Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reflections of Change

As I sit here tonight, this is what I see.

So peaceful and serene.

So soothing to my soul.

It has been a soul searching month.

I'm trying to regain my footing.

Things have been in a turmoil.

First losing my Dad.

And all the emotions that go along with such a loss.

And then some long planned for remodeling.

A new wood ceiling in an unused space.

Soon to be a new bedroom for Hubby and I.

Adding a new high energy pet to the family.

And for the last two days, having our roof re-shingled.

This is the old roof.

The noise and the mess is beyond insane.

My landscape is a shambles.

My pets are traumatized.

My nerves are completely fried.

And I have one more day of it.

So, as I say goodbye to July, I am glad it is over.

I am looking forward to the slow, peaceful days of August.

To the quiet times of ordinary days.

To putting things back in order.

And reflecting upon how life continuously changes.

With gratitude for all of my blessings.

And the legacy of my Father's life to pass on.

Deep Lake

 We recently took the dogs for a little hike around Deep Lake at Nolte State Park. This is a state park within 10 miles of where we live. It has a beautiful, wide hiking path that goes all around the lake.
We walked through old growth forest carpeted with ferns, berries and wildflowers.
300-500 year old Silver Fir Tree
The enormous trees make you feel quite small!
As you walk you get glimpses of the beautiful blue/green lake, shimmering in the sunlight with the steep face of the mountain pass in the background.
There is a sandy beach alongside grassy picnic areas with tables and bbq's, some of them under cover.
There is even a children's play area with swings and play equipment.
You can also bring a small row boat, canoe or kayak and paddle around.
When my children were young, we spent every sunny summer day here.
I would come with my Dear Mother, and/or my sisters, loaded down with picnic baskets, floats, swimsuits, blankets and towels.
And lots of kids.
It was the perfect place to keep your children happy and clean on a hot summer day.
Sometimes the guys would join us after work for a swim. We would grill burgers or hot dogs and stay until dusk.
Oh, how I loved those long summer days spent with family at this beautiful place.
It's still wonderful to spend the day here. Whitey and Champ enjoyed the change of scenery and all the new scents.
These two are still in training.
They are learning to get used to people, bicycles, baby carriages and other dogs.
Everyone we encounter gets barked at loudly at first.
That is a no-no.
So we are taking them out as often as we can and introducing them to new situations.
So far, so good.
But they are works in progress.
Nevertheless, we had a wonderful 3 mile hike around the lake.
Self-Heal - Prunella vulgaris
There were beautiful herbal wildflowers,
Cow Parsnip
Cow Parsnip leave a blistering rash when exposed to the sap. These are also very difficult to distinguish between Water Hemlock, Hemlock or Hog Weed, all very toxic. Water Hemlock and Hemlock are deadly! Remember Socrates?
Another reminder to always make sure you know what you are touching out in the wild, especially with children!
Forest Habitat Stump with Turkey Tail Mushroom
There were many signs of wild life along the way.
The ghostly flowers of Indian Pipe grew in clumps, here and there. I even saw a bee on one of the 'flowers'.
Conk Mushroom growing on tree stump
Large mushrooms grew along old tree stumps, like weird alien life forms. These were not nibbled on, so maybe they were poisonous, or maybe they just taste bad!
Tiny star shaped leaves of Cleavers, a medicinal herb
This beautiful place was donated to the State Parks and Recreation in the early 70's by the Nolte family who ran a resort here.
The lake is over 100 ft. deep, which is where it gets it's name - Deep Lake.
It is fed by glacial waters.
Deep Lake
I have just read that visitors to our National and State Parks has significantly decreased in the last two decades.
These beautiful parks are our country's treasures.
It is important to support the last of nature's beauty by visiting these beautiful places.
You can find a link to Nolte State Park in Washington State here: http://www.stateparks.com/nolte.html

Friday, July 27, 2012

Forest Berries and Fairy Folk

Nesting season is over and the forest is suddenly very quiet.
Where once the air was filled with bird song, now it is eerily quiet.
I walk through the woods listening.
But you can hear a pin drop.

A curious thing happens with the Stellar Jays.
All the adults leave.
Only this year's nestlings remain. They clumsily fly from branch to branch, staying close to one another for company.
I am worried about them.
I saw a Cooper's Hawk down the road the other day, a lightning swift bird predator.
But so far, he hasn't discovered my little flock.

There are about 20 of them this year.
All the adults come back in September.
Maybe they leave to escape the begging!

But there is plenty to eat here in our little forest.
All the wild berries are starting to ripen.

The dusty blue berries of the Oregon Grape,

And bright red Thimble Berries.

Can you see how they got their name?

These are very pretty, but rather bland and dry.

Robins especially love these.

The blackberries are just now flowering. In the shade the flowers are lavender. But in the sun, they are white!
They carpet the ground along the side of my driveway, sharing their beauty and bounty with us and those that are wild.
I can't wait to bake Blackberry Cobbler!

These are the same type with white flowers. They are called Himalayan Blackberries. They grow everywhere and are very invasive.

This is another variety called Evergreen Blackberries. These are not as invasive, but their thorns are vicious. I love this type. They are sweeter and firmer than the Himalayans and I have 'cultivated' these along a trellis.

Both types can send out long runners up to 20 feet long.

Then there are the wild raspberries. These I reserve for myself! Years ago I discovered this variety growing along the edge of the forest. They have lovely pale bluish-green stems.

In the only reference to them in my research they were called 'Ghost Brambles'.

This is another wild berry that I 'cultivate'. I transplant them along fencing and Hubby has put up a trellis for me, also.

Every day I harvest whatever is ripe and freeze them until I have enough to add to yogurt, icecream, or scones.

They are the most delicious of all the wild berries.

Believe it or not, even Whitey loves these and eats them right off the vine!

They are mild and very sweet.

Of course, not all the berries are fit to eat! These delicate little flowers will soon turn into the bright red jewels of Nightshade, a poisonous berry.

But most berries in the forest are edible, including these lovely little huckleberries.

Delightful little snacks for forest dwellers large and small.

And quite possibly a few fairy folk, too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life's a Bowl of Cherries

I just finished a new embroidered tea towel. With ripe cherries in all the markets right now, I was inspired by this vintage design.


It was one of the many very sweet designs in Aunt Martha's Embroidery Patterns book.
You can find these vintage style design books at http://www.acmenotions.com/aumahotirtr.html

You can also buy pretty dish towels for your embroidery here.

You simply iron on the transfer to your dish towel!
I love 'simple'.

I embroidered the whole design using a simple back stitch, using 6 strand floss.

Then I edged the towel all around using a blanket stitch using 3 strands of floss. (Floss comes in skeins of 6 strands. Just separate the floss to create 3 strands.)

I used a large sized blank dish towel that can also be used as a small tablecloth.

It only took a few hours, working in the evenings while relaxing with Hubby.

So, I have a question for you.

Would you say that Life is Bowl of Cherries?

Or would you say that Life is Chair of Bowlies?

Or perhaps a little of both!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Waiting To Exhale

The last 3 weeks have been very surreal to me.

The days have gone by like any other days.

But I am not the same.

 Within the last year and a half I have lost both of my parents.

My Father, just 3 weeks ago.

I am still numb, but slowly coming out of my fog.

I have been keeping busy to dull the pain.

And this little guy has helped to keep me grounded.

We adopted him right after. The plans were already in the works. So we went ahead.

He has been a challenge. So many issues. But he is settling in.

But today, a little setback.

I woke up to his swollen face.

He is going to the vet later this morning. The earliest appt. I could get.
Poor little guy. He's been through so much already. But we are in it for the long haul. He is ours. And I hate to see him in pain.

Meanwhile, Hubby and my two boys (one pictured here - thank you, thank you my sweet guy's) have been putting in a ceiling in my 'loft' above my bedroom. Something that we have been saving for many months to do.

Tongue and Groove Pine. Board by Board.

Lots of hammering and sawing.

This has upset all the pets.

Especially Champ.

The first few days were very trying for me, as Champ paced and drooled. But now he hardly notices.

But the poor thing.....

Now a new challenge, possibly an abcessed tooth.

Then at the end of this month, roofers are coming.

We have been saving for 3 years to get a new roof.

I will be taking the dogs to the park during all the commotion.

A beautiful state park with a lake. A place I took my children many years ago, during long summer days.

Time passes quickly.

Before you know it, all you have are the memories.

Sadly, my Father didn't even have those.

He died of Alzheimer's Disease.

It was a long, lonely road.

I am glad that he is free.

I will keep the memories.

Treasures in my heart.

For future generations to share. Just like he and my Mother shared with us.

In the meantime, life moves along, taking me with it.

One day at a time.

Waiting to Exhale.
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