PENINSULA PROFILE: Port Angeles woman flourishes in heartful role as homemaker
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Carrie Sanford of Port Angeles keeps a house journal called the Heart Book. —Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

Come out to the fair

THE JEFFERSON SPRING Fair, Jefferson Elementary School’s carnival, is open to the public from 5:30 p.m. till 7:30 p.m. this Friday. Admission is free while tickets will be sold for the carnival games, which will be indoors and out at Jefferson, 218 E. 12th St.

Activities range from equine bingo with a miniature horse, music by DJ Schmeejay, face painting by Marjorie Newberg, a dunk tank and Morning Star Balloon Co.’s “Spirit of America” hot air balloon, which fairgoers will be able to walk inside.

Peninsula Daily News
By Diane Urbani de la Paz

Peninsula Daily News

Carrie Sanford had long thought of herself as, as she puts it, “a career-minded gal.” But when she moved here, this gal was ­— her words again — a “dangling partner.”

It was just two weeks after Carrie and Tom Sanford married when they relocated to Port Angeles on July 1, 2002. They came for Tom’s job at the Olympic Park Institute, now NatureBridge at Lake Crescent.

Mrs. Sanford was not happy. She spent her first day here weeping.

Then, each morning, Tom went off to work at the beautiful lake, with like-minded people, while his bride, who had no such job, tried to find her feet in a new town.

Today, Carrie Sanford has found her home and her community: in a little house on Cherry Hill, at Jefferson Elementary School and — virtually — at Salt Creek Farm, the organic operation 11 miles west of Port Angeles.

Sanford, mother to 9-year-old Abby, fits into the “stay-at-home mom” category, but she is not one to stay put.

This mom moves from garden to computer, where she writes the newsletter for Salt Creek Farm, then to volunteer at Jefferson Elementary, where Abby’s a third-grader, about half a mile away.

There’s a term she likes better than “stay-at-home.”

“I think it’s time to reclaim homemaker,” she said. It’s a role for which Sanford is writing her own script.

“We’ve been very purposeful” about lifestyle, she added.

“We’re a one-income family, a one-car family . . . we have a smaller house than some of my peers. Most things are bought second hand” or made at home.

Family vacations involve walking onto the MV Coho ferry to Victoria, then walking around the provincial capital or, during Abby’s spring break, going to Seattle for museums and people-watching.

This Mother’s Day will be a cross-generational one, since Sanford’s mom, Caroline Smetana, lives here now.

If there’s one tradition on this day, though, it is to “let me sleep,” Sanford said. Then, Abby will go out to the yard and pick a bouquet of blooms. These are among the things recorded in the Heart Book, Sanford’s house journal.

She’ll need that sleep as she makes final preparations for the Jefferson Spring Fair, a carnival-and-then-some this Friday evening.

As Jefferson’s Parent Teacher Organization president, Sanford has coordinated activities from equine bingo, a game involving a miniature horse, and the toilet toss, another kid-pleasing game Sanford builds out of duct tape, cardboard and a toilet seat. She saw it on Pinterest among things to rent for kids’ carnivals and thought, I can make that.

“It’s super fun,” Sanford said of Friday’s fair, which also has a dunk tank, a hot air balloon from Sequim’s Morning Star Balloon Co., face painting by Marjorie Newberg, DJ Schmeejay playing festive music and, of course, hot dogs and cotton candy.

Once the Jefferson Spring Fair is finished, the Salt Creek Farm time of year will start.

Each week starting in late May, Sanford works on the Crop Sheet, a newsletter full of farm news and recipes for the current vegetables and herbs being harvested. This publication goes out to farmshare holders, Port Angeles-area residents who purchase a subscription to Salt Creek’s fresh produce. The 22-week growing season starts with spinach, salad mix, snap peas, chard and kale in spring, and winds up with carrots, beets, leeks, potatoes, onions, squash and more in winter. Sanford seeks to provide recipes for all of it. Smoothies, frittata, stir-frys, even recipes to make vegetables palatable for youngsters appear on the Crop Sheet.

Yet this cook is no sergeant when it comes to children and greens. With some veggies, “you throw up your hands. There’s no way kids are going to eat this,” Sanford admitted.

She happily reports, though, that Abby is on a Caesar salad kick right now, enjoying her lettuce dotted with croutons. She loves lasagna too, so her mother takes the opportunity to sneak in more green leafys, such as spinach.

“She’s pretty passionate about supporting local causes,” said Salt Creek farmer Doug Hendrickson.

“She’s the recipe maven,” he added, with “a tremendous archive of recipes.”

Sanford also contributes to the Peninsula Kitchen column in the Peninsula Daily News, and writes about local food and life as a mom in her blog, RhubarbSky.com. She just liked the sound of those two words together, and hey, the sky at sunrise or sunset can look something like a ripe rhubarb stalk.

Life for the Sanfords has not been charmed, though. Tom and Carrie had been married five years — Abby was 2 — when Tom learned he had a golf-ball-size brain tumor. It was benign and slow-growing, but it was lodged between his brain stem and cerebellum. The first operation came two weeks after the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary. It was successful, but then Tom contracted bacterial meningitis. This required a second brain surgery and a year of recovery.

“Going through that,” Sanford said, “gives a preciousness to life.”

Today, Tom is executive director of the North Olympic Land Trust, the nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve wild land and farm fields across Clallam County. The trust, at First and Laurel streets, and the Feiro Marine Life Center on City Pier are two more places where Sanford volunteers.

“I live a 1-mile square life,” she said. And that suits her fine. Abby rides the bus home from school, but “I’d let her walk. She totally can,” said her mom. They shop with gusto at Goodwill three blocks away, visit the Port Angeles Library often and pick up their Salt Creek Farm share of vegetables at another subscribing family’s house nearby.

Growing up in a town like this is great for Abby, Sanford believes, but “we have to work hard to give her a balanced view of the world. We go to Seattle, and to the Seattle Art Museum on Thursday, the free night,” and to see the variety of people who inhabit an urban place. Sanford wants her child to explore the world without fear.

At the same time, the Sanford home is their refuge. In the Heart Book journal, backyard bird sightings, first snowfalls and May flowers are recorded, and blessings are listed.

“We’re not specifically religious,” Sanford said. But her grandfather Bennet Saunders’ favorite before-dinner grace has a place in the Heart Book: “For what we are about to receive,” it says, “let us all be truly thankful.”

Abby is. “She makes delicious meals,” she said when asked for a few qualities she likes about her mother.

“She’s always there for me,” Abby added.

One thing still surprises Sanford: how satisfying the homemaking life is.

“I love it,” she said. “I really do.”

As for Port Angeles, “I think we have a quirky town.”

But “wild horses couldn’t drag me away.”

Last modified: May 10. 2014 6:57PM
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