Archives for the month of: October, 2013
driveway full of trucks

Our driveway full of trucks

A month ago I was feeling chilly and turned up the heat in our house. It didn’t seem to be getting warmer and not having a good relationship with our rather complicated thermostat I waited for Ted to get home to tell me what I was doing wrong.  What he found was that the furnace was not functioning, just the fan.

A few days later the repair man arrived but his news was not good, our 18-year-old heat pump was not worth repairing.    It took a few days to get a bid on the cost of a replacement and then it had to be ordered and scheduled.

Meanwhile we had a series of very sunny days and the house remained nice and warm during the day and with a fire in the fireplace and a couple of space heaters it wasn’t too bad at night either.

Finally yesterday the new furnace was installed.  It took several men and three trucks, which barely fit in our driveway. 

more unloading

Unloading the new furnace


lots of tools

It took lots of tools


And there it is, shining and new

But in less than a half a day they were finished.

Today it was cloudy, no sunshine, and it was chilly.  But I was able turn up a much less complicated thermostat and was toasty warm.    We take such things for granted and expect them to function when needed, we are so lucky.     And that is why I decided that our new furnace was worthy of a blog.  Send me an email if you see wine in this story, I was so glad to have the new furnace I felt like celebrating with a glass.

Raven spreads his wings

Raven spreads his wings behind Seneca, drummer

This weekend we have been to Scotland, Ireland,  Spain, Palestine, Alaska and more all through the tales told by five talented storytellers who were part of the 19th Annnual Forest Storytelling Festival  here in Port Angeles.  The guest tellers came from Australia, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon and Tacoma, and over the course of the weekend we heard dozens of wonderful tales.

Ted is a member of the local group Story People of Clallam County and Seneca and Raven have been good listeners since they joined our family five years ago.  Each year we have increased the number of events we have allowed them to attend.

Family stories

Families attend a special afternoon event

Festivities began on Thursday night when the tellers, along with members of the Story People group came to our home for a pot luck/kick-off dinner.  Storytellers are naturally outgoing and like to talk so the noise level is always high.    I especially enjoyed watching Seneca who, in honoring the training she is receiving in Native culture, began fixing plates and serving Elders in the group.

Gene-Raven from web

Gene Tagaban as the Raven

One of the tellers, Gene Tagaban , who calls hiself the Storytelling Raven,  is Tlingit, the tribe of Seneca and Raven. He has lived in the town of Hoonah where their relatives are.   Gene is a gentle but strong person who shared stories from and of his grandmother and uncles as well as traditional tales.   He also plays the flute and drums and during one performance he invited Seneca to the stage to keep rhythm with the drum as he sang. She was fascinated by him.

raven talks to drummer

Raven talks to the drummer, Seneca

Many of the stories have animal themes.  We heard about whales, frogs, snakes, dogs, a horse, deer, sharks, rabbits and hummingbirds. We heard tales of pirates, vampires, treasure, ghosts. Tales of love, loss, kindness and foolishness.


Stories can do many things, they can teach, entertain, express feelings, hold memories, and impart values.  They can make you laugh and cry, feel a twinge of guilt, and inspire you to make changes in your life.   It was an amazing weekend.


Seneca and Gene confer


Gene and Seneca

Below are the names of the guest storytellers, you can google them for more information.    Andy Offutt Irwin and Gene Tagaban  Mary Hamilton  Anne Rutherford

and Meg Philp, the Australian, who seems to have no web presence though she should!

Washing hands

Washing his hands at Head Start

Friday night Larry went to visit a new family with the hope that it would be a good fit and he would be able to stay. It is hard to know just what he understands of all of this, he will be four this month but has very little language. Still he must know that he has been moved from home to home many times in his short life. He is a friendly outgoing guy, who has never met a stranger, lucky for him, as the cast of adults around him has been constantly changing.
He made amazing progress during the six weeks he spent with us and it was tempting to ask if he could stay but he needs younger parents who can be more actively involved with him and who can keep up with his energy level.

breakfast 2

Breakfast at Head Start, he is learning to serve himself


Breakfast at Head Start, he loves to eat–

His vocabulary increased at an amazing rate while he was here. The kids and I had him repeat words after we said them and the last day instead of simply pointing when he was ready for breakfast he said, clearly, “cereal,” “cheerios,” and “mMilk.” I felt like cheering.
He played well with our grandson Adam who is the same age. They loved playing “chase.” They also built with blocks, side by side, then laughed when their structures fell down.
It is quieter here now, Larry was always talking to himself or making noises of one kind or another, which made it easy for me to know just where he was at the moment. But he was active and sure footed. One of my favorite memories of him is when we were camping. He climbed on moss covered logs, as large in diameter as he was tall, and ran their length as fast as he could go. He never fell.
We are cheering for you Larry!

building blocks

Playing with blocks in our kitchen

Today I received the foster parent newsletter with the following message:

Washington has a critical need for more quality, safe and loving foster parents in your community. Do you have friends or family interested in learning more about becoming a foster family? The state foster parent recruitment phone line: 1-888-KIDS-414, gives information and answers questions for interested families. Information is also available at our website:

Anyone wanting to know more about foster parenting is welcome to contact me!!

Hoping for a family

Hoping for an adoptive family

Interviewing an older girl

Interviewing an older girl

Girls with new dresses

Girls at Layla House with new dresses made by my doll club

Girl, Adopted is the name of a film being shown this month of October on PBS.  The link is below for on-line viewing.  If you have in any way been touched by the adoption of an older child, I would encourage you to take the time to watch it.

sister and brother

Older sister and brother waiting for a family

The adoption of older children, especially those from another culture, is a mixed blessing.  Children who have no family or no one to help them reach adulthood,  are vulnerable.  But is it fair to remove a child from his culture and language to move to a family in another country?  Here is a description of the film:

An irrepressible adolescent, Weynsht searches for identity in an effort to find out who she is in the aftermath of her adoption. The film follows her struggle for love among strangers and to understand what to make of this love on an unexpected return trip to Ethiopia. 

Weynsht’s story offers a rare, child’s-eye view of being adopted across race and culture. Taking neither a pro- or anti-adoption stance, the film acknowledges the complexities involved and gives a real voice to the experience. The central question that Girl, Adopted asks is, “What is it like to get everything you need but to lose everything you know?”

Weynsht was in the care of Adoption Advocates International, the agency that I founded and lead for 28 years.  I first met the film makers, Susan Motamed and Melanie Judd 8 years ago, we met in an Ethiopian restaurant in Philadelphia.  They were asking for permission to create a film following the adoptions of several older children.  I had a very positive reaction to their proposal.  I regularly saw older children asking to be admitted into the adoption program.  Could their story be told in an honest way that would help develop  understanding regarding both the joy and the challenge of adopting older children?  I wanted the need to be known but I wanted it to be presented realistically.

Meal time at Layla photo by EDH

Meal time at Layla House, photo by Emma Dodge Hanson

Melanie and Susan started filming the stories of four children and finally to present Weynsht’s story.  The filming began at the height of the HIV/AIDs crisis.   HIV was a death sentence and many older children were raising themselves because their parents were dead.  By the time filming was complete, drugs that greatly reduced the effect of AIDS were widely available.

The film makers traveled to Ethiopia several times and I met with them there.  They came to Port Angeles to film at an adoptive family gathering as well as filming Weynsht with her new family in Arkansas.


Older kids playing soccer at Layla House

I was thrilled to see that the film had been chosen to be presented on PBS.  I am guessing that the film will be receiving awards as it is viewed elsewhere, these film makers have won numerous awards for their previous films.

This is a beautiful story of a determined child and an equally determined pair of adoptive parents, working together to become a family.  You can watch it at

Click on the arrow to get to the next screen where the film  begins.

kids in a line

Younger children in the adoption process

New Babies arriving

Babies too need families too