Saturday, January 28, 2012

Travel Day

Today is a travel day.....will post tomorrow! Cheers!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So, a couple of days ago I was sitting around with my nineteen year old and two of his friends. We're in Montana for the week, and since where we stay is within sight of Big Mountain, the three of them made the drive north for the weekend to get some time in on their boards. After sharing cool stories about a great day spent taking advantage of fresh, deep powder, and right in front of his friends, he very coolly said, "Hey Mom...if an old band comes to Seattle, you and dad should let me know and I can come home so we can all go together."

I  looked up from my knitting......which may or may not be interpreted as a cool activity by this crowd......and said, "Like how old?"

He answered without hesitation. "Bruce Springsteen or James Taylor. You know....someone that you and dad would want to go see."

Did you catch that, too?? My son just offered to go see The Boss with me?! And later on that day, I overheard him mention the same thing to his dad.  And all with a smile on his face. Not an ounce of holding back for the benefit of his

This empty nest thing....this having kids leave home thing: I sure hope I haven't made it seem any easier than it really is. I sure hope that because I've enjoyed sharing the good parts....the parts that make my eyes tear up with pride and my heart nearly burst with love, that I have in any way sugar-coated the experiences involved. Because it IS difficult.  Even when I know without a doubt that each of my boys are doing exactly what it is that they should be doing......whatever it is that they NEED to do be become the autonomous, self reliant, independently functioning adults that they are supposed to become, it is still sometimes difficult.

Put simply: No matter how logically I understand that life is moving forward as it should......and that this moving forward is all normal, right and still kind of sucks (I actually don't LIKE that word, but sometimes it just fits) when your kids grow up and leave home. When they now live far away and you pretty much know they aren't thinking about you even one one-millionth of the number of times you are thinking about them. And worrying about them. And of course, they shouldn't be.

And it makes you wonder: Will we stay close? Become close again? Even closer? What will our relationship be like now? What will it evolve into in the future? To what extent will I, his dad, his family, remain a part of his life? Will any of them ever think I know what I'm talking about? That some of my advice is actually pretty good?

At my most patient, I quietly stand back, observe and feel proud. I allow and encourage the process to unfold as the universe intends. At my most anxious, I want to call or text or give helpful suggestions or ask helpful questions in order to grasp hold of just how this 'growing up-and-becoming-an-adult-thing' is progressing so far.  Sometimes I want up to the minutes details. Personally, I think I'm doing great at remaining on the 'patient observer' side of the line. I'm pretty sure, however, that each of my boys thinks I ask far too many questions.

So back to Bruce.......

"Hmmmm, " I nodded.

"Sounds great.........." I said, while attempting to still remain somewhere within the boundaries of cool. While forcing a too-big smile from escaping and ruining the moment. While holding myself back from running up the stairs and spilling to Marc that 'if an acceptably good concert comes to Seattle, our kid just offered in front of his friends to come all the way home and go rock out with his parents!! And if an acceptably good concert DOES come to Seattle, should we have him drive home or fly? Oh and by the way...... he's been wearing the hat I knit for him for Christmas and even told his friends that I made

But I managed to stay there.....within those boundaries.....

Sometimes this empty nest's not so bad. As it turns out, they still want to be  a part of the nest, they just need some time and space in order to figure that out.
Wishing you a wonderful week in your own nest....wherever that may be.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ice. Warmth.

The  beautiful snow that fell earlier in the week is melting. We knew it couldn't last! There was one full day when fluffy flakes turned to freezing rain then back to flakes again. All of the precipitation, freezing and thawing turned into probably the biggest ice storm our area has ever seen. Trees became encased in ice and snapped from the weight of it all. Branches and needles were littered about. Roads were a mess. 300,000 homes, as well an abundance of businesses, were without power.

Local stations kept news broadcasts on throughout the entire day instead of switching to regular programing, highlighting constantly changing conditions and how to stay safe. Lists of roadways hampered by fallen trees and downed power lines followed the typical reports of accidents and spinouts. Weather reports contained forecasts laced with encouragement about when all of this might be over.....but not before a flood watch and wind advisory alert.

It was all a bit frightening. Trees cracked and popped. Large branches landed with huge thuds. I stopped taking the above photos and decided stayed inside for the rest of the day when I realized what was happening in our yard, then called Marc to let him know I was worried about one of our trees and to be careful on his way home.

 And on that very day.......and I just have to say, against my better judgement......Joey and his friend insisted on making their way back to Missoula across three mountain passes and two states with severe weather issues of their own.

I will also say that once again I was reminded there is goodness and wonder everywhere. Ice crystals formed beautiful shapes around clusters of pine needles. The local grocery store and Starbucks......the only ones open and with power for miles......teamed with friendly people. All chattering and shaking their heads. Sharing their stories. Good friends sent texts and worried about my boy with me. Another offered to take care of our dog if the place we intended to board him was still without power on the day we planned to leave town. Several facebook friends who had not lost power offered to share a warm meal and place to stay with those in need.

It's good to be reminded about the power of nature. The power of friendship. The goodness of those in our lives.

Wishing you a warm, safe and wonderful weekend.

Warmly, Margaret

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


It snowed lightly yesterday on and off. Joey was supposed to head back to Montana but the necessity to close Snoqualmie Pass for most of the day kept him home. There was some left over snowfall on side streets and in neighborhoods from this past weekends storm , but most of the main roads were clear so I headed out and accomplished as many errands as I could fit in. Added a few more things to the already pretty full fridge. Put gas is in the tank. Stopped in at the yarn store. I was mostly happy to have made my hair appointment before the BIG storm moved in.

Today, it's been snowing for hours.......just like I'd hoped. Just as the weather forecasters had predicted. Today we received a wallop of a snowstorm.

Snow is piling high on patio furniture and plant pots and  frosting evergreens and ferns. Fence posts and bushes have donned tall hats. Trees previously undressed by fall are now wearing winter garb: In shimmering gowns and full length gloves of white, each branch is outlined, highlighted, made visible...... the crystalline fabric hiding nothing.

I don't know how long this will is supposed to turn to rain soon, but until then, I'm going to enjoy every peaceful minute.

Wishing you a wonderful week. Stay safe in this winter weather......wherever you are!



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hoping For A Snow Day.......

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
 The prediction around here for the next few days is suggesting snow, beginning possibly as early as this evening. Living in the Pacific Northwest, the mention of even a few flakes in the lowlands is cause for a somewhat heady mix of alarm and excitement. Radio and television stations tease with short bites of information. They want us to stay tuned in.....and mostly we do. When gray skies turn white and the drizzle that is winter turns fluffy......we Pacific North-westerners pay attention. 

I grew up and lived for many years in Eastern Washington. Here, on the other side of the state, we call that 'east of the mountains'. The Cascade Range and it's peaks asymmetrically divide our state in two, keeping Pacific Ocean clouds and moisture sort of backed up and stuck on this side of the range. The 'west side' has more rain and a milder climate. We are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, while 'east of the mountains' has more distinct markers that herald the changing of the seasons. For snow or sun......many of us head east (or might I add, north to Canada) for the day, the weekend or the week. (I should note here that this has been a particularly beautiful winter here on the west side so far, with little rain and far more sunny days that normal!)

I will acknowledge that the above description of our seasonal weather patterns is somewhat lacking. I was only attempting to illustrate that, although we may have a lowland snowstorm here once or twice a season, wind and rainstorms are the norm.  I have now lived on the west side of this state over twice as long as I did the more seasonal east side. You would think that I might have grown up a bit by now and be grumbling at the mention of the possibility of cold, icy roads and poor driving conditions. But the truth is, the mention of the possibility of snow brings out the Eastern Washington kid in me. I will ignore those who complain, put on a pot of soup and watch it fall. Or pull on warm boots and a puffy coat and go outside.

When the boys were younger, I secretly welcomed snow days. I loved whispering in the still dark early morning doorways of their rooms that they had a surprise day off from school. I loved the four of us stuck here with books and movies, hot chocolate and Legos. I loved their red cheeks after a few hours playing in the yard, rolling up balls as big as they could and then searching for decorations for the one snowman they might be able to build all year. That there is a storm water storage basin a short block away where they could meet up with friends for an afternoon of sledding.

I'm often without a car on days that the white stuff is falling. Since mine handles best up and down slippery hills there are no other ways around, and since I can do what I do from home.....and since I've often planned ahead for food......Marc takes it back and forth to work and that's OK with me. Now that the boys are older and live other places during most of the winter, I email photos of our smiling Golden Retriever, hair clumped with white, after some play time outside. Or shots of bare tree branches turned lacy in our yard. These days I enjoy the peaceful beauty of a snow day and use it as inspiration for knitting or baking or picking up my camera.

It might snow tonight and for the next few days. I hope the weather forecasters aren't just teasing me. I have a full refrigerator and pantry. I have a knitting project, an empty card in my camera and a great book I'm in the middle of. Bring it on...... please!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!


9 AM, Sunday, January 15, 2011: Big, fluffy flakes are falling! Breakfast is just about on the table , but hoping to get outside afterward.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Year One

I'm kind of big on anniversaries, those reoccurring dates that serve as both reminder and motivator.  I take advantage of the framework they create to make plans, resolutions and decisions. Use them as markers to look back at where I've been and see what direction I'm headed. When certain numbers show up on the calendar, I'm tempted to take a deep breath and turn in a circle with eyes wide open in order to view with greater clarity where I stand at that very moment. I want to pause and figure out how it is that I ended up on this exact piece of ground.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my first post on this blog.  I'd been considering beginning one for quite a few months before that. By the time I punched Publish Post for the first time, I had already spent time outlining and figuring out my font, format and header. I had thought a lot about why I wanted to do it. Why it would be good for me. What I wanted it to focus on and be about. What I wanted to focus on and be about. 

In the very beginning I was nervous. None of my family, friends or acquaintances had blogs at that point......that I knew of anyway.  And of course, I wanted to let them know what I was up to, because......well......I wanted at least a few readers, followers and viewers. I wanted at least a little bit of feedback. Even though I'm comfortable with being an independent thinker, feedback really does help. There is always risk in putting oneself out there and I knew I ran the risk of making a fool of myself to varying degrees. Realizing that those I know and care about might not 'get' or understand whatever it was I planned to 'put out there' made me queasy, and for a few days pages I had already written stayed safely put, safely private, locked inside my computer. In the end, I followed my heart, my passion and my gut, and pushed that darn button.

I have to say now......a year out......that publishing This Friendly Village has been a great discipline. I have learned a lot. I've become quicker with the decision making, the thought process, the pictures and the posting.  I think I've become a better writer and photographer.  I have become more brave. 

The transition from one stage of my life (parenting) to another (an empty nest) was made easier when I gave myself permission to share. By committing to photographing, documenting and posting while exploring a few things I'm passionate about, I've been able to define what more I might do with my that there is more time. To see, as I chose topics and subjects, what rose to the top. Should I have been doing this all along the way during the past 24 years? Maybe. I am definitely aware of how much I would have loved it if certain aspects of the Internet had been around when our boys were much younger. (Not to date myself...but I didn't discover blogs until a couple years ago.)

I've spent some time wondering if I have used my time in this space in the way I hoped I would. Did I find new things out about myself? Confirm what I have already known? Have I discovered new interests and met new people? Learned more about my relationship with my camera, keyboard and computer? With those I know and love? There have been a few dead ends for sure, but overall, the answer is 'yes'. And now that I've completed my first year, I'm looking  forward to the next.......few. It's made a difference in my life. I hope that in some small way it has made a difference in yours too, for we are all in whatever it is we're in.....together.

Warmly, Margaret

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

As a youngster coming home from school, I was occasionally greeted by the scent of  banana bread before I even hit the steps leading up to the back door. Once inside I knew I'd find a couple loaves resting on the counter......because "there were some bananas turning black and I didn't want to waste them."  On another day I might see a pie cooling on a rack and be informed, "I had a little sour cream so I made a raisin pie." Short sentences or comments casually uttered years ago by one or the other of my parents surface every once in awhile, which I realize, still make a difference in my days. Remembering this makes me hope that I've provided my boys with useful snippets of conversation to take away for their futures, especially knowing how they squirm at the mention of a 'few suggestions', a 'talk' or worse yet a lecture. (I try hard not to............)

Remember last week when I made Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream? Since the recipe only called for one cup of pumpkin puree, and since I only had a large can of it in the pantry, I ended up with a leftover bowl in the fridge. Not wanting to waste, I planned at some point to make muffins with the remainder. As I set out to do so yesterday morning....thinking that the scent would be kind of a nice thing for the two boys I still have at home to wake up to (not to mention the finished product.....the ones I make have chocolate chips in them....) I became side tracked by a memory of a recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls rattling around in my brain. Once it popped in there, I couldn't seem to let it and the fact that I want to become more successful with my yeast dough baking go, so I searched my cookbooks to find one. I finally chose one from

Although it took a bit longer than muffins would have, I was more than happy with the finished product. The extra time I hadn't planned to spend baking was worth it. I didn't waste leftover ingredients. The scent of cinnamon, ginger and cloves that wafted up the stairs, may have been even more delicious and tempting than the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins I intended to make. I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand (including a can of evaporated milk....which I normally wouldn't have around except for the recent holidays). Working with yeast dough, which has always been a little awkward for me, most likely due to my lack of practice, seemed a bit easier.......less awkward this time.

I remembered some things. I learned some things.

Here is a link to the recipe I used: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. My computer is in the shop (again), but I'll come back and post a couple of photos here on Monday. 

Some notes:
 - I made 'pumpkin pie spice' by mixing together the spices I would normally use when making two pies into a small bowl. Two tsp went into the dough, then enough cinnamon was added to what was left over to make two tbsp for the filling.
 - I baked the rolls for 30 minutes, but they could have used another five or maybe ten.
 - I didn't have cream cheese in the house, so made a buttercream frosting and added a bit of almond extract to it as well as the vanilla called for.

Wishing you a Wonderful Weekend!

Warmly, Margaret

PS. Have you noticed I've made a shift from Tues/Fri posts to Wed/Sat posts? I'm not even sure how or why that happened! Probably due to one extra-busy day during the holiday season......and then it seemed to stick. I'll still be posting twice a week on what ever combination of days that seem to work best this year. Thank you so much for reading and for checking in! XO

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Season

It's funny how, after days and weeks of planning and excitement, you know when Christmas is over. Taking it all down, putting it all away, ranks among my least favorite jobs, but once I get started I tend to make a clean sweep. On that one morning when I get up and realize that I can't do anything else BUT put Christmas away, I usually don't stop until I'm finished.

Ornaments are taken off the tree and out of the china cabinet. They are removed from the center of the dining room table, the top of the bookcase in the hall, the stairway and the fireplace hearth. Tissue wrapped and put into labeled boxes, they are placed on shelves in the back of the garage until next year.  

It was a great I can look back on and feel content and happy about. My goal was to spend less and simplify. To make what gifts I could and be thoughtful about the rest. To pay attention to relationships and why it means something to me to celebrate Christmas in the first place.

I'm proud of our family as well. The five of us spent some good time together. Expectations were realistic and appreciation was high. But it's time to move on to a new month and a new season. Sometime within the next week I'm hoping to outline my plans and goals for the year. I want to figure out what I'd like to focus on for the next few months......but first......I'm going to take a few days off and REST!!

Wishing you a wonderful start to the New Year!

Warmly, Margaret
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