Sunday, March 29, 2009


We lost somebody very special this week when my Aunt Opal passed away. She passed on as she lived, with dignity and surrounded by people who loved her.
One of my earliest memories of her is at a family reunion. We were visiting at Grandpa’s farm and her twin daughters woke up from a nap, about 2 years old, and came to find her. Without a pause in her conversation, she just shifted in the rocker and took one warm, snuggly little one on each knee and pulled them in close in that timeless comforting hug-but this time magnified by two. What a lot of love she had to give, and there was always extra to share.
At that same reunion, she was working in the old kitchen at Grandpa’s place, where the drinking water came into the kitchen in a bucket from the nearby well and you ladled it out with a dipper. She had a big old enameled dishpan and was making a huge batch of the best feathery light, delicious cinnamon rolls with the stickiest frosting ever. Heaven!
She and Uncle Ray spent their off time hunting in the mountains of Montana, and we always heard stories of how much she enjoyed those times in the woods. One of her favorite trips, she told about bringing an elk back down the mountain on a toboggan and riding along as it slid downhill. She could cook anything he shot, and deliciously too!
In their later years together, they camped near a beautiful lake, going out to catch their limit of fish in the morning, back to the camper to clean, cut up, fill canning jars with the fish, and process them for later eating, then going back out onto the lake in the afternoon to start over. That fresh clean water salmon was delicious, right out of the jar.
She sewed anything, from sleeping bags to wedding dresses to underwear, and with style, too. In later years, she became an avid quilter, and made and gave away hundreds of quilts. It’s really nice to think of all those quilts that she made out there in homes, bringing warmth and beauty and good memories to all of us who treasure them, and her.
I’m lucky enough to have two, and they’re among my most prized possessions. The first she made specifically for me. It’s huge, big enough for a king sized bed, and she made sure that I knew that this was to be USED, not saved for good. One side was a sedate, cool pastel green floral pattern, and the other, my favorite, is a riot of colors and shapes. Bright vivid reds and all kinds of varied designs. She told me the story of each patch, including the red, white and blue flag patch she made on 9/11 while watching the stories on tv of the disaster. So much life in one place.
The second quilt is a smaller one, that just fits on the bed in our camper, so it goes with us on every trip we make. She made a quilt each year to bring to the family reunion craft exchange and last year in Montana I was lucky enough to be able to snatch up that beauty and bring it home with me.
She has known for a while that her health was failing, and made the decisions she needed to make to face it in her own style. When the end came, she was surrounded by those she loved, all who could make it there, and with church members singing her favorite hymns in the background.

What a woman! What a life. We'll all miss her. I know there’s nothing I can say to ease the pain of her wonderful, caring family, but hope they know that our thoughts are with them, and our love.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's time to send a message! March 28th EarthHour

On March 28th, millions of people around the world
will send a message that it is time for climate
change solutions by the nations of the world,
by turning off their lights at 8:30 p.m. for one hour

This is a lead up to the global Climate Change conference.

The World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour campaign need
you to turn off your lights and also to watch the
new Earth Hour music video at

Our goal is 1,000,000 views by March 28th. Spread
the word. Sign up at

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Miracles, All Around us!

I've always said that I could never move away from this old place in the spring. There are too many miracles happening all around us, every day. I just thought that I should go out and get a few pictures of the greening here and in just a 10 minute walk around this little three acres I saw: a barred owl sitting in a tree who flew silently away when I came too close and tried to get a picture, the snowbells growing under the maple tree, the green chives coming up out in the woods, ready to add to tonight's salad, a deer scrape on the path, where a buck was leaving his scent to attract the his lady love, a pool of water next to the blueberry row that's feeding the future blueberries, and a flock of sandhill cranes overhead, calling their ancient warble as they wing slowly north.

All this on a soft spring early evening when it's warm enough to go outside in short sleeves. What joy is around us. St. Patrick's Day this year was bright and sunny, so I planted 3 kinds of radishes and lettuces, potatoes, edible pod peas and regular peas, onion sets and seeds, carrots, kale, collards and chard, so all that goodness is still hidden underground, just waiting to pop out and feed us so many delicious meals.

What a place we live in. The forsythia are turning yellow as the buds slowly swell and ready for the annual silent firework display in brilliant color.

The big old rhubarb rootstock a friend gave us from his garden is starting to grow already, with the big green leaves just beginning to unfold and reach out into the spring air.

The maple syrup is done and we ended up with 9 one cup bottles this year of the sweet stuff. It's especially good and clear this year, not very dark at all, and with a great clean taste.

And in the greenhouse that Jim's building, another small miracle. We thought we lifted all the bulbs and growing things out of that space and moved them elsewhere, but all through this little space, spears of daffodils, glads, tulips and crocus are pushing up through the hard packed earth and reaching for the sky. I guess we'll just let them grow for now, and move them after they're done. Life will have its way, no matter what we decide! Life is very good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's Spring!

Remember that old saying about April showers? We're getting them early this year. Just as the last of the longstanding, dirty, nasty snow was melting off and leaving us with our annual mudfest, it started raining. Not just a gentle, wash the world clean rain, but a days long deluge of constant ongoing wet stuff that's left our driveway a bottomless pit of quivering mud. We've gotten two cars stuck in it so far that needed a push to get out.

We did have the maple trees tapped for making syrup, and had gathered some sap, but the rest is all watered down and diluted even further than its usual 40 to 1 dilute ratio. Since it's warm and staying warm, the sap stopped flowing and just stayed in the top of the trees. I decided to try to boil down what we have collected on top of the wood stove in shallow pans and have burned up every piece of dry wood around the place and got it mostly evaporated. Now we're finishing it off by electric cooker--it was that or start breaking up the furniture!

So, since the whole place is flooded, Jim decided to try his hand at lawn fishing. Didn't catch much, but at least he got outside for a little bit. I took this picture while hunkered down inside the greenhouse, sheltering from the rain. Jim's much hardier than I am.

Happy Spring everyone!