Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ironic Thankgivings

Thanksgiving is a time of feasting, festivities, and thankful hearts. A time of remembering, savoring, and gratefulness. Generally, most people can create that atmosphere especially if there has been bountiful blessings showered lately on you by God.

"I'm so thankful for -."

"I just am so grateful to -."

"I feel blessed because -."

However, what if on Thanksgiving, something catastrophic happened? Would you still be gushing out thankfulness and joy? Our family has been put to the test for the third year in a row of a series of unexpected, unwelcomed events that have left us saying hopefully "could be worse!"

Two years ago (3 Thanksgivings ago now), we traveled up to Parkdale to spend Thanksgiving day up in the cottage. There was a thin layer of snow and so we decided to go sledding. Bad idea. We had to dodge rocks as we careened down patches of melting snow. Rose (age 8 at the time) decided to go higher than everyone else even though a certain person she should have listened to - told her NO. 
As Rose flew down the hill, she was obviously terrified, probably wishing with all her might that she had listened to the experienced, calculating person who told her NO. Slamming into a giant rock, she was thrown off the sled with a force that propelled her into the snow. Dad (who is actually the person who told her NO), ran to her rescue but it was too late. Her back pained her to the extremity. Quickly, Mom and Dad raced down to the hospital with her while the rest of us stayed at home trying to follow the Turkey Feast recipes (the turkey didn't turn out quite normal). Rose got a CAT scan and no bones were broken to our relief. However, she did have a sprain. They gave her some kind of pain killer which zonked her ability to function rationally. We never planned to have Rose crying "Mother's Turkey, I want Mother's turkey!" up and down the halls of the hospital on Thanksgiving day. But that's what Rose did. And we were thankful when the nurse asked the sly question, "Do you like your brothers and sister?'' And Rose retorted, "Of course!" That answer could be debatable in some moments. All in all, Rose recovered rapidly and by the time we headed down the mountain, she was back to her old self. We were grateful God had saved her from further harm.

 Last year (2 Thanksgivings ago), we traveled up to Parkdale to spend Thanksgiving day up in the cottage. Does this sound familiar? There was a thin layer of ice this time and unaware of impending disaster, we were playing tag with our dogs outside. Bad idea....again. As we raced up the stairs, Pearl dashed up behind us but then fell back with a sharp, high cry of pain. Her paw had caught in the opening slats between each stair. She wasn't putting weight on it so we rushed her down to the veterinary hospital. Do these verbs (raced, dashed, fell, rushed) give you an idea how hectic our Thanksgivings are? However, after the rush, there's always the wait. We waited and waited until the veterinarian declared our dog to have a "sprain" in her leg. He gave us some outrageously priced little pills to give Pearl who was doing her best to act injured. We had a crying patient on our hands for the next few days; she was worse than Rose! As we headed down the mountain, we were thankful Pearl was young and could heal easily and that she didn't need surgery.

This year, we traveled up to Parkdale to spend Thanksgiving day up in the cottage. There was no snow and no ice so we hoped there would be no worries. Wrong. Usually we stay in the warm car while Dad turns on the heat and gets things all warmed up. Well this time it seemed he was taking longer than normal. Finally Mom sent me in to check on him. I opened the door and coughed. The place reeked chemical stench. There was pure black cobwebs arranged all over the room, drifting down eerily as I walked around the place. Dad came out of the basement dusting his hands. "The oil furnace exploded," he said. Mom and everyone else came in with bags of luggage. "Take it all back out," Dad shook his head."We can't stay here." Here are the facts: Dad turned on the oil furnace but black smoke was coming out of the vents and into the house. It looked like the installation had fallen into the heat furnace and there were dead mice around its base. The whole house looked like Halloween in full decoration. Everything was covered in an oil base charcoal? I'm not sure exactly but we couldn't easily get it off anything. We're going to have to get professional cleaners to go through everything. As we headed back down the mountain after only an hour up at the cottage, we felt blessed that we weren't in the house when that happened and that our house hadn't burned down.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my family's crazy misfortunes and I hope you learned that there is always a "could be worse!" if you look hard enough. Next year, I'm hoping my family will stay home. I'll be in New Zealand so I certainly don't want to miss another ironical Thanksgiving. But if something happens, I'll let them tell you......


Friday, October 13, 2017

Back in Time: A Overview of the 1910's

Lately, I've been reading books whose time period was in the 1910's. One series that I just finished gave the girls free rein to all kinds of lacy dainty frocks and automobile accidents experienced in long trailing veils. One part where a girl (Patty) is kidnapped for a ransom, struck me as funny. The author somehow managed to center the kidnapping around Patty's clothes and the awfulness of her having to wear whatever the kidnappers gave her. When she's finally rescued, Patty tells everyone to look at her. Here's what the book relates:

The picture was ludicrous. The hideous calico wrapper, badly cut and ill-shaped, and the coarse shoes were so incongruous to Patty's dainty beauty that they all laughed. All but Phil Van Reypen. He turned away as if from a painful sight.
    "It's sacrilege!" he said. "Take her away, quick, and fix her up."

Once her friends "fix" her up, the transformation is described.....

......So the pale blue crêpe de Chine, with its fluttering chiffon sleeves and trailing knots of lace and ribbon, was the greatest conceivable contrast to the fearsome garment she had worn home.

Clothes were a big deal for young girls. Especially since you had so many accessories to go with your outfit. Your style bespoke some of your personality. Patty always wore light shimmery frocks and flowers in her hair while some of her wealthy friends acquired dark heavy garments with chains of gold and gold jewelry in their hair. Here is an expert from a section:

Patty looked her prettiest in a filmy gown of pale blue chiffon with touches of silver embroidery. An ornament in her hair was of silver filigree with a wisp of pale-blue feather and her cheeks were a little pinker than usual. 

Notice the "daintiness" of the words the author chose for Patty. I emboldened them above.

Filigree: ornamental work of fine (typically gold or silver) wire formed into delicate tracery.
Filmy: (especially of fabric) thin and translucent.
Touches: a small amount; a trace.
Embroidery: ornamental needle work 
Wisp: not quite there
Pale: light in color or having little color.


Some things that were happening during that time ~

1910 - A boy loved to experiment with different flavors of syrup to make exotic concoctions. He also liked the daughter of his boss, Dr. Pepper. Exasperated, Dr. Pepper finally fired the boy who ended up in Texas. There, he made a combination of flavors that was extremely popular. He marketed it and chose to call it...Dr. Pepper.

1911 - It was in 1911 that the first painted lines appeared on a road. The lines were not drawn by a highway department or by the government, as you might expect. Instead, a Michigan man named Edward Hines painted the white lines by hand on River Road in Trenton, Michigan. He was tired of all the automobile drivers who didn't have enough sense to stay on one side of the road or the other. Evidently, the lines worked. In the next several years, white lines were painted on roads in cities and counties all over the country. Cited from 1910's Timelines by Stewart

1912 - Life savers hit the market; selling for a nickel each roll. They came in one flavor - mint.

1913 - Although automobiles had been around for several years, gas stations were unheard of. People purchased the fuel they need at general stores, in the same way as they bough kerosene for their lamps. In 1913, the first drive-in gas station opened in Pittsburgh. It was owned by the Gulf Company and was open 24 hours a day. The manager reported that the first day was a good beginning. He sold 30 gallons of gas!

Another 1913 - An American named Gideon Sundback came out with a zipper, which he called a "hookless fastener." When zippers were tried as fasteners for pants and dresses, people had to remove them (they rusted so easily) before washing the clothes and then sew them in again. The hookless fastener was named the zipper in 1923.

There are more stories like this in the book 1910s Timelines by Gail B Stewart.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Summer Summary

This summer was crazy. Not kidding. I graduated on June 10th and the next two weeks were finishing up piano and harp and going to lots of recitals. The last week of June was wrapped up with VBS or as we say it at our church "VBC" (Vacation Bible Camp). Then the first week of July, we went to La Pine with our cousin and grandparents for a whole week. After living in that dry climate (note: I will never agree to live in a desert), we headed home for a day before camp. Grant and I spent six days there, got grounded in theology and apologetics while Rowan and Rose experienced adventure and horse camp without having to stay overnight. Mom came to pick us up from camp and told me that
1. I'd been asked to play the harp for the pastor's daughter's wedding.... and 2. we were to leave for Leavenworth, a little Bavarian like town in 5 days as a graduation trip together. 
Leavenworth was so beautiful! I had been there only once when I was about ten in the winter but now it was summer and there were hanging baskets, and balconies, and grass covered roofs! We stayed in a little cottage that had a Romans verse written in bold red letters up the curved stairway and an old, ancient piano in a little nook off from the entryway. Here are some pictures of the cottage ~ The picture on the left is of one of the sheds. Notice the grass lavishing the top. The pic. on the right is of the stately courtyard of Abendblume, the cottage's name.

Here is Mom and I having our morning tea in the hand carved dining room
We went to a play the last night in Leavenworth. It was called Sound of Music....I know you know it....and it was acted out of doors in the hills. An orchestra played and the play went on as the sky darkened. During the last part, the stars were out and all the actors and actresses sang Edelweiss while the little band of musicians played on and on. It was very pretty, once in a life time kind of moment. Mom and I traipsed home down the long dark trail, for the play was up in the hills quite a ways, made longer by switchbacks.
 After that night, we went to Parkdale and decided to visit the rest of the family who were scrounging it out camping. They said they were sick of the dogs barking at the other campers so we took them home for the night. Now I'm pretty sure if we hadn't had the dogs, we would have had a cup of tea and gone to bed for the night. But we did have the dogs, and Comet decided that she wanted to make her toilet again before bedtime. So Mom opened the door, Comet rushed out, and we both hear a sharp bark of pain. And then the odor....seeped in through the screen door, accompanied by whimpering. Now I'm not sure it was a skunk, for it smelled like a strong chemical or burnt rubber. There is a fox that sprays an odor around our area so maybe it was that? Whatever it was, Comet was in misery! Her eyes were watering, the smell was overpowering. Mom rushed for soapy water and made me grab the baking powder to annihilate the fumes. We shut poor Commie up in the barn and went to bed exhausted.
Later the next day, Dad, Grant, Rowan, and Rose came home, smelly but happy. Gabrielle came up to spend the night and we all picked blueberries at a local place. After we came back home and had company over, I reunited with a friend from Mexico. We had been pen pals since our trip. Rachel and I walked and talked through a book store together where we met since our homes are so far apart. We had a wonderful time together!

The next day, we prepared food and food and smiles for a family of 13 who were coming over at 5 pm. Well they ended up staying until 12 am! Three of them didn't end up coming (one of them is married) but everyone else came! They're the kind of people who you laugh and smile so much with your mouth hurts....literally.
Two days later we headed to Seattle to meet Great Aunt Karen and Great Uncle Dennis from Texas with their son-in-law and daughter. That was a fun trip!
On Wednesday, the Martins came from North Dakota! We met at a park and then they came over to our house for dinner. We hadn't seen each other in so long but everyone acted the same as they always had.
Farewell time! Order of people from left: Raleigh, Mom, Rowan
Order of people from left: Raleigh, Mom, Dad, Conner

The rest of August was more camps for the boys and Parkdale adventures. And then school came...Grant went to CAM and I started working on Ebay and Rowan and Rose started up school with Mom.

Weather Reports:
Weird weather going on lately! The total sun eclipse came (August 21st) and our grandma is super into all the prophecies along with that and so when Hurricane Harvey came (August 25th) followed by Hurrican Irma (August 30th), she was really getting emphatic about all the natural disasters!

 On September 2nd, our family had thought about going to Eagle Creek Trail but then decided to go hiking on Sunday, the third, to the Oneonta trail in the Columbia Gorge. Well, a fire got started on the 2nd, on the Eagle Creek Trail by some teenagers with fireworks and 140 were trapped between the fire that just started and another fire that had been burning since July. The trapped people had to spend the night and then instead of going 3 miles back the way they had come, they had to hike 14 miles around the blazes! We could have been part of the predicament and adventure! On the fourth, Monday labor day (having hiked the Oneonta trail and spent the night at Parkdale), we headed back down I-84 which was covered in a thick brown reddish smoke that hurt our throats. We could see the plumes from the freeway....they had already evacuated parts of Cascade Locks. Ash fell for 3 days leaving the roads dusted gray. The sky was a weird gray color, even with us living about 60 miles away. The fire grew and has now consumed 37,500 acres of our beautiful Columbia Gorge in Oregon. On our hike Sunday, we went under this massive old wood tunnel, it was amazing! And now we read it was burnt and they're not sure if it's salvageable. We had just walked through it and the next day - gone. Roughly 360,000 acres are being burned in Oregon alone right now, a quarter of all the blazes burning in America at this present time. The summer gave us a long drought but now weather reports are saying rain next week. I learned this summer that I like the sun and I'm not looking forward to the rain! Isn't that strange?
Picture of the eclipse

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Worldview Camp

My cousin Karis (in the white shirt), loved playing frisbee in our free time.
This is the blue team being enthusiastic.
All the teams of almost 200 kids competing against each other.
Andrew in orange and Grant in blue. They look very serious.
Andrew accusing someone in Mofia.
Grant's friend Marcus from school happened to be there.

This is my small group. I'm in the front row, on the left. My cousin Karis is in the back row, on the right.
We went to Worldview camp again this year! This was Karis and I's third and last time. My brother Grant and his friend Andrew were coming back to camp for their 2nd time. The camp is 6 days of lectures about how to defend your worldview. You listen to 25 hours of lectures from 3 main speakers who do not get paid, they volunteered for this. Grant and Andrew were much more mature with listening to the speakers compared to last year (see http://starletschool.blogspot.com/2016/07/our-summer-in-6-days-one-cousin-who.html). I had a fun time getting to see people again from the Mexico mission trip who went there. Now I have 3 full notebooks of notes from the 3 years I was at Worldview Camp. If you live near it, you should go. It's on the east coast, middle states, and west coast. The speakers and staff travel each week to a different destination. Very knowledgeable men!

Saturday, June 3, 2017


I am graduating a week from today.
I do not know what will happen next.
I suppose I will have to find a job.
I don't know where.

I am supposed to be extremely excited for my future.
I am a live-in-the-present type however.
I am happy to be done with school.
I think.

I am still little Avonlea.
I believe I've grown in mind, body, and soul but.....
I still don't want to grow up.
I love Peter Pan.

I made it up one side of the mountain.
I see there is still more mountains to climb.
I want to go on till I reach New Zealand.
I wait till the time is ripe.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


I went with a group of 50 to Baja California (Mexico) for a week. We practiced our Spanish with the locals and orphanage children, painted a mural (the one behind us painters), pruned peach trees, and worked on construction. It was a whole lot of fun!

Here is our entire group pictured above. We all had a great time. We went to the beach dunes with the orphans, evangelized at a local Mexican parade, and then worked the rest of the time!
There was a miracle at the ranch. We were hosting the orphan boys to dinner and we didn't have enough chicken for everyone to go around. The boys didn't come on time so the kitchen crew put the chicken back in the oven to warm up. Then someone decided we should pray that the chicken will multiply. It did! And we had more left over.

Construction Site
I'm in the red shirt. There were 3 plywood boards to paint. The boards will go in the new high school that we were building.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Few Pictures

To the left, Stormy lies down on his back...as usual.
On the right, icicles form a ring around the rim of the birdfeeder.
A peaceful morning with the sun shining

Exploring our marsh, Comet and Pearl gnaw on newly sprouted grass.
The picture on the right was taken at the beach. A seagull flies across the bay while the tide is out.
The frogs have started croaking and the crickets chirping. Spring is almost here!

Monday, January 30, 2017


 These pets provide so much entertainment yet they cannot speak with words. They are companions yet they are quiet.
They are comical yet they don't do it in the way of humans.
Pets wag their tails, shake their heads, and roll their eyes.

Do you notice Stormy in the sink above to the left?

Archie and Stormy (above) are two kittens who were born into our house by Chloe. Chloe became an outdoor cat when she turned on her two boys and hated them with all her little viciousness. Chloe had been outside since the summer when she suddenly disappeared. The snow and cold had forced the coyotes to hunt and kill outside their normal limits. I came across half a body (the back half) of Chloe the Calico Cat. So ends the tale of Chloe, not very noble, not very nice, very jealous, but a cat. Coyotes shall now be on my bucket list of enemies. Here is the last picture of Chloe that I took:
(It fits her personality to a T)
Here's Pearl yawning below ~
Paw prints in the snow. Cat prints next to Dog prints.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017


our mom told us
we were going off sugar
she knows best
 i suppose
after so much holiday junk
we were just stuffed
with the most mind blowing things imaginable

all of january, we'll waste away
however so far
it has been okay
popcorn and cheetos
 no sugar in corn
ice cream and snickers
 we view with scorn
xylitol gum and ice chips are in
grandma keeps us supplied
we no longer look thin

february will appear
with it comes
new sugar year
let us hope we don't indulge
in things that fill and make a bulge

Poem by Avonlea on the spur of the sugarless moment

P.s. This poem was written without the help of gum and ice chips....or grandma for that matter