Friday, August 31, 2007

In Rememberance -

A Light in Silence & Remembrance

This has been a sad week for the Cat Blogosphere - Our kitty friends Oscar and Anastasia (plus several others who we're not as well acquained with) have made the trip to the Rainbow Bridge. Sheep friends have lost dear ones too - Tammy at Fairlight Farms lost a special ewe called June. And our family is very sad over the passing of our first cousin, Lorainne, so it is not just our animal friends who we are missing.

As I've said before animals (including loved ones of any species) play such a big part in our lives when they go on that final journey, it leaves such a big hole in our hearts. If you are one who has lost someone/somecat/somesheep recently, may the memories you have help to heal that hole and lessen your pain.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

3 B T Tuesday (that's Three Beautiful Things...)

Ok well, it's not quite Tuesday while I'm writing this, but it will be soon, and the Shepherd & I will be getting up several times during the night to watch the lunar eclipse . The times that they occur when we have a CLEAR SKY like tonight are so rare, we decided that it would be worth it to miss a little bit of sleep.

Meanwhile, it's Three Beautiful Things Tuesday and today, my topic is Sunday mornings - specifically sleepy, summery Sunday mornings. It is a day when the Shepherd gets up, feeds the screaming meamies (oh, I mean, the sheep), comes in, has a bowl of oatmeal (he's lowering his cholesterol) and then, uncharacteristically, stretches out on the couch and takes a nap for a couple of hours. We don't have church during the summer, so I say "Good for him!" And I can sleep in a little longer and not feel guilty because he is up working and I'm not (well, OK, I don't feel REAL guilty, just a little bit guilty...)

So here are my three beautiful things about Sunday mornings:

  • Waking up with out the alarm; my summer Sunday alarm is the birds calling outside our window; (and maybe a hungry cat asking for her breakfast)

  • Sneaking into the kitchen (so as not to wake the sleeping tiger), feeding the hungry cat so SHE won't wake the sleeping tiger, snagging the Funny Papers and climbing back into my still warm bed to see what's happening with all my "imaginary" friends; maybe snoozing a little more;

  • What's that I smell - The Shepherd has woken up and has heated up that slice of ham we got to share for breakfast. Oh, yum, maybe I'll get out of bed after all. (I am very much a lazy bones on Sunday morning, as is somebody else, can you tell???)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Too good not to share...

Long before I met the Shepherd, I worked as a bookkeeper/office manager for a small company that sold telephones in the fledgling telecommunications field. I worked for my boss for 10 years and he became one of my very best friends. (A lot of companies in that field have come and gone, but after 28 years, he's still in business and is a leader in the community.)

Twenty years ago, I sang at my best friend's wedding.

Today, he and his lovely wife celebrated their 20th anniversary with a heck of a good party! The weather didn't quite cooperate at the start of the party, but by the end of the evening it was a quintesential PNW summer evening.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, they had the band Pearl Django play for their party. The best way to describe the group is this quote from - "The group's inception was as a trio in Tacoma, Washington in 1994. The focus of Pearl Django was, and is, to incorporate the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli with American swing music. They quickly expanded to a quintet, adding a violinist and a third guitarist. An interview on NPR's All Things Considered in 2001 brought the group to national attention" Let me tell you - these guys rock. They do magical things with great old tunes and they are so very easy on the ears. They played three sets and we could have easily listened to them for three more. Great musicians and very friendly guys - (Want to hear what they sound like? Click on their name and their web site will pop up - go to the "CD Catalog and you can hear audio clips of some of their songs)

Did I mention there was plenty of food?

They had bought a catered dinner for 50 at a fundraiser auction - they make BBQ ribs (the meat just fell off the bones - yum) BBQ Salmon, potato salad, coleslaw, a Greek pasta salad, corn on the cob, garlic bread, baked beans AND pie & ice cream for desert - and as you can see, the clouds went away and the sun finally came out.

Lots of old friends were there - Curtis's friend Tom came all the way from Michigan!

Happy Anniversary kids - here's to another 20 (+) more great years!

Yup, the sun finally came out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Working on the next 100

Post #201 ~ a milestone if you count base 10's I guess - (I have to tell you that I was pretty weak on that part of my math education.)

If you've wondered where I've been, (like my sister who called to see if I was OK because I hadn't been posting) ...I have been burning the midnight oil this week with my church newsletter. I have been the editor for two years now - it kind of caught me by surprise this year - (we take the summer off- quite civilized, I think)

I'm so not ready for summer to be over.

So, what's coming up? I have a really good recipe for shepherd's pie made with ground turkey (no lamb dishes around here - ick); and I'm currently reading a mystery novel - a who-dunnit where the flock of sheep, led by a very smart ewe called "Miss Maple" ferrit out who did in their shepherd. I'll be sure to report on that!

Plus, our friends Curtis & Felicity are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a big party on Saturday - I think it will bear telling about - they are having a live band - Pearl Django (Here's a clip from their bio - "Celebrating more than 13 years in existence Pearl Django continues to be one of America’s most respected and busiest Hot Club style groups. Their music reaches out across the divides of taste to a wide variety of audiences. The band's fervent followers include Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli fans, guitar enthusiasts (and guitarists!), lovers of string music, including bluegrass devotees, who relish nimble, clean, intricate picking, "world music" fans drawn to French and Gypsy accents, plus jazz buffs and aficionados of the new swing music. Transcending simple categorization, Pearl Django packs in enthusiastic audiences at dancehalls and nightclubs, at folk music festivals and jazz festivals alike". Voted favorite area jazz band 2003,by Seattle Weekly readers! ) I have been listening to the MP3's from their web site while I'm writing - fun music - not your every day soft rock, that's for sure! I'm looking forward to hearing more of their music.

Well, that's the skinny on what's happening - I'm grateful that the weather has been temperate (OK, so, it's been darn wonderful, but in deference to my southwest and midwest friends who are having such horribly hot days and flooding rains, that's all I'm going to say about it, OK? ) The cats need to go to the V-E-T for their annual check-up and we need to find a house sitter for when we go on vacation. There's lot's to do, and I'm not going to get it done sitting here - it's time to hit the sack!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Three Beautiful Things about the Fair

If you read my posts last week, you read about our day at the Skagit County Fair. It is a small fair - the fairgrounds are practically right in downtown Mt. Vernon. But they had everything that's necessary for a fair - the carnival - the rides, the food booths with their enticing smells - the steer that is as big as out kitchen... (Sorry to say, we missed Valentine's Performing Pigs ) but I took my spinning wheel and created quite a stir of my own in the sheep barn.

I grew up going to the North Central Washington Fair in Waterville. There were certain things you "had to do" at the fair - one was go to the Lions Club barn for the best hot beef sandwich you'd ever had - the floor was covered in sawdust, giving it an "outdoorsy" smell. The whole family would go together, and daddy would always find a cousin or two to sit with (who were those people, anyhow?) As I got older, I participated in the 4-H events - baking pies, cookies and preparing a whole meal for a panel of judges. My ace in the hole was beef stroganoff (still a favorite dish to prepare to this day). I also did sewing and clothing activities - even went to "State Fair" in Puyallup one year! I learned a lot from my 4-H activities, as well as the many friends I made.

So my TBT's about the fair are:

  • The corn dog that The Shepherd brought me for lunch - the crust was crispy and he put lots of yellow mustard on it!

  • Watching the faces of the children as they came through the barn with their moms and dads - sneaking a little pet on a sheep here and there -
  • The happy memories that the sights, sounds and smells brought to mind.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


So, what'chu lookin' at?

And, a year ago in the garden - even the trees were thinking about peace.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Paws, hooves & tails

Since we couldn't go to the fair this year, we had our own Farmlympics. In the Paws cat-agory

is Sinda, in the black & white

and Neelix in the Ginger.

Scooter's hooves are so shiny, I wonder if he snuck into the beauty college and got his toes all spiffed up. These nice black flats belong to Gwendolyn

And in our last cat-agory and the tail end of the post, we have Neelix's beautiful striped tail, "showin' a little 'tude"

And two of our lovely ladies from out in the pasture, showing off their perfectly fluke shaped tails.

Thank you for attending the Marietta Farmlympics. We hope you had an enjoyable time. Please remember to vote for your favorites!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Doin' the Skagit - Part 2

The judge for the sheep show was a young woman named Amy Wolf. She is a handspinner and had obviously done her homework to learn the breed standards of the sheep she was judging. She gave a commentary about each breed with good reasons for her placements. Dave and Franna from EverRanch in Auburn started the show with their yearling rams.

We had a nice contingent of little fellows.

Sally Tibbets (in the flowered shirt on the right) from Sleepy Hollow farm in Granite Falls was the other breeder with sheep at the fair.

Notice the puzzled look on my face? This is where the batteries in my camera decided to take a nose dive - & I had just charged them, too. Donna's step father, Al took most of the rest of the pictures, although I was able to squeeze a couple more pictures out after the camera was turned off for a while - some reporter I make! (Thanks, also, to Franna & Donna for some of my content)

Two other Shetland Sheep breeders stopped by during the fair. Donna & Tom's neighbor, Alta was by on Saturday and our friend Nancy came down on Friday night.

Next were the ewe lambs - Donna & Tom's Amanda and Moni got first & second place.

The Shepherd is on the right in the dark green shirt, helping Donna & Tom show - they had 4 ewe lambs in this class. Moni, the little black lamb that John is leading is very pretty and I think he has his eye on her. She and Scooter would make very pretty babies with fantastic wool (and we might even get a spot or two)

Joyce Thomas, from Thistledown Farm in Edwall, WA helped out by showing Dave & Franna's yearling ewe. Joyce's granddaughter, Brianna also helped out, showing sheep as well. It was great to have Joyce join us - it's about 270 miles from her farm to Mt. Vernon, so it was a huge commitment for her to come. Hopefully next year she'll be back with some of the beautiful moorit sheep that she was telling us about.

In the lamb flock entries, the judge really liked Dave & Franna's triplets - two gulmogets and a katmoget -

Besides having the open judging by Amy, we held our own "NW Shetland Owners" group competition. While all the woolies were lined up outside the pens waiting to go out for the judging, we had our own judging and judged all the Shetlands at the show for Best Tail (Sally's Aggie got first, with D&F's Winter as runner up); Best Horns (T&D's Hemlock with a tie between Sally's Guinness and D&F's Buddy) & Best Fleece (a tie between D&F's Buddy & T&D's Amanda). Prize money, from NASSA & a donation from Eliz. Martin certainly helped to offset everyone's traveling expenses. It was eye opening to get to play "touchey/feeley with so many different styles of fleece (and I'm sure all those little sheepies were ready to say "Would you guys get your paws off our tails" (poor babies).

There were also a number of fleeces entered and having a handspinner as the judge was just the greatest. You could tell that she really liked Shetland wool! Right here, she's commenting to Donna about all her moorit sheep.

Congratulations go out to Dave & Franna for the Best Overall Fleece for a Finn lamb fleece and Reserve Best for one of their Shetland lamb fleeces.

I spent most of the morning demonstrating with my spinning wheel, so I didn't really go out and walk around at all (I'm kind of a "you seen one, you seen 'em all" in the fair department - this fair looks very much like the North Centeral Washington Fair that I spent my "grownin' up years" and my 4-H years going to in Waterville, WA.) - small, homey, a place to meet your friends and have the best corn dog you've eaten in years (mmmm, and the Shepherd put LOTS of mustard on it too) - but of course, no fair would be complete without the biggest steer in the countryside - this big guy's name is Ben and he is over 6 feet tall at the shoulder and is 11 years old. He lives here in Whatcom county. Now, that's a LOT of hamburger...

I think I could easily say that a good time was had by all! Hope to see everyone back next year!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Doin' the Skagit - Part 1

Yesterday, I mentioned that The Shepherd and I were going to visit the Skagit County Fair in Mt. Vernon, WA (about 35 miles south of here)today. In conjunction with the fair our NW Shetland Sheep Owners had our first NW Shetland Sheep show - It was a small but enthusiastic group - three farms showing and I did take my spinning wheel and some fleece to spin with - people were fascinated to see someone spinning (and I might have a lead on a drum carder!)

The Shepherd, with our Shetland friends Donna & Tom check out the judging going on early in the day

While Franna & Dave from EverRanch in Auburn do a little "pre-showring" grooming

Donna's little ewe lamb, Moni, is not happy about this fair thing, not happy at all!

And I filled a bobbin full of yarn, spun while answering a MILLION questions about "Oh look honey, she's weaving"

Ah, no, I'm spinning. (OK, everyone be kind, this is only the fourth bobbin I've ever filled)

"OK, Where are we going now?"

For tomorrow? The show ring beckons - - -

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What, more lilies?

I know I'm behind on stories about the kitties and the sheep - but I just had to show you this lily that (understandably) The Shepherd is very proud of. It is called Boogey Woogey - and is an orienpet like the lilies I showed you a week or so ago - and it is EIGHT FEET TALL (at least - JP is 6' tall and it's what, two feet above his head?) and it's not even staked! I don't know what keeps it standing upright - but I do know that the area where it is planted is fairly secluded so it wouldn't get blown down - and I also know that this area has been heavily mulched with sheep poop.

This is what the flower looks like close up.
I have a stem of this lily with four blossoms on my desk this week. Besides making our office incredibly fragrant, everyone (including myself) has been totally transfixed on it's beauty. If you were going to have a "yellow & white wedding" - this baby is your flower. It's just incredible.
Clicking on any of the photos will "biggify" them so you can see the detail of the colors and the spots. Isn't this one adorable?

We'll be back to our normally scheduled programming soon. The Shepherd and I are going to visit the Skagit County Fair in Mt. Vernon, WA (about 35 miles south of here) The NW Shetland Sheep Owners are having our first NW Shetland Sheep show - (we're not taking sheep - this year, anyhow) , but I am taking my spinning wheel and some fleece to spin with - people are always interested in seeing spinning. It should be fun - don't worry, I'll take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Who Says Justice Doesn't have a Sense of Humor?

Or, who knows what you’ll learn when you are surfin’ the net - -

The Jockey Club is a private organization designated by Kentucky to track and approve names of race horses. (who'd a thought?) Without an approved name, a horse cannot race at a Kentucky track. When horse owner, Garrett Redmond wanted to name 4-year-old horse after "Sally Hemings", Thomas Jefferson's most famous slave and reputed lover – the Jockey Club (rightfully) said, “NO!” Their bylaws forbid horse owners from using names of famous or notorious people without special permission and the club's rules also say that "names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups" won't be approved.

So, following the path of common day actions, Mr. Redmond sued the Jockey Club, saying the denial had deprived him of constitutional rights. (OK, and what constitutional right would that be?)

Judge Alice Batchelder, writing for the three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, said Redmond has other options that may be approved by the Jockey Club, "To be sure, the First Amendment protects horse owners' rights to free speech, and we do not foreclose Mr. Redmond indiscriminately from asserting that right, but the right to free speech is not absolute in all contexts,"

Batchelder went on to write that because the Jockey Club is a private organization with power delegated by the state, it may restrict free speech so long as it doesn't discriminate against a specific viewpoint. (Go Alice!)

She also quoted Shakespeare's "What's in a name?" and cited the band America in rejecting Redmond's appeal. "In short, because he has spent three years insisting he has a constitutional right to name his horse 'Sally Hemings' and that no other name will do, Mr. Redmond now finds himself, like the songster of the 70s, having 'been through the desert on a horse with no name”. However, if he really wants to race or breed this horse in Kentucky, Mr. Redmond will have to come up with a name that complies with the Jockey Club's rules, Batchelder wrote. "A quick look at the Jockey Club's Registry confirms that 'Horse With No Name' is no longer available."
For the full article from Fox Sports Interactive Media, click here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Relaxation, community & a riot (not THAT kind of riot)

Welcome to Three Beautiful Things Tuesday - finding three things that have given me pleasure this past week.

  • Yesterday was "Seafair Sunday" in Seattle and the Lake Washington hydroplane races on TV (including the spectacular Blue Angels!). There was also a car race and a Mariner's game on. The shepherd took it easy and spent a lot of time napping in front of the TV.
  • Kudos to the Lummi Tribe and all the volunteers for the success of the Paddle to Lummi 2007. The thousands of visitors saw the very best that our community had to offer and gave a new generation something to strive for.
  • The nasturciums are just a riot of color - they bid me farewell in the morning and greet me at the end of the day. (click on the picture so you can see all the colors!)

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Visit to The Berry Farm

My oldest sister Wisten & her husband, Glenn, have a berry farm and plant nursery in southwest Washington.

Glenn's mom & dad moved to their farm in 1933. He helped them plant the original blueberry field beside their house in fall 1944/winter 1945; Can you believe that this field is still in production? Including the original field, they now have 25 acres in blueberries.

The season, over-all, extends from 4th July to mid Sept. A max-day's harvest might be 15,000 - 20,000 pounds! They used to harvest it all by "hand" pickers - people from all over the area would come to work for them in the summers, they actually ran a bus from the outlying area to bring pickers to the fields.

Including me - Well, I didn't ride the bus, I got to stay with Wisten & Glenn. It was terribly exciting for a young girl from a wheat farm - my first year must have been when I was about 12 or 13, because Chris (also known as Parker's daddy ) hadn't been born yet.

At that time, they still had a field of raspberries for commercial picking. But my tenure as a berry picker was pretty short - my row of raspberries ripened so fast behind me (ok, so I was pretttttyyy slooooowwwww) that the beginning of the row was ready to pick again before I finished the other end. (I'm sure you get the picture...) So Wisten found "other things" for me to do that summer - I helped around the house, etc. But, I continued to work summers for my sister through out high school and college - by that time, I helped take care of the boys and helped out in the retail shed.

Now days, due to state labor laws kids under the age of 12 are not allowed to pick and, in my opinion, (and this is purely editorial) the general lazyness of the American public (picking berries is hard, hot dusty work - you can make it pay if you work hard, but most people don't want to do that kind of work any more), they have begun to harvest most of their berries by machine, - that's what this contraption on the right is.

They center the row on the machine and the fingers shake the berries off into these tubs.

They actually have been using machines to harvest berries since the late '60's - working on the "belt" was one thing that I wasn't too bad at - how much trouble can you get into standing in one place picking green berries out of blue ones?

At that time the berries processed by machine were for the packing house - mostly frozen, I think -

Now, even their fresh market berries are processed by machine, then packed into the plastic "clam shell" packages that you see in the grocery store. They have "fresh market" business partner in the Seattle area and they sell a lot to customers off the farm. They had customers who would "make a day of it", driving over White's Pass from Yakima to pick up 15 or 20 pounds (or more) of berries - One of the most fun things for me was remembering these customers from year to year - (my true start in customer service!)

It was way too short a visit - less than an hour, because we had to head home - about a 4 hour drive - but "I have been thinking" (which the Shepherd says is a very dangerous thing) ever since that it would be fun to do a blog with JUST blueberry things on it - recipes - what ever I find (and there is a LOT about blueberries to be found) - so TA DA - Announcing my new fledgling blog!! Something Borrowed, Something Blueberry -
The "borrowed" part is that most of the recipes that I will post will be be from other sources - notated, of course - but I'd like to make it a really fun resource for anyone interested in blueberries - the "wonder" fruit - the newest thing I've read is that they help keep you from getting alzheimers disease -

So there you go - hope you enjoyed this brief visit to the farm and into my past - have a great weekend!