Sunday, December 18, 2016

the Santa Train


Last Sunday I rode the Santa Train from North Bend to Snoqualmie.  I was so excited to ride the train and my high expectations were easily met.  The old train pulled into the station and everyone scrambled aboard.  We headed for the last car since there was no line and the others were boarding the first car they saw.  This was a very good move.  As I climbed the stairs and stood on the entrance platform I glanced to the right and saw there was plenty of room for us but I also quickly glanced to the left and saw, oh my goodness, I can't believe this!!!, the antique car!  Burgundy velvet upholstery, dark stained woodwork and stain glass clerestory windows. All together in one car!!  Of course I'm sitting here!  Everything was original to the car.  The small tears in the upholstery had been carefully stitched closed.  Perfect!  The car was decorated with garlands and had a very Victorian feel.

As we eased along the tracks on our way to the depot in Snoqualmie we listened for the train horn to signal as it crossed the country roads.  Two long blasts, one short and another long blast.  That was the signal.  We sang seasonal holiday songs and looked out the window to see the snow covered landscape.  And then, we arrived at our destination.  Santa was waiting.

at the depot

The Snoqualmie train depot is beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.  In one main room there stands a large decorated tree loaded with twinkling lights and shining stars.  This is Santa's room! He is here to great all the good children and he really takes his time with each child listening to their hopes and dreams.  Behind the depot are located two older rail cars and they both had been carefully restored. They were used on this special day to bake homemade cookies and serve up hot cider.  One of the cars was originally the kitchen car.  It had a massive black wood burning stove that was in use baking the cookies and heating the cider.  The baker was a master at maneuvering the cookies around the ovens so that the cookies were evenly baked.  Very impressive.  The second car was a former baggage car and we were able to sit on the side benches and enjoy our treats.  The large wood frame depot was built in the late 1890's and has been remarkably well maintained and is staffed by caring volunteers.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

the crismon tree

This beautifully decorated crismon tree sat in the front of the sanctuary of the church I attended today.    The ornaments were hand made and pure white.  I love to see a sanctuary decorated with a tree and poinsettias during Advent and Christmastide.  Enjoy the lovely tree.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

beauty in nature

Tonight it is cold outside.  Snow is starting to fall.  I have seen the leaves burst forth in harvest colors in October and then turn brown in November.  Now, in December, the leaves have fallen.  The seasons change.  I came across these pictures that I took in late September as I was driving west in the great state of Montana and I am reminded that it was just a short time ago that flowers were still in bloom and horses roamed free under a cloudless sky.  The beauty of nature is revealed everyday.  It changes with the seasons but it is always present in one way or another.  Just open your eyes and look around you.

Monday, December 5, 2016

where the Spirit leads you

Don't ever be grumpy...especially on a Sunday morning.  You may end up somewhere you didn't expect to be but maybe that's the place you are supposed to be.  Like yesterday, hmmm.  I set out for church.  I thought I knew exactly where the church was located but I was wrong.  I may have passed it or maybe the road veered off in another direction (and I didn't).  Anyway, I knew the service had started and here I was, still driving around a country road looking for the church.  I was already in an "off" mood and this didn't help any.  So I backtracked and ended up driving into downtown Issaquah. Certainly there had to be a church here to attend.  I looked for a steeple to guide me.  None to be seen.  So, I turned into a food store parking lot and across the street I saw a little church.  (angels singing!) O.K., that will be fine.  It was a chapel.  I walked across the street, stood outside the front door and listened to the music.  It was wonderful.  A group of men were singing.  I walked in and was immediately approached by a smiling woman who asked if I spoke Chinese.  I said no but I would like to stay.  I sat down and listened and listened and listened.  Music is universally enjoyable and so is a good sermon.  The minister was very exuberant. His delivery was animated and he cracked some good jokes. (The congregation was laughing, that's how I know.) I didn't understand a word he was saying but I loved being there.  Communion was served.  The offering baskets were passed.  And, in the end, I was introduced as a guest.  I gave my name and was asked how I came to worship there.  Well.....I liked the music!  People were chuckling, I know, but I was genuinely happy to be there.  I was asked if I would come back again (more chuckling) and I said YES and I would bring my family, too!  This church serves the Chinese community in Issaquah and it served me, too.  You see, don't ever start out your day (especially Sunday) in a grumpy mood.  You never know what will happen and maybe, just maybe, through unexplained measures, your grumpiness will dissolve in a most pleasant and unexpected way.   halleluia

Sunday, December 4, 2016

bonfire on the beach

It's December so why not light a bonfire down on the beach at Lake Sammamish?  That's what was done last evening...not by us, of course, but by the parks and rec people.  And, we were there to enjoy it.  All through December there will be fires lit along the beach and the public is invited to bring hot dogs or marshmallows to roast over the fire.  Oh, and there's a boat parade, too.  Last night Santa was driving his own boat along the shoreline and he was singing and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and, of course, saying a bunch of ho ho ho's as he waved and sailed by.  What a fun night.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

two deer in the woods

We came across the two deer standing by the rushing river.  Silently we watched them...and then they were gone.

trail walking

There are a number of great hiking trails in the state parks and national forests in the western Washington mountains.  I have had the opportunity to hike on a few of them and I'm just getting started.  We hiked high above a river gorge and the wind swept evergreens smelled so sweet!  We passed a lovely waterfall and listened to the roaring water as it passed over the cliff.

Looking up we see the mountains high above peeking through an open space along the trail.  On the trail we cross over the rocks that serve as stepping stones across the mountain run-off.  Below is rushing water.  It is beautiful up here.  The sounds and the smells awaken the inner soul.  Peace.

Friday, December 2, 2016

another white frame church

Here is another white frame church that I attended one Sunday.  The stained glass windows are so beautiful.  The congregation was warm and very welcoming.  I just love small town churches.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas at Capilano

I have been here before.  I visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge during the summer of 2015.  Here it is a year and a half later and I am back again.  This time the bridge is decorated in lights and the entire park takes on a magical holiday look and feeling.  Absolutely beautiful!!

The elevated walkways on the other side of the bridge overlook a northern rain forest.  At night the lights look as if they are suspended in air.  There is a large pond decorated with overhanging white lights only and it certainly looks like a winter wonderland.  Very magical!!  The entire park was lit beautifully and was a lot of fun to visit at night as well as daytime.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

snow on the mountain

I went hiking the other day with my son and granddaughter.  We drove up beyond the tree line and there it was...snow!!  Glorious snow.  Untouched by humans.  No tire tracks.  No mushy slushy.  Just whiteness and some rocks.   Time for play.  The afternoon sun lay low in the sky.  A tiny snowman was built and left behind for others to enjoy.  We left the snow field and drove back down the mountain.  It was dark...the trees made it so.  Then nightfall.  Life is wonderful...and beautiful.  Isn't it?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

the white frame church

Here is a picture of the church that I attended last Sunday.  It is located in the nearby town of Snoqualmie.  The historic building is a wood frame structure and is painted white.

The stained glass windows in the sanctuary are given in memory of loved ones.  The wooden beams and the hanging lanterns are very beautiful.  The sermon...well delivered.  The congregation...very welcoming.  A wonderful place to worship in a lovely historic setting.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

spam cassarole

I'm not sure what made me do this but maybe I was remembering something from my childhood and I was trying to re-create a moment there.  Don't fully know.  I do remember, though, helping my Mom make spam casserole.  Very simple to make, just a few ingredients,  and I know the casserole fed all of us.  The spam was sliced and placed in rows on the bottom of a glass pyrex baking dish (light green on the outside and white on the inside) (the baking dish, not the spam).  Next, chunks of canned yams were placed (or poked) around the spam pieces.  A layer of canned pineapple (always sliced!) was arranged on top of the spam and yams.  Then--o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o yummy--a mixture of brown sugar, melted butter and a little pineapple juice was put on the top.  Then it was baked until bubbly and served hot.  wow-e-e!!  Well, that's what I remember and I just felt like it was time to make it again.  It IS colder weather now and this IS a comfort food dish perfect for a chilly evening supper.  Came out just as I expected and the left overs were good for the next few days served on a crunchy piece of toast--open face style.  Leftovers, you ask?  Why would that be?  Because no one else wanted to eat the casserole I so lovingly made!!  Just me and my spam casserole.  By myself.  They had no idea what they were missing.  Really! no idea!  wink,wink  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

All Saints Day

I attended Aldersgate UMC in Bellevue on the first Sunday in November.  The service was about remembering those Saints from the church that had passed away in the last year.  The service was very moving and the candle arrangement on the center table was very thoughtfully presented.

The service was very moving and the candle arrangement on the center table was very thoughtfully presented.  As each name on the memorial role was called a bell tolled and a candle was lit.

Monday, October 17, 2016

prairie dog town

As I drove through Theodore Roosevelt National Park I came across several flat areas inhabited by prairie dogs.  They had built quite a large town with many holes dug all over the grassy area.  The prairie dogs were having a good time running everywhere and some were just standing by their burrow and eating.  The prairie dogs were a lot of fun to watch as they scurried about.  I imagined one of them was the mayor of prairie dog town, too.  I just wanted to say that.  haha  

where the buffalo roam

Look at that buffalo!!  Roaming the prairie, munching the grass and living freely.  Not bad.

the Badlands

Driving west along I-94 in North Dakota brings a wide open stretch of prairie that offers a beauty in its simplicity.  But, seemingly out of nowhere in the far western part of the state the terrain changes dramatically.  Here lies the Badlands.  Originally it was called the bad lands by both the native settlers and the people moving west because the land was too harsh for living.  It was bad land.

It is also a very beautiful land filled with layers of ancient rock formations, free roaming buffalo and other wild animals and enough peace and solitude to refresh a wanderers sole.  It inspired a president to enact conservation measures to protect these and other natural beauties for us and our posterity.  Come see the wonders of the Badlands (they're not so bad) that inspired Teddy (and me).

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

This national park, which is operated by the National Park Service, is located in western North Dakota.   It holds the distinction of being the only park in the national park system that is named after an individual.  It stands today as a memorial to this great preservationist.  Before he was president Theodore Roosevelt came to the Dakota Territory to hunt, reflect and to ranch.  His time here helped form his conservationist and preservationist ideals that he carried into his presidency.  He established the U.S. Forestry Service and created national parks and forests as well as federal reserves and monuments totaling over 230 million acres of protected lands.  Enjoy your drive through this rugged land.  It's a beauty!

                                   Words to ponder.             Rightly said.              Thank you.

the wooden horse

This model of Theodore Roosevelt riding a horse was constructed entirely of wood. That is, the horse is made out of wood.  It is very finely handcrafted, shaped and polished.  It is on display at the south unit visitor center near Medora, North Dakota.

the Maltese Cross cabin

In 1883 Teddy Roosevelt came to the Dakota Territory to hunt bison.  In 1884, while grieving the loss of his wife and mother, he returned to this area and established his first ranch.  The cabin is a simple three room cabin.  The desk in the picture was used by Teddy Roosevelt when he stayed here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

heritage center in Moorhead

The Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead, Minnesota houses a replica Viking ship built to full scale based on ruins discovered in Norway.  Hjemkomst means Homecoming.  The ship was built in the 1970's and launched into Lake Superior in 1980.  The ship made its voyage to Norway landing in Bergen and then sailing on to Oslo.  It now has a permanent home here at the center.  Come and see the ship and all of the rest of the wonderful displays of Norwegian history and culture at the interpretive center on the banks of the Red River.

stave church

The Hopperstad stave church sits on the grounds of the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota.  It was built in 1998 and is a reproduction and the namesake of the stave church in Norway.  Having seen both an original old stave church while traveling in Norway, it is exciting to see this hand built reproduction done with such accuracy.  Stave refers to the construction technique of building with vertical boards instead of the more commonly used horizontal placement of the boards.  And the carved dragons.....well, they're just perfect.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

a sign?

This is actually the name of an antiques store in Livingston, Montana but it sort of feels like my life from time to time.  I have done a really good job of downsizing household goods.  Now.....about my car.     hmmmmm

Holbrook UMC

I went to church today in Livingston, Montana.  What a beautiful old church with a warm heart and a friendly congregation this is.  It is World Communion Sunday.  The communion was served.  The message was about friendship and making amends for the past.  I hope to pass this way again.

stung by a bee

I was stung by a bee two days ago.  I didn't even see it coming.  I brushed what I thought was a bug from my arm and realized there was a stinger laying on my skin.  It hurt.  I'm not allergic to bee stings.  I'm just fine.  But, my sting wound itches really badly.  I'm trying not to scratch.  Trying but not necessarily succeeding.  o-o-o-o-o

the LAKE

I love a small town theater.  I enjoyed a movie the other night at the Lake.  The refreshment counter is right inside the front door (drinks are in the vending machine outside) and the only auditorium is about two steps away.  I saw the last showing of the current movie and by the time the show ended, the marquee had already been changed.  The lit sign just sparkled in the night.  And then, in a blink of an eye, the light was gone, waiting to come alive for the next weekend show.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

hug a teacher

If you ever run into one of your former teachers (especially your first grade teacher) be sure to say hello OR, better yet, give them a hug.  They made an impression on you because they were one of your first teachers and, believe it or not, they will remember you.  Maybe it was me or maybe it was because I was one of several children from a large family with a distinctive last name that attended the school but my teacher knew me even after all these years (decades) later.  And when we talked and I told here about things I remembered from her class, like the giant Dick, Jane and Sally books we read from in our reading groups, she was delighted.  She was only 27 when she first taught me and I looked up to her.  She was a good (great) teacher.  And, she got a hug.  We both did.

it's still there

On my way through Paynesville I stopped by the DQ for a chocolate dipped cone.  It's sort of a tradition for me.  As a child my family would stop by for a treat on our way to the cabin at Villard.  The DQ sits along highway 55 and it looks as if things haven't changed a bit here.  It's the same building.  Some things don't change and they don't need to either.  Love it!!  Oh, and the dipped cone...tasty as ever.  The curl on top?  I licked it off right away.     refreshing