Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Cats & Sheep for Peace"

I've found another cool blog - it's called "Apifera Farm: Where animals, art and lavendar collide". A woman named Katherine in Oregon, who is also an artist, writes this blog.
( She has made a bumper sticker that I have to get - it says "Support Local Farm Animals working for Peace - If we can all get along - can't you." with a picture of a cat & a sheep - ("Cats & Sheep working for Peace") (if you click on her link to "Goats for Peace" it will take you to her website she has some very fun stuff -

Well, speaking of Cats & Sheep - I think it's time for some weekend Cat & Sheep blogging!

For some reason unknown to me, Neelix LOVES to lay in the compost pile - then he drags all that stuff inside on his fur. Blech -

Whereas, Sinda has places to go, things to do and people to whine at...

The little boys have been helping John build their new hostel - and they can be very helpful - but despite their supervision, quite a bit is getting done.

Turns out that Gizmo is smarter than we thought - he's discovered that if "someone" happens to leave the gate unlocked and if you pull on this chain, the gate will magically open and there is a whole world of green stuff on the other side.....

The little monkeys went for a walk this afternoon - John found them in the middle of the front lawn, happily munching away - luckily, they'll follow him anywhere (as long as he has a bowl of grain anyway) and he soon had them back in the pasture - those little monkeys..LOL

and Finally -


This is Lucy (photo taken in April) - she is a two year old ewe who had twin boys this spring - Her father was Whoamule Deuel & her mom was Marietta Xena. She has Flett in her background on both sides.

And this is d'Jango - He needs to go to a good home where he'll eventually have some girlfriends. He is very sweet and good natured. He also has Flett on both sides. He is fawn under those milk coco tips, and has a very silky fleece.

John would love to talk to you if you're interested in either one of these lovely sheepies.

Well, it is time to turn into a pumpkin- John is taking tomorrow off and taking a drive by himself - me - I'll probably do laundry, put up beans in the freezer and read some of the new books I got today - one from the library, two from Costco AND two in the mail from Literary Guild - Oooh - when it rains it pours.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Guilty Pleasures...

Hmmm - Guilty pleasures -

Like sitting around all day reading a good romance/mystery novel -

or finding a hidden treasure in John's garden.....

Cherry turnovers from ARBYS - (no kidding - they are THE BEST!)

Sitting out on the deck in the evening, almost drowning in the perfect perfume of these lillies.....

Taking a break in the middle of the day to read my friend Nancy's blog - "A Shepherd's Voice" (check out the links under My Favorite Places) It never fails to make me laugh (or cry)...........or finding a new blog that I like to read....

Mmmm - Pretty fiber - wool in every color of the rainbow from the vendor floor at the Black Sheep Gathering (which is a Guilty Pleasure all of it's own)

M&Ms, great kitchen tools (especially my Pampered Chef pastry cutter), freshly brewed iced tea, really good brownies, talking to one of my sisters on the phone....

Hmmm - guilty pleasures...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Weekend cat blogging -

Haven't had time to follow Sinda & Neelix around this week, but here is my favorite piece of garden art - Have a great weekend.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Glad it's Friday?

Boy, everyone I've talked to sure is (Glad it's Friday, that is). And it is HOT here - not that I'm complaining - we still have power and all our frozen food is still frozen - here I am, on the computer - my heart goes out to the people in Missouri & the eastern seaboard who have gone/are going through horrific storms and have no electrical power.

Just as a matter of self preservation, I try not to be a very "political" person. It can cause rifts in families and between friends, but I am so frustrated with what is going on in the world recently - bombings in Mumbai (aka Bombay), the Israelies are pounding the snot out of Lebanon, and the whole thing in Iraq is going to heck in a handbasket (do you suppose we will have lost all those American lives just so the Iraquis can start a civil war?). Just the thought makes my blood pressure go up, so I thought we'd take a little walk around the farm instead...

Just inside the gate we have two Jacquemontii Birches (also know as Himalayan Birch) They have the whitest bark of the birch family and are just spectacular in the winter when you can see their "white skeletons" - especially with all the evergreens planted around them. But they are lovely at all times of the year - lush and green in the summer and when fall comes, their leaves turn bright yellow! Generally our big cat, Neelix is waiting on one of the rocks for us to get home. It's a good feeling.

The view from "my" chair on the front porch doesn't quite include the pond, but you can hear the waterfall and it's lovely to listen to anytime, day or night.

I am discovering that bloggers have quite a wonderful community. I feel like I have made some new and very interesting friends. Take Susan at Farmgirl Fare, for instance - Susan lives in Missouri - she was a "victim" of the storm that hit the area night before last. Her blog is great mix of food and farm with beautiful pictures of the area and with funny & often touching stories about her critters. One of her chickens (whose name is Lindy) went AWOL during the storm, and people all over the planet were sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to find out if Lindy came home safely - the good news is Sheeeeeeee's SAFE! (read about it here)

Oh, and those are not eggs from Susan's chickens, they are eggs from OUR chickens - Americauna breed - pretty eggs and very tasty to boot! (the eggs, NOT the chickens - NO, NO, NO, we don't eat our chickens!)

And out by the barn is our handsome ram Thorson. He's playing with his "play station" He'll start running from the other corner of the pasture and whack that blue ball into the post that is to his right. See how it is getting worn away? One of these days he's gonna hit that thing and land on his butt because it will snap in two.

Well, thanks for taking a walk around with me - I'm a little calmer now, but very sad - so many lives lost or ruined - to what end? (Trust me, Condoleezza, a "false promise" is better than none at all.)

When you all go to bed tonight - please say a prayer for PEACE in the world and for the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia - (over six hundred dead and 20,000 people are homeless ) - I will.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Enduring Friendships

Almost 20 years ago two ladies, who were very good cooks, decided to open a little tiny diner on the main street of Bellingham. It was called "Around the Corner Cafe". It was the kind of a place where you might get told that you had to eat your vegetables before your could have a "Little Something Sweet" for dessert...and the kind of place you could go to see a friendly face when the boss was being a jerk...and the kind of place where you made new friends - and ate breakfast or lunch with them almost every day. But as "they" say, "All good things must come to an end" and the little restaurant closed it's doors. But the memories remained - and to this day, the friends remain friends - and get together in the summer for a potluck lunch to catch up on each other's lives -

All year looking forward to Jo's baked spaghetti & cheese or Maria's teriyaki chicken legs - yum...

And pick up on that philosophical discussion that you left off with last year at Christmas - (for you see, the friends have a cookie exchange at Christmas time, too) And we would be vvveeerrrryyy disappointed if Denise didn't bring her wonderful Around the Corner Chocolate Cake. (which certainly should have been given a much finer spot on the table - it is hiding behind that stainless steel bowl with the sesamee noodle salad in it -)

It was a fun picnic. In the hustle bustle of today's world, it is nice to see some things & some friendships endure. See you in December, old friends.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Toss of the Coin -

I couldn't decide - the beans & blueberries or the "Around the Corner Picnic" - and the Beans & the Blueberries won out - so, you'll have to wait for another day to hear about the Picnic.

These are blueberries from the bushes that we bought from my sister. She & her husband have been raising blueberries & blueberry bushes on their farm in Mossyrock, WA for 40 years or so. She works harder than anyone I know.

These are (affectionately called) "Lila Beans". They are a common pole bean, heirloom variety, except for the fact that the "original" seeds came from the crop of a duck shot up in the wilds of Canada, by someone in the family of our friend Lila (who passed away a couple of years ago at a ripe old age). Lila's mother, being a frugal woman, found the beans when she was cleaning the duck for dinner, decided to keep them for the next year's planting. That was probably close to 60 years ago, I imagine. The family saved some beans from each year's crop to plant the next year. Lila would can them and always brought a big pot of beans (with just a little bit of bacon to flavor them) to the church potlucks. A couple of years ago before she died, Lila donated a few jars of bean seeds to our fundraiser auction. I bought a "bottle" of these magic beans - I think I paid $8 or $10 for a 1/2 pint jar, and since Lila passed away, John has become the "Keeper of the Lila beans". Alas, I do not can, and they are not very good freezer beans - but they sure are good fresh.

For the last few years we have had a crop of Scarlet Runner Beans on the back side of the house - their lush foliage keeps the house cool in the afternoon and the bright red flowers are very striking. (They are very good to eat too) This year, John decided to switch to purple pole beans - aren't they pretty? They are also very tasty. We had some of these for dinner tonight. (They turn a dark olive green when they are cooked)

Later this week, I'll have a few words to say about the dynamics of friendship .

Friday, July 14, 2006

Weekend cat blogging - a second try

Shhh - he's sleeping ( & how do I know he's sleeping? - because he's snoring!) Neelix has also been known to lie in this position to watch TV - he particularly likes Mariner's games and "Walker, Texas Ranger"...

Everyone have a happy, laid back weekend! T.

What's in YOUR wallet?

A major credit card company asks this question on their TV commercials on a regular basis. Have you looked lately?

I had to change purses after my surgery, because the one I regularly use weighed too much (7# is too much?) Anyhow, my temporary purse doesn't have room for my wallet, so I had to move the "important" stuff from the wallet into the temporary purse. Ok, so I suppose I really don't need to carry the pictures of my cat Jaxom (died in 1995) or my Grandma Billie (died in 1991), but I might need that AARP card (never can tell when you're going to get a discount... & I definately need that $7.25 lunch discount card for the Black Angus...)

Costco card, Yup - "What do Unitarian Universalists believe?" - maybe - might get stuck in an elevator with someone and need an interesting topic of conversation...

Don't want to forget that spare car key - although it seems like when I've locked myself out of the car, it's because I decide I don't want to carry ANYthing and throw the whole shootin' match back into the car - including my purse, with the spare key (do you know how embarassing it is, when you work at a locksmith store, to have to call in and ask someone to come open your car?!)

Driver's licence and credit cards, of course - and then tucked away in the far reaches is a little note that I copied out of a book one day, in 1993, right after John & I got together - It's from "Wind, Sand and Stars" by Antione de Saint Exupery - the person who wrote "The Little Prince"

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together, in the same direction."

That's a nice thought, huh?

Busy day tomorrow - payday - up to my ears in alligators - and a Building Industry Assocn. Membership dinner tomorrow night at the mansion at the Loomis Trail Golf Course - hmm - maybe I'll take my camera - it's a pretty cool looking place. John's not going - he says he has no interest in sitting around for the evening listening to a bunch of Republicans - well I don't either, but they aren't ALL R's and even some of the R's are nice people - PLUS we get our "ROII" (Return on Industrial Insurance - a BIA program that rewards you if your workers don't have any accidents) checks if we go tomorrow night - otherwise we have to wait until next week. It's money for the company I work for, but it gives me pleasure to bring it back & we use it to pay for our annual picnic/BBQ in September. *you can have a pretty great party with $2-3 Grand - However, compared to some companies - we get small potatoes back - one of the cement companies is getting a check for $98,000.00 - oooh-la-la - - - what I could do with that in our coffers! Plus - Filet Mignon & Halibut for dinner - and I don't have to pay for it. Yum!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Here's what's blooming this week in John's garden







AND AMISH PIE PUMPKINS - GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO WITH ALL THOSE PUMPKINS! (seein' as how we still have about 25 pkgs. of pumpkin in the freezer from last year - holy cats!)

Sunday, July 09, 2006


My first "outing" on my own after my surgery was to the Spindrifters spinners guild meeting. They started talking about doing a Sheep-to-Shawl during the Skagit Highland Games, (which happened this weekend) and did anyone have a fleece that they could donate - hmmm, I thought.......1. We have LOTS of fleeces
2. What a better way to get our fleece in the hands of lots of people, and
3. What better fleece for a Sheep-to-Shawl for a Scottish Highland Games than a Shetland Sheep fleece?

This is Susie - John picked her fleece from last fall (the one she is wearing in this picture, as a matter of fact) and the guild VP came out and picked it up and washed it & dried it and here's what happened today:
First the washed & dried fleece is "picked" by pulling out misc. hay & other "stuff" that doesn't belong - picking is tedious work and probably took about as much time as anything

Then the wool is carded or combed. These ladies are using a drum carder which is a heck of a lot easier than doing it by hand, that 's for sure. What you can't see (because it is moving) is the little teeth on the round barrel - they "brush" the wool all in the same direction and you end up with wonderful fluffy little bats of wool called roving.

I stole this line from my friend Nancy K. - she has a wonderful blog called "A Shepherds Voice" ( with wonderful stories and pictures of her spotted sheep. Anyhow - People got a big kick out of my sign.

Anyhow back to the wool's journey - LET THE SPINNING BEGIN!

And, as you can see, there were a lot of spinners spinning!

& the balls of yarn went down the line to the weaver...

Who is weaving a lovely triangle shawl - Everyone who took part in the process gets a chance at winning it - now, that would be cool. She wasn't going to be able to finish it today, but hopefully the finished product will be at the next meeting so I can get a picture of it for you.

Here is one corner of the shawl. John & I were very excited to see such a beautiful thing made out of some of our yarn. It was a fun day!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Weekend cat blogging...

This is Sinda - looks pretty good for 16 doesn't she?

There is a blog I enjoy reading called Farmgirl Fare ( She always has great pictures of her cats on the weekend, with links to other blogs that feature cats, too - she calls it "Weekend Cat Blogging" and I thought I'd join in, with some of my favorite pictures of our two kitties - Sinda and Mr. Neelix.

I love these pictures of Neelix - he is such a sweet cat - he waits by the gate almost every night for us to come home, and if John comes home and, Neelix has completed his "Welcoming" duties with him, he will go back out to the gate and wait for me to come home too. Better'n a dog.

And here is Ms. Sinda, daintly taking a drink out of the pond - if you'll notice, her little feet are planted firmly on the top layer of the waterfall - when she gets done drinking she wanders around complaining because her feet are wet. Go figure... Anyhow, here's my contribution to "Weekend Cat Blogging" Maybe next week we'll do "Weekend Sheep Blogging" Ha!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

And memories of BIG Rocks

Today on the farm - Gwendolyn is staking a claim - "This is MY Bowl!",

Cimarron gets more handsome by the day!

And the baby swallows are out of the nest! Well not quite out - but at least on the edge...

My sister Merrill sends me the best stuff in the mail - she always sends me my friend Greg's articles from the Seattle Times-PI Sunday magazine - "Taste" and here and there she sends other things she thinks I might be interested in. Last week it was an article from the Wenatchee Daily World "GO!Magazine" called "A Town Stuck in Time" It was an article about Mansfield, the little town where I went to school and lived (in close proximity - we were 8 miles west of town) the first 18 years of my life. It was a funny and honest and sweet article and since it listed the reporter's email address, I emailed him, thanking him for the article - he wrote back - saying that he had enjoyed the people so much that he'd been back up three times since - Well, one email led to the next - I discovered that his daughter is going to Fairhaven College (my alma matter) and that he (Rick) actually worked construction on the college when he was going to Western in the late 60's. Then he said that he was doing another article on the Ice Age Floods Geological Tour & on the "haystack" rocks that dot the countryside up in Douglas county - I emailed back & asked if he had been to Boulder Park (a local geological anomaly). The next thing I knew he was asking if he could quote my sisters and me on some of my memories of playing around those big rocks? - Well this is kind of long - but here is my answer to him:

"Dear Rick:

You wrote:

"Regarding Boulder Park, I'd love to use a few lines in my story about how you and your sisters climbed those rocks as children and possibly about how your family farmed around those boulders. Would you mind? Do you have any other memories of growing up near Boulder Park? "

Hi - sorry to not get back to you sooner - Just getting back to my job has taken alot of my concentration right now -

We never actually were allowed to walk around in Boulder Park, because, that land belonged to another farmer - however we had our own little "boulder park" right in our front yard and up behind our home. Oddly enough, I don't have any "digital" pictures of our place, but in talking with one of my sisters, we agreed that most children growing up in the Mansfield area probably have memories of playing on the rocks (and the boys, as they got older, farming around them)

There was a scab patch (that's what my dad called the patches around the haystack rocks) that had two or three "kitchen sized" rocks (or so it seemed when I was a child - I haven't been out to it in about 25 or 30 years) probably 100 yards or so from our front door - the bigger one could be a pirate ship, or a bus, or sometimes just what it was - a really good climbin' rock - I'm not sure why but we spent a lot of time out on that particular rock - (perhaps it was proximity to the house & bathroom - you boys have all the advantage there...)

But, there also is a butte behind our place about the size of a football stadium - we called it "the cliff" growing up - It is composed of the same haystack rock material pushed into a HUGE dirt hill - probably dropped there when the glaciers melted. Anyhow, there are places up on the top where my dad & his siblings had played (in the 1920's & 30's) - placing rocks into outlines of walls, to form "rooms" - over the years, my sisters & I played in these "rooms" too - If you'd like to put on your best "11 year old" hat (ie - pretend that you are a kid again, not that you're wearing an old hat...ha, ha) you have my invitation to go up to the ranch (please call Doug Tanneberg for access so he doesn't call the sheriff on you) and take a walk up on "the cliff" - you can see clear to Canada from up there - I'm sure I imagined I could see clear to Spokane and far places to the east, - but I was always kind of directionally challenged, - I do believe you can see Mansfield from up there tho.

There is a chair shaped rock up there that we all spent many hours sitting and "contemplating" - it is so quiet up there you can hear the flies buzz. You could watch the jets fly overhead and wonder where they were going - maybe wishing that day, that you were going there too. (Be sure to wear long pants & long sleeved shirt to keep the ticks away) In the spring the top of the cliff is a great place to find wild flowers too - Bird bills, Yellow bells & Baby faces - maybe bluebells if you are lucky enough to stumble on to a patch.

Well, didn't mean to ramble - like I said, I'm not sure that my memories would be any different than any other child growing up on that plateau - but it was a great place to grow up - I'm always glad to see that Mansfield is still doing well enough to keep the school going - that is when a town loses it's heart, when the kids are shipped off to other communities to go to school.

You take care - keep writing those great articles - I'm looking forward to the one on the Missoula floods - If your daughter gets tired of dorm food - have her give me a call - she can come out and visit our little farm here in B'ham (just a small flock of shetland sheep and a couple of chickens, nothing fancy).


Tina Thomsen-Park"

Like I said, oddly enough, I have no digital pictures of the area where I grew up, but here's my sister Merrill in the kitchen of our little house up at "the Ranch" Like I said, I have no digital pictures of the area - so I can't share them with you - I'm hoping we'll make it over there in the fall.