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.


Magic Happens!

Our kitchen, turned over to Rosy, Tan Hong and Yessi, has become an international delight.  Enough food was purchased at Uwajimaya to feed an army, and was miraculously turned into a magnificent feast in just two hours.   I mostly watched engulfing myself in the smells, sounds, and sights.  My expectations expanded until I felt like pavlog's dog.

"Any time women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. Whether it's sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens."

Phylicia Rashad  


The preparation ~

The food ~

The eating pleasure ~

We give thanks!

Welcoming Yessi's Family

China becomes our friend.  A country always far, far away and not much in our sights has, because of sweet Yessi's influence, become more and more familiar.  A few years ago I engulfed myself in Cultural Revolution readings, but that's not the China of today and not the China I'm experiencing vicariously through Brad and Yessi's relationship.  I suddenly feel like my world has expanded in a million new ways as our lives expand to include thoughts of traveling to China, walking the Great Wall of China, enjoying meals at Yessi's family home in Xiamen, experiencing the coffee at Pacific Coffee of Mukilteo Coffee fame) in Hong Kong, and so much more.

The holidays have brought us visitors from China making our immersion in the Chinese culture deeper and sweeter.  Yessi's mom, Tan Hong, and aunt, Rosie, arrived a few days ago for a two week stay.  They will be at our home the first week of their stay before going to Seattle for another week.  On these first couple of days everyone has been tentative except for smiling, smiling, smiling!  Yessi is trying to keep us all connected but with six people in the room, and only one bilingual person, she's pretty busy.   

Our first evening together (left to right:  Tan Hong, Brad, Ed, Fran & Rosie)
Photo by Yessi
We're honored to have guests for the holidays and very pleased to get to know Yessi's family.   

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart."


Preparing for the Holidays

This year our holiday preparations have been especially fun and exciting as we plan for Yessi's mom, Wu Dan Feng (or Tan Hong for short), and Yessi's aunt, Zeng Ming Ling (or Rosie for short) to arrive from China on the 21st.  We are also seeing our holiday traditions through Yessi's eyes, as this is her first Christmas in the United States, and everything we do is once again new and exciting.  Hearing Yessi say, in her delightful voice, "really?" delights us all.

One of our  first holiday activities was, of course, putting up our Christmas tree.  But first, we unpacked 45 years of collected ornaments.    Brad has received at least one ornament each year of his life, plus Ed and I have a few of our own, so the big trunk holding our ornaments is jammed full.  Unwrapping each ornament brings forth exclamations of, "Was that my first ornament?"  Or, "That's the one Greg brought back from Germany."  Or, "Remember that one?  We got it in Banff."  And then telling Yessi all about Banff or the Pass, or whatever place or memory the ornament unleashed.   


The lion of the scarecrow, tin man and lion from The Wizard of Oz

Yessi, Brad & Ed putting on ornaments

Yessi and I spent one day making candy and cookie gift boxes.  We made chocolate chip cookies for eating now.  But then we also made nut balls, peanut brittle and fudge to put into Christmas tins for gifts.  The next day I also made toffee but although following the recipe carefully all we have to show for the effort is burned toffee and a smelly house.

Fran packing Christmas tins

Yessi carefully preparing wax paper lining in the tins

A table full of sweets

The stocking were hung with care -- no chimney.

Hinoki lighting the garden 

Our living tree to be planted on Brad and Yessi's property after Christmas



As we prepare to leave our home for a new adventure we must say goodbye to many wonderful friends.  In thirty years of life in Langley, and before that, many years in Seattle, our list of friends, acquaintances, neighbors, political allies, and I-don't-know-your-name-but-we've-been-saying-hi-for-years folks.  The list is long and the names and faces behind the list are very dear.  

For better than a decade my book group has been gathering to talk books, politics and life events.  We've shared, right along with great books, the sorrows of death, happiness of new grandchildren, the delight of new puppies, and the challenges of health problems.  Our friendships have deepened and enriched us as we've moved through our years of reading and talking and laughing and crying. 

There are political allies too.  Folks we've shared various campaigns with for the past 45 years from Seattle and Whidbey Island both.  Campaigns sought and lost or won and causes fought for, sometimes with amazing success, sometimes with stunning defeat.  We're engaged in cheers, jeers, and tears as we let our hearts and our heads have their way. 

As with any life, we have a long list of the good and the bad neighbors.  The good ones, years later, long after moving from the neighborhood, are still friends and missed almost daily.   Just this past year, after leaving my Seattle neighborhood 30 years ago, we enjoyed a neighborhood reunion.  Neighbors are a bit like family.  We don't pick our neighbors but in spending years talking over the fence, negotiating neighborhood issues,  and in sharing kids and pets and garden tools, often very long term and special friendships are formed.  Neighbors can become very dear friends, and often do in special ways that cross political, age and interest barriers.

In a small town there are the numerous encounters with folks weekly as we meet in the grocery, coffee shop or thrift store.  Quick chats, over a number of years, add up to friendships.  Kids, health, books, jobs and pets are discussed, along with the weather being too cold, too wet or just right.  Why these encounters don't always result in dinner parties or wedding invitations is curious but everyone seems content to enjoy the spontaneity without the follow through.  Chance encounters bring on hugs, good wishes or expressions of concern and these friendships spill and overlap and bounce about in a delightful way through the years. 

But, we're leaving all this.   We're moving to Ecuador.  We're leaving our friends and our town and our well established lives in the Pacific Northwest.  We're headed off to explore new neighbors, new cities, and to enjoy new adventures.  Will we miss our friends?  You bet we will.  Skype, Facebook and e-mail will be our life lines to the many, many relationships we hold so dear but we won't feel the warm hugs or see the twinkle in the eye and we will be sad for that loss. 


“I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”  ~ Jon Katz