What is a farmhouse without a barn? It seemed we had been building or planting something ever since we moved in, but nothing so ambitious or large as an honest-to-goodness barn, whose purpose did not include the housing of 4-legged animals.
In the midst of chaos, dear and curious friends began arriving to check up on us. A car or RV would sometimes arrive unannounced except by the honk of a horn in the driveway. Since the lack of space had been apparent from the start, a necessary part of the new barn was a sleeping loft, which when finished slept six grown people. The main part of the barn became a multipurpose environment, where we entertained, I worked and taught sculpture classes, and where our daughter chose to be married.
For city people who had no building experience, it was a genuine accomplishment. On a visit to Grants Pass to see my parents, we found a Civil War cast iron pot-bellied stove in an antique store on which we put money to hold it. Knowing we might like it, but unaware of our transaction, a friend tried to buy it for us. He and my mother had a few words regarding his “trying to take it away from us” before the truth came out. After the dust settled it looked great in the new barn and gave nice heat both there and in my Fremont studio later. With an antique copper tea kettle steaming on top it gave an instant cup of tea whenever needed.
Some readers may remember the belching goat who injected fear into a silent midnight.
Who knew that this cute creature could sound like a rude belching man?
People suddenly appeared on our doorstep, old friends and family from the South, and soon new friends from Alaska, some like the Buchwalds became extended family. Emmett and Georgia Oliver eventually moved to their home on the Hood Canal, and through them the Johnson family with their five wonderful children.
My Mother-in-law drove several times to see us and wonder if our brains were still functioning. In those days Washington had blue laws against buying alcoholic beverages on Sunday. Since we often had people visiting, the lack of liquid refreshment was sometimes a problem, so MIL would bring us jugs of wine in the trunk of her car. She was stopped for speeding once, and fortunately the Law did not open her trunk. We may worry about teenagers but not about those in their late 70’s.
Hood Canal from the Oliver’s deck.
The Hood Canal became almost a second home for us and gave us countless oyster, shrimp and clam feasts with the Olivers and the Johnsons. The Northwest is famously noted for its abundant seafood. We went often also to Campbell River in British Columbia to fish and explore.
I was told that instead of a fish on my line, I had hooked onto the bottom. (Some bottom.} We pulled over and had a barbecue on the shore of Quadra Island on the Georgia Straits.
We had another memorable occasion in the Georgia Straits when fishing in a small boat with a friend whose small boat was surrounded by curious killer whales. They circled and surfaced, giving us an intimate look while we watched one of Nature’s close encounters.
Between visitors and exploring, I began sculpting some of the people I saw. The native people, both in appearance and culture, were much different from the Southwest people, and I placed a few small pieces in a Seattle gallery. It was my first experience in selling my work, so when they actually sold, it was a pleasant surprise.