Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


Gifts of Stone

Our family is always looking for ways to avoid buying another gift trinket for the many occasions gifts are required -- Christmas, Valentine's Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries.  Short of ignoring gift giving entirely, we've tried to celebrate with creativity.    We've made gifts or grown them.  We're particularly fond of gifts of food or flowers.  Handmade cards, a special meal cooked to order, or eating out are also nice ways our family celebrates.  But, somehow, the gifts of stones from son to mother, begun a number of years ago, are the creme de la creme for my birthdays, or any other occasion.  But, with a hiking-season-summer-birthday stones packed home became almost a tradition and a much-loved and wanted birthday gift possibility.

This beautiful stepping stone was for my birthday this year.  It came from Glacier Peak Wilderness
on the back of Brad's BMW motorcycle, roped onto the passenger seat.
 Finding a home for a new treasurer is always an important part of receiving the gift.  It needs to be "planted" in the garden in the perfect spot.  The stone above earned a place in the middle of our little upper pond.  Because of the moss we don't want it stepped on often but the stone is there for the occasional need to get across the pond without going around, or for maintenance purposes.   Because this location is a shady nook in the garden, the moss will grow and deepen and no doubt ferns will decide to join the moss too.  Perhaps one day this stone will  look more like a small fern island.

Small stacking stones from the Cascades.

The larger stone these little stacking stones are resting on is a chair shaped stone.  It arrived by truck, as part of a larger load of garden stones, but was hand selected by Brad.  It was placed at our stone entry steps for a place to pause and rest and enjoy the garden on entering or departing.  The small stacking stones are on a small shelf while the sitting part of the stone is to the right (above).  Brad carried the stacking stones home from the Cascades in his pack.

A sweet vignette.  Origin unknown, but beauty and sweet addition to the garden
worthy of the effort to tote them home from a hiking or kayaking adventure.

This big beauty holds a very special place at the edge of our upper pond.
It is the "lookout" for viewing the pond and stream.

Early on in our construction project we needed  large mossy stones to help nestle our ponds and stream into the landscape.   The one above was one of our first.   After an outing to Belllingham this lovely stone came home on Brad's pickup, on top of a load of construction materials.

These stones present me with the dilemma of memory loss.  I don't exactly remember the origin
of this beautiful little garden art piece.  The concrete with the hole was a Brad find, as were the stones.  The stack was created by me at our entry.

The big boy!  Large, heavy and a beast to load into Brad's pickup and a beast  to unload or move.  
Sometimes the gift is too big to be moved far.  This big stone, carried home from the Olympic Peninsula, sits on the edge of our drive.  It has a two fold function in that key location.  One is to please the eye.  The other is to stop a runaway car from ending up in our home.

A stone with a mantra carved on it came from Nepal.
When Brad gave a presentation at Wander on Whidbey about his Nepal trek, one of the attendees asked him whether he regretted carrying this heavy stone home from Nepal.  Brad's incredulous response was, "It's for my mom!"

These five mantra stones also came from the trip Brad took to China and Nepal in December 2012.
They came back in his backpack, along with the painted stone above, to live in our garden here on
Whidbey Island 

Mt. Rainier spike

This spike stone was carried down off the mountain several years ago when Brad hiked the Wonderland Trail at Mt. Rainier.  When he was unloading it from his pack, after packing it for miles and miles, he dropped it and broke off the tip.  Glue fixed that problem, but initially he was one disappointed guy.  It had a prominent place in our Saratoga garden and again, now, in our Grace garden.

There have been other stones we've brought home as our treasures.  On a kayaking trip, several years ago, we collected pocketfuls of stone from a small island, small stones like medallions, with holes in them that we combined with beads for making hanging art. Pockets have been stuffed with special stones for special events.  When our golden brown dog, Roshi, died, we collected stones of his beautiful warm brown color to make an alter for him.  White stones from a Whidbey Island beach were added to our garden to honor a friend's wedding.  Agates, whenever seen, are collected to add to a jar to adorn my desk.  Special touch stones are picked up to ride with us in our pockets for good luck.  We stack stones everywhere.  When asked if I have a collection I say, "No.  I don't collect things." But really, when I think about it, I have quite the rock collection.  Little thin rocks from the ocean; pretty colored ones from the mountains; beautiful mossy ones from the forests; glassy clear ones from the beach;  heart shaped ones wherever we find them; large landscape rocks; stepping stones; and large, small, and in between sized stones for our stream and ponds.  It's not a collection, right?  It's a garden!

We love rocks, stones, pebbles, boulders -- all gems to us.  All express love in this family.


The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.

Lee Iacocca


Sweet Sorrow

We have been very lucky folks these past few months.  Brad's friend, Yessi, has been visiting the United States (more specifically Whidbey Island) since May.   Yessi and Brad met in New Zealand near the end of Brad's Te Araroa tramp in the spring of 2012.  They met up again in China in November of 2012 when Brad traveled to China for dental work, a Nepal trek and, of course, to see Yessi.  Then Yessi came here this spring where she completely wiggled and giggled her way into all our hearts.   Thursday, August 15, Yessi returns to China.  Missing her will be prominent  in all our hearts, but especially prominent for Brad.

During Yessi's visit she and Brad hiked and camped and hiked and camped and hiked and camped some more.  When on Whidbey they lived in a sweet little cottage in the woods.  They traveled from Washington to Oregon to California and back again -- from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.  They hiked Big Sur, Mt. Rainier, Glacier Peak, San Juan Islands, Olympic Mountains, Whidbey Island and even made it to the PCT kickoff in California's desert.

Yessi at the Pacific Ocean, CA

Brad & Yessi travel to their hiking and camping destinations
on the BMW bike

Brad and Yessi at Mt. Rainier

Brad and Yessi celebrate Brad's birthday at Hamma Hamma, Olympic National Park, WA

Saturday evening Yessi  generously treated us to  dinner at the Wild Ginger in Seattle.  She also hosted us to a tour of Boeing's Everett Plant, which Ed had done years and years ago but I never had, nor had Brad.   Boeing, being an interesting and integral part of Seattle's history, probably should be toured by  all of us so we understand more about our economic reliance on this region's huge and important company.  Thanks to the influence of a wonderful young woman from China, our family has learned more about one our region's most influential companies.  Like,  for example, for just a few million dollars I too could owe a Boeing plane.  Between Boeing and dinner, we made a stop at Ibex in University Village where Yessi purchased a new outfit at their 50% off sale.

Yessi at Boeing

Yessi & Brad shopping at Ibex in University Village

Brad and Yessi showing off their Ibex labels

Ed and Fran took a dinner-out-turn and treated Yessi and Brad to dinner at Cafe Langley on Tuesday evening.

Brad, Fran, Yessi & Ed at Boy and the Dog Park in Langley

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till
it be morrow.”

William Shakespeare

Back in the Saddle Again!

After surgery in April and then a second surgery again in May, I am finally released from bike riding restrictions.  Today was our first ride on our beloved tandem.  It was a short ride of only 7 miles but, oh so sweet to be back riding.

Fran & Ed on their trusty steed


Whidbey's "wow" factor!

When Brad and Yessi were planning for the visit of seven TuTwo company officials, they placed Whidbey Island on the itinerary.  Why?  Well, start with the famed ferry ride, then the extraordinary water views and not-to-be-beat momentous mountain views.  Top it off with the charming town of Langley, friendly people and striking architecture by dbBrad, and you've got a tour winner.

And, this is why Ed and I enjoyed the honor of the TuTwo visitors at our home.

Gathering on the lawn  at Fredley home on Whidbey Island.

Ed and I displaying our beautiful new fans-from-China on the Fredley home porch.

Showing off our town is always fun and always a hit.  This was no exception.  Pointing out creative gardens and  introducing visitors to charming people is always pleasing.  Strolling on this not-sunny but not-raining afternoon,  was exceedingly pleasant for visitors and tour guides as well.  Thank you Langley!  Thank you TuTwo!
Visiting the Langley City Hall's edible garden 

Langley Marina generated many questions and much enthusiasm

Because TuTwo is an outdoor company, Wander on Whidbey was very high on Brad and Yessi's list of shops to visit.  Naturally, Sarah never disappoints!

One of TuTwo's favorite shops -- Wander on Whidbey with Sarah, Brad and Yessi

The Langley Second Street Market was a popular stop for shopping with cucumbers and
blueberries being the favorites.

Good Cheer was a winner too! with Fran, Yessi, Brad and Ed