A Last Day of Summer

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

As you know our summer was beyond terrible. Such rainy weather was never before seen during August and July! That made it all the more amazing when it dawned bright and warm last Tuesday morning. We simply couldn't believe it! It wasn't long before we found ourselves saying (while still being at work, mind you) "I think we need to go out and enjoy this weather!"

It took very little convincing for dad to pack everything up, and soon we were leaving the tramway - where we play shows eight times a day as the Alaska String Band - to go get the boat ready for a day at the beach. Lupin was the only one who seemed unhappy by this prospect, and it took quite a bit of pulling and lifting to get her into the boat.

Silly Lupin! We won't be in the boat for that long, we promise! Greta on the other hand was much more excited to get in the boat. She knew that it meant a sunny shore where she could run around unsupervised!
Soon we were off! Our friend Rebecca came along and she remarked "Wow, I think this is the first time your boat has started up without any problems!" Dad answered "Well...we aren't there yet. Don't hold your breath!" Oh dear! It's true that the boat has a rather bumpy reputation, but I am happy to report that we made it safely there and back again.

Abigail sits on the front of the boat as we cruise along. 
There's simply not a better view!

As I said, Greta was having a grand time until we reminded her that she needed to wear a life vest. We were blessed to be given a life vest in just the right size for her, though she doesn't really like it as you will see.

The best part about it is that it has a handle on the back so we can easily pick her up out of the water. She particularly dislikes this fact. She was wallowing in the back of the boat when Laura started to feel sorry for her. So of course she picked Greta up - by the handle on her vest - Greta was not amused.

Laura then got the idea to put Lupin in a life vest, though we didn't have any doggy vests for her, so she improvised. A PFD that no one ever wanted to wear was put around Lupin and she was all strapped in. She wallowed even more than Greta! Poor puppies, they simply can't take a joke.

As I was taking this picture of Lupin in her life jacket, Rebecca called "Emily! Over here is what you should really be taking a picture of!" Quinn had Greta in his arms and they were both leaning over the side of the boat, their heads in the wind. Greta wasn't too happy at first, but I think she warmed up to the idea.

When we got to Portland Island, Quinn lowered Greta down into the water so that she could swim to shore. Laura threw Lupin over the side of the boat, rather unceremoniously, and laughed as she paddle to the sandy beach (very unhappily I might add).

We went ashore with our arms laden with food and blankets for the evening - though Rebecca's arms were overflowing with costumes and camera equipment (for she had some filming she needed to finish).

We had the whole beach to ourselves! 

We started the evening off with gathering firewood, most of it wet from the constant rain that has befallen us these last weeks. Abigail found a swing in the woods while collecting wood, and Rebecca found a few thimble berry bushes with a few berries still ripe.

Before starting our fire we decided to get Rebecca's filming over and done with. We weren't sure yet what exactly she was having us do, but we knew for a fact we would be standing in the water (for she always seems to have us in the water for her film shoots!). So we started getting dressed in the many layers of costumes she brought with her.

Rebecca, who told us then that we would be Irish peasants during the Dark Ages, gave us shells full of dirt and water to rub on our faces. in her exact words "Yes, here are your makeup pallets." and I added "Make sure to blend it down your neck too!" This was certainly making to be an interesting evening (I do believe Quinn's expression says it all, ha!).
Here's Abigail and Melissa in their costumes. I guess that old saying is true: "You could wear a potato sack and still look lovely!" Even with dirt on their faces these two ladies still look beautiful!

In Rebecca fashion, we were (of course) put out in the water for the shots she needed (yes, it was cold!). Some of us had our XtraTufs on, but for those in front - me, for instance - bare feet was needed.
It was then that Rebecca shared that we were the people of Ireland seen in a vision by Saint Patrick, who saw that God was calling him to Ireland to preach the gospel. All of this was very exciting! After all, how often to you get to act in costume on an island during a picnic? When Rebecca was all through with us we certainly looked like we were right out of the dark ages!
Quinn of course is having a little too much fun with his cape, but don't we look fantastic? Rebecca joking said that the photo should be our next album cover for the band - haha! Though I doubt that will be the case, it was still fun dressing up and stepping back into the Dark Ages for a short time (for updates on when Rebecca's new movie will be coming out, watch her website!). But back to the picnic!

A picnic table was set - with a nice tablecloth of course - and soon we were trying to start a campfire. Because of the wet wood it took quite a bit longer than normal to start flickering, but thankfully we didn't need to ask God to send down fire from heaven. Soon hot dogs were sizzling over the fire and everyone was starting to feel hungrier - including Lupin, who ignored all reminders to "...get off the quilt!"
Lupin won in the end, the quilt was officially hers (for no one wanted to sit on the wet and sandy thing now!), and she was quite smug about her victory I do believe.
As the evening wore on it got a tad bit cold, fall is certainly on it's way! Everyone crowded around the fire and talked and laughed as the sun danced inside and outside the clouds. Even though the sun wasn't always out, I had worn a sun hat I made earlier in the summer for my family vacation (and didn't it turn out darling?). I was certainly trying my hardest to soak up all the last bit of summer.

Laura may have photobombed a photo or two, ha! And soon Lupin was off running around somewhere, and Greta had taken her spot on the wet quilt. *sigh* These puppies just don't understand they're all wet and gross!
All too soon it was time to pack up and make the return journey home. Rebecca was due to fly the next morning back to sunny California (we all asked that she think of us when her thermometer read 90 - while ours was reading 50), and we needed to make sure she got some sleep for her early flight. 

As you might guess, Lupin was not excited to get back in the boat, and gave Quinn and Laura quite the run-around as they chased her all over the beach. 
"Lupin? Aren't you ready to go home?"

We finally got the dogs in the boat and started out. Both Lupin and Greta were shaking, cold from their romps in the water with the wind blowing through the boat. Lupin was wrapped up in the quilt she so loved, and Greta was bundled up in a beach towel and sat in my lap the whole way back to the boat launch. 

If there is anything to be said, it's that Lupin has certainly mastered the pitiful look. She's so funny!

I don't think any of us wanted to leave the beach, nor pull the boat up out of the water - knowing that it would be the last time. The wind blowing off the sea smelled like summer, but it was cold, and it was time to go home. 
As I am writing this Autumn has indeed come to Southeast Alaska. Though we don't have the lovely fall colors of the Interior, the temperatures are dropping and the rain is here to stay. I have put away my summer wardrobe and brought out the comfy sweaters and jackets for the coming season. Though I am a bit sad those lovely sunny days are over, I look with anticipation towards winter and the promise of music, projects, and stories to share with you soon. Until next time, dear reader!

A Birthday for Tasha Tudor - 2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Well my goodness, it seems it's that time of year again! Autumn has come to Southeast Alaska, and with it the birthday of Tasha Tudor.

The famed illustrator and writer would have celebrated her 102nd birthday Monday. She has been such an inspiration to me, and if you aren't familiar with her I encourage you to look her up and to read some of her books.

But lets get on to the party, shall we?

Tasha's birthday snuck up on me this year, compared to last year when I had planned weeks in advance. As you well know from my last couple of posts our summer was quite lacking this year (there were only ten good days of sunny weather!), so a gathering out on the porch was the closest we would get to a proper picnic.

After securing Sunday afternoon as the appropriate time for the party, Quinn and I set to planning a menu. Early Sunday morning we awoke to start baking and cooking a whole feast of treats! Our menu was as follows: Cucumber sandwiches, my lavender shortbread, and from Tasha's cookbook - Robie's blueberry muffins, stuffed eggs, and home-made lemonade! Oh, there is simply nothing like smelling muffins bake in the oven early in the morning, it will wake you right up! To find some of the recipes (or 'receipts' as Tasha called them) from Tasha's cookbook, go to her website to read up on all the yummy things you can make!

While I worked on baking muffins, a pot boiled on the stove with the soon-to-be hardboiled eggs and Quinn worked hard squeezing lemon after lemon for the home-made lemonade. It was quite the chore! We don't have a proper lemon juicer, so Quinn had to use his mountain-man strength to squeeze the lemon juice. I had just enough time to pop my lavender shortbread into the oven while doing my hair for church! Phew! Busy mornings are always an exciting time at Blueberry Barn!
I got my shortbread pan for a few dollars at our local second-hand store. I had been wanting one for such a long time and I was so happy to find such a pretty one in my price range! And just look at all those muffins there...I speak honestly when I say that Quinn had a rather hard time waiting for this party to start. It's always difficult when the food is smelling so good!

Since we took a break at this point of the morning to go off to church, I will take a break from the party preparations and tell you a silly story from this last week. As Quinn and I sat at the kitchen counter eating dinner I looked out the window to see something moving along the base of Melissa's rose bush in the front yard. It was early evening, and the light was still good enough for us to see that it was a porcupine. Well, well! We hadn't seen a porcupine for some time, so naturally I grabbed the camera and headed outside to snap a picture of it. (Thankfully, Greta and Lupin were out with Paul on a walk and weren't in any danger!)
The poor thing got rather spooked, though I was trying most carefully not to scare it, and it ran off down the yard. I thought for sure I had lost it, but I saw it's prickly tail going into the woodshed. I was able to get a few pictures of my bashful friend, and in no time at all he was off to find yummy plants to eat elsewhere. But here he is, the shy little thing (he had climbed up the wood pile to get even farther away from me):
Doesn't he blend in so well? I'll have to tell Paul to be careful when going into the woodshed from now on. Not only could there be fairies, but there could be a scared porcupine as well!

Upon arriving home from church we set to work on the eggs, the lemonade, and the cucumber sandwiches. This was my first time peeling eggs - it was so much fun! - and I felt very accomplished when they turned out looking so pretty! 

And what would a party for Tasha be without the dolls? The whole post office came down to sit on the porch with several of the dolls inside sending out birthday cards and packages to Tasha's Corgi Cottage so far away. Quinn and I made this post office back in February for Melissa as a Valentine's Day present, and today it was all decorated with bunting in celebration!

Meanwhile in the main house, Melissa was working hard in her own kitchen as well. She was busy making gluten-free sandwiches, cookies, tarts, and a whole host of other things. This would certainly be an amazing party! 

Lupin and Greta were all too happy to help clean up any crumbs that fell on the kitchen floor while everyone rushed about cooking. Look at Lupin's face, how could you possibly so no to her? Just outside the kitchen in the music room, Paul took a nap on the couch. He and Quinn have been busy building a new shed on our property, I've even been helping! So after several hours of work he was ready for a rest and some good food. Lupin soon joined him in sleep, for life is hard when you're a cute puppy. 

Now that most of the cooking and baking was done, it was time to decorate! We hung up some tablecloths from the windows and back door so that no one would be able to see the pretty things going up outside...

What do you think? Doesn't their old porch look just lovely? It took us quite a while to hang those curtains, to sweep, and to move the main dining table out there. I hope you'll agree with me that it was well worth all the work! Now we just had to set out the food, and what a lovely table we had when we were finished:

Fresh picked nasturtiums decorated the humus and the hardboiled eggs, three pots of tea were set out (chamomile, peach, and Tasha's English Breakfast), and to the lemonade we added ice and lemon wedges. I used my vintage punch bowl and cups that my mother got me for Christmas last year - it's always a joy to use them because it means there are guests and a party going on! As I'm sure you can imagine, the party guests for Tasha's birthday were thrilled with the beautiful scene that met their eyes upon coming from the dark kitchen inside.

Our dear friend Rebecca Friedlander was able to join us. She's visiting Juneau filming her next movie, and she's used almost all of us for parts in it! It's always fun when she visits us, we always wind up helping with some wonderful project. And since we're on the subject, here's a few photos of Quinn and I in the middle of one of her film shoots. The costumes she made herself with a borrowed sewing machine - I wish I was that talented! We are portraying the parents of Saint Hilda, who is played by Abigail in the film. 

If you'd like to know more about Rebecca and the movie she is making on Celtic Christianity (or see any of her other projects) you can find out more about her on her website.

I simply can't put into words how much fun we had that evening. The food was delicious and the company most excellent. Near the end of the meal Quinn and Laura read 'Becky's Birthday', a favorite book of ours from Tasha Tudor about the birthday party she held for her daughter Bethany. 

Lupin was much happier sitting in Laura's lap, though I had a difficult time getting Greta to stay still for even a moment. She was busy running around the table in laps looking cute for anyone she thought would give her a little something. 
She succeeded more than I liked, but then again she is pretty cute!

 As it started to get dark we sat around and talked and listened to the rain that started to fall lightly on the roof. Rebecca left the party a bit early to go and do another film shoot, and the rest of us munched on a second helping of dessert. The lights above our heads twinkled and soon we were startled to hear a squeaking noise above us! Two bats were flapping around the house, making large arcs and swoops in the air. We only saw them a few times, and sadly I wasn't able to get a photo because of the darkness, but how exciting! Those were the first bats I have ever seen here in Alaska.

As the night got darker and darker we sleepily packed up the food and plates and promised ourselves that tomorrow we would do all those dishes...

Happy birthday Tasha Tudor.
You are such an inspiration to us, in so many areas of our lives. You taught us to live simply and to find joy and peace in the little things in life. Thank you Tasha, for the things you continue to teach us through your books. Again, we wish you a happy birthday!

Goodnight, dear reader! I hope you enjoyed this look into the preparations and party for our beloved Tasha. I hope it inspires you to host a party or to read a book or to have a cup of tea. 
Much love, -Emily
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs