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.


Favorite Holiday -- whenever it happens!

When did it start?  When did we first begin sharing Thanksgivings with Joe and Nancy?  Joe and I met 30 years ago at a party at Island Design in Langley, WA.  We liked one another immediately and stayed in touch over all these years. A year after Joe and I met, I married Ed.  A few years later Joe married Nancy.  On Joe and Nancy's wedding day we were introduced to Nancy for the first time.  Ed's first words to Nancy were, "I'll never forget this day!"  Nancy, taken aback at this strange man's forward comment, was at a lack for words.  Ed then announced, "Today is my birthday."

As Joe and I connected all those years ago, so did Ed, Nancy, Joe and I connect as couples.  To make it even more special, with Joe's age falling between Brad's age and mine, he became a hiking buddy and a good friend with Brad as well.  A family was born, a Thanksgiving family, of very special friendships and connections.

We had our 2013 Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, five days early, on Lopez.  It took a number of years to figure it out, but we finally came up with the plan to "beat" the holiday traffic and long ferry lines.      It was an aha moment when we said to one another, "Let's celebrate on a day other than the actual holiday."   Now we routinely celebrate Thanksgiving on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

It is a wonderful solution.  We casually and comfortably gather one year on Lopez Island and the next on Whidbey Island to enjoy our thanksgiving-of-life with wonderfully good, long time friends, together with their Lopez Island friends when on Lopez and our Whidbey Island friends when on Whidbey. 

So, as the rest of you rush around this week preparing for Thanksgiving, we are resting, exercising and enjoying the sweet peace of an early holiday celebration.  Here are a few photographs of this year's gathering on Lopez Island.  Unfortunately these photographs do not include all the people present, especially the two wonderful children (perhaps they were moving too fast for the camera lens), despite the delight they brought to the gathering.

Yessi & Brad.
 We were blessed this year to share Thanksgiving with Yessi, her first ever Thanksgiving celebration. 

As after each year's Thanksgiving festivities, we end the weekend grateful for cherished friends and delicious food, plus outstanding conversations and a wonderful walk or two in the woods.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,
they are the charming gardeners who make our
souls blossom.

Marcel Proust

Happy Thanksgiving!


Red Roofs of Cuenca!

As we huddle in the low 30's here on Whidbey Island I check the temperature in Cuenca, Ecuador.  It is 73 degrees.   So I begin to dream of the warm temperatures and the warm red roofs of Cuenca.

The color alone is warming me on this cold NW day

Then my mind turns to the colorful, fresh, year-around fruits and vegetables of Cuenca.

Cuenca market
 Followed by the idea of fresh flowers year around.

Cuenca flower vendor

All of this adds up to the news that we have reservations to fly to Ecuador on January 3, 2014.  This first trip we will only stay for 4 weeks to test out our instincts and the wisdom of relocating to a strange land.  When there we will look for housing; check on Resident Visa requirements; determine the key items we'll need and what we can weed from our baggage; and investigate what the details of life will look like once we move.

At first we thought we'd just go.  Dog crate in one hand, two bicycles in another, plus several bags of clothing and various household items piled around our feet.  As I tried to visualize this, it became too fuzzy to imagine.  We changed our plans to include a trial visit.  Dog and bikes stay home as do all household items.  After our January run, we'll know more about housing, transportation, and a million other details, like what to pack and what to leave behind.  Whew!  Breathing again.  Now, back to learning Spanish. 

Adios para hoy.

The Sweetness of Yessi and Brad

Brad has found a very special woman in Yessi.    We are delighted for him and we are delighted to have Yessi in our lives.  This relationship will bring together two very interesting and adventurous people.  We will all expand our thinking, broaden our horizons, and benefit from this beautiful blend of different worlds, languages, tastes, experiences, ideas, political views, desires, expectations, habits and more….

Yessi & Brad ravishingly hungry after a day of hiking in the Olympics, 2013

Yessi & Brad hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, 2012

Yessi & Brad in New Zealand, 2012

A delighted Benton,  Fran & Ed!
We hope Yessi and Brad enjoy years of love and happiness!

Yessi & Brad


Life is to be lived

Brad has always been an amazing influence on my life, in so many ways, all the way back to his birth.  Initially it was me leading him into camping, hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, new friendships, travel, and design but that changed.   I can't remember when it was that he began to push me to the next more difficult step.   We were still doing all the same activities but with Brad's nudging, I would go harder, faster, further,   He radicalized my thinking in topic after topic.  He radicalized my efforts in activity after activity.   I've spend every day since 1968 teaching and learning; learning and teaching; and marveling at the unfolding adventures Brad has introduced me to.  The latest is his wonderfully sweet relationship with Yessi.

If you've been reading this blog, or Brad's blog you'll know that he hiked 5000 miles in 2012.  At the end of the year, his adventure was topped off with Yessi's company.  They met in New Zealand when Brad was hiking the Te Araroa trail and Yessi was spending a year traveling and working in New Zealand.  They got together again in China where Brad met her family and enjoyed a quick tour of Xiamen and surrounds, before they took off to hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.  Yessi's first hike was begun on one of our world's most challenging treks, not a hike at Ebey's landing, or some other wonderful, but relatively easy hike. 

Yessi on the Annapurna Circuit

Yessi is a go-for-it-person and she's hooked up with a go-for-it-guy.  Wavering isn't part of the relationship Brad and Yessi are tackling.   From Customs to hiking to cultural differences, their relationship has been one huge adventure.

With a traditional Chinese upbringing, Yessi's exploratory enthusiasm is especially remarkable.  Not that she doesn't suffer conflicting values, like us all, but she still jumps in to experience the new, taking her well beyond her upbringing in xiamen, China.  And, naturally, she takes all of us, especially Brad, well beyond the customs of America.

The latest, and perhaps one of the more remarkable activities she's engaged in on her return trip to America is climbing.  On a cold day in November, on Whidbey Island, she conquered her fear of climbing on Mt. Erie, WA.  Shivering with fear, she stepped over the edge with a smile on her face.

Yessi rappelling off Mt. Erie
Brad's life is far richer for knowing Yessi and her life has expanded to unfathomable places in her relationship with Brad.    All our lives have expanded.  We are grateful!

Yessi & Brad sharing a quiet moment on the Mukilteo ferry

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.