Sunday, November 30, 2014

Where are my boots?

S N O W ! !

When sorting through things I might or might not need on our travels, boots were put into the "off with their head" category.  Who would need boots in Mexico, California or Florida?  But with new snow to play in, I needed boots.  After a moment of panic, thinking my boots had already gone to the thrift store, Ed located them.   Ok, boots will stay in storage.  After all, once we begin traveling, we will be back for Thanksgiving or Christmas and it just might snow.

The day became all about sun, snow, play, happiness, laughing, silly stuff, delight...

Snow down the neck

Brad, Yessi, Ed, Fran & Benton

Yessi & Brad

Ed, Fran & Benton


"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. 
 You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, 
and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?"

~JB Priestley

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shark Reef

For a classic Lopez Island walk,  despite a looming storm, we headed to Shark Reef, a nature preserve and walking paradise.   The sky was dynamic with clouds crazily blowing every which way.  The water, mean-looking, swirled wildly with the changing tides.  Looking down from the rocky cliffs we could see the seals frolicking in the surf.  We would have surely died in this wild sea yet these seals were buoyant in their seal world.  A little seal head would appear, like a beach ball floating on the surface, peer at us, dive, just to pop up nearby, to peer at us again.  And masses of birds.   There were large  flocks of migrating ducks; hundreds of squawking gulls; lone blue heron sentries; and the occasional eagle giving us an evil eye.   One little duck, a Bufflehead perhaps, was playing the seal game.   Floating quietly on wild waves, diving, resurfacing, diving again.


"The sea is emotion incarnate.  It loves, hates, and weeps.  It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles.  No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can't."

~ Christopher Paolini

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Lopez Style

Living on Whidbey Island, I understand the relaxing sigh of getting on the ferry -- that, awwww of leaving the rat race of the other side.  When boarding the ferry departing for Lopez Island, the sigh is longer and deeper.  The crossing is lengthier putting more time and more peace between the island and the mainland.   Lopez Island has fewer cars, people, houses, lights.  More open space, quiet.  There are friendly little roads with hi there waves from the other drivers.

If I were to relocate to another island it would no doubt be Lopez Island, if not an even more remote island.  An island more like Whidbey Island was 30 years ago when we first moved here.  Lopez is still wonderfully rural, with the charming Lopez Village offering services, social encounters and cultural events to fulfill needs and desires, even if in small doses.  We enjoyed expresso at Isabel's, shopped for organic groceries at Blossom, lunch at the Vortex and hanging out in the library.

Fran at Vortex Restaurat -- we couldn't resist a color-coordinated photo.

Lopez Library

We went to Lopez for an early Thanksgiving celebration with friends.   We learned long ago not to commute between two islands on a holiday, so we simply changed the date.  Now we usually have two Thanksgivings which is perfect as Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

We parked Thistle in the drive of friends for three nights and at the Greene Partners studio in the village, Walmart-style, a couple of other nights.  One evening we invited our hosts, Joe and Nancy, to dinner in Thistle, serving a cabbage soup, with blue cheese and hard crusted bread.  For dessert we finished off with sliced pears and chocolate.  Eating Thistle-style is definitely not a hardship.

Greene Partners RV parking

A lovely five days, with rain, but lovely nevertheless...


"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gadget Bluster

Blam!  Both Benton and I were enjoying a  beautiful, peaceful walk down Edgecliff Drive this morning when we were startled by a strange loud noise.  Next we were being showered by little white feathers.  I thought, good grief bird, watch where you're going as there was a telephone pole with lots of cross bars and equipment overhead.  Then the true story unfolded a few paces further along.  A hawk, with his prey in his talons, sat by the edge of the road.

Continuing our walk I stopped to take these photos to prove the beautiful walk part of my story.  No way was I quick enough to prove the hawk part.



Now here's my true confession.  This posting is practice.  Photos and blog posting have been done entirely on my i-phone.  Whoopee!  I did it.

"It ain't bragging if you can do it."       
~ Dizzy Dean

Saturday, November 15, 2014


America's public lands are this country's shining bright jewels.  The access we have to these scenic treasures makes  me almost giddy.  Great canyons, deserts, rivers, lakes, oceans, and mountains are our playgrounds as well as our cathedrals.  These lands are our physical and mental health clubs.  Not only does the grandeur of their geography unfold but the story of time is told.  Flora, fauna, stone and water explode cinema-like before us.

Following is a list of the campgrounds we stayed at this summer.  Despite some problems associated with pressing government financial constraints, we were still awed.  California's financial woes were the most evident but, sadly, services are being cut and fees going up in all state parks as well as in our national parks.  I'm pondering ways to give a helping hand.  Something more profound than pulling ivy or sending a check to Sierra Club, although those are greatly needed.  Ideas, anyone?

Dalles National Forest Campground, Greenwater, WA

Icewater Creek National Forest Campground, Cle Elum, WA

Ft. Casey State Park, Whidbey Island, WA

Seal Rock National Forest Campground, Hood Canal, WA

Nehalen State Park, Nehalen, OR

South Beach State Park, Newport, OR

Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, OR

Albee State Park, Humboldt Redwoods, CA

Clear Lake State Park, CA

Schoolhouse Campground,  Bullard's Bar, CA

Mt. Diablo State Park,  CA

Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino, CA

Burlington State Park, Humboldt Redwoods, CA

Cape Blanco Point State Park, OR

Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, Florence, OR

Beverly Beach State Park,  Otter Rock, OR

Cape Lookout State Park, Three Capes Scenic Route, OR


"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike." 

John Muir

Friday, November 14, 2014

Eyes Wide Open

When I’m asked if I will be sorry we sold our home and moved onto the Thistle for a life of vagabonding I can now say, no.   I needed to take my time with this answer, even buying Thistle before the answer was certain.  But now I believe Ed and I have made a good decision about our future and I’m ready to drive down the road.    As Hunter Thompson says, “Buy the ticket take the ride.”

If in six months or six years  we tire of our Thistle life, we can change it.  But, even then, returning to what we had isn’t an option. We have closed doors to allow us to open new doors.  I’m pretty sure I won’t want to play that ol’country western song backwards and "get my house back, get my car back."

So here we go from this life…

to this life…

And from this home...

To this home..

And from this garden…

To this garden…

We go with our eyes wide open.


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

~ Seneca

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Living Small. Dreaming big.

We built our Grace Lane home for our living pleasure, but also as an example of both building green and living small.  By illustration we hoped to do our part in changing the American home ideal from too big to just right.    We have happily experienced living in 860 square feet for the last several years.

Large garden with 860 square foot home in three separate buildings.

Then we decided to sell our home to purchase Thistle and live aboard permanently. 

Thistle with covered patio and a world to rove.  

This  plan meant we would reduce our living space from 860 square feet  to 110 square feet.  A huge reduction in space but we were mostly confident we could do it.  After all, we’d been going from small home to smaller home for years.  Eliminating our valued possessions had become easier with each downsizing.  We learned what was required for today’s needs, not worrying about special event needs.  We learned that a thrift store is perfect  for spillover storage.  In our town the thrift store, Good Cheer, supports our community’s food bank so buying and returning items helps our community as well as helping us stay bare boned.  This buy and sell model gives us access to the extra platter or bowl  for an overflow event but keeps us free of clutter.

Good Cheer Thrift Store, Langley, WA

What we didn’t expect in our most recent downsize was our reaction when we returned home three weeks ago from our  month of travel in Thistle.  At dinner, an evening or two after our return, I looked at Ed and said, “This house feels too big.  I’m rattling around.” He looked at me and laughed, saying, “I’ve been thinking the same thing.”   Our small home is too big?  What?  Although our small home lives big, it's not big.  Although the design is brilliant providing double or triple use of every space, it's still small.  But, for us, it's now also too big.

With our van-living doubts ousted, any skepticism has been replaced with the certainty that we weren’t crazy when we decided to live full time in Thistle.  We are looking forward to the day when our  too-big home is sold and we are on the road permanently, living small and dreaming  big.


"Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations."

~Ryunosuke Satoro

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Time for Home

We made a short journey to Oak Harbor today, needing to take Thistle to our mechanic, Jason at Kaiser's Garage, to get a new alternator installed.  Although our adventures take us great distances, beautiful Whidbey Island, our home, can't be beat for splendor! drama! beauty!  

Ebey's Prairie looking southwest

Ebey's Prairie looking north

Strait of Juan de Fuca

Astonishing weather at Ebey's 


"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home."

~ Edith Sitwell

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hot Chocolate Sunset

Diseases can be grim things.  People can suffer from a multitude of horrible symptoms and conditions without a clue as to where the malady came from.  My mother was one of these sufferers.  In her late 60's she ended up with what was loosely called palsy.  Her palsy took the form of Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease).  It's progressive.  It's ugly.

As the disease worsened my mom lost more and more body functions, but not her keen interest in the world nor in rooting out fun.   On one of her Whidbey visits we all decided to chase the sunset. We set out from Langley, pulling over to the road's edge whenever we glimpsed a good view, then racing  on to catch the sun setting again and again. We did this all the way up the island when we finally lost the sun entirely behind the Olympics, just south of Oak Harbor.

The lesson, "take the bull by the horns" and live life.  My mom died of this horrible disease, but never lost her love of sunsets.   She definitely taught us to live the sunset-of-the-moment.

Recently Ed and I were setting up camp on the Oregon Coast just as the sun was beginning to set.  We looked at one another, knowingly.  We put on the kettle. 

With cups of hot chocolate in hand, we rushed out of the trees to the open bluff looking out over the Pacific Ocean, to catch the show  -- a lovely constrained sort of show but our world glowed.   Hot chocolate and the spontaneity of the moment turned our cheeks pink, or was it the sunset? 


"For me optimism is two lovers walking into the sunset arm in arm.  Or maybe into the sunrise -- whatever appeals to you."

~ Krzysztof Kieslowski