Love, Laughter, and Life

The Writing Life of a Woman Who Might Be Missing a Few Brain Cells


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Motorcycle Monday – 3 Washington Rides

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Glowing trees north of Roslyn

I am out of motorcycle shape! In spite of late afternoon heat and tired backsides, we managed to enjoy 3 different motorcycle rides over the long weekend.

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Heading south on the Yakama Indian Reservation

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Mt. Adams

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Wild horses

1. Friday night, we helmeted up and rode south on Highway 97, turned right on Lateral A, and continued out to White Swan. I’ve always love this ride, having spent nearly 30 years living in the lower valley. At White Swan, we followed Signal Peak Road up to the end of the public road. The round trip was nearly 100 miles and gorgeous. We saw wild horses, but only 10 or so, less than normal; plus wild horse rib cages and assorted bits. A bald eagle perched on a bluff (we suspect dead bodies for tasty snacks were somewhere close, per the nose turning odors), and when we stopped to stretch, we were nearly swarmed by huge black bees. They seemed hungry and ready for fresh meat. Maybe they were a type of wasp instead. Mt. Adams beamed white amidst blue skies and fluffy clouds and the entire valley was in full production – orchards, vineyards, planted fields, cattle, and much more.

2. Saturday we took a longer ride, almost 200 miles, spanning most of the day. We drove north through the Yakima River Canyon, one of our favorite drives. Bald eagles, deer, bighorn sheep, and hordes of those two-legged campers, fishers, and recreating humans gave us company for the ride. In Ellensburg, we stopped for coffee. Then we followed Highway 10 to Cle Elum, barely hanging on when we encountered bridge repairs! The first one had us riding air, but after that we were prepared. We continued through Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald, until we reached the end of the road and Salmon la Sac. The Cle Elum River was noisy and rolling due to snow melt. That did not deter campers from wading! Brr. On our return home, we stopped for lunch at The Brick (Roslyn) and searched out a rose-flavored dark chocolate treat at the Roslyn Candy Company. We backtracked a bit, looped along the Thorp Highway, and returned to the Yakima Valley returned through the canyon.

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Highway 241

3. Monday we were up and out early, due to expected high temps later in the day. We took the slow road – Yakima Valley Highway – towards the lower valley. This is such a pretty drive through orchards, farms, and small communities. We went as far south as Sunnyside, then took Highway 241 over the top of the hills to Highway 24, which led us back to Yakima. Along the Yakima River, I saw several cranes and a block of whirling pelicans. A stalking coyote was circling a herd of black cows who were grazing way out in the middle of nowhere. Yikes! I shook my finger at him, but I don’t think it helped. Babies were everywhere – foals, calves, lambs, kids. This ride was shorter than the other days, but a great outing.

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Heading into the Yakima River Canyon

Let’s talk about smell-o-vision. This is a real thing on motorcycles. What you see, or don’t see, you will smell. The good, the bad, the ugly. Mint, flowers, freshly cut hay, hops, dust, horses, fast food restaurants. The list of good-to-smell is unending. The bad? Think cow poop, skunks, diesel exhaust, asphalt, smoke, garbage. The ugly? Dead stuff. I know they are ugly because I can smell them and it is not pretty! While some road kill is evident alongside the road, others lurk mysteriously out of sight. But not out of nose.

What’s the trade-off for the icky smells? Wonderful fresh air, the joy of wind blowing along your body, and rolling scenery. It’s worth every smell and bug splatter.

Where did your journeys take you this weekend?

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Just us, goofing around 


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Expecting Spring

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tightly closed fists peek

pink wisps bulge with life – spring yearns,

bursts forth, nest and tree alike

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The most hopeful of seasons, spring, lies in wait, gathering herself in preparation to leap into the exploding fray of growth, buzzing with energy and promise.

 

What signs of spring do you see in your area?


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From Snow to Pansies

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It has ever been such a long, cold, snow-bound winter for us. The first season of surprises in our RV.

Not sticker or culture, but rather seasonal challenges and lack-of-space shock.

Today dawned with swirling and dancing fog. Thick mists block sun rays, and though the weather “suggestions” report zero chance of rain, my eyes tell me the overhead clouds and heaviness may disagree.

Yet spring is here. We have moved from this:

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to this:

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Cheerful pansies rest and smile in rain dampened glory.

Content.


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Snow Cream

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Today is it, folks. At least for the Yakima Valley. Maybe.

Time to get out there and grab a bowl full of clean fresh snow before the rains hit tomorrow. Let’s make snow cream!

Snow Cream

  1. Fill a cereal bowl with clean snow. If you are doing this with kids, give them each a bowl to fill.
  2. To each bowl add about: 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and enough 1/2 & 1/2 or milk to desired consistency. Mix with a spoon. This is very light sugar, as I don’t care for syrupy sweet stuff, but you can add more sugar if you want. This would also be great with fresh fruit.
  3. Eat, enjoy, repeat.

My mom used to make snow cream for us when I was a kid. I think she used to add eggs. But I’m not a big fan of raw eggs, and I was a kid. I could be way off base. Either way, no eggs.

Brain freeze!

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Going to the Beach in Washington

Hayden, 7, at Owens Beach, Pt. Defiance, WA. The gray? Rain. Sheets of.

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

When in Washington (the state), going to the beach may look different than going to the beach in other locations.

For instance, one may need to wear a winter hat at our beaches.

Hayden, Audrey, and Khloe sporting layers, hats (including winter), and beach tools.

Sweatshirts may be required.

You will get wet. With rain more than salt water.

Barnacles and tiny crabs abound.

Picnics are held under shelter. Or you eat wet food.

 

Picnics under shelter keep the food dry.

Seagulls will peck open unattended packages and ruin the cookies.

Sand will be discovered in odd and stayed-in-the-van-how-did-sand-get-there places.

You will bring too many things in order to plan for any type of weather.

Gage, 1. The same beach and same age when Hayden first went to the beach.

You will take home more than you bargained for. Some of those things will smell after a day or so.

Laundry and deep cleaning will be necessary once you get home.

He who wanted to throw himself into the water. Or eat sand. It was hands-on-Gage for one adult at all times.

Wet, cold, damp, briny kids smell just like that in the close confines of a van. Wet. Damp. Cold. Briny.

Umbrellas are often in use.

Can you see the little feathery barnacles? The openings are ones that are feeding.

One might wear a camera around the neck, but it will be covered with a plastic grocery bag that is tied tightly to keep out the rain. And sand. And stuff.

Water sandals are the perfect shoe. Waterproof and protective against stones.

Seals will wonder what you are doing. Bald eagles will soar, seagulls will annoy, ferries will pass, squirrels will steal, raccoons will beg, deer will graze.

Looking at wildlife.

Those dead looking rocks with barnacle crusts are not dead. Just put them in a bowl of ocean water and see what happens.

Strangers are kind. They may even bring a new crab specimen and seaweed clump for investigation.

Our barnacle and crab observation project.

On rainy days, you will mostly have the beach to yourself.

You can still get sunburned if it’s raining and cold.

If you want to go to the beach, go. Sunny or rainy, windy or stormy, the beach is a wonderful destination. Just know that our beaches will not resemble southern beaches (most of the time). The water will not be warm. Body extremities will turn blue. Noses will run.

But it will be the beach.

The group – minus the photographer who quickly unwrapped the camera for a quick shot.

Layer up, my dears. Or at least plan for a variety of beach weather. This is the life of Washington beaches.


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The Threat – Can Cats Read?

The experiment – Can cats read?

By Angie Quantrell Angie Quantrell

My husband walked into the kitchen with a guilty grin on his face.

“What?”

“Nothing,” he smirked.

Seeing I wasn’t convinced, he added, “I’m just laughing at your book on CD.”

Ok. Weird. But I let it go.

After dinner, I went out to tidy up the patio and harvest strawberries. And then I saw why he was giggly.

On the chalkboard we have mounted to a wall (for the grands, of course), someone had drawn and written a message.

To our neighborhood bully cat, Mr. Mustache, or Stache. From our gray girls, Mabel and Monet.

Can cats read? Do they understand a threat? Is humor lost on them?

It seems my husband thinks so.

Did his threat work?

I’m sorry to say, but no, Stache has still been around spraying on our windows and chasing the girls inside.

To conclude this experiment in cat communication skills, we may assume that:

1. Cats cannot read.

2. Cats don’t care if you threaten them.

3. Cats don’t get humor.

 

Stache, boldly making his visit

Or maybe, cats just don’t read message boards.

Read more about Stache, the Bully, here.


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Happy Earth Day!

Blossoms in the spring

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

Happy Earth Day, Earth!

What a wonderful world we live in – beautiful, fascinating, safe, peaceful, dangerous, harsh, mysterious, vast, surprising, and awe-inspiring.

I’m glad I live here.

In honor of Earth Day, I think it appropriate to give a gift.

So I will do something good for the Earth today. Maybe several somethings.

 

My gifts shall be:

– picking up any trash I see

– making sure I water only what needs water, not the sidewalk, gutter, or driveway

– turning off electrical devices I am not actually using

– planting something pretty (or tasty)

– giving thanks to God for such an amazing place to live

Tulips opened to catch the sun

Earth Day Haiku

 

Earth home, designed gift

fashioned by God’s mighty hand

habitat for us

Fruit trees in bloom

What will your gift be?


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The Curious Garden ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

A garden that is curious?

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown

(Little, Brown and Company; 2009)

The Curious Garden is a picture book that was inspired by the Manhattan Highline Railway.

I’ve read articles about the Highline that tell how the lonely stretch of railway has been transformed into beautiful public gardens. But this is the first picture book I’ve found on the topic.

The Curious Garden tells the tale of Liam, a young boy who explores the empty spaces to find railways breaking down and nature taking over. Liam decides to help. Together, Liam and the garden grow and explore the empty spaces.

“The garden was especially curious about old, forgotten things.”

I love that sentence. The garden is not just a thing in this book, but one of the main characters!

The Curious Garden (doesn’t the title take on a new personna after you’ve read the above sentence?) will delight explorers and nature lovers.

KID KANDY:

Nature Walk

I walk almost every day through my neighborhood. When I walk tomorrow, I am going to look for places that nature is acting curious and spreading in unexpected places.

How about you?

Ask a parent or sibling to walk with you.

Look for:

– weeds growing in sidewalk cracks

– flowers springing up in odd spots

– old rusted things covered in grasses or vines

– moss creeping along damp, shady areas

– nature that is being mysterious and curious as it expands to new areas

What did you see?


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Woodpecker Wham! ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Nonfiction picture book that delights and informs!

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

Woodpecker Wham!

By April Pulley Sayre

Illustrated by Steve Jenkins

(Henry Holt and Company, 2015)

Woodpecker Wham! is a delightful book told in rhyme. Readers will enjoy wonderful, bright illustrations about the life cycle and habits of woodpeckers that fill the pages of this picture book. Text written with descriptive words and words of sounds made by woodpeckers imparts information in a simple and clean way.

I loved reading the end notes that gave interesting facts and explanations about woodpecker habits. Why do woodpeckers ‘ant’? Where do woodpeckers nest? How do they secure their homes? Fascinating.

Learning about birds? Woodpecker Wham! is the perfect book to read with children.

KID KANDY:

Bird Hunt

1. Look at the illustrations of Woodpecker Wham! Remember the colors, shapes, and habits so you can use them to help you locate woodpeckers.

2. Find a pair of binoculars and put on sturdy shoes.

3. Ask a parent or older sibling to go with you.

4. Walk around your yard, neighborhood, or in a wooded area and scout for woodpeckers. You may need to listen for their calls or ‘pecking,’ check tree trunks for nesting cavities, or watch for their particular flight patterns. Once you see them, you will figure out how to easily spot them in the future.

5. Take photos with your mind! When you get home, check out the book again and see if you saw one of the featured woodpeckers. Or look in a bird identification book to find the bird you saw.

6. Draw a picture of the bird you saw and where you spotted it. If you didn’t find any, don’t give up. Draw a picture of the birds you want to find.

7. Keep looking.

Birds are amazing! I can always tell when woodpeckers (we have flickers in our neighborhood) are racing around. Both woodpeckers and jays are loud! 

Happy bird hunting.