Friday, May 29, 2015

Slugs vs Plaid Boxer Shorts

Yes, that was me wandering outside in the backyard wearing my plaid boxers. Why do you ask?

Because the slugs are winning.

It's a war. Lettuce vs slugs. Radishes vs slugs. Kale, strawberries, green beans, raspberries - all vs slugs.

Even with me, my trusty saltshaker, two grands with their saltshakers, and a handy gardening shovel, the slugs are still winning.

One day, hundreds of years in the future, archeologists will ponder this little plot of highly salted land and try to figure out how the ocean traveled this far inland. That salt plus my assortment of shells and driftwood will complete the evidence.

All joking aside. Die. Slugs. die.

A Note to the Slugs:

I know you have a purpose for decomposing. But my garden does not need decomposing. Go back to the forest and gnaw on some dead and downed tree trunks. Guzzle your way through layers of old leaves. Chomp down weeds and woodsy debris. But leave my garden alone. Thank you.


Maybe plaid boxers do not scare away slugs. Must change hunting attire.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thankful Thursday Brought to You by the Letter Oo

Thankful Thursday is brought to you today by the letter Oo.

Ooooooh. I may have a hard time with this one!

Things for which I am thankful that begin with the letter Oo:

~ octopus (too cool)

~ otters

~ oak trees

~ oatmeal, especially in cookies and muesli

~ oboe music

~ obvious answers - this really helps me

~ ocean

~ occupation, mine as a writer and a Nana

~ olives

~ old-fashioned stuff

~ omelets

~ once upon a time stories

~ open air

~ orchards

~ oxygen

Now, that wasn't too bad. Can you think of anything else that begins with Oo for which you are thankful?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Turn Hobbies into Mission Action

Turn Hobbies into Mission Action

What is your hobby? How can you use hobbies to help others or make new friends?

7 Tips on How to Avoid Being Locked Out

Bad news: Donavyn perfectly closed the screen door today so that the latch flipped and locked us outside.

Good news: I can fit through the bottom corner of the screen door.

Bad news: Donavyn thinks we now crawl through to get in or out the door.

Doors are wonderful. They protect us and our stuff. They keep out the weather and various forms of wildlife. They decorate our homes.

But invariably, they lock when we least intend for it, and we are locked out. The wind blows the door shut, the toddler learns to twist the lock and you unknowingly close the door, your hands are full and you drop the keys to unload (meanwhile locking yourself out), you think the keys are in your pocket/purse/backpack but the trusty tools are languishing right inside the door waiting to be used (and you are outside).

As a college resident aide, one of our most common tasks was to provide a key to locked out residents. This was a weekly if not more often duty. I worked with the inhabitants of two buildings, as did my partners on staff. We spent many hours walking back to the dorms, unlocking the key safe, handing out a key, and waiting for the return. Let's say that my residents often found me on campus for reasons other than to chat.

When my children were preschoolers, they were often called into duty to crawl through the dog door to unlock the door for my parents.

At my most recent teaching job, I was usually the first one to arrive. If I was later than normal, for some reason, certain others were locked out until I made it to school.

On a hot summer day, I locked myself and two grandbabies out in the backyard. No diapers. No snacks. No anything. I had to wait quite a while before anyone could rescue us. I am happy to report there were no diaper disasters.

I once locked my friend and I out of the van. We were in a different state. At a campground. Good thing for us she was a AAA member.

One day I locked myself out of my car. After being rescued, I immediately locked myself out again. True story.

Doors. Both good and bad. Some things I've done to prevent being locked out:

1. Hide a key. Use an unusual spot. Be creative. The easiest place to hide an extra key is the first place home invaders will look.

2. Always have a spare key in your car. I have a spare house and gate key in my car. This will not help me if I lock my keys in the car, but if I lock myself out of the house, I can always use my car set to get back inside.

3. Use technology if you can. Some doors, I'm sure, can now be controlled by smart phones. Not mine, but some doors probably work just fine when you punch in a code.

4. Keep a spare key in your purse or wallet. This is different than a set in the car. I carry my purse, so the extra key is most likely not locked in the car.

5. Double up. Make sure your spouse/roommate/friend has a spare.

6. Give a key to the neighbors. I cannot tell you how many times this saved my bacon when we lived in our first home. Great for me but probably annoying for them.

7. Keep your keys in your hand or pocket. Do the pat check before the final latching of the door. Not foolproof, but a satisfactory technique to help.

As you can tell, I may have a slight problem with keys and getting locked in or out of the places I want to be. I give you my tips in the hope that you will avoid similar situations and near disasters.

Maybe these tips will help you more than they help me. Otherwise, we may all be crawling through the screen doors.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Facing the Volcano

We camped the night before the climb so we could head up early. Mt. St. Helens looms behind base camp.

I've scaled 2 significant mountains in my life. Physically, not metaphorically. The metaphorical mountains number in the double digits. But that's not what this post is about.

In July 1993, Kevin and I bopped over White Pass to tackle Mt. St. Helens. That volcano.

True, true. It was a much shorter climb than before she blew. The trail led us clambering over boulders, squeezing between rocks, and sludging through deep silty sand.

We went with high hopes of summiting the historical mountain. After reading the warnings on the permit (watch out for unexpected steam vents, look for any steam vents, beware of thin crusty areas where you could break through, this is a live, active volcano, and so on and so forth) we almost didn't go. I am so glad we continued our journey to face the volcano.

Climbing included tons (literally) of rocks. Hard, sharp lava rocks. No shade.

It was mostly hot and sunny, though we occasionally (and cautiously) felt our way through clouds of steam (from above mentioned steam vents and the growing lava dome).

Steep slopes were handled by using a climbing stick. And good boots.

From the top crust, we could look down - very carefully, as per permit cautions - and see the very active dome.

Both of us at the top, enjoying some rest and snacks. The angles were such that one felt compelled to crawl or sit down firmly to avoid tipping off the edge.

The crusty edge at the top of Mt. St. Helens. Climbers were warned to not approach the edge as it could be thin. And then - volcano bait.

This girl after the hike. Hot, tired, and ready for real shoes. Dinner that night, whatever it was, tasted excellent.

We both loved the physical and mental challenges of scaling Mt. St. Helens. There was danger, yes, and excitement. Others whipped past us (us going up, them trotting down) in a race. Some moved at a slower pace and were so content. Beautiful views of surrounding mountains - Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Hood - connected us to the entire mountain range. We felt the pride of accomplishment and the pain of success. Climbing mountains is hard work. But the rewards are immeasurable.

That reminds me of life. It's hard work. But worth every struggle.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Paris Parade of Horses - Why?

As we walked the streets of Paris one day, we were stalled in our progress by a short parade of immaculately dressed and adorned horses and riders.

Do I have any idea why the parade of equines was traveling through the city? Who were these uniformed equestrians? Were they merely decorative or was there some purpose for the trip? Where did they come from and where were they going?

Alas, I have absolutely no answers for any of the questions. They appeared, walked in front of us, and disappeared down the streets. No one else appeared to be even mildly interested in this event. Irritated, yes, at having to wait, but caring about the parade of beautiful horse flesh? Not a dust speck of regard did I notice.

But the parade did occur. And I was left to wonder why.

There was a story there in the midst of the horses and riders. If only I had a clue. Or spoke the language better so I could ask. But neither happened. I shall make up my own reason for the parade.

Once, there was a company of horsemen. Their lot was to serve and parade in a vast City of Light. This day, it appeared, they must be en route to present pomp and circumstance for visiting dignitaries. Perchance, an American woman, lover of good equine flesh, gazed with delighted abandon upon their efforts. But pshaw, she was but a commoner. They must not tarry to answer ridiculous inquiries. Let her regard with curiosity, for the troop had an appointment of good form and impressionism. Each looked with eagerness to the task.

For what awaited successful completion of their service? A title, a plot, and a meal worth dying for. It is the way of the nationals. The added incentive? One perfect specimen would be chosen, both horse and rider, to become the symbol of artistry and pride for the nation. How you ask? Immortalized in paint, plaster, and castings of metal. Alas, the statue for the new fountain in the midst of the city center would be based on this winning team.

Let them ride, parade, and be remembered.

The same could be said of any of us. Where did we come from? Where are we going? Why do I travel through my city in my Nana-esque uniform? What is my purpose? Is there anyone interested? Any onlookers?

There is a story there.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursday Brought to You By the Letter Nn

On today, Thankful Thursday, here is a list of things for which I am thankful that begin with the letter Nn.

I do believe that Nn is a nice letter, but difficult to use at the beginning of words. Let's try anyway, shall we?


~ nuts, especially pecans and cashews

~ nice people

~ news, good news

~ News, THE Good News

~ night, which is perfect for sleeping

~ nap time (for myself or the grands or the snuggly kitties)

~ north - I love going north and thinking of things that exist to the north of me

~ nature

~ Nativity - Baby Jesus

~ neck - to hold up my head

~ nectarines

~ neighbors

~ numbers

~ nests

~ new stuff

~ night hawks

~ nose, all the better to smell you with, my dear (and chocolate and coffee)

~ nutrition

~ nurses to care for the sick

Now it's your turn. Can you think of something for which you are thankful that begins with Nn?

Nice job.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where Have All the Snowflakes Gone? Drought Year on Tap - What I'm Doing to Help Stretch Water Resources

It's absolutely true in the northwest. We are in a drought. The Evergreen State may not be so green this year. (But if you intend to visit, we have plenty of great activities, attractions, and adventures to enjoy. It will just be dry and hopefully not as many people will be watering lawns.)

On a recent motorcycle ride, we traveled up Chinook Pass. Usually Chinook Pass is open for summer travel by Memorial Day Weekend (this upcoming weekend at the end of May). This year the snowfall was so scant and light the road crews were able to clear the roads several weeks early.

The good news is the pass was open. Traffic was light. Snowbanks were minimal. Mosquitoes were not yet in force. It was a gorgeous day.

The bad news is . . . well, the snow was almost non-existent except at the top. And the snow at the top was barely a skiff. The hillsides and trees were mostly clear of snow and moisture. The music of multiple waterfalls did not chime in our ears as we rolled by. Actually, on the motorcycle, we can hear waterfalls and smell the wonderful fresh water cascading from both above and below the road. But not this trip. Few, weak, and far between were the rushing signs of spring.

If the snowpack was that invisible to my eyes, the bodings of a long, hot, dry summer sang ever louder in my ears.

What can we do?

Here are a few choices we are making and things we do to make the water stretch. Not extreme yet, but if we all adopted at least a few measures, maybe we won't get to extreme.

~ Prayer. Really. Who owns - controls - the water of a thousand hills? (I know, the Bible says cattle of a thousand hills, but God owns it all.) Prayer is the only guarantee.

~ Stop. Watering. Every. Day. My yard is on an as-needed basis. The lawn is last. The garden is first. We do not program the sprinklers to go off each day at 6 AM. I turn them on when necessary.

~ Spot water. I know the hotspots in my yard. I hit those first and let the rest wait until water is absolutely required.

~ Don't let water run off the yard into the gutters, streets, driveway, or other moisture wasting concrete features. Oh, this is one of my top irks. What a waste! I just read about it in the paper this morning. In our city, the act of overwatering and letting streams of water pour down the drains is illegal. Homeowners are liable and can be fined. Good to know, good to know.

~ Ditch some grass. I'm working on my honey about this. It's a slow process. But when we build our new small home, there will not be much lawn. If any.

~ Plant trees for shade and less water evaporation.

~ Recycle whatever slightly dirty water you can (gray or other used water) to water outdoor trees and plants. This might not work all the time, but even a little helps.

~ Wash clothes only when the machine is full. Wear outfits a few times instead of washing each and every time (unless you work, say, at the sewer plant or outside and sweat a lot). This will also extend the life of your clothes.

~ Take short showers. Very short.

~ Quickly do the dishes.

I don't mean to preach. But I am concerned. If we all paid attention, we could ease the water supply issues and help out the farmers. I do so love to eat, don't you?

What are you doing to conserve water? I would love to hear! Maybe I can add your strategies to our plan. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Make a Baby Patchwork Quilt

I love making patchwork quilts for newcomers to our world. I'm not a perfectionist, but the babies seem to love them regardless.

Step 1: Make a template from cardboard for the size of squares you want to use (or rectangles, which I do) and cut out MANY squares. My template is about 4x6 inches. I say about because it is MIA right now.

Step 2: Decide on a background fabric. I usually buy 1.5 yards and cut at least 2 rows of squares to add to the quilt top pattern.

Step 3: Place your quilt back on the floor. Arrange squares on top of it in whatever pattern you wish. I love working diagonally. If I place them side-by-side to cover the quilt backing fabric, the quilt top size is almost perfect once it's sewn.

Step 4: VERY carefully stack rows. I pin each row together, working from right to left (with the left square being the top of each row stack.) I add a safety pin to the very top left quilt square. That way I can always see which is the top of the quilt. Something weird happened last time to my perfected organizational techniques and I had to pick out 3 different rows! I do not like picking out. That is why I have a very specific way to organize. Think maybe the kitties messed me up? Hmmmm.

Step 5: Sew the rows. Iron all seams open. Stack on top of each other (I do this for the sake of space - you could always put it on the floor in order to watch it grow). I sew 1/4" seams.

Step 6: Sew rows together. Trim uneven edges around the entire quilt top, which shouldn't be too much.

Step 7: Place the quilt top on your quilt batting (your choice). Trim to fit.

Step 8:
Carefully fold the batting and quilt top in quarters. Spread out the quilt backing and unfold the other two on top. Smooth and pin in place.

Step 9: Fold over backing to make a decorative binding on the front of the quilt. Pin. Sew. I like to do one seam close to the edge, then a second seam 1/4" beside it.

Step 10: Spread the quilt on the table. Use a curved needle and white baby yarn to tie the quilt pieces together. I tie it every other square, alternating on the rows. I also add a "Made by" label. Just in case they forget!

Extra special step: Always, always, enlist help. Furry four-footed help is best.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cinnamon Roll Gone Wild

Would you look at this blueberry pecan cinnamon roll?

A bit frozen from the cold early morning motorcycle ride up Chinook Pass, we decided to stop at Whistlin' Jack Lodge and have a cup of coffee to warm up . . . where we were tempted by warm cinnamon rolls.

Oh. My. We saw that death bomb of sugar and calories covering the plate, actually oozing off the sides, and wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

We managed only small portion of the treat as we savored the fragrance and flavor. This is truly a minimum of 4-person dessert. Or maybe 2 hungry Taylor's (a rating scale based on our son who adores cinnamon rolls). Definitely worth a coffee break pause or breakfast. But you better bring a few friends.

Bon appetit.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Who Loved Our Spring Rain?

Pink rhododendrons adored the misty climate.

White rhododendrons drank deeply of the saturating moisture.

Coral bells tipped heavily after two days of spring precipitation.

A weed! Taller than the tulips, it relished the empowering water.

The used-to-be-a-stick dogwood tree, which blooms later than the other sort, happily weathered the storm. Now it is seeking sunlight.

Pink clouds of fluff benefited and beautify the garden.

Overwintering kale, flowering now, is ever strong and prolific. I may be sorry for letting it go to seed.

Though wind tore down all previous attempts at blooming, the rain did not hinder, but encouraged success.

Potatoes-in-bags sprang up to new heights. Time to rebury the stems.

Beans shot up overnight when their thirst was quenched.

Ever bearing kale, a new variety this year, has burst into production. Kale, anyone?

Strawberries refreshed themselves with water from heaven.

Not pictured? The slugs. Squashed does not make good photos.

Who wasn't too excited? The gray kitties. Mabel here, showing why we sometimes have flat strawberries in our garden.

What a wonderful blessing, this gift of rain!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Donavyn Update: Thankful Thursday

"Let's go get your eye drops in," said the Nana on the last day of post-surgical medication.

What did the Big D do? Hauled himself off to the bathroom fuzzy purple rug and plopped down on his back, ready for the procedure.

Mind you, I've never given him eye drops in the bathroom. But he must have been comfortable there. He's also never cried when I've given them to him. And this last time, I didn't even hold his arms down. He just stayed still until I was done.

How cool is that for a 22-month-old?

Donavyn is doing very well. After double eye surgery a week ago last Monday, almost all signs of red are gone and the barest hint of blisters is disappearing. His eyes seem to be working together much better. And the best evidence of all? He acts just like any other normal boy of his age - playing, running, climbing, eating (or not), giggling, and generally having a grand life.

The answered prayers are the entire reason. Thank you for praying for our boy.

Thank You, Jesus, for hearing and answering.

Read more about Donavyn in the post titled "God Was at Costco."