Sunday, May 31, 2009

Looking back Sunday

May 31, 2006

This beautiful peony was a gift from our friend Diane H. when I returned home from Seattle after my cancer surgery in May 2006 - three years ago! It seems like another place and another time.

We were so enthralled with this blossom that she graciously gave us a start of the plant. It has lived in a pot in the greenhouse for the past two years - last fall The Shepherd aka The Landscaper planted it by the corner of the house. It will bloom in a few days. I can't wait.

The rest of the peonies should be out soon too. One is an heirloom plant that I brought with me from my house in town when we moved out here. It smells like old fashioned roses and has 5-6 inch fuchsia colored blossoms.

I baked up 7 dozen cookies tonight for our church garage sale next week - they will have coffee & cookies for sale (health dept. OK'd) I'll freeze them until Thursday & take them to a friend who will be going up to Blaine for the sale -

Speaking of the sale, I've always wished I could find a nice keyboard for The Shepherd to putz around on - we don't really have room anyplace for a real piano, but I have occasionally looked at keyboards at Costco, etc., but the price ($400-800 for the ones I have seen) generally makes me decide we REALLY don't need one that bad. WELL, today, one of the fellows from church comes in after coffee hour with a CASIO CTK 591 keyboard, with the stand and the books! that he got last year at a garage sale for $20 - Does it work? I asked... Yeah, it works fine, he said, he just decided that he didn't have time or the inclination that he thought he'd have to learn how to play the piano. Turned it on - we touched a few keys - not too bad, I thought, and called The Shepherd aka The Minister of Music over to look at it. It does some pretty cool things - transposes, you can tune it up or down a little to play in tune with another instrument, it has 50 songs already programmed in - (we could have our own karaoke party, ha, ha, ha)

It wasn't exactly love at first sight, but I could tell by the look on his face, that if we took it home, that he would indeed play with it. So before anyone else had a chance to even know it was there, I pulled the checkbook out of my purse and wrote a check for $50 to the church. The lady in charge of the garage sale was delighted, I just looked on line and they are still for sale from anywhere from $150 (with the stand) to $200. I think we got a fine deal.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The "Six Things" meme -

I got tagged by Vicki at The Virginia Purl with the latest meme- I am supposed to list six unimportant things that make me happy and then tag six people. I hate having to choose people so, on the honor system, six of my readers have to do this meme (don’t forget to let me know – see #4 below)

1. Last month when all of the Pink cherry trees were in bloom – they line a street on my way to work and when they begin to lose their petals it looks like pink snow everywhere!
2. Lying in bed on a Saturday morning and listening to the birds chirping outside, trying to hear more than robins.
3. The fact that the waitress at one of our Friday night date restaurants remembers us and greets us like old friends.
4. Having someone who is a new reader leave a comment on my blog.
4.1 Having someone who is an old reader leave a comment on my blog
5. Chocolate Orange jellies from Trader Joes.
6. I’m still astounded when after plying yarn on my spinning wheel it looks like “real” yarn and crochets up nice too.

On another topic - I really love three day weekends and this one, I did absolutely nothin' - well, I stayed in bed a bunch to try to beat this darn cold I came down with, and I finished up two "romance novels" - and spun up some Targhee top that I want to use to make a baby sweater with. Now that I'm getting used to it, it is fun to spin - very springy/spongy feeling - and I am plying two different colorways - (the result of buying fiber without a clear purpose then when you go back to get some more, it's gone...) I think they match very well though - I'll have pictures soon. Seein' as how it is Wednesday now, I guess I'd better hit the sack. This week is going fast enough as it is - I still have the newsletter to finish AND payroll. Ick.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day -

John & I did the service yesterday at church. It was "loosely" called an Odyssey of UU music (as seen through the past hymnals that we had available.)

My part was to provide the Prelude, the kids story (in song), provide accompaniment for several of the hymns and provide a short overview of church music in general in less than 10 minutes. Actually, it turned out pretty good, everyone loved the kids song I did (off Cindy Mangsen's Cat Songs album). And my "short overview" went well - I actually learned a few things myself. The Prelude had me stumped though - - I was going to try and learn a new song off of one of the Jim Scott CD's that I bought when he was here in March - but it just wasn't working - Then I had a flash of inspiration - since it was Memorial Day weekend, I would sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" - written in 1961 by Julia Ward Howe, a Unitarian woman, and a hymn from the earliest hymnal that we were exploring.

The tune to this song was written around 1855 and was popular with the words "Caanan's Happy Shore" as a campfire song, then used as a walking song for the troups during the Civil War, as "John Brown's Body". After attending a review of the troups in Washington DC, a friend of Mrs. Howe's suggested that she write new words for this song. According to legend, she went to bed like normal that evening, and awoke at dawn with the words to the song in her mind. She scrambled out of bed, found a writing instrument and scribbled the words down on paper as quickly as she could "lest she fall asleep again and forget them". Now that's inspiration!

The song was published in 1862 in the Atlantic Monthly and quickly became popular. It has been widely used in politics and society, movies and TV, and has been recorded by everyone from Judy Garland to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Today we honor all the men & women who have fought and are fighting today on foreign shores to protect the freedoms that we hold dear. I'd like to mention my friend Emily's son who is in Iraq in the military. Come home safely Jared.

This is not the full text of the song, which has six verses - these are the three that I like best.


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! His day is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! While God is marching on.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You've got to have friends.......

Or so Bette Midler says -

A long time a go in a land far away - well, really, it was the spring of 1976, right here in Bellingham - but that seems like such a long time ago -( many of my co-workers hadn't even been born yet, for pete's sake...) anyhow, I digress -

My 3rd "Real Job" out of college was as an operator at an answering service. (first paying RJ was lunch prep at a local restaurant - second was lifeguard at the local YWCA - you can't say I didn't use my college education - all those swimming classes finally came in handy) - It was a fun job - if you like to talk on the phone that is (The Shepherd would NEVER make it at an answering service). We had the old style switchboard "cord boards" (you can buy this one on E-Bay - bids start at $999)
they were very efficient - you could even patch calls thru to someone - an early version of call transfer, I guess...

Sometimes when you work someplace, you make friends - some you keep for a few months after you leave (I left there to go on to my 4th RJ - working for a plumber - who was one of the customers of the answering service - what can I say, he liked how I answered his phone), if you are lucky, some you keep for a few years -

These two ladies have been my true enduring friends for about 33 years now! Oh sure, we don't get together as often as we used to - but, we try to make sure we get together on birthdays and a few "important" holidays. Earlier this month, it was Diane's birthday - so we made plans for dinner - Patti's turn to choose - and she chose IHOP - and as things happen, her birthday was also our old boss's birthday. We had just sat down and were perusing the menus when one of us said "Oh look, isn't that Ginny?" (our old boss) - Yes walking down the sidewalk towards the door of the restaurant was our boss from the answering service - - she had called Diane's home to wish her "Happy Birthday" and was told that she was "out to dinner with some friends" -
Putting two & two together, Ginny called Patti's home, and Patti's husband said the same thing - but he graciously told her where we were - so she hopped in her car and joined us! (here she is, in the pink shirt)

Well, we talked and talked and talked - they all talked about their children and grandchildren - I showed pictures of Sinda and our new lambs for this spring -

I've made some great friends here in the "blogosphere" - and some might even make it to the thirty year mark - but by then the three of us will have been friends for over 60 years - Whew - that would be splendid!

"Oh, You got to have some Friends
Something about friends, Just right friends
Friends, friends, friends"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Night Date

Friday night is our "Date Night" - My sisters know it is pointless to call because we won't be home - my girlfriends know that I'm not available on Friday's for a "girls night out" -

We go out to dinner - Panda Palace for Chinese (although we've been trying out a new place in Ferndale that is almost as good but has MUCH EASIER parking) - El Nopal for Mexican, Billy McHales for burgers and steaks - and here's a picture of one of our favorite spots - The Hilltop - used to be an itty bitty breakfast & lunch place by the side of the road, but the road got wider and the restaurant had to go - so they built back off the road - a really nice new place - homestyle food - they are open for dinner now - and they do a bit of catering - The Shepherd can order liver there (blecht) and I don't have to cook it - they make a mean Ruben sandwich and do a great job on burgers, steaks and taco salads -

We have dinner and go over plans for the weekend and plan our menu for the next week - putting together the rest of the grocery list that we started at home.

Then we go to Haggen's and get groceries for the week. For fourteen years we shopped at another local grocery chain (that shall remain nameless) - but I just got fed up with the c**p that they had for produce and when they changed their house brands to some cheap off brand stuff, I decided to do a little cost comparison - (They also started to carry the type of bread that The Shcpherd likes) I had just assumed that they were more expensive than this other chain because their quality is so much higher - but you know what - as long as I keep to my list - which almost always has the same things on it - and keep out of their marvelous deli and specialty items - our grocery bill has been running the same or maybe even a little less. And their produce is just the BEST. They have 30 some stores in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen & Top Foods names.

The other nice thing is that we can go into the Top Foods in Olympia or Yakima on the way to my sister's or stop at the one in Wenatchee when we go over to the Ranch - and know that we're going to find the same brands and quality that we get at our home store. It takes so little to keep me happy...Ain't life grand.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gretchen's Fiber Frolic

On April 25, we celebrated our anniversary by taking a drive down I-5 to Monroe to go to the Spring Fiber Frolic at Gretchen's Wool Mill and Quiet Waters Farm.

True to form - there were lambs frolicking in the pastures - coming down to see who was there.

After being used to our itty bitty Shetland lambs - these guys are huge! But very cute!

2009 is the United Nations International Year of Natural Fibers - and one event that is happening is the World's longest scarf competition. Check out the "Keep The Fleece" icon on my sidebar - and read all about it. I really want to put a team together - the event will benefit the Heifer Project - (you couldn't find a more worthy beneficiary)

There were about 8 or 10 people spinning and many looking on - there was much talk about which wheel was best - and much buzz about our friend Doug's litttle pocket wheel.

Sometimes I think I'd like a new wheel - at least one that was easier to carry around than my Ashford Standard.

And the most exciting thing of the day for me was getting to meet Meg Gregory from The Black Sheep Creamery. What a lovely and sweet woman. And if you get a chance to try their soft cheeses, don't pass it up. They are delish.

A friend of Gretchen's was there with this interesting great wheel - it was like having a wheel and a drop spindle mixed into one.

I also want to let you know that I restrained myself and did NOT buy any fiber - but there was lots to look at.

A good time was had by all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day is not really one of my favorite "holidays" - it reminds me of what I don't have.

This picture of my mom was taken when she was in her early 40's - a small piece cropped out of a family picture. (I have lots of others, but none digitalized - maybe someday I'll buy one of those transfer machines - not tops on my list of things to spend money on at this point though.)

She died February 10, 1978 when she was 58 from cancer. My dad died three months later in May 1978 from cancer.

I see how conflicted my friends are about their aging & dying parents and I think - "Hmm - Been there, done that, got the T-shirt."

We had some wonderful Mom Stories at church today - Some funny, some poignant. But, talk is cheap = If you haven't called your Mom today to tell her "Happy Mother's Day" - get on the stick - do it - someday you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A visit from Dr. Amber

Dr. Amber came to visit last week. The Shepherd & I walked out to greet her. I was very polite, (even thought I was a little tired of being on a lead for a while while we waited for her to get here). She thought I was very handsome!

Everyone got shots and had their hooves and eyes and tails checked. The Shepherd was pleased and said that he thought she was "very thorough" and she had such nice things to say about the girls.

Dr. Amber thought my little boys were very cute too. But I heard a rumor that she gave one of them a "hoo-hooectomy" - that could explain why Galloway was walking a little stiff-legged after she left...

Don't look so horrified girls - you know your turn is coming.

It only hurts for a second.

She's gone now, can we go back outside?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pretty in Pink

I just love this time of the year - flowering cherries, plums, almonds, crab apples - they all have PINK blossoms - I especially like this tree in our back yard.

There are many of them in town along the streets and after the hard rain and winds that we have had for the last few days, there will be pink petals all over the place - looking like pink snow drifts.

Years ago when this tree was younger, there was a finch that would sit on the branches and pick off the flower buds one by one. I imagined that he was taking home a bouquet to his wife.

These are wild bleeding hearts - I don't think my domestic plant is blooming yet. The blossoms look like dancing ladies one way or ladies in their bloomers if you turn them upside down.

This adorable little lady was in the Easter basket that my Secret Pal from church dropped off at my office the Friday before Easter. There was a Lily of the Valley in bloom and lots of really good chocolate in the basket too. A Dor A Ble !!! Thank you Secret Pal!

This is the most perfect dogwood blossom. Actually the what we think of as pink petals are actually "bracts" and similar to the poinsettia, the flowers are the tightly closed part in the center, which will open up in a few days.

This lovely pink blossom is on our star magnolia is just a blush of pink. The pinks are rare and hard to find - but really pretty.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Going (not to far) back in time -

Yup, its back to March (just before I hurt my back) and more music - - -

A year ago when The Shepherd went to our church’s district meeting, he brought home a new song book, "The Earth & Spirit Songbook". Compiled and edited by musician
/composer Jim Scott, (who is also a Unitarian) this book is a collection of over 100 old and new songs by many well known modern day songwriters. Unlike other “sing-along” books, this one includes all piano accompaniments and chord symbols for guitar. Scott also makes it very clear that if any of the songs from the songbook were used, that you needed to send payment to the author/songwriter.

One of the songs in the book is the song “Somos el Barco”, which The Shepherd aka The Minister of Music wanted to use for one of our church services. So, as the “secretary to the Minister of Music” I set about to contact Jim to find out about what we needed to do. And while I was at it, I mentioned that we had enjoyed his concert the last time he was in Bellingham. And, while I was at it, “Oh, by the way, if he ever was out in the area again (he now lives in Massachusetts) would he consider doing a concert at a little church like ours?”

To make a long story short, he sent me the name of the author of the song, a suggested acceptable donation for its use and, yes, he had heard a lot about our little church and yes, he would be interested in doing a concert for us – unfortunately the timing wasn’t right – going into the summer when our church services are on hiatus – oh, well, maybe another time.

So, a couple of months ago, when I got an email from him – he was going to be out in Washington and were we still interested in doing that concert? I was excited! I talked with our minister, everyone on the church board and (after a promise that I would underwrite the concert if we didn’t sell enough tickets), the concert was scheduled for March 20, as a benefit for the Blaine Family Service Center – a local organization that our church supports.

Well, Holy Cow, I had forgotten what a lot of work it is to promote a concert, and with all the bad weather we had in January & February, and then the problems with Moni and the lambs – Yikes – the concert was only three weeks away and we hadn't sold a ticket! But, many folks seem to plan "last minute" these days and thankfully, everything worked out OK – I think there would have been a few more of our members at the concert, however it was the same day as the memorial service for a long time member of the church, and people just couldn’t do both functions. However, we not only sold enough tickets to make about $150 for the Family Service Center, but we totally exceeded Jim’s expectations about the concert – (Yeah!)

I have really been enjoying the three CD’s that I bought from him. Jim’s warm and inviting voice is very much like James Taylor and makes you want to curl up on the sofa with a “blankey” and a nice cup of blueberry tea (the kind made with Grand Marnier and Amaretto if you please). His music ranges, as the old saying goes, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Scott is probably best known for the song “Common Ground”, but he is an astonishing musician and song writer. He will often take a bunch of kids and a few ideas that they come up with and write a song about something totally off the wall that makes you tap your toes and you will be whistling it for days.

Here are some quotes the media has said about Jim Scott -

“Jim Scott sees his guitar as an instrument, all right. But he views it as an instrument to build bridges between people. His performances are "celebrations of the common humanity of all cultures - our connectionswith each other and the earth," as he puts it.”

“The performer's work on songs such as "Common Ground" and the "Missa Gaia/Earth Mass" with the illustrious Paul Winter Consort (1977 – 1984) pushed him into the national spotlight and he has since collaborated with top jazz, classical and folks artists, plus appearing often now with concert choirs.”

A review of his ALBUM, "SAILING WITH THE MOON" said: "The Rainforest Song" contains not only one of the catchiest melodies on the album, but masterful counterpoint work which seems to create a sonic rain forest with dewy vocal lines bursting, then fading into the main melody. The Braided Rug," a cut about a rug made from old clothes and the memories they spark, has a twisting melancholy to it."

Paul Winter has said that his music "sings of the life spirit."

Pete Seeger called him "some kind of magician."

Mr. Scott is a gifted singer/songwriter whose music blends jazz, folk, Latin, Caribbean, and other influences.

"The folk music tradition is the voice of the people," Scott concludes. "That's what I like to think I'm representing."

Jim tours quite a bit – especially in his native New England – you should keep any eye on your local music events and if he comes to your town, make sure you go – you won’t be disappointed.