Saturday, June 30, 2007

Two Jewels

The Countdown is over! We stopped at Donna & Tom's farm in Bow and picked Jewel on our way home from Yakima. Doesn't she have a pretty face?

We stuffed her little butt in a dog crate and headed up the road. She was none too happy, and now she is in a big pasture with her new sister Luna, and neither one of them are happy - we are talking big time wailing and gnashing of teeth here folks.

(An unsuspecting Luna eating dinner)

The other jewel is this strawberry rhubarb pie I made last week while I was on vacation. I found a recipe on the Land'o Lakes web site -and changed it to our liking - (I have been trying to use 1/2 Splenda & 1/2 sugar in my baking recipes), and of course, how could anything on that web site not be good - everything is made with butter!


Preparation time: 40 min Baking time: 50 min
Yield: 8 servings

Crust Ingredients: (OR, use your favorite crust -Pillsbury & I get to be pretty good friends sometimes)
1 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup cold butter
1/8 teaspoon salt 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup sugar & 1/2 cup Splenda) If the strawberries aren't very sweet add another 1/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sliced 1/2-inch fresh rhubarb
2 cups sliced strawberries

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine 1 cup flour and salt in large bowl; cut in 1/3 cup butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water with fork just until flour is moistened. Shape into ball; flatten slightly. Roll out ball of dough on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters. Place dough into 9-inch pie pan; unfold, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim crust to 1/2 inch from edge of pan. Crimp or flute edge. Set aside.

Mix chopped strawberries with the rhubarb; Add the rest of the filling ingredients toss until well coated. Let sit for a few minutes to get the juices mixed while you make your crumb topping.

Combine 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup sugar in medium bowl; cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Now spoon your filling into your prepared crust and sprinkle the crumbs over rhubarb/strawberry mixture. You can kind of press it down if you want to - makes the crust a little "firmer". Cover edge of crust with 2-inch strip aluminum foil. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling bubbles around edges. Remove aluminum foil during last 10 minutes, if desired. If you have made this with 1/2 Splenda you should store it in the refrigerator (that is if there is any left to store)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

On a sad note-

My brother-in -law passed away this morning.
Rest in Peace, James.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Oh Joy!

UPDATE on Kathy - I just talked to Michelle from Boulderneigh and she had received an email from Ralph (Mr. Kathy, so to speak) - Kathy's surgery went speedily and when she woke up in recovery, she could tell it was successful at lessening the pain in her leg. The PT will be in this evening to get her standing and she should be walking tomorrow. Michelle will have more details on her blog.

Kathy is at Flagstaff Medical Center - if you'd like to email her some good wishes - here is the link to their website: . Her full name is Kathryn Lefevre. I know she'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thinking Good Thoughts

We are sending good, healing thoughts to our friend Kathy of Sheep Thrills Farm. She will be having back surgery tomorrow in Flagstaff, AZ. Kathy we wish your surgeon the best surgery of his career! And that you will be up and pain free VERY SOON!
Stop by her blog and leave her an encouraging note (NO stories about your Aunt Ethel's horrible surgery!)
This big bouquet of flowers is just for you Kat!

Three Beautiful Things

One of the people I nominated when I won the Thinking Blogger Award was Clare at Three Beautiful Things.

It is an inspiration to me that every day she records (at least) three things that give her pleasure. It seems, any more in "modern" society, with a half dozen ways to get our news, bad or good, that the simple pleasures get lost in the fray. So, that is why, I am going to start my own Three Beautiful Thing Tuesday.

My Three Beautiful Things for today are:

  • My sisters - who are just my very best friends - they all work very hard at their jobs and are truly "Stand Strong Women" ;

  • The calm, still, coolness of our kiwi arbor ;

  • An egg salad sandwich made from eggs laid by our own chickens. A little mayo, some dijon mustard and some pepper. (oh and the eggs have to be grated, not smashed) Yum.

So, there they are, my first Three Beautiful Things. I hope you can go out and find Three Beautiful Things in your own lives today.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summer vacation

I am on vacation - the best kind, where you just get to putter around the house. I had two days last week and I am off tomorrow & Tuesday as well.

Thursday, the FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, I bought two flats of strawberries and put 10 quarts of them in the freezer for next winter.

I love summer!

I spent a little time finding the beautiful things in our garden.

And a little time snuggling with the kitties.

Checked out the Mexican Feather Grass

And spent a little time out with the sheepers.

The end

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Death & Dying, Grief & Grieving

“It makes a difference in one's day, life, to witness a death of any kind, even the death of a small bird. Any death, even of a bird only held for 30 minutes, can be symbolic of many deaths past and future - and one should stop, pay homage, and then rejoice at all the life still surrounding. But always, stop, shed a tear, treat it as a gift, pay homage.”

How timely that I would read this on Katherine’s Apifera Farm Blog when I have been thinking the past few weeks about death & dying, grief and grieving. It was like she was giving me a little push – “Go ahead, write what you have been thinking”.

To tell you the truth, I generally try to refrain from getting too “deep” on my blog – sometimes a picture can say a thousand words, so to speak. Some people write daily essays that seem to flow from their keyboards like water – I have to carefully craft each sentence (my 8th grade English teacher coming back to haunt me, I guess). But, this topic has been rattling around in my head for a while now - with questions, comments, opinions, so, here goes. (And if you were looking for something light and frothy today, you may want to just jump over to Cute Overload - that’s where I go when I need a lighter subject)

I grew up on a wheat farm in Douglas county in North Central Washington The only “livestock” we had were my grandma’s chickens and an assorted bunch of barn cats. Grandma sold eggs to the local grocery store and when the old girls stopped laying eggs, they became stewin’ hens – and yes, chickens do run around after they’ve had their heads cut off.

It’s a grizzly sight to be sure. In her book “On Death and Dying” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross says “We cannot afford every child the learning experience of a simple life on a farm with its closeness to nature, the experience of birth and death in the natural surrounding of the child”. After you've watched a hen being slaughtered, defeathered and the gory “all” that goes into turning it from a farmyard animal into chicken and dumplings - there is no mistaking that as an experience…and you definitely learn where your food comes from.

I have lived my whole life loving cats. As a child, although our cats were theoretically “barn cats” and they supposedly weren’t allowed in the house – the kittens were often tucked under a shirt and smuggled in so they could be dressed in baby doll clothes and pushed around in the little baby buggy. Why they stood for it, I’ll never know, but it is an endearing memory. The other memory that haunts me was the litter of kittens that were born when my dad was out of town on business. They were horribly misformed. I was probably 10 or 11 at the time – my mom said I would need to drown them. (remember, this was 1963, she was ill, and we were a LONG way from a vet) I won’t go on any more about it, but like I said – it is a memory that haunts me that I had to take those little lives.

I have been lucky that most of my cats that I have had as an adult have lived over 10 or more years. When they are your companions for that long, it leaves such a huge hole in your heart when they die. A blogging friend, Toni just lost her cat of 16 years – The outpouring of support and sympathy that she received from the blogging world was enormous and heartwarming. That same day, another friend had to put her dog down. She got similar support from her “cyber pals”. If you have read my blog for a while, you know we have sheep and chickens here on our little farm. We have lost lambs for one reason or another and I know that most of the wethers that we have sold over the years have gone for lamb chops. I have had to resign myself to knowing that they had the best life we could give them while they were living here on our farm - shelter, water & food and lots of love – what more could you want if you were a sheep?

I’ll always remember a conversation I had with a co-worker several years ago when another co-worker, a single fellow, was having a hard time because he’d lost his “dog friend” of many years. The guy said “What’s the big deal, it was just a dog?” Just a dog? Nope, I’m sorry, my friend, our pets are our confidants, they make us laugh, they wash away our tears with their rough sandpaper tongues, they are our four legged "fur children" – and when a friend’s pet dies, it reminds us all too well that these critters are only on loan to us – we grieve for our friend’s loss, but I think we also secretly grieve for the potential and future loss of our own pet or even our spouse or our parents.

My Mom & Dad both smoked - lots - If my sisters and I all live to a ripe old age without getting lung cancer from second hand smoke, it will be nothing short of a miracle. My dad was a farmer and my mom was a housewife. Like everyone those days, they both smoked, but then there is my Hanford Downwind theory. Between 1944 and 1960 Hanford Nuclear Reservation released all kinds of radionuclide particles into the atmosphere. They drifted up the Columbia river and blanketed themselves over the farmers and the housewives who lived in the area. They (the Hanford people) said they were doing it for science – Well, in the late 1970’s there were a lot of deaths in our community from cancer, including my parents in 1978. Hmm- science indeed. I’ll bet those scientists didn’t bring their families up to Lake Chelan after they let out those clouds of radioactive dust – do ya think?

So now, I am 55. Most of my close friends are similar age – and suddenly their parents have begun to fail or pass away. “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt”, my sisters and I say. From what I can tell, the deaths of one’s parents have a way of either bringing siblings closer together or tearing a family apart. I’m really glad that it brought us closer together.

Which brings up the other death that I am dealing with right now - Losing a spouse – Not mine, of course, but my sister Merrill, whose husband James appears to be loosing his battle with cancer. To tell you the truth, I have never “prayed” on a regular basis – I have meditated, and I have done other “spiritual things” that might equate – but these days, I try to pause a few minutes each day – to pray for strength and courage for my sister. Sometimes during the day, and often after we speak in the evenings, "my eyes will leak" (to borrow a phrase I've learned from my friends in the cat blogosphere - think about it - it makes sense). I scared the heck out of my poor DH the other night because I simply could not contain my grief after a phone call with my sister. I cried and cried (well actually, I wailed and sobbed). I know it puzzles him – this connection between me and my sisters because he is an only – and that the grief that tore through me was for my sister, not necessarily for myself.

So what would happen if we all came stamped with an expiration date? Would some of us fight to last longer like sweet cream that is still ahead of it’s shelf life, or would we take off early like that bag of “Fresh Express” salad that turned brown and slimy days before it’s pull date.

Would it change the way we look at death? Would it change the way we look at life? As a Unitarian Universalist, I personally do not worry about death and salvation – for what loving God would condemn anyone to hell for eternity? Instead, my view is that everyone will be reconciled with God eventually. (But then, that is a whole ‘nother essay – it’ll have to wait for later)

In the week that I’ve been working on this post, more than 25 American soldiers have died in the Middle East. Every day, I go out and get into an automobile to drive to work. Less than 100 years ago people felt sure that the auto was going to be the death of us all (now, it’s only if the other driver is talking on their cell phone!) Have I answered any of my own questions about D&D, G&G, or have I just generated new ones? I guess I’ll have to wait and see. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Great Read

"Whitethorn Woods" by Maeve Binchy

I really like Maeve Binchy. Her characters are always so engaging and her vignette style of crafting her stories always leaves me wanting to know more about the people that she has intertwined in her tales.

"When a new highway threatens to bypass the town of Rossmore and cut through Whitethorn Woods, everyone has a passionate opinion about whether the town will benefit or suffer"

As the story opens, young Father Flynn is the first character that we meet. Although he is trying to stay neutral about the issue at hand, the location of a local "holy place" - St. Anne's well - is smack dab in the middle of the controversial project. It has him questioning the relevance of his church in today's secular society when people would be so quick to turn to this "holy shrine of dubious origin" asking the mother of the Virgin Mary to interceed in any variety of issues.

And people have been coming to the well from all over the world for generations - so we meet some of them - some who never get to the well and some, like sweet Neddy Nolan, who sees the well as a place that must be protected at all costs.

So, as always, Ms. Binchey provides an entertaining look at modern day Irish society - it's a great book to curl up with a cup of tea and a little plate of "biscuits" - enjoy.

(I got this book at Costco. I'm sure it is available at any bookstore or at your favorite web-bookseller.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The little alien's sisters -

Since I teased you all with the picture of the little alpaca in yesterday's post, I thought I'd post the rest of the pictures I took on Saturday at Al's birthday party.

"Pick me, pick me!" , we said -

The alpacas spent most of the party out in the far corner of the pasture, but were glad to come in when they heard the feed bucket being rattled. Isn't the brown & white one splendid looking?

They were pretty social, but clearly not used to the kind of noise that the group was making.

Doesn't this look like a great place to be an aplaca?

Yeah, she didn't care much for this party business. I think I may have a great greeting card picture on my hands, don't you?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Two handsome dudes -

The handsome dude on the left is our neighbor Al.
The handsome dude on the right is the love of my life
They were both born in 1947 - Al will be 60 on Monday,
John will be 60 in November.

They're HOW OLD?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The "Outing"

It's about 180 miles (one way) to Chehalis, WA, and then about another 20 to where Kim from Mt. Niche Farms lives, and, where we were headed last Saturday in pouring down rain, pulling the trailer through Seattle traffic, to pick up our new ewe, Loreena. (Whew, that's almost one of those sentences that could win the "Worst Sentence of the Year" award!) Anyhow, after stopping at Country Cousins in Chehalis to have lunch with my sister, we headed on down to Adna to check out the new little beauty we were going to add to our flock.

She wasn't really keen on going anywhere, but they got her in the trailer, and off we went.

"Help, I've been sheepnapped!"

John had the front pasture all ready for her, and we moved Pearl in with her so she could have a buddy while she got to meet the rest of the flock through the fence.

"Who's that?"

She and Pearl are getting along really well - and there hasn't been too much "bashing" of fence going on - he will probably put them all together today - now that she has been on the farm for a week, she kind of smells like one of them - hopefully the introduction will go smoothly.

Here she is!

I'll let you know!

UPDATE: Well, it's been about 4 or 5 hours and they are still chasing her around a little, but not as bad as when he first put her in. Life on the farm, it can be brutal.

AND - Ta Da - The Japanese Iris have started to bloom!

This is an "un-named" variety that we go a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

(almost) Wordless (almost) Wednesday


These pictures were taken in June of 2005. That fall, John divided all his iris and last year we had very few blooms. They are full of buds this year and soon they will be off in a riot of color - but I just couldn't resist giving you a little preview.


Salmon Koi

Snowy Hills
I can hardly wait!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Kind thoughts and purrs are needed

UPDATE - Suzanne made the trip to the Rainbow Bridge this morning. We wish her godspeed on her trip as she goes to join all of our pets who have gone before us.

Our friend Suzanne of Under the Bed is not doing too well. As our new friends in the land of cat blogging say, "Our eyes are leaking"

Suzanne just celebrated her 16th birthday and has been with her mamma Toni ever since she was a very tiny kitten. Toni, we know you have some hard decisions to make in the next few days. Our hearts and purrayers are with you and Suz.
Love, Tina and all the critters here on the farm.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I said I had a surprise for you...

Introducing Mt. Niche Loreena
(Actually her name is Mt. Niche 472, but we get to give her a NEW name!
Her mom is Mt. Niche Salina & her dad is
We are driving to Chehalis tomorrow (about 200 miles one way)
to pick her up from Kim Kerley. (I'll probably sleep most of the way.)
Her Mom is a sister to Mt. Niche Lacey who lives with Kathy and Ralph in Flagstaff AZ
She is also a half sister (same Dad) to Loretta & Collin who are Lacey's
lambs from last year.
So, Kathy, if we can't be neighbors in life (yet, hint, hint) , we can
at least have the same bloodlines in our flock. (BIG SMILE)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Music, music, everywhere!

We have been really lucky lately.

First off, we have this wonderful old historic theater in Bellingham, called The Mt. Baker Theater . It originally opened in 1927 and has been refurbished and spiffed up and is a great place for concerts and plays. It seats about 1500 people. There is a large dome that sits above the main theater floor - that is ornately decorated (in fact Christine Lavin once said that she now knew what it was like to be inside a Faberge egg.)

Over the years, we have seen these folks at the Mt. Baker - Joan Baez, George Winston, David Lanz, Ladysmith Black Mambaza, Chinese acrobats, Kodo drummers, Guitar Masters, to name a few.

In April, we saw The Arlo Guthrie Legacy Tour (we saw him a couple of years ago too) - he is a fantastic performer, and you can't get any better than Woody's music, can you?

Last month we were thrilled to get to see Loreena Mckennit . She is probably John's most favorite performer. It was a fantastic concert.

A year or so ago, I started listening to an "on line" radio station called Whisperings Solo Piano Radio. It is generally nice background music to listen to at work or while I'm doing stuff on the internet at home. One day, I noticed that they were going to have a concert here in Bellingham. Imagine that! At the Fire House Performing Arts Center - a recently renovated fire station that, ironically, was built arount the same time as the Mt. Baker Theater. BUT, it only holds about 75 or 80 people - and who would be performing? An old acquaintance from Bellingham, Karen FitzGerald, two performers I knew nothing about, Joe Yamada who used to live in Bellingham but now lives in the Seattle area and Scott Davis who lives in the Bay area. But the huge draw for me was probably my favorite piano artist, David Lanz. You only have to listen to his Grammy winning music to know why.

To make a long story short, the concert totally exceeded any and all expectations we had. Each person's style of playing was similar but different - their stories of how they got to where they were, were interesting and funny. But mostly the intimacy of the concert was what touched us - it was like being in someone's home and having this wonderful piano player sit down and start playing your most favorite music. If I knew how, I'd imbed mp3's of their music on this post so you could hear them - as it is, I linked to all their web sites, so you could at least see and hear all the music that we got to hear over the past few months.

Well, this was a LOT more wordy than I expected it to be - I hope you got to go look at some of the great peace globes from yesterday. Everyone have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dona Nobis Pacem - Blog Blast for Peace

(Globe designed by Christine Epiphany Sanctuary)

What if, just for one day
mothers didn't need to worry about their sons
and daughters?
Children didn't need to worry
about their mom or dad coming home from war?

What if, just for one day
the shepherds could walk their fields, without
worry of hidden mines -
the soldiers could walk the streets without
fear of being ambushed -

What if, just for one day
God said
"Turn your swords into plowshares
and your spears into pruning hooks and
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more"

What if just for one day,
Dona Nobis Pacem
June 6, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

'Tis a Mystery....

I don't know if you can see the munch marks, but someone is munching on Scooter's horns!

We are pretty sure it is his sister Luna, - but it leaves you with a "What the heck?" feeling.

So we put some "bitter apple" spray (that didn't keep the cats from scratching on the landscaping posts like it was supposed to) on his horns yesterday afternoon. While I was out in the barn, I used the opportunity to take some pictures of the different colors of our Shetland rainbow to show our friend Leigh . She does some AMAZING things with fiber and I am constantly in awe of her work - she also inspires me - (maybe that wool I plied last year doesn't look as bad as I thought...) but anyhow, here are some of the pictures of our little flock as of yesterday.

his is a close up of Scooter's fleece. You can really see how quickly a Shetland lamb changes color - he was brown just about the first week then he started to turn. If you can get this picture to enlarge, you will see how yummy his fleece is now. Beautiful colors of fawn with a little bit of dark in - it will be a very pretty heather wool.

Gwendolyn has grown up so much since we got her last July -
John says she still stakes claim to her feed bowl, and you better not question her about it.

Scooter, Regina & Luna having a little dinner break - I think eventually they will both be lighter than their mom.

I have more pictures, but blogger is being kind of sluggy and I have lots to do - I can't wait to tell you about the concert we went to last night and I have more sheep pics too.

If you want more information on Shetland sheep colors visit the North American Shetland Sheep Association (NASSA) web site.

And don't forget about the Blog Blast for Peace on June 6th!