We are back in our lovely little apartment in Hanoi.

True Bach apartment

Autumn is racing in, dragging the temperatures down to 85-90 degrees F.  We’ve adjusted our days so that we rise early, return home by 1:00 pm, siesta (play music, study Vietnamese, obsess about climate change, try not to succumb to the US political mania), then back out after 6:00pm to scour the city for food and drink, soaking it all in as we go.

We want to share a little about our summer on Lopez Island.  This count-down is as close to an annual Christmas letter as we’ll ever get.


#5  Upon returning to the US, Beth visited Whistler Mountain in the Canadian Rockies for a week with Kathi.  This beautiful distraction was the ideal immersion back into western civilization.  Fresh air, blue skies and endless people-watching.  A remarkable contrast to Hanoi.

Whistler gondola

Whistler Rendezvous

Whistler Peak to Peak


#4  The future is bright in our single-wide because we

  • can now wash laundry  (dug a dry-well and carted up a billion rocks from the beach to fill it)
  • repaired the washing machine by taming the agitator dogs and motor coupling (thanks, youtube)
  • re-caulked, re-hinged, repaired, painted, planted and toiled
  • finally moved mini-moby (after 30+ years)

pull mini moby  passing  push it      mini moby

  • continued the repairs (thanks, Alex) after a march windstorm deposited a tree on Moby
  • now have free firewood (thanks, windstorm)

timberrr     tree


#3  We started building something.  It’s going to be a 16′ x 20′ shared studio.

Had gigantic stumps removed, hand-dug trenches for underground utility lines and holes for 12 pier blocks.  Materials arrived.  Hard to imagine this orderly load of lumber can become our shop.

img_6510              wood


Dug.  Swore.  Leveled.  Tamped.  Leveled.  Untamped.  Shoveled.  Leveled.

img_6554       img_6556 img_6570


Lured friends over to help when possible.  Labor day.  Heh heh.

floor   floor


Later there will be two windows in the east side and two windows in the west side.



South facing front will also have two windows.  Scored two fire-proof dutch doors from a neighboring job site for free.



It’s starting to look like a saloon.  Slanted shed roof.  Ideal for collecting water.

front rafters


Battened down for the winter, awaiting plywood sheathing and a new metal roof.

almost a shop


#2  Family and friends came to visit.



Doug Cary seestor-and-fam

We ate from the local bounty, and played music as often as possible.  Lopez has a lively music scene.

oyster dinner

come back crabby lady

img_6378     3 crabbies


#1  Annie, the reason we came back early.

She died August 8, the day before her 11th birthday.  She taught us a lot over the summer.  Slow down, take long walks, don’t hurry.  Do what you want.  Don’t do what you don’t want to do.  Listen to the birds.  Relax when the opportunity appears.  Play music.  Sing.  Stretch out on the couch.

annie couch

low tide annie



Thank you all so much for the visits and help over the summer.


Now think about a visit to Vietnam!



  1. Cindy Johnson

    Thanks for the blog.
    I wish that I had seen you while you were here in Seattle/Lopez.
    Someday I’m gonna come to Lopez and visit you two with kayaks. We’re going to build a shed with sleeping loft at our cabin so it’s good to see the basics of your studio/shed going up .Hard work.

    Vietnam looks like a Great adventure.Your apartment looks beautiful in Hanoi. It must be so exciting to explore that country. So glad you can do this.

    We took 2 long hikes this summer. Before the knees and back give out. First one was to Eagle Wilderness and we did the Washboard trail. All ridgetops with Outstanding scenery I know you would love it. We just finished our trip to the Olympics and hiked up to see the Humes glacier which is named after Tims Family. The problem was we did the Skyline primitive trail. Don’t ever do that trail! I was climbing down deep, steep creek gorges on faint sliding off paths and climbing out straight up,hand by hand with my backpack and inching along cliffs with my fingers and toes .we survived. Hiked out 13 miles in the rain.
    Good relaxing though it Lake Quinault lodge and then SolDuc Hot Springs.
    Say hi to Doug.
    PS : Cuba infectious disease cruise with Tim November 11-21st

    • Beth

      Hi Cindy,
      Yes! Next summer warrants a kayak visit. Good luck with the building. Since I have zero carpentry background (the only tools our family had were a hammer, a hand saw and one of those little fake hammers with screwdrivers in the handle) i am amazed by the process. Doug knows how to do all that. The leveling was ingenious, with the different lines set up from all the corners and such. And even just figuring out spacings…when a 2×4 isn’t truly 4″ so you have to accommodate all that when putting it together for the plywood to fit exactly. and the lifting those heavy pieces and beams up ourselves…woah. We earned our evening cocktails.

      I saw some of your hike photos…GORGEOUS. I admire you and Tim. You seem to make sure to get out every summer somewhere interesting like that. Humes glacier is from Tims’ family? I bet that’s a story. The Skyline primitive trail sounds like my night mare trail. Glad you survived it. It’s all that built up experience that gets you through patches like that. I hate inching along cliffs. For real. I’ve done my share and am happy to NOT do that anymore, at least with a pack on. Maybe with ropes I’d reconsider…

      Cuba! I’m not sure what you mean by infectious disease cruise…I think it’s a work related trip. But maybe you mean the cruise ship is a breeding ground for disease, so you’ve given it a nickname? Either way, be safe and I’ll watch for updates!
      Love, Beth

  2. Laura Matthews

    Hey Beth, Nice apartment! All quiet on Lopez. We were expecting the wind storm of the century but it petered out thank god! The pictures of Hanoi and Vietnam are beautiful, loving the landscapes. I just dropped my ballot in the mailbox and am so glad this beast will be done soon. Doug and I are going to try for some crabs today, will throw the pots off the dock on Barlow Bay and when we come back there are sure to be keepers 🙂 Sending good mojo to you and Doug . Love, Laura

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