When the Gravy Hits the Fan

Thanksgiving was extra special this year for three reasons: My sister Constance, my daughter Bea, and Bea’s friend Beata.

Continue reading “When the Gravy Hits the Fan”



I tend to be a happy hermit, but this October has been unusually social.

One of my dearest friends, Meg Philp, is visiting from Australia.  I’ve known her for almost thirty years.

We savor the moments, like lunch out with another bestie, Pat Peterson, storyteller extraordinaire.

My Story Sisters welcomed Meg to our Elizabeth Ellis master class reunion, and she fit right in.

I love seeing my home through Meg’s eyes.

Everyday chores, like stair-walking at Richmond Beach, are more fun.

Yesterday we visited Volunteer Park…

…and gloried in the fall color.

Meg knows how to live!  She cooks with wine…


…and finds fun in the simplest things–like Bunny Ear Towel Origami.

Who needs Disneyland, when we can ride the Washington State Ferries?

Especially to attend the Forest Storytelling Festival in Port Angeles!

But we are happy just hanging out talking, walking, waxing philosophical, picking raspberries in the garden, telling each other our dreams over morning coffee, writing and researching our stories, talking some more, and even posting on our blogs.  Check out Meg’s blog, Story Twigs the Imagination.

All words and images ©2015 NaomiBaltuck.

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Twice Blessed

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  It has already begun around our house, with relatives flying in and out of town.  I set writing projects on the back burner to enjoy a houseful of family and friends.  After two weeks of intense studying, Eli just took his GRE, and is free to play.  Bea just arrived home from Stanford with exciting stories, and a long list of fun things to do in her short week home.

My sister Constance stopped in Seattle on her way home after three months in Norway as an artist-in-residence.   We put her on a plane to Alaska yesterday, but first we celebrated an early Thanksgiving and Christmas with Uncle Lew.  We set up his tree, played music, and ate Lew’s famous green bean casserole by candlelight.


Auntie Lee flies in from Michigan tomorrow, and her lovely daughter Adrienne will arrive from Yakima the next day.  We will meet Adrienne’s fiance for the first time.  Constance made me promise not to take out the tape measure.  (I only did it once before, with her last boyfriend, and it was just a joke!)  I hear this one is a keeper.

The kitchen table has always been a happening place.  So many hours of my kids’ childhood were spent there, talking, listening to music, creating art.  The kids’ favorite projects always seemed to combine art and sugar.  Sugar cube igloos, taffy pulls, gingerbread houses, painting cookies.  Eli recalled the penguin mints we used to make, and adapted it.

First came the prototype…

Then came the production line, with Bea and Eli making turkeys.  Auntie and I were inspired, and soon we were mass producing meringue mushrooms.

Everything we do takes a long time because we tend to be easily sidetracked…

Eli created a flock of turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner.  It makes me smile whenever I open the refrigerator door.

I love Thanksgiving because, unlike Halloween or Christmas or Valentine’s Day, it hasn’t been turned into a shopping occasion.  There is hardly a way to commercialize it.  I don’t waste too much time cleaning because, well, who cares?  I don’t spend too much time cooking, because our dinner is always potluck, and guests bring dishes to share.

Thanksgiving is mostly a bookmark, a reminder that every day can be a day of thanksgiving.  When the kids were little, before dinner we would often go around the table and share with each other the things we were thankful for.  It was our practice at bedtime to look back at the day, and recall the good things that happened, and look ahead to the good things the next day would bring.  People who live their lives with gratitude and appreciation are twice blessed.  Once because they are.  Twice because they know it.

Dear friends, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, next Thursday, and everyday!

All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck

Lucky Ducks and Bright Spots


Thanksgiving is in the air.  No, not the spicy fragrance of pumpkin pie.  ‘Tis heartier fare I speak of, more refreshing than a double shot of espresso to a caffeine addict marooned on a desert isle.  I’m talking about Bright Spots.


My mother, widowed with seven children, taught me to recognize them, from a distance, in passing, and in disguise.


It’s like bird watching. Flashy red cardinals and blue jays naturally draw the eye, and you can’t miss the shiny green pate of a male Mallard.  But look among the mottled brown feathers of a female Mallard, and you can see the lucky lady sports a striking patch of iridescent blue feathers on each wing that would make a peacock proud.


Each night when I tucked my kids in, we looked back on the day and counted our blessings.  I had proof this lesson ‘took’ when I took my daughter Bea to England.  We spent our first day at Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, Hever Castle, and our first night in ‘Heaver Hell.’  Bea got sick all over her bed.  When I put her in mine so I could clean up hers, she barfed on my bed too.  In the wee hours of the morning, after the 10th upheaval, Bea flashed me a weak smile and said, “At least now I can brag that I’m into the double digits.”   That’s what I call looking at the bright side!

Bea at Bodiam Castle, feeling MUCH better!

All words and images ©2016Naomi Baltuck

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