Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Playing hard. Really hard.

You guys (and gals): I don't want to overwhelm y'all, but I could seriously publish a new blog post with gorgeous photos every single day.

You know we live in paradise, and you know we work really, really hard, and we play really, really hard.  The Pacific Northwest is a huge playground, and we max out the fun.

I take lots of pictures, and then only a tiny percentage makes it onto this blog, because there's just too much beauty.

Let me show you some of the highlights from the past couple of weeks.

For example, Cutthroat Pass.  My 12-year old son Luke has been obsessed with mountain biking, saving all his hard-earned money to buy himself a decent bike.  I go biking with him, since I love it, and although I tend to swallow his dust and he has to wait for me to catch up, we have lots of fun.

We biked the first 2/3, then hiked the last 1/3.  The total distance to get to Cutthroat Pass is 11.5 miles.  Elevation gain: 2,300 feet.  It was hard and rocky and insane, but worth it.  Look:

My husband Steve, our son Kai, daughter Eva and the two dogs met us when we were on our way down.  Steve and Kai ran up to the summit (yes, they are gnarly, too), while the rest of us kept descending.

Our foofy dog Yoda was a trooper.  That dog is tough, and he hiked the whole way.

Cutthroat lake lower down is beautiful, and a great place to put our steaming feet into.

That night, we camped under the stars, dogs, stinky feet and all, and the next day Luke dragged me up Bear Mountain in the Methow Valley, gorgeous, hot, scenic, and yet another incredible bonding time with my boy.

We only saw one other person on the trail - a guy whose face lit up when he saw us, and he yelled, "It's so awesome to see a Mom up here with her boy!"

Yes, it's true.  I wonder how many mothers are crazy enough to do stuff like this with their sons.  I'm 45, he's 12.  He has so much energy.  And I?  Well, I have enough, I suppose, but it's not easy.  

The reason I subject myself to this heavy duty exercise is because I can see that Luke respects me for it, and thinks I'm cool.  I like the endorphin high.  Plus, buns of steel, man!

Next up in our playing-hard-saga was a canoe and kayak trip down the Skagit River, right by our homestead.  I'm scared of the river, because I don't know enough about eddies and currents and logjams, but with Steve by my side, I feel confident enough.

So one afternoon, the boys, Steve and I floated down the river, while Eva stayed on land at a playdate with her best friend.

They call it the "Magic Skagit" for a reason.  The color of this river, the scenery, the backdrop, it's all fairy-tale-like.

I don't know why Steve stood up in the canoe in this picture.  He'll do anything to get me to admire his butt.

And then, check this out: You know how easy it is to forget about your relationship with your husband/wife?  How easy it is to let your connection slip and slip and slip, to not make each other a priority, to get so busy with life and responsibilities that you forget why you were crazy about each other in the first place?

So we decided to have a day-date in Anacortes, the location of our favorite restaurant in the world (It's called "Adrift" in case you're local).  We took the kayaks out on the salt water for our date, and it was absolutely perfect.  And yes, I do remember why I am crazy about my man.

We did a hike to Green Mountain as well, but this has to be a separate blog post in a few days.  I'll include pictures that Luke shot.  They are amazing, so make sure to read the post when it's up.

In the meantime, the garden keeps cranking.  Pickling and canning season is just around the corner.  I'm holding out a bit, because I don't want to steam up the kitchen.  It's been so hot!

We eat like royalty.  Roasted chicken cooked over an open fire, tons of veggies, eggs from our high producing chickens...

And in the midst of it all, I'm making yogurt, chevre and cheese.  Life is so abundant!!!

I will leave you with an image of a magical place: a spot by a little meandering creek at our friends' house.  I am convinced fairies and gnomes live there.

And, very exciting: I wrote an article on foraging for wild berries, and it's published in Llewellyn's Herbal Almanac 2018.  I am now officially a paid, published author.


  1. So great. So, so great! Steve might be standing up because he has amazing balance and so he can see what's up ahead in the water. Voyageur! (french canoe man) I grew up with canoeing. What elevation do you live at? You must be already acclimated to elevation. At least somewhat if not a lot. I think I told you we hiked to a series of Sierra lakes very similar to yours but I didn't make it because I was not acclimated to hiking at elevation. We live almost at sea level. I bet it's only a few hundred feet here.

    Your garden and everything looks so wonderful. Again Eye Vacation! We are roasting here. Yesterday 107. We heard Portland was 110. It used to cool off at night very well. Now it's cooling off only a little. The water in the cold tap comes out warm. Yes! The underground water lines must be too close to the surface. The ground is hot. Marty's horse is shod. When he picked up Blue's feet the shoes were hot! If we can make it through August...

    1. He does have an amazing balance!
      We live only at 500 feet elevation, but as soon as you leave our place, it goes up, up, up!
      Yes, it's been hot!!! Not like at your place, but still... And fires... wildfires...
      Awwww, poor horse-y!!

  2. I feel so lazy after reading your posts, but it doesn't stop me because I love reading about your adventures! And I'm so excited for your published article :^) I will definitely be picking it up (love the Llewelyn almanacs).

    1. Awesome! The 2018 Almanac is great, and I'm excited for you to read it!

  3. Oh- you guys are getting wildfires too- eh- I've been wondering- thinking probably- but I wasn't sure as you had not mentioned it. We are lucky this summer- lots of the are west and north of here is getting hit hard-but so far we have 1 large fire that it not in an interface area- so long as it stays out of our water catchment area- we'll be ok for one more year.

    I need to do a better job of getting our go kit ready- I find it challenging- especially with kid gear- since they are always growing- plus the seasons...

    1. Yes, we do have some pretty crazy wildfire action going on. There's a big fire in Canada, and the haze from the smoke is drifting down here.
      I'll write about it in my next blog post!
      Yes, I hear you about growing kids!

  4. I am always in awe about how you guys manage over there. Such a lush garden, such bountiful crops and meals, such leisure.
    I know it is hard work, but how do you free the time and energy, when battling the system? That does take so much energy and time over here.....

    1. Good question, Ron. Here's the thing: we don't battle the system. Battling is a waste of energy, in my opinion. Instead, we live according to our values, according to what we want to see increase in the world: love, self-sufficiency, health, respect. So we live like this and model this way of living to the world, and whoever wants to be inspired can join into the lifestyle...

    2. With battling I mean getting away from the cycle "Pay taxes and insurances, obey the laws, get a paid job" in order to comply with step 1.
      How does one combine the mandatory obedience to crushing laws and regulations, resulting in the necessity of a paid job and have a flourishing homestead plus a family at the same time?
      Maybe homeschooling in the early years does create room for that by eliminating one cycle of obligations, laws, the need for a car and resulting expenses plus the lack of systemic poisoning of children's minds enables them to participate and help out at home instead?

    3. Big and important points here, Ron. Maybe I have to write a blog post about all that some day!


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