Tuesday, September 27, 2011



I thought this would be an appropriate post to re-post today.  I’m taking a little blogging break while we do some cosmetic work on our downstairs bathroom.


We live in an old Victorian house. Not the gingerbread variety, but the simple farmhouse variety. It was built in 1900, and has seen a lot, and not all good, in those 11 decades. 

When it came on the market a few years ago, we were living quite happily in a 1940 bungalow.  But there was just something about this house that compelled us to take a look. While it had a lot of good things going for it, like wood floors, ornate moulding and French doors, the negative aspects made us say "not for us," and "too much work."

This house was not going to give up so easily, though. It kept forcing its way into our thoughts. We started to think more and more about what we could do to fix it up, and what a really incredible place it could be once again. We began to see that by saving this house, we could save a piece of the history of our town. The house didn't care what our motives were. It simply wanted to be loved, and have owners who didn't  shoot BB’s into the walls, or write on them with markers.  Owners who didn’t park half a dozen cars in the front yard.

As we moved in shortly before Christmas, and began the task of restoration, the house, or maybe the spirits of those who lived here before us, began to thank us.  Our first evening as new residents, an overwhelming aroma of cigar smoke and perfume filled the living room.  Perhaps we were the guests of honor at a small welcoming party, given by a grateful, but unseen host. The following spring, we unearthed a gold wedding ring.  We discovered it buried in the dirt while we were putting in a flower bed. Another time, while cleaning out a pipe, we found a very old dime from 1869.  And most mysteriously-and oddly of all, there was the time when a dishpan full of water was found emptied on its own. Some help with housework?  That would be appreciated!

While having this house is a gift in itself, we wonder what tokens of appreciation it will offer us in the years to come.  In any case, we will continue our labor of love on this place we now call home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Choice


Feeling uninspired as a writer? Check.  Feeling a lack of success as an artist?  Check.  Feeling sorry for myself? Perhaps the biggest check of all, and if you’ll bear with me for one more-I recognized a reality check was in order.

Yesterday I spent a few hours doing some good old fashioned home canning.  I’d been staring at a 23 pound box of red Bartlett pears for a few days and decided they weren’t going to can themselves.  And I also kicked my own can a little and told myself that moping around and staring at a computer screen were not how I want to spend all of my time.

What I love about canning is not only the satisfaction of a job well done, when I am done, but I love the process.  It’s hot, and I dirty a lot of dishes and utensils.  Boxes of produce and kettles of water are heavy, and I get tired.  My back hurts.  But I’m serious about liking every second of it, because sometimes it just feels good to do some hard physical work.

Women in the past knew all about that.  My mom told me recently that her grandmother used to get so tired she wanted to die.   Cooking for the threshing crews and cleaning up, only to have to do the same thing over and over and over-plus do all the other household work too.

I have it pretty easy.  I wash a couple dishes, and then moon about my lack of inspiration as I try to write a blog post.  I sweep the kitchen floor and then obsess over my Etsy shop statistics.  So it’s no wonder that when I bought my vintage canner a few years ago, the clerk asked me what I was going to use it for.  “Canning,” I replied quizzically.  I guess the  obvious wasn’t so obvious any more.


Today I am pretty satisfied with my gleaming jars of pears.  Due to the gorgeous red skin of these particular Bartlett’s-the finished pears have a lovely rosy pink tint to them.  I know that come winter they will taste good as well as being pretty to look at.

Now back to the internet…

(To post this!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Avast, Me Hearties!


Begad! Snatch that mutinous landlubber!

Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

This day, not only do me mark th' passage 'o another year 'o me life, but this day be also international speak like a scurvy pirate day. Either way, a scowl 'n an arrrrr be in order. If ye’d like to spy wit' ye eye ye moniker translated into a scurvy pirate moniker, ye can take 'tis quiz. I guarantee it be pretty silly, but I like me moniker fer this day!


After ye take th' quiz, then be tellin' me what ye moniker be if ye like, me bucko!

Mad Mary Flint

Shiver me timbers!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blown Away

craft show

Two years ago, I participated in a craft show held on Saturday, September 19. The day also happened to be my birthday.  I wrote this post about the experience and thought I would repost it today.   We are leaving this afternoon to visit my parents for the weekend to celebrate my birthday with them.   I’m hoping for good weather, but at least we’ll be inside.


“The wind is my friend.” “The wind is my friend.”

The man next to me was chanting, with quiet desperation in his voice.  We were squished together like sardines, along with many other vendors, inside a big permanent tent set up at an outdoor art show. His whole display had just crashed to the ground.

The day had not started well. Everyone had set up their displays early that morning amid cloudy skies and howling wind. But then miraculously, the wind died down and the sun came out. It was going to be a gorgeous day after all!  We milled about and visited with each other before settling in to wait for the show to open, the customers to come, and business to be good.

And then I noticed something. My handmade bags began to twist ever so slightly on their hangers. My canopy gave a slight shiver. And I thought to myself, in despair, “It’s coming back…”

In the blink of an eye, it was back, growing in force like a runaway train. And before I had time to go to plan B or even come up with plan A…BAM! Over went my display racks and off like kites flew my bags. It was a horrible moment. Some kindly people (I don’t know who they were, the moment is a blur), helped me set back up. For a little while I was good, and then BAM! This time something rather unladylike slipped out of my mouth as I expressed my frustration.  I was in a state of panic. What was I going to do? The show still had a good 4 hours to go.

It did not take long before everyone was in distress. Paintings, jewelry and everything in between were set aloft. This is when many of us were ushered into the big tent, normally reserved just for a few artists. It really didn’t matter. Even inside the tent, the wind kept finding its mark. I heard vendors say over and over to potential customers “Well, I had a nice display set up, but you see, the wind came up…” As for me, I sat quietly in a daze, the wind having deafened me and left me speechless hours earlier. My once neatly hung bags, arranged carefully by style and color, were in a shambles, and my racks were anchored to my table with a tangled maze of ropes. All that I really cared about at that point was that my bags were all still there. (I didn’t count them. I probably should have.)

As the hours went by, the day continued to deteriorate.  The wind blew harder and harder and it got cold. It even got to the point that all of us stopped looking around to see whose stuff had taken the latest hit. The only thing that mattered was how fast we could pack up and go home.

So what can I say about the wind, now that the show is over?

That after being battered by it for hours, I finally know what it’s like to have straight hair.   And I probably should learn some new vocabulary words to express myself in times of crisis.  That once again, Mother Nature proves that she is Mother Nature.  (When the event coordinator became irritated with me the week before the show because I asked her what happened in the event the weather was bad, and she said it wasn't going to be bad, I felt like I’d chalked up a victory right along with the wind.) And most of all, in the worst circumstances, we come together and help each other.

And you know what else? 

A piece of chocolate birthday cake tastes even sweeter after a trying day.  But I sure could have used a little help to blow out all those candles.  Where is the wind when you need it?

(Thanks to my daughter Amy for the "before" picture.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

13 Pictures

I wrote this last fall, and thought I would post it again. 

As I was making chili yesterday, I thought about those picture frames you can get that hold all of a child’s school photographs from kindergarten through grade 12. I remembered thinking when Amy was really little, that 13 years was a long time, and a lot of pictures.

Last June Amy finished middle school, and had I bought one of those picture frames, 9 slots would now be filled. Along with those 9 years come a lot of memories.

Memories like Amy’s very first day of kindergarten, when her brand new teacher forgot to count the children after recess and Amy was left outside, all alone, for quite a while. Amy didn't mind.  She had fun playing long after everyone else had gone inside. She was “found” by a helpful 5th grader who took her back to her classroom, and a very embarrassed teacher. Amy happily related the incident after school that day, much to both Stuart’s and my horror!!

I remember a list of spelling words that came home when Amy was in the third grade.

Sailor.   Anchor.   Knot.   Ship.   Bosom. 


That made me do a double take! I had visions of lusty barmaids entertaining men who’d been at sea too long. I realized quickly though, that Amy’s teacher meant the word boson.

Then there was the dear teacher who announced to the class, “Had Lincoln not been assassinated, he would still be alive today!” That was in 2002…

One year at the spring student talent show and bar-b-que, attended by families, friends and respectable members of the community, the local country music radio station provided the D.J. services. They played music before the show started, while people were getting their lunches,  and the kids were getting ready to perform. Above the chatter of the crowd I could hear the strains of “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo.” Was it my imagination, or did the lunch servers ask, “Would you like milk or tequila with your burger?”

And I smiled remembering the junior high school age kids. Once they’d fought over who got to sit on my lap when I would help out in Amy's classrooms.  Now I spied them awkwardly holding hands with boyfriends and girlfriends.

Yes, lots of memories…

Yesterday, Amy started high school. Hard to believe that she is only 4 pictures away from going off to college.  As I made the chili, I must admit I had tears in my eyes. But then again, those were some pretty strong onions I was chopping.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trade Up

This is a picture of my new sewing cabinet.  If it leaves you at a loss for words, don’t feel bad.  My reaction, at first, was the same.

A couple weeks ago, one of my husband’s co-workers (Let’s call him Hank, shall we?) emailed my husband and asked if I would like to have an old treadle sewing machine and table.  “Yes!” I replied!  No two ways about it.  I have a habit of collecting sewing machines and a vintage foot powered model would be the perfect addition.

The machine, I found out, was acquired in a trade for an old washing machine.  Some college kids knocked on Hank’s door one evening, and explained they were taking part in a game called Trade Up.

Each person starts with something small, like a bobby pin.  And then they go door to door asking if they might trade their small item for something bigger.  I’m not sure of the exact rules, but that is the gist of the game.

So when the owners of the treadle sewing machine came calling on Hank, Hank was more than willing to seize upon the opportunity to rid himself of the unwanted washing machine.

About a week ago, Hank emails my husband again to see if I still want the machine. Yes!  I sure do!  Arrangements are made to go get it, and I ask if I should come along to help.  No,  I’m told.  Hank has mentioned it doesn’t weigh that much.

What?  Doesn’t weigh that much?  An old cast iron sewing machine can double as a boat anchor in a pinch.

I pace around the house with anticipation, (with visions of restoring my new classic machine to its former glory) and soon enough, my husband is home.  “Well,”  he says.  “It’s not exactly what Hank remembered it to be  It was night time when he got it.  First, there’s no machine.  It’s just a cabinet.  And second, it’s pretty beat up.  Hank offered to take it to the dump if you decide you don’t want it.”

I admit, it wasn’t love at first sight.  But my daughter offered to help me clean it up-she could see the potential right away.  And I have to admit, that as the dust and spider webs fell away, I started to see the potential too.  The cabinet does have a certain charm.  Someone, at some point, made a valiant attempt to give it character.  They painted  the trim black, and added circles of plastic, also painted black, behind the black and gold knobs.

The cabinet, with it’s touches of black and gold, really does go well with my tiny Singer Featherweight.  And the drawers are nice.  Who doesn’t need more storage space? The cabinet is comfortable to sit and sew at, and I have to admit it adds a certain flair to the room.

Now, if someone ever comes to my house playing Trade Up, there is a certain  brass chandelier-reminiscent of an octopus-in the basement, that I’ve been meaning to get rid of…

Sunday, September 11, 2011


hold fast


Traditionally, a sailor would have HOLD tattooed on one knuckle, and FAST on the other knuckle so that he could keep a better grip on the riggings.  In other words, don’t let go.

Today, as our nation pauses to reflect on the events of this day, 10 years ago, I think HOLD FAST is a fitting reminder to all of us.

Hold fast.  Don’t let go.  Persevere, and triumph.  Through anything.

In remembrance of all of the victims of September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All’s Fair in Ellensburg

this way_thumb[1]

Every Labor Day weekend, the population of Ellensburg grows from 15,000 to 55,000 as people come from who knows how far and wide to attend the Kittitas County Fair and PRCA rodeo.

I wish I could say that  I meant to take a picture with my finger in it-but I didn’t.  It does serve a purpose though-as it looks like I’m pointing the way to a day of fun.



Notice the bottom sign?  Here in Ellensburg they don’t tolerate hooliganism!



Sadly, not a Mary in the bunch.



The fashionable steers this season chose blue. 


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Working at the cow wash…



What a beautiful face!


canned goods_thumb[1]

I also like to do home canning , and I was inspired by all of these colorful jars of fruits and vegetables.  It is a lot of work, though.  It would be so much easier to grab a few of these  instead.  But I didn’t..


bird rolls_thumb[1]

I believe this was the first time that I ever saw bird rolls.  Cute!  I’d have awarded them a blue ribbon too.


sewing machine_thumb[2]

My kind of sewing machine.



Can you find the hidden lady?  I thought she was a dahlia at first.  Sunflowers were part of this year’s fair theme.



When in Rome…  There are certainly plenty of cowboy hats to choose from.



Um….no.  Don’t think so.



The first day of rodeo competition is called slack.  It’s a sort of elimination round before the actual rodeo begins the next day.  For some of these guys, there’s always next year-or the mechanical bull.


bumper cars_thumb[3]

Driver’s ed is really starting to pay off for Amy.



We ride off into the sunset for another year.  Or at least Amy did.  I took the picture, and managed to keep my finger out of the way this time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole

I love his music.  This song is magical.