Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas here we come

It's December the 21ist and I am longing to be up north... The longest day of the year but in the mid-40's here in Kingston and in Spokane as well so there will be no "White Christmas" at Twin Lakes this year but fun anyway.

We will have lots of cookies and enough wine to keep everyone happy. Duffy is on his way to the pet hotel and the animals have Annalisa from next door to keep them full of holiday hay. We head out over the pass with the car top carrier affixed with new connection- always a little bit of an adventure to see if we are picking up gear from along the highway. I am putting only luggage up there on the way over because it will be easier to gather between speeding cars. I am looking forward to seeing everyone soon. It has been an easy Christmas here with time for cookies and lights and even some outings with friends. I wish I could pass that time and ease on to you all but remember it is all part of the cycle and your CHristmas holiday of time and fun is around the corner. If it was EVERY holiday there would be no excitment to see how things turn out!

I say good bye to the Christmas tree in Kingston and hope it will hold its' holiday cheer for our return. The new Christmas tree at the lake will be decorated without near the excitement of the flocking episode a few years back but it will still hold our laughter. see you all soon and remember that we are turning the corner into a new year so smile and expect wondrous tines.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Only 2 Weeks until Christmas Eve

Don't freak out now! It is impossible to think that Thanksgiving was only 2 weeks ago. It has been a crazy time around here but things are just perking along now.

After Thanksgiving the wreath factory was in full swing and I successfully mailed out the first group then sped my way to Spokane to check on Anita in the hospital.The drive over was spectacular. It was cold and clear when I left Silverdale in the late afternoonl. Driving over the Tacoma bridge, the colors of the sky reflected the winter sunset in vibrant corals and robin's egg blue that slowly changed to slate. As I climbed the pass, the full orange moon rose on a now gray slate background. All the way across the state I was mesmerized by the changes in the colors of the night. The moon faded from orange to lemon yellow to pale wheat. The sky turned dark blue, then navy blue then black. Even the field Christmas lights were bright as I drove through George, remembering the years of driving past those lights that reminded us we were on OUR way to Christmas. Despite the reason for the trip, it was a wonderful drive and Anita was feeling good and rearing to go by the time I returned back home. She continues to feel her old self though a little cautious. The experience is not one she wants to repeat. On entering the emergency room, the doctor began questioning her about her symptoms and background. He asked if she had a living will. "Yes," Anita offered, "but I really don't want to use it today."

Now that is pretty good but might not make the best line of the holidays which still goes to Lynne at the dinner table. While talking about Father George making Thanksgiving dinner for his priest friends, Anita shared that he was serving capon instead of turkey. "What is capon exactly?", Kyrsa queried. Barb knew that capon are castrated roosters. Without missing a beat, Lynne said, "That's seems an interesting choice for a bunch of priests."

Let the holiday games begin!

In Kingston the wreaths are done and the house is full of Christmas cheer sans tree. The tree will be added soon, don't you worry. Yesterday I baked my first batch of Christmas cookies, wine dunking cookies are always the first to arrive and I hope there will be some left when you all arrive. There is no fire roaring today because despite frigid temperatures ranging from 15-29 there is a burn ban in affect! What is that about? Oh well, the house is warm in all corners for a weird change. I am teaching a couple of days just to keep things interesting and have projects to finish but mostly I am looking forward to sharing the holidays. I do love the time being together with to many expectations and too little time but I want it understood that growing up happens and new traditions too. The time will come when our traditions will change and that will be good too. Yesterday is really never as important or as much fun as today and tomorrow.

So, I will imagine that you are all insane and working on everything in your lives that keeps you busy with very little time for holiday thoughts. Life happens. But Christmas will happen and there will be food and cookies and we will have more moments to share.

Love you all,
Mama Llama

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving and onward

Thanksgiving Day is done. Great food and great company were shared and Kyrsa had another birthday, which is always better than the alternative and reminds of that she is a very special daughter and sister. Those who were not there were talked about - always better than what is said to your face! - and we are reminded to give thanks for all the gifts we have in our days.

I could mention the reasons for my personal thanks, children who are spectacular, health for all those I love and days that are secure and safe. In looking at the world around us, we are definitely the most fortunate. So many adventures and explorations in our pasts and the ability to make more as part of our futures. Thanks enough to remember for the next 12 months.

I could go on and on and on but right now I am most thankful for the return of my computer from the repair shop. My being away from cyberspace for more than a week has very little affect on the world but made me feel more isolated and powerless than I would have imagined. Though little was done to my old machine, it returned with no loss and a tiny bit of improvement so for that I am VERY thankful.

Now we look ahead and see the holiday season beginning. Make fun and play with your days. It is a season of giving love and remembering. That really is what makes the Christmas holiday special, not material gifts but reminders of caring and loving. This fall I thought allot about gifts and their importance. While moving things around to lay the cork flooring, I realized how much of my home is about gifts received. Everywhere I look I see a painting or picture given by someone to me with love. When I get dressed in the morning I choose jewelry to make me smile because it reminds me of the special person who gave it to me. I clean out a bag and see another thought or feeling shared in a card or poem; each of these is a reminder of a rich life with wonderful memories, laughter and hugs that continue to give long after their original receiving.

Now do not take this as extra pressure but as the very opposite. This holiday don't worry about what to give but how to remind others that you are thinking about them often and loving them. Every time you send an message through email or post, call on the phone or take time to visit is a special gift of caring. Make this holiday a special time to say hello to friends near and far and to let them know they are in your heart and mind. As busy and hectic as life gets, we are always happier when we think more about others than about our own concerns- the best gifts let us think of each other and the love we share. So... share laughter, cooking, time and fun all this coming month because it is time to celebrate the season. No excuses now!

Love, Mama Llama

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rainy November Day

The week begins in the way of all November days in the Pacific Northwest... rain and more rain. I have a fire burning, hot tea and a book on tape to entertain while I warp a blanket and set newly spun yarn. La dee dah.

I discover once again that weaving and gardening: all seasons just the same. These are all activities chosen so that odd thoughts can jump in and out of my mind at warp speed. I think, question develop the thoughts and ideas then they jump out completely to return only when unbidden during a conversation far in the future.

Today I take note that I have listened and read several books recently by several English writers, all united by nation of residence, writing dotted with satire and humor and, surprisingly, a common thread questioning the choices a possible God is making regarding its human creations. Weird that this seems to be such a preoccupation with random English writers from different generations.

John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey ilk), Nick Hornby ( High Fidelity, etc) and Terry Pratchett (Disc World, Going Postal...) These are writers who use criminal justice, contemporary life and science fiction as their medium. They seem to fit the existence of God and questionable wisdom of godly choices into the humorous tales they unwind. Who would have guessed such things weigh on the English conscience so generally? To the credit of each of these enjoyable story tellers, none seems to advocation an answer to their pondering and they always provide entertainment including laughter. The laughter is what I find essential.

So, there you have a thought for this wet day. I don't have a personally resolution but I actually do choose to believe in a random collection of power, wisdom and strength beyond my personal control. This never seems to absolve me of my own responsibility to act, do, change. It does however offer solace when I am worried, insane or just plain depressed by the winter gray and helps me share the beauty of a moment that makes me smile.

Last words of wisdom: don't go for a walk without your rain gear.
Mama Llama

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Summer Feasts Remembered

So, I know that I am VERY late but I finally have a response to Colin's 10 top driving eats. Here are the summer feasts that bring summer smiles back to me.

I realize I am way behind on sharing and I will be back now that November is here. I find transitioning from Summer to Fall is never easy for me. The month of October is seldom good and September is usually challenging as well, as I juggle summer activities with Fall and Winter expectations, not knowing which way to turn and not wanting to miss any of the last moments of sunshine. So, that said, I am "over it" now and back to regular anxieties.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I love talking to verizon and ‘communications’ companies in general. Get that, a "Communications" company. ha.
- I talk to the internet people: I made changes to the account, I need to clarify billing. They say, “great we’ll get it done. We’ll make the change, but you need to talk to the phone people before it’s all final.”
- Ok. I talk to the people, they say, “ok, makes sense, but you need to talk to the financial people.”
- Ok. I talk to the financial people. They say, “fine, but you need to talk to the internet people.”
- I say, “I already talked to the internet people.”
- They say, “hmmm, yeah, well you need to talk to the internet people and tell them to talk to the financial people.”
- I say, “you are the financial people.”
- “Yes, but we’re not the internet people, so we can’t make the change until we talk to the internet people.”
- “Yes, but if I talked to the internet people and they told me to talk to the phone people who told me to talk to financial people, then why can’t you just talk to the internet people now, or just make the change final.”
- “Well, we have different software.”
- I can say nothing. So I wait.
- “And it sometimes takes 2 billing cycles to update a change.”
- “But the bill is theoretically due next week.”
- “Well you definitely should follow up.”
- “That’s what I’m doing.”
- “You should just have the internet people finalize everything.”
- “That’s was the goal of my phone call to them. They told me to talk to the phone people who told me to talk to you.”
- “Well, just have them come talk to us.”
- “Ok… so…I guess I need to clarify things: why do I, the customer, have to be the instrument through which the employees talk to each other, especially since a) you can’t do anything based on what I tell you (or you’d make it final right now), and b) it takes me 20 minutes of muzak each time I need to transfer. Why can’t you just talk to them or pass the information along?”
- “Well…how about I call over there with you right now?”
- “Fine.” And then they begin calling over there. I can hear a few rings while we both wait on the line. Then:
- “The number you have reached is not in service… The number you have reached is not in service…The number you have reached is not in service…”
- “Hello? Hello? Financial people? Are you still there?
- Nope. Guess I’ll call back tomorrow.
(As you probably guessed from your own experiences, multiple iterations of this conversation were omitted in my retelling. Each line of the conversation was repeated two or three times before moving to the next hard return.)
- Was this the first rant this blog has seen?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Top Ten of the Summer

Top Ten Things That Can Fit Into Your Hand And That I Ate On The Road Trip Across The Country (in no particular order)

  • Kyle ’s espresso in Jackson, Wyoming

  • Good good beers in Greenlake, Seattle

  • Raw chicken gizzard at Glynwood Center, Hudson River Valley, NY

  • Doughnuts from Sultan Bakery, Hwy 2, Washington

  • Charcuterie at Barb’s (devilled eggs, great cheese, salami, pink wine, etc.)

  • Crab legs from the tanks at Central Market, eaten on the porch

  • Italian plums (which I was picking in my dream last night) from the tree by the pond, Kingston, washington

  • Chamomile ice cream & the best kind of birthday cake a boy could ever want (angel food), at the Lake

  • Wintergreen lifesavers, to keep you alert on the road, on the road

  • Huckleberry milkshake from Victor Emporium, Victor, Idaho

now, what are your top ten of the summer?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

half way there and still going

It is hard to believe we have finished the first week of October!! I can't keep up the pace if October is going to keep me moving at this rate. As you all know, David and I started the month in Spokane for Lisa and Erik's wedding. It was a very nice evening celebrating a couple very well matched and very gracious. I enjoyed visiting with Deb and Vic, Gary's brother and sister-in-law, and Grace, Gary's mother. It was unfortunate that Phloris could not be there because I know she would have loved it. She and Grace are good friends.

On returning to the west side of the mountains, David headed for San Diego and I headed home to start the "cork tile" project. It was now or never! Monday morning I moved furniture around to one side of the house and ran up to the rent-it center to get the 100 pound floor roller. Starting on the bridge by the door, I worked my way forward to the bedroom. Half way through the bridge I realized I really needed to get the tiles rolled before evening, so rather than wait for the return of neighbors I hauled the roller upstairs, doing leg presses at each stair-step. There were a few moments of worry when I thought I might tip head-over-heels and end up flying thought the door at the bottom of the stairs but I made it upstairs. I cut, laid and rolled the rest of the bridge, 2 closets and the middle of the bedroom. I finished by 11:30 pm with every muscle ready to go to bed. After washing tools and myself, I took Duffy outside and ... wait for it...locked myself out of the house!

Do we have and extra key outside? NO! Fortunately it was a full moon and a clear sky so I could see to get the ladder and climb over the upper deck. I threw myself over the deck because of course I am too short to put my leg over. Fortunately I fell onto the deck and not backwards into the rhododendrons. Always an adventure.

Today I rested! Picked Asian pears, dried fruit and looked at bathroom sinks at Loews. I think I am ready to finish the second half tomorrow. Not to worry though. I put a key outside!

Keep accepting new challenges! Where is the fun in doing what you already know?

Love, Mama Llama

Goathead Thorns

Ventured out for my first real ride, out from this city of bikes. Headed out through orchards and fields, toward Lake Berryessa. A beautiful beautiful ride - after 20 miles. The 1st 20 are spend on straight, flat roads, surrounded by row after row of trees or ploughed earth. But at least they're quiet - only the passing truck filled with rancher, pickers, or tomatoes. Here's evidence of a tomato truck that had more than it's share:

The hills - a section of coastal mountains between the central valley and nappa / the bay - are steep, dry, gold and green. And after the flat hour out, it was great to power up to the steep pass. I turned around an decided to head home a slightly different way - a busier road that kept me on the white line. I accidentally shifted of the pavement at one point, was on gravel for about 3/4 of a second, then shifted back up. But heard a click click that meant something was on my wheel and brushing against my frame. I stopped to examine and found at least 8 spiky thorns in my front tire. I pulled one out and heard a hiss.
Got out my patch kit and patched two holes in the front tire. then broke the valve when I was pumping the tire back up. So I put in the new tube I had in my bag. All was well, until I realized that I should check my back tire as well. It was already flat. Thorns removed then 3 holes to patch. The valve broke on this tube as well - need to do a better job with this tricky pump - but it was still taking air. But one of the patches was failing, so I road for a mile or so, out of the saddle, and then started walking. By the time all this patching and changing was done, and I had walked a few miles, Susan was out of class and drove to pick me up, still 10 miles or so out of town. Bear in mind, I have kevlar beaded tires that are not supposed to puncture and with which I have ridden through glass, potholes, and innumerable other undesirable conditions. But there's these thorns out here with 3 small spikes designed, like a tripod, to keep a fourth, giant spike pointing straight up, and into my tire. A few good lessons for the first day out: the mountains are farther away than they appear, stay off any gravel, and bring lots of tubes!
More info I just found: The Goathead Thorn
They really are evil little sons of female jerks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

a few sites and sounds

ten days now in California and i figure it's about time to get back to keeping everyone up to date on The Only Boy. It has definitely taken me a while to find my stride after a couple weeks on the road. They were definitely marvelous days though, with nothing but moby dick, dusty miles, and other people's couches ahead of me. great nights with cool mountain breezes, laughter, wine, and new places to explore. Amazing time at the lake to figure out the west coast again and get inspired to be unemployed - just means time to be outdoors, cook dinners, do projects, right?
now - out here in dusty davis. where people careen around on cruisers like elephants on a tight rope. some of these people should not be on bikes. and because there's so much emphasis on bikes, they make bikes follow the rules: they'll ticket for stop signs, lights, not having lights at night, etc. Bike friendly is not bike fun.

Moving and accompanying details have kept me over busy the last 2 weeks and have yet to fully feel unemployed. we got out here and then discovered that the place we lined up was dirty and cluttered and just kinda nasty and just wasn't going to be the place we wanted to hang out. unfortunately, we discovered this after I moved everything from the car and storage container into the house. so we talked the landlord into terminating our lease, promptly found a tiny, but amazingly cute little cottage really close to town and campus, and then started moving again. we're just about done with that. to the point of setting up utilities - trying to prove to the post office that our house exists, trying to clear up a $2,000 phone bill that someone in utah rang up with my social security number, trying to not crawl through the phone line and strangle people who work for comcast - you know, that sort of thing. but finally, the rugs are on the floor, the kitchen has been consecrated with an espresso from the stove top (though we found a replacement carafe for our coffee maker - exciting) and two beautiful dinners from the central valley bounty, and I just built a hanging rack out of salvaged 2x4s and copper pipe. when you come visit you'll scream about how cute it all is. looking forward this week to cracking the norcal cookbook that mom gave us.

in other hysterics - last week I tried to put the bikes together (after they were totally disassembled in the storage container). It was an amazing day - just like Saturday in the bike shop. Hot hot sun, and every project turned against me - the wrong tubes, broken stems, grease melted in the sun, wheel damage from shipping, and all other manner of mishap. it felt great to have gresy hands again - though I have been staying in touch with phoenix through some proposal writing etc. as well.

anyway - that's the fun list. other highlights: riding around san fran, sitting in parks, laughing with our friend Mat (visiting Sf from DC), going on a sweet hike only an hour and a half from Davis (made it to treeline - pic below), finding 2nd hand stuff for the new cottage, 100 degree days.
so that's the update - hopefully starting the real fun soon.

the hike was to "twin lake" - an appropriate first hike down here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I just want to say that I have had the best birthday week ! I gave myself permission to spend a fun day Friday playing in the kitchen because Kyrsa and Dave were coming for tapas and wine on Saturday. Since I was cooking and cleaning, I also got to drink a glass of wine in the afternoon so I could pretend to be Julia Childs.

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day, more like late summer. Kyrsa and Dave came over with a big bouquet of flowers. We sat outside and enjoyed first-course tapas with Spanish wine and Dogfish beer. As the temperatures fell, we moved inside for the second-course of tapas and more Spanish wine, followed by cups of espresso and meringues topped with roasted fruit and creme anglaise.

The full Tapa Menu included: grilled bruschetta with mozzarella and roast tomatoes, Spanish olives, fava bean spread and pita chips, roasted pears wrapped in prosciutto, gazpacho, mixed greens with avocado, Italian potato salad, fresh crab and cocktail sauce, meatballs in saffron sauce, pork cubes in peach sauce, and meringues with roased fruit and creme anglaise for dessert.Now, today, I have a beautiful day to do what ever I wish, in a clean house filled with flowers. I had dessert for breakfast with coffee and read in rocking chair. If only I can keep this plan going for 12 more months! Enjoy your days as they come, each one new and full of opportunities to choose to smile. The mantra for the coming year:
You choose how you see yourself and the world around you and are able to change that world by your vision.
Let's all make good choices out there! (Smile)
Love, Mama Llama

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time flies when...

It is hard to believe that a month has past, to the day, since Colin's birthday! Today is not nearly as entertaining in Kingston but I certainly can't complain. We have had the "BEST SUMMER EVER" with sunshine following sunshine into September. We even managed some sun for lake visitors, so skiing, kayaking and bike riding were enjoyed by all.

On September 9, Colin and Susan drove into the lake driveway, continuing an already week long trek across the nation with stops for friends and family along the way. They really did see the best places in our land, deserving the rewards because of the sheer number of miles in between stops. We had a great bike ride from the cabin to our new favorite town, Spirit Lake. We also worked in some dock time, cooking time and a little skiing as well. There is never enough time to relax at the lake and never too much time with people I love but we did our best.

I really needed that time to gather up energy for the car shopping that faced me on my return to Kingston. The little blue Forester died on the mountain top- really the nemesis for that little car- and was not worth fixing. Bye bye little friend. So with much trepidation but with lots of support from "Saint Barbara of Theresa" I hit the dealerships. Of course I did my online work and went armed with sheaves of paper. The dealers didn't know what to do with the 2 crazy women facing them. In the end David and I drove off a lot in Lake City with a 2007 Toyota Rav4 with only 15,000 miles. I hope it will last at least 10 years because I really don't want to do that again. You KNOW how cranky I get in dealerships!

Now fall is here and pears are being processed in the canner and the dryer. The house seems empty with only David and I. Fortunately Kyrsa and Dave are coming this weekend to ease my way into the fall focus on teaching, remodeling and fiber; all the activities of the last throws of summer mixed with winter preparations. So, walk in the leaves when you find them in piles and remember continue summer explorations into the fall. Happy adventures and exploration to everyone.
Love, Mama Llama

Monday, August 31, 2009

he's how old?

another photo I thought I'd have to share. in keeping with lake-side birthday laughter, this was from 'the river' on my birthday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Colin's 30th Birthday

August 24 is the day the world celebrates the birth of that remarkable individual, Colin George Haspedis Dixon. His nearest and dearest usually look forward to celebrating the day WITH him at Twin Lakes. This year we all suffered without his physical presence but we kept his spirit in our hearts and thoughts, making decisions we knew he would be making for us, were he there.

The day began with sunshine on the lake and Canadian geese shouting his praises. Lynne and Linda started the day on the golf course. Amy and Erin headed into Couer d'Alene to do a little bit of work at the wifi bakery, in order to feel free of work for the rest of the week. Barb and Claudia rode bikes into Hayden for coffee, enjoying the comfortable morning on the Rathdrum prairie.

Around 2:30 pm everyone convened on the dock. Anita was already sipping her first G&T to start the celebrations off right. Sunscreen was passed around and banter shared. Lynne commented on the great waterski book in the cabin (from Colin to Barb at Christmas). Barb threw out the challenge: Hey, why don't Lynne and Claudia and I triple ski together? Lynne said, " Sure- great idea!" and we were off... I just stood there stuned while all was prepared around me and before we knew it, but after a quick G&T for courage, we where on the lake. Linda had her initiaion as a ski boat driver and all went extremely well. Who even believed it would happen- not BARB!
Of course Cameron was entertained by the episode, so Lynne asked if he wanted to ski with her and Barb. He said maybe Wednesday but Lynne and Linda would be leaving next day. As soon as Kurt got home from work, Cameron and the Haspedis blonds were out on skiis. It took a couple of tries for Cameron to get the wiggles out and feel confident, but he made it up and so did the "girls". That is what the lake is all about- passing on the tradition of prodding and pushing from one generation to the next. Great times!!

Now it was time for the kids to perform. Amy disclosed her shame at not jumping off the swinging tree 10 years earlier. Lucky days! The cocktail cruise that evening passed right in front of the swinging tree. With Erin's tutaledge, Amy followed up to the platform and quickly plunged into the water to the applause and toasts from all.

But the day was not over. After a great dinner, wine and relaxing there was just enought time for "peep smores" around the fire. The stars were bright and the evening warm. As Claudia moved away from the fire to enjoy her her perfectly roasted peep, she stepped off the patio a little higher than she judged and sprawled along the driveway. " Where is my peep?" she queried after assuring all that she was uninjured. The beam of the flashlight found it stuck to the back of her shoulder! Really, can a day be celebrated with more hilarity!

So Colin, you were missed in body but loved and celebrated in spirit. The coming year can only hold more adventures, hilarity and love with this kind of start.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Girls weekend and beyond

Girl's weekend kicked off August but the sunshine was not around much to show us how August in Idaho is suppose to feel. Still, there was lots of relaxing and fun to be had. Barb made us all feel like slugs by doing the Coeur d'Alene triathlon with a best ever time. She has now recognized a new training module for success: train all winter like crazy then, when the sun finally comes out, eat drink and make merry. This seems to result in equal and better times on the racing circuit. Next year she may push the envelope to see where the breaking point between training and drinking really sits.

It was a small group at the lake this summer, just Anita, Barb, Judy and I but we truly focused on relaxing. We read on the dock, swam ever so often and took walks every day to keep moving. It was actually pretty difficult to return to accomplishing tasks on Monday, when we all returned home. Judy had the most to face, what with final tasks moving into her new home and out of her old one. Clint is getting married in 4 weeks, so there are all kinds of family arrangements to make her insane as well. Even she acknowledged that is took 3 or 4 days for her to care about the insanity. That is the sign of a GOOD vacation. She is now starting to think about retiring!.
Barb is carrying on in Seattle, drinking coffee and putting on rain gear for the first time since May. We still want lots more summer and are hoping it returns for Erin and Colin so we can all play just a few more times. The boat needs a better work out at pulling skiers. I have been working on fiber projects in the wet days this week but plan a big garden weekend this weekend, to start pruning for fall and of course redesigning a couple of spots. I planted a few fall vegetable crops with hope and a prayer- green beans, peas and favas. It is surprising how dry my soil is despite all the rain. There have also been lots of kitchen tasks- drying sweet cherries from Eastern Washington,baking chocolate zucchini cupcakes, making peach pies, drying a few of the peaches before they spoil and making blackberry jam. All part of summer, with more harvests and preserving to come, I hope.
Now I am to the post office and a few errands. I hope everyone is feeling the warmth of summer and remembering to use that warmth as an excuse to enjoy the moments of living each day. It is never easy to make time when life demands many directions from you but if you don't make the time to stop and share smiles of happiness and love, all the other directions become tangled and lost. So- make time today to laugh when you might not feel like laughing and have a slow walk when you think you should be running.

Love you,

Friday, July 24, 2009

As the pond turns

The lazy days of summer on Tulin Pond grow more interesting as the days shorten. Mama Duck Ariel saw her teenagers off a few weeks ago. Since then Ariel has been left to her own devices with no one to keep her company or entertain her. When Mama Belle brought her brood of babies to Tulin Pond for training sessions, Ariel thought to join and share her wisdom. As the little ducks paddled around the pond, plopping and plunking in the water, Ariel watched and Belle circled. Time to join- Ariel entered the pond only to be met with a loud series of commands from Belle, marshaling her troops and sending them immediately to her side. Our Ariel is not one to give up. She hung in the pond, keeping her distance as a quiet persistent presence. Belle did not relax her vigilance.

As the afternoon passed, Belle decided her babies were old enough for a parade to the tree. Following Mama Belle, the entire family marched out to the plum tree for a feast of fallen bird seed and the bugs. Everyone was having a great time until ...again...Ariel tried to join in the fun. Belle circled her family, keeping her face toward the intruder. When it was clear Ariel was in no mood for flying, Belle marched right up to stand in her face and started telling Areil which way was up in NO uncertain terms. ( I think she might have called her a female jerk!)

For the time being Ariel was chastened and sent on her way... but she'll be back. In her absence the neighbor cat takes up the watch from the ponds edge or from under the little fir tree. He thinks he is hidden, but Belle spots him immediately and gives her orders loud and clear, "Everyone into the pond! Stay in the middle and stay together. Do as I say and do it now!"

Will it ever be time for school to start again. Keeping these children safe and teaching them life skills is just too much trouble.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Not quite mom's clafouti's

But still delicious. This week's summer discovery was the refreshing sugary blitz of a ice cream soda. Besides the standard root beer float, I never really remember eating ice cream sodas. And I never liked much the crazy, crispy, almost bitter, foam of root beer floats. So as a break from beer/wine/margharitas, I decided to bring ginger ale, lime sherbert, and orange sherbert/vanilla, to a bbq last night. It was the best! As observed by one guest, just like a summer skittle. (perfect because in the olden, golden days, perhaps ice cream sodas bring the eater back to childhood. But anyone who knows me, knows that skittles are more likely to bring me back to childhood.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ahead of the Curve

Yes - Anita has done it again. Erin and I both distinctly remember the afternoon trip with Grandma that led to the acquisition of these fine pieces of Americana, housed at the Lake or on sale now in Brooklyn, NY.

Brooklyn Kitsch I can deal with. I'll be really worried when the things I grew up with appear in the antique store!
One of many great moments of discovery and laughter from a weekend visiting Erin, Fern and my friend Laurie in NYC. (was sad that Jenni was out of town). Other highlights include:
  • OCD moment at the bar when, trying to make sure both upper and lower were aligned, I snapped off a coat hook accidentally

  • Making Jack drink white wine spritzers after a long day walking around the town. This was first (or maybe second) of the summer for me - and a crucial pick-me-up before cooking up a great chicken/cabbage salad - asian influenced with the great summer addition of an avocado.

  • seeing the receptionist from Ugly Betty at the amazing cookie / korean place

  • Delicious Italian-style Chickpeas. Psych. While these were indeed chickpeas, they were neither italian-style (we asked the right people to verify) nor delicious. But worth getting as a memento of the amazing italian streetfair that we ran into on the walk home (just like the one we found accidentally in Baltimore with mom last year). Here is another memento of the fair - we debated whether if was appropriate to take pictures at a place of worship, but that if they were willing to cover the Baby J with dollar bills, then taking pictures fell well above the bar.(click photo for a closer look)

  • And as a final selection from the italian festival - click here, NY excitement, to witness the deadpan riders of the up and down ride. Turn your head to the left.

That's the quick pictorial for now. As perfect as the 4th at the lake was, this was a perfect weekend-after. Relaxed, but with fun excursions, ice cream from the ice cream truck, reading in the park, coffee from wherever it could be found, and lots of time catching up with people I love.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer is REALLY here

The Fourth of July has come and gone with the sun still shining in Kingston. We had a great Fourth celebration on Twin Lakes; all the dock sitting, lake floating and margarita drinking the weekend expects. Luckily Dave Sullivan has some practice at that drink so everyone was kept happy. There were more boats on the lake than I have seen in many of 4th- all the warm weather reminded people how important it is to play while we can. I also think those Eastern Washington types now live in fear of the everlasting winter so are celebrating summer more than usual .

The boat made a couple of cocktail cruises . I even piloted through the Channel with the help of Kyrsa as my co-pilot. The lake level is fairly high but going down quickly with all the hot weather, still the water was just pleasantly refreshing for swimming and floating. Traditional vanilla ice cream topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries was symbolic of the holiday. Thankfully the neighbors again gave us a wonderful treat- a professionally engineered fireworks show that lasted more than 1/2 an hour. It was spectacular. I expect photos from Dave's new camera to make you even more envious. After the merry makers left Sunday evening, the lake was peaceful and quiet for the rest of us. The osprey are eyeballing those fish in even larger numbers. There are a couple of new nests and Cameron noted that 2 of the baby ducks were lost to baby osprey dinner. The "ducks" are red breasted mergansers I saw parading down the lake while I kayaked one morning. A large blue heron seems so have taken up residence somewhere near the lower swamp area. We have seen him fishing off the docks when visitors are gone. Cameron and Jacob are out for the summer and full of energy, as always. They are growing up quickly and before long will be too old to share stories with the old folk. For now they are still telling tales with their unique perspective and vocabulary.

Back in Kingston summer is all about harvest in the garden and enjoying time with friends. I did both this week. Marcia Adams, the creator of House Warps (a website for the sale of beautiful handwoven items for the home) was here for tea and cherry clafouti. We christened my new tea set and enjoyed catching up on each others' news. The time to visit in the warm sun with a good friend is the best of summer days. I have been working in a bike ride to town occasionally but still have not conquered the first hill without huffing and puffing. More practice I guess. Today is a beautiful Saturday so I am about to head out and pick a bowl of raspberries. I have 2 large bowls of pie cherries to pit some time soon. It will have to be after we return from Port Townsend. It is a great day to enjoy the Farmer's Market and walk on the beach at Chetzamoka Park.

I hope everyone is making time for fun this weekend. I know the East Coast is making summer activities a little more challenging but the spirit of Twin Lakes will lead you forward to fun and laughter this weekend on all through the summer. Go out and have fun!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer in the garden of laughter and forgetting

Just a wee greeting on a summer day. I started today on the deck with coffee and a book. Summer is really the best of times. I worked all day without a moment's pause getting things ready for our trip to the lake. We will only be there from Thursday to Tuesday but I was behind on dead-heading and wanted everything ready for July flowers to look their best. I am now dead tired but will power-on a few more minutes to pack things into the car. We are planning to leave in the morning on the 5:45 ferry so I can enjoy some dock reading time. I want to start the holiday off in the correct manner with a little kayak before all of the boats arrive. I know you are all jealous and I wish you could be there too. We will be toasting you with ice cream and cocktails! I know you will have much fun where you are, with friends and laughter.

Kyrsa and Dave will be at the lake with us. Kyrsa still can't ski because her foot is too tender to fit into the boot or handle the water pressure while skiing. Still they will enjoy relaxing after the last few weeks of remodeling projects. I will say good bye with a photo of the new windows on their home. I took the picture just 2 days after the installation. I hope they are still in place (joke). Happy sparklers and sunshine to you.

Mama Llama

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

-4 tide in Appletree Cove

I just wanted to send a couple of peaks at the lowest tide of this summer in Kingston. There seems to be a good healthy crop of eel grass and lots of moon snail casings. We even found a couple of real live moon guys but hid them under the grass so the heron didn't find for dinner. The eel grass is a great sign for the health of the cove. It not only provides hiding places but nutrients for all variety of marine life. There were a smattering of clams (all eaten by moon snails, as was evidenced by the tiny hole on the top of their shell).

The beach went out for what seems like miles. We almost walked up to the ferry and did walk until we were directly down from Seatter Road, straight out into the bay. I only got sucked down to my knees once. I had to pull out my little crocks by hand because they wanted to become home to the clams. The eagle sat on the beach wondering where dinner had gone and the heron where out with all their friends, making a long parade at the edge of the water. We spied a couple of jelly fish and many crab but only one live guy. To celebrate the sunny afternoon and the beginning of summer we ate lunch on the porch while watching the cove stretch out before us.

Wish you were here!

Mama Llama

Monday, June 22, 2009

Strawberries and Peonies

Happy Monday everyone. It is the first week of summer and I can just barely spy some blue sky out there in the far northwest corner. Although this last week has seen the traditional cool, gray weather of the Pacific Northwest, we did have an extraordinary 3 weeks of summer weather. The result is great crop of strawberries on Tulin Road. I never have more than a handful to eat from the garden but this year they have been more than abundant. I froze a cookie sheet for enjoying in the winter months, made a batch of frozen jam and have enjoyed eating strawberries with yogurt each morning and noon. What a wonderful treat and a reminder that gardeners in California should have no pride - how hard is it to grow food if you actually have warmth and sunshine!

The second wonderful gift from the unseasonably warm weather has been a beautiful array of peonies. Without the wet and cold to cause blight, the peonies have been outrageous. Their delicate full blooms are such a luxury since they have only a short season to show themselves. I have enjoyed peony bouquets all over the house!

The rest of the garden is doing well. The snap peas are giving little gifts each day and I found 3 small zucchini ready for harvest. The greens, arugula- kale- lettuce -broccoli rab, are in abundance; far more than we can consume, already. I am now spraying for deer regularly after they ate the first rose blooms for dinner one night. The slugs, small worms and insects are eating away to their stomachs satisfaction as I can't seem to think of a way to stop them. Sharing is the rule of gardening, I guess.

As you can see, there is not much excitement in Kingston right now but I did have a 4 day excursion to Twin Lakes to start the summer season. Anita and I cleaned the carpet and made a few other preparations for July but the weather was so gorgeous we also read on the dock in our swim suits. We took the first cocktail cruise to make sure the boat was working well and I made time for some kayak trips down the lake as well as a short bike ride to the end of the upper lake. It was a great reminder that summer is a time to play. With good luck, we will continue to play on the Fourth of July in some nice hot summer weather.

I am now on to projects and chores this Monday morning but send you all a hug and a smile. Have a great week and I will talk again soon.

Mama Llama

Monday, June 15, 2009


Well - too long a break. While the ducks paraded through mom's yard, out in the east, Susan "Duckie" Ellsworth had a parade of her own - a birthday parade. So first to that...
Here's our recipe of the day that turned out great: Grand Marnyay Crepe Cake
Recipe: Mix up a grip of crepes and a bowl of whip cream (flavored, if you desire, by liquor). Layer. Chill.

Warning: the cake may leak in your fridge, so put a towl or something down. Warning: if you ruin your first batch of whipcream because you're not paying attention and it turns to butter, don't try to save it, go to the corner store.

It was a perfect cake for a Sunday Champagne Brunch birthday. Great with fruit salad, mimosas, mini-quiches, cheese biscuits, fresh bread, and other delights that may be on-hand. We followed brunch up with an anarchist take-over of the nearby tennis courts. My serve still sucks, but tennis was great, and fortunately we played doubles, then jumped in the pool next door. Unbelievable.

Moving back in time: Bermuda. Yes they do wear those shorts and yes the Uigars from Guantanamo are the luckiest refugees ever (except for being in Guantanamo for years and years) and yes the uigars will be required to wear khaki shorts with knee high socks and blazers. But... they'll get to go swimming here:
So they got that going for them. (and sisters, I know you're jealous of my form on this dive).
Bermuda was like stepping into a postcard. Perfect weather, amazing hosts, tempered only by crazy narrow roads. The wedding of Minta, Susan's cousin, was beautiful, and her family was, as always, very welcoming, very fun. More on all later. Really just getting some pictures up to make everyone jealous. One of the trips many highlights was "Glass Beach." (Following this winter's trip to "Round Rock Beach," all my childhood treasures are becoming swiftly less valuable.) This was an amazing afternoon - our last of the trip. We follow-up on an off-hand comment from somebody and asked our host, Kathy Wadson about this place. Turns out the place was one of her favorites - though most other locals we asked didn't even know about it. These places amaze me - crazy and magical (because of the obvious appeals, but also because of the funky stuff that always goes along with - in this case, an old maritime slave graveyard on the hill above (if i'm remembering right), and syringes, etc. at the high tide mark. Just enough to keep it off the cruise ship itinerary), strangely peaceful, with a history (of people more than politics) that you can feel, and always turning up by a combination of luck and openness to adventure. The small beach on this small cove was probably no more than 200 yards long (split by an old concrete pier), but covered in sea glass. All the cobalt glass has long been scavenged, but years of dumping from a nearby, and now shuttered, glass factory left many gems, including chips of old porcelain (from plates to conductors), twisted and rusty pieces of factory pipe, and enough bottle ends and half-melted bits to keep a curious child occupied for hours.
For now, will leave with a few pictures, and return later to tell about the Bike Show, the Memorial Day Ride to Gibson Hollow, and the trail of tears that accompanied both events (for varied and random reasons - physical, environmental, mental, and /or emotional).
Discoveries discoveries always to be made.


Fennel covering the seaside hill.

More Jumping (i would send you pictures from the beach, but just look up "bermuda amazing beach" or something and photoshop us in.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Signs of Summer

Summer is visiting Kingston. I can tell by all the old friends I have seen this week. The ducks are visiting regularly and becoming so bold as to walk through the rose garden in search for bugs. Even Duffy has no effect on their parade. I sit on the porch early in the morning having coffee and reading, without a coat and scarf. The noise of the birds is constant all day long but the frogs have mostly gone quiet at night. This morning I spied a bright yellow goldfinch on the front wire and the other day a busy hummingbird. The wood pecker is looking for treats everywhere, the electrical box and eucalyptus tree but not yet the house. And the weeds are growing faster than I can possibly keep up but I haven't yet given up- that comes in another month.

On an early morning walk I surprised a mother rose-rat (read here DEER) quietly browsing the side grass of a neighbors road. It is a good thing he didn't meet the coyote that surprised us both when he leaped over a berm of blackberries onto the road. His backward movement was almost a cartoon when he saw me standing in front of him. I suspect I was the more scared! I hear the coyotes calling one another occasionally but haven't seen one WALKING before.

It may last only for a week but the excitement of summer has definitely arrived. I am reminded of the excitement the arrives with Christmas and suddenly realize the similarities. Both seasons hold emotional memories of magic and play, set in our childhoods when play was the only focus of life and the structure of magic and fun was set by our parents. This often leads us to disappointment when the summers and Christmases of our adult life do not meet our childhood expectations.

But we can return to those seasons of magical fun again when we take on the responsibility of building a magical structure for ourselves and for others around us. The energy of building and planning does not take away from the loose, fancy free idea of summer. Rather it returns the commitment to play and to making time for fun in our days. Make this summer memorable by constantly giving effort to play. Take small moments to have ice cream with friends and larger moments for kite flying or a walk through the park. Lay in the sun with a glass of iced tea and read (it only takes a few moments if that is all you have). The summer is yours for the making. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lilacs Everywhere

With the beautiful weather this weekend gave the Northwest, the fragrance of lilacs filled Tulin Road. There is nothing that says Springtime more than the smell lilacs. They are everywhere in the house now- bedroom, living room and kitchen in big bunches. Even with the cold gray rain today, I stay happy with the reminder that warm weather and sunshine do return from time to time.

This leads me to my thought for today . My ferry ride to Seattle gave me time to finish a book by John Straley. I recommend this author. He has a nice poetic voice in his story telling and IS the poet lauriet of Sarah Palen's state, you know! His little story of the 1930's in Seattle and Alaska reminded me that all life is movement forward , backward, then forward again. Sometimes the backwards times seem to be all we feel - they go on and on. All we can do is keep swimming against the current to keep ourselves from sinking. Sometimes the current of life seems to help us along a little but then we are tossed back into the storm to struggle beyond what we believe is our limit. Eventually we learn to follow the current, hoping it will carry us to our destination or at least keep us wishing. Then one day we notice that the sun is out and we are happy. We have a life that holds our dreams when we didn't even realize it was happening.
In the midst of uncertainty and change, breath deep and try to float a little. Let the current of life do some of the hard work and know that you will get to the place you long to be. If you enjoy the trip then it is even better so splash around a little.

Happy Springtime to you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy BIrthday to Erin

Today is Erin's birthday. I am thinking about this day, 28 years ago. It was very early in the morning the day before Mother's Day when we left Kyrsa and Colin with Cheryl Narod before heading to Bremerton. After Erin was born the hospital let me rest an extra day because Kyrsa and Colin were waiting anxiously and energetically at home in Hansville. When we came home from the hospital, we went to Papa Joe's for cinnamon rolls and the ladies gave me a corsage left over from Mother's Day. Anita was there with us the first week and had fun bathing Erin in the kitchen sink at the Hansville cabin.

Unbelievably, that was 28 years ago. So many memories and adventures have happened since. There is nothing in my life that is as wonderful as being a mother to 3 wonderful children. They are people I enjoy and I am proud to have them in my life. Each part of their growing and my growing has been filled with exciting changes and challenges. I wouldn't have guessed the adventures and joy that was ahead of me at the start but I thank God for the gift.

Today is the beginning of another year of adventures and challenges for Erin. I know there will be joys and laughter as well. I thank all of my children for sharing their adventures and their growing with me, even now. It makes my heart smile as I imagine your smiles.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I wish I could give you a day at the beach

I wish I could give you a day at
the beach
The sound of the water running
fast and slow
The feel of the gentle breeze and
the gentle sun
The taste of hope and a smile

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The last poem for April but not the LAST

Dossier's editorial page brought back an old friend from the 70's .

"There are those who love to get dirty and fix things.
They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work.
And those who stay clean, just appreciate things.
At breakfast they have milk and juice at night.
There are those who do both, they drink tea."

- Gary Snyder

Guess I just get dirty and appreciate!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day After Easter

(not about anyone in particular - just rhyming!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Basho and ME

Old Pond
frogs jumping in
water sounds

- by BASHO

one rribbitt
croaking thunderously
now silence

- by mama llama

Thursday, April 9, 2009


A challenge to all you contributors- April is poetry month so let's see what you have. Share a poem you love or one you just found today or best of all one you heard in your heart. Share a poem with me this month.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring came and left

Kingston saw Spring this week and became so excited that Spring became frightened and ran away! Fortunately I was able to enjoy 2 of the lovely warm days out in the garden. The rabbits all have haircuts and are ready for summer. New babies are growing quickly and are now eating bites out of mama's feeder so soon they will be one their own and the goats are all well, enjoying nibbles on the green grass.

Most exciting, things are beginning to grow and flower as though summer will come our way some day. My little peas are poking out of the ground with the hope that no bird will find them before they are really up and growing. I have spinach starting, arugula and even some radishes. Oh, the hope of Spring when we see in our imagination where the beginnings will lead. I love that each year I am able to block the realities out of my mind until June shows up with its continued rain and slugs then is followed by July mildew. For now the apricot tree is blooming and there are swollen buds on the other fruit trees. If the bees find us before the rain does, hope survives. The advantage we have this year is the beehive cluster living on the five acres behind us. While there is no house there quite yet, the owners have installed a small garden with rain water collection and a colony of bees. What great new neighbors for the garden.

With the vegetable garden ready to grow, Spring begins in Kingston. Sunday is Easter, which will pass with little excitement since the family gathered recently and everyone is ready to hide out enjoying their own spaces. Maybe we will gather for a glass of wine just to toast the time of new beginnings. Easter is a season of rebirth for a very ancient reason- after the winter of survival it is the best time to leap into new lives and new adventures with hope and excitment.
Happy leaping to us all.