Monday, July 30, 2012

Where I Live


Have you ever Googled your own address to find pictures of where you live on Google maps? 

Recently, I  happened to look out my dining room window just as a Google maps car like the one pictured above drove by.  At some point in the future, I will be able to look at a street view of my house on Google maps.  (I know I can go outside any time I want and look at my own house, but seeing it on Google maps will be pretty cool.)

My house is on a corner, so I have two streets-my front door is on 1st Avenue.


And the side of my house is on Maple.


Because it’s been so hot lately, here is a nice chilly picture of my house from the corner.

house in winter

I always find comfort in the familiarity of the streets I live on.  I like to walk downtown, or stroll through different neighborhoods, but my step always seems lighter when I’m back in my own “neck of the woods.”  Even though I sometimes wish for a more picturesque view-more trees and flowers and less cars and that sort of thing, still-it’s where I live.

Is is Monday already?  Where did the weekend go?  Well, dear readers-have a great week!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Eternal Optimist


The letter.  Discovered on the dusty floor behind the dark mahogany bureau, as the team of movers was preparing to haul it out of the tiny bedroom.  It was early morning in the fall of 1967.  The owner of the home, and the bureau, Howard Douglas, had been gone two months now.  The squat little cottage was going to be sold.  His heirs needed the money.

The natural assumption, of course, was that somewhere in the passage of time, the letter had slipped unseen from the top of the bureau and settled in the dark inch of space between the back of the heavy piece of furniture and the wall.

A casual glance, however, would easily spot the brittle strips of cellophane tape barely clinging to the rough unfinished board on the back of the bureau.  Pieces of tape that had already released their grip on the yellowed paper of the envelope.  So the letter was not lost after all, but had been intentionally concealed.  How many years had the letter waited in silence, refusing to give itself away?

With calloused hands, and curious eyes, one of the movers, a balding man with a broken front tooth, removed the letter from the envelope, and began to read.


July 23, 1944


Because you are reading this letter, I know that my brother Howard has done what I begged him to do-retrieve it and deliver it safely to you.  And you, safe as well, are home from the war!

Now that you know where to find me, we can finally be together.  No more secrets.

Always and forever, my love.



“Well ain’t that a shame.  Looks like lover boy never got the message.”  And with that, the calloused hands crumpled the sheet of paper and the envelope, and tossed them on the trash pile in the center of the room.  It was close to noon.  Abandoning, for the time being, the task of moving the bureau, the movers broke for lunch. 

Unseen by anyone, except perhaps, for a small gray spider perched near the ceiling, one of the movers re-entered the room.  A boy, slight in build and in his early teens, with a full head of blond hair, braces on his teeth, and a brother off fighting, and now missing, in Vietnam.   Hastily this boy retrieved the letter and the envelope, and hid them under his cap.

Later that afternoon, when evening was only a few remaining patches of sun light away, and the little house stood empty, the sentimental teenager climbed into the back of the moving truck and squeezed his way over to the bureau.  Taking a roll of packing tape from the pocket of his jacket and setting  it on top of the bureau, he removed the letter and envelope from beneath his cap, and with reverent hands smoothed them out before placing the one back inside the other. Reaching for the tape, he pulled off a suitable length, and carefully reattached the envelope to the rough unfinished board, exactly where it had first been attached years earlier.

Pausing, before he left the truck, he spoke in a voice so soft that he almost didn’t hear himself.

“Don’t give up hope Anna.  Never give up hope.”


Amy and I have been up to our elbows in paint this week, and so for the prompt today-to write a piece featuring a letter, I have chosen to repost this story.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Missed Pictures


While Amy and I are busy painting, I’ve come up with a fun question for all of you-inspired by the huge gray dove sitting in my tiny bird bath yesterday.  Of course, my camera was not close by, and as I quickly went to fetch it-I heard the inevitable from Amy…

Too late!  He just flew away!

How many times has the same scenario happened to you?  A great photo opportunity presents itself, but alas, your camera is no where to be seen?


Several years ago, I happened to look out my front window and there was a deer in the neighbor’s yard-one of the few times I did have my cameral close by!

Back to painting.  Now where did I leave my brush…

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lovely Weekend


A few years ago, we planted a several raspberry vines, and up until this summer never got more than a smattering of berries.  This year however, we are simply swimming in them!  Yesterday, Amy and I made some raspberry jam-

raspberry lemonade

and Amy took a few leftover berries, pressed the juice out of them, and made her own version of raspberry lemonade.  It not only tasted good but what a pretty color, too!

Kona at the Lake

Saturday, we headed over to the lake early in the morning, before the crowds came, and let Kona swim and fetch her tennis ball.  We find it amusing that a dog who is afraid of a bucket full of water has no fear when it comes to leaping into a much vaster amount of H2O! 

The Lake

I Don't Want to go Home!

Kona clearly was not happy when it was time to go home!

ernie pyle

Yesterday afternoon we went downtown to one of the local used book stores, and I found this gem.  I’ve read some of Ernie Pyle’s work written during WWII, but this book is an account of the five years he spent touring the United States, meeting ordinary people and writing about them. (How about a junk yard owner who splatters his home with different colors of paint at night, just so he can see what it looks like in the morning, or Nimrod, the guy who made himself a set of bear teeth?)  The book is an interesting glimpse into the way America was from 1935-1940, and so far it’s an engaging and delightful read.


black eyed susan

And lastly, a story about the resilience and wisdom of Mother Nature.  There is a sunny spot in the back yard, right next to the garage.  The perfect spot, or so I believed it to be, when I planted some Black Eyed Susans there a few years ago.  I love these flowers.  They are are colorful, and cheerful, and usually hardy and can quickly take over an area.  But this wasn’t the case when I planted mine.  They barely hung on, withering in the heat and sun-and even with plenty of water to try to help them get settled into their new home, I came to accept the fact that they were not going to survive.

Fast forward a few summers, and now I have this!

black eyed susans

While they did not like the spot I originally chose for them, they have since found areas in the garden more to their liking and are now everywhere!  How this happened remains a mystery-a glorious, wonderful mystery!

May all of you have an exceptional week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Her Other Side


The Secret Sits

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

If she didn’t, in the next five minutes, choose a cardigan, find her keys and lock the four sturdy deadbolts on her front door, she would never arrive at the restaurant on time, and tardiness was not in keeping with her character. It might be argued that on such a warm evening a cardigan was unnecessary. It might also be argued that the locks on her door were excessive.  But by all outward appearances, she preferred to err on the side of caution.

Considering her ensemble-a slim brown plaid wool skirt and white blouse with  Peter Pan collar , she decided to wear her tan sweater.  Such a sensible color.  It really did go with everything.  Brown penny loafers and her brown leather bag.  Hair neatly tied back from her face, and just the tiniest bit of Vaseline, dabbed on her lips.

She was meeting her friends downtown for an early dinner, the restaurant within walking distance from where she lived.  Convenient, though she was not especially looking forward to the evening.  In college, beauty routines and romances had been the staples of dining hall conversation with her crowd.  Now, several years later, the location may have changed but not the topics discussed.

Once hellos and hugs had been exchanged, she took her seat at the table, ordered a glass of milk, and waited for the inevitable barrage of advice.  She was, after all, the only one among them who still hadn’t accessorized herself with a steady beau.  Less plaid and more leg. Fitted sweaters and black eyeliner, perhaps.  And  lipstick. Definitely some nice red lipstick.   They were only offering their two cents for her own good, they soothed.

After allotting a few hours of her time for the reunion, she looked at her watch and made an exclamation as to the lateness of the hour.  Early to bed, early to rise, and all that. Bidding her chums farewell until next time, she walked back to her apartment, her cardigan sweater slung over one shoulder.


She was careful as she lifted the large flat rectangular box down from her bedroom closet shelf and carried it over to her bed.  Setting the lid aside, she once again felt a quickening in her chest as she gazed at the contents nestled within the walls of brown cardboard.  It was all there, waiting for her.  The one piece black suit that fit like a second skin.  The black duffle bag.  The grappling hook. The slim gold tube labeled Germaine Monteil.

red fury 2

Her friends were right about one thing, she conceded as she roared into the night on her black Vespa.  Red lipstick suited her.


The prompt this week was to write a 450 word piece inspired by the Robert Frost poem The Secret Sits.  What I’ve posted here still needs a bit of work, but I wanted to share it with you any way.  I’d planned yesterday to get up early this morning and finish it-but what I didn’t plan on was waking up with a migraine-the first one I’ve had in several years.  I feel better, and at some point I’ll finish editing this story too:)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Amy’s Bedroom Makeover


Last Christmas we gave Amy a bedroom makeover, and the project has finally begun!  She is 16 now, and deserves a bedroom more fitting for a young lady and not the 5th grader she was when we painted her room this shocking (but really beautiful) green.  This time around she has chosen a color scheme of cream and chocolate brown. 

Amy's curtains

We have this gorgeous fabric on order for new curtains to replace the  curtains made from black barkcloth (gee, I wonder who influenced her to choose that fabric?) as well as a circa 1900 light fixture and some brass hooks for the back of her door to replace the “Barney the dinosaur” colored green and purple star shaped ones-left over from the previous owner’s attempt at decorating.  

Fortunately, my husband is a talented wood worker and knows how to do some basic electrical work, too.  He is building in a new bookcase, finishing the wood moulding and trim in the room, and will be able to install the light fixture as well.  Amy and I will handle most of the painting.  There is a lot of work to come in the days ahead, and it will be all hands on deck to get Amy’s room done in a timely manner (hopefully before she graduates from high school!)

I’ll try my best to keep up with my blog, and I will certainly keep you all posted with the progress!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Monday!


I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked outside this morning and saw this duck in my galvanized tub!  He must have been blown off course by the storm last night, and landed in what turned out to be a very small pond. 

There I go again…

It’s Monday, and I’ve had too much coffee.

The truth is, I’ve had this duck, made by the Plasti-Duk decoy company, since I was a little kid.  We were living in Corvallis, Oregon at the time, and during a visit to the local sporting goods store, I saw “Ducky” as he would come to be known, and fell in love.

Over the course of many adventures (Ducky once got away from me when he was swimming in a fast moving stream and surely would have been carried away if not for a quick thinking teenaged boy with a large stick) and many moves, I’ve managed to hang on to Ducky.  Packed away, in some dark corner of the basement, he has always waited patiently until I think about him and start rummaging through boxes until I find him-happy to be reunited once again.

I don’t know why, but even after all of this time I still find Ducky so alluring, with his inflatable body and painted plumage as colorful and lifelike as the day I adopted him.  And if Ducky ever felt any bitterness over being denied the life he was meant to live-luring live ducks to the saucepan-he has never let on.

Yes, rubber Ducky, I am awfully fond of you.

Do you still have a beloved toy from your childhood?



The Plasti-Duk company was founded in 1956 and located in Klamath Falls, Oregon, not that far from Corvallis. Photo by Vintage Roadside on Flickr.



Three similar friends of Ducky selling online.  They have a value of around $25 each.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Scout’s Honor

science experiment 

Early on, it was apparent that she was a child who needed to be governed by a set of strictly enforced rules.  Without them, her exasperated parents had little hope of saving her from herself, and at the same time, saving themselves.  When either her mother or father began to waver over the severe boundaries imposed on their daughter, simply recalling the incident of the living room cookout sufficed to serve as a stern reminder that they were not being unreasonable.  She was eleven at the time, and left home alone because it was felt she was old enough to be trusted.  But for a hungry preteen girl with a keen imagination, hot dogs and a book of matches had proved to be too tempting. After that, the Girl Scout Handbook had been taken away.

There were other, earlier misadventures as well, and when recounted beginning to end, played much like a Laurel and Hardy film.  A game of barber shop involving the dog (the sedative prescribed by the vet had helped tremendously.) Pretending that the bath tub was a shark infested pool (the living room ceiling was not a total loss.)  By the time her high school years were completed, and she had been pulled over for driving with her feet, her parents were worn out.


A handful of years later, she was home for a visit. It was early in the evening and she was alone, her mother and father attending an engagement they could not get out of. She smiled again at the lively conversation that had taken place at dinner-reminiscing about what a handful she had been. As her parents prepared to leave, her father had teased her, “Now honey, please stay out of trouble while we are gone!”

For the first half hour she was good. She flipped though a magazine and made herself a cup of cocoa. But then she wandered up to her old room and started to peruse the volumes on her little oak book shelf.

And, she found it.

Her forgotten Girl Scout Handbook…


The prompt?  Write a short piece using the word forbidden as inspiration.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Water for Elephants

This past week, the extremely hot temperatures that have been plaguing so many other places finally came here, with highs of 105 and 106 degrees.

Keeping the garden watered has been a daily necessity.  Not only for the flowers, but for all of the birds and insects (and a dog or two) seeking refreshment and relief from the heat.

From conventional bird baths and an assortment of other containers…




blue dish

To a salvaged toilet tank lid, circa 1940…


There is water for all creatures, great and small.

Pachyderms welcome.

Happy Wednesday, my dear readers!  Has it been extremely hot where you are? 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Savvy Traveler


On her first trip to Paris in June, 1927, Clara treated herself to the Tarte Tatin at Polidor.  When the waiter-a mustachioed fellow wearing the longest white apron Clara had ever seen-inquired as to how Clara found the dish to be, Clara, eager to try out her French replied, "Ma valise a un oeil de verre!" (My suitcase has a glass eye!)

Perhaps those extra French lessons would have been a good idea.


travel pouch 


New in my shop!  Another little boxy zipper pouch, made from the most alluring retro mint green barkcloth and lined in a shockingly colorful circle print.  And for dessert? A snappy blue and white striped anchor zipper pull.

Great for travel.  French lessons optional.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Silliness

Here, dear readers, is something funny to watch.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up

floating candles

I’ve neglected my blog a bit this week because I was overjoyed to have my dear parents come for a visit to help celebrate the 4th of July with us.  Since fireworks are banned here in this town like so many other towns, I thought some floating candles would provide some night time sparkle.  I had one of those “light bulb” moments last Monday when it occurred to me to take an old galvanized tub, fill it with water, and then float some candles in it.  Since I did not have any proper floating candles, I asked my husband to make me some little candle rafts, which he did out of some scraps of cedar.  Not only was the finished result pretty, but fragrant too!



This lily is the current highlight of the garden.  A few years ago Amy rescued it after she found it set out by the side of the road.  Dried up and mostly brown, I was skeptical that it would survive, but Amy carefully planted and tended it, and now-all I can say is wow!  It’s stunning-and every bit as ah inspiring as any fireworks display!



This is the book I’m currently reading and I can hardly put it down!

How was your week?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where the Heart Belongs


Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Tipping her head back, she drained the last bit of  Coca-Cola from the slim green bottle she held in her right hand.  She could picture her mother’s face, grimacing at the sight.  It wasn’t lady like, her mother would chastise her.  That’s what the straw is for, Nora!  But the paper always stuck to her lip.  Wiggling  her toes deeper  into the sand, she took pleasure in the cooler grains buried a few inches beneath the hotter, top layer.  This is the life, she mused.  Stretched out  in the sun on a comfortable barkcloth clad chaise lounge, and dressed daringly in her new strapless orange one piece, she’d spent the last two hours mostly dozing and dreaming, while palm trees and blue waves swayed and danced behind her closed eyes.

Her heart sank.  A breeze was picking up, though trying to be playful.  Kissing her cheeks, and lifting her bangs impishly off of her forehead. Shuffling the pages of the book she’d only half heartedly been reading.   And the sun, as though suddenly gripped by a fit of regret over its own daring attire, was covering itself up with clouds.  She shivered and reached for her polka dotted beach towel, draping its warmth around her shoulders as the first drop of rain splashed off the end of her nose.

Reluctantly vacating the soft cushions of her chair, she stood and gathered her book and empty bottle, and slipped into her sandals.  Facing reality from the roof of her apartment building, she was reminded once again that palm trees and blue waves were a long, long ways away.

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Just not here.

She pushed the dishpan, full of sand, under the chaise lounge.


Sand.  Word limit is 450.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Artistic Expression

train pix

It was a conversation I had with our realtor/former elementary school principal Rod about 5 years ago-one I will never forget.  And it went something like this:

Hi Valerie, it’s Rod.

Hey Rod!  What’s up?

Well I have someone interested in looking at your house…

(Train whistle sound in background.)

Oh my gosh!  Oh My Gosh!!  The train!  It’s coming right at me!  Help!!!  Help!!!

(Silence.  And then snorts of laughter.)

As it turns out, Rod, who once presided over a school assembly dressed as his own wife, was much better at  humor than selling homes…


I live in a town where both day and night, trains rumble by just a few blocks beyond Main Street.  I’ve gotten so used to the sounds of their whistles blowing, that I usually don’t really notice them.

The other night though, I couldn’t sleep, and around 3 am, I heard the familiar blasts of a train whistle. At intersections, train engineers usually blow their whistles in the same pattern. Long.  Long.  Short.  Long.  Morse code for the letter Q. 

What’s the story behind the letter Q? When the ship carrying the Queen of England would come into harbor, it sounded the letter Q to let other ships know it should be given the right of way because the queen was on board. Trains went on to adopt this same signal as a warning to yield the right of way.

This particular train engineer had a flair for the dramatic.  He varied the lengths of the long and short whistle blasts at each intersection, until finally leaving town with and his final Q.

Long.  Long.  Short.  Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong. 

I didn't think he would ever stop! 

I’m glad this guy was having fun with his job, and I’m glad I was awake to hear his performance.  But I had to wonder.  Does Rod have a new job now?


My latest concoction, the day tripper backpack done up in a lovely tan and red hibiscus barkcloth.  Might I modestly add that I think it’s pretty Long.  Short.  Long.  Short?  

(Make that C for cute!)

Happy Monday, my Dears !

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Birthday

Baby July 1 1914

My Uncle Pete was born on July 1, 1914-and if he were still alive he would be 98 today.

I’m thankful to have several pictures of him as a boy-interesting not only because I am his niece, but also for a glimpse into the way the world was back then.

Roly young

Pete around the age of three.


Roly and Carl circa 1918

Pete with his older brother Carl, circa 1918.


The least I can do today is to have a piece of cake in his honor…

Happy Birthday Pete!