Monday, July 17, 2017

My Little Town - Sharing Thoughts

Hello, Dear Friends, thank you for joining me on a 
beautiful, summer day. 

I am sitting here on my deck (that needs its rails re-stained :)
with Whitey Bear and Kai, looking out at the very top
of majestic Mt. Rainier, listening to the birds twittering, 
and the occasional buzzing of a hummingbird or wasp, 
or small plane from the local airport. 

Mt. Rainier looks more like this to my naked eyes -
the camera does distort distance and narrows the views. 

The Mr. and I have tried to guess how far away it is, 
'as the crow flies', and we think it might be about 
30-40 miles. I know it is 60 miles by road, up the 
two-lane state route, that sees nearly a million visitors a year. 

There are several ways to drive to 'The Mountain' as it's called, 
and we live a mere 2 miles from one of  these roads,
which is the only traffic in town. 

It slows down to a crawl with 3 stop-lights, now, 
after many years of only having one, 
and a new mini-mart/gas station, 
when you come past the town.

Here it is, on a very hot, week-day morning, recently, 
when I drove through town to check the mail at our 
pretty brick post-office. Every pole, lining the main streets, 
 has a huge basket of flowers xx

I've lived here for longer than anywhere else in my whole
 entire life - I came here quite by chance, 
 after growing up in rural New England......... 
and settled here to build a home with my high-school sweetheart, 
and raise our four children 'in the shadow of the Mountain'. 

The town was incorporated close to the turn of the last 
century - when this area of the country (The Pacific Northwest)
was just getting established. 

We don't live 'in town' - we live in the County - 
tucked up in the foothills that form the back-drop of the town.  
The little town is on a high plateau formed by 
a large mud-flow from one of Mt. Rainier's 
'geological events' several thousand years ago. 

In many ways, we are all fairly rugged, independent
individuals, to live so far from the mainstream, 
 with an active volcano hovering over us. 

The town was founded by loggers and coal miners, 
farmers and railroad men, and all forms of  
dependent and independent entrepreneurs. 

At the entrance to my driveway, we have the 
remains of the once, old-growth forest that 
filled this area with centuries-old trees. 

This enormous cedar stump is starting to fall apart
and is propped on one side, but it still has the ax marks
that loggers, at the turn of the century, 
 made to construct the scaffolding it took 
to cut it down. 

I try to imagine what the forest was like, 
and I say a little prayer of reverence when I walk 
by the last witness to all of that splendor. 

There was once a big saw-mill and a train trestle
down on the banks of the glacial river that runs
along the border of town and between two counties. 

The historic houses and buildings are modest, but 
charming, and life is very sleepy, except for 
'Friday Night Lights' and Saturday morning 
little league, high school car washes, plant and garage sales,
and once a year, a fairly rowdy event called 
'The Logger's Rodeo', where the most skilled 
of the forestry trades put on a hair-raising display
of chain-saw Olympics. 

The town comes to life with a vintage car show, 
tents of crafts and food, 
a parade, and of course, a kiddie carnival, with 
spinning tea-cups, a carousel, a fairly impressive Ferris wheel
and all sorts of colorful booths filled with prizes, cotton candy, 
fried 'elephant' ears, burgers and spicy, curly fries.

And when the kiddies go home, the taverns and pubs,
and restored 50's 'burger and shake drive-in',
 (this is a tourist town, now) come 
to life with a city-wide street dance, complete with 
beer gardens, food tents and live country music where
my kids like to go to connect with their old friends. 
All four of my children went through 12 years of school
here, and grew up with all of their mates. 

To put things in perspective, though, my son is celebrating
 his 20th class reunion this month :) 
Time just keeps flying. 

Here he is, over the weekend, visiting with my little grandson - his son. 


I couldn't resist one more......

Helping 'G-nana' 
(rhymes with banana)
with the watering. 

Melts my heart <3


Other than the old car shows and logger's rodeo, 
the town remains pretty quiet. 

Here, daisies grow on the corner of 'Cottage Street'. 

Clematis vine growing near a hand-made gate 
across from the library. 

We lost our last and only IGA grocery store 
not too long ago, and most business's come and go, 
but the library, post-office, funeral home, 
old drugstore, laundro-mat, and the pubs and diners
 seem to stick around, along with 
a scattering of antique stores where I always spend 
too much time and money, when I dare to venture inside.

We almost lost the feed store, and it shut down forlornly
for a time, but someone stepped up and gave it their all, 
and now it is up and running again, to the delight 
of all those who love to feed their livestock and dogs.  

And they have a great selection of gardening supplies
and galvanized stock tanks - something I want to
invest in for planters someday soon. 

Last count, they had 6 or 7 churches of every denomination, 
that is the bed-rock of society around here. 

Ramblin' Man and I live on the outskirts, tucked up in the hills, 
part of the town, but not actually, because we belong to 
County laws and jurisdictions. 

We live near what was once an old coal mining town,
complete with a hotel and bridge across the glacial creek,
  now completely gone, except for history books and street names.

I have some local artifacts found at the old town-site -
a few bleach bottles and cold-cream jars, 
revealing hints of the women who once lived here, too. 
There was an old rose bush and plum tree 
near the bottles that we found, one summer day 
when my children were young.

They came across the old stone foundation off the trail, 
on their way to swim in the creek, and came back 
home to take me there.   
We even found some perfume bottles.
My kids grew up swimming in that creek
and taking the forest trail down to the end of the road
 where the bridge once stood, so long ago, before our time. 
One day when I was at the bottom of my little mountain, 
 parked and waiting for my children's school bus,
an elderly couple driving by, stopped and asked me
if the bridge was still there. 

 The man told me he used to live 
near here and would cross the bridge to get to the 
next town up towards the mountain. 

I didn't know there was a bridge...... 
 Then off they went. 

I wish I had asked them a lot more questions.....

My son found an iron coal cart wheel in the 
glacial silt along the creek bank, and it took my two sons, 
their Father, and a sturdy pole to haul it home. 

And that, apart from a bare mention in some local history books
 that I found at the library, is all I know
about this little mountain that I live on. 

I do know that it is riddled with coal mines,
and the Dept. of Interior
came to our door and that of our few neighbors,
back in the late eighties, 
to ask us if we knew of any mine openings, 
and promptly came to fill them in. 

With truck loads of cement.......
but there are one or two, still in the forest, 
that could not be reached and drop down for hundreds of feet. 
My Father, who lived down the lane with my Mother, 
covered one on his property, with a huge industrial grate
that he found at a salvage yard, 
after a dog fell in and cried for weeks. 
There was no way to get it out. 
It was the only reason, tragically,
 that they knew the mine was there :(

My Father, who was not one to believe in anything 
unless it was clearly in front of his eyes, 
finally conceded there might be ghosts, 
when one appeared at the foot of his bed 
when I had my Mother away one weekend
 to visit my sister in Oregon.

It was the ghost of a miner, complete with a sooty,
  kerchief covered face and dark, sad eyes. 
My Father was prone to telling tall tales, 
but when he told this story, there were no crinkles 
around his eyes, a tell-tale sign of blarney, only 
sadness to think of the men who gave their lives. 

Now these hills are farmed for timber and you can see the 
edges of the clear-cuts when you zoom in to the shadows. 

They are introducing Fischers,
 an endangered relative of the Wolverine,
 to the forests around Mt. Rainier, and the day I come across 
one on top of the woodpile, is the day I adopt a Mastiff. 

Seriously, though, this is wild country,
and not for the faint of heart, 
because you never know what is going
to show up in your back yard. 

I finally had to admit that feeding the birds was an ill-advised 
pursuit when the dogs got sprayed by a skunk lured to the feeder.
Due to the feeder, we have been visited
by everything from bears to cougars
 (hunting the raccoons who were eating the seed), 
and were contributing to the increase in the rodent populations
and feeding the hawks, too. 

When my children were young, we had two or three 
big dogs at all times. Those dogs have a special place in 
my heart for guarding my precious children so diligently
and loyally through the years. 

We had a couple of fierce ponies, too, that 
would drive off stray dogs and coyotes, and rub off 
the occasional visiting child against a tree,  if they so rudely demanded a ride  :0

Now I have a third generation of dogs to guard 
this little clearing in the forest. 

And the occasional 'visitor'. 
This is Charley, a long-haired dachshund, 
whom I am pet-sitting for a friend,  
while his owner travels cross-country to visit family. 

Weenie-Baby, my daughter's dachshund, 
 will join the fun next week, 
and I am watching a friend's cat, too. 

She likes to help me sew :) 

I have the cutest little project I will show you next time......

This is what Maggie thinks of the whole thing.....

The new dog chased her off the deck....
the new cat took her favorite bedroom, 
and now she can't relax on her favorite deck 
chair, curled up on the pillows with the 
occasional drink from the water fountain. 

She's holed up on the 'west wing' which 
consists of our bedroom with the unfinished loft,
and the laundry room with all the clean laundry
to lie on. And she hogs the whole bed. 

When I am not pet-sitting, I am at my daughter's house, 
baby-sitting two afternoons a week for this little guy......

He's snacking on this very handy little thing - 
I have no idea what it is called, 
but it opens up to fill with frozen cut fruit, 
perfect for a teething baby! 

I can't resist those cheeks!
I'm so enjoying being a 'Gamma' or 
G-Nana :) 


In between I am doing a little of this and a little of that, 
read a couple of great books (which I will share soon)
and doing a lot of watering and taking care of plants. 
I even gave the dogs a nice bath. 
We haven't had rain in nearly a month. 

We have 9 mos. of rain and then, boom! 

It's been so lovely, but I do hope we have some rain soon. 
The plants are still very green and the weeds have gone wild
due to our very, very wet spring, but forest fire danger is starting 
to rise and there is a burn ban in our area. 

I've been showing you some unedited 
photos of last night's sunset on the hills.
Mt. Rainier was hidden in the clouds.  

The sunsets are very long this time of year, 
here on the West coast. They last for about 30 minutes-
long into evening.  
This is between 9 and 9:30 at night. 
It's my favorite time of day. 
The forest sounds stop and there is complete 
silence . 

The atmosphere changes - there is an electricity 
in the air. You can hear the creek far below, as it 
rushes and gurgles - sometimes sounding like 
lost voices in time. 

Then you  hear the birds. 

They gather on the highest tree tops, where 
the sun sends her last, golden rays - 
and they sing. 

They sing the best songs of their day, 
sitting on those golden tree-tops, 
and watching as the day fades away. 

I hope that you are enjoying these long summer days, 
my friends, and making time for some relaxation, 
even if it is only at the end of a long day. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

Les Fleurs

Hello, Sweet Friends, I do hope you are enjoying
this season of 'Les Fleurs'.

Today I am joining Riitta at Floral Passions for Floral Bliss.

Do you like my French? :)

I've always dreamed of having a little cottage 
in the French countryside. 
In fact, I follow a delightful blogger who 
actually does! 

You can 'meet' her Here . 

My Dear Mother loved all things 'Country French', 
especially the Provincial style and had the 
most charming little cottage right up the lane 
from me for over 30 years. 

Sadly, my parent's home was badly vandalized when 
they passed, and I can't bring myself to walk 
down the lane to see the damage once again. 

I wish I had taken more photos, 
and most of them are filled with family 
members with little of the background to see. 

Someday I will make some sketches of 
my memories.......

Someone bought the property and is renting out the 
little apartment over the barn, 
but the house that my Father built 
with his own two hands, and that my 
Mother so lovingly decorated, remains 
nothing but a shell. 
This is a continual sorrow in my heart, 
but I know that material things are not as important
as the love and memories that remain. 

My Mother loved flowers, and my Father loved to grow them,
 and I like to think that I inherited that gene, 
so step inside and I will show you 'Les Fleurs' 
that grace my space.  

The Farmer's Market Bouquet of Peonies and Queen Anne's Lace
faded away, but they have been replaced with some 
lovely blooms, generously sent to the house from Ramblin' Man's 
work-mates for his recent convalescence.

Farmer's Market Bouquet with Peonies and Queen Anne's Lace

I saved the Peony petals from the Farmer's Market
 bouquet to dry for potpourri. 
Peonies dry beautifully, if you hang them 
upside down in a dark room, once they are fully opened. 

But if you want to enjoy your Peonies in a vase until they start 
to fall apart, you can save the petals to dry in shallow baskets.
(Rose petals can be used, also) 

To make potpourri:
Add a few dried orange and lemon peels,
pulsed in a blender, a teaspoon of allspice,
a few bruised cloves, a handful of bay leaf,
some fragrant dried herbs, such as lemon thyme,
rosemary, lavender, - whatever is on hand,  
 and some essential oil ( I like lavender and vetiver),
 sprinkled over all, will give 
you a pretty way to scent a special corner. 

Potpourri makes a lovely gift, too, perhaps in a vintage 
glass container with a lid. 

A close-up of the new beautiful blooms. 

I saved the Queen Anne's Lace, from the market bouquet, too :)

Perfect to display in a pretty green bottle. 

I found a new 'pretty' at my favorite vintage store,
 to display on my Kitchen Queen shelf , too. 

Can you see it?

Let's look a little closer......

Now do you see it?

A green polka-dot tea-pot! 

My love affair with all things green continues :)

Queen Anne's Lace for my planning desk, too. xx

I saved the last of my purple pansies 
for my kitchen windowsill. 

A little bit of Queen Anne's Lace for the living room, too. 

This is the first time I've used my vintage vase
from the flea market. 

The heart is made of stone :) 

I've known a few people with hearts like that.......

I've changed my mantel to include some 
dried Roses and Baby's Breath. 

The wooden box is vintage. 
I've had it for years and it usually holds
art supplies in its sectioned interior. 

I always find it hard to decorate the mantel, 
for some reason. I fuss and fuss .....
Sometimes this takes weeks of trial and error,
adding this, or taking away that, until
I'm finally happy with the results. 

I found some pretty wildflower 'fakes' for 
'big blue' - my large 5 gal. glass carboy. 

My straw bag in the kitchen holds faux flowers, too. 

I like using a mix of dried, faux and fresh flowers
to add cottage charm. 

Paper roses even make it into the mix.

You can see how I made them Here.

Part of my feather collection is displayed in my tarnished 
silver baby cup. 

I love flower paintings, too! 

I've collected these over time and made a gallery wall. 

This one is a favorite. 

Sometimes the frames are the focal point. 

The tiny painting is of the French countryside.

This little painting with the green velvet border,
in my kitchen,
mimics the tiny flowers in the basket. 

Hand painted wildflowers on the glass of the hanging lamp. 

And flowers on the pillows. 


What is it about flowers that so capture our hearts? 

Maybe it is their vibrant colors, their intricate designs,
 their lovely forms, or their exquisite scents.  

Or maybe it is their sweet innocence and perseverance
despite the harsh realities of this world. 

Who cannot say that a lovely bouquet of flowers,
given to a loved one or friend,
or even gifted to oneself 
doesn't brighten the spirits?

Flowers truly are one of the joys of life,
a  special gift from our creator and 
something we should never take for granted. 

Can you imagine a world without flowers? 


'To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers
is a delectable form of defeat.'
- Beverly Nichols -

'To create a little flower is the labor of the ages.'
- William Blake -


Thank-you, Dear Friends for your lovely visits 
and sweet comments. I so enjoy reading them. 
You are all so kind, witty, and informative. 

I know we are separated by space and time, 
but getting to know you, little by little, reading your 
comments and your wonderful blogs, 
makes me know that despite the distance, 
and varied lifestyles, we are all kindred spirits
in this great, wide world, and I am so 
very happy that we found each other. 


P.S. Ramblin' Man is back to work and Rambling
once more......
All tests came back negative and we are
extremely happy to have this dark cloud lifted.
We have a renewed spring in our steps!
 Thank you for your kind well-wishes.


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