Halloween Decoration

My favorite Halloween decorations to put up every year are simple home made ones.  When my children were small, I traced their feet on heavy white paper and had them decorate them to look like ghosts.  As their feet grew, so did the ghosts.  Their little kid-writing on the back like “Boo I scerd you!” cracks me up when I hang them in our front door window.



WeekendCoffeeShare: the final weekend.

If I was sitting down to a cup of my favorite Verano coffee with you, I would tell you about my plans for this weekend. This weekend is the final weekend. The last two days I have with her. Our cherished daughter is flying away Monday morning for her study abroad term in Italy. I won’t see her again until the Christmas tree is up and snow could be on the ground. I am thrilled for her, jealous of her, nervous for her, and sad for me. She will eat the best gelato, see amazing architecture, experience a different way of life, taste the most wonderful pasta, live amongst history. She is twenty years old and wants to see everything. She has an adventurous soul, but is still so naive that I worry. I am so thankful to be in this age of electronic communication so that I will be able to FaceTime her and know she is alright. I can’t imagine sending my little girl off to Italy for three months depending only upon postcards for communication – kind of like I did when I was naive and twenty. I traveled to England, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and Scotland with a girlfriend and made it back alive. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

So this weekend we get her packed. We get her room tidied up. We clean out her car. We do all of the mundane chores that will take my mind off the inevitable looming departure at the airport. We’ll take her out for a farewell dinner – or brunch or lunch if she prefers. We’ll play one more game of croquet or cornhole or bocce ball as a family because she loves playing games. She and her 16 year old brother will laugh as only she can make him laugh. She and I will watch one more Agatha Christie mystery together while we drink a pot of tea – because we love to do that together. Last night we all sat outside and played Uno by candlelight under the stars until we could no longer tell if it was a green two I just put down or was it a blue two? She loves playing card games.

Our weekend will be whatever she wants it to be, because she is my baby girl and I am going to miss her terribly. This will be a good weekend because we have nothing scheduled, but one filled with a rollercoaster of emotions for me.

Me and my fellow tea drinker…

Daytrip: Oregon Coast and Devil’s Punchbowl

Last weekend my family and I made another day trip.  This time we aimed for the Devil’s Punchbowl.  It is a circular outcrop at the base of a cliff where the center has eroded.  At minus-tide, you can walk into the center of it.  At high tide, it fills about half full.  During storms it can fill all the way to the top.  The viewpoint directly overhead was rather windy, but what a view! My husband and teenagers ventured down inside while I stayed up top to take photos.


My kids looking at the sea anenomes inside the punchbowl.


There are many viewpoints at which you can stop and take photos along the Oregon Coast hwy 101.  We stopped at a viewpoint just north of Devil’s Punchbowl and had a spectacular view overlooking Otter Rock and Devil’s Punchbowl.

My favorite view overlooking Otter Rock
Overlooking Agate Beach with many brave surfers


A bit further north we stopped at another viewpoint with great views.  A group of college aged boys were joking as they headed into the Lookout Souvenir shop “I must buy a refrigerator magnet!”

DSCF5023DSCF5008bridge oregon coast

As we headed north, we stopped for a frisbee-break at Tierra del Mar beach.  We tried stopping for lunch at Pelican Brew Pub in Pacific City, but couldn’t find parking.  We don’t usually go to the coast on the weekends, but wowza! Large crowds there.  There was extra excitement as a group of good samaritans helped lift a Subaru stuck in the sand as the tide was coming in.  They literally had to lift it out of the water and to dry land.  There are just a few beaches that allow cars on them.  (I’m not a fan of cars on beaches.) From Tierra del Mar we headed north all the way to Cannon Beach where we headed back to the heat and traffic of the Portland Metropolitan area.

Tierra Del Mar
Neakhani mountain
Neakhani Mountain
Tide’s coming in…
beach exercise


Fractured Fairy Tales

As a child who grew up in the 60s and was slightly warped by watching Bullwinkle cartoons, I have an affinity for fractured fairy tales.

I used to volunteer a lot at my children’s elementary school library and gathered a list of favorites, but I’ve added a few I might need to check out to buy for future grandchildren.  If you enjoy reading to children and appreciate a funny story, check these out:

Goldilocks and the 3 Hares, by Heidi Petach (my daughter loved this one!)

Goldilocks Returns, by Lisa Campbell Ernst

3 Spinning Fairies, by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Very Little Red Riding Hood, by Heapy & Heap

Little Red Cowboy Hat, by Susan Lowell

Ninja  Red Riding Hood, by Corey Rosen Schwartz

A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack, by William Joyce

The Cowboy and the Blackeyed Pea, by Tony Johnston

Cindy Ellen, by Susan Lowell

Cinder Edna, by Ellen Jackson

Dinorella, by Pamela Duncan

3 Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas

Dusty Locks and the 3 Bears, by Susan Lowell

Prince Cinders, by Babette Cole

Seriously, Cinderella is SO Annoying!, by Trisha Speed Shaskan

Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks!, by Eric Braun

Cinder-Elly, by Frances Minters

The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf, by Liam Farrell

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess, by Mini Grey

True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka

Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs, by Mo Willems



I Inherited a Desk

My aunt and uncle called the other day. Would I like a set of dishes? Would I like a desk? While I was tempted by the dishes as I have a weakness for vintage china, I could not squeeze room in my china cabinet for one more teacup let alone an entire set. But when my uncle told me this desk had been in the family since the 1880s or so, he definitely piqued my interest. “Tell me more about the history”

He thought it was from his dad’s side of the family and was told someone made it maybe as payment for a debt, or to pay for his room and board. Or was it someone in the family made it? He didn’t know much and sounded like one who has been told the history of the piece when he was younger but hadn’t really been listening at the time. He mentioned someone had written a name on the underside of one of the drawers…maybe Morris or Maurice? Maybe he is the carpenter? My mind instantly jumped to “no…if it says Maurice then it is not from his father’s side, but his mother’s side. I knew in our family tree there is a Maurice who was his mother’s uncle.

Without knowing what it even looked like, I accepted. They are retiring to Mexico soon and can’t take it with them. I couldn’t take the risk of having it sold at a garage sale and disappearing from the family. I’m the sentimental old genealogist of the family so was their first choice to inherit the piece. Surely I can make room for a seventh desk in my house?

My husband and I arrived with our pickup to get the desk on the next sunny dry day. To my relief, it was a rather attractive, if not slightly primitive but not overly large desk.

While I had dreams of opening the drawers and finding them stuffed full of family letters, cards, and documents also dating back to the 1880s, alas, that was not to be. What a genealogy treasure that would be! My uncle did pass along several papers and more importantly a questionnaire booklet his mother had filled out decades ago. It was one of those school projects kids do …have your grandparent answer these questions about what life was like for them growing up. Nice find! While I already knew the answer to many of the questions, one certain question intrigued me. “Are there any family treasures that have been passed down in the family? In her answer she writes about the desk. My desk! Proof positive that it came from her family, not her husband’s.

As soon as the desk had been placed in our living room, I started pulling out all the drawers and inspecting them. There it was. In pencil “Maurice” in little boy handwriting. That would date the desk in the house by to around 1900 when Maurice was 6-10 years old. On another drawer was even more detailed writing. Maurice’s older sister Nellie had written the birthdates of herself and another sister. My genealogical records I found were off by one day. I had some corrections to do!DSCF2992

Although my little cottage style house doesn’t really have room for, or need another desk, I am grateful to be the recipient of this family treasure. A month ago I didn’t even know it existed. I managed to squeeze it in to my living room, and will need to do some adjustments to placements of all the furniture for it to look right. I am anxious to rehang the artwork on the wall behind it. (Yay, just what my husband loves…more holes in the drywall!) I have already decided I will use the desk to store all my genealogy research and little family treasures I have collected. The old books inscribed with family signatures will belong here. Great grandmother’s round box full of buttons will go there. Great grandfather’s desk clock will go there.  It will fit right in.

All because I inherited a desk.

Storm Front Arriving: A View from the Baseball Field

As I sat at my son’s baseball game on Sunday this week, an unforecasted, unexpected storm front moved in.  We watched as the thick ominous massive gray clouds worked their way towards us, as we sat in the hot sun under bright blue skies.  Wind started whipping us from behind. No one was prepared for rain, but being Northwesterners and baseball moms, we all had umbrellas in the car, alongside the bottles of water, extra coats, blankets, sunscreen, snacks, stadium seats, and folding chairs (you just never know what you’ll be needing.)  This was the championship game of a 4 day weekend tournament.  Please don’t get rained out!  Please don’t see lightning!  The wind started to hit us in the face, blowing the storm straight our way.

The player’s pants were waving in the wind, but the rain held off.  The game ended up being a blowout in just 5 innings as we had used up all our pitchers and had to put in boys that hadn’t pitched in 2 years.  My son, the catcher, ended up having to pitch the 4th inning. The 18U team won the day, defeating our 16U team.  The last required inning, our coach told the boys to go out and play any position they wanted – first come, first served.  They had a blast playing that last half inning, laughing and being goofballs, yet still trying to do their best.

The rain came down in buckets just minutes after loading up the car.