Archives for the month of: April, 2013
Quilt show

Destination: Quilt Show in Forks

Quilt Show

Ted has the flu.  I have a new appreciation for single parents.  I had planned to go to the Quilt Show in Forks on Friday but had to stay home to pick up the kids after school.  By Sunday I needed a break and the kids were playing well, so I set out knowing it would take about an hour to drive each way and planning to spend an hour there, total of three hours–

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Parkk

Lake Crescent

It was a nice day for a drive, there aren’t any traffic signals between our house and the one in Forks, no merge lanes.  Much of the trip is through Olympic National Park and the road is bordered by tall trees.   Further along there are clear-cut areas and land that was logged at some point, has been replanted and  is now in various stages of growth.

I stopped along Lake Crescent to enjoy the beauty.  The lake is surrounded by mountains and is very deep. The water is cold and clear.  This area is part of Olympic National Park.

Lake Crescent 2Lake Crescent 3

I arrived in Forks on the schedule I had established.  Forks, population 3500, has been a remote logging town for the past 100 years but it recently rose to fame as the setting for the TWILIGHT novel series.  Merchants have capitalized on it with signs like “Bella Ate Here” and “Dazzled by Twilight”  There are often several cars of tourists parked at the sign announcing entry into Forks, snapping photos of each other.  But it is a pretty quiet town, one stop light.


Downtown Forks

It does have an active quilting group however, the Piecemakers Quilt Club.  I have noticed in the past that great quilters often come from quiet places where there is not much else to do.  The group sponsored the FABRIC OF THE FOREST QUILT SHOW which was held during the Fork’s annual “Rainfest.”  This event includes an art exhibits,  and a parade with marchers carrying umbrellas and the quilt show.  The average rainfall is 120 inches a year, which is why it was selected as the “home” of the TWILIGHT series.

The quilt show was held in Forks High School, which I understand is an important location in the TWILIGHT series.  I was warmly welcomed and enjoyed viewing each quilt, snapping pictures of some of my favorites.  I tend to like the “liberated” style quilts using scraps, and not worrying too much about having things look neat and tidy.

Alzheimer Art Quilt

This quilt will be given by the creator to the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative to raise money for research. It is small, about 8 by 10 inches.

baskets circles sweet Wonky barns Wonky pineapple

I got some new ideas and now need to time to try some new things.

The drive back was uneventful, kids were still playing nicely when I got home, and Ted was still asleep on the couch. I hope he is feeling better soon.

Lake Crescent 4

No words to describe this, we are so lucky to be surrounded by this beauty.

Our son Ben died 33 years ago today.  He was 12.  He was born in Korea and joined our family along with his little sister Betsy when he was 10.

ben in korea

Betsy and Ben, taken in Korea when we first met them.

arrival from Korea

Betsy and Ben arrive in America and join their new family


Shortly after he arrived we realized that he had a medical problem, it was a slowly growing tumor in his nasal area.    This is a rare form of cancer, especially in children.   I don’t know if there is more that could have been done had this happened more recently, but I do know that he knew he was in a family with people who loved him and a good medical system that made him as comfortable as possible.

He was a cheery little kid with an infectious grin.  He didn’t like to have his photo taken however and most snaps that I have were taken when he wasn’t aware, while he was doing something else, or when he was a part of a group.  He liked to laugh and he made good jokes.

Ben with a grin.

I did catch him smiling this time, this checkered suit was his favorite

He was quick and agile.  One of his best tricks was catching bees and removing the stingers, he would then say to some unsuspecting person,  “Would you like to see my bee?” and drop it into their hand.  Then he would crack up laughing at their startled and worried cries.  He could catch birds and he loved to hide and observe people without them knowing it.    He liked Korean food, of course, the spicier the better and he would challenge others to eat kimchee as hot as he could.  He also loved to fish.

Ben Tad and fish

A highlight for Ben was this fishing trip where he caught at salmon. He is shown with older brother Tad.

Ben loved daffodils and the fall before  he died he helped me plant dozens of bulbs.  By the time they were blooming he was very sick but he did get to see them in full bloom before he died.

Vase fron Raven

Ben died at home, which is what he wanted.  He was surrounded by his family on a bed we had set up in the living room, and I know he felt our love and support.    It was the day of our son Kori’s 21st birthday.  My mother was there for the Kori’s birthday and had brought a bottle of champagne.   Ben died late in the afternoon and though it everyone was very sad and many tears were being shed, we did manage to make the day special for Kori.

Ben was a friendly outgoing boy and he had many, many friends, most of whom came to the memorial service which was held in a chicken house turned playhouse on our farm.  It was a celebration of his life with many stories of his jokes and pranks.    Folks knew of his love of daffodils and many brought flowers.   The sun was shining and friends had taped special music.  I will never forget that service.   Our oldest son, Bobby, was in the Army and the Red Cross made arrangements for him to fly home to be with the family.

Looking back I think of how difficult it was having him sick, hospitalized repeatedly in Seattle, seeing him want to join the other kids skiing but being too weak.  It was a hard time but a good time and I am very grateful that we had Ben in our lives, if only for two years.

This is the benediction that was read at his memorial service, I don’t remember who wrote it or where it came from:

May his moment bring for you:
Peace to put the hectic day to rest,
Faith that leaves no room for blind despair,
Hurt sufficient for the heart to grow,
Joy of small things, daily common ones,
Dreams that burst from vague tomorrow into now,
And love enough to fill
The empty corners of the heart.

family 1978

Ripley family summer of 1978
Ann, Ted, Merrily, Tad, Holly, Heather, Peter
Robin, Maria an exchange student, Vivien, Michelle, Ben, Sarah, Nate
and in back, Betsy and Sonya, missing are Kori and Bobby

I have written this blog partly to help the kids who knew him remember him.  Please add your comments by clicking in the balloon under the date above.


Family Chickens

Salt Lake City

The longest stop on our trip was in Salt Lake City, where our daughter Robin lives with her husband Ryan and two teenagers Tanner and Thea and 11 year old Maya.  We did so many things during our visit that it is hard to know where to start.

They live in an older neighborhood with lots of trees and they have a large lot, with a chicken house and several different colored laying hens.  Seneca and Raven wanted to check for eggs several times a day.

Their house is small for a family of five and it is seems even smaller as they have two very large dogs,  100 to 125 pounds each, named Alta and Bella.  They are Leonberger dogs and well trained and calm, but they take up a lot of space in the house.


Alta and Bella

The day after we arrived was a skiing day for the their kids, and skiing is one of the reasons they like Salt Lake City.  Seneca and Raven had never been on skis, but Ryan is a patient teacher and by the end of the first day they could both ride the rope tow and made a couple of runs off of the lower chair as well at Alta. Ted went along and skied too.  Robin and I went shopping!

Ready for skiing

Seneca getting dressed for skiing

Raven skiing

Raven gets started.

Robin took me to the most amazing ethnic food store.  They had Asian food of every variety, including items from Central Asia.  I bought some adorable little egg plants and made an egg plant curry for dinner with Thea’s help.  She and Maya made Phad Thai.

Egg plant

Cute little egg plants

Thea cooking

Thea and Maya both cook.

Egg plant and Pad thai

Phad Thai and egg plant.

The kids had fun just hanging out together and Thea and Maya made up a very creative Easter Egg hunt for them using clues that required some head scratching.  But we all went to the IMAX theater, a first for Seneca and Raven and we went to hear the Morman Tabernacle Choir.

Robin took the photo of the chickens at the top of this blog and when a dear friend of mine died earlier this year she sent me the photo saying it made her think of Joan and me talking intently.  So, I made a wall hanging which pictured the chickens and she hung it in the kitchen.   Quilters who see this may think it looks a little familiar, it is similiar to one on the cover of one of Gwen’s books.


The banner I made for Robin using the photo of her chickens

robin discussing

Robin with the chicken on the banner

The night before we left we sat around the table enjoying each other’s company. So nice to be with family.

Three cuties

Thea, Maya, and Gramma Merrily

And on our way to Arizona, Seneca and Raven spotted this sign which was their favorite.

snakes and scorpions

The sign warns of poisonous snakes and insects in the area, would that include scorpions?

Wendy and Keith Lawton

Wendy and Keith Lawton at the entrance to their home

Creative, talented, charming, compassionate, full of fun, full of new ideas, these are some of the words and phrases used to describe Wendy Lawton.   Wendy comes up with the ideas for the dolls she creates, then brings them to life with amazing sculpts.  These are not just pretty faces but faces that tell the stories and put you in the time and place of the dolls.   She designs the costumes often using antique fabrics and laces and always with fine detail.  Until a few years ago the dolls were produced in the Lawton workshop in Turlock, California, but with the challenge of economic conditions they scaled down and doll production has been moved to their home.  Wendy believes in quality and encourages people to play with their dolls.  She has a large following of collectors.

Our kids are very familiar with Wendy Lawton dolls as we have many in our home and we all were looking forward to our visit with Wendy and Keith.   They live in a beautifully furnished home in area of nice homes surrounded by farms where produce and dairy herds are raised.  This is in the San Joaquin Valley area of California.

Seneca and Raven enjoyed meeting the family dog, Betsy (named for the character Betsy in “Betsy-Tacy and Tibb,” a children’s book) and they went outside to play with her.  We had  a short visit then proceeded to the Hilmar Cheese Company for lunch.

R and S with Betsy

Betsy, the Lawton dog, got lots of attention from Seneca and Raven

Hilmar Cheese Company was developed by local dairy farmers who needed a market for their milk.  It is now the largest cheese producing plant in the world.   We had an assortment of sandwiches and pizza from the Hilmar Cafe, then the children went upstairs to observe cheese production from the visitor’s windows which look down on the plant.  They enjoyed the exhibits and hands-on activities.

Seneca at Hilmer cheese

Seneca dressed in a “cheese maker” outfit

Raven at Hillmar cheese

Raven viewing the educational exhibits at the cheese factory

Back at the Lawton home we had a tour of the new landscaping being done, saw the workshop where the dolls are fired and visited Wendy’s work area, which at the moment is filled with doll heads and clothing, waiting for their wooden bodies to be sent from the supplier.  Wendy did not want me to take a photo, and is just hoping that the bodies arrive soon.  Then the dolls will be assembled, dressed and wigged and her work room will be back to normal again.

Wendy and Merrily

Merrily and Wendy outside Wendy’s studio

It is always a treat to chat with Wendy, she is a great story-teller and actually is also an author.   She shared about how her family had also cared for foster childrenwhen she was a child and what a good experience it was for her.

Raven viewed a display of Wendy’s dolls and recognized them saying “Oh, those are Wendy Lawton Dolls” but he didn’t seem to realize that Wendy Lawton, the person, was across the room.

Mailing May

One of Seneca and Raven’s favorite dolls is MAILING MAY. She comes with the children’s classic storybook about being sent by mail to visit her grandmother

The big treat of the afternoon for the kids was the lovely little cakes that had been purchased from OLDE TYME PASTRIES a special bakery in Turlock.


Very special pastry treats

I am a huge Wendy Lawton fan and have many of her dolls in my collection.  We have sold Wendy Lawton dolls since opening our doll business Apple Tree Dolls & Bears in the late 1990’s.   One of my favorites is Nalauqataq who reminds me of our son Ben who came from Korea, but died of cancer.


One of my favorite dolls, Nalaugqtaq, who reminds me of our son Ben.

We enjoyed our time with Wendy and Keith.  When we left we headed for home, spending one night in Yreka, California on the way.  It was good to be home after 18 days and 4500 miles.  I have one more blog to write about the trip, that is about our four days in Salt Lake City with daughter Robin and her family.  I had to skip that part to keep up with happenings and I want to go back to tell you about that.


Continuing from Death Valley, our plan was to drive from Death Valley to Fresno and spend the night with my cousin Liz and her family.

En route we stopped for lunch in the town of Inyokern, California, which is in the Mohave Desert.  My dad was in the Navy during World War II and he was stationed there.  He always felt that wasn’t fair, he loved the sea and had hoped to serve on a ship. Instead he got desert duty. My mother, sister and I spent about six weeks living there in a tiny motel to be near him. Most nights he was able to be home with us. I have many memories of that time though I couldn’t have been more than 4. We did find the motel where our little family had lived, and we had lunch at a colorful local place, but there isn’t much going on in Inyokern.

Lunch in Inyokern

Motel in Inyokern

motel 60 years later<

with cousin Liz

Cousin Liz on the right, under the orange tree

Liz is a little older than I am. Liz was adopted as an infant and I think the family discussions, and talking with her about adoption, kindled my interest in adoption as a child. She now lives with her husband Jim in a lovely old section of Fresno. She is surrounded by family.  In the short time we were there we saw three of their four children as well as some grandchildren. They have two orange trees and Raven had his first experience climbing an orange tree and picking a few fruits. Liz served a luscious lemon sauce over a cake she had made as well as fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

Ripley's under the orange tree

Ripley family under the orange tree

Raven in an orange tree

Raven climbing to pick oranges.

Liz suggested that we visit the Vine Market on our way out of town. It is covered with vines which provide shade and reduce the glare from the bright sun. We saw many unusual vegetables including a large array of mushrooms. We bought radishes, green onions, cilantro, and fresh strawberries.

Vine market

Vine Market

fresh vegetables

Common and unusual vegetables


An entire display of fresh mushrooms

We have one more stop to make. Before heading for home later today we will visit Wendy Lawton, the maker of my favorite dolls. We have a bit of business to do, and will have lunch together.


Joy, ready for the 4th of July


patty in Spring

Kiesha, these are nine inch dolls, Wendy sculpts the heads and designs the clothing.


view.jpg”>Desert view

From Phoenix we drove through dry landscape to Death Valley. We spent a couple of hours at the Interpretative Center in at the National Park, they had some very well done exhibits explaining how plants and animals exist with the very small amount of rain that falls. We figured it can rain as much in a day at Ocean Shores as it does in Death Valley in a year.

Desert view 2

Desert view 3

Seneca took some lovely desert flower photos.
yellow flower full<

purple flower  small
Spiny flower

Spiny flower

White flower

White flower and a rusty can!



Dad and Seneca on the desert

Dad and Seneca on the desert

We did a lot of talking about what it meant to be below sea level, the kids concluded that it mostly meant “hot.” It was in the high 90s on the desert floor. Not a particularily hot day for Death Valley.

Sea Level

Sea Level, same as home but windy!

A highlight of the visit was walking out onto the sand dunes at night to listen to the Park Ranger tell Native stories about the stars. We sat on quilts and watched the stars come out, and because there is little surrounding light the stars were very bright.  However it was a windy night and she wasn’t able to tell as many stories as usual, she finished early and we made our way back to the car through the dust.

Desert Sunset

The sky turned from yellow to pink

Dunes at night, getting ready for stories

On the sand dunes, getting ready for stories

We spent the night at place called Stove Pipe Wells, and the kids were delighted to find a nice pool. Early next morning we on our way again. Our next stop is Fresno.

Last death valley

Last views of Death Valley

Heather, one of our twins daughters, lives with her husband Bryan in Phoenix. Bryan is a EMT/firefighter who works in Lake Stevens, WA.   He commutes to Phoenix and left the day after we arrived on a flight to Seattle, but his shift was over and he was back before we left. It was nice to spend a day relaxing and catching up at their home once we arrived in the Phoenix area.

Next day we visited The  Heard Museum in Phoenix.  It focuses on Native American cultures, especially from the Southwest, and Seneca and Raven were pleased to find a Northwest exhibit included. We learned lots of new things and it was nice to have Heather along.

Northwest tribes

Northwest Native display at the Heard Museum


Seneca sculpture

Seneca liked this “sculpture,” a new vocabulary word for her.

The next day was Easter.
I am not big on Easter Egg Hunts, I’d like to have the family dressed up a bit and in church on Easter morning. But we had heard about a very big event at a Phoenix hotel and decided to do it. The petting zoo was setting up when we arrived and it was a big hit with Seneca. She especially liked the little pig.

petting area

Seneca loved the petting zoo

Seneca with animals

Seneca with the sheep

We walked out toward the golf course where they said 25,000 eggs had been scattered, not hidden, mind you. They were in two areas, one for little kids and one for the over 6 year old kids. About then a helicopter approached, and sure enough it was the Easter Bunny looking out. After a safe landing, the egg hunt began. It was more like a scramble and Seneca and Raven were each able to scoop up a dozen or more, more candy than they needed.

The hunt begins

The eggs were hard to see from a distance but we were told there were 25,000 eggs scattered.

Seneca finds a quiet spot to crack upen her eggs

Seneca finds a quiet spot to open her eggs

Monday we were scheduled to meet an old friend of mine from grade school. Jan lives in Sun City, which as far as I know it is the largest retirement “community” there is. She had us come to the pool there so the kids could swim while we caught up a bit. She packed a lovely lunch for us, and we got a sense of what it would be like to retire to Arizona, which I don’t believe will happen!

Next day we went to the Musical Instrument Museum, an amazing place, check the web site and see the video. Again the kids were pleased to see the Northwest Native culture represented. Everyone is given a head set and receiver to wear through the museum and as they approached this area they could hear the familiar Tlingit music and film of the Celebration we attended last summer in Juneau.

kids and cactus 2

Northwest Native music was represented by Tlinget song and dance

Seneca brass

Bonging the brass “bowls”

We had planned to spend the next two nights with our other twin daughter, Holly and her husband Jason, but they were both quite sick with colds and sinus infection, so at Jan’s suggestion we made reservations to spend two nights in Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget. We had been to Las Vegas once for a convention and didn’t like it that well, but Jan said this hotel had a very special pool and she was right!

Raven plays with new friends

Raven plays with new friends while sharks swim–

Seneca swims in shark tank

Seneca likes seeing the sharks up close.

Tomorrow we head for Death Valley.