The end of an era – Monkey Puzzle Tree is down


(photo of our home is among the featured illustrations in ‘Back Roads of Washington‘, 1992, drawn by illustrator, Earl Thollander)

Saga of our 90 year old Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree ( Araucaria araucana ) comes to a close. The tree was planted in the front yard of our house, we are given to understand, some 90 years before we ever arrived on the scene. When we bought the house, the tree looked ragged along the lower branches, and the previous home owner told us it was not unusual for this species of tree to look like that when they reached these mature ages. He told us the story of how the species of tree came to be planted in Bay Center, Washington as it is not native to the area, although the climate is conducive to nurturing this species.

When our house was built in 1892, by a barge builder, the house was given to the daughter and her husband – the Bochaus. In those early 1900’s there was ship travel on our Willapa Bay and the Willapa River. The ships might harbor in Bay Center and spend a day or night as guests of local residents. Mrs. Bochau would entertain the ship captains in her home and one of the ship captains (Capt. Cook, I believe) gifted her one of the seedlings of the Chilean Monkey Puzzle Tree he had as cargo on his ship.

The tree grew successfully through their lifetime, and on into the life spans of the next two owners of the house. By the time we came along to to buy the house in November 2002, the tree was well into it’s maturity. However, these are prehistoric trees and have an incredible lifespan, living well past 100 years. The tree was not beyond it’s years, but it did succumb to some infection and it began dying from within.

The first year, we enjoyed the giant tree with it’s giant limbs and it swayed gently in the heavy windstorms. It was well rooted and not likely to fall over even with the highest winds. The first spring, I learned how prickly are the ‘leaves’ if you can call them that on the branches, as I did the yard spring cleaning. As the lower limbs lost their green, I asked a neighbor to cut off the lower limbs in hopes we could save the tree. It seemed to me the logical, compassion, caring and nurturing thing to do to try to save the tree. I neglected to consult my husband on my decision and that was one of the few times I have seen him livid. He was ‘not ready’ for the mangling of that great gracious tree, no matter that it had dying lower limbs.

Over the years the tree continued to die from within, turning browner and browner with each passing year until there was nothing left of green on the tree limbs even at the pinnacle of it’s height. But it continued to stand, testament to the community of it’s long history in Bay Center. I pointed out to my husband that there was nothing green left on the tree and it had indeed passed into that place where trees are no longer among the living. He would not be convinced easily. He had been following for a few years the attempt of a new branch shoot trying to grow and what was left at the tip top of the tree that was still green. He would not agree to the reality that the tree was no longer healthy or even living.

When the limbs became dry enough to begin to break off, I grew concerned that one could fall on someone passing beneath and insisted the tree come down. Our neighbor, who has some experience with bringing down trees agreed to take it down. He was able to get all the limbs cut off and the top of the tree when there was an accident kickback with the chainsaw. The kickback went across the top of his hand, and we are all blessed that it grazed his hand with no damage to the nerves or connecting tissue. My husband rushed him to hospital where they attended to his hand, but it did cost him some work on the fishing boats during his time of recovery. He has said he would come finish taking the tree all the way down, but a few years have passed and he has not taken it down. I can completely understand his reluctance! Nor did I really want him to take on the challenge as the county power lines create a tripod quite close to the top of the tree.

I explored having the tree made into a totem pole, asking the person who made the totem pole for our neighbor down the street if he could make one from the remains of the tree. He said the wood is too soft and if he made a totem, the features would split with the wood, ie, the eyes or nose might split causing a caricature image — not very totem like. So for a couple of years the trunk of the tree has been standing, withstanding our powerful Storm 2007 winds of 140 – 160 mph.

Another neighbor thought perhaps to use the wood from the tree to make unusual wooden crafts as it is a desired wood for such projects. We agreed if he could take it down, he could use the wood. He came, he saw the power line obstacles and changed his mind about taking it down. He suggested that the county might be willing to take it down.

Last week as I was leaving the community heading to town, I saw the county people doing some roadside tree cutting and stopped to inquire if they could take down my trunk of a tree. He said he couldn’t do it today as they had full schedule but would come back, to which I said no hurry, the tree will continue to stand. Surprised to find a work crew from the county in front of my house today, he kept his word and did come back to take down our tree.

It was fascinating to watch as with their power equipment and trucks they were able to stabilize the tree while someone else using chainsaw cut through the lower trunk. The truck with the stabilizing equipment held the tree steady, lifted it and gently swung it to the side of our road, laying it down gently.

She lies there in less than all her glory now, having been stripped of her limbs and foliage, a tall trunk of a tree that used to be and is no more. Good bye dear Monkey Puzzle Tree, we did not get to enjoy your heyday and were there at the time of your demise, but we truly respect your tremendous history.

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Coyote Moon – Native American – Chant – Meditation

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Our weekend out of town; The Story.

Our weekend;   The Story.  I have a peridontist appointment about every three months, in a town about 2 + hours from where we live.  So we have turned it into a weekend getaway, and a visit with my mother who lives in a nearby town to the town where my peridontist is located.

Had my peridontist appt Friday and the report was good – some small improvement actually.  Not much improvement, but far better than deterioration.    Then we went to my mother’s home, spent the weekend. and then came home to our animals.   Our cat and dog remain at home, and so our time away is limited to a safe duration for the cat and dog to fend for themselves.  Now that my cat bite is healing and the cat is healing, life is returning to normal.   (A couple weeks earlier the cat was bitten by an animal, and in not knowing she was bitten, I picked her up, more rather tugged her out of her hiding place and she bit me…not at all her usual behavior, she is a very loving cat.   We didn’t see her wound at the time, but knew something was wrong with her.  Arthur spotted her wound, and we took her to the vet, who gave her a vaccine, and told me was more concerned that I get myself to hospital to treat the cat bite.  I did, was vaccinated and given antibiotics, the incident reported to County Health, the cat quarantined at our home for 10 days and we are both mending without incident, the primary concern being exposure to rabies).   When we returned home, our dog Jake resumed eating again.  He misses us when we are gone and gets sad – depressed.  Dogs have feelings.  Oh, and our cat too, she has feelings, misses us and glad when we return home. 

After my peridontist visit on Friday afternoon we drove to my mother’s home, picked her up and went out to eat.  We live in a rural town, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants or places to eat, so we enjoy the opportunity of eating out at different restaurants on the days of  my peridontist appointments.  It’s an eating out together date we look relish.  Choosing a restaurant in the town where my mother lives proved not to be as obvious as it might seem.  We kind of scoured what we knew to be restaurants in her neighborhood, opted to go further away, settled on Black Angus, since I was hankering for a nice steak lunch.  We got there and it no longer has lunch, open for dinner only.  Must be the economy.  The hour was growing late into the afternoon, I was hungry now, and we had not eaten breakfast that day,  or at all, so we wound up at (oh yuck!) Old Country Buffet.   Arthur likes the many choices of buffet restaurants, and sometimes so do I, but Old Country Buffet is not one of my favorites.  We both really enjoy the buffet variety of primarily healthy choices at  Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, but there were none the town where my Mom lives.    

Saturday Arthur spent the day home, defrosted Mom’s freezer for her because it had become so full of ice that the ice on all the shelves were touching each other, no room for food.   He took care of some other taskings for her, then spent the rest of the day fooling around with installing stuff in  his old fashioned computer.  Not the laptop kind, the big bulky kind.  Some guy he knows had given him some Linus software to download or told him about it.  Anyway, it was a dead computer (not working) and when Arthur finished the download it sprung back to life, installed Windows XP and is sort of functional again.  He was delighted.  Still needs an audio driver and something else that would permit it to link to internet.  He was just intrigued that it started working again…kind of like a guy tinkering in his garage with his power tools, only Arthur likes to tinker with puter.

Saturday I took Mom to Farmers Market in Proctor area of Tacoma.  That is a district that more resembles Portland or some Seattle districts; organic, green living, conscientious choices – that sort of thing, and an amazingly cool, fun grocery store with very upscale item choices.  For a mere $309.00 you can purchase a wheel of gourmet cheese!  An experience in itself.  (I’m being a bit snarky – it would be very unlikely we would ever spend that kind of  money on cheese.)  We visited a new consignment shop in her immediate neighborhood – delightful items, colorful, fun, upbeat, cheerful.  I liked it.   But I didn’t buy anything, because in truth, neither of us need another thing!

And more for the hunt of treasure than because either of us need anything more in our homes, we went to a few garage sales. What was being offered wasn’t the kind of garage sales we were looking for – more like junk sales.  We had fun anyway because we toured many of the University Place neighborhoods, the million + $$ homes with breathtaking views of the Narrows water, Narrows Bridge, the outlying island.  And alongside the million + $$ homes, are more modest ranch style homes.  You can be on a ‘house of dreams’ street and turn to go down the the next street which could well be a quiet and modest street of different ranch style homes.    University Place neighborhoods are in interesting mix of income levels.   After our tour of neighborhoods,  I took her to visit Charlie at cemetary where his ashes are placed.  It is a beautiful, peaceful cemetary, a place of quiet serenity amidst the hubbub of getting from here to there.  Nice place to quietly reflect on life.  I know, it may sound like a strange juxtaposition to reflect on life when at a cemetary where the dead are buried…..but that is how it works for me.

We went back to Proctor district that evening to have dinner at a niche Mexican restaurant (not a restaurant chain) because Mom said she heard good things about the food and atmosphere there.  Lively atmosphere with mix of old and young people dining.    I had a Taste Assault dish called Chicken Mole, although it would be better named Chicken in Mole (prounounced molay)  Sauce, because the sauce was Outrageous –  6 ingredients, and I can remember plums, almonds, mole (an unsweetened chocolate), and some other ingredients.  It wakes up your taste buds like wowza!   Not hot or even spicy, flavorful would be the word I would use to describe it.  Flavorful with each bite.  Arthur took a menu and will experiment at home with making the mole sauce because I liked it so well. 

Sunday we took Mom to her church (St Andrews Episcopal Church).   A bit of history here; my mom lost half her sightedness recently and is vision impaired now.  Mom had been saying she felt she needed something inspirational amidst all the doctor appointments and bad news.  Along the way, I decided to call the Priest at St Andrews to talk to him about Mom.  When she was a child, she attended Episcopal church in Spokane.  I explained to him her childhood church exposure, and her current medical condition with being sight impaired, being told by her doctors not to drive anymore. He agreed to visit Mom immediately and arranged for someone to pick her up and take her to church on Sundays.  

She has been to St Andrews now, a few times, and wanted us to visit her church.  We wanted to visit it also, as I enjoyed the upbeat conversation with the Priest – he was energetically young, even though he isn’t young.    That Sunday they had special guests, a singing group who livened up the entire worship service with renditions of the hymns done to foot tapping music.  Guitars, tambourines, horns, and one of the gals playing guitar was barefoot!   Felt like we were at a campfire gathering!  Geesh!  But the worship service having a combination of traditional liturgy, the laying on of hands for healing, the Eucharist, and the lively music with a welcome invitation to all does reflect ‘The Emerging Church’.

We loved the church, it had accommodations our little church building isn’t equipped to have, and if we lived in that area, we would likely attend that church.   Afterwards we ate at a restaurant in her immediate neighborhood that she is fond of – an old fashioned restaurant left over from approximately the 1950’s era.     So lots of eating this weekend, way too many calories, and Mom had a nice weekend.  So did we.  

Oh and at the Farmer’s Market I bought some snow peas that were priced below what is usually charged for snow peas, so I bought enough to freeze.  Bought a couple of tomato plants already bearing tomatoes, and a basil plant.   I didn’t plant a vegetable garden this year, and haven’t spent much time outside with the herb and flower gardens, so keeping it light this year.   Weather hasn’t been too cooperative where we live – cold, rainy, then unseasonably blistering hot, then cold again.   At the market, I found a growing salad bowl planter that I wanted and Mom bought it for me for my birthday gift.  The planter has growing  lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro plants  – salad ingredients, and that is the extent of my vegetable garden this year.   Except all the herbs I have been growing for a few years now. 

And I was delighted to learn about a lovely tasty sauce called Chimichurri?  Oh, I tasted some at the market, and just had to buy one – lime Chimichurri.  Great to use as braising sauce for grilled vegetables, on meats, or just straight on healthy chips or fresh veggies.   Taste delight!

It was a rather sweet weekend.  Last year around this time, we had visited Mom and she and I went to Lavender Festival on Vashon Island, ferry ride over and back, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, making the waters deep blue and picturesque. There was a Farmer’s Market there too, and we visited that Farmer’s Market

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Father Matthew Presents: Mary Magdalene (Episcopal)

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Make Your Own Seed Tapes

http://www.instructables.com/static/flash/viewer.swf
Make Your Own Seed TapesMore DIY How To Projects

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Book; American farmhouses : country style and design

American Farmhouses: Country Style and Design American Farmhouses: Country Style and Design by Leah Rosch

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I like to study the architecture of homes of bygone eras.

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Book; Forgotten Household Crafts

Forgotten Household Crafts Forgotten Household Crafts by John Seymour

My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the point of view of someone who grew up in Europe, it was more intriguing to read not only the how it was done, but the perspective from a child growing up, seeing the results of how it was done.

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Book; The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest

The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest by Lawrence Kreisman

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
Actually it was quite comprehensive and regionally specific.

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Oil Painting is so much brighter though

I created 5 new paintings in a day. I was really into it that day. Two oils and three acrylics. Trying acrylics was new for me, see the post below.

Here is one of the oil paintings, and you can see the paint is so much more vivid.

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Acylics or Oil? My New Acrylic Paintings

Trying my hand at acrylics. Reason; well oil painting can be rather toxic from what I hear and read, and you know, I’m just getting along in years and not too anxious to gunk up my lungs and system. I also have read that Bob Ross designed his wet on wet paints and thinner not to be toxic, so maybe I’m safe to continue using those products. Adapting the wet on wet technique of oil painting to acrylic paints, which dry quickly and less the medium of the oil which permits the paint to blend and stick to paints already on the canvas. I’m at a disadvantage.

Three acrylics, and I really do not have the ‘art’ of photographing my paintings, so pardon my amateurish photography. Early efforts with acrylics;

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