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Retreating: The Long Awaited Photos

The San Juan Island Christian Women’s Network has offered a retreat every Spring for the last 4 years. The retreat is held at Camp Orkila on Orcus Island. Camp Orkila belongs to the YMCA. It is a gorgeous place with all the comforts of home and none of the stress!

Raven Cabin
Raven Cabin

This is Raven Cabin. All of the camp cabins are named after the native wild birds. The cabins are incredibly roomy. There is a big common room with a full kitchen, large round table with 6 matching chairs, dozens of folding chairs (in a huge closet), plus a “living room” setting with lots of comfy easy chairs and a couch. The cabin also has four large bedrooms with two bunk beds in each room, and two bathrooms. Whoever designed the bathrooms was a genius because our cabin was full and there were no hassles. One steps into the sink & vanity area of the bathroom, which is quite spacious. There is a door leading to the shower on one side, and a door leading to the commode on the other, so three different people could use the same bathroom at the same time.

There theme of the retreat was, “You Are God’s Masterpiece” and the message was how very much God loves us. With a theme like “Masterpiece” you know we had a lot of God’s best works around us — from the majestic fir covered hills to the sea, and everything in between — including flowers.

Salmon Berry Blossoms2
Wax Flower Blossoms
Salmon Berry Blossoms
More Wax Flower Blossoms

But not all of God’s best things are trees and flowers. God also provides us with sustenance. The food at the retreat was excellent and abundant. I was too busy eating most of it to take pictures of it, but one of our lunches was “high tea” and I knew you would all want to see the table.

High Tea

Each table had a unique tea service. Each table also had a hostess. Our hostess was a lovely teenager whose name I have forgotten, but I will never forget her sweet smile or spirit of service. She poured out the tea, started the conversation and made certain all of the food was passed and shared. I wish I had had that kind of poise when I was her age.

And, in case you think the food was in the least bit nutritious, think again. There was a bit of green salad. There was also a dish of tuna salad and a dish of chicken salad, with bits of bread to make sandwiches, but there wasn’t enough to go around.


Because I can’t eat sweets without protein, I actually left this meal hungry. As far as I know, this was the only feature of the retreat that drew complaints. And the complaints weren’t so much about the fact that there was too much dessert (there’s no such thing as too much dessert), but that there wasn’t enough nutritious food served before the desserts.

One afternoon was dedicated to ministry crafts.  A group of people went to Nigeria last year and taught a women’s group there how to quilt so they could start their own cottage industry to support themselves.  They had a table set up with photos of their visit, plus they had five sewing machines and taught a bit of quilting as they educated us.  There was also card making, a great way to minister to the ill and shut ins.  And — the one that kept me from taking more photos — prayer shawls, where we were taught how to crochet.  I knew how to crochet as a kid, but it had been years so I wanted a refresher course.  I put the camera down and picked up a crochet hook and a ball of yarn instead.

Tina Marie
Tina Marie quilting.

There were also wonderful worship services and we were ministered to musically as well. In every instance I took the camera with me, but I never took any photos. I was too busy listening to the message or raising my voice in song. It was a wonderful weekend. You can see more photos on the Christian Women’s Network San Juan Island blog.

One last flower:

Would You Eat This?

Would you, could you, should you … eat a Viola?  This plant isn’t at all what it seems. The flowers are artificial. The “potting soil” is crumbled Oreo cookies, and beneath the cookie is rich creamy chocolate mousse and Bavarian cream. This I ate and enjoyed. The meal precedi. This I ate and enjoyed. The meal preceding it was substantial and nutritious.
C because the camp is on a hillside and because traveling from cabin-to-cabin and the lodge required going up and down, I actually lost a couple of pounds while I was there. Or maybe it was all the laughter I enjoyed. Or perhaps it was all the enthusiasm I put into the singing. It was a great retreat. I am looking forward to next year.


  1. What a WONDERFUL retreat! You took great pictures, I love flowers so much, especially the Slamon Cherry Blossom . I am very happy for you… everyone deserves a retreat.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us. hugs,shakira

    1. Shakira — I got the name of the flower wrong, too. They aren’t Salmon Berry Blossoms, they are Wax Flower Blossoms.

    1. Akelamalu — there were so many flowers everywhere, we didn’t even realize these weren’t real until we were told we had to eat them for dessert and really looked at the pots!

  2. So, it’s really hard for me to compliment anybody about pansies, but I will say you did a very good job with the colors on your floral photos. By the way, what you call “salmon flower,” I know as waxflower. Nice smell.

      1. Dawg, I didn’t know you were a botanist. I may have to give back the propeller beanie. The “salmonberry” flowers indeed belong to one of the species of waxflower, possibly the Geraldton wax. Waxflowers come from Australia and are close relatives of eucalyptus. Salmonberry flowers are the same color, but both the flower and leaf structure are quite different. Salmonberries belong to the same genus (Rubus) as do raspberries and blackberries.

        1. What the heck are all these things doing looking alike and growing in the same type patches in the woods? That’s just rude!

  3. Wow. Can I come next time?! Those pictures are wonderful. I especially loved the hyacinth. And what a clever dessert with the viola. I guess now I have to figure out what the difference is between violas and violets!

    1. Linda — the retreat, for the three days was only $99.00 — airfare of course would be extra. I don’t remember seeing anything anywhere that said you couldn’t come.

  4. Wonderful retreat and theme! Truly we are God’s masterpiece.
    Such beautiful experience Quilly.
    Amazing scenes and captures as well.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Have a blessed day.

    Daily Living

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I love all the flower pics and have never seen one that is edible like that last pic. What a great idea.
    And you lost weight too! What a special gift for a great weekend!

  6. one can feel from the photos that you had a great time. gorgeous flowers and and edible african violet? phew! 🙂

  7. That sounds fabulous! The pudding planter cracks me up – what a *perfect* dessert for kids, so they’re finally allowed to eat dirt! LOL I’m going to try that for my daughter’s birthday. The gummy worm is the cutest touch, and I never would have thought of it!

    1. Susan — it is indeed a perfect kid dessert. I would have loved it. I used to mix red & green food coloring together in scrambled eggs, then build mayonnaise slathered sandwiches and tell the neighbor kids we were having gopher guts for lunch. They never wanted any.

  8. How beautiful of a place and the flowers were great. I miss living in Seattle – I think it’s a beautiful place!

    1. Cathy — the area is beautiful. I am very content to live here in the San Juan Islands. If you are homesick for Seattle, stay tuned for the Pike Street Market pics.

      1. Cannot wait to see them! I worked downtown the 5 years I lived in the area. 4 years next door to the Federal Building and then almost a year next to the Space Needle! I miss Thai food and teriyaki!

        Thank you for the prayer – I covet those. Really struggling right now.

  9. I would love love LOVE to go away on retreat! And I love love LOVE High Tea! Wow! I never knew retreats could include HIGH TEA!!! Who’da thunk it??? I want to come with YOU next year! But nobody can listen to me sing! I’m sO glad you had such a good time! And such a well spent weekend with God and godly women!

    1. Melli – -when I walked in the room and realized we were having tea, I thought of you immediately, so you were there, in a way. You can come next year, but first you’ve got to get here.

  10. What a lovely time all the way around! The cabins sound perfect, and the flowers are gorgeous.

    I can hardly eat sweets without some protein, too, so I can see that as a problem. Those desserts look so scrumptious, though.

    I’ve heard of dirt cake (or pie or pudding) but never so real looking and with a plant in it. Clever!

    I love the idea of the different work shops.This is giving me ideas for ladies’ meetings.

    1. Barbara — how cool that you are gathering ideas for future events. Here’s a bit more if you’re going to do a flower theme — at the table the evening we had the dirt pudding dessert each of us received a handmade card with the Ephesians 2:10 verse, “We are God’s masterpiece …” and inside there were flower seeds to remind us “to bloom where we’re planted” and even if we’re only a tiny little pansy, we need to be the best pansy we can be.

  11. Awwwe. Thanks so much for sharing your women’s retreat experience! I’m so glad you shared lot’s of joy and laughter with your sisters in Christ! Your flower photos are so vibrant, I could almost smell them through the computer!

    1. Church Lady – -thank you for the kind words. So much happened over this retreat that I did not capture on film. I was too busy capturing it in my heart!

  12. What a great experience, and thank you for sharing the lovely photos with us. Those flower shots are really incredible. I’m jealous because I took some pictures of the cherry blossoms around here, and so many of my shots are blurry. I just don’t have the steady hand that I used to. I may have to invest in a tripod. lol

  13. I am glad you enjoyed your time there fully.
    Weird that they had all that desert and not the nutritions in the meal preceding it. But I guess they learned for the next day 🙂
    Love those flowers. So beautiful!
    Those cabins look cozy.
    Wouldn’t mind living in a place like that 🙂

    1. Nicole — the dessert WAS the meal. It probably would have worked out better if so many of us hadn’t skipped breakfast. And I wouldn’t have skipped breakfast but several women led me to believe the hike down the hill to the dining hall was a horrible idea, and I didn’t want to be late for morning worship, so I ate a banana in my cabin. In truth, the hike down and up isn’t all that bad.

  14. Beautiful flowers shots Quilly!
    It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I just love that blue vase with the wax flowers. It sure gives a homey feel to that window.
    The tea set looks antique. It’s perfect for the quaint cabin atmosphere.
    It’s been a long time since I had one of those ‘dirt’ desserts but oh how heavenly they are.

    1. Carketta — there were several different, beautiful tea sets. I wish I had gotten around and photographed them all.

  15. It warms my heart to read a post like this. I’m happy your photos were backed up; they are splendid! Love the way the cabins are named and so many other tidbits you shared. Nature truly refreshes one’s soul.

  16. Looks like my kind of retreat! Love the topic and the setting looks exquisite to say the least. Your photos get better and better all the time… and that high tea looks awesome even if it does lack protein.

    1. Raven — you’re back! Yay!

      I thought of you often while I was at the retreat — like every time I approached our cabin and saw the sign above the door!

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