Saturday, May 31, 2014


Ken called Tuesday (May 27). An emergency had necessitated the removal of some raspberry canes, he said, and I went to get them. It was great timing. At the farm on Wednesday, I continued to weed the raspberry patch and then I set what looked to be the best of the canes. I didn’t have a lot of room since the patch is coming back better than I anticipated.

It’s been cool here at the farm. Mike lit a fire Wednesday afternoon (May 28) and I baked cookies – just for heat from the oven, of course. Thursday, the day was a little warmer. My laundry dried on the line, but we were cold overnight. So, I fixed the bed with covers and we were too warm last night. That’s spring in the Inland Northwest.

We note that Bess and Nellie seem now to enjoy companionship here at the farm. Often I see them standing shoulder to shoulder at a safe distance watching Mike work. When Mike cut down the beautiful little pine tree that died at the pond, Bess played close by while Nellie kept her distance. But, if Bess is outside, Nellie wants to be out, too, and they play together for hours at the pond.

Here’s a picture of them digging in a dirt mound near the grove where a rodent has taken up residence. I wish the mound weren’t there, so I don’t mind if they take it down.

Yesterday afternoon (Friday, May 30), Mike left for a bike ride to Nezperce, and that means that the dogs and I take a walk. Actually, after playing all morning, the dogs were tired and not too interested in walking, but when I appeared in my visor, Nellie got to her feet and Bess came from the doghouse where she had been napping.

My inner voice spoke: “It’s almost the first of June and time to be watching for snakes.” I can’t be paranoid about the snakes or I’d never leave the house, but it’s good to be watchful.

We walked all the way to the mailbox without seeing anything other than beautiful green fields, spirea in bloom, and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

We were halfway on the return when once again I thought of the warning to be watchful.

In the lane, little Bess went on point. “Aw, Bess, there’s nothing there,” said Nellie, as she turned her back and went to investigate the trees above the road.

Persistent Bess was not to be deterred, but she did eventually give up on whatever had piqued her scent buds.

Lost in thought, I climbed that last pitch into the yard. The dogs had already disappeared into the yard. Suddenly, I was startled by the buzz of a coiled rattlesnake just steps ahead of me -- not close enough to strike, though – and not as close as the picture makes it appear.

The dogs apparently took no notice of the snakes. I think Bess was traveling in the field, and Nellie must have skirted around it. Nevertheless, I was hurrying to find them when I came to a second snake on the other side of the road – this one moving along but ready to coil. I took my cue and left.
I was relieved to see both dogs at the house drinking water as if nothing were amiss. Mike was home within minutes but naturally when we went back to the lane, the rattlesnakes were nowhere to be seen. My dad would have searched for them, hoe in hand. KW

Friday, May 30, 2014


By special request, I'm posting here the pictures of Hallie and Nick's project to reupholster the old dining chairs they purchased. (Several were posted previously.)

Mike holds the plywood while Nick cuts new chair seats.

Hallie and Nick work together to staple the foam and batting into place.

Here's the chair as it appeared originally. You can almost see how dirty the upholstery was. (The picture doesn't do it justice.) AND -- there was no foam padding -- only a layer of batting.

And here's the chair they finished on Saturday -- quite an improvement in both comfort and appearance. KW

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Saturday the weather was better. Mike continued to get the dogs out for exercise. Seattle has dog lovers everywhere, but a strict leash law is enforced, and Hallie and Nick’s yard, though fenced, is not yet gated. The dogs had to be inside or watched.
In these yard pictures, you can see the sliding door that Hallie detests and the pile of old bricks they have collected toward restoration of the back of the house. The cobbled up balcony and stairs have to go.

I was surprised to learn that they have ticks in Seattle. At first I thought the dogs must have brought a few ticks from home, but with every walk, we pulled more ticks out of their fur.

Hallie and Nick treated us to lunch in the “historic and hip little town of Ballard,” which was established as a Scandinavian community. We parked near Swedish Hospital, read about Ballard and its sister city in Sweden in a little park, and toured little art shops. Fun!

Back at the house, Mike discovered Hallie and Nick’s push mower and had a “retro moment” mowing the lawn. I had taken garden gloves and spent a few minutes pulling weeds. I might have done more, but the focus of activity was really the chairs.

At 4:30 Hallie announced that it was time for our walk to the water. It would be a mile and a quarter one way, she said. So, the dogs were leashed and the six of us set out. After taking in the view at a park above the water, we skirted the brow of the hill to a set of stairs that took us down to the beach. Once there, we sat on a bench for a few minutes to take in the sights and sounds of people enjoying a warm day on the water. A booming voice called out, “Dogs are ready,” and I wondered if I could adopt that family.

Well, what goes down must go up, and I set out ahead of my group in order to take my time with that climb. As it was, they insisted on pursuing and passing me and I was the last one to reach the top. But – they didn’t have to wait long. If I lived there, I would climb those stairs most every day.

Somehow by suppertime one chair seat was mostly finished, and I was allowed to sit on it while I ate my lentil chili. It didn’t occur to me that the old upholstery was uncomfortable, but the new bottom was a noticeable improvement.

Saturday night found Nick and Hallie working on the chairs. “Good!” I thought to myself; “they’re taking advantage of their momentum.”

Sunday morning came all too soon, and after breakfast we loaded the car for return to our valley. Fond farewells were said all around – not quite tearful. Nellie doesn’t like good-byes (and neither do I), so we didn’t linger over it. Two and a half hours over I90 -- three hours over country roads – and we were back at the town house by 2:00.

A message from Hallie that afternoon read as follows: “We haven't gotten dressed. We've been working on the chairs and are excited that we're going to have a project 100% complete from start to finish.”

And then on Monday she wrote: “We're now buying screws for the chair supports and then that project is done. That feels amazing! We needed an accomplishment.”

Just what I said on Day 1 -- a little accomplishment amidst bigger projects feels so good. And let’s face it – recovering those chair bottoms does improve the overall appearance of the living/dining area. KW

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


“Was the house what you expected when you drove up?” Hallie asked me.

“Yes,” I said, “except for the proximity of the houses.” She nodded in agreement. The lots are small and the houses set close to one another.

It’s an old house, and I suppose I like it so well because it's the kind of house and neighborhood in which I grew up. The front door opens into the living room, the bathroom serves everyone, the kitchen is small but workable, and the yard offers possibilities. We had different values when those houses were built.

Friday it rained. Imagine that – it rained in Seattle! Mike gave me a card in remembrance of our 39th wedding anniversary, noting that we were celebrating with a road trip. Calculating that her brother Milo is already 36, Hallie wondered how it would feel to have a child turn 40. “It won’t happen before we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary,” I replied.

Rain couldn’t keep us from shopping, we agreed, so we enclosed the dogs in the bathroom downstairs with their brand new dog rug and headed out. Hallie wanted us to see her favorite store, Rejuvenation, which was indeed a treat, especially if you like vintage accoutrements for the home.

Our next stop was Pacific Fabrics, where I was proud of Hallie and Nick for immediately agreeing upon upholstery fabric at $8.99/yd. on the sale table. An associate told them that if they would bring in a pattern for the chair bottoms, staff would cut the foam to size with their special knife/saw. That would be the next step.
Back at the house, we let the dogs out of the bathroom, only to discover that Bess – at least we think it’s Bess -- chewed holes in the brand new pet rug. I’m sure it was retaliation. It’s a great rug, though, and I intend to mend it and then maybe even make one, which I can do at a fraction of the price, I assure you. I just don't know what they used for the batting.

So, after lunch, Mike left for an extensive hike with the dogs and Hallie started on the chairs. The set of six consists of five armless chairs of the same size and one slightly larger captain’s chair. She removed the old upholstery from the captain’s chair and one of the regular chairs so that they would have patterns for the foam. Meanwhile, I talked non-stop, updating her on family happenings.

When we could see the old plywood chair bottoms, Nick decided that new ones were in order. That would make the project more involved, but I agree that anything worth doing is worth doing well. The old plywood was thin and bowed.

Mike and the dogs were still out when we left for Pacific Fabrics, but through the miracle of cell phone technology – and the miracle that he had his phone with him – I was able to communicate our plans to him. He was just as happy to be hiking instead of shopping.

Back at Pacific Fabrics we found a knowledgeable associate who cut the foam and imparted helpful tips for the reupholstering process. We also picked up plywood to make the new chair bottoms.

After supper, we measured the fabric into squares and cut it. Then we played a round of “American Trivia,” the game that survived the winter in the ditch at the farm. “I’m gonna suck at this,” muttered Nick, and indeed, he and I were the losers. Mike won, which is sort of amazing. Of course, Mike enjoys sports, politics, and current events. The wonder is that he remembers that stuff.  

To be continued . . .

[Photos: 1) Hallie and Nick's house is on the left. 2) Hallie and Nick's house is on the right. Many houses in this neighborhood are of similar construction, giving H+N the benefit of considering how others have remodeled. Both of these pictures show how close the houses are. 3) Bess and Nellie on their brand new dog rug. 4) Bess and Nellie in the back yard. 5) Bess sitting on Mike.]

Monday, May 26, 2014


Packing for a trip always reminds me of the old children’s memory game, “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring with me a [name item],” whereupon the list grows longer and longer as items are added and recited in order.

As Mike and I began to pack for our trip to Seattle to visit daughter Hallie and her husband Nick, we started with:
a small mahogany bookcase
five boxes of white dishes
a little mission rocking chair
a storage box filled with miscellaneous items leftover from Hallie’s high school days . . .

. . . and ended with two pure-bred German Shorthair Pointers.

Our trip was calculated to avoid holiday traffic on this Memorial Day weekend. We left Thursday morning at 7:30. Now, travel to anywhere from the Lewis-Clark valley is not like traveling from city to city on the interstate. Our first objective in traveling to Seattle is to get to the interstate, which is achieved by motoring over winding country roads until eventually – three hours later – we come to I90. On the country roads, slow-moving traffic brings challenges. On the interstate, the challenge is traffic – period. But then, you know that.

So, we arrived at our destination, the cute little rundown Tudor, at 1:30 p.m. Nick was there – and Hallie was on her way. The house looked great – all neat with newly waxed floors and the dining table ready to be set for dinner. The tantalizing aroma of a pot roast cooking in the crockpot wafted through the house. We began to unload in reverse order (last first), starting with the dogs and ending with the bookcase.
This was Hallie’s last day with her previous employer. She begins as an MBA Recruiter with Amazon (yay!) on June 2. Also, on June 2, Nick begins as Marketing Studio Manager with Olson Kundig Architects. They are excited for this new phase of employment.

And – it’s totally true that the little Tudor is a project house, but I observed that this neighborhood (Ballard) is old but upward bound and a good place to be. Hallie and Nick’s eyes sparkle when they talk about their house and their plans for it. They’ve already fixed the kitchen so that it’s fresh and workable. Their next project is the main floor bathroom and the front bedroom (their room). Their neighbors live in similar houses in one stage or another of being brought back from the edge. One neighbor remarked that the house is already ten times better since Nick and Hallie moved in. It has new windows and roof, and Nick has replaced exterior boards at the roof line. They are in the process of painting the trim tan.
But – for this weekend, their goal was to reupholster the used dining chairs they bought. Mike thought that in light of other issues the chairs could wait, but as we’ve discussed, sometimes a smaller accomplishment along the way gives one that necessary boost – and for Hallie, that was fixing those chairs. They seemed to think I would know something about reupholstering, but I’ve never done that. Not to be deterred, they found online instructions.

To be continued . . .