Monthly Archives: April 2013


I was starting to think our dog Jacks was immortal.  At 18 years old, she was remarkably healthy, other than being mostly deaf and a little bit blind.  A lot of the time she was slower than she used to be, but other times she’d still frisk around the house like she was a decade young.


Friday night around midnight, she started to have seizures, and we knew it was time.

Sometimes I think it’s harder to lose a pet than a person.  All the humans I’ve “lost” are not really lost at all.  I know absolutely where they are, and I know they are experiencing more happiness and joy than I can even imagine.  I know we’ll be together again – and not in some wispy, white-wearing, harp-playing boring heaven.   The place we’ll be going to is everything you love, everything you’re always wanted, everything that is good and wonderful and exciting and brilliant times infinity!  I get the tingles and goosebumps just thinking about it.

But I don’t have that certainty of what happens when an animal dies.  I lean towards believing that, since they are part of Creation, and since all of Creation is going to be made new, that all animals will be given a new life as well.  I hope so.  It seems to fit what I understand of God.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.    Romans 8:18-23

Quail Coop & Garden Update

The quail coop foundation is done.  Next we lay wire on the ground inside (to keep any predators or rats from digging up inside) and then fill the hole back in with dirt.  And then…we can finally start building up!  My mom, btw, is a champion stone-leveler.  She laid most of the stones while I was at work.

Honestly, I think it’s already looking so pretty!  And it kind of looks like the beginning of a small pond…which we are already thinking WILL be a project for next year!

The garden is also looking nice this Spring.

The below photos of are the shade/woodland area of my garden.  I love it in Spring.

New in the garden, and just beyond the woodland, are our raspberry plants.  They were a gift from Laura S. and they are doing great.  We can’t wait until they begin producing fruit.

Along with getting quail, it is a goal this year to add more fruit trees, vines, and shrubs.  Today I bought two grape vines, which I plan to experiment with by growing them in containers.  From what I’ve heard, they do really well, and are easier to manage.

I got one, ‘Vanessa’, which is a red similar to the ones you buy in the store.  It is surprisingly difficult to get grapes in this area.  None of the mail order companies can ship to WA, so you’re at the mercy of what the local nurseries decide to stock.  I was really set on this particular variety, so I called every nursery in the area.  Only one stocked it – and they only had one plant left!  One nursery said they couldn’t even get grapes in to stock at all!  So I am very, very happy that I found this one last Vanessa.


The other variety I got is ‘Einset’.  I had been thinking I’d get a green variety, but then I heard that this one has unique strawberry-flavored fruit, and I was hooked.  Luckily the same nursery had this one as well.


If these do well, perhaps I’ll get more another year!

I also bought a yellow variety of raspberry, because I’ve always been intrigued by yellow raspberries.  It’s called ‘Kiwi Gold’, and supposedly is one of the sweetest varieties around.

I also am planning to add gooseberries, hardy kiwi, Chilean Guava, and a peach tree to the garden.  And an asparagus bed.

I am also excited because the rose I planted last year ‘Sombreuil’ has its first buds!  And my new rose for this year is the ‘Semi-Plena’, also known as the White Rose of York.  Since I am descended directly from the White Queen, it has been a dream of mine for several years now to grow this rose.  I’ve been looking for it, but I could never find one for sale that wasn’t in Europe.  Finally, however, I found one, and it’s looking wonderful so far.

I love these old roses.  They are tough as nails, they don’t get any diseases, ever, and they smell the way a rose should.  One single ‘Semi-Plena’ rose can perfume an entire yard!

And finally, the chickens approve of all the activity.  Since several of the new fruit trees will go in their yard, they will get to partake of any extra dropped fruit.  Right now, they have apples and blackberries, and love both!


A few posts back, I mentioned I’m growing two new varieties of strawberry this year.  One is a traditional red one (Sparkle) and something new….this gorgeous white one!  It’s supposed to have a twist of pineapple in the flavor, and if it’s anything like the white alpine strawberries I already have, that twist is WONDERFUL.

These are the White Soul strawberries:


I’ve only ever seen them sold as seeds, so I bought some.  The instructions say to be patient; strawberry seeds can take up to 6 weeks or more to germinate.  I must be a strawberry whisperer, because not even two weeks later, I have this:

What?  You say you can’t see anything?

What about now:

They are SO teeny tiny!  It’s hard to believe that if all goes well, I’ll be harvesting strawberries from these.  What a miracle God’s creation is.

Steampunk Photoshoot

Remember last year when I did a steampunk photoshoot with fabulous photographer Tyson Vick?  It was for a magazine called Dark Beauty, and it has finally been published, and I can finally share the photos.

All the female costumes were made by me.

Aren’t they beautiful?  And woot!  My costumes are in the same issue with the likes of artist Brian Kesinger (one of my very favorites!) and the League of Steam!  Brian Kesinger is coming to Steamcon this year.  I’m so bringing my print copy of the magazine and having him sign it…


Quail Coop – Day Two

It has been a monsoon here lately.  Rain, rain, rain, RAIN.  I thought it was a lost cause trying to get anything done outside, but then in a blink, the sky turned blue and sunny around 4pm.

I figured that was a small window of opportunity.  So we grabbed our hen (as one does) and went out to finish digging the foundation.

It was just slightly damp.

But chicken Ellie didn’t mind wading in and helping out.

Now to wait until the hole dries out a little, and then we can lay the wire and stone.


How do you relate to an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God? How’d He create the world? Where’d He put it?  Where’s Heaven?  Where’s Hell?  How will He wipe away every tear?  How can He be everywhere?  How could time begin?  How’d He come to earth and stay in Heaven?  Why did Jesus pray if He’s God?  How’d He perform miracles?  Why is Jesus the only way?  And how can God be three, yet One?  Ever wish He’s reveal Himself like with the prophets, opening your eyes to another realm, showing you, through a vision, His invisible qualities and deepest mysteries?

The above was taken from a message my pastor (Bruce Wersen of HisPlace Church) recently shared.  He’d spent thirty years trying to come up with an analogy that would perfectly help us understand the unexplainable – those unseen things about God that mankind has struggled to wrap their minds around since time began.  And finally, just in time for Easter, everything that he had been researching and learning came together, and God revealed it to him…and it’s something that everyone on earth experiences every night!

I want to talk about my reactions and thoughts to Bruce’s message, but first, here are links to both a written transcript of that Easter message and to an audio recording.  Go and check it out before you read any further here, because from this point on, I’m going to assume you have, and many things I say next will make no sense if you haven’t.



Dreams.  I’ve been an intense dreamer my entire life.  I’ve dreamed in series, where it’s like I’m exploring a novel, and every night I’m in a different chapter, and the story keeps continuing.  Lucid dreams are a regular thing for me, both the fully lucid ones where I’m in complete control of what happens, and the semi-lucid variety where I know I’m dreaming but I can’t really summon up the will (or perhaps the belief) to change anything that happens.  As a result, perhaps, I continually read about dreams, seeking to discover what science knows about how they work, and why.  Science knows that we have to dream – or we die.  They’ve done experiments where they have woken a subject every time he began to dream, and it was only a short time before he started to break down physically and mentally.  Humans are born with a need to dream.  Why is that?

Humans are also born with a desire to create and/or explore ‘lesser realities’ even when they are awake.  Books, movies, games…they all involve a created, shared, lesser world, where each of us either joins that world through a POV (main character we identify with) or, as in the case of games, sometimes create an actual representation of ourselves (an avatar) to walk into the game and interact in its world.  This drive is so universal.  We begin doing it as children; we play by immersing ourselves in lesser realities we create.  And I would venture to say that even those of us who don’t continue to create these worlds from our imagination often wish they could. It’s pretty much a cliche that everyone has an idea for a book they’ll write…someday.  That instinct to create a world, that universal drive to inhabit a creation that never existed until we made it…where does that come from?

In one of the most powerful dreams I ever had, I was standing by myself in a high place.  I’m afraid of heights, and I was very afraid in this dream.  I was clutching the hand rail, palms sweating, wondering how I was going to get down from where I was, when I suddenly realized that I was dreaming.  Instantly, all fear lifted away.  I knew, absolutely and with no doubt, that whatever happened here, I could not experience lasting hurt.  I had never experienced a feeling like that before, and I had never truly realized how much fear is part of our daily life.  Fear of falling, fear of rejection, fear of dropping all the little things we’re holding close.   Big fears, small fears…bundled together, they make a mighty burden that you don’t even know you’re carrying, until suddenly, they are all gone.  I didn’t even do anything in the rest of that dream.  I just stood there, surrounded by a world that felt completely real: the sun was warm on my face, the handrail was still solid under my fingers, and yet, all because of a shift of perception, I was free.

Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Bruce’s message struck a particular chord with me because of that dream.  Ever since I’ve had it, I’ve thought: That is what our world is like, really.  It’s like a dream, where we’re afraid when we don’t have to be, because we think the world we’re in is so much more solid and lasting than it is.  If we only fully realized that we don’t have to be afraid,  how differently would we live?  I’ve felt it in dreams so often.  The more aware I am of my surroundings not being real, the better the dream seems.  Everything is brighter, more vivid.  It’s almost like I have more reality instead of less.  If I could only transfer that feeling of fearlessness and purpose to this lesser reality – to the one in which I’m supposedly “awake”.   We’re meant to feel something like that, I think, when we become Christians.  The Bible certainly tells us, over and over again to be not afraid.  We’re meant to understand that there is another, more solid, more “awake” world than ours.  And when we do, suddenly we’re just transients here – our real life awaits us.

The thing about lucid dreaming is that you really get to test the limits of the dreaming world.  I know for a fact that all five senses work perfectly well in a dream.  I’ve touched, seen, tasted, smelled, and heard as if I were awake.  I’ve felt pain, both emotional and physical.  Dreams genuinely hurt, but once we awake, the pain doesn’t last.  But oh – it can hurt while we’re in them.  I’ve lived a pretty easy life here on earth so far.  I’ve felt worse pain in dreams than I have when I’ve been awake.  There have been times in dreams when I’ve begged my sleeping self to let me wake up.  I know what’s going to happen next in the dream, and I don’t want to go there.  I don’t want to experience that, even though I’m lucid enough to understand that it is just a dream, and eventually I’ll wake up, unharmed.  I had never put that experience together with how Jesus must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane before Bruce’s message.  I had never been able to understand before why Jesus prayed for His betrayal, crucifixion, and death to pass Him by.  But now it makes perfect sense because I’ve done that myself, in dreams.

This world we live in can seem so absolute, so lasting, so all-that-there-is, and yet that perception can change in the blink of an eye.  I’ve owned ducks a good share of my life, and one of the nightly rituals when you own ducks is going out every evening to give them fresh water and shut them into their shelter where they’ll be safe.  One evening, I went out to shut them in – exactly like I’d done every evening for years.  There was nothing different about it.  The gravel path crunched under my boots, the bucket in my hand swung against my leg, the flowers were sweet-smelling in the garden beside the fence.  And then, I saw that the ducks’ water container was not in their pen, but was outside, on the path.  One thing, one simple, impossible thing.  I had not taken that water container out, I never did.

I stood there, in complete shock for several minutes, my brain spinning.  If the water container was out, the only explanation was that I was not actually awake after all – I was asleep, and this was a dream.  But it was all perfectly, exactly real.  I kept looking around me, listening, touching, seeking something else that would demonstrate absolutely that my surroundings were false, but other than the water being where it could not be, all was a perfect replica of the waking world.  I was stunned; I literally did not know what was real anymore, I could not trust my mind, my senses, or my memory – all the things that I was used to leaning upon to tell me what was true.  I’d had lucid dreams before, but they always came with the realization that I was dreaming.  There had been no doubt.  This wasn’t like that.  I could not tell what was real, and it was world-shaking.  A perfect replica of the world, down to the last detail and ‘proven’ to exist by all my senses…and yet, not real, because that impossible water container was sitting there in front of me.

And then I woke up and had my proof in the waking.  And since then I’ve known that no matter what your senses tell you, no matter how real everything seems…it might not be so.  There might be something more real.  It’s disconcerting…and wonderful.

And true.

Whereupon he saith, Awake thou that sleepeth and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you life.  Ephesians 5:14

Quail Coop – First Day of Construction

Actually, there’s not much construction, mostly destruction.  The first step is digging out the foundation.   The chickens helped; I had one or two out digging with me all day!  It makes a nasty job slightly more enjoyable.  This is Ellie, who is my most favorite pet ever.  Whenever I sat down to take a rest, she hopped up onto my lap to snuggle.

At the end of the day, the sod was gone, but we still have to dig out the rest of the hole.  Thankfully that’s the easier part of the job!

After we dig out the dirt, the next step is laying a protective layer of wire, and then putting stones around the edge.  You can see the first one already in place, there at the upper left of the hole.


This year’s Spring project is adding quail to our backyard.  My friend Laura has also wanted to get them, so this year we are pushing each other into finally making this the year of quail.

Coturnix quail.  These guys.

Also known as Pharoah Quail, since they were so important to the Ancient Egyptians that they have their own hieroglyph.

This means, of course, that since the chickens are named after Queens, these new birds must be named after Egyptian royalty!  If all goes well, I’ll start out with four quail: one male and three females.  Front-running names right now are Ramses, Nefertiti, Hatchepsut, and Arsinoe.  Another friend named Laura (I swear every other person I know is named Laura!) suggested I call the quail’s coop the Coop de Nile, which will probably stick.

The coop is going to have a garden roof, somewhat like this one:

I plan to grow strawberries on it, as I’ve been needing to make a new bed for the strawberries.  “Sparkle” strawberries and these very pretty white ones, called “White Soul”.  The white ones I’m growing from seed, so I hope all goes well.

Can’t you just see how pretty the combination of white and red fruit is going to look?

Inside the coop, I want it to be natural for the quail, so I’ll give them a floor of dirt and sand, with different varieties of grass growing.

Laura and I are going to borrow an incubator and hatch our own quail chicks.  We hope.  *fingers crossed*  I have successfully hatched a duck before, so surely quail can’t be that different?  Look at how tiny the just-hatched baby quail are!

One of the major reasons why I want quail is for the eggs.  They are even healthier than chicken eggs – just packed full of nutrients!  And I’ve heard, although I’ve never actually tasted one, that they are wonderfully flavored.  And, they are so small and cute.

Our plans are to have the eggs in the incubator by the end of May.  And I intend to blog about the entire process, from building the coop, to hatching the eggs, to gathering the first eggs.