A LOT has happened since I last wrote! HOW ARE YOU? Please let me know how you and your family are doing amid all of the Coronavirus happenings. Click HERE to send a quick note. If you don't have time to read the whole newsletter, scroll down and read one of the last paragraphs (in italics). It is an excerpt from my mother's writing about the health epidemic from her childhood.
We are well here! With school being cancelled, I have a hard-working teenager home with me every day! (Can you hear the glee?)
We took a break from work projects to enjoy a weekend away on Orcas Island. At first I planned on having us all bike on to the ferry with our gear strapped to e-bikes. (I do love bike camping, you know.) There were eight of us and I envisioned a great ride through the hills and valleys of the beautiful island. But when I saw the forecasted chilly temperatures, I decided to load everything into the van and drive instead. For those of you who may not know, those large blue IKEA bags are the best for hauling camping gear, food, equipment, firewood, extra coats and blankets etc.I keep a box of them always on hand. We loaded the 15 passenger van with bikes, bags and bodies, and then headed for the Anacortes ferry. The ferry now has you stay in your car for health risk issues. As we drove around the island I kept telling myself that it was a great idea to drive instead of bike.
The best thing about camping with family is the food, and what I love about having adult kids is that they can do the cooking! I remember someone telling me years ago that my role as 'mom' was to to work myself out of a job. I have to say that I have finally been laid off from camp cooking. I kinda like it!
Shelter in Place~
It was a gorgeous sunny day and we had the beach pretty much to ourselves with yummy picnic lunch featuring a Cash & Carry package of rice crispy treats among other things.(FYI these are uncut rice crispies on a giant piece of cardboard that you can cut to any size you want. Great for picnics, family get togethers, or for fort building) The guys spent the day building the biggest drift wood fort I have ever seen. I was quite impressed, as were the few people that walked the beach while we were there. The men were taking the term 'shelter in place' quite literally.
Another nice thing about having adult children is that they can build campfires themselves. One of our favorite campfire treats are those pop-and-fresh cinnamon rolls. You know the kind in the cardboard tube that make you jump when they finally pop open? We like to wrap them around a stick, bake them over the fire, then drizzle icing over top. You have to be patient to get the dough cooked through all the way. You also have to be careful about not drizzling the icing on yourself as you try to apply it to your cinnamon roll by firelight.
The kids LOVE to play Settlers of Catan when we go camping, but it didn't get packed on this trip. I was amazed that the Ray's General Store had it! They also had a nice garden puzzle that kept me delightfully occupied as the kids prepared meals and built fires etc. (My days of doing it all have paid off.) I now keep Settlers of Catan with the camping gear so I don't forget it in the future. Orcas island is a beautiful place to explore. We only had a couple days, but left feeling rejuvenated and closer together as a family.
I was wishing that my oldest daughter and her husband could have joined us. She is a nurse at the local hospital and is on the front lines as part of the COVID-19 task force. It makes it very real for me. Times like this make you appreciate our healthcare workers even more.
Tea and Tulips ~
I am very sad to have to let go of my hope of hosting Tea and Tulips this year. I was holding on, thinking that things would come to a quick resolve. With the governor's mandate for food service to only offer take out, I have to postpone. Having tea out of a box just isn't the same.
I am refunding all reservations for Tea and Tulips and appreciate the emails from all of you, both out of staters and closer-to-home folk. I plan to have a celebratory tea once our health-hibernation is over.
The governor said only essential businesses can operate. I am sure many of you agree that TEA IS ESSENTIAL! So make sure to drink tea in the safety of your homes. If you send me pictures of tea, I will send you pictures of the tulips in my garden. (A virtual Tea and Tulips) Click HERE to email a picture
Support Our Tulip Farms ~
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival typically brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors every April. It is on hold this year and my heart goes out to Roosengaarde and Tulip Town. These are farms that create such colorful splendor of beauty for us to enjoy. They derive the bulk of their annual income during the tulip festival. Please join me in placing orders for their tulip bulbs or fresh cut tulips. Invite your friends and family to do the same.
Click onRoosengaarde or Tulip Townto enjoy a virtual tour of the tulips they grow, and choose a bundle for your own garden. I love to put them in pots around the house as well as in my raised beds. I know that Tulip Town is also shipping fresh cut tulips.
Thank you for your support of our tulip farmers.
Mother's Tea ~
I am hoping that by May we are back to business as usual, but I'm not holding my breath. They cancelled the summer olympics and that doesn't begin until July! So please hold off on making any reservations until we know for sure. If you already have your reservation, keep in touch. I may be refunding them.
But on a brighter note, I have a Mother's Tea story:
Last year Karen brought her daughter, Lyndsay, and her mother, Jean, to tea. It was one of the highlights of my day to meet Jean. She was visiting from California and was so delighted to be in my home. She took a tour of the place and asked to have her picture taken in the kitchen. (My kind of lady.)
I was surprise to discover that this vibrant woman was almost 90! This picture speaks how tickled I was to have Jean come to my home to celebrate mothers day.
Karen phoned me several months later saying she was planning to have a tea party to celebrate her mother's 90th birthday and could she have my recipe for the rosemary turkey sandwich that I make. I don't give out my recipe, but I did let her in on the ingredients. It warmed my heart to think of their family getting together for a High Tea for to celebrate an especially high profile occasion. I thought of Jean on her birthday. The pictures Karen shared are splendid! I especially love the one of 'Queen Jean'.
I love the 'older' guests who come through my door. I appreciate the years behind them, the lessons learned, the wisdom gained from living and loving and experiencing life. Hosting tea brings them to my home and I relish it!
Can you see why I am so bummed not to be able to host Tea and Tulips?
I was looking forward especially to hosting a new guest this April. A month ago I got a phone call asking if I had ADA accessibility and I said yes. The gentleman then explained that he wanted to make a reservation to bring his 100 year old mother to Tea and Tulips. My heart melted and I made a special note to make sure to have parking available just for them. I was sad when I received an email saying that his mother had passed away the night before and they would not be coming to tea. I felt like I had lost a friend, even though we had never met.
Mothers are precious. I thank all of you who bring your moms to tea.
A Gift For Mom ~
Willowbrook's Tea Club Membership is the perfect gift for mom, aunt, grandma, daughter or dear, dear friend. Tea Club members receive four packages throughout the year, one for each season. The gift boxes include a large tin of loose leaf tea of their choice and three smaller tins of our season's favorites. Also included are herbal salves, soaps and balms, and greeting cards with artwork from the artists of Willowbrook. Each season features new items! I include a handwritten note in each gift box. More information is on my website. Click the button below.
I was lucky to have been able to visit my folks in Kanab, Utah, before all of the Coronavirus shut down happened. I took my friend Ann, who has been in my mother's writing critique group for the last 15 years and we both enjoyed the comforts of my folks' home and my mom's great cooking.
There is lots of visiting and laughter when I stay with my parents. My dad always finds ways to make life humorous. He took us out to Inchworm on Griselda, his side-by-side, and we enjoyed the beauty of the desert. Look closely at the picture below to see the double arch that makes the inchworm.
In Kanab they let you drive ATVs on the city streets, so Ann and I took Griselda and went shopping downtown. Fun stuff!
When I saw Harrison Ford in Call of the Wild, I thought, "That is my Dad!", a throwback from when I was a little girl and thought my parents were movie stars.
I appreciate my parents. They taught me to work hard, and love hard. When things look bleak, my mom always says, "The thing about it is....." and then, with wisdom of years, proceeds to look at the positive. My dad taught me to love the great outdoors. They are great people who have drawn others into their web of family love ties.
Age is making them slower. I appreciate how open they are in talking about the inevitable future. Things like, what it would look like if one of them dies before the other. They make hard conversations easier. We could all take a lesson from them.
My mother remembers the health crisis when she was a little girl in an email she wrote recently:
"This reminds me of the time when I was a child, and when Polio came through, which it did periodically, all the public places shut down. I had two friends who contracted polio. Both were paralyzed from the waist down. Every day—whether we were having an epidemic or not—when we had family prayer, mom would pray that polio would be stamped out. Those were the words she used every day. The Salk vaccine came out when I was fourteen. I got it for the first time that summer of 1956 when we were living in Kanab. It was a shot. The Sabine oral vaccine came out a few years later."
Thank you, Mom for that bit of history. (And thanks to my grandmother who prayed the polio vaccine into reality.) I say my own daily prayers for our health crisis here and now.
To Make You Smile ~
I usually finish up with a tea cup story. But today I have something a bit more timely.
On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, after watching the twin towers come crashing down on television, I went to Costco and purchased 3 cases of toilet paper and three jugs of laundry soap. I was pregnant with my 6th child and had plenty of food in the freezer and canned foods on the shelf, but I wanted to make sure, if the world around us was going to grind to a halt, that I could keep clothes and bums clean! I don’t remember anyone else thinking the same thing. There were no shortages at the grocery store then. I remember a lot of American flags, but I don't remember a toilet paper shortage.
Last week when I was at Costco, I saw a rack of empty shelves and a cardboard sign saying they were out of toilet paper. It made me smile. Because I knew, at home, covered with dust, I still had a 911 case of TP kept for emergency!