My Rambling Journal

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. Henry Ellis ****************************************************************** Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Winter Wonderland

I awoke to the gentle purring of the cat. Merlin urged me to get up and feed him this Saturday morning. I opened the drapes to the new day and found a light snow falling gently. This was no snow storm, but one of those rare days where the world felt as if we all lived inside a snow globe and the owner had just given it a good shake.

This day I had a lunch date with my Brother-in-law and I was to meet him in Buffalo, about 30 miles to the west. Not quite sure how the roads would be, I grabbed my boots, gloves and an extra scarf along with my camera. I suspected that as soon as I left the bustle of the suburban sprawl and entered the quiet countryside on my drive that the scenery could be magical.

Todd and I had a nice lunch and a good visit. The restaurant was warm and inviting and the conversation was good. We watched the snow fall as we ate and chatted.

As I headed back towards home, I decided to veer off the highway and take some of the smaller county roads.

With the temperature hovering around 15 degrees, this was not quite a day for a long stroll in the snow. But the beauty of the winter wonderland urged me to drive on.

The rolling hills and small family farms made me feel as if I was way out in the country. Only a few miles to the east the big busy city hummed along with crowds of Christmas shoppers, but here I was, alone except for the horses standing in the farm yards.

I arrived home safely and had a cup of hot tea. I told Merlin all about my nice afternoon as we sat in front of a crackling fire.

On the evening news, the weatherman was quite excited as they had received many calls, emails and photos of an extraordinary weather event taking place. The callers wanted to know if the strange sights were Northern Lights, or something else. The weather gurus were stumped by the photos and descriptions they were getting. Soon it was determined that the phenomenon was "Light Pillars", caused by the abundance of ice crystals in the air catching the lights of the city and reflecting them upwards. I, living in a "hollow" with many tall trees could not see these lights so I got this photo from the library of photos sent in from viewers.

It's not so bad living in a snow globe! And this one even has special lighting effects!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Thanksgiving Day at my house

OK! It's well over a week since Thanksgiving Day, and the leftovers just a memory, but I've just not been in the mood to write I guess. I know some of you are waiting to see pictures of the family, so here they are:

Lisa and Matt had dinner at Matt's grandparent's house, but they stopped by to visit after dinner. I guess I forgot to take a picture of them!

Dinner was good, (Of Course!) and I think everyone had a good time. Dad stayed until the end, and said he was tired, but it was a 'good tired'.

My dishwasher decided to die, so I did the legions of dishes by hand. I bought a new one over the weekend, and Jeremy was a good son and picked it up and installed it for me. WOW! It really works well!

The evening before Thanksgiving, Jeremy, Soren and I went to Terry's brother Paul's house to visit. Every Thanksgiving Paul makes 30-40 pumpkin pies and collects donations of food from anyone who want to participate. On Thanksgiving, they take the pies and food into Minneapolis to a charity to share for Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and underpriviledged. Paul has done this for many years. He is a kind and generous guy. I'm proud to have him for a brother-in-law.

I hope you all had a good holiday too.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Falling Leaves

Minnesota, land of four seasons: and each one is a marvel to behold as nature continues to change around us.

Fall is a time of preparation. We prepare our homes, our cars, our yards and our bodies for the upcoming winter; anticipating the short days and falling snow that soon will be upon us.

The leaves are nearly all fallen now from the trees and we have been madly trying to gather them up and dispose of them so our lawns will be vibrant and green in the coming spring. The final fertilizing of the year has been done and we have had our first hard freeze of the fall, but the garden mums continue to bloom and my petunias in the front planter are stubbornly hanging on to the memory of warmer days.

The gutters are cleaned of debris and prepared to take on the white, frozen assault which is inevitable.

But we also need to pause each day in the time of preparation to appreciate the changes taking place.

On a cool fall day last week, I had the opportunity to care for Soren again. We seized the day and brought out the lawn tractor to pick up the fallen leaves. Riding on my knee, the 3 year old cherub squealed with glee as we rode in circles around the yard. After we had picked up all we could mechanically, we grabbed the rakes and swept the remaining dried foliage into a big pile. The musky aroma of fall was in the air as Soren took joy in running across the yard and flinging himself into the pile.

Being the little neatnik that he is, Soren did not mind at all when I asked him to help me to load the leaves into the wheelbarrow. He was quite meticulous about the job, wanting to make sure to get each and every leaf off the grass. But when I picked him up and popped him onto the top of the load in the wheelbarrow, he was not quite sure what to expect next.....Grandma raised the handles of the wheelbarrow, full now of leaves and boy, racing over the bumpy yard to the disposal area in the back of the yard. Again the air was full of happy little boy screams of 'YIPPEEE!'

Fall is a time of endings - the end of summer and warm, sunny, lazy afternoons; I had to also absorb the sadness that this would have been such fun for Soren's Grandpa, my dear Terry to have experienced. I paused a moment and hoped that Terry could somehow 'see' us playing and was smiling.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Recently, my brother, Joe sent this picture he found in the family photo album! What a hoot! Taken Halloween 1958, I am on the very right.

L/R : Joe, Jan, my friend Susan, me

Joe would have been 3 1/2, Jan 6, Susan and Barb 7 1/2.

We didn't have much money for extras like costumes in those days, and it was quite a treat that we even had masks! As you can see, I was not content to simply wear a mask, but had to improvise a costume out of sheets or towels or something. Susan simply made herself a mask out of a grocery bag!

Forward now to Halloween 2005. My darling grandson Soren was a puppy dog. At 3 1/2 he is so sweet and innocent. A precious Boy!
Soren and his Mommy and Daddy (Tanya and Jeremy). Their first Halloween in their new home.

Mugging with Great Grandpa too!

My sister Jan's grandson, Ethan in Tallahassee Fl had a great time as Dracula. Ethan is exactly one year older than Soren.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Yorktown Clipper Oct 4-11 2005

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The Yorktown Clipper is a small cruise ship carrying a maximum of 138 passengers on unique, intimate itineraries. 'America's Last Coast' is a trip beginning in Seattle Washington, ending 1 week later in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

O.K. ---these cities are less than 100 miles apart, but the waterways and islands which lie between are wondrous and many. Some of the islands are inhabited and support communities, large and small. Some islands are uninhabited and some are marine sanctuaries. Over the week we experienced a little of each and more.

I boarded the ship at Seattle's Pier 56 along with 12 other Travel Agents and assorted other passengers. I was assigned a cabin as a single traveler, and was glad for that. As we all lined up to have our ID photos taken and partake in the scrumptious appetizer of gravlox, capers, hard-boiled eggs and onion we introduced ourselves and met some of the other agents. It was soon evident that the typical passenger on this sailing was an 'active' senior. The average age of the passengers (not including the agents) was about 75. With no elevators on the ship it would be neccessary that this group be quite healthy.

We left port at 11pm and had a wonderous view of the Seattle skyline.
I did not sleep well the first night aboard ship. All cabins have twin beds which are bolted to the floor. The cabins were typical of a cruise ship and the room appointments were minimal.

I awoke early and found my way to the bow area to take pictures of the emerging day.
Out of the mist, small islands came into focus, the morning glow spreading over the horizon like melting butter. Majestic mountains arose from the sea, their snow covered tops catching the first rays of the sun. Exploring the ship in the eerie first light, nearly alone, armed with a cup of hot coffee and my camera I stood at the railing and smiled. To be out on the water again was so pleasing and satisfying. It's been too long.

Day one: After breakfast we board small DIB's (Demaree Inflatable Boats) wearing attractive orange life vests and head to the beach on Sucia Island, a protected marine sanctuary island.

There is precious little wildlife on theses islands except birds and squirrels. The walking path is wide and easy. The only creature we saw on our hike was the Banana Slug. John, our naturalist for the trip entertained us with slug tales. These are apparently the largest slugs anywhere and the slime emitted from their bodies cannot be removed with any chemical discovered to date....Only after the slime dries can it be peeled off. So, be careful if you should ever run across one of these guys.

After walking about 1 mile through the fairly young forest (Only about 150 years old due to clear cutting) we poured out onto a wide stretch of beach. From this ribbon of sand we could see islands in the distance which belonged to both Canada and the United States. In the not too distance past, these islands were populated by smugglers of all sorts of goods. During the prohibition years much liquor was passed from Canada to the US through these waters.

After a briefing by the naturalist, it was decided that some of the group would go back on the same trail to where the trail began and return to the boat. The rest of us would continue on a more difficult hike around the far point. I took the more adventurous route and found it to be a very narrow path poised right on the edge of a cliff for much of the way. The terrain was more hilly here and the path had many exposed tree roots and large rocks. The views were magnificent and the hike was well worth it.

We arrived back at the beach to find the DIBs waiting to return us for lunch on board. During lunch we motored past many more small islands, some with lovely homes or cabins. A dozen or so harbor seals sunned themselves on the rocks along one shoreline. By the time lunch was finished we had arrived at our second island adventure spot of the day, Matia Island. Again we went ashore using the DIBs. This island was much different from the first. Where the first island was a relatively young forest, this island was populated with the same vegetation but was a true OLD growth forest. The trees were giants and had stood watch over this piece of land for 600-1000 years. I forgot to bring my camera along on this landing! It was spectacular, you'll just have to believe me. A very small island in view of some very large ones, we traversed the entire island is just under an hour, stopping along the way to admire the views and the habitat.

Back to the Yorktown Clipper and a wonderful dinner, our first day is nearing the end. Drinks in the lounge were tasty and welcome. Lively conversations about our day and getting to know my traveling companions, along with such a busy day meant that a good night's sleep would be easy to achieve, after a couple of Aleve for my aching legs!

Day Two - San Juan Island

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington

We actually arrived here the previous evening and had a local musician come aboard after dinner to entertain us. He played guitar and had a fondness for Paul Simon songs. An interesting character with a quirky sense of humor, he gave us little peek into what our day here might bring. The audience was very small and dwindled quickly as passengers wandered off to their cabins to sleep. This is not a very lively crowd...we MUST do something to fix this!

Meeting all my new friends for a fabulous breakfast, we all seemed to have slept much better and are ready for another adventure today. The weather is a bit cloudy and drizzly this morning but we are all well prepared for this as it IS the Pacific Northwest and a little rain won't hurt us!

The bus tour of Friday Harbor is not scheduled to begin until 10:30 the morning, so many passengers decide to make a walk into town before the tour. So, up the wharf we go in our rain gear to see what there is to see. I have grouped up by now with a couple of agents : Nancy from Kentucky and Diana from Oklahoma city. We are also joined this morning by Bill from Boise who will later become a welcome companion and protector of our little band of girls.

Friday Harbor is a small, quaint town with much to offer. Restaurants, bars, museums, and shopping are abundant on the main street and beyond. Most of the stores are not open yet, but window shopping is o.k. for now. A couple of passengers call out to me from about a block away to show me where the yarn shop is....I had worn one of my scarves last night at dinner and gotten rave reviews. The town is pretty much abandoned this morning, save for the cruise ship passengers wandering the streets, but the place is obviously a busy summer destination for area boaters.

The town is located on a hill overlooking the harbor and has a great view from the small city park located above the harbor.

Real Estate office windows show many homes for sale on the Island and the prices look average to high to me. Living on an island like this can't be too easy for year-round residents and it appears that many of the homes here are vacation or summer homes.

We boarded the buses for a tour of San Juan Island. Our driver was a local character who had an apparent fear of shaving the sides of his face.....his greying sideburns curled around the sides of his face like a wisp of the fog which draped the islands.
He was also quite opionionated regarding the booming Real Estate business on the island.

As we wound around the island roads, our driver spun a story about the history of the island which soon became a monologue about the 'pig war'. It was interesting at first, but drawing this simple story into and hour long tale soon became very boring. We were longing to see the Orca whales who lived in these waters, but the season for prime whale watching was done. I did spot 3 whale tails in the water, but the driver was more intent on his tale of the 'pig war' so many of the others missed the sighting.

We had a stop on the trip at the main park on San Juan Island. This was the filming site of the movie "Practical Magic", starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock and Nicole reportedly has a home on the island. Wonderful views of the bays and the changing fall colors were available here.

Back on the bus, continuing to drone on about the damned 'PIG WAR', we passed by a large lavender farm, (but NO STOP!) and then on to the Alpaca farm.....YES! This is where I had really wanted to go! These are adorable animals related to the llama. They are raised for their fur which is spun into fabulous yarns...The farm had a store full of alpaca products: sweaters, coats, hats, scarves, and YARN! many of the passengers were enthralled with the animals and the products and the farm sold many items today....I bought some yarn and a couple of patterns.

Returning to the ship, I am tempted to close my eyes and nod off as the drivers continues to drone on and on about the 'pig'war' would have been an interesting story, had I not read about it in my tour book and if he had not felt the need to talk of nothing else....surely there are other interesting island stories!

Lunch onboard ship and then we are off on another bus tour. This time we head up to the north end of the island to Roche Harbor. We carefully choose our bus this afternoon to experience a different driver. This one had many more things to show us and talk about, including the methods of oyster farming which is a major industry of the island. It is raining now and the idea was to go on a nature walk here. Some people decide to go on the walk, but my little group opted to stay right here at the harbor and walk around. The shops are all closed up for the season now, but it is easy to see how this cozy harbor would be a welcome stop for boaters and a great honymoon destination. The whitewashed buildings and white picket fences enclosing lush gardens make this harbor inviting indeed. The Hotel Haro saw duty as a Hudson's Bay Trading Post in the 1850's and later hosted Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

Back to the ship, we pull out of the mooring on San Juan Island , bound for Vancouver Island and the seat of government for British Columbia, Victoria.