Wednesday, March 30, 2011


We hear that our house was originally a chicken coop. An old guy, Elvin Brevik, lived on a big piece of land, which he gradually split up and sold in parcels to our neighbors, many of whom have been here for 25 years or more. They remember when there were no trees in our front yard, when there was no "Seaview", a swanky subdivision down the hill, and when our house was home to chickens. Andrew and Becky bought our place from Elvin and transformed it into what it is today. Becky had three boys, one after the other, and Andrew built cabinets professionally and expanded the house and shop.

The realtor praised the custom cabinets in the kitchen and pointed to the stove. "It is completely modern but it looks old fashioned. It cost $6000."

What? Meet Elmira.

A home renovation blog could turn this story into a series of posts with blah before and twinkly after shots. Let's just say that Dave removed sweet Elmira, hacked into the cabinets and installed a stove and ventilation system that he preferred.



And the postscript for our old girl, Elmira?  Craigslist found her a home in Wisconsin and she is now installed in a Log-Crete cabin. Yes, those logs are made of concrete. The stove's new owner told me, "Everything worked out great."

Photos courtesy of

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The Skagit Valley is winter habitat to thousands of snow geese and trumpeter swans. They arrive in the fall and feed in the wetlands and agricultural fields until early spring. Large flocks can be seen from the highway and, on side roads, it is not difficult to get close to the birds.

The numbers are truly spectacular.  During the summer, at the cabin in Alaska, we would see pairs of trumpeter swans, sometimes a dozen or so, and it seemed rare and precious and wild.  They'd fly by, honking, with a backdrop of craggy mountains and glaciers or float on the lake, coupled up, shy and evasive, and one would feel lucky to get a close look. I didn't know that, come winter, thousands of drivers on Interstate 5 would be looking at the very same birds.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ida's Kitchen

Katherine picked out this pattern and selected the yarn.  She is working at a ski area and will be out on the water in Alaska all summer.  There will be plenty of hat weather for her this year.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dike Trail

Between the Skagit River and the sea, there is a lot of water around here that needs to be kept in place.  We don't want salt water in our tulip fields so we have dike districts and miles and miles of dikes. Some of these dikes have fences and no trespassing signs but others are managed as public trails.

It was fun to get out yesterday morning and go for a run on a dike trail.   We saw flocks of green-winged teals, a big old rusty winch in the wetlands and Mt. Rainier in the distance.  It was great to have some sunshine; the cold morning became a warm afternoon. Yay, spring!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Forward Socks

I am not a fan of Daylight Saving Time.  We all know that no daylight is saved; it is merely shifted forward and back. It is hard to believe that this country and most of the world agreed on something as silly as changing our clocks, in unison, twice a year.  Arizona and Hawaii wisely bowed out of the foolishness and they still seem to get their schoolchildren on the bus and the crops harvested.  Whatever. Enjoy the longer evenings. You can always make socks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Drawing Lab

An artist in Mexico, Geninne Zlatkis, has a blog that I have been reading for years. She was recently featured in a book written by another artist/blogger, Carla Sonheim.

The creative exercises in this book are probably familiar to people who have taken art classes. Draw with your non-dominant hand, draw without lifting your pen, draw without looking at your paper. One of the quotes in the introduction is that the lessons make people feel like "being a child again, but you get to do it [draw] as an adult."

This was not the case for me.  I was a scared little kid when it came to art class at school.  Give me a stack of books from the library and I was happy for days but a blank page and a marker with instructions to do whatever I wanted freaked me out every time.  I remember drawing scalloped waves, a sun in the sky and a ship with curling smoke from a stack every. single. time.  I could never think of another subject.

Now the list of things I like to draw starts with A (animals) and ends with Z (zentangles).  There are birds, buildings, cars, doors, faces, flowers, fonts and many other things on my list and I am no longer afraid of a white piece of paper.  Sometimes it is good to grow up and leave your childhood fears behind.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hats for Gary

I found a pattern (Joni) that is easily adaptable to both sexes and all ages. My first two versions of the hat were for a guy who lives in Montana and works on a ship in Alaska. He will always need a warm hat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Big Trees

A year ago, in February, we met some friends out on the coast for some winter camping. The Olympic Rain Forest did its thing and poured buckets on us the first night.  The next day was unseasonably warm and we even saw a few young people out swimming in the waves. The screams made it sound pretty cold. 

We met a man at the campground who recommended a book about big trees called The Wild Trees by Richard Preston.  I remembered reading an article in the New Yorker about him and his interest in climbing trees.  The book proved to be a good read and inspired another trip in search of the largest trees in Washington.  Some are pretty easy to get to and they are BIG.  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

School Colors

Here are some custom gloves for a trumpet player. Next year the M for middle school will have to be changed, but the high school colors are the same. Marching band? Pep band? There is some great music out there. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A House in a Holler

We found our house online.  We limited our search to places with a shop and some land - a reaction to living in a townhouse in a city ringed by mountains.  Some feeling of spaciousness, please!

It is luxurious to have light and elbow room and more sky and sun.  One elegant friend, though, standing there in his Italian loafers, remarked "Oh, this is like a cabin!"  He is a sophisticated fellow.  And another woman said, "Your house is kind of in a holler."

So, no pretensions here.  Our cabin in a holler is a sunny spot in a cloudy climate, warm in the winter, with room around it to grow tomatoes.  Our neighbors are friendly.  There are no barking dogs and we only hear the rooster in the morning when we walk down to get the newspaper.  The Navy jets fly overhead on occasion, making a horrible noise, but someone in the family thinks all airplanes are cool. It's a good spot.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Two More Quincy Hats

Knit a rectangle
Fold it
Seam the ends
Pick up stitches
You are done!

Monday, March 07, 2011


What can I say?  There was a snowstorm.

The town isn't completely paralyzed but there are many around here who lack proper vehicles and tires for winter driving.  The road maintenance has improved in the last two years but many events get canceled and the general approach is to just wait it out.  The snow will melt. 

So I made toys? I never had before so it must have been cabin fever.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

He Plays the Trumpet

Last year, Ray was just a 7th grader when he was asked by his middle school band teacher if he would like to play in the jazz band. The class would meet at the high school at 6:30 am twice a week. Our son is not a musical prodigy; the teacher is just very inclusive and believes in bringing kids along and challenging them to work hard and improve by trying new things.

The local library has been open in some form or fashion for 100 years.  There was weekend fanfare to commemorate the occasion and the high school jazz band played a few tunes.  The band set up in front of a bank of windows and the trumpets lined up on a balcony.  With the strong backlight and bad angles, it wasn't a good set up for parental paparazzi .

Well, how about some audio instead?  Here is a 24 second movie:

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Undergrowth Hat

This was knit up as a prototype, with the thought that the gauge or the length would need to be adjusted. But, the fit is perfect for a woman or a teenage boy so the hat will easily find a home. What needs adjustment is my ability to capture true color with my camera. It is time to go back and read the manual.
Thanks for modeling, Daniel.

A better representation of the color with the flash.

Yarn:  Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport
Pattern: Undergrowth
Needles:  US 4

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


There are rowers in town and they are organized.  They have boats and schedules and a website.  There are established crews and club rules and, happily, there is a welcoming attitude and newcomers are encouraged to participate.

Michele Pope photo
I have joined the club and have been out a few times as a substitute.  The usual set-up is a four person crew with a coxswain (aka a master) who sits in the stern and calls out commands in a friendly way.  At least one of the boats has a rudder; none have sliding seats but the rigging varies a bit.  They are all beautiful classic wooden boats.
Michele Pope photo
We hope for nice days out on the water and scheduled outings are canceled if it is rainy or windy or foggy. Monday morning, I was at the dock at 0700 and five men and five women left together in two boats. It was 34 degrees, calm and cloudy.  It was a short, winter row but it was good to get out there.