Julie’s Journal

“We ache to touch intimately what is real” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer




This is where I shall begin a new adventure… letting light pour through those windows that have remained tightly shut for what seems like endless days and nights. Okay! Perhaps said with a bit too much melodrama … but the prospect of all that fresh air fills me with great expectations.

Lucky you!

All who find me here shall be eyes to read and ears to “hear” the words I hope to share…… be they letters, essays, poems, mere ramblings….. perhaps a recipe or two… thoughts on my journey from mother to nana….. to my passion for fashion and design…oh, and cooking too.

A recent book purchase of mine contained the following vignette….”This is a space for dream words, love words, made up words, flying words, fall down and get up words. Get to know the sound of your own inner voice. Be creative! Be generous! Be bold!”

I’m excited!

And, just for clarification … I’m the “young one” up there in the arms of my mother.



In awe even at age one!

In awe… even at age one!    

And, speaking of young ones…. My first born darlin’ Amy stands alone before the mighty waves at the tender age of one and seems to understand her Mother’s love for the beauty of Oregon’s coastline. (1973)

Sisters behold the mighty waves

Hand in hand… sisters stand at water’s edge

And then there were two… Amy and Allison at about ages 4 and 2 stand in “awe” of the surf and sand…with pails in hand, ready to build their sand castles. How we all loved the Oregon Coast. Year after year we returned time and again to play, to walk, and just be happy! (1976)


Mom and Me…..

Mom and Me.....

I know a woman of strength and beauty
I watched her for years.
She is my mother

This picture is almost ancient history by now, as mom has been gone for over a decade and I’ve become a grandmother seven times over during those ten years. As wonderful a mother as she was however……. if possible, she was even better at being a grandmother and she is and always will be my shining star to follow as I strive to be a loving Nana to the seven beautiful children of my wonderful “threesome.”

Mom could remember and tell the best stories about all her grandchildren and I would cajole and downright beg her to record them in some fashion. I gave her notebooks galore and even a tape recorder but alas…. no written or oral record was ever made of her wonderful stories and memories. In thinking about my pleas to her, it occurred to me that I should do what I so wanted of her. Hence this amazing format for me to begin my journey. I shall call it a journal since the word blog is just plain harsh and even ugly to see and hear…… wouldn’t you agree?

Please keep in mind dear readers that there is no ‘rhyme or reason’ to my postings. If blogs could be arranged in chronological order then so would my journal but, since that’s not the case, it will seem like I’m jumping all over the place….memory to memory and picture to picture. Come to think of it…perhaps that will make it more interesting. After all, it is sort of the zigzag nature of how our mind works.

With that said… I begin with a poem






She’d laugh and say…
“Indulge me please this one idiosyncrisy.”

Do you remember, Stacey?

How often did we arrive home from school to find
the sofa had traded places with a chair
and the chair with a table?

As for the table….well it had completely disappeared.

“How many ways can this room be re-arranged?” we’d wonder aloud.

Mom’s vision was limitless.

~ julie © may 2012


How true! How true! Stacey and I were constantly amazed and surprised, mother, by your ability, strength and passion for finding just the right arrangement for any room. This propensity lasted well into your retirement years and was passed on to both Stacey and I. The better part of my morning was gloriously spent re-arranging….. maybe not the furniture but a newly framed picture just had to find its’ place among all the others. Great fun! Thanks Mom for the gene that won’t let “things” remain the same for too too long.

Your daughter, Julie



Content on our home's front porch.... Stacey in my lap (I loved being her second care-giver)

Pure contentment sitting on our homes’ front porch…. Stacey in my lap. I loved being her secondary care-giver.(1955)


With a ten year age difference between us, my sister and I have struggled to find ourselves ever in similar enough circumstances that we could maintain a real friendship and sisterhood. Seems our footprints have always been on different paths at different times. We joke that perhaps the day will come when we can slow down and catch-up to the relaltionship that we’d like to have together. Our mother was ten years younger than our favorite aunt and, in their later years, they finally formed the sisterhood that awaited them. So perhaps…. the same will happen between Stacey and I. We’ll be able to ‘re-arrange’ the stuff of life long enough to spend more time together.

My Christmas Story


Having just returned home from a Christmas overnight with three of my seven beautiful grandchildren who are growing up all too fast, as did their parents….my thoughts wandered back over the many years of special holiday moments to another Christmas morning when these three were several years younger and a warm, lovely memory surfaced.


Knowing what they really wanted was to charge out to the front room and pounce upon those presents under the tree, I was rather honored to be a temporary safe haven for Elizabeth and Emily when they knocked upon Ian’s door and asked if I was awake and could they ‘come in.’ If not already awake, a knock on the door did the trick! Fortunately, I was between slumber and semi-consciousness…. so their knock was not too shockingly disturbing.

Ian’s door because that’s where Nana was sleeping the night before Christmas when all thru the house not a creature was stirring ….. except for those two darling excited granddaughters of mine who awoke pre-dawn and just ‘couldn’t get back to sleep.’

Ian was tucked safely into bed with his parents and blissfully unaware of the early …. early morning hour.

So… how to fill the hour or two until the tree’s lights blink on, illuminating the gift wrap below and the stove’s crackling fire has warmed the cold morning and permission is given to “enter”?

All nestled under the covers with Nana when Emily pipes up, “Could we watch a movie, Nana?” She’d spotted the iPad lying near the foot of the bed and, of course, the question was already answered.

“Sure, Emily. What a good idea! I fell asleep watching a dog movie last night. I think you might like it!”

“If it’s a dog of a movie, Nana…. why would we want to see it?” asked Elizabeth.

“No, Elizabeth. It’s a movie about a dog not a dog of a movie,” Nana smiled with delight.


Based on the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari, as well as on a true story. . . Hachi: A Dog’s Tale stars Richard Gere as a college professor who finds an abandoned dog and takes the poor lost animal in. The film follows the two as the man and animal soon form a strong and unexplainable bond.

The movie begins in a classroom where the assignment is to make a presentation about someone you admire as a hero.

Teacher: Thank you Heather. Uh, Ronnie? Tell us about your hero.

Ronnie – 11 years: [writes HACHIKO on the blackboard] Hachiko was my grandfather Wilson’s dog. Everyone called Hachi a mystery dog because they never really knew where he came from. Maybe Hachi escaped from a dog pound. Or maybe he jumped out of somebody’s car some place far away, like Florida or New Jersey. But no matter how, Hachi was lost. I never met my grandfather, he died when I was just a little baby. But when I hear about him and Hachi, I feel like I know him. They taught me the meaning of loyalty. That you should never forget anyone that you loved. And that’s why Hachi will forever be my hero.

[class applauds]

While we hadn’t made it far into the movie when the aroma of hot chocolate told the girls that Christmas morning was about to begin, I didn’t tell them how truly special this movie is….. but hoped that they would “see” for themselves when other distractions didn’t interfere.

DISCLAIMER: Okay… so I haven’t just returned from my Christmas time with family, as it is now Valentine’s Day…. sometimes life just unfolds and interrupts the best of intentions. This draft has been waiting to be finished for some weeks now. I’m cleaning out my “drawers” as there are several drafts awaiting my attention.

A Coke and a Smile!

kids in rugby

When my now ‘forty something’ year old daughter was given a twelve pack of coca cola this past Christmas, she hugged it close and was heard to murmur, “I’m going to sleep with you tonight!”

Ah! I know the feeling well. I’m slowly sipping one now as I sit here typing away. Addiction is a terrible thing!!

“Enjoy Coca-Cola’s crisp, delicious taste.” …..”Serve ice cold for maximum refreshment.” …. “Bring home the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola.”… “Life Tastes Good”… “The Coke Side of Life.”

I digress! That’s not what this post is all about.

But it was that Christmas gift that made me ‘smile’ and remember the 80’s and those coca cola rugby shirts that were the fashion craze of the decade.

With bold primary wide stripes and that famous cursive logo, Coke rugby shirts were … So cheerful! So colorful! So sporty!

Designed by Tommy Hilfiger, the loose shape of the shirts and the feel-good American vibe that came with wearing the soft drink’s logo was embraced and loved by many. After all, Coke’s motto in ’86 was “Red, White, and You.” The Coca-Cola product line was playfully, exuberantly patriotic.

Now wouldn’t that be a ‘refreshing’ addition to today’s political ‘climate!’

Maybe we need to revive this fashion trend!!

Postman’s Friend


Just when I’d forgotten. . . the pathway to my front door, generously bestowed with the intense swell of a heady, magical fragrance, reminds me.

Ah yes! The sarcococca is in bloom. (my apologies to Katherine Hepburn and her calla lilies)

It happened again today, as it does about this time every year. I’m on the front porch, grocery bags in hand, having just maneuvered my narrow walkway when suddenly…. I’m stopped in my tracks by an incredible fragrance and that first whiff of spring.

You see, the diminutive evergreen known as Sarcococca, all nestled up against the protection of my home, is a plant that brings unparalleled fragrance to the winter garden. There are other sweetly scented winter flowers – witch hazel and winter-flowering honeysuckle to name but two – but, to detect a scent, you have to push your nose right into the flower.

Not so with Sarcococca. It’s more piercing when you drift through it unexpectedly than if you pluck a sprig and sniff. In this case, and in defiance of a life lesson, one doesn’t have to stop and smell the roses. Unless one is olfactory deprived, you can’t miss that honeyed combination of jasmine and vanilla emanating from those tiny blooming white whiskers.

I wonder why, as in England, sarcococca is often referred to as the Postman’s Friend?

Perhaps because, as was asked of me today by my “Postlady”…

“What is that sweet aroma? It’s so intense!”

“Look just beneath your feet and to the right of the mailbox,” I replied. “Blink and you could miss it ’cause, as a plant, it’s not that distinguished…. until this time of year when it conquers all who pass this way with its divine perfume.”

All by itself, sarcococca answers the question:

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley


Ah no!

There’s that Shelly smile! You make a beautiful witch Miss Shelly.

Besides….. you’re in the ‘big apple’ (who needs Snow White) this week having a New York kind of Halloween.

Miss you tho!! Wish you were here for our Edmonds Halloween!

Sunrise! Sunset!

Swiftly flow the years. One season following another laden with happiness and tears. ~ Fiddler on the Roof with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick



So… my first attempt at an etheree poem:

Created about twenty years ago by an Arkansas poet named Etheree Taylor Armstrong, this titled form, the Etheree, consists of ten lines of unmetered and unrhymed verse, the first line having one syllable, each succeeding line adding a syllable, with the total syllable count being fifty-five.

I’ve been away from my blog for far too long. Rusty at best but aiming to get back in the saddle again.

Time will tell whether the best of intentions…. and you know the rest!

The Oddball Larch


And no…. I’ve never explored The Enchantments. There are outdoorsy people and then there are people who like to drink Arnold Palmers on outdoor patios. These are not one in the same. Thank goodness for the next of my family generation who love the great outdoors! Not that I don’t love the great outdoors. I do! Just not in a rugged, camping, put up with no showers or commodes sort of way.

As my children and their families have been sharing spectacular photos such as these, I’ve been re-thinking my aversion to outdoor ruggedness and perhaps regretting that we were not such a family when my children were growing up. While beautiful, pictures are not quite the same as actually being there. Alas! That decision has come and gone and the consequences of which I must pay the price, as it’s not too likely that Nana is going on a rugged hike anytime soon. And the likelihood lessens with the passing of each new year.

So, in looking at the pictures above, I have more than a few tearful regrets!!

Since it’s a fool’s errand to dwell upon what might have been…. I got caught up in the beauty and lore of the Larch tree. Did a bit of looking into it and became fascinated with this unique tree of distinction. Of course, my first insights lured me straight to poetry.

Longfellow’s Hiawatha used Larch/Tamarack roots to lash his canoe.

Hiawatha pleads with the Larch…


In Longfellow’s epic poem, he personifies the Larch as it shivers, sighs, touches Hiawatha’s forehead with its needles (tassels) and speaks to him, offering up all its roots for the making of his canoe.

What an awesome beginning to getting to know the stately Larch tree! Makes you want to reach out and touch ‘his majesty’ while thanking it for befriending and sharing its very foundation with Hiawatha.

As a matter of fact, in Europe, the Larch is cherished as a decorative tree as well as one that is incredibly functional. The city of Venice, Italy, is built almost exclusively of Larch wood.

So… ‘why an oddball?’ you may ask.

The annual larch needle drop.

Doesn’t it know that conifers are supposed to be evergreen?

What makes the Larch an oddball is that it is one of the rare coniferous trees that drops its needles each fall right along with the maples and oaks. In fact, before Larch needles fall off, they turn bright yellow, adding to the spectacle of fall colors here in the mountainous Pacific Northwest. And then every Larch becomes as bare as any beech or birch.


Tea for Five


Here in my small corner of the world, as I sit at this desk and write…. with the window over my left shoulder widely open, the sun shines brightly and warmly. Perhaps not quite as warmly as in the picture above… where, at this very moment, these beautiful grandchildren of mine are enjoying another day together in the Magic Kingdom. A picture just sent to me by my daughter. Through the wonders of modern technology, I can see…. almost to the moment…. what fun they are having.

This has become close to an annual trek for the two families. Sometimes together and sometimes just one family at a time. Only every so often does a year go by without a visit. Does anyone ever tire of going to Disneyland? Come to think of it, I do know one who has said enough is enough and she refuses to cross the threshold ever again. The magic went pouf so to speak. That comes from living within ‘spitting distance’ of the great and mighty theme park where every visitor to your door expects a guided tour for at least one day at the park.

Hence…no more Disneyland for my dear cousin Dinah.

Mostly though… my first thoughts when the picture arrived on my doorstep went back to a long ago wish that I had for my two daughters when they were so so young and my “babies.” Amy and Allison won’t remember this but we used to have get togethers with several of their mother’s friends from her years of teaching at Jane Addams. Nearly all of us being first year teachers, we were full of energy, enthusiasm and creativity. How lucky was that school to have us burst upon the scene.

Good things come to an end, however, and most of us ended up leaving the profession, at least temporarily, when the joy of a first born became a shared experience for us. We were all blessed and fortunate enough to be stay-at-home mothers for the first years of our children’s young lives.

(If I do say so myself) Jane Addams’ loss was mighty when we all ‘retired.’ So, it was great fun to keep up with our friendships under the guise of playdates for our children. ‘Two birds with one stone’…. or lunch together. Chicken Divan Casseroles, Caesar Salads eagerly awaited at one table…. PB&J’s with milk and cookies at the other.

The memory comes from one of those luncheons when my friend Jan invited her sister, Diane, to join us for that get together. Those two sisters had four young children between them… all very close in age and…. oh how they seemed to be best friends with children who felt the same. As I witnessed the laughter and fun and love clearly expressed between them, I distinctly remember thinking and wishing for that kind of friendship to be shared between my daughters in the future. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they kept close and if their children were the happy recipients of their mothers’ love and friendship for one another?… I thought to myself.

And there they all be
at the magic kingdom today…
where wishes really do come true.

Have great fun and make more memories to share and last forever.

Thank You, Amy! Love the picture and it took me to another place and time this afternoon. One just never knows what might fall upon ones’ doorstep each and every day.