This gallery contains 5 photos.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Leavenworth and this is the first time I’ve seen it so quiet. Usually it is bustling with people. But then we were there on Wednesday and Thursday. October Fest started Friday … Continue reading

It’s That Time Again! By Valerie J. Patterson

It happens every year.  There’s simply no escaping it.  You can’t run from it, hide from it, or even overlook it.  Every September–like clockwork–it happens.

What is it?  That time of year when summer ends and fall begins.

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy all of the seasons.  Each one brings about a creative resurgence that I absolutely love!  Winter, with its stark beauty, beckons me outdoors and into the crisp evening air to wonder at all the exquisiteness of a fresh falling snow.  Spring, with its rebirth of everything green and colorful, pulls me into the lushness of showers that result in bursts of vibrant flowers and carpets of green.  Summer, with its endless azure skies, romances me with ocean sprays and huge golden moons lighting up paths in the sand.  Autumn, with its brilliant grandeur, lures me into carefree times of yesterday when I played in the leaves, enjoyed hayrides, and carved pumpkins.

But there is something else that fall does–it comes with shorter days and less rays from the sun.  This is without a doubt the one thing about fall I dislike.  It’s dark when I rise and the darkness comes calling just a short time after I leave the office.  Sigh.  I love the cooler temperatures, but bemoan the fact there is less daylight to enjoy them.

There’s nothing I can do about it.  It happens every single year.  And I so very much look forward to those days when the daylight creeps into longer hours.  Ah yes, that too happens every single year!

Until next time, may a lilting fall breeze lift your hair, caress your face, and gently blow through your mind to inspire you.


October Craziness

This gallery contains 1 photos.

I’m late today.  It’s been that kind of month for me, I’m losing track of time and dates.  I  kept thinking it was only October 3rd, does that tell you something? So how is everyone? Here in Western Washington I … Continue reading


Late Again!

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Jillian here. I was supposed to blog yesterday but never thought about the date since it was Sunday. I’ve never really blogged on weekends so it slipped my mind that it was my day. Hope everyone is having a great … Continue reading

Historically Short-lived Plumes


This is the awesome pampas grass we planted years ago in our backyard. I think I’ve mentioned that my sister was married in 1975 on the beach in front of an amazing growth of pampas grass, which is why I’ve always loved it.

For several years now, we’ve had a lot of plumes each September. They are so stately and beautiful. And they sway so nicely in the breeze.

The problem is that September breezes almost always give way to October winds. And storms. October seems to be one of the more volatile months here in the Pacific Northwest. Nothing like some parts of the country have, and there have certainly been some horrible weather issues these past couple years. For the sake of this blog, though, I’ll focus on here. Where I live, in the shadow of an awesome mountain.

So I’d say we lose half the plumes to windstorms by the end of October most years. The winds aren’t generally deadly, but we get an uptick in wind speed and in the amount of storms around here in October.

The most notable storm around here is the Columbus Day storm of 1962. (Yes, I was around for this. I hate dating myself that way, but there it is.) That storm began as Typhoon Freda in the South Pacific, weakened as it neared the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, then zipped straight to us, regenerating as it went. Gusts on the Oregon Coast registered close to 150 miles per hour. By the time it hit the Tacoma/Seattle area, it was reduced a bit. Wind speeds of 81 miles per hour. Unheard of around here.

The power was out everywhere. The only memory I have of that storm, other than clinging to my mother, along with my brothers and sisters, as we huddled together in our home and listened to that wind and felt the house shudder. Then Dad finally got home. The gash on his head validated his delay. He’d crashed the car trying to get to the house. I remember that moment as strongly as I remember my brothers scaring the heck out of me as we watched Jaws in the drive-in theater. But that’s another story entirely. (And great fodder for a future blog (growing up with siblings.)

A couple stories I researched about this storm:

Two lions owned by a man in Spanaway got loose and one attacked a seven-year-old child. He lived, thanks to his mother beating the lion off with…her shoe!

The Seattle World’s Fair was underway, including the brand spanking new Space Needle. As you know, it didn’t collapse.🙂 But they evacuated everyone…except…the diners. They actually let them finish their meal before they asked them to leave!  Around the fair, loudspeakers announced that 80+ mile per hour winds were on their way. Some people left, some hunkered down in the largest building on the grounds to wait the storm out.

The biggest part of this storm lasted only a few hours, from late afternoon to late evening. But it left a lasting impression on me. And a lasting respect for wind. I live in a single-story house, not a two-story, for a reason. Lol.

This year, since El Nino has disappeared and La Nina didn’t quite show up, it’s considered a neutral year for us here in the PNW. That means it won’t trend in any specific direction. It could be calm (and is, most years). Neutral years are also our biggest storm years, like the Columbus Day storm. And flooding. Don’t get me started on that!

So here’s hoping October is calm and our plumes stick around through the winter. I hope you all have a peaceful entrance into Fall and a winter that is cold enough for cocoa, but not for checking out the survival gear.🙂


I’m A Junkie

Yes, it’s true. I am a junkie – quiz junkie, that is. I love completing quizwords (not crosswords as they’re usually cryptic, which isn’t my thing), and watching serious “quiz” shows on TV such as Mastermind. I have one of those brains that retains useless facts and  knowledge, even if I can’t always remember what day of the week it is or what I did yesterday. This knowledge hasn’t done much for me other than being able to answer many questions on University Challenge, a favourite in our house, and one I’ve watched since it first began way back in 1962 when Bamber Gascoigne was question master. As long as it’s not on politics or sport or mathematics – not my best subjects – I often surprise Dave that I know the answers, especially to obscure questions such as nuclear physics or chemistry, but quite accepts I know a lot about literature and art; I can thank my brilliant school education for that. Physics was my favourite subject at school, which he finds hard to believe.

Years back, we both competed regularly in a weekly charity quiz for the Meningitis Trust. I also took part for a number of years in a local quiz league, at one point being league secretary for the South West Region for a couple of years, and also helped set questions for national quiz leagues through the University of Southampton.


Yes, I’m there, right in the middle wearing the white dress.

My all time favourite quiz programme was Fifteen-to-One, and back in the early 1990s I took the plunge and applied to take part in the third series and passed the audition. It was a fabulous day, complete with a make-over, and although I didn’t win (I never expected to, knowing nerves would get the better of me, which they always do, and did) being able to see how a quiz programme is put together and recorded, and being inside a TV studio was fascinating and excellent for research purposes.

So, if you’re ever short of numbers for a quiz or need a player for a game of Trivial Pursuit (does anyone even still play that board game?) I’m your man… well, okay, woman. As my sisters love to remind me: I have all the brains in the family whilst they have all the beauty.  Hmmm, not so sure I agree with that statement…

It’s September, and that means…

… Strictly Come Dancing is back on our UK screens! That’s Dancing with the Stars in the US.

We’ve just seen the celebs perform their first dance and it looks set to be a really good series. The standard is pretty high, and in some cases woefully low, but since it’s early days a lot can happen.

Of course, I’ve watched closely so that I can pin my colours to a couple of dancers who I think show enormous potential. None more so than actor Danny Mac. He has great technique, style, and enormous entertainment value. There. I hope I’ve convinced you that I’ve chosen him as my favourite purely by academic reasoning and not in the slightest due to his undeniable hotness😉 Here he is performing his first dance. What do you think?


When we were engaged, and during the early years of our marriage, AJ and I used to go ballroom dancing and we managed to get to silver standard. We loved it, but life got in the way and other things claimed our time so we never went for gold. Of course, over the years, AJ has never let me forget that he won the dancing school’s award for ‘Best Ballroom Dancer’ in 1976. Which means that every time a new series of Strictly starts he never fails to tell me “They’ve forgotten to ask me again. Don’t they know I was given an award?”. Bless. Knowing I was writing this post, he’s asked me to include a photo of his award for you all to see *pause while Tricia does an eye roll*.

So, drum roll. Here is his much-coveted, and oft-celebrated, plaque. Surely it’s only a matter of time before Strictly comes calling, dear😉20160927_123737