Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughts on a Thursday

I know I don’t usually post on Thursdays, but I colored my hair this morning.  A process I admit to going through every 6 or 7 weeks, because I much prefer Chestnut to salt and pepper.  As I gathered the things I needed, I grabbed an old towel from a stack of old towels on the bottom shelf in the linen closet. Soft and yellow, the color of a baby duck.  The towel Amy picked out before our first trip to Honolulu more than 6 years ago.  We bought three cheap towels to pack along for the beach because we weren’t sure if motels provided beach towels.  (They do.  We know that now.)  And as I touched the soft yellow towel, I felt like crying.  Amy was only up to my shoulders when this towel was new. 

I don’t deny it. It’s been an incredible experience, watching Amy grow up-slowly and surely making the transformation from child to adult while working through the process of defining herself. She wants to be an archaeologist and she’s starting to consider where to go to college to pursue her dream.  She’s excited about her future-and that makes me excited for her, because I love her and I want her to find her place out in the big wide world.

Wherever that may be.

It’s just that those soft yellow baby duck colored towel moments can be a little tough.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Wrapped in a faded beach towel, I sit by the lake for the last time.  The lengthening shadows of the trees behind me creep beyond the point where shore and small waves meet, spilling onto the surface of the water, and I realize that I've been here, on this patch of grass, for quite some time.  I’m cold, and a shiver presses through my wet hair, all the way down to the tips of my toes.

The thoughts I am lost in take me back to a certain summer, the memories still so vivid in my mind.  Like black silhouettes against white paper.  It was the summer after my second year of college.  The summer  I met him.  Liquid blue eyes and a straw colored crew cut.   Ocean and sand.  I’d singled him out from the group of other swimmers who were gathered at the lake, and shyly I realized that I had been noticed as well.  By late afternoon we  were sharing  ice cream and holding  hands. 

Several nights later, I began to get the phone calls.  A voice over the line, her voice, whispering the warning I would come to know so well.   Stay away from things that don’t belong to you. Followed by a click, and then silence.

I knew her, even though we’d never met.  She was the girl who had been his girl, and had been replaced-and she was devastated.  She’d made plans for the two of them, sketched out a future that she saw as their destiny.  Baked him cookies, and knit him sweaters.  I was nothing but a thief.  All  summer long, she continued to call me.  The same whispering voice, and the same warning.  The same pitiful attempt to stake a claim on a heart that was no longer hers.  I felt sad, more than threatened.

I  stand up and brush off my bare legs, polka dotted with small bits of dried grass that have stuck to my skin.  The surface of the lake has grown dark, and in the fading daylight I see the glint of a silvered trout as it jumps, as though suddenly afraid of the deep, cold depths of its home.  I’m urging myself to leave this place as well.   I’ve done what I came here to do.  Swim one last time in this water.  The same water that was so deeply shadowed the last time he swam in it that it swallowed everything.

And fate decided he would belong to no one.



La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.

I wrote this last summer, and decided to repost it for this prompt because it fits so well.  While I’ve taken a few artistic liberties with the facts as they were, this is based on a true story.

When I was a college student, my group of friends included the music majors, and there was among us a very gifted young bass player named Jeff.  At the time I met him, I learned that he’d ended a long time relationship months earlier, and that his former girlfriend would not let him go.  Jeff was frustrated both by her inability to move on-and at the same time, continue to act as though they were still together.  Sadly, the summer after my sophomore year I was stunned to learn that Jeff had drowned in a nearby lake that students often frequent on warm weather days and nights.

I’ve wondered, from time to time, what became of that girl-how she could possibly ever come to terms with the reality of truly never being able to have Jeff.  I ‘m sure she was devastated. 

It’s also sad that I can’t remember her name.

writing prompt

Monday, January 28, 2013

Thrift Story


I haven’t shared my thrift store finds in a while, have I, dear readers?  Until lately, it seems, I’ve been a little down on my luck where earth shattering thrift store finds are concerned.  (Here I have to stop for a minute and laugh-I can see Stuart rolling his eyes at my loose interpretation of the term earth shattering.)

Last Friday, my friend Paula and I made our usual second hand rounds.  We both struck out at the local Saint Vincent dePaul store, although our hunt was at least peaceful and relaxing.  The Goodwill store was another story.  Too many other seekers vying for pay dirt, a small unruly unsupervised child, hunched over a yellow plastic truck, tearing erratically around the aisles-and a pair of the most predatory and intimidating females ever before encountered in any of our many, many outings.

Paula always wanders over to the clothing area first, in search of a jacket. (In the 10 or so years we’ve been thrifting together, she has, bless her heart, yet to decide on one.)   And I always start with home decor and housewares.  Immediately, last Friday, a very cute vintage orange spoon rest caught my eye.  Only 99 cents!  I was on the fence about it though, despite it’s appeal.  I already have way too much kitsch, and I’m really trying to practice some self control.  I left the orange where it was, and moved on, eventually catching up with Paula.  I was shocked to find her crimson faced and flustered!  She recounted how that same nasty pair had physically blocked her access to the rack of jackets, denying her a chance to inspect a promising prospect she’d glimpsed.  That’s right-those women had intentionally stood in Paula’s way!  I offered my chum some words of moral support and continued my perusing, ending up in the linens section where I found a true stunner-this embroidered tablecloth!


My photo does not begin to do this beauty justice, but I can tell you that it is in mint condition, the stitchery done by hand.  The colors are vibrant, the workmanship expert, and from the looks of it, an heirloom quality piece that was never used.  It cost a measly $1.99, which is so far below what a tablecloth like this is worth that it easily qualifies as an earth shattering find. 

I instantly started rethinking the spoon rest.  In light of my fruit tablecloth, any piece of ceramic shaped like an orange seemed too perfect to pass up.  Heading back to housewares, I was relieved to see the spoon rest still there, right where I’d first noticed it.  I picked it up, turning it over in my hands so as to admire it from every angle, and at the same time, trying to justify my faith in my ability to find a place for it in my kitchen.  I became aware that the evil twins were now right behind me.  Eyes boring into my back.  Willing me out of the way.  I guess I should thank them.  I fled, hastily deciding in favor of the spoon rest-which, by the way, turns out to be worth more like $15.00!

And what about the promising coat Paula saw? 

There’s always next week.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Stuart and I took Kona for a run yesterday, down by the Yakima River. Inspired by the word Fahrenheit, I thought it would be fun to see if I could come up with a word beginning with the letter F for each picture I took.



Cars are not allowed to park next to the gate, which is closed and locked during the winter.  Maintenance vehicles come through on a regular basis, though, and have to be able to access the road into the park.  Stuart dropped me off by the gate to wait, while he drove to the parking area and walked Kona back to meet me.  I’d decided to forgo my heavy snow boots in favor of my more comfortable sneakers, but as you will see, trying to walk up from the parking area in any footwear not doubling as a traction device would have been sheer



The whole parking lot was one big sheet of ice.  Both our car, and Stuart, slid around a bit on the slick road.  The only one who didn’t seem concerned about slipping was Kona.  She quickly ran way ahead of us and beckoned us to



Luckily for me, a narrow strip of bare roadway allowed me to walk safely and take my pictures. 

The road into the park is bordered on one side by the



Unfortunately, it’s hard to completely lose yourself in nature with semi trucks screaming by .  The noise from the interstate is loud! 

Between the freeway and the road into the park, there is



For the four legged variety, I should add.  These hay storage tents belong to one of the local hay companies.  I learned a few years ago that much of the hay grown in Ellensburg goes to Japan to feed race horses! 

On the other side of the road into the park, there is a narrow strip of



If you look closely, you can see where a tree toward the left of the picture has toppled over, and has caught in the V of another tree.  I found that Fascinating!  (Extra credit!)

Meanwhile, we mustn't forget Kona, who was very



I’ve never had a dog before who likes to run, and run, and run like she does!  The entire time Stuart and I walked, she was in high gear, and at one point, she even ran over to a small creek which was



Kona was thirsty and wanted to get a drink.  She wasn’t the only one, because we saw other



I feel sorry for wild animals this time of year.  I bet they have a pretty tough time finding enough to eat and drink.  I observed that the winter has been hard on the trees as well, and saw quite a few that had



The landscape looks so stark and unforgiving.  But beautiful too! 

Meanwhile, Kona is having

Frisky Frolicking Fun


What is it about dogs, and snow?

Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me to the end of this little word story.   Like Kona after an hour of racing around in the snow, it too is



Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Write at the Merge: Double Trouble

On the far left, American suffragist Lucy Burns (1879 - 1966) of the Congressional Union For Women Suffrage (CUWS) stands next to Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst (center) probably in Washington, DC, 1913. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)

Best Friend. 

I’d never had the privilege of being one, nor the pleasure of having one.

As a child, I was pawned off, and passed along, one family after another, like a dreaded Christmas fruitcake.  Consequently, I made very few friends.  In any case, the position of best friend was always already filled.  Years later, it ceased to matter to me, and I resigned myself socially to existing solely on casual acquaintances. I’d started life as a foundling, so it stood to reason that I should finish as a foundling, of sorts, as well.

Until Matilda.  Fellow aspiring scribbler, and drinker of black coffee. Matilda, in her fashionable hobble skirt, who’d minced her way over to my table and asked to borrow a pencil.  By chance we’d both decided to visit the same café, to work on our novels while sustaining ourselves with cup after cup of a rich Jamaican brew. She saw me, hand poised above a stack of paper, and assumed me to be what I hoped to be seen as.  A writer.  Matilda, with her stunning gray Grecian hair, and an ever so gently lined face that belied her 62 years.  Matilda, who wore the heady Quelques Fleurs and winked at distinguished old men. She was a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel.  The partner in crime I’d been longing for my whole life.

The bell on my Stromberg-Carlson jangles me back to the present moment. That must be Matilda!  I struggle laboriously to my feet as quickly as my ancient skeleton will allow, feeling the familiar pinch of age run through my hip, slowing my steps.   I really ought to get rid of my soft chair and replace it with a hard one. Better for the bones.  But there is no need, though, to hurry to pick up the receiver.  Matilda is patient.  She accepts me in all of my faltering glory, like best friends do. Hello? Matilda!  Fifteen minutes? That’s fine!  I’ll pack some cookies to have with our coffee.

Matilda’s tomato red, 1910 Atlas Model H pulls into view, thirty-two minutes later. I had a bear of a time getting this beast started!  Matilda’s voice is breathy with excitement.  Forgetting the twinge in my hip, I pull my sheared beaver stole closer to my face, and climb into the passenger seat.  In a matter of minutes, when we are nearly at the café, we encounter a swarm of people.  Naturally, our curiosity is piqued, and Matilda articulates what I was just about to ask.  Mind if we take a quick detour and see what all the fuss is about?  We mutually agree that our novels can wait, for we seem to have stumbled upon an émeute. The assembled protesters, mostly female, are in high spirits, charging the atmosphere with an electric energy.  The unease among the males who have dared to venture close enough to observe, is palpable.  Women should not be allowed to behave like this.

Move along, granny!  A red cheeked constable in blue and brass takes Matilda firmly by the elbow, steering her away from the crowd.  I hear a huff of indignation, and I can hardly believe what Matilda does next.  She plucks the young man’s truncheon from his belt, and roundly swats the top of his helmet!

I am left with little choice.   I am, after all, her best friend.

I take the truncheon away from Matilda.


And swat him again.



writing prompt

 This piece of fiction was inspired by this picture prompt:

Groucho Marx Quotes

Monday, January 21, 2013

Horse Power!


I’ve been spring cleaning this weekend.  It just seemed like the right time to do it.  Outside, the temperatures are still well below freezing, and on top of that, our valley is trapped under a heavy canopy of freezing fog-and still covered with a blanket of snow and ice. 

I figure that once spring arrives,

(A) I will actually be able to see my garden again.    

(B) It will be possible to go outside without wearing 27 layers of clothing.

(C) I will not want to do spring cleaning.

The Lone Ranger had Silver.  Roy Rogers had Trigger.  And when I have my own dirt bandits to run out of town, I have a trusty sidekick, too.   My vacuum.  My Royal Pony.  The phrase “They don’t build them like that any more,” was coined with my vacuum in mind. I don’t know how old my Pony is, but I do know that its superior quality justified a complete refurbishing by a previous owner, and in the five or so years I’ve used it, my Pony has yet to let me down. Plus all that chrome and turquoise?  My Pony should be in a parade.

So Saturday, as I was brandishing my Pony’s powerful cleaning wand, I sort of vacuumed up a quarter…

Is twenty-five cents worth braving the bad guys of dust to retrieve?  Or should I simply vacuum off into the sunset, comforted by the knowledge that when it comes to superior suction, my Pony has me covered. 

Tell me, dear readers-what would you do?

Friday, January 18, 2013

I’d Belong, if I Could!


Last night I fell asleep with that eternal question on my mind. What am I going to blog about tomorrow???  The funny thing is, I went on to dream that I received a large envelope in the mail, and inside, among other things, was a bumper sticker that said:

 I’m a Member of the Bloggers Club!

I remember feeling terribly honored, and terribly nervous too.  Talk about pressure!  Often, I find that coming up with blog post ideas is a bit like trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  Sometimes it’s easy-I have all of the ingredients for a pretty impressive meal-but at other times I have to root around the cupboard inside my mind hoping to find some fast inspiration, like a can of tomato soup or a package of hot dogs. And somehow, I  manage to create a little something out of practically nothing.

Take the above picture today.  I thought I’d use it at the top of this post because I really like it. It’s an old ad for coca-cola, and I love how colorful and tropical and vintage it is, and how it makes me feel warm and happy when I look at it. 

Sort of like my new enameled cast iron Dutch oven.  

I chose the color Caribbean Blue.  Isn’t it festive!

For years I’ve been a dyed in the wool, die hard fan of the crock pot.  I’m even on my third one.  Lately though, I’ve had the desire to do more hands on cooking.  And I thought the perfect place to start, was to get a piece of cookware that truly inspired me to actually want to go into my kitchen and, well, cook.

My sweet daughter Amy has been sick the last few days, (She has had one heck of a year-first pneumonia, then a bad cold, and now the flu this week.)  and she was craving soup-corn soup.  It’s simple to make, comforting and nourishing, and delicious, too.

Here’s how:

In a large pot-a Caribbean Blue enameled cast iron Dutch oven, for example, sauté two coarsely chopped peppers in olive oil until tender, and set aside.  Then, combine 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and a 16 ounce bag of frozen corn and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove one cup of the corn, and process the remaining corn and broth mixture, plus the two peppers in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Combine the corn, broth and pepper mixture with the reserved  cup of whole corn and reheat in pot until heated thoroughly. 

That’s it! 

Very easy, and really good!    (I should note that you need to be careful when blending hot liquids-do only small amounts at at time because they tend to expand and I don’t want any of my precious blog readers to get burned!!)

So once again, the ingredients for a blog post have presented themselves-and maybe I’ll like being a member of the Bloggers Club, after all! 

Too bad it only exists in my dreams…

Happy Friday, dear readers!   I hope each and every one of you have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Write at the Merge: Safe in the Arms of the Sea

I know the jagged rocks exist, though I no longer have an affinity for danger. These days, I am master of my ship.  I chart my own course.  Keep to the deep water. 

I can see him clearly now-more clearly than the day I met him, and I realize he was akin to a brigantine, recklessly sailed and doomed to flounder.  Raven hair, worn long and wild, and eyes that changed color with the changing tides of his moods.  Sometimes falcon, and sometimes dove. An impossibly irresistible, unholy trinity of leather and rum and tobacco.

My pirate.

Part tempest, and part gentleman, I tried in vain to learn the art of forecasting the weather that swirled around him.  At times he brandished words like a razor sharp cutlass, warning me to keep my distance.  Other times, though, when the winds were fair, he beckoned me closer with roses and his own brand of sugar, the sweetest I’d ever tasted.  He even slid a promise of pearl and silver onto my ring finger, and asked me to wait for him while he was away, prowling the vast ocean in a hunt for other ships to plunder.

He never returned. 

I realize it now.  His misfortune was my salvation.

The rocks are still there-only instead of tormenting me, I find my ears are deaf to their siren song.  And as for the rigging that threatened to ensnare me on that doomed voyage so long ago, like the gossamer strands in a spider’s web.  I see them for what they have become.



writing prompt 

For this week, your inspiration comes from two words (you are not required to use these words, though you may):

Gossamer: noun; a fine, filmy substance consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders, which is seen esp. in autumn.

Affinity: noun; ( pl. affinities ) (often affinity between/for/with) a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something: he has an affinity for the music of Berlioz.

Gossamer Affinity

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baby, it’s Cold Outside


It feels like we’re living in a deep freeze lately.  Daytime highs of 26-dropping down to a shiver worthy 6 degrees at night.  Though it’s been chilly, it’s pretty, too.  I love the way the snow and ice decorate the world outside with a glittery frosting of white.

Please enjoy these pictures from yesterday’s brisk winter walk, and have a great week, dear readers!










Friday, January 11, 2013



Dolores has been looking a little sullen lately.  (But then again, for those of you who have met my mannequin before-it’s hard to tell.  She always seems a bit grim.)  Her complaint?  I haven’t blogged about my shop on Etsy for quite some time.

Recently though, I came across a couple of “lucky find” tidbits that I want to share.


First off, this is my shop banner…


And these are the vintage red anchor nail head studs I found!

red anchors

They are perfect!

I’ve been adding them to the front of my zip pouches, like this…

zip pouch


And then-my shop title:

Handmade Handbags for Girls in Every Port

I found an old linen postcard with this inquisitive sailor on it, scanned the image to my computer and had a set of notecards made. Now I can write letters in style, no matter what port the recipient happens to be in. (I wonder what answer the sailor got to his question?  I think we can imagine…)


Maybe I should send my first notecard to Dolores.  It just might give her something to smile about.

Have a great weekend, my dear readers!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9th, 1945

Naval hospital Honolulu 1936

I never had the privilege of knowing him.  He was born, lived his all too brief life, and was gone, long before I came along-but I do know that he loved his family, was kind and compassionate when it came to his fellow human beings, had brown eyes and a sense of humor, and liked to whistle.  Many of the same traits I can lay claim to myself.

Friends Hawaii crop

What I can’t possibly ever know is the misery he endured as a prisoner of war-what it was like to suffer and die like he did. 

But I can remember him

with Grandmother crop

My Uncle Pete.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Snow Day? No Way!


Happy Monday, dear readers! 

The day here in Ellensburg started off with a good old fashioned blizzard, and  I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of shoveling later on!  Unfortunately for Amy, school is open.  Only once in the last 12 years has she gotten to enjoy an actual “snow day” and even then, schools closed due to icy roads and not snow accumulation.  Unbelievably, not even a 14” snowfall was enough to warrant a day off back when Amy was in the first grade.  But she’s wearing a new sweater today-and that helps takes the edge off of her disappointment a little.

What’s the weather like where you are?  If you live where it snows, does everything come to a standstill, or is it business as usual, like it is here?

I guess I’d better go put on my boots. 

You know what, I really think I should have a little chocolate first…


Have a great day!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


At the time, close to midnight on December 31, they seemed like such good intentions.  Eat less sugar, exercise more, spend less time online and watching movies…oh, and write a really inspirational blog post for the new year.

But we all know about that paved road.

I decided on January 1 that the best way to set the stage for the new year and my list of optimistic goals was to do a little house cleaning, starting with the kitchen.  Right away, I cut my left thumb badly while rinsing out an empty dog food can. Now on any given day, a thumb may not warrant much consideration, but mine, stinging with pain and gushing like a newly discovered oil well in Texas, had my full attention.

After a fumbling attempt at applying one of those Band-Aids made especially for finger wounds, I retreated, along with my useless thumb, to the sofa in front of the television-where over the course of the next few hours, I managed to watch about a dozen episodes of Ghost Hunters, wipe out half of the candy that filled my Christmas stocking, and do nothing more in the way of exercise than unwrap one piece of chocolate after another.  And as for writing an inspiring new year’s blog post?  My awkwardly bandaged thumb made it too hard to type.  (The fact that I was scared out of my wits while suffering from an extreme sugar high didn’t help either.)

Not exactly the stellar start to 2013 that I’d planned.

Today, my thumb is much better.  Most of my candy is gone.  Snow is in the forecast (shoveling snow=exercise) and in just a few seconds, I’ll hit the Publish button.  So my resolutions, it would seem, are not a lost cause, after all.

(Anyone know when Valentine’s Day candy goes on sale?  Just kidding!)

A belated Happy New Year’s, my dear readers!  I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with all of you this year!