Archive for November, 2010

Winter Driving 101

After all the months we’ve been together, now is not the time for me to withhold my latest Whidbey Island experience from you.  I won’t mention names, but William Bell down at Local Grown told me he didn’t think it was going to snow so I hadn’t given it much thought.   But last  night as I was checking the weather forecast, I noticed a bright red  EXTREME WEATHER ALERT  for the Coupeville area.   After reading the warning, my mind was on high alert.  I even  Googled safety tips for driving in snow.  I found the instructions all very contrary to my way of thinking.  I would just have to trust William Bell’s prediction.

This morning, as I was writing to my friend Kathy, it started to snow.  Visions of fresh from the oven bread and mulled wine  danced around in my head, but I had an early appointment in town with Dr. Bob.  The vision would have to wait.  I’m happy to say I made it there and back home without any great shakes – well, except for the fishtailing that took place when I turned onto my road – that was a little unsettling; but, hey, I made it down my drive onto the property.  Knowing I had to go back into town to work,  I backed into the drive alongside the house so I’d be pointed in the right direction.  Even I know backing down a snow-covered hill to go up another is a lame idea.

By 10:30, my appointed time to leave for work, the snow was really coming down.   What’s a little snow?  I slapped on my big girl boots, my Eddie Bauer down jacket I never got to use last winter, which according to the locals wasn’t really a winter, and climbed into my snow-covered car.  The mantra  I can do this…I can do this replaced the vision of warm bread and mulled wine.  I eased down the drive.  This is going well.  I turned the wheel to head up the hill.  This is not going so well.  Inside my head, the I can do this was shoved aside by a questioning voice.  Why is the car sliding to the left toward the down slope into the ferns?   What did Google say?  If your left front tire is X and your back right tire is Y…no that wasn’t it.  Step on the brake…there…now  release the brake…no, that wasn’t a good idea…the car isn’t sliding down the hill…the car is sliding to the side and it’s leaning…that has to be bad. While that voice was  yammering away, another voice came to call.  If you tip your car over on its side in this little bit of snow, you will never hear the end of it from the guys down at coffee.  You will have to move out-of-town, off the island; head back to California with your tail tucked between your legs.

Oh, did I mention I’ve never driven in snow?  At one time I owned a cabin in the mountains of California where 12 feet of snow was a seasonal occurrence, but I never drove in it.  I was always a passenger (thank you, Bill) and one who mostly traveled with her eyes closed.  I was the one who stayed in the cabin and made soup, kept  the wood stove stoked while I read and wrote hot mulled wine induced prose about the beauty of the falling snow.

After a few moments I came up with the perfect solution to the problem.  I may not be a driver of snow-covered roads, but I’m very adept at solving the predicaments I find myself in.  And this one was a no brainer:  I’ll take the bus. Problem solved and I’m leaving less of a carbon footprint.  By the time I left the house, I looked a bit like the little brother in A Christmas Story – wrapped up tick tight in my down coat, boots, purple beret – just in case I fell in the snow and couldn’t get up, they’d see my bright and cheerful beret sticking out of the snow when they found my body (hopefully before something had eaten my face).   Boy, there were a lot of tire tracks running down the lane, but only one set of boot prints (mine).   I will be a trend setter; an exemplary example of environmental sensitivity.  I’m quite aware this a spin, but spins help me get through the day.

I made it to the bus stop down at the highway (a two-lane road).  According to Lou over at IT, I could expect a bus to arrive about five minutes after the hour.  After ten minutes of hopping from foot-to-foot to keep warm, I decided IT might be having a bit of trouble, too.  Car after car zoomed by – none of them sideways; but after twenty minutes, still no bus.  However, while standing on the side of the road I learned a valuable lesson that I will share with you:  When you see a snow plow coming down the road and the bucket is down, it’s a good idea to move away from the road.

I walked back down the road in the direction of home and, once there, took a stroll around the property.  After my big adventure, I  stripped off my wet coat, boots, gloves, and tossed my purple beret into my basket of hats.  I ended up exactly where I belonged all along…inside where it was warm, baking holiday cookies and sipping mulled wine.





Oh, the car is still sitting sideways in the driveway.  They say it’s supposed to warm up by Wednesday.  If it doesn’t, I know Spring is just around the corner.   Besides, I’m in no hurry to go anywhere.  But if I really needed to get somewhere, I’ve got my boots.






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Thanksgiving Wish

It’s the wee hours of November 21, 2010.  The gray sky has given way to the full moon.  The Great Horned Owl calls out long and low; his deep throated hoots bumping up against the trees and coming back around to him.  Upstairs, in the warmth of my room, I stand at the window and listen as my slice of paradise sings to me the songs that are now familiar, comfortable.  I watch as the clouds part, the moon painting my small earthly canvas with the colors of the illuminated night.  The nasturtiums shiver in the cold and I make a note to rescue them, tuck their seeds into a safe place for the Winter; always the hope of a tomorrow.  We do these things, you know.  Without much thought we plan for our tomorrows.  We tuck away seeds for the Spring as we pull out the boots and heavy jackets we tucked away when the weather turned warm.   It all comes back around, but only for a time.

Time.  Eighteen full moons have blessed me since I arrived on Whidbey Island.  During their waxing and waning I’ve hauled trees across the property; learned how to set a pile of that same debris aflame.   I’ve fought my way through stinging nettles, as tall as I stand, and cobwebs spanning a dozen feet from tree-to-tree.  I’ve sawed my way through downed tree trunks to get out of my driveway; run a good thirty miles from imaginary predators and the not so imaginary buzzing of hives unseen.  I’ve knelt down under the majesty of my giant cedars and swept the hem of their cloaks.  I’ve raked and hauled debris in the rain until I was drenched from head to toe; never more alive.  I’ve moved rocks from here to there until their numbers and placements earned many friendly jibes for the doing.  This summer a pair of Bald Eagles graced me with a fly by so near the memory still snatches up my breath.  The Great Horned Owl who lives here, too, has reminded me more than once who really owns the woods.

Perhaps the brightest and most unexpected gift of all has been my new community.   The friends I’ve made in Coupeville since my arrival bring me great joy.  And like the nasturtium seeds I tuck away to plant come Spring, I keep my old friends tucked close; savor the memories; look forward to sharing  tomorrows once again.   What more could I ask for?

On a clear sky night such as this, I still climb out of my bed to gaze upon the Little Dipper from my window; go so far as to wish upon a star.     What do you wish for when your dream has come true?  Why, I make a wish for you.   May this Thanksgiving find you be blessed by the love of family and friends; may you find peace in your heart, and a bountiful feast on your table.

Oh, it’s snowing here in the woods; just a few flakes, but it’s snowing.  I just had to pull on my coat and boots and brave the 27 degrees to take this photo just for you.

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Bubbling Betty Hard at Work

If I haven’t mentioned it in my prior posts, let me do so now: I live on an island chock full of the most talented folks you’ll ever meet.  If you’ve been riding along on this  journey with me, you might remember me mentioning Bev Heising, Coupeville’s fiddler extraordinaire.  There’s a photo of Bev in the archives from the Red Ticket drawing held last December – check her out.  Bev is married to Steve who is rocket scientist smart.   This dynamic twosome recently created Whidbey Island’s first legal distillery –  Whidbey Island Distillery.  Check out their site  (www.whidbeydistillery.com).

The star of the day was Bubbling Betty (she’s the beauty pictured to the left).  Betty’s hard at work producing her first batch of whiskey.  And Lily’s hard at work supervising Betty.

Lily Hard at Work

Somehow, between Bev’s trip to New York, teaching fiddle, keeping up with family and friends, she was able to put together a spectacular brunch.   We gathered in the Bunker and feasted on quiche, roasted potatoes, fresh fruit, lox and bagels, a variety of pastries and bubbly Mimosas.    Is there a better way to spend a Friday?    I think not.  





The Bunker was cozy and warm, the tables laden with flowers, the atmosphere full of lively conversation.







After brunch, I took a walk around the grounds and I wish you could have been with me.  There are great old out buildings on the property; perfect subjects to add to my post. The sun was shining (the calm before the storm) and the air was clean and as crisp as a just picked apple.

(As I write, the rain is coming down and there’s always the chance of losing electricity out here in the woods.  I’ll let the pictures tell the story.)   Steve and Bev, thanks  for a great party!










Last, but not least, the ever important barrels!

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An Outing To The Big City

Well, I see by the calendar it’s been awhile since I visited my blog, but I couldn’t wait to tell you I made my second trip to Seattle (and I made it back with out Destanie sneaking up on me this time).   Bear with my mistakes, I’m typing as fast as I can.  We’ve had major storms up this way and my road was hit twice in less than two days.  A transformer split and took down two lines so power was out from Monday evening until the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  I had just enough time to clean up for my big trip to the city when another tree went down up the road and took down another electrical line.  Applying one’s makeup by flashlight makes one a prime candidate for the current exhibit at SAM.

It just so happens that the Musee National Picasso in Paris is under renovation and was generous enough to allow Picasso’s work to travel to the great Pacific Northwest for exhibition at SAM – Seattle Art Museum.  Not sure what happened during the shipping, but the paintings were all jumbled up…eyes where noses should be, noses where breasts were at one time, but had fallen to the edge of the canvas, legs akimbo.  Art humor.  Art not humor.   This was a provocative show and there were a lot of elementary school children in attendance.  I have no doubt they had a lot of questions for mommy and daddy when they got home.  Picasso went through periods of color as he did periods of women and they’re all there in his work.  As much as I enjoyed his paintings, it was Picasso’s sculptures that captivated me.  There was no doubt that it was his work, his style transitioning seamlessly from canvas to metal.  Try that Monet.

After that much culture we had to take a walk through Seattle’s famous Public Market.

Stops were made at DeLaurentis for un po di questo, un po di quel… a stroll down through the hall of seafood….


It was a gray, rainy day in Seattle, but our stop at La Paniers brought a ray of sunshine into our lives.  There’s nothing like a couple of French Macarons, a bite or two of a chocolate eclair, and a little tarte tatin to put life into perspective.  A visit to a wonderful hole in the wall shop known by Joan (our leader) and we all left with homemade tamales to enjoy another day.

Did someone say gelato?  With blood sugar levels out of control by this time, who was counting.  Who could count?  The guy to the right isn’t a French Macaron.

Running out of time…power is blinking off…on

I’ve got some serious hoeing to do and Thanksgiving down at the Coupeville Rec Hall is just around that corner.  You don’t want to miss….

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