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.