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Archive for May, 2013

DSCF4299Last Saturday was the annual Memorial Day Parade here in Coupeville.  I take delight watching the folks in my small town cruise down Main Street in their classic convertibles, like the Girl Scout Daisy Troop retro 60’s wagon below,GirlScouts and for the past four years I’ve gotten an ample kick out of watching the Coupeville High School marching band keep the beat going and the parade moving along (even if it appears it’s to the beat of a different drummer).

MarchingBand

I love the fact that lions (head in hand), dogs and fish, no matter their political leanings (think about that), can come together to honor the men and women who died for their country. DSCF4307

ChocolateLab_edited-1OfficerSnook

Did I mention how happy I’ve been these past four years watching from the sidelines?  Well, times have changed dear readers.  This year, against all I know myself to be, I found myself in the parade with this band of zany, merry women (left to right – Angie, Toni, Aurora and Mare)…DSCF4296

walking in front of Lavender Wind Farm’s intrepid leader, Sarah…DSCF4322

and behind this…DSCF4324

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I kid you not.  Lavender Wind Farms was positioned right behind the equestrian entry in the parade.  Might I say there’s not enough lavender from Whidbey Island to Provence to remedy what  happened right in front of us as we marched down Front Street bearing our purple banner and spreading lavender love among the crowd.  Perhaps it was Aurora’s drumming, or Toni’s single maraca; maybe it was MJ’s (not in photo) Tibetan bells that caused the sudden and voluminous equine cleanse, but hindsight being what it is, I think it was probably due to my penchant for being in the right place at the right time where calamity reigns.  I know nothing about horses, but I believed Mare when she said, “That horse was stressed.”

The next big parade is Halloween and I guarantee, I’ll be watching that one from the sidelines.  Any parades in your town that you wouldn’t dare miss?

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eagleflightI can’t say why I didn’t head back upstairs this morning after making my tea.  My intention was to tune out the world and write, but I found myself, tea in hand, walking to the deck overlooking the property.  My property sits below the house with a grand open space, perfect for birds to swoop and call to each other.  I’m pretty sure it’s the eHarmony pick up grid for my winged friends, who then set up their prenatal nests under my deck.  This year, mid-project, I had to put the all-important power washing of the deck on hold after two small, but squawking, beak sharpening Finches let me know I was on their turf.  If you’ve been reading along these past years, you might remember I had this same problem with a Varied Thrush (a Robin impersonator the size of a well-fed squirrel, who had me running into the house – before I opened the screen door). But once again, I have digressed.

Perhaps it was the moody grey sky, or the late-to-the-show birds singing in the trees that called to me; whichever it was, I am grateful, for to the right from where I stood, and just above the roof line, a Bald Eagle swooped down near the deck into the opening and through the trees. I’ve had a flyby even closer than this one (see blog post http://bit.ly/12ELEpD), but it came with a warning; this majestic fella rode the silence.  Just as my breath was coming back to me, he made a U-turn and flew back through the opening over the deck again, as if to say, “Just in case you didn’t get a good look at how awesome I am the first time, here you go.”  And I don’t mean “awesome” in the way of “cool,” I mean awesome in the way of fearsome, overwhelming, breathtaking, tremendous, remarkable, astounding, and humbling.

He’s flown from the property, but he’s out there circling the island, swooping down now and then to remind folks to take the time to turn in the opposite direction, to look up from what weighs them down, and see the majesty all around us.

Image from http://baldeagles.org

 

 

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After our haunting Holland Happening experience (you saw how we turned out after exiting the Gravitron), it was time to get down to business…whiskey business.  I’m not much of a drinker – the occasional glass of wine, maybe a beer after working on the property in the heat of summer (that would be when the thermometer reaches the very rare (there are no fans left to be found at Home Depot) 80 degrees).  And here I was sitting at a table with bona fide sippers of the grain, expert in their assessments.  I, on the other hand, have never been a whiskey drinker; well, perhaps once in my youth, which is why I may be a bit put off by the spirit.  But that was a long time ago and I was willing to let bygones be bygones.

Whiskey-Before_edited-1The line up on the table in the photo to your left does not represent the order in which the whiskey was tasted, and some brands did not make the photo cut because I took the photos after the tasting when the bottles looked more like this (see below):

Whiskey-After

1)Jack Daniels Unaged Tennessee Rye, 2) Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Aged 12 Years; Bulleit 95 Rye American Whiskey, Makers Mark 46, McClelland’s Islay 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, and Laphroaig Islay 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.

The tasters included William Bell, Bev Heising of Whidbey Island Distillery, Whidbey Island authors Mike McNeff, Mare Chapman, and Rowena Williamson, Bedford Cheese Shop Cheesemonger extraordinaire Nate McElroy, and me.  Oh, did I mention that William hosted us down at Local Grown?  Now I know how he stays so very mellow while drinking so much coffee.  (Note: This was a private party. No rules were broken.  Let me add here that the rumor Local Grown is installing a whiskey machine, like the one shown below, is not true.)

whiskeyAlong with the whiskey there were cheeses to sample and pair with the spirits. The finest among the cheese was a wedge of Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Dairy in Dodgeville, Wisconsin that Nate brought all the way from NY. You’re beginning to understand why he’s my favorite, aren’t you.  p-best-in-classWe also enjoyed Britt’s pickles out of Seattle, Fermin Iberic Salchichon, and Screamin’ Banshee Bread from right here on the island.

Nate was in charge of the pour so you know every taster had an ample sample.  Experienced tasters saw the sample to your left:9143738-whiskey-in-a-crystal-shot-glass-isolated-on-white

This is what I saw:The_simpsons_flaming_moes_02

There was a “dump it” bucket for those who wanted to walk out of the coffee shop, but I seemed to be the only one using it.  I’d like to be able to break down the descriptors used by the participants for you in accord with each whiskey, but after the first sip, I knew I’d never be able to match one with the other.  Here are a few of the words I do remember: Refreshing, light, vanilla, apples, cherry, oak, smooth on the tongue, lingers at the back of the throat, moss, smoke, hints of orange blossom (I may be making that one up).

Here are my descriptors: FIRE IN MY MOUTH! BURNING!  MY TONGUE HAS GONE NUMB! GOOD GOD, ARE MY LIPS STILL ON MY FACE?  Tasting the Laphroaig and the McClelland’s Scotch reminded me of standing in the middle of a debris burn I did my first winter on the island that lasted for a week.  Back then, I was sure I must be smoldering days after the burn was over, that’s how strong the smell of SMOKE around me remained.  I tried to listen as Mare and Rowena (the Scotch experts) talked about the peat moss used, the fire, the barrels, etc., but I was having a hard time doing that while gobbling down bread to calm my taste buds.  Thinking back on this, I’m reminded of Tom Hanks in Big when he tastes caviar for the first time.

I’d like to say I have a sophisticated palate when it comes to sampling spirits in their purest form, but I don’t.  So, here I sit weeks later looking at these near-to-full bottles of Redbreast and Bulleit Rye and the thought comes to me: I would probably like them a great deal if I used them to accentuate my chocolate truffles.  Now we’re talkin’.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

whidbeyislandI’ll end with this note. Yesterday, May 17, marked my four year anniversary here on the island.  Thanks to all who have made my stay here some of the best years of my life.  To those who have followed my silly little blog during that time, hand-to-heart gratitude for riding along with me.

 

Thanks wipwapweb.com for the “whisky” machine.

Moe’s flaming drink from images4.wikia.nocookie.net

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DSCF4222Driving the ring around the Olympic National Forest, we noticed signs that announced: Big Cedar and Big Spruce.  Well, like any repetitive advertisement (especially those in the middle of a sleepless night), you can only ignore the taunts so many times until you give in.  This time it was Big Spruce that caused us to swerve off the main road to take a look at what the fuss was all about. You folks living in California with the unrivaled beauty of the Redwood Forests will understand when I thought to myself – this better be good.  Well, Big Spruce didn’t let us down, and since he’s quite the celebrity over there in the ONF, a keepsake photo had to be taken.   And, yes, before striking his lumberjack pose, Nate made sure there were no wild animals lurking in the root system behind him.  And, yes, I was ready with my camera set to multiple shots hoping there might be.  I never said I was perfect.  But I’m darn close.  You’ll see why right here.  A stop in Port Angeles at the thrift shop revealed two brand new shirts, only one was entirely without buttons.  O ye of little faith who judged me just sentences earlier — we found buttons (half off at a real five and dime shop) and I sewed them on — before I went to sleep that same night, I might add.

We ended our trip to America by stopping at Siren’s in Port Townsend with a round of oyster shooters and shepherd’s pie (Nate), and a salad (me).  Oh, and beer. But you probably already guessed that.

I’m having trouble remembering how we spent the rest of the evening when we arrived home, and I’m certain it had something to do with ingesting gummy bears, red licorice, sugared grapefruit slices, gummy worms (a far cry from my green drinks) while waiting for the ferry.

Sunday we ventured off to the Holland Happening in Oak Harbor.  I had never been and since it was Nate’s last day and we had hours before whiskey tasting, we were up for a bit of the Dutch, thinking wooden shoes, tulips (for which the Skagit Valley is renowned); baked goods.  Oh, how wrong we were in our Dutch Baby minds.  It might have been the ferris wheel, visible from the distance, or perhaps it was the corn dog stand that said: this is not Holland, but this is happening.FerrisWheelSeat

CornDogsWhere were the Stoopwafels, the Ontbijtkoek, the Speculaas, not to mention the little chocolate Dutch shoes and Zwart wit drops guaranteed to crack a tooth? WHERE WAS HOLLAND in all of this?

The safety of the rides was a no-brainer.  Chipped paint exposing rusty hinges and carnies standing around scratching their heads as they hammered at loose bolts (even I know that’s not the tool you use); didn’t instill in us the kind of confidence that says, “I just gotta ride that thing.”

OctopusRide_edited-1And then we saw it from across the field. Like something out of a 70s remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, I could hear the Bee Gees musical scoring of Klaatu Barada Nikto rise above the smell of barbecued ribs (south Holland perhaps).  There stood the Gravitron!

Gravitron

 

Maybe you had to ride the Gravitron to experience the Holland Happening.  Worth a shot?  Well, you decide.

 

 

 

We went in all-American and came out looking like this:

DutchKids

 

 

And this is why Nate is my favorite of all my children.  He’s willing to stupid stuff with me. However, he may not have considered it would be posted here at Greetings from Coupeville.

I’ll have to tell you about the whiskey tasting next time.  It’s been rainy, sunny, rainy, sunny (sometimes in the same hour) and that means the dandelions, grass, weeds, nettles, you name it, are getting the better of me.  Off to hoe and mow…gotta get everything looking just so.  Rumor has it company is coming in July, don’t you know.

Did I mention I’m going to be in the Memorial Day parade this year?  How did that happen?

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A Good Time Was Had

Nate-LadyFish-01April 24, 2013 – A delight known only to Mothers fills the air as the Sea-Tac Shuttle pulls into the 76 station.  You see, my favorite of all my children is on that shuttle.  He comes round the van bearing that hint of Brooklyn swagger in his walk, and that smirk that bears his name (as well as my own), is followed by a bear hug…okay, enough Mom talk.  We only have five days, so let’s get down to business.  First stop – Whidbey Beer Works for a supply of beers unavailable in the Five Burroughs, then a quick stop at the market, and we’ve got all the fixings for Nate’s Neapolitan pizza.   Oh, the future looks bright.

Thursday was a kick back, do nothing day, but on Friday we headed across the water to America to catch a glimpse of the Olympic Peninsula.   Our trip took us through small towns like Sequim (not pronounced the way I know the majority of you folks are saying it in your heads), and the now famous town of Forks, home to the Twilight series. (No, we didn’t stop, and more importantly: no, we haven’t read the books.  In my opinion, there’s only one vampire, and his name is Lestat.  The rest are wannabes.)  That being stated, I will not tag the words: Twilight, vampire, or Forks.  Just in case.

Now, about the Olympic Peninsula between Port Townsend and Kalaloch – Other than Port Angeles, there is nothing to be seen in the way of towns – simply their signs, and in most cases “Entering/Exiting” can share the same space.  But who needs towns when you’ve got a view of the Olympic Mountains jutting up behind tall pines, and the view of Crescent LakeCrescentLake as you wind your way down 101…or maybe it’s up 101.  Off the island, it’s all the same to me.  (Actually, truth be told, it’s the same on island.  I got lost a few weeks ago, but that’s another story for another post.) We stopped at Crescent Lake and I talked to a pair of divers readying themselves for an underwater adventure.  When asked what curiosity was below the water’s surface that would entice them into 42 degree water, they told me there was wreckage from car accidents, and boxcars (no railroad tracks in sight, I might add) to be explored, and according to Elora, our server at Kalaloch, there’s a dead horse down there that’s all in one piece.  Well, hell’s bells, Elora, I guess I’ll have the crab cakes.

After a number of “you’ve just got to see the Hoh Rain Forest,” recommendations, we drove eighteen miles off the main highway to see the ever-damp, moss laden trees, but it had been sunny for so long the moss looked more like a commercial for dry hair.HRF-Tree

Friday afternoon was sunny, perfect weather for beach walking.  I will admit I miss the sandy beaches of California, so imagine my happiness when the trail led us to the perfect beach.   Now it was time to cast off those fancy beer taste buds and say hello to the stalwart of Pacific Northwest beers.  That’s right, it was time for some Rainier Ale.  We’re talking cans, not bottles, folks.  Snap, crackle, pop.  Sun, sand, and my favorite kid sitting next to me.  Color me a happy mom.

The view from our cabin was delightful; the sunset, all one could ask for to end a perfect day.

Kalaloch-CabinView

Sunset-KalalochHowever, the added win of two game of Bananagrams is what I’ll remember until the end of time.  “Drink  up, favorite of all my children. Drink up.”

Next time: Holland Happening and Whiskey Tasting

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