Tuesday, December 12, 2017

All about salmon

Looking for salmon swimming upstream
Last Saturday it was cold enough for frosty streets, so our leader changed where we would have gone to a nice trek from Bellingham to Fairhaven and then on part of the Interurban trail. The trail crosses Chuckanut Creek and at this time of the year, it is possible to see adult salmon heading back to the place where they were born. One or two of my commenters made me realize that the life cycle of salmon is not well known, so here you go!

First of all, this link will give you plenty of details about the seven stages of the salmon's life cycle. But mostly, it's good to know that salmon are born in freshwater before heading to the sea, where they spend the majority of their lives. Salmon live for different numbers of years, depending on the species, and then they head back to the freshwater where they were born to spawn. Spawning is when they begin to make dramatic physical changes and begin the process again. From that link:
Interestingly, salmon in the spawner stage will migrate back to almost the same exact spot where they were born. Species like the Chum salmon will migrate up to 2000 miles to spawn! The distance they go depends on the species and the river. Upon reaching the gravel beds, the females will lay their eggs in the gravel while the males fertilize them with something called “milt.” This spawning “run” occurs during the summer months and provides the best fishing opportunities. 
We saw two adults resting in the water, still alive, but on their way out, having done what they set out to do: return to the spot where they were first born. I learned that these salmon are not good to eat (by humans, at least), but they provide nutrients for other creatures.

Living here in the Pacific Northwest, I've learned to appreciate the varying flavors of several different species of salmon, but my favorite is Sockeye, and I learned that they live the longest before returning home to spawn.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Clear and cold

Fog rolling in
Today eighteen of us ladies met in the cold weather to go for our usual Saturday morning walk. Since it was slippery in spots, our leader, Cindy, decided that we would walk to Fairhaven along Boulevard Park instead of going up the Taylor Dock stairs and down, which would likely be treacherous. Although we had to watch our step, it was just beautiful, and nobody tried to walk fast today, just in case. The beautiful clear day changed, though, as we approached the water, as dense fog rolled in.
Lauren and Cindy walk into the fog
We walked all the way to the Interurban trail in Fairhaven and saw a couple of big salmon resting in the creek waters (no picture, unfortunately) after having spawned and getting ready to die. They were at least a foot or two in length! Then we walked back to our starting point, having covered around five miles. It is definitely cold today and where the low sun doesn't hit, the frost will stay until we warm up a bit.

I am still, every day, surprised by the clarity of vision I now have in my operated eye and am looking forward to the time when I've finished all this eye business and can get distance glasses and see even better. It's wonderful to live in a time when this commonplace surgery is available to people like me on Medicare. I am grateful.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pine and Cedar Lakes, and Raptor Ridge

First light coming through the trees
Eighteen Senior Trailblazers came out today, on a wonderful sunny (but cold) morning to hit the Pine and Cedar trail and make a side trip to Raptor Ridge as well. This is the trail that gives you more than a thousand feet of elevation in just over a mile and a half. Here's a good description of the entire trail. It says that this is "possibly the toughest 1-2 mile stretch in the Chuckanuts," and I have to agree. The last time I did it I thought I would never do it again, but lo and behold, there I was, happy to be there and grunting my way up the steep hill.
Richard helping Lisa over a downed tree
First we headed down the trail to Cedar Lake, and Al wanted to be sure we went to the Overlook, since we would most likely have a wonderful view of Mt. Baker and the Sisters. We had a couple of downed trees that we had to navigate, and after I made it across, thanks to Richard's help, I captured him helping Lisa to make it over. And sure enough, this is what we saw at the Overlook.
Mt. Baker on the left and the Sisters to its right
I have been here many times before, but usually we have no view at all. Today it could not have been better. The still air and sunshine warmed us up nicely, but with the sun so low in the sky all day, it never did feel balmy unless we were in full sun. Like this:
Most of our large group today
No wind, full sun, and happy Trailblazers posing for a picture at my behest. You can see why so many of us came out today; it was perfect weather for hiking in the Chuckanuts, and we had such great company! We are standing here looking in the direction of Cedar Lake, which was simply beautiful on this perfect December day.
Icy boardwalk and ice-covered stick
As we walked carefully on those frozen boardwalks to the lake, I saw this frozen stick looking quite elegant in the water. It was treacherous, walking on those boards, but I was careful not to slip. And then we walked back to the trail and headed over to Pine Lake.
Pine Lake with a little ice
This lake, not far from Cedar Lake, had some ice on it, as you can see here. It doesn't get a great deal of sunshine at this time of the year, but look at those golden trees on the left! Still a beautiful place to visit, even now.
Lou Ann on Raptor Ridge
After a short discussion, we decided to make a side trip over to Raptor Ridge, where we would stop to have lunch. Lou Ann is a fairly new Trailblazers, and I was able to capture her with the sun shining in her hair. If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can also see Mt. Rainier, very faint but definitely visible today. It's rare we actually have a chance to see it.

And then it was time to return to the cars and make our way back down those steep 1.7 miles. My knees did better today than last year, so I am very happy. By the way, I want to apologize to anybody who was waiting for my last Tuesday's post. Obviously, I forgot, and I will try not to let myself get buried so deeply in a book next week that I forget my blogging duties, accidental though it was.

All in all, I only missed one week on the trails, and my surgeon has given me the All Clear to rejoin my usual exercise routine. What a day it was, and I was thrilled to be one of the magical eighteen.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Diamond Jubilee

Making a wish with Lily and Hedi
I had a simply wonderful Diamond birthday yesterday. You can see me here making a wish as I celebrated with my friends. I'm wearing the new vest that Lily gave me, and a beautiful red rose from Hedi. We enjoyed a strawberry cake that was filled with everything but calories, according to Lily (I didn't believe her but enjoyed it no matter how many calories).  Notice I am NOT wearing my glass because my new eye allows me to see incredibly well without modifying the old eye. Oh Joy!
John's cranberry and my chocolate and coconut almond ice cream
My friend John took me to Mallard's Ice Cream Shoppe on a rainy and cold day for me to enjoy a double scoop of the best ice cream in the world. By the time I finished it, I vowed never to eat ice cream again for awhile, feeling more than a little full. But it tasted so good while it was going down.

I received other gifts and many best wishes for the day on Facebook, but these will do for now. What a great thing to have such wonderful friends and family for my Diamond Jubilee birthday! And now I'm sharing it with my other dear friends, my virtual community. Here's a picture of me and SG taken last evening.
Two happy septuagenarians

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 2 post-op

This morning's coffee and my eyeglass
Today I walked to the bus (in the rain, of course) and took myself down to the coffee shop at the usual time. Although you cannot see it well, on my closed iPad are my eyeglasses, sans the left lens, therefore they are now my eyeglass. I am using my glasses so that I can see distance with the old lens, and am now happily using my brand-new intra-ocular lens to see out of my left eye. It's always been my weakest eye, but now it's carrying me along to magnificent vision. I am thrilled with the ability I now have to see clearly at about 18 inches, and it is simply amazing me how bright and clear everything is. I didn't know how much my eyesight had deteriorated. My other eye will be operated on in two-and-a-half weeks, and I am supposed to take it easy this week until I get the All Clear to exercise normally again. That will happen on December 6, so I will be administering three different eyedrops three times a day until then, and then will cut back to two drops two times a day.

I still have missing vision in that left eye, that didn't change, but it's much less pronounced now that I am no longer so awfully nearsighted, with more light streaming in as well. Today after the coffee shop I went to the Y, not to take any classes, but to ride the exercise bike. It's a sitting design, so I didn't have to make any moves that might cause me to raise the ocular pressure in my eye. I'm debating whether it might be all right for me to take a class tomorrow if I'm careful.
Today's hiking group, taken by Melanie
Normally, I would have joined this group, but I couldn't, not today. It snowed a little on these intrepid hikers, and you might not believe me if I told you I wish I could have been there, but it's true. I know how good I feel after I get outdoors in all weather and get my heart rate up. That wouldn't have been a good idea. But next week, after the All Clear, I'll be back!

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I'll be celebrating with my dear friends and hubby, without a whole lot of sugar, but I decided that one thing I really want to indulge in is some ice cream (okay maybe a little sugar), no matter how cold it is outside. So, that will be one present I'll enjoy giving myself.
Melanie also sent me this picture of the always-changing waterfall. Last time I saw it there was hardly any water in it, but that's changed with our recent rainfall totals. I'm hoping to see some of these sights again soon, with new and improved eyes!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

One down, one to go

In the Recovery Room
My faithful partner took this picture of me when they let him come into the Recovery Room. It was not exactly a "non-event," as my friend Joy said when she had hers done, but I felt well taken care of and safe, as the surgeon went about his business. I was the ninth patient of the day, with two more after me before he would be done for the day.

I was glad for the sedative, because I was trembling from fear and cold as I waited for it all to begin. It's a busy place. I watched the light show as he worked. The only real discomfort I felt was when he placed the new lens inside my eye. And now, although I still have some residual happy feeling from the drugs, I can also feel that the eye will be sore once it all wears off and is in need of plenty of rest, so I'll make this short.

But I sure won't be nearly as much of a basket case when I return in three weeks to have the other eye done, because I now know the procedure and am no longer scared. I go back for the post-op appointment tomorrow, when he'll remove the eye patch and give instructions for the interminable number of drops I'll be placing in the new eye. I'm supposed to take it pretty easy until I've gotten the one week checkup. I'll be able to walk and take the bus to the coffee shop, but I think I'll wait until I get the all clear before going back to my regular exercise routine.

I'm looking forward to seeing what I'll be seeing tomorrow! Until then, I'm going to let SG wait on me. He's willing, so why not?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Favorite memories

Long ago and far away
I was sitting in bed this Saturday morning, reading my favorite blogs and thinking about the day, when I realized that I would be writing a post today and had no idea what I might want to write about. Then I began to think about memories I've shared that tell a story of love. This picture was taken a half century ago by my then-husband. That's actually me, with my little son Chris in a Michigan forest in winter. It's a picture I've cherished for many years. It has a feeling of sacred joy, to me, and I vaguely remember being there. We were looking at a bird in a nearby tree.

That wonder and joy still lives inside me, and I begin this season with it rising in my heart. I am thankful for all the little things that give me pleasure, like rising before the sun and making my way to join the ladies for our Saturday walk. Life is good.
Me in front, SG in back
I spent more than a quarter of a century jumping out of airplanes for fun and pleasure, and I met my wonderful partner through skydiving. Although it's now in the past, I'll never forget the fun we had flying our pretty parachutes around after a delightful time playing together in freefall. I cherish those memories and will as long as I live.
Melanie took this picture of us towards the end of our hike
And now, for as long as I can, I'll be spending every Thursday of the summer months hiking in the High Country, grateful for every single day I can do it with my dear senior companions. That's me in front, with Linda, Peggy, Noriko and Bob. In the winter months we still hike, just closer to home, rain or shine. This coming week I'll have to miss it, since I'll be a couple days past my first cataract surgery and will not yet be comfortable spending an entire day outdoors.

I have a pile of books next to my favorite chair, some from the library, some purchased, but all awaiting my attention. Yes, life is good. I hope you are enjoying your weekend, too.