost every day. Currently we are enjoying “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.

I love Hawaii, and I’ve loved every single visit I’ve been blessed to take there. For me it truly is a special place, and each time I come home I feel like I leave another piece of my heart behind. One of the things that captivates me most are the palm trees-I could watch them sway all day long. There are also some really nice people in Hawaii too and I am touched by the spirit of Aloha they have shown.

No list of mine could be complete without chocolate. As far as I’m concerned it should be one of the basic food groups, and to paraphrase Will Rogers, “I never met a piece of chocolate I didn’t like.”

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like my sewing room, and it is one of my favorite things as well as one of my favorite places to be. It is still a work in progress, and I still hate the wall paper, but it is my little haven.

Another favorite of mine is my garden. I love working in it and I’m very proud of how it is coming along. When we bought this house, the back yard was a mess—it had been used as a parking lot by the former inhabitants, and all that survived was an old apple tree and a few blades of grass. Putting the garden in has been a labor of love and I fuss over my plants as though they were my babies.

I love a good second hand store. I always have, and I probably always will. When I’m asked what I’m looking for I reply “I don’t know yet, but I will when I see it!”
I get some of my best barkcloth at second hand stores, which leads me to the next favorite thing on my list…

Barkcloth! I could paraphrase Will Rogers once again, and substitute the word barkcloth instead. I pretty much do love it all and I’m especially in awe the of the barkcloth designers of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s—they were masters in their combinations of colors and they came up with some pretty amazing designs too. I only hope I can keep finding this wonderful fabric while I can still afford it!

Since I do a lot of sewing, I love a good sewing machine, and my favorites are vintage models. I currently own three beauties-Singers from the years 1946, 1950, and 1961. They sew wonderfully, they are a pleasure to use, and they are practically indestructible. Still on my wish list to add to my favorites is a machine from before WWII.

I love our dog Willow and I love to pet her ears. They are so soft! The longer we have her the more precious she becomes. She wasn’t an easy dog to have when we first got her and I must admit I often regretted taking her in. But 13 or so years later she is the best dog I know and wouldn’t trade her for any other.

And my 10th favorite thing? So many choices could go here… a good cup of coffee, watching old movies, snowflakes…but for now I think I will leave it blank, and just be thankful for the favorite things I have. I also dedicate this spot to the people of Haiti, in hopes that they too can have their own list of favorite things again someday… things I have and try not to take for granted, like knowing where my loved ones are, and a roof over my head…everything else is just icing on the cake (#11, perhaps?)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Amy's Penguins

As a very proud mom I have to do a little bragging, but even if I didn’t crow it wouldn’t change the fact that my daughter Amy is a very talented little artist in her own right. For Christmas my Mother-in Law gave her a needle felting kit and right away she crafted this adorable pair of penguins.
I am constantly amazed at what Amy creates. If she can envision something she can usually make it a reality. She has a wonderful imagination and also a keen sense of design. I can’t wait to see what she will come up with next!