Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas is coming

It is true, Christmas is coming and there is never as much time for the season as we all want but still we must try to enjoy what there is. Anita was in Kingston to start the Christmas activities, so while I made wreaths, she made caramels and party mix. Only little elves live here.

An "elf" suggested I put my Christmas letter on the blog but since anyone who sees the blog has already received the letter, it seemed redundant. Instead I while share some thoughts that come to mind as  I decorate the house and the tree.

Of course, "Home Alone" is playing and next I will watch "Holiday Inn". As I place decorations and hang Christmas needlework, I think about a young friend and her two toddlers. They will have a "Solstice Tree"  and celebrate with friends coming over for the day. The young parents grew up with the traditional Christmas activities but feel strongly about sustainability so will not cut down a real tree. They are also passionate about not adding to the marketing and financial irresponsibility of "Santa", so are trying to stay away from the tradition of gifts. Of course I was appalled, at first, but as I thought about the choices, I realized that happiness is in what we create and enjoy. This young family will be remarkable and very happy because they are seriously involved in their children and in creating a happy family.

Still, the  message of Christmas kept nagging at  me. Not the typical message  Barb and Dave enjoyed at the Lynwood Church musical- stop rushing around and find the real meaning of life in Christ and in the people around you. We all know what happened to Ray Milan! But the reminder that Christmas is most fun with children around to surprise. Why is that?

Maybe Christmas is important, in the cold and dark of winter, because it removes us from "reality". It allows adults to reconnect with fantasy and play, the important  parts of the season. And that is the reminder I want to send into the new year! There is no "realistic" answer to life. Reality is the moment we are living and how we choose to live it. Choosing to live without play and imagination and dreams is our own decision but not a "more realistic" one. The future is not "realistic", it is unknown. Let us try to dream good, happy moments into our futures this year and not let the possibility of unhappiness dictate our choices. That is not more realistic but just allowing  fear of unhappiness to direct our path. Give yourself the Christmas gift of believing in your own happiness and your own dreams, no matter how improbable they seem in the dark of winter. Run through the snow and sled down the hill believing that there will not be a ice wall but instead a pile of soft snow at the bottom. Take the walk in the snow, go down the steep hill and taste the snow on your tongue all year long and make the your decisions, knowing they will be full of the fantasy and joy that you bring to them. That is the reality that Christmas lets us remember each year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


That was Monday- and after two days and counting of temperatures in the teens, the novelty is wearing off. Remember back in the olden days when the pond froze and the water pipes froze and the rabbit bottles froze and the goat water buckets froze. Yes, it is all back again. I did forestall the frozen pipes by spotting the freeze at the very beginning. With a propane heater in the pump house the water began to flow again and it has been trickling down the sink ever after. We are looking at overnight temperatures around 15 again tonight but Thanksgiving should be our turn-around hope. It is predicted to be almost 40 during the day and the beginning of a warming trend with rain following.

Tulin Rd is an accident happening, as usual. Yesterday there were 4 cars at one time ditched along the curves. They seem to be towed out and we even heard the gravel truck last night so maybe we WILL be able to drive to the ferry on Thursday. Fortunately I have all my ingredients at ready. The sauce is made and noodles are on the schedule for today, along with bread sticks for hor d'ouevres and dinner rolls. So, we are enjoying and old fashion holiday here in Kingston. The only thing missing is a kitchen full of hoodlums helping to cook a "pioneer meal" because school has been canceled, including "Indian pudding".

Have fun and stay warm, eat well and know I am sending you all hugs and kisses.
Mama Llama

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Surprises

The sauce is simmering on the stove, ready for Thanksgiving noodles.

The apple bread is baking, using the last of the damaged apples from the garden.

There are spices in the pot simmering on the wood stove and as I head outside ...

Happy Week before Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Big Time

Well, after years of taking an independent stand in the face of fashion dictates, I have finally been recognized by the fashion world. Witness the Dossier Journal Style posting for November 19 if you will. 
http://dossierjournal.com/style/  Who are those good looking, fashion forward stars?

Sorry, I can't make this stand up straight!
Aside from my presence in the media, the world around Kingston is wet and cold. I have been busy doing what, I don't know, but time is passing, preparations are being made and winter is coming, along with the holidays. I have had a few sad moments because my sweet little QT died this week. I nursed her through a bought of scours and the last few weeks she seemed on the mend, eating with a great appetite both hay and grain. This week I came back from school and found her dead outside her shed. She was a real sweety but I think she has had some  serious internal health problems that finally overwhelmed her. At least I feel like she was happy and cared for when she died.

With Thanksgiving just a short week away, it is time to realize how lucky we all are. Despite our little complaints and our bigger problems, we have people to love and support us. We have a warm home and enough food to feel satisfied too much of the time.  Most important, we have faith in the future and faith in ourselves.

With all this wealth as part of our daily experience, it is hard not to become a little "let them eat cake" like in our awareness of others. I take an example from a recent day in the high school "math-for-daily-life" class. We all hear the repeated complaints about the failure of our schools to educate our students for the lives they need to lead. Why don't teacher demand more discipline? Why don't students care more and reach farther? Why don't parents support teachers and encourage excellence in their children's academic performance?  As hard as it is for those of us who are so very fortune to accept, there are many students who seem perfectly normal, average and able but are truly unable to learn anything beyond basic math. This may be because of their physical limitations or it may be their emotional disabilities but the reality is the same. Despite effort and encouragement there are limits on the complexity of information that can be understood and held for future experiences.

As I saw this reality repeated throughout the day, the need for safety nets and survival structures was brought to my mind. I am not suggesting wheel chairs and wagons to carry people through their lives, but crutches and railings that help people find a safe path to travel through their life with success and self-worth. Workers at the local convenience store,  greeters at Walmart, maintenance staff in the schools and hosts of other citizens offer important work to our society. The do the best job they can and they still have to pay rent, buy groceries and buy medicine when their children are sick. It is not in our best interest or societies that the hard work and long hours of these people leave them living below the poverty level and on the edge of survival.

We all look to local Food Banks, Goodwill, and Salvation Army missions to help those in need. We generously donate what we feel possible to help in these efforts. But the real offer of generosity and empathy will come when we require a social structure that offers basic health care and living wages to all of our citizens. The multitude of non-profit  organizations striving to meet the needs of poverty, illiteracy and illness only show the great failure in the structure we call our government, for only the government can provide an Interstate structure allowing all of our citizens to travel through life secure AND  productive.

And Thank God I live in a government where I can constantly proclaim my words of wisdom to the world!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I send my hugs and kisses out to you.
Mama Llama

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Happy November

Halloween is over and All Saints Day too (Nov. 1 is a big Catholic Day). It is just the beginning of the holiday season. We have turkey and and sugar cookies ahead! It is always a big surprise when the holiday season arrives with speed that mystifies. I always imagine there will be loads of time between summer and New Years- but where does it all go?

Still, here we are in November and I can not complain. Along with some days of fall storms and pelting rain, we have enjoyed days of crisp sunshine, sometimes with as much warmth as July. The animals are all fitted out for the coming winter days. The chickens have a light in the hen house, the rabbits are closed in from the rain and, for the moment, the goats seem healthy after a bought of illness the last couple of weeks.

This week I ran into Home Depot to get a couple of bags of top soil for my new garden in the front lawn (it is now planted with garlic which I hope will repel the deer- mine are probably Italian deer!) While in the Home Depot I spotted a GE Profile 909 electric range, recently advertised at $1100. It is black and stainless steel with a glass top, 5 burners with a fast-boil element, a convection  oven with a special "meat probe" for roasting and "most important" was only $399. It is now in my kitchen and it works! I made coffee this morning and dinner this evening so the experiment begins. Now I can cook the holidays in with ease.

Aside from the big purchase, not much news in Kingston. The elections are over but the media seems to have realized it is really cheap to fill their minutes with "pundits" who are on staff and can bombard us with their opinions. As a result I am still listening to books on tape while I spin. The most recent is a book by Jean Kwok- Girl in Translation: a story of immigration from Hong Kong to New York and the New York garment district. It is an excellent reality check. What is defined as survival and hard work is relative to personal experience and can certainly not be transferred from generation to generation because all of the elements change. Lesson learned-we are very fortunate and should be on the look out for those who might not be. Maybe we can help?

Now that day-light savings time is upon us, I look forward to early evenings reading with a cup of tea. That is at least until wreaths want to be made and holiday decorations demand attention. The renters moved out this weekend and will be cleaned out soon but I am putting the A-frame rental project on hold until after Christmas.Who knows, I may win the lottery by then and decide to change it into a weaving studio. Not much else to say for now. I hope you are all well and enjoying the fall. Good luck with work, with school, with projects all and have a great November!

Mama Llama

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

THE Luckiest Person in the World

WOW- Or in the the vocabulary of today OMG. What a great weekend I had and I hope everyone else did too. I am home now in the quiet of stormy winds and rain but I can still hear the voices and laughter of everyone in my ears. There are no words to say how much fun it was to be together at the most special place to us- Canon Beach. I don't know where to begin.

Although I suspected we might be meeting in Oregon, I was not sure until we were in the car driving down the road. I know my family is a tricky bunch and they could always be leaving a false trail. The setting for a family enclave was perfect-The Inn at Arch Cape. Little cabins circled around with fireplaces, kitchens, cozy beds and a beach cove for walking. Windy October storms where the icing on the cake.

My family is so amazing and generous and loving I don't even know where to start or what to highlight. Just being together with EVERYONE was really the best. Great food in our cozy spaces together; getting up to share coffee and walk on the beach; playing games in front of television sports, great food and great wine- it is like putting all the year of holidays into on weekend...and I even got presents (which was totally too much!)

As I look at the wonderful book of memories and adventures, I can't help but worry that I will now be accountable for ALL of my words. It really is not fair, as I have left such a trail of them with the full and heartfelt believe that no one would notice. Now I see they might be hiding somewhere in corners, waiting to catch me out. From know on I will have to be cautious in parceling out my epiphanies. Still, I recently heard someone say that we are defined by our choices. I believe this is true but I also believe there is great luck in where we are set down to begin life. I got very, very lucky on all counts. Thank you to all my family and the universe that put us all together -you are the very best part of living.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A good time gone by

It is the beginning of a new week but I can't start it out before saying a fond farewell to the week past. You are going to have to image the great time because I have misplaced my camera so the great pictures will come later.Sitting in front of my loom finishing a blanket for my Bainbridge group, I  look up to appreciate the last vase of tiny rose buds with lavender picked before the rain began to fall in torrents. It is a good moment to look back on the week of road tripping, wine drinking and great food.

Kyrsa and I left Seattle in the rain and sped down I-5 with a truck packed tighter than either of us imagined possible. We stopped for a last coffee at Javista to energize the long drive to Medford. It was 7 plus hours which always feels like a long time sitting but we made it to our great little bed and breakfast between Jacksonville and Medford. It was across the road from the "for sale" organic farm Colin and Susan and I looked at when we were driving through the area. After setting up in a great little cottage, we headed to Jacksonville for a great dinner at the "Inn". We sat outdoors in the late evening and enjoyed feeling like we were on vacation- which I was! Such a nice evening really took the tension out of driving, although the trip back to the b&b added some excitement when a deer landed directly in front of the truck. Fortunately Kyrsa reacted quickly and we were still driving at in-town speed, so our journey was NOT marred by auto repair time.

After a great breakfast of waffles and strawberries, we headed south taking the back road to Grants Pass and on down 199 to 101. The road is gorgeous, windy and dramatic. That means slow as well but the traffic was light, for which we were thankful. We made it through the mountains gasping for a rest stop and coffee by the time we hit Crescent City. It was great to see the places and remember the drive with Colin and Susan just a short time earlier. It was still as great- maybe better for the extra memories. We pulled into Healdsburg around 6, tired and glad to be out of the truck. Dave had wine chilled and dinner ready for us- so as the evening set,  we drank wine on the porch and listened to the crickets chirp over the Russian River; another successful road trip!

Kyrsa and I  arrived Saturday evening and my flight out was Tuesday evening  which left a couple of days to explore the area Kyrsa and Dave will be calling home. It is a beautiful area! We drove through the beautiful vineyards, stopped at amazing wineries and learned more about wine that I ever expected to know. One of the most interesting wineries and vineyards was the Berzinger winery. It is a "biodynamic" winery which I know all about because I was recently on the agro-tour with Susan. The Berzinger Winery has:#1 great wines and #2 an interesting business plan using a diversified growing model that includes sheep, cows, chickens, cover crops and mulching. It is also a gorgeous spot for tasting and picnicking in the Glen Ellen Valley. On Sunday evening Dave and Kyrsa gave me a wonderful treat. The took me to dinner at the Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen- an extraordinary restaurant. We had a great meal with unusual offerings including ricotta ravioli dressed with watermelon in tomato bisque, a wonderfully flavored chicken over fresh corn polenta, cream corn soup dressed with truffle butter, duck confite and more! 

As well as wineries, Kyrsa and I checked out shops and towns throughout the area. In Sonoma we found a great consignment store and some good prices on kitchen goods (although there was NOT a Williams and Sonoma store). In Santa Rosa we found some great used furniture and outdoor/garden  shops as well as a wonderful spice shop where they have millions of spices and blended spices in small amounts or large. You can taste every spice there from the sample bottles and the prices are very reasonable. Of course we both left with a few to try out at home. That purchase encouraged me to redo my spice containers when I returned home. If my food doesn't taste good, it is not for the lack of spices to season it!!

Kyrsa and Dave have all the challenges of moving to a new area, finding a home and a place in the community, while dealing with a home in Seattle. It will be a challenging year but at least they can do it all from a beautiful, sunny area and maybe even get to see Colin and Susan a little bit.  

So, good by to the sunshine of California and hello to the rainy gray of Seattle. Fall is here, the garden needs to be cleaned and readied for winter and there are lots of indoor projects calling me."To everything there is a season..."  Have a wonderful week filled with miracles or at least unexpected good times.

Love you,
Mama Llama

Monday, September 27, 2010

As It Looks Right Now

Autumn is here and as everyone who reads this knows, we are as likely to see our national bird in the sky over Tulin Road as we are to see it on currency. Still, Today was a really treat. On the run into town to pick up preserving supplies, I spied an young eagle sitting on the edge of the water, down at the slough. I pulled into the park and just watched him watch the world for several minutes until the youngster flew off into the backwoods to see if it offered better hunting. What a nice reminder of the beauty in our region.

Today we are reminded of why green surrounds us all year long- the veil of rain. With warm temperatures, I am off to gather art items for a printing project and a gluing  project -pictures later depending upon the success rate. Right now, a little proof of yesterdays efforts to stock pile the small fall garden harvest which is weighted heavily on the side of zucchini and chard. Yesterday I made pickles, relish and bread from the bountiful zucchini and still there are 4 medium large squash in my refrigerator. I also made a green tomato cake which was possitively reviewed by friends but only marginally successful in my book. I also made a great potato-chard ravioli. The filling will became gnocchi tonight. After all that time in the kitchen, today is a day for fun projects and maybe a walk on the beach if the rain stops.

But before I sign off, I will pass on a new study result. We all acknowledge that studies will say whatever the author want us to hear but this one I like. It seems that hugs, hand holding and other affectionate touching release chemicals in the body that reduce anxiety and stress! SO- do yourself a favor.Give all you friends and lovers hugs and  neck rubs. Shake hands when you meet people and endeavor to create positive physical bridges to improve your own health and reduce your levels of stress. There you have it- just like drinking wine and eating chocolate...it is all healthy living.

Have a great week ahead and live healthfully.

Love ,
Mama Llama

Happy Birthday!!

A day to celebrate the 60th birthday of a little lady with a huge heart, who makes every day brighter and everyone's life more than a little bit richer.

A huge toast to MOM! We love you more than words can say!

Friday, September 24, 2010

First days of Autumn

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick
Music by Gus Edwards; Lyrics by Will D. Cobb, 1907
Just in case you are going on with your life and thinking this might be behind you, school has started! I am back substituting, although so far only a couple of days in the library - an easy transition. Colin and Susan are back to the classroom as well, although Susan pretended she was working while we adventured through California and Oregon. THAT was very fun and very interesting. Here are some of the highlights for your enjoyment and to remind us all that summer adventures stay in our hearts, to warm the winter


After a great wedding in San Mateo, we headed north up highway 101 towards an organic, bio-powered CSA in Mendocino County. The morning drive through the Sonoma wine country was beautiful and although we were rushed to get to the farm interview, we did stop for gas in Kyrsa and Dave's new home - Healdsburg.

Our destination for this day was an older CSA operated by a couple from my own my generation. They are committed to a social and economic ideal that makes their operation interesting, as well as being beautiful in its setting. As Susan interviewed, Colin and I watched the farm manager explain economics and agriculture while processing vats and vats of  tomatoes. She worked so fast we could not really see where she was getting these vast vats of ripe red beauties but we were mesmerized by the speed and efficiency of the process. One interesting concern she expressed was the negative impact of the illegal marijuana growing on Mendocino  farms and communities. She voiced this as the biggest challenge to small farmers in the area. I know we all hear about this but to realize the size of the problem was surprising to me.

Traveling north on highway 101,we talked about this and many other entertaining topics . The drive through the California redwoods is always awesome in the way that word is meant to be used.Coming out of the trees and into view of the Pacific Ocean is really the best of California on a summer evening.

Driving on into Oregon, listening to an audio-book on murder and mayhem in the Alaska's wilds and feeling removed from the everyday schedules and expectations! 

The next afternoon we were visiting a goat dairy in southwest Oregon. These small farmers have a lot of hard work and certainly don't get rich but they DO live in the most beautiful spaces! We had time to interview the goat dairy, hearing all about the social and economic concerns of its managers, visit the resident donkey and donkey-baby and taste local cheeses and chocolates made in southern Oregon. Not a bad day, especially when you include lunch by the Rogue River.

Our last day of farm adventures took us to Lake Oswego- What ? farming in Lake Oswego... I don't think so! But in this suburban enclave they has survived an original farm site, now part of a pea-patch style plot program and a city recreation district. Amazing use of Green Belt Space! As a celebration of a great road trip, we spent our last night in Portland celebrating the city of books and beer. What a wonderful opportunity it was for me to spend time with two of my favorite people and learn a little more about their world and my own.

Thank you, to Susan especially, for allowing me to peak into her world of changes and visions for a better tomorrow.
    Happy travels to you all.
    Mama Llama

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Road Ahead

In another day I hit the road- I wonder if I can start my road trip novel like Jack Karawak? I will be attending the wedding of the year and visiting counter-culture farming groups so clearly there is material to be had.

In the meantime, Kyrsa and Dave will be packing up and saying good bye to Maple Leaf. Colin, Susan and I  will wave to Dave as we see him passing us on the highway, driving south to Healdsburg. It was great being part of their moving adventure for a couple of days and helped me feel the reality of changes ahead. I never envy anyone the act of packing, cleaning and moving but the adventure can not be topped for challenges and growth- in good ways. So, just a little shout out of support of Kyrsa and Dave on the journey ahead. I suspect there will be lots of other journeys, yet unknown; so everyone get ready and take lots of vitamins. Complacency is really not in the cards for any of us right now. We might as well expect the challenges and face them with enthusiasm. With the future unknown to us all, we might as well expect good outcomes. They are not less realistic and are much less frightening. Have fun this last week of real summer before Labor Day. Have wine on the patio, watch the sun shine on the water and remember that summer always comes around again. It will be here encouraging us onward with hope and excitement.

Have a great road trip through the rest of the year.
Mama Llama

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today is your BIRTHDAY

Today, August 24, is the most auspicious day of the month if not the entire summer. It is both the apex of summer freedom and fun and the beginning of the end. Always strange not to be at the lake on August 24, having angel food cake and peaches and celebrating another year of amazement with Colin, this year we celebrate from many corners. But celebrate to do- with memories and smiles in our hearts.

It is hard to imagine a more amazing year than this one for Colin and for the entire family- I can't really! So many challenges and changes, frustrations and successes. I think we would all explode if any more could have been packed in. So, while we are celebrating Colin's year, let us take a minute to remember how full this year has been.

One year ago Colin and Susan were on the Colorado River encountering the Grand Canyon first hand; really  symbolic for the enormous energy ahead. Good-bye bike shop and gardens, politicos and friends and hello to sunshine all year long with lots of fresh veggies. The changes have included lots of challenges: the frustrations of sharing unemployment with the nation but learning to be a farmer and the success of choosing new directions,being accepted into a program of research and learning- having options! There have been trips to visit friends on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Friends and family have come to visit in California-celebrations seem to multiply with friends and family coming together to make partnerships or just be together.

The opportunity to climb the highest mountain has not only been metaphorical. There have been hikes to the mountains, lakes and sea, camping and sharing the beauty and diversity of the West Coast. 
Small moments have opened to make room for art projects, chicken-sitting and the most important task of building new community while staying connected with those already loved. No growth comes easily, while we sit and eat bonbons. While this thirtieth year has not been easy, it has been full of new adventures into unknown territory. Really, it is all the years before promised with more of the same to come. We always need to remember to enjoy the moments, realize our blessings and let go of anything that takes the smiles from our hearts. We can't  let the trip into the future scare us even if we loose the map.

Colin always reminds us to rush ahead and show no fear. I guess everyone was watching and learning. Lynne rushed ahead, right off the roof so was forced to slow down and smell the roses. The challenge to her was huge, with medical reports heading in all directions. She kept her focus and found her footing again, walking back to work to reclaim her profession with renewed energy and enthusiasm. This was a huge challenge but no one doubted she was up to it.Still, her strength has been inspirational for everyone who knows her. Linda had no small part of the challenge and the success. Being "The Support" takes extreme patience and love. As well as being a part of Lynne's challenge, Linda faced her own by energizing her search for a new job offering a happier professional life for her. She was successful! Her new company is lucky to have her intelligence,  commitment and loyalty.

Not everyone felt the need to take on physical limitations to find new meaning in life. Kyrsa felt the pull to new professional growth, leaving  the world of public relations and opening a new door, but to where? Passion and some new learning brought her into the wine industry full of energy and enthusiasm. She had so much fun and energy, Dave became jealous and wanted  that same feeling. Kyrsa's example lead him to try new roads. Theirs is now leading south to California, close to Davis and into Sonoma wine country. Kyrsa took up the challenge of school, volunteering, keeping old networks and building new ones.( Not to mention the HUGE house projects she and Dave tackled  throughout this year!) With lots of changes ahead, their energy, intelligence and enthusiasm will guide them while encountering some difficulties and many new successes, including  how to find time to themselves when family and friends book visits to their new home.

Not to be left in the dust, Erin continues finding  financial and professional footing in New York while the publishing industry crumbles around her. This year has been one of building and changing- changing jobs and expectations only to have new ones open ahead. The speed at which she contracts her way through copy writing and magazine building is daunting. Add a few shoots to style, writers to encourage, fashion weeks to post and 24 hours rapidly become 48. Still, she has found opportunities to travel the country and Europe more times than even she would have imagined. New York is a lot more fun when you have a chance to get out of town occasionally. Ideas change, new challenges lay always ahead and it is assured that new decisions will lead to more success, challenge, struggle and joy with friends and family keeping smiles in the heart. These are the elements that lead to all the best of life.

And all the best of life is where Barb finds herself this August. Last August she was struggling with the depressed economy and limited job opportunities. She was hiking with Lucy and biking with Karen. A year later year we find her married to a great "Dave" who hikes and bikes with she and Lucy. She is on the go MORE than ever before- working for non-profit and for profit with lots of fun in between. Always great at making time for friends and family, she has even more of them to enjoy. She is our poster child for the message that you don't know what lies just around the corner until you turn it.

So, happy birthday to Colin and best of all wishes for more of life's joys, challenges and times together with people you love. Take time to realize the amazing moments of living as you encounter them. Be thankful for those that love you and those you love. Continue to be silly when ever possible and have a very great year ahead! You are the best son ever.

Mama Llama

Monday, August 23, 2010


(this is my little hand)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Already August

It really is true that summer days are faster that any others. Every summer I repeat the same words- where has summer gone? BUT there have been lots doings so that can't be the problem. We had much fun at Lacey and Corey's wedding, old friends to see and a beautiful summer day in Kingston with a beach wedding-what is not to like. Katie Pichoute was the celebrant. When she pronounced the final words ..."with the power vested in me..." an involuntary giggle passed through the crowd. It was nice having Erin here working away from the coffee shop but still able to have a beach walk before dinner. I finished the blanket for Lacey and Corey this week and am happy with the result. It is an unusual but strong color group and is very soft. All of the mohair was carded and ready to spin at the beginning of the month which has inspired me to send off another few bags to Barry in Quilcene where wool goes in and soft roving ready to spin comes out- really such a treat to spin. Just too much fun to use without the lumps and bumps usually part of the process.

August will hold many fun times too with a trip to the lake in a week. I only hope to find real summer weather while we are there because low 70's just doesn't feel quite right. Since I haven't been sipping juleps on the porch I will share the recent project from Kingston.

The chickens were complaining about the size of their summer cabin so I gave them their own range. I added chicken wire to the south side of the raspberry bushes with a little gate at the end and voila- free range chickens that get locked in at night. This was a great solutions but for some reason the chickens seem to want  to hang right at the gate. The first day there was a mass escape but I plugged the hole and felt reasonable confident again. Yesterday the Little Red escaped again and to my chagrin, I discovered that she was flying over the gate. I returned her to the range only to note that Buffy was sitting in the peach tree. AGH! these stupid chickens!

Today it will all change- hopefully! I have watched UTUBE so am now an expert on clipping chickens wings. Here I go again! I will let you all know about the success there. As well as wing clipping, there are rabbits to clean and groom, roses to tend and maybe even stepping stones today, though that may be one project too many and push me into insanity. David and I are making a rare visit to the Angeline Bistro in Suquamish tonight to celebrate our anniversary. We have been married for 36 years and it must be a successful connection when all is said and done because we have 3 children that could not possible be better.

Have a wonderful August everyone and enjoy the moments as they meet you.

Mama Llama

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July Daze

The fourth of July has come and gone. Cameron's patriotic lei kept him warm while we all wore sweaters ! Cameron also taught l
Lynne the real words to "It's a Grand Old Flag" as she was humming in parts forgotten! Already  it is well past the middle of the month. How is that possible?

Here in Seattle we can not count but a few warm days and no heat by any standard. Fortunately Lynne invited me to come along on a mid-July lake stay. The weather started cold and wet but ended with lots of sunshine and dock time, including a day with Dave and Gail. It felt like summer had really come to 2010- think jumping in the water to cool off and swimming because it just feels good. The water is still high so the cocktail cruise included a trip around the upper lake. It is surprising the number of changes and still things remain pretty much the same in a good way.

One of the nice parts of a time at the lake is the drive over the Cascades. The summer has been slow in coming, even to Eastern Washington. Purple wild flowers blanketed hillsides with borders of white daisies and sprinkles of yellow. The greens of grass and sage were the background along with the bright blue skies and dark blue river waters. Post cards just can't do it all justice but you have seen it all and I hope this is a reminder to look into your eye's memory for a moment.

Returning to Kingston has been busy. The garden is on auto-pilot for the most part. There is a lot of dead-heading to do but the weeds have slowed a little. The harvest is slow too and makes me jealous of desert living! The strawberries were great this year but the raspberries are late and sparse- the birds are getting the biggest portion because all the wild berries are even slower. Fruit trees missed the bees so we have no cherries for pies and the rest of the trees show little progress. Don't expect much in the dried fruit shipments this year. Greens and peas are the biggest portion on our menu but we continue to have hope for August, including maybe eggs by then.

Speaking of eggs, the summer home for chickens is built and ready for occupation. They won't like the decrease in space but, if they get comfortable in their new home, they may be able to free range in the orchard during the day. That won't be for a week so we shall see how it goes. For now all we have is a noisy rooster who crows in the morning for a few minutes and 5 hens that eat well. They tell me that the eggs come after 20 weeks or so which puts us at around the end of August! As usual we discover that it really it much cheaper to just go to the farmers market, no matter WHAT they charge!But where is the fun in that? So for now, we all say enjoy the heat because at least you can remember you had a summer. Make as many happy memories as possible, eat ice cream and jump into cool water. 

Love, Mama Llama

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

summer feasting

Well, we put up with 100 degree weeks for a reason (no, not just the tan and excuse to drink all the time). Good food has arrived. Thought I'd share a picture of the vegetables brought home last week for a dinner with friends.

Tonight, it's too hot to cook indoors, so grilling lots of vegetables, including peaches for dessert.snacking on sungolds with mozza, and fresh melons. i realize i mostly just talk about food and the outdoors now. but hey, you take what you can get in the desert.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Celebrations

The house is quiet and the cool rains have returned but there are lots of warm feelings swirling around. Would that I could share some photos but I left my camera in Lynne's car. It seems that is the theme of the weekend- leaving little bits of ourselves around so that we will be able to return... but pictures will be here soon to make us all smile.

The word around Seattle is that this weekend was the best gathering the Haspedis clan has had in a long time largely because  nothing was required of us except visiting, eating and drinking, with enough time to do it well. Combine that with an extraordinary coconut wedding cake and there is little more to make a perfect celebration.

Having a long meal with lots of wine and conversation on Tulin Road always makes me feel like family time, especially when there is a little story telling and a bit of idea exchange to keep everyone thinking. It was great fun to have Susan in the kitchen with me making things come together easily and with extra fun. I think all of the girls would agree that nails and champagne are the perfect way to start a wedding day- a little female bonding, always full of laughter and the reminder that we are always here for one another. Seeing old friends and new family on Sunday was a great focus event around which to gather, continuing the theme of wine and sharing into Monday at  Airfield. Kyrsa is a master at the wine tasting! We all had a wonderful time but having Anita and Lynne there to continue the weekend celebration made it perfect. Is there a better way to end a weekend than with a picnic in the sun and a glass of rose? Lest anyone think I am passing them over, family always includes Alex and Lisa. Alex's absence was acutely felt Sunday evening and commented on by many.

These are the reminisces of the weekend but the real reason for this little review is to share the words I heard all weekend. "Your children are really great". Of course I can only agree ( for the most part) but I do want to thank you all for your  generous hearts as we shared time together.  Lynne and Anita both said it was the best time together because of the many chances to visit and share. Barb had a great weekend and was sad only because she and Dave were not able to be at the wine tasting event! She wore her "wedding sweat shirt" to Pilate's Tuesday and her trainer could not believe Colin was not a professional (professional what?). For me, I loved every minute of the sharing time and laughter and being squashed into the back of vehicles...all moments to remember when challenges wreak havoc or when stress seeks to overwhelm. Thank you to us all for a great reminder that life really is pretty great and so are we.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer is here-finally

June 21st has come and gone- the longest day of the year. To celebrate I took a walk AFTER dinner and it was still light at 9 pm! This is the best time of the year for me and I realize how much my body demands the energizing  light and warmth of summer. It may not be all that warm but the light is here so we have made a start. With the long days come hours of time in the garden bringing those random thoughts cruising in and out through the holes of my brain. Here is one that I have meant to put out into the universe for some time.

With the summer comes the end of the school year. In the present economy, school employees everywhere have been buzzing about jobs that have ended and contracts not renewed. In many cases teachers retire and their posts are not filled from outside but staffed within. This might sound like a good business plan but a junior high school general math teacher does not an AP calculus teacher make. The young, energetic journalism teacher, teaching part time journalism and part time English on a long term subbing contract is not best replaced by a Buisness English teacher with 26th years of seniority. 

These are real examples of real decisions made to help budgets but to destroy curriculums. There are hundreds of young educators looking for contracts and even when they find that first job, work 14 hour days in preparation and make a very successful presence in the classroom, they become the first casualties of the "budget crunch". This is an old story and 60 year old teachers are NOT ready to join an old folks home. Neither are they able to live for 25 years on their reitrement pension. The experience these educators have gathered need not be sent to a scrap heap as out moded  but big problems are best solved by well designed structural changes, so a structure needs to be errected allowing the passing on of information and the infusion of youthful energy.

Of course I have an answer! School districts needs to develope a force of senior teachers, each with no fewer than 20 years of experience in their assigned grade level or curriculum. Each grade level/curriculum would have one "mentor teacher" for every 2-3 schools and no fewer that 2 mentors per grade level. These mentors would weave their way through every school and classroom so that each classroom teacher would see a mentor once a week, seeing all of the mentors in the district in rotation.

Mentors would be in the classroom, acting as observes and helpers. They would also spend time talking with teachers individually about teaching, discipline, curriculum, materials and other subjects that make up the life of a classroom. With a mentor force in each grade level, teachers would be able to connect with some ideas from the variety of mentors in their field. Information would be passed not only from mentor to classroom teacher, but from classroom to classroom throughout the district with the mentors act as conduit for ideas and problem solving. The qualitity of classroom education would not only improve but be energized and inspired with this constant communication and support network. The mentorship would be a term-limit program with a maximum of 4 years ending in retirement and with a contract  renewed annually without tenure.

So, school districts of the world open your eyes and budget for success in the long term or get someof those education federal/ Gates grant dollars for new changes and improvements. Here is an plan for success with no wasted technology that will be old before it is understood and no new, untested curriculum with unreachable  promises. This is a way of using people we have to improve the program them have spent a life time learning. A new idea offered into the universe...run little idea run!

Love and more ideas to come from the garden,
Mama Llama

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June Gloom? Not Really!

I KNOW it is tiresome - all this complaining about the weather but 49 degrees in the morning is getting really old! Still, that seeems the only thing to complain about so life can't be too bad. There has been lots of entertainment already in June.

We started the month with a bridal/wine shower for Barb. It was great fun for us and Barb gathered a great stash of great wine. I was able to bring loads of peonies from the peonie farm at the top of Tulin. I have always wanted to get huge boquets there so it was a dream come true and they were beautiful!
Kyrsa created a cocktail for the evening- the BAB'S. It is a blond martini with vodka, blackberry vodka, a splash of vanilla liqueur and a lime twist. The martinit got the party off to a agreat start with everyone in the mood to remember Barb's past and celebrate her into a great new future. There were pictures from age 3 to the present with all the hair styles to bring back time. Kodachrome may be gone but those pieces of paper remain- it begs the question about remembering this present into the future when images are erased or inaccessable with each new machine. We have a hard time learning from the past as it is- what will happen when the past becomes only that which matches each new technology. Sometimes it is a helpful perspective to make time stand still and reflect upon the moments we have survived- we then realize the worth of the little steps we make every day.

But time marches on, or so we maintain. I, on the other hand, marched directly into the past after the shower. Anita and I drove back to Spokane. I spent 3 days at the lake, doing some sewing projects in the rain, weeding and hacking in the sun and kayaking when the wind stopped blowing. As you can see, nothing much has changes at the lake and that is all good. The wasps were buzzing already and I was tempted to reach out the upstairs window with a pole to knock off hornets nests but fought the temptation! I only checked out the eves and sprayed foam into holes. I know you will all be relieved to hear that things are relativly unchanged in Rathdrum as well. We are especially happy to have the hardware store back so all the repair projects can be handled more quickly, thereby giving even less time to think about our actions before we run in and do something stupid. It is good to know the universie is working with us to continue on the

path to independent problem solving.

So, there it is, the first weeks of June with the hope that all summer is filled with the same level of celebration and reflection. I head to Seattle this morning for a day with my sisters. Lynne is free wheeling- so to speak- with no leg braces and no walking aides other than the little cane Linda gave her. We are all hoping her x-ray next week finds bone growth and avoids the bone graft surgery but at least this last month has provided her with a little more movement and activity. She is sure learning patience! Lynne and I are meeting Barb for lunch. As she is a married lady now, I expect she will be much more refined.

Wishes for a great day to everyone. Enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables around you and pick flowers for the table where ever you can find them (maybe the maighbor is on  vacation?)

Mama Llama

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let me introduce to our new housemates...

... Dolly and Tammy Fae.

A friend of ours down here, Jenn from Bainbridge, is away for the summer and needed a home for her chickens. So yesterday a friend of hers and I put the coop on a truck and moved it into the back corner of our yard. then I spent the afternoon building a frame for chickenwire to keep the raccoons and other meaner and smarter animals out. Some wire from the hardware store a few blocks away, some scrap lumber and a few sore muscles, led to this beaut. I think I have Grandpa's thumbs - black and blue. Dolly and TF arrived when it was finished - at about 9:30. This morning they woke up confused - a new cage, where previously they roamed about a farm. But by this evening they will have forgotten it was ever any different. After all, they're already back into the routine. Upon coming home from work...

Don't get too jealous, Mama Llama. Fingers crossed that they'll make it through the summer. (and that we'll make it through the summer. the coop is directly outside our bedroom window, and chickens are notoriously early risers. )