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a tisket, a tasket

a tisket, a tasket,

a wee and leaky gasket…

or

how the get-away almost got away…

We still live in a construction zone. We’re into month three now of our remodel. This is the month (we believe, because we’re told) that all work will be done and our house returned to us for the remainder of the summer. This past weekend the Guinea Pig and I decided  that we’d pack up our dogs and a few clothes (from the four places they’re stored these days) and head over the mountain where we have a little vacation place. All around us are mountains there, a whole ring of them, surrounding wide meadows where horses graze. (No, they’re not our horses, but we “borrow” them to feed  our carrots and apples to and to nuzzle their noses.) On the other side of the Cascades, the sun makes an appearance at least 300 days a year (which to water-logged Portlanders like us is golden.) Aspens shimmer and quake and the sweet scent of sugar pine perfumes the air. (I am not kidding! It truly does!) We were so ready for this!

We arrive, the dogs do their happy dance to be there again. We breathe deep the air, and head inside.

Our arms filled with groceries for the long weekend, our feet step, unawares, into a pool of standing water in the kitchen.

a tisket, a tasket,

a wee and leaky gasket

Turns out that a simple little gasket that connects (I don’t know) 2 things that ought to stay connected had given way, and for two months (or longer) sprayed beneath our sink. Cabinets had swollen, counters had shifted and mold had set up house. Did we I cry? Did we he curse? No. Oddly enough. But the collective sigh was deep and long, and our spirits sank.

And then we got busy.

We called a plumber. We called our insurance company. We called a restoration contractor. We cut short our get-away and returned to the construction zone for some sorely needed R & R. Funny how quickly one’s perspectives can change.

~ ~ ~

I grew up spending a good (blessedly good!) part of my summers on my grandfather’s farm. Big Papa had a dairy, prize Brahma bull, guinea hens, chickens, shetland ponies, and a few horses. One beautiful painted pony, Billy, was mine. (I think Billy might have been my first true love.) I grew up roaming freely amidst milking barns, silos, tack rooms, hay lofts, tractors and the smells and sounds of farm animals. They are like heaven to me still.

Big Papa’s no longer with us, and we no longer have his farm to retreat to. But  farm is so much a part of the fibers I’m woven from that when I “lose” my way, all I have to do to find “home” again is go where the farms are.

Yesterday I grabbed my camera for a day’s outing outside Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge…wind-surfing capital of North America. That’s not why I go. Climb just outside town though, towards Mount Hood, along the cold and rushing Hood River,  and you’ll encounter countryside that looks like Alpine foothills, dotted with farms, old barns and fruit orchards. Apples, pears, cherries. And stacks of boxes where bees make honey.

When I head out on car trips like these, I’m seldom sure exactly where I’m going. But something certain pulls me along. When I climb out of the car, I’m breathing differently. My camera presses against my cheek and soon I’ve lost all sense of time. The clutter of thought evaporates. I’m like that girl again. Only this time, with a camera. (And without the skinned-up knees.)

Yesterday I met a lovely woman who grew up on this farm, Draper’s, with its cherry orchards and goats and profuse, overflowing flower beds. It’s her farm now, where she raised her three girls, and she invited me to share it. How did she know how badly I needed that? 

She knew. 🙂

Inside the store, I thanked her (and thanked her more) and then filled my  basket with apricots colored like peaches, and green beans, and sweet Walla Walla onions, and cherries, a whole beautiful mess of cherries!

I’ll be fixing the green beans to go with tonight’s dinner and I’ll share them in a post with you tomorrow. Look for the cherries and apricots to show up very soon, and be very good.

I headed down the road, made all new again, like I was the one who’d just undergone a major remodel. Couldn’t get much truer than that. Went back home a different way, finding Lost Lake, in the Mount Hood National Forest, right where they’d left it.

And that, my friends, is the story of how the get-away

almost

got away.

I’ll see you tomorrow!

In the meantime though, I’d love to hear where you go to find yourself when you’re lost!

  spree

48 Comments Post a comment
  1. Claudia #

    I could visualize it all without your beautiful pictures. While you were talking about your drive, I could visualize the scenery first hand and it brought back beautiful, but sad memories of a Thanksgiving weekend spent with my awesome family in Oregon. I remember how my heart was still broken over the loss of Doc, but being with all of you put the salve on the wound. You have God’s gift of words, and have shared that gift with Ashley. I love you my precious sister!!

    July 11, 2012
    • Claudia, should I live to be 100, I’ll never forget our Thanksgiving together that sad year! What can I say but that it blessed us for you to have shared that time with us! I love and miss you dearly sister!!

      July 11, 2012
  2. Love, love your photos:)

    July 11, 2012
    • Thanks so much…Happy you did! 🙂

      July 11, 2012
  3. Oh, I was so happy to see another post from you Spree – I’ve missed you! So sorry to hear that your get-away went awry. I admire your resilience in the face of such disappointment. Your trip to the farm was truly beautiful; thank you for sharing it in words and glorious photography. Where do I go to find myself when I’m lost? The shore of beautiful Lake Huron in Southwestern Ontario. We just spent two weeks at the cottage we rented there, and you’ll see the inspiring vista of the lake as a backdrop to my food photos. I connected with my creative spirit and wrote and wrote and wrote while I was there! Nourishment for the soul, indeed.

    July 11, 2012
    • Oh Mar thanks so much for your comment! I can totally understand how a lake like Huron could transport a person to a whole other realm! The only one of the Great Lakes I’ve seen is Superior but they hold such a fascination for me. Would love to have the opportunity one day…will head to your site to bask a while! 🙂

      July 11, 2012
      • The Great Lakes are a marvel to behold. Living in Southwestern Ontario, I’m close to both Lake Erie and Lake Huron, and only a couple of hours’ drive from Lake Ontario. One weekend a few summers ago, I had a dip in all three lakes! On our trip to Milwaukee in June, I took my first steps into Lake Michigan (the water was too numbingly cold to go any further!). I haven’t had the chance to acquaint myself with Lake Superior yet, but I hope to one of these years!

        July 12, 2012
  4. Glad to have you back; your fans all missed you. We’d all have come over to help, wouldn’t we, guys???

    July 11, 2012
    • Ahh Ronnie! Why is it I never thought to call on you? I’ll know better next time! (May there never be a next time!) thank you for the kind words! 🙂

      July 11, 2012
  5. jim.callas@gmail.com #

    Soooo sorry to hear of the H2O intrusion yet relieved you found some peace in the Hood River valley!

    July 11, 2012
    • Thanks very much Jim! xo!

      July 11, 2012
  6. Well, this is about the tastiest pitcher of lemonade I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, Spree. You certainly took a bad situation in stride and, once handled, set out to refresh yourself, your spirit. Wonderful how Life sent you the woman and her farm, just when you needed both — and threw in a basket of fruit, to boot. I could learn a lesson or two from you, no doubt. I, also, really enjoyed the photography you included with this post, Spree. The photo of Lost Lake with Mount Hood in the distance is really beautiful! Such a nice place to visit.

    July 11, 2012
    • John, you said it well. Life sent the woman and her farm just when I needed them! … which in my mind just confirms (again!) Life is Good! Generous and good. 🙂 as far as lessons to learn from me, hah! I’m just muddlin’ through 🙂 making my mistakes, grateful for second third and fourth chances! thanks for the nice words on the photos! Happy you liked!

      July 11, 2012
  7. Oh, my gosh.. you have so much patience.. to have arrived and seen a water leak and not come completely unhinged (insert: sobbing, laying across the counter, arms flailed as you say, “Why, why??” I love that you are calm like this spree.. you take matters in hand and move to the next quiet space. Your trip to this gorgeous farm must have filled you up to the brim and overflowing with joy!! I think I could see myself living on a farm like this one day.. not a kitchens garden farm (I know my limits) but a tiny bit of land with fruit and flowers would be lovely. That is exactly where I would escape to were it here. We have our Rocky Mountains.. and I, too, take my camera in hand and take off. My second favorite is heading out to Nanton to go antiquing. I’m so happy to see you back.. and I can’t wait to see what luscious temptations you conjure up for us!! xoxo Smidge
    ps.. I’ve been looking for a white door just like that one in your photos.. that Draper’s is so pretty!!

    July 11, 2012
    • Smidge, I have such the vivid image of a woman (me) throwing herself over the kitchen counter, arms flailing, fists pounding, the wail of self pity rising shrilly, dogs taking cover!!! 🙂 It didn’t happen that way, but boy it feels good to imagine it did! 🙂
      Yes, pure exquisite joy filled me and I’m still pretty much a fully-inflated balloon flying in blue skies because of it! ~ ~ ~ I completely agree with your assessment of what type of farm life would suit you. Me too! And the white door goes along with! ~ Thanks so much for sharing about where “you go”. I love the Rockies – such a powerful peace in them!! And antiquing, though I’ve never done it in Nanton, yip, that too! I see a thread. Something about visiting Old things puts us right. Love that. xoxo!

      July 12, 2012
      • Have a wonderful, problem free day today spree.. you deserve it!!

        July 12, 2012
  8. Oh, Mama. How creative you are. I love this tisket a tasket, those great baskets against the eaves, the colors of those chairs, that tractor. So thankful for the story you created with your words and images in this glorious place. So glad you found Draper’s yesterday and so happy you have the spirit to allow yourself to be filled up by the beauty around you. This was a gift. (By the way, are they the Drapers who give us the good chickens?)

    July 11, 2012
    • Thank you dear Ashley.Your heart responds to the same things mine does! (surprise!) I think Draper’s found ME. Such a brilliant gift it was! As for your question, could be the same family, I’m not sure, but definitely not the same farm. Here it’s fruit only, which made it an infinitely happier place!

      July 12, 2012
  9. Wonderful post. After endless failed holidays in supposedly wonderful places I’m very cynical about romantic descriptions of far away places. You’ve just pulled me out ot that mire. Wonderful words and perfect pictures of what appears to be the most restful place I’ve seen outside our little corner of France:)

    July 11, 2012
    • Roger, thanks so very much! I’ve been lured too (who hasn’t?) by the honeyed language of travel brochures only to be terribly disappointed by the reality. I think you know, these photos aren’t fibbing. Too bad I didn’t insert a sound track to round it out! A hush, broken only by the birds’ songs and the sprinkler on the lawn.

      July 12, 2012
  10. Lesley #

    A breath of fresh air! Such a treat to see some pics from you and of the countryside, they are gorgeous, they took me there. Every cloud …

    July 11, 2012
    • So pleased to have been able to take you there Lesley! You do that for me all the time…

      July 12, 2012
  11. You are a woman who makes lemonade and then lemon cake when life throws lemons at you! So sorry about not getting the break you needed, but I´m pleased you turned things around. The photos are beautiful but that last one of the lake and mountain….sigh!

    July 12, 2012
    • Thank you for the kind compliment. I’m guessing it’s the same for you Tanya…”something” draws us to the place where we can be filled, where our joy lies. I have a feeling that you must have felt some of that as you were drawn to the mountains in Spain from your London roots. That joy is woven throughout your posts.

      July 12, 2012
      • Thank you to for your lovely words – yes, I find great joy and peace in my mountains.

        July 12, 2012
  12. Sally #

    Wonderful story, wonderfully told…….how to transform situations and restore yourself! The photos are as delicious as the story, thank you so much!

    July 12, 2012
    • Thank YOU so much Sally. Very kind words!

      July 12, 2012
  13. What a way to stay positive when things don’t go as planned. Your collected ways got things fixed and you even managed to take some awesome pictures along the way. I hope today is leak free and happy. Take care, BAM

    July 12, 2012
    • Bam, thanks for the leakless wishes for the day! So far so good! Hope all is well and bright with you. Have a wonderful weekend.

      July 13, 2012
  14. carolyn #

    Delicious! You have lit a fire under me. I want to weave my way through the gorge and turn everything over to the waterfalls…We are breathing your spacious, uncluttered air! Thank you for the best love one could put on a table.

    July 12, 2012
    • Turning it all over to waterfalls is a brilliant & lovely thought C! We should wind our way through the Gorge together. 🙂 xo

      July 13, 2012
  15. Kelly Loggan #

    Well dear heart! I go to exactly the same roots. When I drive out to Sandy and around that area I find my internal “home” again. Beautiful sharing and the photos are heavenly because the farm is such. Awful stuff at the house 😦 Such great roots to share with you! Much love and many prayers for the new restoration project! Yikes! Hang in there my precious “farm girl” Ani!!! Kelly

    July 12, 2012
    • Kelly, as always, thanks so much for the encouraging words! Happy to share roots with the likes of you! (I hope you don’t mind, but I pared your comment down slightly – this IS the great wide interweb afterall! 🙂 )

      July 13, 2012
  16. Wow, such beautiful pictures. Great post.

    July 12, 2012
    • Thanks so much Greg! I really appreciate that!

      July 13, 2012
  17. I soooo love your photos!!! Very beautiful. Makes my heart smile. =>

    July 13, 2012
    • You’re very kind. Thank you! If my photos can make a heart smile, my day’s been made!

      July 13, 2012
  18. Beautiful Spree – so lovely to get caught up with you! Your words and photos are beautiful as always – and how I can relate to the ‘waiting game’ of your reno! We experienced the same thing just 4 years ago. I can’t wait to see the results! Stay peaceful – I think it comes naturally to you 🙂 xox

    July 13, 2012
    • Oh Shira thank you! You manage ever and always to say the “very” thing!! So, you know the waiting game! (sigh) We’ve only a few more weeks to go. But I’ll share photos of the kitchen next week. I’m excited that tonight on our table with be your veggie wraps & dipping sauce. (haven’t figured yet what will go with. thoughts?) So anxious to try!! xoxo 🙂

      July 13, 2012
  19. You know Ani..I really paused at your line “when I “lose” my way, all I have to do to find “home” again is go where the farms are.”
    It really made me think..where do I go when I lose my way? and this is going to sound crazy but I am not really sure I know the answer. When life gets to be too much to handle or I feel that I don’t know who I am or where I am going anymore I usually run to my sketch book and lose myself in lines and curves that slowly turn into drawings, other times I lose myself in a book or a series of books (I can go through 700 pages in a few days) and some how that centers me..or balances me if that makes any sense.

    July 15, 2012
    • Sawsan, it would seem that you DID know just what to say. I loved your answer. It isn’t always just one thing or place we turn to. Sometimes it depends on the SORT of lost we are. Sometimes it’s escape we need…some other times it’s a ticket home. Thank you for your thoughtful answer! xo

      July 15, 2012
      • Oh, and I meant to say, it seems that drawing or painting or carving (etc) provides such a perfect simple pathway home. I love that you do that!

        July 15, 2012
        • Sometimes it is escape we need and others it is a ticket home…spot on Ani 🙂
          I love drawing, it was my vent and way to express myself.. You can see a couple of my old sketches here (
          http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.12983147039.37139.621912039&type=3&l=e53fe66516) Lately I seem to lean towards replacing my brush for my camera. doing what you do ..hunting for spring after a long and harsh winter..looking for beauty where it is least expect it.

          July 16, 2012
          • Sawsan, you have a way with your pencil too! Thank you so much for sharing your drawings with me! The human face is endlessly fascinating isn’t it? Easy to get lost (or find our way home) there!

            July 16, 2012
  20. Oh, this post! The highs and lows. I gasped when I read the phrase, “our feet step, unawares, into a pool of standing water in the kitchen.” And then I sighed when I saw your photos of Draper’s.

    When I’m lost, I like to head toward the sea. Must be the Maritimer in me. But also? I like coming here. And to a few other blogs that have a way of making me forget about other things – stressful things – for a few minutes. And then I remember to breathe…

    xox

    July 15, 2012
  21. I’m so pleased you managed to have a get away! And what a perfect sounding get-away, a farm, beautiful photos, lovely people, fantastic fresh food. And then that view – snow capped mountains and a lake…. aahhhhh I’m breathing better now too!

    July 15, 2012
  22. I’m doing a little back reading… and glad I did. Lovely photos and a reminder of what’s ‘real’. Nature, gardens, animals… all healing and centering. I feel the same way.

    July 30, 2012
    • You feel the same way? Somehow I guessed it! 🙂 Thank you Wendy for the very nice things you say…

      July 31, 2012

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