Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A blog post worth pondering (not mine, but the one linked here)

Among the myriad homeschool blogs I've come across is this one. This blogger reads and reports volumes about the things she is learning during her homeschool/parenting/life journey. My own 'busyness' takes a different form than regularly researching, reading, and sharing through blogging, but I admire those who do have and take the time to do so. Recently, this blogger posted information from a site that I plan to spend more time exploring. She was specifically referring to this post, and I truly appreciated the content I found there.

After reading this post I was reminded of a time, years ago, when El Professor and I met with one of the elders of the little church we were attending at the time. I don't remember the purpose of the meeting, but I remember the perplexity the elder conveyed over the fact that I hadn't had a conversion 'moment' that seems to be the conventional Christian idea of what it means to become a believer/follower of Jesus. My journey to faith had many arduous moments, days, weeks, months, and there are markers along the trail of where I began to question, and the answers and resolutions I found along the way. Every 'believer' has a different story and a different process, and I need to pray for wisdom and patience as my own children process, question, hurt, doubt, experience, believe, and question some more......

Sunday, July 26, 2009


A few days ago, El Professor and I sat down with a calendar and mapped out things we still need/want to accomplish this summer. One thing that is now off the calendar....climbing the South Sister. The Broken Rib Situation is beginning to slow El Professor down as he is learning that his determination to stay somewhat active means pain. In the past few days he has been resting more and accepting that he really can't go for long walks or help with tasks like unloading the groceries. Still, we are enjoying summer.
Maybe next summer.....South Sister and Moraine Lake.
The weather has turned hot and our house doesn't have air conditioning. Right now the doors/windows are open and the high velocity fan is pumping the cool morning air into the house. We've been doing our best to stay cool with activities such as Evening Movie on the Lawn and Freezer Surprise for dinner. Last night's Freezer Surprise was a spaghetti meat sauce with a January date on the foil cover. (It was great!) I'm trying to avoid indoor cooking/heating up the kitchen. Hopefully, by the end of the week all of the Freezer Surprise will have been discovered and I can defrost the freezer. It's getting rather 'ice cavish' in there.

We have some 'fix it' projects to do such as finishing the 4 year old unfinished windows, cleaning mildew off the yet-to-be-replaced aluminum windows, cleaning out the garage, and moving the remnants of the old woodpile we unloaded on Craig's List. I am beginning to ramp up preparations for my teaching role at Classical Conversations. Oh, and we need to file our long is that extention good for?

I love the cool summer mornings and the drone of the fans. The birds are singing. The purple bush beans are beginning to crank out beans that need picking and the bolting lettuce needs to be gathered before it is too bitter for summer Caesar salads. I'm off......

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good Post....

I love this post.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Medals, Garden Mmmm, and.....OUCH.

Summer. Amidst the 'open days' there is a busyness that seems to fill the hours. This has been a busy, but fun weekend. Today we have painted, organized, cleaned, hunted for things, watered, watched the nephew, and now I need to go wipe mildew off a closet ceiling. (I will need to change out of my favorite black shirt first). At the moment the hot summer breeze is drying the towels on the swing set 'clothesline'. (The towels are a bit crunchy, but I love avoiding the use of the dryer in the summer for blankets, quilts, sheets and towels.)

A bit of the 'busyness' that has filled the weekend....

The kids have been participating in a local track club and the coach wanted all of the kids to do an event or two at the Track City Classic. Daniel was a bit reluctant to put his brand new shot put skills on display, but he was a great sport. The Classic has 'sweet medals', the coach pointed out and, as a bonus, it turned out that Daniel had the guarantee of a bronze medal....there were only three competitors in his event. Here he is pitching the shot put. (El Professor corrects me....he's 'throwing' the shot put. Apparently, you don't 'pitch' a shot put.)
El Professor, Annie, my nephew Rory, and Daniel heading for the stands.
The garden is always a part of summer, and now that summer is heating up the garden is growing in leaps and bounds. We are mostly harvesting lettuce, zucchini, raspberries, and sweet onions, but the basil is beginning to be usable. Waiting in the wings....tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, dill, apples, kiwi, plums.

Zucchini, sweet onions, chicken, and a wine/teriyaki sauce made a wonderful summer dinner.....

....with some Trader Jo's whole wheat cous cous.

We're enjoying watching the kiwi produce for the first time....
....and the Million Plum Tree is beginning to sag a bit with the weight of the ripening plums.
The fact that I snapped El Professor walking into the track meet and BBQing is amazing, given that the weekend started off with a bit of a calamity while on a fun afternoon trip to a coastal river about an hour from home. This river is such a great summer destination. It is usually a bit cooler there, the water isn't Snow Run-Off Freezing, there are a lot of rocks to scamper about on, the current isn't Scary Rushing, and the river is loaded with crawdads.

Crawdad catching is such a fun way to spend a hot afternoon. Rory, my nephew, and El Professor were Crawdad Man and Crawdad Boy. They were into it!

Annie and Rory donned swimming goggles and went after the crawdads with the full body dunk. The little critters didn't stand a chance.

The great afternoon adventure took a bit of a turn, though, when El Professor slipped on those fabulous river rocks and went into a rib-catching hole. He felt his rib crunch. Thankfully, we were right by the little 'wide spot in the road' store where we could get some ice and call the 'wide spot in the road' doctor whom El Professor met several years ago. When it was determined that we could/should get back home I drove as quickly as El Professor could stand-- the bumps and curves of the scenic highway where painful. When we got into cell range (an hour later...what is it with our cell phone out of range adventures this summer???) we called my orthopedic surgeon brother in law who had us come straight to him rather than to the ER. (We called him back to ask him to put on a pot of bowling water while he waited for us.....)
It was determined that El Professor most likely broke a rib. But given that it was such a beautiful summer night and since El Professor was in a world of hurt, he and my brother in law sat together and enjoyed some good red wine and cigars. (A bag of ice also helped.) I have a great brother in law. (While they were doing this, guess who had to be the Boiler of Crawdads?)
On a funny El Professor was calling the 'wide spot in the road doctor', he made it very clear that we were not to dump the Hard Caught Bounty back into the river. As it turns out, they were great dipped in melted garlic butter. (Although, if this was our only source of protein, we'd be in big trouble.)
El Professor will most likely spend much of this week sleeping on the futon, propped up on pillows and nursing his painful ribs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kinetic Wonders....

Tucked away on a forested hillside road in the San Juan Islands is a kinetic wonderland...

The spot is the Anthony Howe Gallery and it is a virtual wonderland park. At the top of the gravel driveway is a gallery, a lovely natural home and garden, and a fir tree flanked meadow full of undulating sculptures dancing in the breezes. We've been to the gallery a few times now, and I would go again tomorrow if I could. Standing and watching the sculptures spin, twirl, and undulate in the wind is fascinating. I managed to capture a few moving pictures......

The still photos miss the sense of playful movement that has been so carefully calculated into each piece, but I couldn't resist taking several pictures.....
After all of the wonderment, an artful bench is a nice spot to rest.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting Away....

Tucked between the Washington mainland and Vancouver Island, Canada there is a series of islands, some belonging to Washington State and some to British Columbia. I read that the inland sea surrounding the islands has been proposed to be named the Salish Sea, after indigenous peoples who originally inhabited the area. It is known officially as Puget Sound, and is connected to the Pacific Ocean by The Strait of Juan de Fuca and The Strait of Georgia. The islands belonging to Washington State are known as The San Juan Islands, while those belonging to Canada are The Gulf Islands.

I grew up visiting the region because grandmother lived on Samish Island, which is actually attached to the Washington mainland by dikes. Samish Island is along the relatively shallow Samish Bay, where the lowest tides go way, way out exposing muddy, clam-rich tidal flats. At low tide my sisters and I would tag along as my grandmother and mother dug the big 'horseshoe clams', and sometimes we would find a feisty crab in the watery seaweed moats that separated the tidal flats. At night, if the tide was high I would look out across Samish Bay to Bellingham Bay and see the barges. When I was really little I would declare that the lights of Bellingham were China--after all, I had always understood that China was 'over the sea'. Before this became a 'moneyed area' and had a sea wall, the beach front had a series of funky little houses, the beach was strewn with driftwood logs, and winter high tides would flood the residents. We would dig steamer clams in the rocky, barnacle beach that existed at the wave line just before the first tidal flat, and play 'house' in the open ends of the driftwood logs--the clam shells were our dishes. The steamer clams are gone--I think the population and the seawall did them in--and my grandmother's house has long since been torn down and rebuilt by a cooperative of my cousins. I think the seawall has pretty much halted the winter high tide floods (along with the steamer clams). I guess the 'horseshoe clams' are still in the flats, but you have to have a permit to dig them these days. I still get my fix of the wonder of those islands though, because my sister settled in the San Juans several years ago, but her island isn't attached to the mainland by dikes--you have to take a ferry boat. (And we dug clams on her beach without a permit.)

The first week of July we had a wonderful get away to the San Juans to visit my sister/family. Our last visit was two years ago when we took Daniel's Boy Scout troop for a long weekend camp out, so this trip was very relaxing by comparison. Here is a run down of some of the fun...

Every July 3, Deer Harbor, on Orcas Island, has a big fireworks show observed mostly by mobs of boaters harbored in the bay there. Gene Hackman used to own 'Fawn Island', which is in the bay by Deer Harbor. The fireworks are launched from a barge out in the bay. My favorite part is boating through the channels to get to Deer Harbor. One narrow channel is known as 'Millionaire Row' and the boat speed limit through the channel is slow so crashing wakes don't rock and roll the Millionaires' docks, boats, and beaches.

My parents and my twin and her husband were a part of this get away, each of us staying at a different spot in the vicinity of my sister's house. We stayed on the boat....lovely. Lapping waves. The ebb and flow of the tide at our fingertips. A bald eagle. (I am finally, a week later, not 'rocking' anymore.) I have never 'stayed' on a boat, and this was fun.
The view from the boat at a lowish tide....
Early morning, coffee, dry cereal and....yes, the grammar book from which I will be teaching this year. (I have been boning up all summer. Maybe this year I'll equate adjectival clauses with seagulls and the quiet lapping of the ebbing tide.)
Digging for clams. My mom and I cleaned the dozen or so clams that the kids and I dug, and I made an olive oil/garlic/clam sauce for pasta. Many of the clams are chilling in my sister's freezer, waiting to become fritters or chowder.
Hiking is a must in the islands. You can hike up to high view points like this. Amazing.

On the 4th of July, my sister/family decorates their restored flat bed truck for the old fashioned parade through the village on their island. This year much of my family and my sister's in-laws partook of the festivities. The weather was warm, the parade was packed, and the evening fireworks were, again, launched from a barge out in the bay.

My mom, a five year cancer survivor....

It was a wonderful get away. We hiked, boated, played badminton, dusk volleyball (with my mid 70s parents joining in!!!!), dug for clams, cleaned/cooked clams, shopped in the village, tagged a wilderness trail for a future hiking trail, kayaked, saw a bald eagle, rode the ferries, boated between the islands, ran out of fuel in the tiny motorboat (in the channel between islands), had to row the tiny motorboat until we could get a cell signal in the middle of the channel, were rescued by my brother in law in his boat (out in the channel), hiked over a mountain, had to hitchhike after hiking over the mountain (because we couldn't get cell service to request a ride from my sister back to our car, which was still on the other side of the mountain), and visited my sister's in laws where they own/run the store on Shaw Island that was previously owned/run by nuns.

Badminton on the lawn...overlooking 'The Sound' lovely.

Oh, and on the l-o-n-g drive home, we learned that you can do crazy things with a Dasini water bottle if you tear the label off.......

Friday, July 10, 2009

Anniversary~4th of July~Family Get-Away

Wednesday, July 8 was our 20th wedding anniversary. What fun it was for this to coincide with a family reunion~4th of July trip to the San Juans where my older sister lives. This week I plan to post photos--it was truly a wonderful, wonderful week. The weather was fantastic and we stayed long enough to do most of the things I love to do when we are in the San Juans--enjoy the rocky-life-teeming beaches with the kids, hike the forested 'mountains' to view the islands from up high, ride the ferry boats, shop in the village, go for a boat ride, stop in downtown Seattle during the journey, and just hang out.
The weather was amazing, and unseasonably warm while we were there. This is a shot of Mt. Baker from the ferry landing at Anacortes. I grew up viewing Mt. Baker from my grandmother's house on Samish Island, which is not too far from Anacortes.

Looking out a ferry window from the lower passenger deck....

The ferry ride takes a little more than an hour, stopping at three of the islands...Lopez, Shaw, and Orcas.
One of the island ferry landings....
Playing at the ferry landing beach.....

We arrived at the Anacortes ferry landing 2 hours early, which is recommended during the summer season. Usually, this will put you near the front of the line for your ferry. Much to our relief and surprise, we were in the LAST group of 8 cars to make our ferry. My twin and her husband were only 20-30 minutes behind us as we sojourned up Interstate 5, but they ended up waiting 3 hours for the next ferry. The islands experienced an unheard of mass of visitors and many travelers had to spend the night in line at the ferry landing as the tickets were oversold and there wasn't enough ferry space. The locals were marveling and we were concerned about experiencing the masses again, in an exodus from the islands when the 4th of July weekend was over. Our solution? Stay an extra day! :-)
The channels around the San Juan Islands are buzzing the recreational boaters, commercial boats, and the ferries which serve many of the islands. Anacortes is also a launch/arrival point for Canadian ferry traffic.