Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Good news about my eyes

Tulip pickers gathering bouquets to sell
This is another picture from my excursion to the tulips a week ago last Sunday. I love taking pictures, I love seeing the tulips, and I cherish my eyesight. Yesterday I went for a six-month checkup with my retina specialist, who is treating my AMD (age-related macular degeneration). A year ago I went to him for the first time, and this, my third visit, included another one of those "dye jobs." My first was exactly a year ago, where a dye is injected into my veins while pictures are taken of its progression through the eye. After the injection, I was taken into a room. The technician took the pictures and put them onto a screen, with last year's photos next to them, for comparison.

I saw all these dark areas on the screen while I waited for the doctor to come into the room. That looked very bad to me, but when he came in and looked at them, he was quite pleased to see that very little had changed since last year. I told him how the dark areas looked scary to me, and he said no, that's really really good. It's the white patches that are not good.

We discussed the changes that have been made in supplement treatment since the conclusion of AREDS-2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study). You can learn about it here. Apparently the supplements that I am taking are considered to be beneficial, except that fish oil has not shown much efficacy (I started taking it twice a day last year), but he said that since I'm already taking it, why not continue, since it's also good for heart health. I will, indeed.

Being able to see is very important to my quality of life, since I couldn't take pictures like that one, or read, or do much of the things that give me so much joy. So I will continue to eat right, take my vitamins, and think positive! Oh, and Happy Earth Day; that would be today.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

First garden starts are in the ground

Looking good after two days of rain
Last week when it was sunny and warm, I went to Joe's Gardens for some starts. I know it's early enough that I could just put seeds in the ground, but I always like to have them a little bigger so that the critters (especially slugs) are not likely to eat them right away. On the left are six red cabbages, in the middle some lettuce, broccoli behind, and the strawberries left from last fall.
Sugar snap peas
Behind the strawberries are the sugar snap peas, and I put a bunch of the actual peas in the ground along with the starts but haven't seen any sign of them yet. Hopefully I'll have plenty, because these were the highlight of last year's garden. And where I had the nasturtiums last year, several plants are coming up and I'll need to thin them, obviously. I also put in some beet starts, but they aren't doing nearly as well as these others; I may have to plant them again. And I also have a package of purple carrots to go into the ground. It's still a little bit too muddy out there to work in the garden, but every day it's a little drier.

I walked almost seven miles with the Fairhaven walking group this morning, and I am pleased to report that my knee is just fine! Last time I did this particular walk, it was sore for two days afterwards. While it will never be healed, I'm glad to see that taking care of my knee is giving me a chance to resume my usual activities without too much pain.

Tomorrow is Easter, and the sun is supposed to return. I'll spend some time in my garden, but mostly I'll take time to be thankful. It's a beautiful time of the year in the Pacific Northwest.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A drippy Anderson Mountain day

A misty, wet day
Well, today only seven Senior Trailblazers showed up to head to Anderson Mountain, a short drive south of Bellingham. The weather was predicted to be, in a word, wet. After we received a half-inch of rain overnight, the thought that maybe we would luck out disappeared when I drove to the Center in a steady rain. The best we could hope for was that it wouldn't be a downpour.
Al and Doug in front of the Big Stump
We walked on the old logging road until we got to the trailhead, which added a mile each way to the hike. As you can see, it wasn't raining very hard in this picture, and Al had even removed his jacket. This is the beginning of the actual trail. We travel through some clearcut areas where the replanted trees are just beginning to flourish.
New tree with raindrops
There are many trees like this one in the clearcut area, big enough to show quite a bit of growth from year to year. Those are raindrops on the needles, which made me wonder if this sort of effect gave people the idea for ornaments. It's naturally decorated.
Mikey and Mel
When we stopped for lunch, the rain had begun to pick up a little more, and it continued to treat us to the usual Pacific Northwest light drizzle: enough so that you needed rain gear and warm clothes, never really stopping for the entire five hours we were out. But no downpour!
Wet trail, lots of mud
I had to take a picture to show how muddy and wet the trail was today. Those regular hikers who didn't show up today will be relieved to see that it wasn't a super wonderful day, but we did get lots of exercise, covering almost eight miles and climbing and descending around 2,100 feet. It pleases me to know that my knee doesn't seem to be protesting too much these days.
This trillium sort of tells the tale: by the time we returned to the cars, we were in much the same condition: a little bedraggled and wet, but glad that we went out into the woods for some recreation and good company. Just like the trillium, we'll turn our faces to the sun, when we see it again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tulip Festival 2014

RoozenGaarde display
Every year since I first moved here, my friend Judy and I have gone to the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley together. This year, however, she's traveling and was unable to go with me. I planned to go on Monday, but since it was such a beautiful day this past Sunday, I decided to drive down there myself. It was also Palm Sunday, and I figured if I started early, maybe lots of people would be in church. No such luck.
Don't they look like fireworks?
The traffic was horrendous. For more than a mile before I arrived at the RoozenGaarde display, I was in a long line creeping to the gardens. I was pleased, once I got there, to see that there would be plenty of parking for all of us, provided free, which was nice. However, it cost $5 to enter the gardens, but it was sure worth it. The clear blue skies allowed me to take wonderful pictures, and the shadows of the trees gave me some wonderful light play.
It was difficult to get pictures without people in them, but in some cases they didn't detract. I heard what seemed to be dozens of different languages from passersby, and everyone was in a very good mood, me included. I found that I got the best photos by letting the strong sunlight illuminate the flowers.
These fields stretched out for miles
I then left the gardens and walked across the street to the amazing fields of flowers, tulips as far as the eye could see. They were right at their peak on Sunday, and I had a hard time trying to decide which pictures to post.
Lots and lots of people
This photo shows you how many people were visiting these gardens on Sunday. I also noticed that the red tulips, when the light catches them, were so brilliant they seemed to be on fire.  After about an hour of walking all over the place and taking more than fifty pictures, I got in my car and headed home. It was a wonderful way to spend Sunday morning.
Me amongst the tulips
A nice woman saw me taking pictures and asked if I'd like one of me, and I was very pleased with this one. I am very fortunate to live in such a place. Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I had never heard of anything like this outside of Holland. This festival continues through April, but you'd better hurry if you want to see them like this!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I sure like my home town

Blossoms, blue sky, and pretty clouds
After the heat of southern California, I continue to wake up in the morning and smile to realize my good fortune, that I live here in the Pacific Northwest. While the larger group of skydivers is still trying to make a new record in Elsinore (this is Day 5), I am content to have gone walking this morning with my usual Fairhaven walking group. Although the walk is open to both men and women, we had 19 women this morning and no men. One might show up once in awhile and feel outnumbered, and then we're back to all women again.
Waiting for the slower walkers to catch up
We went five-and-a-half miles this morning at a brisk pace, then sat in a coffee shop and chatted for awhile before going our separate ways. I know all the women in this group now, and it's fun to try to walk with someone whose pace is just a little faster than mine, so I can get a real workout. We covered those miles at a brisk pace, just under four miles an hour. My knee didn't bother me a bit, which made me very happy.
Flowering trees on the way to the bus stop
Although there was no sun yesterday morning, I just had to capture these beautiful trees in bloom on my way to the bus. It was my first time to see them since I returned home, and they are just spectacular. In no time at all, these blossoms will be replaced with leaves, and I'll have to wait another year to see this display again.

And now it's time to think about my garden, with a trip to the local garden spot to get some starts and seeds on my agenda for today. It's one of the most beautiful times of the year, with the days getting longer and the temperature starting to climb into the sixties. I hope you're having good weather in your part of the blogosphere, too!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oyster Dome 2014

The hike starts up steeply from Chuckanut Drive
Wow. Just wow, for this beautiful, wonderful day. Eleven Senior Trailblazers headed up from Chuckanut Drive to visit Oyster Dome on a day predicted to be "partly cloudy." That's just what it was. As my first day back in Bellingham, I couldn't have been more pleased to be with my hiking buddies in 50-degree weather. After the heat of southern California, it felt like I was in natural air conditioning.
Al having lunch and contemplating the view
Although it was only 11:30, once we ascended the steep terrain, we stopped at Oyster Dome to have lunch and bask a bit in the sunshine. Last December we were in serious rain when we did this hike. It wasn't a lot of fun, as you can see here. But today, although there were a few clouds and when the sun disappeared it got quite cold, nobody was complaining. We had already accomplished the hard climb, and we knew that we would be taking a loop hike and not having to descend down the steep and rather treacherous trail that got us to the Dome.
Lunch at Oyster Dome
We spread out and enjoyed the sunshine for a half hour or so before heading to Lily Lake and Max's Shortcut. When we left the Dome, we were all bundled up and stayed that way while we traveled in the trees, with sunshine dappling the path now and then.
Soaking up the sunshine at Lily Lake
By the time we sat down at Lily Lake, we were just beginning to warm up in the sunshine. It was a nice respite as we watched the local drama going on. An eagle was perched up on the top of an old tree snag, looking for lunch.
Eagle at Lily Lake
Yes, there he is, surveying the lake below him. Some ducks were in the lake having a great time, and we all knew that the eagle was thinking about perhaps swooping down and capturing one. He might have done that after we left, but I didn't want to stick around to see it. We started down Max's Shortcut to Samish Overlook.
Skunk cabbage as it looks today
We saw lots of skunk cabbage on the way. We could also smell them, and we discussed how different the smell presents to different noses. I find it to be rather refreshing, Al thinks it smells rather sweet, and a few others think it's hard to detect. I smelled it before I saw it. It's definitely at the odiferous stage; there are so many of them coming up at once.
Trifecta of trillium
The other sign that spring is definitely here are the beautiful trillium flowers. I saw this group of three and smiled to realize that this is the sign of spring that I look for in the wilderness. They are so beautiful and delight me to no end. Three leaves, three petals, and three of them!
Samish Flats
Finally, we reached Samish Overlook, which also is accessible by car and overlooks Samish Flats. It was such a beautiful day, and a magnificent view, we stopped and spent another half hour just hanging out in the sun, the third time today we took the time to do that. We covered almost nine miles and climbed around 3,000 feet up and down, but everybody was happy and tired by the end of the hike. Who could ask for a better day? Not me! Aaaahhh....

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Holder of a new world record

Before our first jump yesterday
There we are, all nine of us WSOS (Women Skydivers Over Sixty), getting ready for our first jump of the day yesterday. Our coach, Jeff Jones, concentrated on getting us relaxed and gave us a skydive that was well within our abilities. In the back row is, left to right, me, Ronda from Michigan, Hollis (I'm not sure where she's from), Louise from Arizona, Chris (a local), and Alicia from Long Beach. In the front row, kneeling, are Monique (Canada), Sandra (another local), and Caroline from the UK.

To make a record, everyone must be in the pre-designated formation in her own slot, with the proper grip, and we must declare ahead of time whether it will be a one- or two-point skydive. We decided to go with the easier of the two, since we had not jumped together before, and we made the single point with time to spare. It was a wonderful feeling to be under canopy, realizing that we had just set a record. When we returned to the ground, all the husbands and other interested men were there to congratulate us, and we then watched the video and debriefed the skydive. We were so high from the experience that I cannot tell you how happy I felt.

Then we decided to go up and do the same thing again, but add a second point, which means that at least half of the people on the skydive must let go and re-grip again, in a different formation. Well, we had to try twice to get that accomplished,  but we did, and now I am the holder of several different world, country, and state records for Women Skydivers Over Sixty! I snagged a picture off Terry's Facebook page (our vidographer), which is why you see the little marks, but I paid him for some good resolution pictures, which of course I will frame and keep forever.
WSOS World Record 7 April 2014 (by Terry Weatherford)
That's me in the 3:00 position, in purple. My heart is full today, as we all said our goodbyes after a wonderful Skills Camp and Women's Record Day. I will not be returning to Skydive Elsinore, and we all got a bit emotional, but I am so incredibly happy that I decided to come here and make a wonderful beginning to my last season as an active skydiver.
Canopies landing at sunset
I took this picture from the packing area as the sun went down at Skydive Elsinore yesterday. It was a wonderful time, I'm plenty tired and sore, but I couldn't have asked for a better last day at this wonderful Drop Zone, with my friends, new and old.