May 19, 2020

If You Fill It, They Will Come

hummingbird 2011 003

Anna’s Hummingbird is a year round resident of Western Washington. The author took this photo in her backyard in 2011.

As one drives through the suburbs this time of year, it is hard to not notice the red topped and bottomed glass or plastic bottles hanging from eaves and hooks.

With apologies to the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ those of us who hang these bottles know, “If you fill it, they will come.”

Beginning in the middle of March, one sure sign that spring is here is the arrival of hummingbirds.

These tiny birds – the smallest of any bird species – are born entertainers. When they find a food source they will defend it with vigor, putting on a show of swoops and dives, as they zoom to and from the feeder. If one sits quietly nearby, the birds may hover and look at you, or will be observed pausing mid-air before flying off in a burst of speed.

They are truly amazing creatures. There are 338 known species, the majority of which are found in South America. In fact there are as many as 140 different species which co-exist with each other in the Andes range. It is likely the species originated on that continent and have spread from there to North America.


Calliope Hummingbird photo from the internet

black chinned hummer

Black Chinned Hummingbird photo from the internet

Only a few hummingbird types are usually found in Washington State: Anna’s, Rufous, Black-Chinned, and Calliope. A couple other species have been spotted, but their visits are considered accidental.

There are a number of things which make the birds unique.  One is the enlarged brain region responsible for vision. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The enlargement of this region responsible for visual processing indicates an enhanced ability for perception and processing of fast-moving visual stimuli which hummingbirds encounter during rapid forward flight, insect foraging, competitive interactions, and high-speed courtship.”

Additionally, hummingbirds have developed in such a way that they can adapt – in flight – to environmental factors such as wind. Wikipedia continues:

“While hovering, the visual system of a hummingbird is able to separate apparent motion caused by the movement of the hummingbird itself from motions caused by external sources, such as an approaching predator. In natural settings full of highly complex background motion, hummingbirds are able to precisely hover in place by rapid coordination of vision with body position.”

The article does go way down into the weeds with technical terms and scientific explanation; worth the longer read to learn more about these tiny acrobats. One of the most interesting aspects of hummingbirds, I think, is their ability to slow their metabolism enough to go into a state of hibernation.

“The metabolism of hummingbirds can slow at night or at any time when food is not readily available: the birds enter a hibernatory, deep-sleep state (known as torpor) to prevent energy reserves from falling to a critical level. During nighttime torpor, body temperature falls from 40 to 18 °C, with heart and breathing rates both slowed dramatically (heart rate to roughly 50 to 180 beats per minute from its daytime rate of higher than 1000).

During torpor, to prevent dehydration, the GFR ceases, preserving needed compounds such as glucose, water, and nutrients. Further, body mass declines throughout nocturnal torpor at a rate of 0.04 g per hour, amounting to about 10% of weight loss each night. The circulating hormone, corticosterone, is one signal that arouses a hummingbird from torpor.

Use and duration of torpor vary among hummingbird species and are affected by whether a dominant bird defends territory, with nonterritorial subordinate birds having longer periods of torpor.”

Just outside my window there are at least four or five of my favorite birds providing me with inspiration.  Occasionally one will zip past my open window, a barely recognizable streak. On beyond – in the tree next to our house I watch as they perch at the top of slender branches. The Anna’s hummingbirds are also known for their vocal chirps, some of which sound like the warning beep of a smoke detector whose battery has worn out.

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Anna’s hummingbird at our feeder in winter

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Our cat Purr watching the show from inside the warm house

I first started feeding them in the 1980’s, putting up the feeders in early spring and retiring them in late August. For years I had understood the birds to be seasonal visitors. Then – some ten years ago – I noticed they were still outside my window in the fall. So I kept refilling their food source. And the birds stayed all winter.

In my reading I learned that only the Anna’s variety will remain year round in the mostly temperate climate of Western Washington.

When we moved to Mount Vernon two years ago, of course I put out the feeder in hopes of attracting a few birds. It worked. This year – without the need to be in Yakima half the time – I upped the stakes. For Mother’s Day my son gave me two additional feeders of a design which I had recently purchased and found it encouraged more birds to participate. With three active feeders, I am now cooking nectar about once a day!

I do believe we have three of the four species here: Anna’s, Rufous, and Black-Chinned. It’s possible the other is here also, but further observation is required.

Occasionally I will have a hummingbird hover just outside the window of my second story office. This occurred once last week and its message was clear: our feeder is empty. When I arrived downstairs and checked, the bird was correct. It was time to carry out my part of the bargain… fill it and they will stay.

Update: May 19, 2022 Due to some commitments this year, I opted to not put out my feeders in the winter. Yet, in mid-March the hummers arrived right on schedule and are just as voracious as always, draining a feeder a day. Today is the exception as I’m having to clean and replace nectar in TWO of the feeders!

I shot this video clip last night. Walked out on our front step and this bird flew right at me, intent on warning me off! The video is a little choppy because it was within inches of my face, coming at me with its beak… the sound you hear is it ‘popping’ it’s tail feathers to make that clicking noise. 

A few links:

Century 21 Exposition

April 21, 2020

… All Roads lead to Seattle

Century_21_Exposition_logo1The year was 1962. The space race was a real thing. And Americans everywhere were awed by the spectacle of extra-terrestrial travel to the moon and beyond.

And no event summed up America’s love affair with technology, space, and the future more than the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle which opened on April 21st.

The idea had been hatched seven years earlier. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The fair was originally conceived at a Washington Athletic Club luncheon in 1955 to 8130b5bdb8adfdbd937324996d49da37mark the 50th anniversary of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition , but it soon became clear that that date was too ambitious. With the Space Race underway and Boeing having ‘put Seattle on the map’ as ‘an aerospace city’, a major theme of the fair was to show that ‘the United States was not really ‘behind’ the Soviet Union in the realms of science and space’. As a result, the themes of space, science, and the future completely trumped the earlier conception of a ‘Festival of the [American] West’.”

Science and technology became the primary focus of the fair. Companies from around the U.S. exhibited a variety of ‘future’ products with a push, particularly, focused on the home of the future. For 13 minutes of pure Seattleite amusement, you can take a trip back in time in this video from Bell Telephone touting how easy communication would one day be. Had they only known…

But it was the space race between the United States and the USSR which was the story which coalesced into my hubby’s family lore.

Gherman Titov was a Soviet cosmonaut and the second man to orbit the earth in outer space. Think of him as the Russian equivalent of John Glenn; a hero in his country. – a Washington State history site – chronicles that visit:

“May 5 was incredibly hectic at the Century 21 Exposition, thanks to a visit from Russian cosmonaut Major Gherman Titov, who attracted some of the largest crowds the fair had seen since its opening on April 21. At times, the diminutive 5-foot 4-inch Titov found it hard to see anything other than the Space Needle, as taller spectators gathered around him, hoping to glimpse or photograph one of the few men that had been in outer space. Scores of news reporters compounded the crush.


Gherman Titov with a few Camp Fire Girls who were there on May 5, 1962.

The Russian cosmonaut wasn’t the only one to gather crowds. More than 10,000 Camp Fire Girls were on hand to dedicate the World’s Fair flagpoles, funded by candy mint sales. An estimated 20,000 people — more than a quarter of the day’s total attendance of 75,758 — were there to take part in Camp Fire Girl celebrations. Because of the large crowds, Century 21 Exposition manager Ewen Dingwall (1913-1996) announced that starting May 12, the fair would open an hour earlier each day, at 9:00.

Throughout the day Titov signed autograph books and handed out color photos of himself, especially to children. At one point he handed his photo to a baby in a stroller.”

The baby in the stroller? My husband’s younger sister, Liz!

Back in the 1980’s – when I heard this story for the first time – I contacted the Seattle PI and was able to get a photo of Liz with the cosmonaut. We then framed it and gave that to her as a present. Unfortunately, the photo is stowed away in a box in the attic of the family home… and no one is brave enough to navigate the bat guano to go find it. I will be looking through my physical archives to see if I kept a copy.

In speaking with my Mother in Law, Jean, yesterday, she shared the following:

“We were there that day because I took our older daughter’s Campfire Group. We heard the Cosmonaut was on the grounds and we went out of our way to avoid all that, but ran right in to it. He bent down and talked to Liz who was in a stroller. She was little at that time (editor’s note – she was a few days shy of her first birthday). Normally, I would not take that many in a crowd – there were at least 10 Campfire Girls with us.”

My Mother in Law is looking to see if a copy of the newspaper article and photo might be in their file cabinet. Of course Liz remembers nothing of that day.

As I was putting together the story for this week’s blog, I was reminded of how there are days in our lives which become significant but we do not recognize it at the time. Family events like these highlight how crucial it is to stop and reflect on events which impact our lives.

I was six that year and I know that my family traveled to Seattle from Yakima for the event. But I cannot recall what we did or any specifics about it. I do know that the day it opened was my dad’s 39th birthday…now 58 years ago. Just last year on April 21st, all my siblings, their spouses, and two of my nieces, gathered together at the Adult Family Home where my dad had recently moved, to celebrate his 96th birthday. It was a lovely day and perfect weather.


My Dad’s 96th birthday, April 21, 2019, with his four children

Dad had told me that he didn’t want to celebrate his birthday. But my sister and I insisted and promised it would be ‘just’ family. We ignored his protests and proceeded anyway.


Dad (and my sister) with his last birthday cake

Dad rallied for the event and seemed to enjoy the cake, the cards, and a few small presents. Turns out that we were all glad we did. Six months and three days later he was gone.

Carpe Diem!

Salt and Pepper

I have a few items of memorabilia from the Century 21 Exposition. My most prized is a pair of aluminum salt and pepper shakers shaped like the Space Needle. The top of one is shown here.

Daffodil Days

March 17, 2020

Solo DaffodilA harbinger of spring, this particular flower is one of the earliest to appear during the first weeks of March.

The Narcissus – also known as daffodil and jonquil – has been cultivated for centuries. People are drawn to its sunny shades; a welcome splash of color at the end of winter.

A member of the Amaryllis family, its showy blossom reminds one of a face surrounded by a large bonnet.  There are thousands of varieties, ranging from tiny clusters of white and yellow flowers, as well as fist sized blossoms in brilliant yellow. Less common blooms can also include combinations of orange and pink.

It was believed, at one time, that the bulb contained cancer curing properties. In fact, the bulb actually contains toxins which can lead to illness and, in rare cases, death if ingested. Rather than getting into the tall weeds in regards to that, here’s a link to the Infallible Wikipedia for those who wish to learn more:

Mt. Baker and Daffodils

Skagit Valley daffodils with Mt. Baker in the distance. March 16, 2020

The Narcissus is so popular and so prevalent, that authors have for years used it in their works.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Shakespeare, who frequently uses flower imagery, refers to daffodils twice in The Winter’s Tale  and also The Two Noble Kinsmen. Robert Herrick alludes to their association with death in a number of poems. Among the English romantic movement writers none is better known than William Wordsworth’s short 1804 poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud which has become linked in the popular mind with the daffodils that form its main image. Wordsworth also included the daffodil in other poems. Yet the description given of daffodils by his sister, Dorothy is just as poetic, if not wordsworth-lonely-daffodils2-500x334more so, just that her poetry was prose and appears almost an unconscious imitation of the first section of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (see Greek culture, above). Among their contemporaries, Keats refers to daffodils among those things capable of bringing ‘joy forever’.”

That’s pretty high praise for a flower!

I always think of the third week of March as the season of the daffodil. While I cannot recall when, exactly, I became aware of the flower, I have always rejoiced when I see their heads pop up from the cold ground, knowing that winter is losing its grip.

My most memorable daffodil experience occurred one lovely spring afternoon in March 1993. I had been out running errands. In my company that day were my three year old son and a belly so large that it was near bursting.

We arrived back at our house sometime after 3:30 p.m. My in-laws were there; ready to provide care for the three year old as my official ‘due date’ was March 19th.

Weary after hours of errands, I sat down for a few minutes but could tell something was not right. A few minutes later, at 4 pm, I feared that my water had broken.

Now, with child number one, I had not experienced natural labor. He was a stubborn one and it took hours and hours along with a labor inducing drug to convince him to arrive.

Those who say that Pitocin and the natural hormone released by a mother’s body during labor are the same, don’t know what they are talking about. Which is why I wanted to avoid its use with child number two.

I went up to the bedroom and called the Doctor’s office, hoping that I could go in and have them check to see if, in fact, my water had broken. Nope. I was instructed to go to the hospital.

The next ten minutes involved tears, calling the hubby to tell him that he needed to come home and take me, and more tears as I wrapped my head around the situation. I assured the hubby during our call that he had plenty of time since I was not experiencing any labor pains. The tears were caused by my anticipation of a 22 hour ordeal similar to the first labor which would involve an IV drip of Pitocin.

Packing was a slow process (have I mentioned how huge I was?) as I gathered all my needed items together and, anyway, I figured I had time. As I was puttering around the bedroom and the bathroom, I kept having these ‘twinges.’ Didn’t think much about it until it occurred to my thick brain that it might be natural contractions, something I had not experienced the first time.

So I timed the twinges… and they were two minutes apart. Wow. I took my now packed bag downstairs and told my mother in law, who was standing in the kitchen, the news about the time between contractions. And then the first big one hit.

The next thing I did was step over to the sink and grip the counter, breathing through the event as best I could. On the other side of the window in our backyard my focus landed on the clusters of bright yellow blooms.

At the end of the contraction my mother-in-law exclaimed, “How soon will he get home? I didn’t sign up to be a midwife!”

And so it went for probably another 15 minutes, me gripping the counter in front of the sink as if it were a life preserver, daffodils swimming before my eyes. Soon the hubby arrived and a flurry of activity ensued with hasty goodbyes to the in laws and our eldest child, then what seemed an excruciatingly long  trip to the hospital, and admittance.

Daffodil princess

Daughter in search of daffodils March 2010 – ten years ago

Three and half hours from the onset of labor, at 7:30 p.m., our daughter was born (without any artificial labor inducing drugs OR any pain relief as there was no time!).

The next day, looking out my window at the landscaping across the street from the hospital, I could see daffodils; bunch after bunch greeted us all along the streets as we drove home with our new baby.

My daughter and I cherish the daffodil as our shared flower, a symbol of spring, new life, and connection from mother to child. Happy Birthday to you, my beloved mid-March child!


In 2021, the daughter requested a birthday trip to the Daffodil fields near Mount Vernon

Paul Allen

January 21, 2020

Microsoft Billionaire

When this young man dropped out of college, I’m sure it was a huge disappointment to his family. After all, he’d scored a perfect 1600 on his SAT’s and graduated from the prestigious Lakeside School in Seattle. But the world was changing rapidly in the early to mid-1970’s and he had bigger visions than attending classes and frat parties.

Of course, we all know his story. Along with a close friend, he went on to become a co-founder of one of the world’s most successful computer software development companies: Microsoft.

1981 Microsoft photo

Paul Allen and Bill Gates in 1981

But I’m not writing about Bill Gates. This is about Paul Allen, the less ‘famous’ of the Microsoft pair. And without whom Microsoft would never have existed.

If he were alive today, he would be celebrating his 67th birthday.

According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“He attended Lakeside School, a private school in Seattle where he befriended Bill Gates, with whom he shared an enthusiasm for computers, and they used Lakeside’s Teletype terminal to develop their programming skills on several time-sharing computer systems. They also used the laboratory of the Computer Science Department of the University of Washington, doing personal research and computer programming; they were banned from the laboratory in 1971 for abuse of their privileges there.

Gates and Allen joined with Ric Weiland and Gates’ childhood best friend and first collaborator, Kent Evans, to form the Lakeside Programing Club and find bugs in Computer Center Corporation’s software, in exchange for extra computer time. In 1972, After Evan’s sudden death due to a mountain climbing accident, Gates turned to Allen for help finishing an automated system of Lakeside’s entire class scheduling procedure. They then formed Traf-O-Data to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. According to Allen, he and Gates would go ‘dumpster diving’ in their teenage years for computer program code.

Allen attained a perfect SAT score of 1600 and went to Washington State University, where he joined the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity.”

Allen was hired by Honeywell, located in Boston, as a computer programmer and left WSU. Gates, now attending nearby Harvard, and Allen reconnected. It was Allen who convinced Gates to leave Harvard, move to Albuquerque, New Mexico and form Micro-Soft (To combine the two terms microcomputer and software). In January 1979, the company moved to Bellevue, Washington.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The relationship became less close between Allen and Gates as they argued even over small things. Allen effectively left Microsoft in 1982 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, though he remained on the board of directors as vice chairman. Gates reportedly asked Allen to give him some of his shares to compensate for the higher amount of work that Gates was doing. According to Allen, Gates said that he ‘did almost everything on BASIC and the company should be split 60–40 in his favor. Allen agreed to this arrangement, which Gates later renegotiated to 64–36. In 1983, Gates tried to buy Allen out at $5 per share, but Allen refused and left the company with his shares intact; this made him a billionaire when Microsoft went public. Gates later repaired his relationship with Allen, and the two men donated $2.2 million to their childhood school Lakeside in 1986. They retained a friendship for the rest of Allen’s life.”

Allen went on to do many great things for the world including donating over $2 Billion towards science, technology, education, wildlife conservation, the arts, and community services.

You can read more about Allen’s extraordinary life and find links to his biography here:

6846-microsoft-flight-simulator-v1-0-pc-booter-front-coverIn the past three years of writing my Tuesday Newsday I’ve not shared much (if anything!) about my Forest Gump-esque experiences at Microsoft. I was hired there in early 1982 as part of a group of three young women who would be launching a retail telemarketing division for the company. Our trio faced nearly insurmountable odds – which we did not know when we took the jobs – as we were tasked with calling out to every retail store in our region (I had the west coast. The. Entire. West. Coast.), working in conjunction with Microsoft’s field sales reps, to sell such programs as Basic, Fortran, and Cobol compilers, the always popular Flight Simulator and Typing Tutor, and the early spreadsheet program MultiPlan.

Microsoft phone list 1983

My business cards (with my married name) and the employee phone list from May 1983. There are 268 names in this directory. I believe I was employee number 250ish. The logo seen here was used from 1982 to 1987.

The phone calls were often brutal with the stores’ buyers either not taking our calls or, more often, asking if we sold Lotus 1-2-3, our competitors sizzling hot multi-functional program which dwarfed Microsoft’s Multiplan. We worked hard, we played hard, and the burnout rate was high.

I left Microsoft in the fall of 1984 and went to work for another computer company located in Kirkland. One day, likely the summer of 1986, my then boss, Tom, took me to lunch for my birthday. We went to a favorite Japanese sushi place in Totem Lake called Izumi.

We sat up at the sushi bar, the only people in the restaurant when we arrived. We had just gotten our food when a group of 4 or 5 men also arrived, and took a table nearby. I didn’t pay much attention to the group as Tom and I were talking. Tom, being a loud and gregarious individual, dominated the exchange and the room.

izumiSomehow our conversation got on to Microsoft and Tom asked why I had left the company. Before I could answer, I noticed the table of nearby men had gone silent and were all looking at us, and one of them said “I can’t escape it, no matter where I go.” That man was Paul Allen.

Perhaps that moment, more than any other, illuminated how he felt about Microsoft – at least in 1986 when he and Gates were still working to repair their relationship – and summed up for me my Microsoft experience also. For anyone living in the Seattle area, you either work for, know someone who works for, or once worked for, Microsoft. It was inescapable. And not particularly pleasant.

I wanted to say something to Paul Allen that day, but felt that if I had it would have been about as welcome as a drunk fan asking a movie star for an autograph. Instead – as if by mutual agreement – he returned his attention to his group and Tom and I changed our topic.

But, unlike Paul Allen, I never got a single stock option as part of my compensation package. Those extra millions sure would have come in handy.

Peak DeVore

August 6, 2019

As someone born into a family with an uncommon last name, I notice whenever I see that name. A year ago in June I wrote about my ignorance of Washington State geology when I admitted I did not realize Glacier Peak was this state’s ‘fifth’ volcano. (You can read all about it at

Fast forward to August 3… when I receive the following text from the hubby:


Devore Peak in the Glacier Peak Wilderness

“Just saw on King 5 there is a Devore Creek fire near Stehiken. Comes down from Devore Peak.”


How is it I never knew of this Devore Peak or Creek? Yet, here it has been, hiding out 20 miles northeast of Glacier Peak, undoubtedly since the time the first settlers imparted their names on things.

From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Devore Peak is an 8,360+ ft (2,550+ m) mountain summit located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of the North Cascades in Washington State. The mountain is situated in Chelan County, on land managed by Wenatchee National Forest. Its nearest higher peak is Martin Peak, 3.36 mi (5.41 km) to the southwest, and Tupshin Peak lies 1.55 mi (2.49 km) to the north-northeast. Precipitation runoff from the peak drains to nearby Lake Chelan via tributaries of the Stehekin River.”

So it got me thinking… where else are things named Devore (or DeVore as my family spells it) that I do not know about?


DeVore, California welcome sign

Of course I know about DeVore, California although I’ve never been there. The town was a stop on historic Route 66. It has since been incorporated into sprawling, 81 square mile, San Bernardino. Much of the DeVore neighborhood was leveled by a wildfire in 2003, with 904 homes destroyed.


Lovely Cataract Falls near Devore, Indiana

If you travel 1,723 miles to the east you will find a dot-on-the-road community in Indiana also named Devore. Originally named Mill Creek, some interloper relative of mine got a post office located there and probably named it after himself.

But back to Devore Peak. Despite my extensive internet research I cannot find any ancestor or relative after whom the mountain is named although I suppose it could be the Reverend John DeVore. He was the first minister to establish a church north of the Columbia River in Steilacoom. From the Washington State History link site:

“(Lafayette)Balch (Steilacoom’s founder) persuaded Reverend John F. DeVore (1817-1889) and his wife Jane Devore (d. 1860) to relocate to Steilacoom in 1853. DeVore built a two-story Methodist Episcopal church that also served as a school and meeting hall. When the church bell, ordered from the East, arrived with a balance due, residents took up a collection. Afterward the bell became town property, used to signal emergencies and public meetings along with the call to worship.”


Monument in Steilacoom, Washington commemorating the erection of the first Protestant Church by Reverend John DeVore

When a college student, I drove down there one day from nearby University of Puget Sound (which was founded as a Methodist college) and located the marker for Reverend DeVore. Alas, the Reverend is not a direct ancestor and I was never able to establish any relationship.

But it does make one wonder – unless you have a very common last name – how many others share yours?

According to the website, ( in the 2010 census there were 13,501 people in the United States with the last name of DeVore. When you consider that there are some 329 million in the country that’s only .004 percent of all people with the same last name. If I extrapolate that even further and add my first name there were 65 other people named Barbara DeVore in the U.S. that year.

As I was growing up I knew of only one other person with the last name DeVore who was not related to our family. That would be the butcher who worked at the Safeway on 36th and Tieton Drive in Yakima. I was always so very amused when I would go to the store with my mother. If the shopping trip involved a visit to the meat counter inevitably the exchange would go something like this:

Butcher: “Good Afternoon, Mrs. DeVore.”

Mom: “Good Afternoon, Mr. Devoir.”

And then they both would laugh.

Yes, Mr. Devoir the butcher spelled it different. But the two of them obviously enjoyed the inside joke of having the ‘same’ last name.

As I was writing this article I could not think of a single person I’ve met casually with the last name DeVore. Through my genealogy research and DNA matching, I’ve found quite a number of cousins and have enjoyed getting to know many of them on Facebook.

Occasionally I will have someone ask do you know ‘fill-in-the-blank’ DeVore? Often I am able to say he/she is my second cousin, once removed. But mostly it doesn’t come up.

I rather like the unique name and the mystery of it all. According to a book about the DeVore families compiled by Betty DeVore Mann in 1992, the history of the name is this:


“There is a small, stately chateau in Normandy, near Alencon and 3 kilometers from Remalard, named Chateau de Vore. The de Vore family left in the 17th century. Several American Devores have interviewed the 2 remaining de Vores in Paris. They knew very little about their ancestry, because their grandfather was the illegitimate son of a wealthy family and he was sent away when he was very young. He carried his mother’s maiden-name. And so the story goes…”

She also adds “the Huguenot Society tells us that Devore is of Huguenot origin. The Huguenots were the French Protestants who were persecuted and made a mass exodus from France between 1550 and 1780.”

When I got my DNA information back recently it confirmed that I was 3 percent French*. While the family history will likely remain hidden in the mists of time, the pursuit of it has dogged me since I became old enough to ask “Who am I? And what am I doing here?”

Who knows, maybe there’s an historical novel in there, the intrigue of an illegitimate child who grows to a man. It is the story of a man who must disavow his country for his religion, never able to claim his true heritage, who must establish a new life in a distant land.

Perhaps not my family’s story… after all I know that my great-great grandfather Hartley DeVore was a shoemaker in Wisconsin in 1850. Not nearly as romantic!

As always, links:,_California,_Indiana

*In my most recently updated DNA profile, the French connection has disappeared. I covered THAT topic here:

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

A Visual Feast each April

April 9, 2019

This annual event has come to define Mount Vernon and the surrounding area. Begun in April 1984, the Skagit Valley Tulip festival cemented Mount Vernon and the surrounding area’s identity as the tulip capital of the nation.

1984 Tulip Festival poster

The first tulip bulbs were brought to the Skagit Valley from Holland in 1906 by Mary Brown Stewart. Soon she had a mail-order bulb business, selling them to garden clubs in New England.  Her son, Sam, joined the operation 20 years later which coincided with a ban by the Federal government on bulbs imported from Holland.

This event triggered many of the bulb growers to send family members to the United States to establish farms. Through trial, error, and success, the bulb growers discovered that the Skagit Valley was a prime bulb growing region, eclipsing Bellingham and Lynden, Washington, where colder winters were not ideal for the plants.

In the late 1940’s, the embargo was lifted and, once again, the Skagit Valley bulb growers were impacted with many of the smaller farmers forced out of business.

Relative late comers William and Helen Roozen, Dutch immigrants, purchased the Washington Bulb Company in 1955.

The Infallible Wikipedia gives a short summation:

“In 1946, William Roozen arrived to the United States, leaving behind a successful bulb-growing business spanning six generations in Holland. After working on several different farms, Roozen started his own in Skagit County in 1950, and in 1955 purchased the Washington Bulb Company, making him the leader among the four flower-growing families in the area, and the Washington Bulb Company the leading grower of tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs in North America. The farm operates a public display garden and gift shop called Roozengaarde, which, alongside the DeGoede family’s Tulip Town, is a major attraction during the Tulip Festival.

Local tulip growers showcased their bulbs through display gardens for decades prior to the formation of an official festival. The Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce established the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival as a 3-day event in 1984 to add festivities during the bloom month. The event has since grown to a month-long event and coincides with street fairs, art shows and sporting events.”


Now in its 36th year, the Tulip Festival, has become one of the most popular events in the state. Weekends in April produce traffic jams in Mount Vernon which rival a bad morning commute in Seattle. The festival organizers estimate that nearly a million people will trek to see the tulips during April. A look at their website,, provides a list of hundreds of events throughout Skagit County, helpful ‘bloom’ maps, and lists of where to eat and stay.

The Hubby and I visited the tulip festival offices a couple days ago (I was researching for this article) and the steady stream of people coming in to obtain information was amazing. We were talking with one of the volunteers – a friend we know through a different organization – and he said that there are times when the crowds spill out on the sidewalk.

We left after purchasing three prints of previous years Tulip Festival posters and then headed out on what has become one of the things the Hubby and I ‘do’ together which is drive around the valley.

It was, once again, another magical day. We found a flock of well over a thousand snow geese (they will be gone by mid-May) in a field on Fir Island and were treated to an aerial display which took my breath away. From there we drove up a hill to the west of the flower fields and could see the ribbons of red, yellow, purple, and white cut across the expansive landscape.

We visited a daffodil field which, two weeks ago, had been a cheery harbinger of spring but now the flowers were mostly faded. From there we ventured to ground zero, noting that although there were crowds, they were not yet of the epic proportion expected the next two weekends. The red and yellow tulips were approaching full bloom but the purple, white, pink, and variegated ones were still a week or two away.

Selfie in tulips 2018

The author with tulips in 2018

Daffodil Barb 2019

The author, at the same field, but now daffodils, 2019

Last year we, having just moved in, didn’t visit Roozengaarde or the other large player, Tulip Town. But this year we plan to be ‘tourists’ for a day and visit one or both to get the entire Skagit experience. But not on a weekend. We’re not THAT crazy.

For those who want to come see the tulip fields in bloom, visit the official tulip festival website:

For more information on Washington Bulb company and the Roozen family:

A Seattle Times article:

And the Infallible Wikipedia:

…The Mahre Brothers

Olympic Champions with Silver & Gold

February 19, 2019

Phil and Steve Mahre. PHOTO: Lori Adamski-PeekThis pair of skiers are, no doubt, the most famous Washingtonians to win Olympic medals. It was on February 19, 1984 when the twin brothers slalomed to gold and silver, being the first siblings to compete and place in the same event.

Phil and Steve Mahre were born on May 10, 1957, in Yakima, Washington.  They grew up at White Pass which, as fate would have it, tends to be buried under snow some six months each year. It was there they learned to ski. And learn they did. Phil – the oldest of the two by four minutes – won 27 World cup races during his career, the fourth highest number for an American.

It was, however, the dramatic competition in Sarajevo which cemented the twin’s legacy and also focused attention on the Pacific Northwest. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“At the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Mahre again medaled in the slalom, this time taking the gold while Steve won the silver for a Mahre twin 1–2 sweep. Steve had led the first of two runs, skiing flawlessly and building a large half-second lead over Swede Jonas Nilsson with Phil in third place, another two-tenths back. Phil skied a fine second run to grab the lead, then Nilsson skied next and faltered, dropping out of the medals. Steve skied down last, needing only a solid run to take the gold, but a series of mistakes dropped him into second place, and Phil became the Olympic champion. Meanwhile, unknown to the racers, Phil’s wife Holly had given birth to their second child, a son, in Arizona an hour before the race started. Phil did not find out about it until a TV interview after the race.

phil-mahre-vault-slalom-sarajevo-olympics.jpgThe Mahres won two of the five alpine skiing medals taken by Americans, all from the Northwest. Portland’s Bill Johnson (downhill) and Seattle’s Debbie Armstrong also won gold and Christin Cooper of Sun Valley took the silver for an American 1–2 finish in the women’s giant slalom.”

It was probably around 1974 when I first heard about the Mahre brothers. I had friends who went to school in Naches with the brothers. It was fun over the next nine years to follow their career and cheer for them in the Olympics. It was shortly after the 1984 gold-silver win when the brothers retired from competitive skiing, their spot in the history books cemented.

As I was working on this article I was reminded of a story told by a gal who grew up in Wenatchee and learned to ski at Mission Ridge. Rosemary was a few years older than I but we both worked in the telemarketing cube farm for Microsoft in the winter of 1983. She and I covered the west coast, me California and she the Pacific Northwest. What I most recall about her were her stories. It was always fun to listen to her tales of adventure as a single woman. And she was fearless. Despite the many things she had done, her persona was that of an airhead. Personally, I think it was all an act which she used to disarm people.

In the winter of 1983, Rosemary decided to join a Microsoft group that skied together. The ensemble consisted of a half dozen software programmers and her, the lone female. On one particular Monday in late January or February, she came in to work and related to me that she had gone skiing with the guys for the first time. She had ridden the lift to the top with one of the programmers and when they skied off the chair, the pair found themselves at the top of a slope filled with moguls.

the_mogulsHer fellow skier asked her if perhaps the black diamond run might be a bit difficult and would she like to try something easier?

“Oh no. I think I can handle it,” she replied, then said to him “Why don’t you go first.”

Which he did. And barely managed to stay upright as he picked his way down the bumpy slope. What happened next, according to Rosemary’s story, was epic. She adjusted her goggles, took firm control of her ski poles, and flew down the hill, attacking the moguls like a boss.

Her partner, still staring at her open mouthed as she swept up next to him at the bottom, managed to ask, “Where did you learn to ski like that?”

To which she replied “I was on the 1968 Olympic B team.”

Oh yes, there was so much more to Rosemary than met the eye.

Despite having grown up an hour’s drive from White Pass, I did not learn to ski until I was in my mid-20’s. In fact I took my first ski lessons in the early 1980’s. The hubby and I – along with his sister and Mom – spent several days at Whistler during the 1984 Olympics watching the events in Sarajevo in the evenings at a pub, cheering on the Mahre’s  and the rest of the American’s in their quest for gold.

While I never once came close to skiing like either Phil or Steve Mahre or my co-worker Rosemary, I did have an appreciation and awe of what they could do with a pair of boards and a couple of sticks in the snow. I felt an incredible pride when, in February 1984, the twins from little ole Yakima, Washington, won Olympic silver and gold.

As always, a few links of interest:

Ted Ligety won two gold medals, 8 years apart… his 2014 Medal was also won on February 19! Although Bill Johnson also won gold in 1984, his medal was won on February 15, four days earlier than Phil Mahre.

Mass Ascension…

… Mount Vernon Style

January 15, 2019

Although this particular population group is less than one percent of the species, the spectacle they create each winter in the Skagit Valley is breathtaking.

snow geese mass ascension

The geese depart in mass ascension, wings flapping and outstretched.

The Snow Goose, scientific name Anser caerulescens, is a bird which breeds in the Arctic during summer but migrates south each winter. In the state of Washington flocks of the birds can be found in Snohomish, Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties as well as on the Oregon border in Clark County.

I went scrambling to find out more information about the Snow Goose after witnessing them last week near Mount Vernon. First the facts about the birds from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The snow goose has two color plumage morphs, white (snow) or gray/blue (blue), thus the common description as ‘snows’ and ‘blues’. White-morph birds are white except for black wing tips, but blue-morph geese have bluish-grey plumage replacing the white except on the head, neck and tail tip. The immature blue phase is drab or slate-gray with little to no white on the head, neck, or belly. Both snow and blue phases have rose-red feet and legs, and pink bills with black tomia (‘cutting edges’), giving them a black ‘grin patch’. The colors are not as bright on the feet, legs, and bill of immature birds. The head can be stained rusty-brown from minerals in the soil where they feed. They are very vocal and can often be heard from more than a mile away.”

The Infallible Wikipedia also informed me that there are approximately 5 MILLION birds of breeding age which migrate from the Arctic to some 15 distinct areas of the United States each winter.

In the Skagit Valley, according to the Audubon Society, there are upwards of 55,000 snow geese which spend the winter feeding on the decaying plants and roots left in the fertile fields. Additionally, approximately 8,000 Trumpeter and 2,000 Tundra Swans are also found near Mount Vernon.

The hubby and I ventured out last Thursday to see if we could find one of the flocks of the snow geese. In less than 10 miles from our home, we encountered a large group gathered just west of I-5 near Conway. First, a word of caution, DO NOT under any circumstance stop along the Interstate to view the birds, as tempting as it may be. We were along a secondary road but saw a Washington State Patrolman stop to give a freeway bird gawker a bit of friendly advice.

We parked our car but even before we opened one of the doors we heard them: squawking and honking in their unique language. The noise overwhelms and defines the experience.  I had no idea how mesmerizing it would be to watch the birds. From a distance, the geese seemed stationary. As we observed from up close, however, the flock seemed to be marching north, as they pecked at bits of leftover plant materials in the fallow ground. Then, as if by command, they turned and marched south, the strong wind ruffling their feathers and making it difficult to walk.

When, a short distance to the west, a train rumbled by and it’s loud horn sounded, the collective was disturbed and suddenly hundreds of birds fluttered into the air, ascending in a group and spiraling up and off to the west. It was, my hubby claimed as he compared it to the famous Albuquerque Balloon Festival, “Mass Ascension, Mount Vernon style.” The first group was followed by another which was followed by third and yet a fourth after that. Soon, only a small portion of the birds remained. And still we watched.

“Look, over there,” my hubby said some ten minutes later and pointed to the southwest.

Sure enough a dark blotch in the sky grew bigger and then we could make out hundreds of individuals all headed our way. Their arrival was quieter than their departure. Each bird, as it landed among the others, seemed like a graceful ballerina, wings spread to form an umbrella on either side, feet and legs outstretched, as each animal floated to earth.

return of the geese

Like airborne ballerinas they stretch their wings wide to land.

The geese descended in flocks numbering in the hundreds. Wave after wave of the snow geese landed among the group already on the ground with each bird somehow finding a bare plot which they could occupy only to resume their marching up and down the fields.

It was with great reluctance that we departed that afternoon. But the experience only whetted my appetite for more. I have my sights set on next visiting the main area where the Tundra and Trumpeter swans gather at a spot called DeBay Slough just to the northeast of Mount Vernon. After that it may be in search of Eagles whose presence is felt among the geese as the former cull the flocks of the sick and weak. Up the North Cascades Highway (SR 20) at Rockport is the Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, open on weekends for people to learn and to view.

After the Snow Goose encounter I came away with one very clear thought. I now live in a magical place. From the tulip fields in the spring, to the ever changing and interesting Skagit River, to the thousands of birds in the winter, there is no shortage of things to see and do here in Mount Vernon.

I was unable to get my own video’s uploaded but found this one on the internet and, as far as I can tell, this is the same spot where we watched the birds last Thursday.

A bunch of links for those who want to visit and see the birds:

Viewing Sites

Update January 17, 2023 – The snow geese continue to capture my imagination. Shortly after they started arriving this past November myself, along with a couple of friends, ventured out past Conway on Maupin Road and came across a huge flock. The best part was that they were so close that you felt as if you could touch them. At one point, however, we experienced the ‘down’ side of geese watching… when a huge flying formation approached from the north and flew south over the top of the car. The next thing we knew we were under attack as they strafed my car with their bombs! It took some dedication later to clean off the residue of their bombs.

“Rose Bowl Roses!”

January 2, 2019

rose bowl.jpgNicknamed “The Granddaddy of them All” – the annual football contest known as “The Rose Bowl” debuted on this date in 1902.

It was a uneven matchup with Michigan defeating Stanford 49-0. Apparently the gridiron battle was devised to help fund the Pasadena Rose Parade. But that first game was such a disaster – Stanford quit after three quarters – that the football game was abandoned for more than a decade. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The game was so lopsided that for the next thirteen years, the Tournament of Roses officials ran chariot races, ostrich races, and other various events instead of football. But, on New Year’s Day 1916, football returned to stay as the State College of Washington (now Washington State University) defeated Brown University in the first of what was thereafter an annual tradition.”1916 Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl,  as many of us knew it in the 1960’s through the 1990’s, wasn’t always a match between the Pac-8 (and then the Pac -10 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State in 1978) and the Big-10. That tradition began in 1959 after a ‘Pay to Play’ scandal derailed the previous agreement in place since 1947.

And the tradition worked well with the Pac-10 champion meeting the Big 10 winner on New Year’s Day. Then, in 1998, with the creation of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), things changed. In both 2002 and 2006, the National Championship game was played in Pasadena .  But it was not without controversy. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The 2002 game served as the BCS championship game between the BCS No. 1–ranked Miami, then a member of the Big East Conference, and the BCS No. 2–ranked Nebraska, then a member of the Big 12 Conference. The Nebraska selection as the BCS No. 2 team was controversial because Oregon was ranked No. 2 in both the AP and Coaches Polls, while Nebraska was ranked No. 4 in both polls and did not play in its conference championship game (No. 3 Colorado, who would play Oregon in that year’s Fiesta Bowl, did and won the Big 12’s automatic bid to the BCS). This prevented a West Coast team playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time, and it also marked the first matchup since 1946 not to feature the traditional pairing of Pac-10 vs. Big Ten teams.”

Since 2014, and the advent of the College Football Playoffs, the Rose Bowl traditions have seen further modifications. Now, every three years, it features one of the two playoff games. In 2015 and again in 2018, there was not a traditional Pac-10/Big-10 matchup.

Huskies vs. Ohio stateFor those of us who prefer tradition, today’s matchup of  #9 Washington and #6 Ohio State is everything the Rose Bowl is supposed to be. It will be Ohio State’s 15th appearance and Washington’s 16th visit. But the two teams have never met in the Rose Bowl.

I have two distinct memories associated with the Rose Bowl. The first occurred at the Apple Cup on November 19, 1977. My sister, then a student at Washington State University, came to Seattle to attend the game and took her sister (I was attending the University of Puget Sound) along. It was a brilliantly sunny, but cold, day. As we approached the stadium there was a tall guy dressed all in black who held long stem red roses in his hand and was shouting “Rose Bowl Roses. Get your Rose Bowl Roses.”

We, of course, were offended by the presumption that the Huskies were going to the Rose Bowl BEFORE the game with WSU was even played! After all, Washington had to beat WSU and USC had to beat UCLA for the Huskies to earn a trip to Pasadena.

2011 04 15 Washington_Huskies_RoseBowl_1978_r1.jpgNo Rose Bowl Roses were purchased by us that day. But we definitely needed the extra warmth and fortitude provided by the flask she smuggled into the stadium. We were seated in the visitors horseshoe at the far west end of the stadium. The buttressing of our spirits from the extra spirits was required as the Huskies hammered the Cougs 35-15 and USC dispatched the Bruins the next weekend. Washington flew to Southern California and, on January second (the Rose Bowl is played on the second if the first falls on a Sunday), upset heavily favored Michigan 27-20.

The other memorable Rose Bowl was 1998. We didn’t need anything warm to drink that day as my family – Parents, siblings, spouses, children, nieces and nephews – spent 10 days in Maui to celebrate our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. My parents had arranged for condo units for each of us four siblings and our families in the Hale Hui Kai complex. Since my sister and I both had young children (they were ages 4 to 8) we were assigned ground floor units so as not to have to deal with stairs. The down side was that my unit had absolutely no view . Everyone assumed we would be at the beach with our Sleeping_Beauty_poster.jpgkids most of the time. Hah! My daughter had become obsessed with the Disney animated movie Sleeping Beauty. So most every afternoon I ended up hanging out in the unit while she watched Sleeping Beauty. Unless, of course, she was across the breezeway playing Barbie’s with the cousins. Except on New Year’s Day when Sleeping Beauty was relegated to the back burner and all the guys – Dad, brothers, husband and brother in law – descended upon our unit to watch the #8 WSU Cougs take on #1 Michigan.

WSU rosebowl 1998.jpg

Although the Cougars launched a valiant effort in what was their third of four Rose Bowl appearances, they fell to the soon to be crowned national champions 21-16.

And my daughter? A couple of things are no longer true. She’s not obsessed with Sleeping Beauty; she’d be horrified at the thought of spending a Hawaiian vacation holed up in a condo; and if she had friends who started a college football fantasy league she’d participate and soon know everything about the teams and players.

I’ll be rooting for the Huskies (don’t tell the die-hard Coug fans in my family, okay?) to prevail over Ohio State, but I’m really worried about QB Dwayne Haskins and the OS offensive line. Plus with their coach, Urban Meyer, retiring they will be the sentimental pick. Currently Ohio State is favored to win but, who knows, it might just be the Huskies year for an upset. The only thing better would be to spend New Year’s Day on the beaches of Maui.

Of course the Infallible Wikipedia has so much more to share:

Update: The Huskies lost the 2019 Rose Bowl game, falling to the Buckeyes 28-23. My Dad was happy about this as in his entire life he never once rooted for the Huskies to win…

The Oracle of Bacon

One Degree or Another

September 4, 2018

kevin bacon kyra sedgwickToday’s historical event really isn’t that much of an event but more an excuse to write about a topic which amuses this author. First of all happy 30th wedding anniversary to Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. They were married September 4, 1988. Unlike a great number of Hollywood marriages, their marriage has lasted three decades and, apparently, they’ve only ever been married to each other!

But as I said, that event is but an excuse to write about the cultural phenomenon known as the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

The genesis of the concept first appeared in 1996 when four Albright college students watched two movies one evening, both of which featured Kevin Bacon. No doubt, as these things go, the four probably had been consuming alcohol when they began speculating on the connections between Bacon and other actors.

Bacon himself said in an earlier interview, in January 1994 with Premiere magazine, that he “had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.”

From the Infallible Wikipedia, here’s how it works:


Kevin Bacon (Right) as Chip Diller along with Kent Dorfman – played by Stephen Furst in the classic Animal House.

“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a parlor game based on the ‘six degrees of separation’ concept, which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and prolific actor Kevin Bacon. It rests on the assumption that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps. In 2007, Bacon started a charitable organization called”

In the past 20 years, the concept has become a cultural phenomenon, and references to the game have been made in movies, books, TV and even a couple of parody songs. Despite his initial dislike of the game, Bacon himself has come to embrace it and, no doubt, it has been a benefit to his long career.

Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In 2009, Bacon narrated a National Geographic Channel show ‘The Human Family Tree’ – a program which describes the efforts of that organization’s Genographic Project to establish the genetic interconnectedness of all humans. In 2011, James Franco made reference to Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon while hosting the 83rd Academy Awards. In the summer of 2012, Google began to offer the ability to find an actor’s Bacon number on its main page, by searching for the actor’s name preceded by the phrase ‘bacon number’. EE (UK internet provider) began a UK television advertising campaign on November 3, 2012, based on the Six Degrees concept, where Kevin Bacon illustrates his connections and draws attention to how the EE 4G network allows similar connectivity.”

oracleTo find any actor’s ‘Bacon Number’ you can go to this link:

Even those of us who are not actors and have never appeared in a movie with or without Kevin Bacon can, however, discern our ‘Bacon Number’.

I went to the link and then figured out ‘who’ I personally know who might have a connection. What I discovered: my Bacon number is Three.

Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks

Kyle Maclachlan in Twin Peaks

How? I went to high school with Kyle MacLachlan (he spelled it McLachlan then) at Eisenhower HS in Yakima. Kyle, for those who do not know, starred as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the TV show Twin Peaks and also as Paul Atreides in the movie Dune. He’s had a decade’s long, solid acting career. His Bacon number is Two assigned as follows: He was in a Twin Peaks episode with James Marshall who was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.

michael Tucker

Michael Tucker

Or, I can get to Kevin Bacon through my brother who had a minor walk on role in the movie The Secret Life of Archie’s Wife (1990) starring Michael Tucker. Michael Tucker was in Diner (1982) with Kevin Bacon. So via this connection I also get a Bacon number of three. Kevin (0) – Michael (1) –Peter (2) – Barb (3).

Now let the games begin… what is YOUR Bacon number?

And a couple of links: (Yes, there really is a Wikipedia page JUST for this!) (And one for the actor himself) (Yakima’s famous son has one too!) (As does Michael Tucker)

I plucked this historical photo of Kyle (right photo, wearing the all black outfit) from the pages of my high school annual (I was the Editor so I probably handled this photo and, possibly, either wrote or made changes to the caption) in one of his early roles acting. He would have been 16 in this photo. Kyle M early years.jpg

This entry was posted on September 5, 2018.