Tuesday, December 23, 2014


When I was a little girl, I loved playing with the Christmas village that my Mother set up under our Christmas tree.  It allowed me to play make-believe to my heart's content.

As I grew older, make-believe faded a bit, until it occurred to me that I might have my own dream village, and with that, THE COLLECTION began.  It took over 20 years to amass the houses, barns, cows, boats, lighthouse, forest, people, etc., etc, but I finally had my own village - "JoJo's Village" - which fit into a large area of my home.

When we moved to Sequim and downsized our dwelling, I pondered what to do with my collection, until my Mother moved into a retirement community with lots of empty floor space.  It's been my delight for the past two years to set up JoJo's Village for the enjoyment of the residents, and I've challenged them to pick a character and invent a life story for him or her.  It turns out that you're never too old to play make-believe!  Who knew?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

JOY - Just off the Road

We had some snow last week - not much, but enough to cover the ground and make it look rather festive.  To our surprise, it lasted several days since the temperature stayed below freezing.  Our grandson, who moved here along with his mother and us last year, was born and raised in Alaska, and he insists that he's got Alaskan blood which equates to shorts all winter long, and seldom a need for a coat.  The snow has melted, but our fearless offspring continues to flaunt his thick blood and lack of need for any type of external warmth.  Grandma has been luckless in trying to get him to wear at least long sleeves and long pants, but this lack of shoes is really about more that I can bear.  Oh well, maybe next year...

"LITTLE BIT" - Just off the Road

 My grandson has been bugging his mother for a year to get a snake, gecko, lizard, or some sort of reptilian species.  For a year she made him do his homework, researching the different types, what they require, how to care for and feed them, how long they live, etc. etc.  To her surprise, he was diligent and she finally caved.  The new resident of their home is a water dragon which, according to the pet store lady, is the easiest and least problematic member of the lizard family.  The rub came with the task of selecting a name.  They've ranged from Bob to Wizard to Nacho to Steve until at last, under threat of "nameless" the choice has been made to go with Little Bit.  He is, after all, a small lizard, and though he eats mealworms and kale and live crickets, he's pretty benign.

Little Bit has been accepted by the cats, the dog, and the grandparents, though my husband has yet to hold him.  He's the newest resident of our little bit of heaven - just off the road.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS - Just off the Road

 In downtown Sequim there are a myriad of Christmas lights at the main intersection.  There are lighted trees, walls, bushes, tractors, reindeer and sleigh.  Not being one to take anything for granted, my photographer spouse spent an hour last week fiddling with his camera and the lights.  What he came home with was a whole new way to look at decorations.  He says the reindeer shot was an accident, but it inspired him to see what else he could create.
 This shot is the result of zooming backward with his wide-angle lens.  Who knew that Christmas lights could generate fireworks?  I think I'll send him out again this week.  There are all sorts of decorations that might need a new perspective.

DUNGENESS RIVER - Just off the Road

Not far from our home is the Dungeness River.  Over the past year it's played host to rock skipping, jumping from a rope swing, wading, hiking, gazing, and just plain awe!  This river hosts a myriad of fish, birds, bugs and people, but its beauty lies in the variety that each season brings. 

 One of its most famous features is Railroad Bridge.  It's at the beginning of a wonderful trail that we've explored on several occasions.  We've walked the dog, dodged bicycles, avoided horse droppings, sweated while cycling on a too-warm day, and generally enjoyed this natural feature of our neighborhood.  What a special place we live in!

Monday, November 17, 2014

TOTEMS - Just off the Road

We're blessed in this area to benefit from the beautiful art of the Jamestown S'klallam Tribe.  People heading into Sequim on Highway 101 marvel at the amazing totems that adorn the tribe's main complex.  These colorful poles tell the tale of legends long past, but I'm always drawn to the individual faces, which seem to be staring into the past with all-knowing gazes.

This figure seems to be looking down at me, staring right into me.  He has knowledge about things that I can only imagine.  He's not smug, but rather, he's wise.

On the other hand, this figure helps me to know that life isn't to be taken too seriously.  He's obviously got some mischief in mind, and I think that he wishes some mischief for my life as well.  Once in a while it's a good idea to stop and check out these figures, invent stories for them, and let your imagination run wild.

BRRR - Just off the Road

It's getting chilly here in Sequim.  Not nearly as cold as Alaska usually is (though not this year), but cold enough that we're forced to turn on our new propane fireplace.  I wasn't so sure about giving up the woodstove, but this new unit is clean and when I want some heat, I simply throw a switch.  I like that!  Not one to miss an opportunity, my camera-toting husband spent an evening this week lying on his stomach, gazing though his lens, and snapping away.  The result is something both beautiful and interesting.  I like the blue glass on the bottom of the fireplace, since it adds an unusual quality to the flame.

More interesting still is the single tongue of flame that he caught.  It looks lonely in this picture, but it was doing its part, along with its mates, to warm up our chilly November evening, while adding art to our living room.

FORMS - Just off the Road

While wandering around Sequim, my husband has come across some of the most interesting forms.  This one, for example, is a simple park bench, but with an artist's eye, he was able to make it into an artistic shot which leads the eye and the brain to wonder what in the world he was looking at.

In our home, he found one of my favorite collectibles - a glass paperweight.  This one is in the shape of a crashing wave, but this close up made me wonder how his mind works.  Art and beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

We just finished a kitchen remodel, but leave it to my loving spouse to think outside the box.  He took one look at this cabinet with its handles and next thing I knew, he was setting up the tripod, placing a sheet of blue poster board on the floor, and snap - a form that blew my mind.

The lesson in all this is that we often overlook the obvious in our daily journey.  We're so busy scanning the big picture that we fail to take the time to see what's right in front of us.  My husband is learning that lesson well.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

WEBS - Just off the Road

Who knew that spiders were artists?  As I take my morning walks, I often stop to marvel at the ethereal beauty created by the arachnids of Sequim.  They pick the most beautiful, the most unlikely, the most annoying of places to spin their magic.  It's not unusual for me to end up with a web stretched across my face... and how did they manage to put their web where there is no visible anchor?

 My husband finds art is the most unlikely places, and the best times are when the dew is wet on the grass and glistening on spider art.

These spinners of art seem to have an unerring sense of direction as they turn in circles, around and around, to create their lair.  That's the unappealing part of their work.  These lovely, artsy, photogenic creations are traps for the unsuspecting.  They've done their work well, since they trap us into stopping a while, admiring the gift that nature has bestowed on them. Who knew that something so deadly could be so amazing!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

BEARS - Just off the Road

"There's bears in them thar hills!"  Possibly true in Alaska, but who knew that it could be the case in little ole' Sequim? 

Part of the charm of this lovely place is its diversity.  Cows in the middle of town, lavender everywhere, our own Costco, and now BEARS!  For instance, there are the waving bears to be found at the Olympic Game Farm.  Leftover, I read, from the days of the wonderful Disney nature movies, they perform on cue for a little slice of bread - wheat only.

But being Sequim, I naturally expect there are other types of bears, and I'm not surprised to find my niece cozying up to the more benign type found everywhere at a popular local restaurant.
I love Sequim.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Just when I think I've figured it out, it comes up with something that surprises and delights.  I'm so glad we moved!

Saturday, September 20, 2014



A few weeks ago my family and I decided that it was time!  We’d lived in Sequim for nearly a year, gazed across the water at the light blinking in the distance, walked along the first mile of the Dungeness Spit, but never had the courage to go the distance.

With pedometer on my belt, hiking boots on my feet, backpack full of lunch, snacks and water on my back, we set out.  My spouse is the photographer in the group, so he hiked with his “large” photo pack, full of lenses, filters, batteries, water, rain gear, first aid kit, etc. (he likes to be prepared), while my grandson went pack-less so he could move more easily, since moving is everything to him.  My daughter went with her essentials – mainly sunscreen, a sun hat, sun glasses, and a sun shirt since she’s pretty allergic when overexposed.

It seemed so far away, but the distance melted away as we discovered the many interesting things to be found on the spit.

First up was the wonderful rock cairns scattered everywhere in one section of the beach.  We could have lost a lot of time there, since the grandson wanted to build and rebuild each one. 

He settled for the discovery of a Canadian flag washed up on the beach, with which he roused the seagulls from their lethargy.

The discovery of a huge barnacle was worthy of a few minutes of photography to my husband.

For my daughter and me, the randomness and beauty of the driftwood caused us to stop often just to explore.

When we arrived at the light, we enjoyed a tour, ate lunch on the lovely green lawn, and contemplated the 6 ½ mile hike back to our car. 

The end result of our adventure was a vow to return as lighthouse keepers for a week.  What better way to experience the ocean than being a part of this time-honored tradition?  As the sign says:  “”Welcome to Serenity.”

COWS - Just off the Road

There was once a young farm girl who had a favorite heifer named Tiny.  She loved her, bathed her, showed her, won ribbons with her, and generally spent most of her spare time… with a cow!

Not a bad thing really, but life has changed for me.  It’s been years since I milked a cow, cleaned a stable, drove a tractor and hay baler.  Fortunately when I take my daily walk, I’m blessed to see all types of cows.  There are baby ones, shaggy ones, pretty ones, scary ones, sleek ones.

Who knew that a community this size would have pastures right in the middle of town?  It’s one of the things I love about Sequim.  Its diversity blesses me every day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

HAY - Just off the Road

Hay can be beautiful!  I remember thinking (when I was a young girl), that it would be a good idea for someone to make HAY perfume.  The smell of fresh-cut grass was so appealing to me then, just as it is now.

As I drive around Sequim, I notice that there is a beautiful geometry to be found in hay.  The rows contain symmetry, the stacks of hay bales are impressive, the straightness of the lines made by the mower indicate the quality of the farmer.  At least that was an indicator when I was growing up in Pennsylvania. We had some rather strange ways of rating farmers back then… Was their barn painted?  Were their corn rows straight?  Did they get more than four cuttings of hay in a season?  Were their cows clean and pretty?

By my indicators, the farmers around here are doing pretty well.  My dad would be impressed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BARNS - Just off the Road

Barns are personal.  Rather like people in some ways.  Having grown up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, I can relate.  Our barn was strong and sturdy, well-maintained, and painted an unassuming barn-red.  When I think of it, that barn was a great representation of the man who owned it, my dad.

As I drive around our new home in Sequim, WA, I see a wide variety of barns and it makes me wonder about the people they represent.  Just down the road from our house is a particularly dilapidated barn. 

 I can see the sky through the missing roof, the breeze blows through the walls, and there are weeds everywhere.  There’s also a No Trespassing sign posted, so we can’t walk near it.  Perhaps the owner was a private guy.  He might have enjoyed star-gazing, so the holes in the roof were purposeful.  Or maybe he just got tired, and chose not to farm anymore.  Either way, the barn is beautiful in its own way, and it must be full of wonderful stories.
Another barn is, how shall I say, meticulous!  It’s neat as a pin, landscaped, (who ever heard of a landscaped barn?) and appears to be without a single loose board.  It seems that this farmer might be gentlemanly, or perhaps he has a wife who loves to decorate.  I wonder if there’s anything in there that is barn-like, dirty, smelly, or maybe there are flower pots and seed packets.

BIG is the word for the next barn on my list.  When I was growing up, the size and appearance of a man’s barn said a lot about him as a farmer, a success, and an example.  If the adage that big is boss still holds true, this barn is truly the boss of barns in Clallam County.  Its owner must love to do things in an over-the-top way, or perhaps he just has a lot of cows to feed.  Maybe he collects tractors (Oh, what I’d give to drive a Farmall H again!).  At any rate, he’ll never have trouble finding his way home on a cloudy night.

There’s a structure on my list that barely qualifies as barn-like, but it’s lovingly tended and speaks volumes about its farmer.  Maybe this barn was built because someone had a dream when he was a little boy.  He played with toy farm sets, plowed imaginary fields, and just knew that someday he’d drive those huge machines down the road, feeling all grownup and important.  Dreams sometimes need downsizing, but this barn tells me that once dreamed, they can come true.