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Archive for May, 2010

My friend DZ, whose cats I was looking in on while she visited her children in Italy and her vivacious sister, Fabienne, in Castres, brought me the most wonderful gifts from her travels, but the one you see from Patisserie Sadaharu AOKI in Paris took my breath away.  I love to use my pastel oils to create abstract stories and somehow DZ knew the little box to your left would be received by me the way diamonds are received by most women.  Anyone who really, really knows me will find this hard to believe…I have yet to eat a single piece of chocolate.  I open the box every day and look at the beautiful colors and I will tell no lie, I am drawn to taste the color blue to be reminded of that week of icy snow I had on the property this past winter, and I would love to sink my teeth into the sunny yellow fellow to see if it whispers the sun will shine again soon.  I hope you get to taste the sun today.

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During Scott and Kathryn’s visit the Navy was busy using the OLF (Outlying Field) to practice their touch and go routines.  I was a bit disheartened that they chose the time Scott and Kathryn were here to bust a move over Coupeville.  It’s not often, it’s not all day, perhaps an hour or two off and on, but it’s LOUD!  I set my worries down when Scott practically sprinted to the back of the property to see if he could get a better look at them when they flew overhead; as if standing on the deck and being able to count their nose hairs wasn’t enough.  Kathryn and I had a close encounter when we innocently (I know that’s hard to believe when our names are mentioned in the same sentence, but it’s true) drove down the road that splits the airfield.  An enormous thrust of sound, followed by a city sized shadow appeared to my left and once I recognized it wasn’t my eye floaters and felt the plane just feet from the roof of my car, well, there were some girly shrieks to be sure.   I can’t imagine ducking inside the car would have helped had the pilot tapped us for fun, but that old lizard brain of mine is on high alert at all times.

Scott and Kathryn left on Sunday evening under the guise of wanting to be in America to see the Boeing facility, but I know that Monday was American Idol night and I think somebody wanted to make sure she was in a hotel where there was a TV.

A few days later my good friend, Noreen, came to call.   We hiked up along the Deception Pass trails, where we spotted the first berries of the season,  took in the sights of the Coupeville Water Festival and canoe races and the great Native American storyteller…Randy (never did get Randy’s last name).

Randy told the story of how coyote stole fire and the great tale of rabbit and how he kept interrupting a very important meeting with his loud singing, how each animal warned him to stop; yet rabbit kept on with his song even when his bodily parts, including his head had been removed, because rabbit was singing from his heart and when you sing from your heart, no one can quiet your song.

The canoe races have been going on for decades.  Legend has it that when the Native Americans would visit the island, the people would greet them with bread.  To this day, before the races begin the mayor greets the participants down at the water and offers them the gift of freshly baked bread.  The photo posted here was taken of the youngsters that were participating in the races.  Some of the boats had a difficult time making the turn around the buoy and there were quite a few close calls and a couple of collisions that I’m sure got bigger and more dangerous when retold around the dinner table that night, but then that’s how great storytelling gets its start, eh?

The sun was shining that day, but it’s been overcast this last week with rain, rain, rain so there isn’t much to tell in regard to hoe time.  I did get the flower garden planted and the slugs worked their way clear across sharp gravel to have a taste of my marigolds.  A bright orange fellow hadn’t used all of his frequent flyer miles and found himself flying through the air on the end of my shovel to a remote location where he’s welcome to slither.   Here’s a bold move:  Noreen found a big slug on the door to the garage and she knocked him off with her bare fingers.  She couldn’t get the slime washed off and we had to resort to BonAmi to get the ick off her hands.  I was impressed and grossed out at the same time.   But here’s a helpful hint (just in case you lose your mind and touch a big old slug):  My friend, DZ, said that you should use oil (she didn’t say whether it should be olive, canola, coconut, 30 weight…) because it acts as a lubricant to remove the slime.   Who’d a thunk I’d ever be giving anyone advice on how to remove slug slime…a wine stain, perhaps…you just never know now, do you?

I paid a high price for taking this photo.  I stepped into a lot of brush along the Deception Pass trail to take photos and by the next morning was suffering from insect bites.  Bites that itch like those terrible skeeter bites you got as a kid.  The kind that your mother told you not to scratch.  The kind that you scratched and scratched when she wasn’t looking because no amount of Caldryl then, and no amount of every kind of anti-itch cream I’ve laid my hands on now has stopped the itch.  But you know what?  It was worth it.

I hope the only itch you get is the one that takes you to places where nature’s beauty is waiting just for you.  Goodnight, all.

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Bette Midler never sang truer words, and it was my pleasure to have great friends come visit during the month of May.  Now, if after such a long time away from posting I can remember what’s taken place, it might be worth reading on.

Let’s start with Hoe Time With Michaelene – Last episode was a lamentation regarding my broken lawnmower.    Not having your equipment can cause a great deal of anxiety, especially as the grass is growing higher and higher, and you’re a bit of a “tidy it up” kind of gal.   But finally, after two long weeks, the guys down at Perkins called and I was on my way in a matter of minutes.  Gimme, gimme, gimme.

Using the reverse m.o. to unload the mower worked out just great; well, until I pulled away and realized I had dislocated one of the large logs that holds one of the tiered sections in place.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where it had gone to until I found it at the bottom of the slope…one problem solved, another created; which seems to be the way my storyline in the woods is going to play itself out.  But I found out I can lift a pretty hefty eight foot length of tree in my arms and carry it up a slope.  You never know when that’s going to come in handy, eh?  So, log is in place, mower is shiny and fixed and I’m ready to tackle the grass, rocks, sticks; anything that gets in my way.  About fifty feet in my eagerness falls into my boots when the mower comes to a grinding halt.  Belt has come loose, broken; I can’t tell.  Back the car up.  Load the lawnmower.  Head to Perkins.  Smile.  Somehow, within a measure of fifty feet, I managed to destroy the belt that makes the wheels go round and round.  Here’s what I love about Whidbey Island:  the guys down at Perkins didn’t charge me for a belt because I had to come all the way back.  Of course, when I got back home and saw myself in the mirror with grease on my face, bark in my hair, one pant leg tucked in my big boots, the other on the outside, it may have been pity.  But I’m okay with that.   After five straight days of weed whacking, mowing, hauling, burning, I was ready for company.

Kathryn and Scott came calling mid-May.  They drove what Kathryn calls “a far piece” (Kathryn pronounces it “fer”).  And I’m so grateful they did.  It was so good to see them.  Scott came bearing gifts: a chainsaw (don’t tell Ralph), an extension ladder, a propane blow torch to help kick-start my burn piles, a power washer, and a variety of tools.  And bless his heart, he showed me how to use that blow torch and we moved through several of the piles I had hauled to the back of the property.   Kathryn had not lost her peer pressure touch and made me “windshield” properties with her.  You don’t know what that means, do you?  Neither did I.  It means a “drive by” no matter whether the owners are home or not.   Some of the roads were “a far piece” up to the house and I chickened out on most occasions for fear of guns, dogs, or both.  You know how you have those special friends that make you laugh until you cry?  We cried a lot during their stay.  I almost took out a cistern on a 46 point turnaround, but Scott saved us just in time.    I took them up to Deception Pass Bridge.  Those who know me will no doubt notice I said “up to.”  I don’t drive over bridges.

This is Scott and Kathryn standing at the end of West Beach.  I think this is where Kathryn was doing a fashion photo shoot of me with the bridge in the background.    It was quiet in Coupeville while they were here.  No festivals, but I did take them to the Coupeville Farmers Market.   Not much produce yet, but the kettle corn, pulled pork sandwich and barbecued beef brisket made fine breakfast fare.   No trip to Coupeville would be complete without a trip down to Local Grown to meet the coffee group.  Kathryn made herself at home with a latte and chatting with Steve and Linda while Lew took Scott under his wing  and the two took to talking about fishing.  Less than an hour into meeting Scott, Lew offered to take him fishing in September if he was up at that time.  I don’t mean to beat a dead horse over the head, but I gave my cookies to Lew for months on end when I first arrived with the promise that I would be taken out on his boat.   To date:  zip…nada…zilch.  All Scott had to do is show up and he got an invitation.  I hope Scott knows how to bake because my cookies are off-limits to Lew.

The tide was low and the beach offered up prime pickins’ for the eagles.  We counted seven adults and two scrawny youngins’.  I caught these two during a tussle to see who was going to end up with the catch hanging from the eagle’s beak on the left.  I didn’t recognize them as the same two who tried to tag team me last month.  Oh, that reminds me, although I’m getting ahead of myself and I was going to save this photo for my next post when I tell you about my friend Noreen’s visit, but I just can’t wait.

My dear friend Noreen came to visit just days after Kathryn and Scott left.   I took Noreen out to the back of the property so she could take photos of the plentiful blooms of wild rhododendrons, when I looked up and there he was.  “Look in the tree,” I told Noreen.  She pointed out to me that there were quite a few trees on my property and I would have to narrow it down.  “Turn and look straight ahead.”  I was saying all of this very quietly a la Marlin Perkins telling Jim to grab that python by the throat from the safety of the studio.    We both had our cameras with us and started to snap away.  Unfortunately, my camera flashed once, then twice…then he scooted down to the end of the branch, opened his eyes, and stretched his neck in my direction.  With my eagle episode tucked under my belt, I scurried away, leaving Noreen to fend for herself.  This photo was taken before I woke him up from his sunbathing nap.  Trust me when I say this photo doesn’t begin to convey his size, especially when fluffed up and slightly irritated.   This gentleman is a Great Horned Owl and both Lew and my friend Dawn told me it was a rare sighting.   I still marvel at the wonders that surround me.I hope this post finds you marveling at the wonders surrounding you, too; be they Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls, your garden, the sunshine, grand babies, or great friends who are willing to drive “a far piece” to make you laugh so hard you cry.

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