Archive for the ‘Odds and Ends’ Category


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


Read Full Post »


Okay! Okay! You got me!

Having just spent the better part of two days proclaiming my sheer joy at the arrival of autumn… there are a few things that I will bemoan about summer’s passing and our Saturday Farmer’s Market is top of the list.

You know how they say that one picture is worth a thousand words…. I’ll let this be a pictorial post and go easy on my tendency to be too wordy. Suffice it to say that the colors, the music, the fresh produce, the beautiful array of freshly cut flowers… not to mention the many customers who come into the store tantalizing us all with both the good food and the bouquets of fleurs…all make for merriment, fun and festivity each saturday of the summer months.

Then there’s all the artisan’s handiwork making it so difficult to stay away from temptation. Do I really need another pair of earrings or a new purse? Like I tell our customers on a daily basis…. just park that word “need” at the front door before you enter. The same applies to Saturday Market shopping!

Oh.. and most of all there’s the food vendors filling the store with aromas that simply cannot resist temptation. Kettle Korn…freshly baked bread and pies…wood-fired oven pizza… wonton wrappers filled with goodies from crab and cheese to cinnamon apple dessert. So many choices…so little time to try them all and, by far, too little tummy room to try them all. Alas!

How lucky am I to live in the middle of this town’s joie de vie.


Oh dear…
here I am going on and on when I promised a pictorial post.
So be it!
Good-bye Summer Market….
until we meet again next year.
You shall be missed!


Read Full Post »

bursts with unfamiliar meaning as one explores the jewels to be found in all the nooks and crannies lining autumn’s coat of many colors. Tumbling out of her pockets come maple, alder and oak shaped nuggets of amber, garnet, citrine and smoky topaz… gems weaving the tapestry of autumn’s beauty.

I feel more present in autumn. Like watching my grandson’s soccer game, for me autumn is a spectator sport of sorts… the surrounding beauty is my play field and it’s a wonderful time to cheer and applaud till one is hoarse from the excitement of nature’s winning streak.

That autumn is rounding the bend needs no calendar to convey better than one’s own ‘sense’ of the incomparable radiance of nature. As the chill seems to arrive earlier every day, just step outside your door on one of the new season’s first crisp mornings and you’ll see, smell, hear and even taste the fall flourishes that have drifted in to dazzle us with their golden presence and presents of gold.

With nose in the air, you’ll smell that slight hint of smoke somewhere in the neighborhood. Perhaps that hint has arrived because autumn has set foliage ablaze with colors straight from my box of crayons…. burnt sienna to burnt umber to burnt orange to deep merlot and bittersweet.

In the early morning light, dawn’s heavy dew reveals the glistening of dozens of spider webs as they drape and decorate my favorite hanoki cypress…. like tinsel on a Christmas tree . Walk more briskly, add more layers, wear those new boots for the first time and listen to the Cap’n crunch of colorful, dry leaves beneath your feet. Pick up a favorite coffee drink along the way and I just bet that savoring the first sip of that hot, creamy, mellow ‘deliciousness’ never tasted quite so comforting as it does on an autumn morning.


Remember when …. with a wave of her wand Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed her from tattered and torn to belle of the ball? On my walk to work each and every day there is a canopy of trees surrounding the fountain and four corners of the square…. While never taken exactly for granted, I must admit that in shades and shadows of green they sometimes fail to capture my notice, until nature waves her wand in the autumn of the year and adorns them with new attire. Suddenly, the transformation is stunning as these trees wear their regalia with Cinderella’s blushing enthusiasm.


rose border

And then there’s my garden! Despite the air of dishelvement that just naturally occurs as the new season approaches, the beauty that autumn brings is worth a bit of untidiness.

Endless nuances and complexities gathered together in layer upon layer of nature’s slow shedding away of summer’s full bloom. Quick… before Jack Frost tiptoes in and snatches away the purple blooms of my plumbago, let me savor the remnants of what is being plucked away by the changing of the seasonal guard or by the pruning shears of the angel who tends the garden with me. Japanese bloodgrass plumes. . . mop heads of hydrangea blossoms…twigs fallen from the sumac…moss covered piece of driftwood near the oriental fisherman…..and, from the bittersweet family, bright red fruits on my strawberry tree open to reveal orange seeds blown to earth by a gentle breeze. And, of course….. that bird is having a ‘field day’ as he nibbles away at what remains to feast upon.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumn.” ~ George Eliot

Speaking of delicious! Eliot got it right… autumn’s ambience is dappled with numerous elements of deliciousness. Not the least of which occurs in my kitchen at this time of year…. it’s not called comfort food for no good reason. The elements that proclaim this seasonal change are cozy and comforting and food is high on the elemental list. At last…. autumn chowder, meatloaf and baked potatoes, homemade stews and dumplings are back on the menu. Simply prepared, savory, aromatic, mouth-watering and full of nostalgia…..comfort food is aptly named, bringing with it a sense of well being. Let’s see… here we are at the beginning of the month of October… so many choices await. What shall it be tonight?

comfort-foodsOut comes a favorite cookbook of the same name. A day off for me today with time to cook something scrumptious. A delicious dilemma! Why does everything seem to taste better at this time of year? Do I stay with the tried and true or try something new? Think I’ll keep the soup pot simmering with the first Minnestrone of the season. Pure self-indulgence!

rose border

And… Bittersweet you wonder! A re-occurring theme in my short essay and an adjective expressing contrasting emotions of pain and pleasure…. with the bitter comes the sweet. So, while the passing of the seasons is bittersweet, as are the passing of years and memories, autumn brings with it a certain optimism inspired by nature’s bounty of beauty.

One of the first telltale signs of autumn’s arrival is the lowering position of the sun in our sky. The lighting of our world has changed. A beautiful autumn day begins with luminous light casting a warm glow on nature’s generosity. As the day progresses and the sun moves, the color of the season seems even more flamingly intense and, with luck in my small corner of the world, a sunset on this autumn day ends in the embers of what appears to be a fire on the beach. So goes the bittersweet tapestry of life.


Read Full Post »


Look at that Rog!!

We’re so old that our pictures merit a circa mentality. Egads! Shall I state the obvious? How did that happen? And, as I’m looking at that picture, I’m thinking that my ‘circa’ is off by one year, although I know that circa means about and not the exact year stated. If you haven’t experienced it already, seventy is the threshold of memory challenges to state it politely.

Doesn’t much matter how it happened…. it just did and here we are in the seventh decade. By the way, I beat you to it so welcome to the seventies of our life or better yet…. let’s just consider it the “the 30th anniversary of our 40th birthday.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. said, “To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.”

Remember that great surprise party Georgie planned for your fortieth?

Well…. here we are at another birthday celebration. I’ll be there with bells on!

Back to the picture up there at the top. Besides delighting me every time I happen upon this picture, just why did I choose it for this birthday post? I wonder! That was a very warm summer day and we all decided to take a picnic to a park in Olympia.


Of all the parks in the area and of all the picnic baskets we could have taken anywhere…. why Olympia? For the life of me, I’ve no recollection of our reasoning. Perhaps it was just to take a Sunday drive.


rotunda-in-olympiaHowever or why ever we got to Olympia, there are the two of you looking up in what can only be awe and amazement….. kind of a symbol of how you embrace life and joy and the strong desire to share it with all of us. Blink and you might miss something really special. Although, if you look closely, you’ll realize that Amy has her chin up but she’s kind of cheating and looking more at the photographer than the ceiling.

Speaking of amazement, the world has been blessed by such an amazing person for a whole seventy years. And my life has been all the better for having you in it for the past …. well, let’s see…. for over forty five years now.

I wouldn’t have missed the “ride” and your friendship for anything and I’m so grateful that our paths crossed that many years back and hope the journey continues on for many many more.

Happy Birthday, Roger!!

Much love,

Read Full Post »

Has it been almost a decade ago now that we were introduced to Tanya?

Not long after her arrival in this country from her home in Moldova, she joined our family when she married our son and brother, John. Since then she has become a United States citizen and blessed us all with Micah and Ivy. I’ve so admired her courage and strength and love for her family over these past years.

rose border

Not to mention that she is a terrific photographer who captures the joys of her children, family and friends in charmingly, delightfully wonderful pictures.

3 on beach

So blow out a candle and….

41150183 - send birthday wishes to a special someone with this cute design. 

“This is my wish for you:

Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Read Full Post »

big-sis-and-little-bro-bwIs one picture really worth a thousand words?

I wonder!

You might call us mid-century modern ’cause, if I’m guessing correctly,
we must have posed for this portrait… circa 1950?

So adorable we appear to be.
Well…actually, we were kinda cute!

North 71st

Two homes we shared! Both with 525 as the house number and both on hills… one more steep than the other!
(look carefully…. Mom and me up close to the house and toddler brother sitting on furthest top step looking towards us.)

let it snow

Whether meant as a metaphor for sibling relationships or not, this quote from Dylan Thomas speaks volumes for the ups and downs of the love/hate relationship that two siblings often share. And, no…. we never had tea after a snowball fight. More like cocoa in the warmth of our kitchen.

Decades and Decades ago, when I was a little girl… before birth control, before seat belts, multiple bathrooms, open concept, color tv and velcro (to name just a few) …. let alone internet and social media ….

“there was a little boy inside the man that is my brother….Oh, how I hated that little boy. And how I love him too.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Younger brother and older sister were we. Growing up, I silently cursed my parents for not giving me a little sister to play dress up with, to have imaginary tea parties with, and to share sisterly secrets with. Instead, I received a terror of a little brother who broke my crayons, decapitated my adorable baby dolls and seemed to steal away my mother’s time from me.

In all fairness, young children tend to think about love as a limited commodity: that is, parents have only so much of it and if you have to share it with more people, you’ll get less. And…I never was good at sharing! You were doomed from the start!! And in hindsight… Being just four years old, I probably would have been equally pissed off with a baby sister.

94th street

And then there was a second home where we spent most of our growing up years…

Doesn’t look like a terror of a brother now does he? Beautiful blonde haircut atop your sheepishly bent head and shy grin. Disarmingly fetching… bringing out the parental nurturing even in your big sis. But….were you being bashful and cute or coy because you’d just done something you knew was a no no. Yikes! There’s the cynical big sis coming out in me!

Wonder where we were going with those bouquets of flowers! Knowing you and your amazing memory dear brother Jim…. I just bet you can recall this picture and why we were carrying bouquets of flowers. Mother’s Day perhaps?

That’s what I mean about pictures being deceptive renditions of the actuality of life. Well.. that was deep! But, you get the picture. There was a lot going on in the growing up of Jim and Julie on 94th street.

But, through all of it…. the good, the bad and the ugly…

as much as siblings squabble when they are young, this is not a sign that they do not love each other. In fact, one of the biggest lessons learned in the growing up process is that we can feel terribly angry at people and then feel loving towards them again with no loss of intimacy.

You are an irreplaceable part of my childhood, brother.

Happy Birthday on this… your day of birth. I’ve been thinking about you a lot today. Can you tell?

Love from your big sis,


Read Full Post »

Ian's Seventh

rocking seven


I spent a little time doing some research on why turning seven years old is so important. Mind you, I do have plenty of my own thoughts on the subject but…. what the heck! A little research never hurt any journal entry which Nana is about to write! Right?

Look what I stumbled upon:


Bringing your kids to work has its benefits.

Seven-year-old Diego Suarez was playing outside with his sister while his parents, both geologists, studied rock formations in the Andes in southern Chile. As they were playing, Suarez uncovered a fossilized dinosaur bone, which turned out to belong to a previously unknown species.

Paleontologists called to the site eventually discovered bones from more than a dozen dinosaurs, including four near-complete skeletons, The Guardian reports. The scientists named the species Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, after its location and the boy who discovered it. Most of the Chilesaurus remains are from animals roughly the size of turkeys, though the species could reach almost 10 feet in length.
The Week
Apr 27, 2015 –


Diego’s dinosaur had many features in common with carnivorous dinosaurs, but it did not conform to type. Its small head and leaf-shaped teeth were like those of a plant eater, researchers report in this week’s Nature.

“It’s like a T. rex that’s been shrunk but not shrunk equally,” says Pete Makovicky, an associate curator and dinosaur specialist at The Field Museum in Chicago. “This animal would’ve looked more silly than fearful … more similar to an ostrich than to T. rex.”

~Traci Watson, Special for USA TODAY April 27, 2015

I’ll say it again!

Welcome to the 7-year-olds society! 7-year olds rock!

So, dear Ian…..look at this birthday as your own personal NEW YEAR! What do you want to do this year? What will you learn? Where will you go? Remember that you are very special, and so is your life. Spend this year exploring the world around you and finding out the what, where and why to new questions.

Not that you’re likely to discover any new dinosaur bones but I’m sure there’s something out there that’s exciting and new for you to stumble upon. Perhaps next time you visit we can build a new magformer dinosaur and give it a name.

Something like this perhaps? Or, is this a horse? I just know you’ll be smart enough for both of us and can help Nana figure it out. After all, you’ve amazed me so many times with your magformer skills that it will be fun to try a new project.


And, last but certainly not least….. SEVEN is a ‘lucky’ number and the most popular number all over the world. So this year remember that you’re a very ‘lucky’ kid. Take a chance or two and become South Kitsap’s best seven year old soccer player! How’s that for a goal?

Happy Birthday, Ian.
With much love from,


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »