October Snow (II)

Where I live is more beautiful than where you live! Just kidding … well … not really …

Where I live is more beautiful than where you live! Just kidding … well … not really …

Either someone put up their Christmas decor a wee bit early and the weather took them seriously, or it decided to dress up as Old Man Winter for Halloween. This wasn’t a hint of Winter … it was a full on, 5 inches and 10 degree Fahrenheit, real deal Winter Weekend. Five days out, and it’s just starting to warm up enough to begin the melt down.

It’s not exactly unusual to get a “Halloween Snow” in Eastern Washington; my childhood friends and I remember crunching through a scant inch, sometimes a little more, rubbing together frozen fingers while trying to grip our candy buckets and not fall on our bums. We were so cold! But we refused to wear a coat over our costumes … because what was the point of dressing up then, right? All this for candy and treats … most candy, that is. I wasn’t a fan of black or orange jelly beans and could never understand why people spent money on anything other than chocolate …much of which was pilfered by my mom … so the more chocolate the better!.

Last weekend’s storm, tho’ … I can’t think of any October snow that could hold its own with this one. Every since COVID showed up in February, every month following has had something insane happen … attempts … I imagine … to not be forgotten against the backdrop of a pandemic. Who knew months were so competitive.

The first two tree pictures (above) are of our flowering cherry plum (my friend calls it our “Plerry” tree) First pic is “early storm” … the second one is morning after”. I went out three times to knock snow from branches … hate to think what would have happened had I not done that.

Moving back home recently provided a whole new perspective on winter weather. It was one thing to experience local winters as a kid. Besides freezing, I remember sled rides and snowmobiling. There were snow angels and being the first one to stomp across a snowy field. Hot buttered rums (sans alcohol for us kids) with the neighbors and daring each other to lick one of the glimmering icicles hanging from the eaves of the house.

Now there’s winter as an adult … an adult in a 100+ old house. The lesson of this crazy early snow is that cheap heating oil may not be the bargain we hoped for.

Our home is heated with a forced air, oil furnace … thus stove oil. I learned last year that when temperatures start dipping below 30 degrees you have to mix the diesel with kerosene to keep the fuel from clouding up and turning to gel … very bad for the furnace. Thankfully, we did not learn the hard way.

Our fuel guy, takes care of all that stuff, BUT when I called him in September to fill our tank, I said, “put in the cheaper stuff. We’ll go for the mixture (more expensive) when the temps drop in Nov. “

“Not a problem,” he responded. “Lot’s of people do that.”

Probably wouldn’t have been a problem in a normal year … but … we all know. There is NOTHING normal about 2020.

So My Guy and I faced a nearly full oil tank (fully exposed to the elements as it sits at the back of our house) in danger of freezing fuel that could damage our furnace. After a $600 dollar repair at the end of last winter, that didn’t sound like a good idea to us. We next discovered that an additive wouldn’t do us much good either. Unless we have a way to mix it in, it will just sit at the top of the tank.

So … we bought heat tape (didn’t even know it existed until today) and the equivalent of a poodle noodle to wrap over the top. Waaa Laaa! Insulation for the pipe that lets the fuel into the house. Here’s hoping it does the trick.

The upside of our storm is that it’s stunning outside. The downside is that trees all across town took a terrible beating. The day following the storm, I watched pickup after pickup creep off the slippery hill behind our neighborhood, truck beds brimming with branches that were being hauled to our town yard waste site. Leaves had just begun to turn color and very few had fallen yet. So with the weight of leaves and heavy wet snow, followed by a strong wind that came at the end of the storm … our trees couldn’t hold up.

Most of these photos are the morning after the storm. It’s truly a photographers wonderland around here. Thankfully, I managed to get out on the one sunny day before the storm and capture some fall color on a frosty morning … before the snow robbed all the tees of their leaves… but those pictures have been pre-empted by these. I haven’t had time to process and edit them, so a future post is all in the making.

I kinda hate to end with pics of broken trees (photos below) but they’ve reminded me of some things. In a world … and a year … where everything feels frightfully tentative … I’m reminded that I don’t get to choose my storms. Storms will come. And I … I will either lock myself away … or I’ll look for the beauty in a storm. Then I’ll clean up and carry on … find something new out of what remains. That’s what we humans do.

As my father would have put it, “How’s the weather faring where you be?” Are you enjoying a beautiful fall or are you enduring one of the storms that seems to have sprung up around the edges of the country?

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

I shared this photo on one of my Wordless Wednesday posts … too beautiful not to share again.

Wordless Wednesday

Harvest of days gone past. This relic is found in the Ghost town of Elberton, WA. See previous Wordless Wednesday post.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Walk in the Woods

One of the things that we love about where we live is our “back yard”. Thirty minutes from the driveway and we’re at the lake. Head in the opposite direction, and we’re driving down dirt roads, past iconic farm homes and old barns. And yet, one more turn in the road and we’re in Idaho at one of my favorite places on the planet … McCroskey State Park.

I grew up at the base of this ambling, understated wonderland … we knew it as Skyline Drive, and it was my Dad’s favorite place to drive. Now it’s ours.

Skyline Drive is where we headed on a recent Sunday afternoon. The crazy smoke and awful pollution from the onslaught of early September wildfires had finally cleared out and the sun beat down on us, unfiltered.

Camera in hand, I set out for a short hike between two campgrounds along the top of a long, tree-lined ridge. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t prove useful for the amazing wildlife experience I was about to have

I had just descended down the hillside, well out of view of the main road and deep into the brush on both sides of the under-used path. My feet screeched to a stop … I think they did so long before my brain comprehended why.

Something … something rather large it seemed … was rustling in the thick brush to the left and uphill from me. This wasn’t a chipmunk … at least not one of usual proportions. My heart rate agreed … this was bigger … and scarier than a chipmunk.

However, more curious than scared … a dreadful fault of mine … I readied my camera, but also reached for my cell phone and turned on the video setting. If this was my award winning moment at capturing a moose in the wild maybe I wanted it on video. (Or if I was trampled by a creature, like, say … Sasquatch ,,, the video would answer a few questions for my husband, who had stayed at the trailhead … he’s not into hikes so much. )

Snap, snap, snap. Rustle. Snap. I guessed that I was hearing chewing and moving sounds as whatever it was drifted closer. Seemed like there were echos because the sounds came from straight ahead AND to the left AND to the right. I strained to see through the leaves and shrubs but they were just too thick. I could see nothing.

I thought I heard a snort, so ruled out Sasquatch … he has never struck me as a being who grazes for food on all fours.

This apparently ravenous creature was now within 20 feet of me separated by a short clearing and maybe a 10 foot wall of brush.

Suddenly, a thought occurred. What if it were a bear?

Bear, although rarely seen, are not uncommon on Skyline Drive. A story that my neighbor told many, many years ago came to remembrance, causing little beads of sweat to roll off my neck. She had been at the restroom at the trailhead of this very same spot and pushed opened the pit toilet door to find a black bear inside. She raced back to her Jeep so fast she couldn’t remember if she left the door open enough for the bear to get out.

What if I were standing 20 feet from that very same bear? Forty years and a lot of imagination had it weighing about 4000 pounds. And from all the noise, something nearly that big must certainly be in front of me.

I had just decided that maybe I should slowly back my way up the path, when there came a loud crash to the right. Something burst into motion and bolted down the hill. I aimed my video in time to capture a blur and then a white butt with a short flapping tail above it. (Not very good quality, so I didn’t post it.)

Whew!

A deer.

But … the snapping, rustling noise DIDN’T stop. There were more…. and they were now about 15 feet away.

Deciding that it wasn’t worth having them burst through the brush on top of me, I scuffed my feet and broke a twig.

An explosion of movement sent several deer crashing uphill. I didn’t get a single glimpse of any of them, but marveled at how quickly they broke through the terrain and disappeared. In just a matter of seconds I could no longer even hear them.

A little disappointed that I hadn’t gotten even one close up photo, I was still thrilled at this close encounter with nature. “It was the greatest hike ever,” I told my husband later, although I didn’t have a good reason as to why … not even a truly good picture.

A smart person may have returned to the car at that point. I didn’t. Now that I knew what was on the hillside and how skitterish they were, I continued on.

Finishing the hike had its rewards. First the view …

Then, after reaching the other camping area, I followed the main road back. About a quarter mile away from the car, I had the distinct feeling that something was watching me.

It was.

Pretty sure this was the guy who first bolted away from the rest of the group. Love his ears … makes me think of a dog who got caught dragging the trash can all over the kitchen.

Eventually, we came off the mountain. COVID and politics were still down below. Laundry waited in the kitchen. Weeds in the yard hadn’t gone anywhere.

But that hour in nature … a sliver of time away from it all … no better medicine.

Oh … one more reward for the day … notice those flights climbed! That’s a BIG deal for me.

Cheers until next time!

Do you have a place where you can escape?

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Wordless Wednesday – All That Remains

“In the neighborhood” … the Holy Brethren Church carries on in the the ghost town of Elberton … under a blanket of smoke from Pacific Northwest fires.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Mad Cat

Get down!

My Guy just yelled at the cat, but only after a loud crash in the vicinity of our dining room.

Sophie … the likely suspect … left my office with an attitude moments before the commotion.

PLEASE. PLEASE! Open the window.

She begged this all day. The featured image at the very top shows her this morning … that’s not a pretty fog in the background. That’s smoke at 10:00 in the morning.

Sophie is so confused. She runs from window to window. She pounds on the glass in furious repetitions with her little paws. She whines. She even took a swipe at me with her claws … just close enough to let me know that she’s not playing, but not so close as to draw blood and get herself in big trouble.

Why won’t I let her indulge in her usual bird and dog watching/listening? Don’t I know how much she loves every sound of life outside our windows? And it’s not even winter when I can be expected to be stingy and not let cold air in and expensive heat out.

Unsuccessful at swaying me, after trying on and off for hours, she sulked out of the room and threw a cat-tantrum, knocking something heavy enough to make a huge thump off of the table downstairs. I didn’t hear the sound of shattering glass, so I’m not going to investigate. I’m a little worn out too.

It’s been like this all day today … and all day yesterday … and if the forecasts hold true, Sophie might have reason to keep up the tantrums into tomorrow.

Her problem?

Smoke.

We’re surrounded by a thick layer of faux fog. What should be a reason to pull out pumpkin spice and sweaters … is not. It’s not an early autumn fog, but smoke … smoke from fires near and far … trapped in a weather pattern that has it hovering over every town and city in the state … seeping into our homes … into our very pores.

We took a quick drive to check on our garden in a little town 15 minutes away. On a normal day, the background would be filled in with a forested line of hills, just inside the Idaho border.

Eerie.

The smoke is a cruel reminder of the devastating fires that decimated at least 95 homes and 100 other structures just 30 minutes from us … not even a week ago. A Labor Day firestorm … a storm that has scarred far more than the territory.

With fires all over Washington, Oregon, and California … and now the smoke … we’re all a little on edge.

The way of life here in rural Eastern Washington is that we depend on our volunteer fire departments. That means that every time fire fighters are needed, an alarm goes off at the local fire station, alerting farmers in the field or others who may not have seen their cell phone or heard their pager. Cell reception here is spotty and unreliable so the alarm is necessary.

We’ve heard the alarm way too many times the last few weeks. With an unusual dry August, farmers have had to battle field fires on top of helping with the tragedy in Malden. Now, every time we hear the fire trucks roar through town, it’s in the back of all of our minds … Malden … how quickly it burned … they had 10 minutes to get out.

It’s in the back of all of our minds … fear of a fire overtaking our town. What used to be unheard of is now a worry.

But we try to act normal.

Our volunteer system is sometimes confusing to newcomers because the noon whistle is an old tradition here as in many rural towns throughout our county. The fire alarm also goes off at noon every day to signal lunchtime. To try and eliminate confusion, a separate noontime alarm has been moved from the fire station to our main street, right above the library. It goes off promptly at lunch time (which is 11:57 AM in our town … apparently, no one wants to be late for lunch around here). Hardly anyone gets rattled by that alarm … except maybe me. I work in the library, so get a good jolt when I happen to be there at noon … I mean … at 11:57 AM.

To get back to Sophie’s tantrum … the source of her problems is not so much the smoke as it is me. Of all the challenges of this last year … COVID, lockdowns, family crisis, the blizzards of the winter before. Of it all, the smoke is hardest on me.

I find it hard to breath, as every one does. But even more so, I struggle with a choking sense of claustrophobia … I hate not being able to see … to not have a good sense of where I’m going … or of what’s coming. Fog has a similar affect on my nerves. More than once we’ve driven across the state when it’s been entirely enshrouded with fog. Sad to confess, but I was tense and snippy the whole time, insistent that My Guy keep his eyes sharply on the road. Fog or thick smoke … they both make me feel very vulnerable.

I’ve had thoughts of crawling back in bed and pulling a book close or even just going under the covers and trying to sleep the day away. But even with every window shut tight and with diffusers in every room and vinegar simmering on the kitchen stove to purify the air, our drafty old house can’t stop the smoke smells from creeping in. Trying to hide from the smoke only made me more aware of it.

People who know me well, think of me as pretty tough. Well … this is my kryptonite. It’s not a fear of fires … it the feeling of suffocation and being trapped. These kinds of feelings put me on the edge of panic … just to be real.

So … I can give in to that edge of panic … or try to turn it into a better than hoped for day.

My List for Coping:

  • plug in decorative strand of lights in the kitchen
  • fill up the diffuser with calming oils
  • get out battery powered candles that we use during the holidays
  • upbeat music … my style of upbeat is the Piano Guys at an earsplitting level. I know … I’m a wild one
  • check in with the kids (our adult children) on Face Time
  • check in on friends who had family that had to evacuate because of the threat of one of the major fires (all is okay now)
  • check the forecast to remind myself that this WILL end
  • meditate and pray … give thought to what the people in Malden endured as smoke and fire raced upon them with little time to respond … of the people in Oregon who lost whole towns as well … of firefighters who never get a breath of fresh air as they fight to save the property and lives of strangers
  • pray for the families who tragically lost loved ones … and remind myself that my struggle to breath is nothing
  • pray for resilience for all of us
  • distract the cat (and myself) with treats … cat treats for her … people treats for me

What did not make it on my list is open the windows.

And Sophie is still sulking about that.

Poor, mad cat.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Fire Season

Fire season …

Unfortunately, it’s a thing around here.

No one in the Pacific Northwest is ever truly immune. Forest, deserts, harvest season on acres and acres of dusty, dried wheat fields … it’s all tinder waiting for the slightest spark.

We’ve all been holding our breath because 2020 has been such a wicked year already. But … sadly … we’re not getting a pass on this one.

Washington (my state), Oregon, California, and even my very close neighbor, Idaho … we’re all on fire.

As I sit in my “creator’s space” on this unusually warm September evening with my window open and type … all I can smell is “campfire”. Only, this would be the eeriest of campfires as I’m sure no one around me would dare to light a fire pit or sneak in one more fire for the season. We’ve been shaken too hard in the last 72 hours … the Malden/Pine City fire (if you’ve missed the news, they’re the never-heard-of-before rural towns that lost over 95 homes in just a few short hours on Labor Day) are only 30 minutes from us.

This photo of Pine City (part of the Malden fire) was posted by one of our local fire fighters on the Tekoa Fire_Whitman County Fire #1 Facebook page.

Our volunteer fire department and local farmers dropped everything and rushed to battle the blazes. As news got out, volunteers delivered water, coffee, pizzas, and other food. Posts flew across Facebook announcing that people had trucks and trailers ready to haul livestock and personal items if needed. Farmers emptied fertilizer trucks and loaded up with water. Churches in a near by town immediately opened up to provide shelter. Another town, which battled blazes of its own and lost four homes earlier that same day, gathered up water, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items and more to be delivered as night was falling.

Even as the smoke clears, it’s still hard to breath … not because of the air quality … but because of the realizations that are setting in. Friends … family … co-workers … they have nothing … in an instant they’re starting over.

That could be any of us.

And it still could be.

I had people coming to one of the tiny libraries I manage to recharge computers and use the internet. “Could I refill my water bottles?” one sweet gentleman politely asked.

He and his wife are two of several in the area out of power because the fire wiped out power poles. One person said 40 poles were down … another person responded and said, “Oh no … it’s more like 400.”

Whatever it is, several of our rural neighbors are sitting ducks of sorts … surrounded by the stubble of freshly harvested fields … continuing hot temperatures … no electricity and NO WELLS. They’re kind of helpless. Even those with generators, aren’t fully operational. The power company hopes to have power restored by Friday but there are no guarantees. Temps are climbing … we’re back in the 80’s with 90 degrees predicted by Sunday before finally cooling off next week.

I drove to Colfax yesterday – our county seat and one of the other towns hit hard with fire on Labor day – to drop off books and materials to our “mothership library” and to mourn with other staff over the complete loss of our Malden library as well as the town’s city hall, community center, fire department, and post office. Worse, our librarian there lost her home … and yet, she was already busy, finding ways to help her neighbors.

This is the post office in Malden. Photo came from a friend’s FB post, but I’ve also seen it on a news site. Sorry, I don’t know the original source.

Along the drive, I couldn’t help but notice how many farms had sprinklers going full force in the middle of the day, trying to create a wide berth of green, moist ground around their homes and out buildings. (These folks, thankfully, are on a different power grid and didn’t lose their pumps.)

Out-of-control fires are yet burning to the north and west of us … likely why the air reeks like a giant campfire. Reports are coming in of more and more homes lost. And now there is news of two children in different situations who succumbed.

So … so … heart breaking.

Just before I started writing tonight, the town fire siren went off. Those who are not part of the volunteer force stepped into their yards … crossed the streets to neighbors. Where were the trucks headed? Did anyone see smoke? Is anyone saying anything on FB? Is it Malden again?

Turned out to be a tractor that caught on fire … it was quickly put out and all were safe. A local farmer told me earlier in the week that nearly every farmer he knew had problems with tractors and combines starting fires in the fields this year. “We didn’t get our August rains. That usually settles dust and chaff mid-harvest. It’s been really bad out there without that rain.”

The heart break is widespread … friends on the west side of the Cascades have had to evacuate. Densely populated areas are up in flames … even in the south end of Tacoma. Flames near the mall threatened the school where I formerly taught and where our kids attended. Last I heard, the fire was not out, but under control and the threat pass. With unusual 90 degree temps there yesterday and light winds, concerns rode high.

And then there’s Oregon … several towns wipe out … beyond devastating. Confirmation is coming that some of those fires had natural causes, but that others were set by arsonists. Suspicions of arson are circulating in Washington too. Let’s pray not. What heartless, idiot …

I won’t go there …

Back to my original thoughts …

The number of fires are crazy to fathom, but huge fires are nothing new here. I remember my father, a member of our local, volunteer fire department, being called out many times. One memory especially sticks out of him being gone for several days to a fire “over the hill” in Idaho … in the forests surrounding Potlatch.

Two or three days into it, Mom and our friend piled five kids into the car and drove to deliver sandwiches, coffee, and cold cokes to the crew.

I picture still, my dad, leaning heavily on a shovel beside our car, hardly recognizable from the soot on his face … sweat caked to his sideburns … black silver dollars under his eyes.

Few people remember that fire or talk of it any more. There have been more since … worse ones … they’re talked of for awhile … then tucked behind as we sojourn on to the next set of life’s challenges.

“We survive these kinds of things,” I remember my grandmother saying. “That’s what country people … what farmers do. They plant another crop … build another house … dream another dream.” Maybe grandma wasn’t quite that poetic or Pollyanna-ish but she said something very close to that when I asked what people do after fires and storms take everything.

In the case of Malden … that probably exactly what they’ll do.

City of Malden viewed from a drone. Picture is from a friend’s FB post.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Wordless Wednesday – Wonder

This is the original post I had scheduled for today, but I’m finding it a hard day to stay Wordless.

I live in an area hard hit by the Pacific Northwest fires.

I’m sitting here wondering about this newborn that we recently stumbled upon in a recent jaunt into our beautiful region … I’m wondering if he and his mother are safe. My heart hurts as I think of all the wildlife in Washington, Oregon, and California displaced and terrified.

I’m wondering about our friends on the west side of the state where fires have encroached into suburban neighborhoods. Friends have had to evacuate … the school where I used to teach is threatened with a fire burning all around its neighborhood. With an unheard of hot and windy day in the forecast for this time of year and that area, those who had to leave aren’t likely to know the outcome for some time.

I’m wondering about the tiny community just 20 miles from us … Malden … that is suddenly known by everyone in the country. A until-now-nameless, sleepy town lost 80% of their homes and buildings … the fire department, city hall, community center, library … all gone. You’ve probably seen pictures of the devastation in the news. These are our friends … our extended community … our reason to set down what we’re doing and help.

If you are a praying person, I thank you for praying. It’s overwhelming … I know. So much to pray for this year … but in our small town, most of us are the kind who believe that the cataclysmic events of this year are best handed over to the hand of Someone who can give us the strength to continue on and the peace to know that we can overcome.

I guess at that … I am wordless and speechless … for now.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Creating Space 2

It felt so good to organize my office and creative space that I had to write a post about it. Part I is here.

A place to write, craft, think, read, pray, pay bills, listen to music, read old letters.

A place to be interrupted.

Every day … every night … everywhere … here’s Sophie. Her cat attitude insists that no space meant for inspiration has any worth if she’s not at the center of it all. Darn cat … elusive when we initiate affection … demanding when she feels that she’s being ignored. I once had a 15-year-old in a lit class compare the temperament of a cat to that of his girlfriend in the same terms I just used. I hate to think it … but he was spot on in describing women in general. (Not all women, of course!)

Sophie is a high maintenance feline. She’s a talker and a clinger but NOT a cuddler.

To balance her out, we got her a playmate. This is Simba.

Sophie was not impressed with our choice of companions. It’s been six years … still not impressed. I won’t go so far as to say that Sophie hates Simba. I don’t think cats lower themselves to hatred. Disdain. That sums up Sophies attitude for that “other” cat in our house.

I should insert that My Guy and I kinda get Sophie’s point about Simba. We love him, but he’s not especially affectionate either, unless you are willing to put in 8 hours a day scratching his head. That’s it. You can only scratch him behind his ears and under his chin. He has a stealthy way of tricking you into thinking that you can pet him all over … then WHACK! He scratches you in half of a blink, and he has a high batting average for drawing blood.

Dang cat.

We get our revenge with the red laser light. Forever … he’ll run and chase that light, leaping into the air, burning calories by racing from the kitchen to the living room. Jokes certainly on him though … we know and he apparently doesn’t … that he’ll NEVER catch that red spot.

When I first started blogging, articles insisted that it was good to write about anything that interested me… anything except CATS. “Don’t fill up your posts with photos and stories of your cat. You’ll bore your readers.”

I don’t follow rules well.

But … this is a post about organizing a creative space and having a peace of “normalcy” in the mild of a pandemic and daily political tensions.While it’s fun to distract myself with cat photos and stories, I really have no excuse to not get back to work on projects. My button jars are glaring down from the shelf … urging me to plan ahead rather than wait two weeks before the holidays, when people start contacting me to see if I have any more cows or trees. (Maybe I need to add cats this year.)

As I think about how much I love having a crafting/creating space all to myself, (almost all … don’t forget Sophie) a few things occur to me:

  1. I was browsing through Pinterest today and realized that several years ago I started saving ideas under “Craft Room”. The Pinterest versions and my results are vastly different and not necessarily in a good way. Oh well.
  2. My Nikon takes much better photos than my iPhone. I’m sure you can tell which is which in this post.
  3. I find crafting with buttons to be very relaxing. I am not a natural born artist (if an artist at all) and know that my pictures find their charm in nostalgia (these are OLD buttons … not your typical crafting buttons) more than talent, but there’s something about filtering through hundreds of buttons and forming them into something interesting to look at. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
  4. Sophie wants me to finish up this post and check her food bowl. Most likely she can see the bottom … a major source of alarm in our house.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Garden Confessions

I have a confession to make.

I do not like gardening.

But I like gardens.

It’s complicated.

I like planting things … watching them grow … anticipating color and edible results … taking credit for beautiful flowers and crunchy vegetables.

It’s the weeding, watering, battling bugs part and then wondering what to do with all this green stuff My Guy won’t eat … that’s where the complications come in. I’m also not a fan of being in the garden on windy or wet days … a must do around here if you plan to get anything started in the Spring. Guess that makes me one of those fair-weather variety of gardeners.

HOWEVER …

In a Covid-stained world, a garden … something alive and bright … feels more important to me than my discomfort, so I battled the “Ugh’s” and set to it. Another motivation has been the bareness of our yard. When we moved in, all that broke up the monotony of yellowish green lawn (Can you call it a lawn when it’s made up largely of weeds?) was a smattering of daffodils and orange tulips along the front porch that our landlord kindly planted prior to our arrival. Oh, and two stubborn hollyhocks survived the town maintenance crew’s attempt to recover alleyways by spraying down weeds.

So … short on resources and green thumb magic, My Guy and I have set about adding color and texture to the place. The yellowish green weed-lawn still is the most prolific thing that grows, but you could say that we’re coming along.

Pause button.

There’s one more confession needed here before I share more pictures. Living in a rural community, I am surrounded by amazing gardens and gardeners. Some of them have been kind enough to let me photograph their gardens. I won’t post those pictures this time, because the confession is that these amazing gardens have brought out the competitive side in me.

Maybe it’s a little nicer to myself to say that they have inspired me. The point is, I could never compete with these master gardeners or the settings in which their gardens grow. So, to not distract from our meager accomplishments, I’m not going to post those pictures this time. Yes … this means that my efforts are pitiful next to there’s so I’m not going to highlight it more than necessary at the moment.

It’s going to take a long, eternity-like, long time to create something as serene and awe-inspiring as these garden whizzes around here. It’s fun though, making it our own.

Three Last Confessions:

Garden gloves are for sissies.

I lied about garden gloves … I don’t use them because I’m too lazy to hunt down where I threw them last … even though I own a Costco-load of gloves.

I will put on gloves if it means plucking slugs off of plants … and full disclosure … I have been known to huck a slug barehanded over the fence a time or two. I was aiming for the alley, but with my aim and the ickiness of a slug against my skin … well, I may or may not have populated the neighbor’s garden with a few extra slugs. (Disclaimer: this was my OLD garden back in the city … we do not have slugs here … thank God!)



This is my compost pile. It only makes it into this post because of all the sunflowers that volunteered. Thanks to the squirrels,
the yard is of full of flowers I did not plant. Of course!

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Bananas About Bandana’s

“Here. You need these.”

My SIL thrust a pile of bandanas and scarves into my hands.

“Gosh. What will I do with these?”

“They’ll make good masks. You just need them; they were Mom’s after all.”

Mom left us last March; now we were gathered in my childhood home … My Guy, my big brother, SIL, niece, and me … looking through her things.

Sophie is suspicious of this basket of cloth. As long as I don’t tie one around her neck, I guess she’ll be okay.

Mom was a collector … not a hoarder (well, I guess that depends on which member of the family you talk to) but a true collector. Her character was reflected in the fact that she had a knack for cast off things and cast off people. Simple and quiet herself (well … quiet around strangers … not so much around us or those who were subject to her teasing), she could always find a treasure behind layers of dust or underneath scarred, water-stained wood. A little dusting … a little oil and elbow grease … and a cast-off-nothing became desirable again.

Some of the things we found in the house were collections from yard sales and auctions. Some things were saved from our childhood. The bandanas fell into the second category.

In Mom’s teen years (’50’s), bandanas were fashionable as headscarves and came in any color you liked as long as it was red. They looked cute on girls with short hair. A comeback was attempted in the ’70’s, only with slightly longer hair and a full rainbow of colors. It was a look that didn’t work so well for me.

You know those memes where they show a gorgeous woman with her hair in a nice neat “messy” bun next to a Kathy-Bates-look-a-like (serial killer version) with a messy bun? The meme caption says something like, “Other women with a messy bun. Me with a messy bun.”

Well … there you go. That’s what awkward-duckling-teenage-me looked like in a bandana head scarf, compared to other girls. They all looked ready for a fashion shoot. I looked like I was going to mop floors.

Dad wore bandanas too. They were much more utilitarian in his case … around his neck to soak up sweat while laboring on one of the farms where he often hired out to make extra money … or when up on our roof in August, tearing off rolled roofing with 95 degree temperatures melting his face and his mood.

In the 50’s Dad worked on farms in central Washington … bandanas were a face covering for him to ward off the dust from temperamental windstorms. You also might see the red cloth peaking from the inside rim of his hat where he stuffed it to soak up head sweat. And he wasn’t above using one these “fashionable” pieces of fabric to honk snot into when ordinary handkerchiefs weren’t available.

While neither of my parents used handkerchiefs in the fashion of a bank robber (at least not that I know of), I’m bringing that look back to existence.

With COVID-19 overtaking our world and the recent (controversial) mask mandates, the discovery of Mom’s handkerchief collection is timely. I may look a bit suspicious when I wear them, but it is a cuter look than the cleaning-lady-aura that I rocked in the ’70’s. Most importantly, they don’t fog up my glasses as much as masks ,so I don them often.

Well … it wouldn’t be a COVID-19 pic if toilet paper wasn’t in the background.

Kudos to Mom for collecting a variety of colors (pictured above). Makes me feel like a fashionista to be all matchy matchy.

When Covid Days are behind us, I hope to find other uses. Here are some suggestions, should you have a big collection like mine:

  • Head band
  • Neck Scarf
  • Decorate the dog with an awesome neck tie
  • Ice pack (in a lunch bag or around your neck on a steaming hot day)
  • Sling (hope you never need to try this out)
  • Cleaning Rag (I have a hard time doing that unless said bandana is full of holes and ready for the rag bin itself.)
  • Dust deflector
  • Fancy handkerchief
  • Blindfold (Recommended for happy occasions only like surprise parties … nothing devious encouraged here!)
  • Instant table cloth (if you have a small table)
  • Bug zapper (If you have have speedy reflexes and stellar aim, you should be able to take out a few pesky flies with a rolled up bandana!)
  • Coffee filter (Okay, you probably have to be really desperate … but imagine that camping trip where someone forgot the coffee filter … the majority of coffee addicts I know are desperate enough that they’ll go for the bandana.)
  • And of course, a Covid mask

Here’s a complete coincidence, but I encountered my friend Danika yesterday wearing of all things … a red bandana! She had no idea that I had just written the first draft of this ever-important-bandana-post. Thankfully, I didn’t get a “you’re crazy look” when I asked for a selfie.

“It’s for something really important,” I insisted.

And see! She’s one of those beauties who makes bandana wearing fashionable again. (She does good for Covid mask wearing too.) And me? Well, you see for yourself the results above. I’ve definitely got that sneaky bank robber thing going on.

While I’ve brought Danika into all of this, let me point out that she is a fellow blogger and is in the process of creating her own business, Milk N Honey Cakery. She is an amazing cake artist and you’ll love her work. Be forewarned … hers is a dangerous blog site. The pictures are delicious and the posts will leave you hungry. I can’t guarantee that just looking at the food photos won’t add calories.

Here’s her latest post. Check it out and let her know what you think.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can read more on my “Thought Blog” at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

All photos on SmallStuffLiving are the personal property of Sausmus Photography and of this blog. Please do not use without permission. Thanks!

Advertisements come with the territory but do not necessarily reflect my opinion or endorsements.

Nope. The cat did NOT like those bandanas. They are in HER favorite spot for looking out the window, and the raised ears make it clear that she is quite disgusted with me.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can read more on my “Thought Blog” at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

All photos on SmallStuffLiving are the personal property of Sausmus Photography and of this blog. Please do not use without permission. Thanks!

Advertisements come with the territory but do not necessarily reflect my opinion or endorsements.