I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all the followers and friends of “The Journey Girl.” Your comments on my blogs truly make my day and I am forever grateful for your ongoing support. You have blessed me with friendship from Australia to Canada, from the East coast to France, from Hungary to the Mississippi Delta and beyond. The outpouring of orders for my cookbook absolutely astounded me! I had hoped to sell maybe ten books, not 120 and the orders are still coming in. My journey’s this past year I am certain, mimic many of yours. Wonderful joy and gut wrenching sadness and everything in between. In other words, “life.” Last evening I found myself doing a bit of life review as I looked at many of the photos I took over the past 12 months. I smiled, I laughed and I cried. Then I chose one photo from each month that seemed to best reflect not just my life, but Dan’s too. I’m sharing these pictures with you to see if you can identify with any of them and the emotions that accompany them.
This moment in January, when our beloved big girl, our Gracie girl left us was by far our worst time in 2019. Smart as a whip, loyal, funny and an alpha female, we adored her. My constant companion when Dan traveled the world. My best friend in Germany as Dan was rarely home. Her illness was sudden and her passing left us both sobbing and heartbroken. It took Otto months before he stopped looking for her. We were so blessed to have her in our lives. I do not take comfort in her waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge. I just want her back.
February found me in recovery mode, taking solace in the beauty that nature provides up here in the Back of the Beyond in Ferry County, Washington. The brilliant blue sky cut with sun beams through the clouds over the frozen waters of Curlew Lake helped heal my broken heart. Fresh invigorating air and exercise found me counting my blessings once more.
If January was our worst time then March was our best. We were overjoyed with the birth of Jack! Relieved as any anxious parents that his mother was safely delivered of bundle of incredible cuteness and personality! They live far away but we have been able to hold this little guy on two different occasions and for that, we are thankful.
April found us traveling the ten hours down to Vancouver, Washington for Alpacapalooza! The days were long and the nights were short that weekend but it is always wonderful to spend time with great folks who raise alpacas. They are truly some of the nicest people in the world. Of course, just being with these beautiful animals is a treat. Having a ribbon or two in your hand is an added bonus!
May arrived and we traveled another ten hours to Portland, Oregon for another Alpaca show. Once again, we had long, long days and short nights with a whole bunch of work thrown in the mix. After the last show we immediately drove the ten hours back home arriving exhausted. This time, we decided to drive the three hours from Portland to Westport , Washington for a couple days of R&R. I can’t tell you how restorative those two days were. Well, maybe you can tell how I felt by looking at my photo. For me, Westport is my favorite escape. The roar of the Pacific Ocean waves, the shear amazement of the stunning vistas seen as we walked the beaches. Watching the seagulls chase after the fishing boats and the huge sea lions catching fish in the harbor was both relaxing and mind cleansing as nature always provides its gifts.
June is always a busy time what with planting the the vegetable and flower gardens and fixing up the yard because it is FINALLY Spring up here in the north country! We are still working on get the house finished and there remains lots of details to complete. But, we also bought a new trailer and really needed to break it in to see what was needed, where everything was and if everything worked before taking it out on a road trip. So, we compromised by camping in one of our gorgeous Forest Service campgrounds about 25 miles from home. We got up in the morning, had breakfast and went back to our house to spend most of the day working. Then, we headed back to the campground to cook dinner outside and sit around the campfire late into the evening listening to the call of the loons. We had the best of both worlds! Otto loved it too.
July is the beginning of berry season in our neck of the woods and up here the wild huckleberries are a much sought after delicacy. But, these “hucks” make you work for your rewards. They are small and grow close to the ground so sitting on an upturned bucket or kneeling in the berry patch is the the only way to pick them. We ended up with almost four gallons of huckleberries that we turn into pies, muffins, scones, milkshakes and sprinkle on top of yogurt. They have a sweet/tart flavor a bit like a blueberry but they really have a flavor of their own. The rest of July finds us harvesting cherries and raspberries from our garden.
August means our busy summer gets busier by the day as the vegetables ripen and the weeds grow out of control! We love all kinds of fresh vegetables and Dan grows a nice variety. But, they all seem to come in at the same time and there is just no way we can use them up. So, that is when my canning and freezing season begins. It is also the time when our neighbors lock their doors and turn off their lights when they see the Giebel mobile heading up their driveways loaded with squash! We take quite a bit to our local food pantry where it is greatly appreciated by local residents. I keep telling Dan to make a smaller garden but he keeps ignoring me. Seems to me that all men who have gardens are the same way!
September is my favorite month of the year as summer is winding down but fall has yet to arrive. We still are harvesting apples, peaches and vegetables but I say it is time to escape because soon the weather will change and our travel time will come to an end. Plus, I am tired of all the work involved with canning and freezing. We headed back over to Westport for just a few days respite. Plus, crabbing season was coming to a close and Dan was determined to catch his share of those incredibly delicious Dungeness crabs. He was successful! Besides that, watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean is a never to be forgotten moment in time. Here, my heart is happy.
These are the Aspens at the bottom of our road as they change from their summer green to Autumn gold. And yes, the do “quake” with the fall breezes. Those Aspen trees have a special kind of beauty that we treasure. October is special for many reasons. It marks the end of our wildfire season which this year was mercifully a non event. Once my Bartlett pears are canned, then I put my canner away for another year! Those pears sure taste wonderful in the middle of winter. This October we traveled back to New York State to visit friends and see my 94 year old Aunt Jo. Then we went on to Boston, Massachusetts to spend much needed time with Dan’s son, daughter in law and our two grand daughters. If you are a grand parent, you know how much that trip meant to us all! Finally, back home we begin preparations for winter because here in the north woods winter arrives without warning.
November was a mad dash for me as I worked day and night to meet the deadline for my cookbook. Lots of design decisions had to be made as well as which recipes to include. I typed, re typed, edited and proof read over and over before finally sending saying a prayer and sending it off to the Publisher. Dan was not optimistic about deer hunting this year. He even thought he might not hunt but he did and it was the right decision. He hunts late season archery and this year provided him with the largest buck he has ever hunted. A magnificent eight point buck. The venison obtained is good food and much appreciated. Hunting is not for everyone and I understand that but we were both raised in hunting families and hunting is just part of life for us. He hunts for food not for sport and we enjoy the wholesome meat.
Here we are on the final day of December 2019. December, a month full of hope and promise with holiday preparations and celebrations. The solemnity of Christmas. The beautiful music of the season and the gathering of friends and family to share joy and love. December, a month to put aside the disappointments and join together in kindness.
As this year draws to a close I am reminded of all my abundant blessings. Blessings of friends, family and you who are reading this blog. We never know where our journeys may lead us. This afternoon our feral grey kitty showed up again, cold and starving with both vertebrae and ribs showing. She is safely ensconced in Dan’s heated work shop where we have placed a litter box and warm food. She will be our guest tonight, maybe an angel unaware and tomorrow, well we’ll see what tomorrow brings. My hope for us all is that the New Year is one of health, happiness and prosperity.
Hugs and much love from me,