The Price of Progress

A field of foxgloves with our house in the background has been the desktop picture on my computer for the last four years.

Foxgloves below the meadow

I was lucky enought to just stumble on this field of flowers by chance. Me and MR had been talking about adding lavender to the hillside, and I went out to find our own, ready-made swath of purple. You can see the flaws in our house—how the underside of the deck is falling to pieces. Drip lines run down the side of the girls’ wing, and bright blue paint outlines the roof.  We had so much to do, but somehow that meadow, filled with flowers, made it seem possible.

Over the years, the house has been painted and the deck repaired. We’ve added the orchard and the MR has mowed back the weeds and the brambles in the meadow. Somehow, in all that progress, our flowers were lost.

House & Orchard

I can still find a few scattered foxgloves here and there. A single stalk near the driveway made me go in search of more.

Foxglove

Later this summer, we’ll be enjoying apples and plums, and the currants are beginning to turn lovely shades of red. While I love the harvest and the progress it symbolizes, a part of me will always miss the wild beauty of the meadow.

We planted lavender on the steep hill below the well room, and Russian sage near the new retaining wall. They’re both doing well, and someday, we’ll have civilized blooms taking over our tangle of weeds.

Lavender on the Hill

But we’ll always have room for a few foxgloves.

What’s your favorite wild flower? Any bitter-sweet progress reports?

 

 

As Society Changes…

That old song by the Buggles, Video Killed the Radio Star, has been running through my head lately. I’ve been thinking about how our society has changed and the price it’s paid for those changes.

It was the local yarn shop tour last week, and I visited 15 of the 28 shops on the list. I spent hours in the car, some with friends and some on my own, following the nav trying to find these little gems tucked away in strip malls, neighborhoods, and industrial parks.

You might be saying, now Kim, you can just go online and have any yarn you want delivered. While for the most part, that’s true, but then I’d be missing out on so much. I know the local shop I work for, Quintessential Knits, offers yarns handspun especially for us in our own little town. The owner features local dyers and spinners from Portland to Bellingham. These specialty yarns don’t have a huge online presence.

But it’s not just fancy yarns, it’s the comradery and fellowship of knitters, crocheters, and spinners—all artists in their own right. On the tour, the shops share their creativity with original patterns. Some were over-the-top and amazing, and some were simple and accessible.

While I can google an unknown term or stitch pattern and click on a youtube video that will explain everything to me. The lady on the video won’t compliment me on my yarn choice, laugh at my jokes, or ask about my project. So while it’s very helpful, it’s not very human.

One of the customers stopping by our shop last week had driven four hours, straight from work, to start on the tour. When she told me all this, I mentioned the large shop in her home town. She responded that shop was really big, but it had no soul. These little yarn shops have character, charm, and soul in spades.

Yarn & Pins

One of the shops on the tour featured yarn made in Seattle with colorways named for women scientists. I picked up Madame Curie in vibrant red, because we can all use a little color in our lives.

I made my last stop across from a fabric store I’ve shopped at for years. It’s been the source of curtains, Christmas pj’s, Halloween costumes, and countless home dec projects. As I made my way to the front of the store to pick up some pillow forms, I saw a huge banner:  Going out of Business. While I was happy for the deep discount on some outdoor fabric, I was sad to think of it closing. I couldn’t help but think of all the creativity this store has fostered over the years.

Halloween 04

Sweet Miss and Baby Girl on Halloween 2004. Some girls want to be princesses; mine wanted to be a vampire and the Bride of Frankenstein. Hancock Fabrics made their wishes come true with a little help from Mom, of course.

Sure you can order tons of beautiful fabric online in the comfort of your own home, but you don’t get to see the true color and the hand of the fabric on a monitor. In the name of savings and convenience, we’re losing some of our individuality.

I hope these little mom and pop shops won’t become a thing of the past.

Do you have a favorite, locally-owned place you like to shop at?

 

 

Filling in the Holes

A couple weeks ago, I went to the plant sale up at the high school. I always supported the FFA club when the girls were members and wanted to do my part now that they’ve moved on.

I was out of town the first week of the sale, so I ended up at the tail end with two-for-one bargains. I bought broccoli, onions, and a cucumber plant for the garden and was determined to fill in some of the holes in the upper flower beds. I came home with the back of the car full of plants after a nice chat with the FFA advisor.

I know last year, we hired landscapers to put in a lawn and deck out the beds with ornamental rocks, trees, and flowers. Unfortunately, some of the plants didn’t make it over the winter, and some were annuals so they’d have to be replaced, and some proved to be too tasty of a treat for the local wildlife. So when I was shopping, I looked for hairy stems and fuzzy leaves to try to keep the deer away.

I’d noticed that heuchera was doing well, so I picked up a few in a lovely apricot-orange in sharp contrast to the deep purply-black of the plants from last year. These perrenials should fill in and add color for years to come.

C Heuchera

To replace last years New Guinea impatiens, which added mounds of beautiful color that the deer totally ate up, I bought geraniums and begonias. They’re still annuals, but I’m hoping they’re not as palatable and will thrive over the summer.

C Flower Bed

I like being able to change things up a little each year. I went for tone-on-tone this time with more pink and pink, but I could buy white to brighten things up or an exotic black to bring some depth, or purple to blend with the chives and sage. If you look carefully, you’ll see we also added some sweet alyssum. I love how they spread and make a carpet of tiny flowers.

If you look closely, you’ll see the new deck furniture the MR bought. I have plans for some throw pillows to add a little color, and I need to get out the outdoor carpet, if only the sunshine would return.

I also bought some hens and chicks for the planting area under the portico. It’s just so dry that we’ve struggled to find anything that will do well in that spot. We had hens and chicks under the living room window at my parents’ house in Renton. It was one of the first plants I ever learned the name of, so I picked up a few partly for nostalgia and partly because succulents can survive in all sorts of difficult growing conditions.

What are you planting in your flowerbeds? Any deer-resistant favorites?

A Tale of Two Trips: Part 2 Cancun

After a relaxing week in Maui, we were home for a week (enough time to do laundry) and then flew off to Cancun. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, Hawaii is beautiful, but it’s always fun to see new places, and while we’ve been to Mexico many times, this was our first trip to Cancun.

It was beautiful. We’re used to the smaller cities of the Babja Peninsula, but Cancun is huge in comparison. The water was warm and swimmable. And as one of our tour guides said, it’s 85-degrees every day with a low of 75—I could learn to live with that.

The MR was going for a conference, and my job was just to keep him company. We spent the first few days as tourists in the hotel district at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach. It was easy walking distance to restaurants and attractions and simply a beautiful resort.

ToT2 Beach

I was amazed as we checked in by how precisely they trimmed the plants hanging over their balconies, and I have countless photos of the amazing flower arrangements. Simply by positioning the bouquets at an angle, clustered in tall vases makes such an impact.

ToT2 Foliage Collage

I was happy to note that the tropical blooms from Hawaii had followed us to Mexico. And don’t you love the impact of an uplight on an everyday palm? Maybe we need some for our front door planters, or we could use a few inside. After Mexico gained its freedom from Spain it was occupied by France. The cast iron lanterns reminded me of New Orleans and that French unfluence.

While we did have a day at the pool and wandering the markets, the rest were go, go, go with a trip to Chichen Itza—truly amazing and really hot. One of our cab drivers mentioned that you can take a taxi to the pyramid and then tour with an archeologist. That might have been nicer than what turned out to be a 12-hour bus, cenote, and small town, pyramid, and artist trour. After a long day of culture, we were off again on a snorkel trip to the Isla Mujeres. The boat trip over was quite rough, but after we dropped off over half the people on land and went to our snorkeling spot, I did jump in as our guide was shouting Vamanos! I was glad to have the required life preserver around my waist for 45 minutes of rough swimming/snorkeling.

ToT2 Excursion Collage

We did meet children who were quite proud of their Mayan heritage. After our adventures, I was glad for the short walk to the restaurants. This nighttime shot was the view from dinner our last evening in the hotel zone.

Next, we were off to the MR’s conference at the all-inclusive Nuzac at the other end of Cancun near the airport. It was a very zen experience compared to the over-the-top flowers and opulence of the last resort. The front entry was almost monastic in feel.

ToT2 Entry

Did I mention that they drive you around in golf carts and that a former president of Mexico once lived here? All of the workers always greated us with a fist to the heart (their heart, not mine) and a Buenas Dias or whatever was appropriate. I’ll admit it was a little creepy at first, but this place was seriously cool. Ah honey, I’ll let you get us all situated, and I’ll just admire the view off the lobby.

Tot2 Lobby Pool

Sadly, our room looked out on seagrass rather than the ocean, but who cares when you have a whole resort to explore.

The MR had a busy schedule filled with meetings, but he managed to squeeze in a salad at this lovely place.

Tot2 Dinner

The doors slid open to a beautiful view of the ocean, but sadly they kept blowing my hair across my face which makes eating a little tricky. Goat cheese, celery, and strawberries look oh, so special when formed in a circle.

ToT2 Strawberry Salad

The next day, while the MR headed off to more meetings, I had to languish by the pool. Can you say gorgeous?

ToT2 Pool

A friend was surprised when I told her the level of service in Mexico was heads above Hawaii. We stayed at three beautiful resorts, but in Hawaii, we stood in line for towels and a wrist band that said we had access to the pool, then we searched for a free chair with some shade. At the first resort, an attendant gave us towels as we left the hotel and made our way to the pool. At this last place, the attendants unrolled the towel set out on my chair, returned with another towel to use as a neck roll, and positioned the umbrella for my comfort. Let’s just say I was spoiled.

Sometimes it takes very little to make someone feel special. In Hawaii, the valets gave the MR a cold bottle of water when he returned from his morning run, but charged $5 for that same bottle of water poolside. There’s value in generating good will and making your guests feel special.

While the MR headed off to fire dancers on the beach, I was treated to a quiet dinner with fabulous food and impeccable service.

ToT2 Nighttime pond

We did manage to eat breakfast together. I was too busy putting my plate together to take pictures of the beautiful buffet, but look at this ceiling.

ToT2 Ceiling

If we had it at home, I’d worry about spiders, and mice, and cobwebs. But wouldn’t this be fun in a cabin? Maybe we’ll turn a corner of the meadow into trees surrounded by shallow ponds. It’s just so visually compelling.

ToT2 Pond

Of course, I don’t want to be the one scooping leaves come fall. Maybe this wood pot is a more doable take away.

ToT2 Wood Pot

Pedestals, unique containers, and massive repitition elevate the ordinary.

Now if I could just get someone to make me blackberry smoothies at home.

ToT2 Last Day

I think Cancun has won my heart. Perhaps we’ll be heading there again.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Trips: Part I Maui

Last month, we experienced the joys of travel with trips to Maui and Cancun. I thought it might be fun to share some of the highlights.

On this gray, dreary morning, Hawaii seems worlds away. If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you know the company the MR works for has been taking its employees and families to paradise for years. Not only is it a wonderful perk, it’s a total morale boost in the midst of what can be a very overcast and depressing time of year in the Northwest.

This was our first trip to Hawaii without kids in over 20 years. It’s a little different when you don’t have to worry about accomodating little kids, or teenagers and their sleep schedules and shopping needs. Usually, we have at least one day, where one of the girls would be beet red and needing some time out of the sun. Suprisingly, we avoided that this year with a lot more time in the shade and plenty of sunscreen.

We stayed at the Grand Wailea, a truly beautiful resort.

ToTT GW

All the public spaces are decorated with statues, and plants, and flowers. I saw a lady redoing this floral arrangement using a step stool—it’s just that mammoth.

ToTT Flower Arrangement

We stayed in the chapel wing looking out (surprise, surprise) on the chapel,

ToTT Chapel

the beach,

ToTT Beach

and a rather busy coy pond.

ToTT Coy

We divided our days between the beach and the pool, but I did manage to talk the MR into taking a trip up-island to visit a few of the sights. Our first stop was the Ocean Vodka Distillery. We just happened to stumble upon it on our way to some farms. It was a quick tour, and we learned all about the making of “organic” vodka from sugar cane and deep sea, health water. At the end, we were given recipes for drinks and were offered free reign in the herb garden, so we could make lavender lemon drops or other herbal libations.

ToTT Vodka Herbs

Then we pressed on to the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm. It was a bit hot, a bit dusty, and we decided to enjoy some cheese and forgo the tour.

ToTT Goat Cheese

This award-winning cheese was quite tasty, and we still were able to enjoy watching some cute baby goats before continuing our adventure.

ToTT Goat 2

Our final stop up country, was Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. The low bushes and steep slopes were pretty in early spring, and I’m sure they’re quite beautiful when in full bloom.

ToTT Lavender

After seeing a wooden bench snuggled under a wisteria draped arbor, I’m thinking maybe we need some comfortable overlooks for the meadow.

ToTT Bench

Along with lavender, the farm has a huge collection of tropical flowers. I was particularly wowed by this dinner plate-sized beauty.

ToTT Tropical Flower

I don’t think it’d grow at home, but I love the tropical, over-the-top plants you find in Hawaii. They’re just so in your face.

This was our second stay at the Grand Wailea. The first time, there was a snafu with the travel company, and all four of us were given one room with a king-sized bed. I wasn’t my nicest at that point. This time, thankfully, all went smoothly.

I love these resorts with their amazing landscaping and how they take advantage of little opportunities to add beauty. This underpass could simply have been left empty. Instead, it’s a wonderful vignette.

ToTT Vignette

We spent eight lovely, relaxing days in Hawaii, and then headed home for a week. Sweet Miss gave us a selfie-stick for Christmas. Me and the MR have this 10-11 inch height differential that makes selfies a challenge. We never quite figured out how to take a picture without totally blowing out the background, but we were really there—I promise.

Us

I always have a good time with this guy.

Any favorite places in Hawaii? Where do you like to stay?

On a personal note, we said goodbye to Bogart this last Friday. He was a wonderful friend, a good and faithful dog who loved us all intensely. I will miss playing ball and frisbee and shoving him in the bathroom when I had to answer the door and didn’t want to subject people to his protective qualities. 

Bogart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Dreams

Last month during our travels, I became enamored with turn down service.  It wasn’t simply fluffed pillows, turned down sheets, and a bit of chocolate on the pillow, it was a wish or a blessing, ancient sayings and tiny prints. 

On Maui, little cards declared, “May the waves of the Pacific caress you dreams with tenderness” and “Sleep soundly with the scent of ginger blossoms.” 

In Cancun it was inscrutable Mayan sayings and art. 


Maybe these resonate so strongly with me, because I still kiss my grown up girls on the forehead and wish them sweet dreams before bed when we’re together. 

Perhaps if we turn our thoughts to good things, sweet smells, blessings, and beauty before bed, we’d have fewer restless nights chasing sleep. 

I know when I’m bogged down with busyness and my to-do list stretches long, sleep flies out the window. 

So much of life is about perspective. 

Wishing you sweet dreams and a little chocolate. 

Bit by Bit

Sometimes pulling things together takes awhile. Remember how I had this painting that I loved and I hung it up even though the wall was totally off balance and really needed something more? (If you have no idea what I’m talking about and think I’m just rambling on again, check out Now That’s Art.)

That lack of balance drives me a little crazy, and since my Etsy art purchases have gone so well, I decided to do a little more shopping. That’s when I found a tiny 6×6″ beauty. I know it’s still not big enough to balance out my other artwork, but I just really loved it.

It reminded me of Rome, and me and the MR’s 10th anniversary when we wandered the streets, admiring the beautiful, honey-colored buildings. We’re talking about going back someday. Until then I can look at my little gem and dream.

BbB Up close

I know, and now you’re squinting, and looking again, and saying really, Kim? Rome? But oh my friend, take a step back.

BbB in place

It’s a tiny city, a magical place, that just draws you in. I bought this piece from Terri Edwards on Etsy. Part of the joy of shopping online is being able to support artists from around the world.

I did find a few pieces that would balance out the other side, but the MR gently reminded me that we’d paid two college tuitions, property taxes, and traveled extensively last month. He suggested I wait. At least, he didn’t balk at my visiting the girls.

Wishing all the mothers, aunts, sisters, and women who’ve loved and supported children, Happy Mother’s Day.

BbB Me Girls Whales

I know these two make my heart sing.

What are you hanging on your walls? Any plans for Mother’s Day?