Saturday, April 23, 2016


reading...  Writing Down The Bones (Freeing the Writer Within) by Natalie Goldberg

watching...  Fixer Upper on Netflix.  Love this show and Chip and Joanna Gaines!!

trying...  to pick a color to paint our house. We're somewhere between a blue and a sage green.

cooking...  tonight was penne pasta with a bacon alfredo wine sauce

drinking...  every morning I brew a pot of Tony's Coffee - Café Carmelita and it is delicious!

doing...  making a list that includes things like:  schedule SAT, research colleges with marksmanship program, register at the community college.  Times they are a changing!

loving...  that I have two varieties of bearded iris blooming beautifully in front of the house.  These are my favorite flower and this is the most beautiful they've been since we moved in.

discovering...  that every house project leads to another house project or requires a different project be completed first.  It's hard to know where to start and when it will ever end.  But I'm thankful for our little house and the things we can do here.

enjoying...  watching the new growth in the garden.  I just planted a week ago and am already seeing life!

feeling...  a little overwhelmed with some things...rather vague, I know.

hoping...  our new  (!!) washer and dryer set will be delivered promptly.  The old washer gave up and the old dryer was not too far behind, but I only had to make one visit to the Laundromat in the meantime and that's not really all that bad!  Also hoping we can get a great deal on a water heater to replace the ancient one we currently have.

listening...  to the rain as the evening darkens to night.  It's beautiful and comforting.

celebrating...  it was birthday month around here and my boys turned 15 and 17!!

smelling...  the fresh air through the open window, it smells like rain and lilacs.

thankful...  a week ago my husband was in the ER after a chainsaw incident and I'm thankful that his injury was as minor as it was and that he is healing very well.  It is sobering to realize what could have happened.

starting...  I have tentatively stepped into the world of Instagram.  With the foot I have outside of Instagram I'm ready to run the opposite direction.  With the foot I have inside I'm ready to step into a photo challenge, to capture simplicity every day.  We shall see which foot wins.  @mcbride_eli

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

the scent of lilac

When I was five we lived way out in a rural area.  The nearest town was maybe thirty minutes away.  And it was not much of a town.  Just one little grocery store.  A café.  A gas station.  A motel.

Where we lived had a small creek.  A grain elevator.  A storage barn.

The road from town was black tar and on hot days the tar would bubble and I'd sit in the middle of the road and pop the bubbles with my fingers.  No cars ever came.  The other roads that met here in this place were made of gravel with three distinct tire lanes, the middle lane being shared by traffic from both directions.  Cars rarely met.

Our house was made of two parts.  The front part was a little store with thick wood floors that creaked.  It smelled all at once stale and exciting and was the most fun place to play in the evenings.  The store also contained a small post office with wood box shelving that my mom would sort mail into.  The store shelves were lined with candy bars, sardines, crackers, lettuce, milk.  Mom would take the lettuce scraps to a lady who had chickens and a rutted, narrow driveway that must have been two miles long.

The back part of our house was an actual home. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, a basement where my brothers slept, a carpeted kitchen, big windows in the living room.  It was in this house that we stayed with Dad while Mom was in the hospital.  She had had a car crash while we were moving.  Black ice.  A broken hip.  Things that my five year old mind didn't understand.

My sister and I shared a small bedroom here, beds pushed against opposite walls.  She was just thirteen, into makeup and music and style.  I was awkward and messy and annoying.  It was a constant battle.  Sometimes, when we weren't fighting over space she'd practice makeup on me.  I held my eyes closed for what seemed like hours and when she was done my eyelids felt too heavy, weighed down by layers of shadow and mascara.  I loved it and hated it equally.

It's funny how memories build a person.  Memories sparked alive by a flash of color, a picture, a scent.  A vignette plays in the mind.  I remember being sick at this house, vomiting on carpet and marking that spot later by the creak in the floorboard.  I remember laying in bed terrified by flashes of light in my sheets, certain that I was going to be consumed by fire only to learn that it was something called static electricity.  I remember watching t.v, eating cold hot dogs straight from the package, drinking kool-aid.  I remember my dad fixing Top Ramen for lunch and watching Perry Mason with him.  I remember my mom frying up chicken hearts for her and I because we were the only ones that liked them until I didn't anymore.  I remember my brother bounding down the cement stairs to his basement bedroom and cracking his head on a stair.  I heard the word concussion for the first time.  In a rural area folks use rural medicine.  A nearby woman was a nurse or had been a nurse or knew a nurse once and she was called for advice (don't let him go to sleep or he might not wake up).

Our house was flanked by yards.  On one side was the yard we played in.  It was a quick jaunt to the little creek from here.  The other yard was the pretty yard.  It looked to me like a manicured garden.  There were rose bushes and a perimeter of big lilac bushes, their sweet scent intoxicating, comforting.  I'd make a home with rooms under those lilac bushes.  I'd invite cats or stuffed animals inside.  In the winter, after the first snowfall were weren't allowed in this yard.  It was to be kept preserved, a winter wonderland, glistening and smooth, untouched by human feet.  Cat feet didn't adhere to this banning and made weaving trails all through the scenic shrine.

It's the smell of lilac that always bring me to this time, this house, these memories.  I'm thankful to have a modest sized lilac bush in our front yard right now.  When spring comes I look to the lilac, waiting for the tight little buds to open.  When they do I inhale deeply and the flashes of memory play through colorful and delicate: childhood and my siblings, my dad and my mom, carefree imaginings, velvety cats, and the haunting scent of lilac.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


I'm a West Coast girl.  I was born on the West Coast, have lived in all three states lining the coast and never ventured very far inland.  Up until this month I'd only been to 6 states.  Don't get me wrong, I love to travel.  I'd love to travel more it's just not something that has been much of an option. 
But this month I had the opportunity to go to Colorado with my oldest son for a shooting competition.  YES please!!  I wasn't sure what to expect from the state of Colorado.  The first thing I noticed was how dry the air was.  The second thing I noticed was how the elevation affected my ability to get enough oxygen.  I live at sea level so being up at about 6500 feet the air was noticeably thinner.  It was not unbearable and after two days my lungs acclimated.
But Colorado is so beautiful!  It's a lot more brown than Washington.  The vegetation is very different.  Even the clouds were different.  Oh and many of the roads were a light shade of pink (caused from the type of rock and dirt in that area) which was pretty cool.
I loved Pike's Peak.  Having a sizable mountain to look at gave me some perspective, made me feel grounded in this new land.  I know that probably sounds weird but just being in a landlocked state was really throwing off my inner compass which relies on the presence of the Pacific Ocean to get bearings.
We took in the sights at The Garden Of The Gods.  It was pretty amazing.  The sky was big.  The rock was red.  And Pike's Peak stood majestic in the background.

Later that same day, Austin got to do some beginner scuba diving instruction with his Uncle Travis.  Travis is a licensed instructor and was very good at explaining to Austin just what he needed to do.  It lit a fire in Austin and hopefully diving is something he can pursue further.

This was the one selfie I snapped on our entire trip and I had to edit it to get my HAND out of the picture!  Whatever....nobody ever accused me of being hip and with it.

the shooting competition

Before we left for Colorado, I got in some final cuddles with my puppy.  He's the best cuddler.  He lays warm and heavy wherever.
I love flying.  I love feeling the power of the jet engines at take off and the moment the plane leaves the ground.  I love seeing the earth from the vantage point of the sky.  I love being above the clouds.  I love how sunny it is up there and how it feels like you're at the limit of the sky, where the blue gets darker and there is nothing visible beyond. 

In Colorado we stayed with my sister and brother-in-law.  I'm so thankful to them for hosting us.  They made us feel right at home and even fed us dinners!  We're not able to be around family very often but when we are it makes me see that their worth is golden.  They are our tribe.
Austin was the best cousin and took the time to play with Arilynn.

This was our slick ride.  The leather seats with electric warmers were my favorite feature!

Being at the Olympic Training Center was nothing short of EPIC.  We were all at once honored to be there and humbled that we were able to be there.  Austin was one of 187 shooters from all over the country invited to attend the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships.

Check in day was a bit of a nightmare as we spent a total of 3 hours standing in lines in this gymnasium.  The registration line.  The rifle check.  The shooting gear checks.  In between a couple lines Austin was able to get in some practice on the range.  But it was a long day and we were exhausted by the end of it.

That is Pike's  Peak over the roof of the Training Center!!

The sculptures in front of the training center were really amazing!

Flags from every country that has participated in the Olympics lined the main walkways.  It was colorful and striking.

This sculpture was my very favorite.  It is called "Olympic Strength".  It depicts four athletes carrying the globe on their backs.  It was surprisingly realistic and evoked a sense of pride, a swelling of the heart.  In a world that is torn apart by politics and hatred, the Olympic Games is something that unites, if only for short periods of time.



My travel partner.  He's 17 now.

The final day of competition.  This was the top 8 in the finals.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze.  Great job gentleman!! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

life by pictures

It is my youngest son's 15th birthday today.  We gave him a few simple gifts.  I made him a chocolate peanut butter cream pie (his recurring request) and we'll have tacos for dinner (also his request).  He's gone to wrestling practice for a few hours.  This is the life of a 15 year old with responsibilities and engagements.
He was born at 5:03 p.m. on a Saturday after just a couple hours of hard labor.  I requested a shot of Stadol and he was born 3 minutes after I received it.  I held him and sang to him. He was 7 lbs.  8 oz. and 20 inches long.  Now he is about 5'7" and 138 lbs!!
I have so much to catch up on here.  So many pictures to share!
One early Saturday morning I ventured out to get my grocery shopping done.  The sun had just come up and the sky was a pretty shade of pale pink.  I drove down to the marina and was met with this gorgeous picture.  The Olympic Mountains are in the background.

Blake has been practicing with our youth wrestling club now that the high school wrestling season is over.  Some of his friends are there and that makes it fun and gives him a way to expel energy.  He started with this club when he was  8 years old!

We took a drive down our island.  It is so pretty here.  Soooo pretty!  Here's the farmland on the central part of the island...

Sometimes we like French press coffee.  It is steamy and indulgent and rather photogenic in a teal mug.

The cherry tree is in full bloom.  And when the sun rises I can't resist a picture.  We were heading out the door to the airport to fly to Colorado the morning that I took this picture.  I think it was my moment to say goodbye to my yard and chickens.  It is, admittedly, not the best picture because I was rushing around but I still want to share it here.

If the rain lets up I'm hoping to plant the garden tomorrow.  I haven't even bought seeds or starters yet!!  I'm just now sitting down to draft a plan of what I even want to plant and where it's going to go.  Not too long and those first little baby plants will poke their heads through the soil that I've worked (with help from the chickens) all winter.