Saturday, October 25, 2014

A new toy is in my future

Red ivy on a downtown building
I took the picture above with my iPhone4S, a now rather dated Apple product and not worth much any more, since the iPhone6 and 6+ have been released. I've been really happy with my phone, although I use it for almost everything BUT a phone. I have been continually amazed at the quality of the pictures I'm able to take, and I'll be eligible for an upgrade in another month. Will I do it? Probably not right away. Even though the camera in the iPhone6 is really outstanding, I made the mistake of watching the keynote from Apple about its latest additions.
Tim Cook explaining about the new iPad Mini and iPad Air 2
And instead of getting a new iPhone right away, I decided to pre-order the iPad Air 2. It is the sixth-generation iPad, and I've got a second-generation one. There have been a lot of changes in the last three years. I vacillated mightily about whether or not to go with the Mini or the Air, and finally decided to order the larger one, since it weighs less than a pound and all the reviews make it sound just perfect for me.

And it's got the same camera in it as is in the iPhone6. However, I've never been one to hold up a ten-inch tablet to take pictures, but that may be about to change. I was told the tablet was shipped by UPS Ground and would be here yesterday, but they lied. I watched out the front window obsessively yesterday, but when it didn't arrive, my enthusiasm deflated down to a normal level. It's arrived in Bellingham, but will sit in the UPS closed office until Monday (I checked this morning). I'm still excited, but instead of getting to know my new toy today, I'll go to the movies with Judy. Monday will be here soon enough.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Old enough to know better, we went anyway

Carol, Peggy, Rich, Diane, Al, Chris, Kirk
It never fails to amaze me when I get to the Senior Center to find that nine other crazy Seniors decided to give today a chance for a hike. Although we were scheduled to go into the High Country, because of the forecast I was sure we wouldn't be doing that, and I was right. Instead, we drove a short distance to  Stewart Mountain to hike the Olsen Creek area. The forecast was for it to be "breezy with showers."
It was dark in the trees, but it sheltered us from the wind and rain
When we started out, it was with a light rain, nothing we couldn't handle. But soon we stopped to add more layers, as you can see in that first picture. Raincoats and rain pants were not quite enough for some. Chris, in the above picture, added her yellow poncho, but I never quite got around to putting on my new red one. Since we were traveling uphill, I was pretty comfy.
Mikey struggling to keep his umbrella in check, Steve helping
And then we were out in the wind. I think it was a bit optimistic to call it a "breeze," since it was sending the rain sideways and gusting to at least 30-40mph. After going a mere two miles, we had a little conference to decide whether we wanted to continue on or turn around. We did the smart thing and turned around. On the way back, I saw just the littlest bit of a view.
Not much view, but it was as good as we got all day
You can see the trees bending in the wind and in the distance Lake Whatcom and farther out, Bellingham Bay. We trudged back through the rain and mud, and once we reached the shelter of the trees, the rain had stopped. By the time we made it back to the cars, having only traveled four miles total, we decided to have our lunch inside the Haggen store at Barkley.
Chris and Rich having a nice warm lunch
The nice thing was that we could get hot soup and coffee to enjoy with our packed lunches, and that's just what we did. It's not often that we get to sit around and talk with everybody at lunchtime; usually on a day like today we are huddled miserably under a tree and making the best of a tough situation, eating lunch as quickly as possible. Not today: we were all relaxed and warm. And it's still early as I finish writing this post, a long time before it's wine o'clock. For once on a Thursday I'm not tired, so I will have to think how I want to spend the rest of this day. The rain started up again, but now I'm actually seeing a little sunshine to go along with it!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkins and rainy days

Big organic pumpkin
Outside the Community Food Coop, they've got another one of those giant pumpkins displayed for us to guess its weight. Here's a picture of the one from last year. I noticed how much it weighed once they told us, but I sure don't remember, or even have a clue how heavy last year's was. I'll probably guess around 500 pounds, what do you think? Maybe 555, some lucky number or something. Certainly not 600, though, it just doesn't look that big to me.

We are supposed to be getting a LOT of rain in the next few days, including (sigh) Thursday. We have had so many wonderful days that I guess I can't expect every Thursday to be sunny and dry. I'll get to try out my new rain gear, which is something I can look forward to... sort of. We had rain and gray skies two out of the three days that I spent last weekend on Vashon Island. Sunday, the day we had to leave, was the first time we got a glimpse of Mt. Rainier from the back porch.
The mountain was out!
I took this from inside, which is why you see those streaks from the window's glare, but I thought it was such a spectacular view that I didn't even care. It's just a memory for me now, a good one one that will keep me going back to the Lavender Hill Farmhouse for many more years, if it comes to pass. My blogging buddies who are now actually friends for life will need to join me for it to mean anything, but I'm hoping this time next year we'll be back together. I really had a great time with these unique characters. The blogosphere has definitely changed my life for the better.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vashonistas meet again

Linda, Jann, DJan, Deb, Sandi
Well, this year we are only five Vashonistas, as Sally had to cancel at the last minute because of illness. We are so sorry she's not with us for our third gathering at the Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island. We are all blogging women who got together two years ago here for the first time, and now I believe we are on a roll! This is such a fine way for us to meet each other as "skin friends," since we already knew so much about each other from our blogs. Links to our previous meetings are here and here.

And for the third time we had our Saturday breakfast at the Hardware Store (a restaurant on the main drag) and now it's a tradition. We also had the same waitperson, and we asked if she remembered us, which is doubtful, considering the number of visitors that come every year, but she didn't let on that she didn't remember us.
The view from the back porch of the farmhouse
It is such a peaceful and wonderful place, and we had a great time last night as we ate Jann's wonderful lasagna and enjoyed some great uproarious laughter together. I just returned from a short walk with Sandi and Deb so I could write this post, but there will be more tomorrow on my other blog. I'm really glad I came and I sure wish the rain would stop so we could perhaps capture a view of Mt. Rainier (which is actually available from one of our previous visits here). You can never have too many views of mountains, can you?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Goat Mountain Fall 2014

On the trail
Seventeen Senior Trailblazers started up the Goat Mountain trail for our third visit this year. We had some fitful stops and starts, but we eventually all got sorted into two groups: a few would try to get to the actual summit of Goat Mountain, rather than the overlook, where we usually stop. I was in the second group, just happy to be getting up into the High Country for yet another wonderful trip, without rain! This is the only day this entire week when we were not expecting rain, and sure enough we stayed dry.
Mushrooms were everywhere, all sorts of them
Since there has been so much rain lately, mushrooms had sprouted out of the ground everywhere. These (above) look almost like slimy loaves of bread. I was hoping that we would have a good view of the surrounding mountains after struggling for almost 3,000 feet of elevation to get to the overlook, but the skies might have been dry but they were certainly not cloud free.
Owen in front of Mt. Sefrit
We were joined today by a new (to me) guy who usually hikes with the other Senior Trailblazer group. Here is is standing in front of Mt. Sefrit, for his first time ever up to the Goat Mountain overlook. He has a wry sense of humor and had me laughing more than once today.
The Goat Mountain summit in snow
By the time we got into the open, we saw that the summit group would be dealing with fresh snow that must have fallen overnight. As you can see, however, the surrounding hills were alive with fall colors, even with gray skies that make it difficult to determine the summit from the background.
The group below me, with autumn in full swing
I wasn't able to capture very many pictures today, as I was struggling the entire way, feeling like my legs had lead in them. I wasn't alone, but those four who decided to try for the summit were only a short distance from the top before they turned around. We used the walkie-talkies to communicate with each other.
Those wonderful fall colors
As we began our descent, we knew that we should meet up by the time we got to the cars, and it all turned out well in the end. Although it was late before we got home (since the daylight hours are so much less than earlier in the summer), I think I can say we were all very glad to get home and enjoy our evening after a fine day in the wilderness. If this precipitation keeps up all next week, we might have just done our final trip for the season, but we are hoping for one or even two more. We'll see. Anyway, it was another great day, but I am sure tired and glad to be home!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What an aurora

From Astronomy Picture of the Day
Part of my morning routine is to read my blogging friends' latest posts, make a quick check of the news of the day, read a few of my favorite comics, and check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day. This is today's picture, and I was simply amazed when I looked at it. I've never before even seen a picture of an auroral corona. Taken last month in Norway by Harald Albrigtsen, the page gives more information about it:
Somewhat uncommon, an auroral corona appears as a center point for a surrounding display and may occur when an aurora develops directly overhead, or when auroral rays are pointed nearly toward the observer. This picturesque but brief green and purple aurora exhibition occurred last month high above Kvaløya, Tromsø, Norway. The Sessøyfjorden fjord runs through the foreground, while numerous stars are visible far in the distance.
Wow! It's such a beautiful picture I figured I'd share it with you, along with perhaps get you in the habit of looking at some fabulous part of our universe each morning. I am always bedazzled by spiral galaxies, mostly, but this... just wow!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Another long weekend, for some

"Homeland Security: Fighting Terrorism since 1492"
Gene was wearing this t-shirt at the coffee shop yesterday, and I thought the message was quite appropriate for the upcoming holiday on Monday: Columbus Day. This is a federal holiday (meaning we won't get mail delivery and the banks will be closed) around the country. I just looked it up for this area, however, and found that the schools will be open and actually, most of the banks as well. There's quite a kerfuffle brewing over Columbus Day here in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle voted this year to change the title of the holiday to "Indigenous People's Day" to honor the contributions of Native Americans on this day, instead of Columbus' discovery of America in October 1492. This led Italian Americans to object, saying (according to this article) that "this is a big insult to those of us of Italian heritage. We feel disrespected. America wouldn't be America without Christopher Columbus."

Sigh. And here in Bellingham, the City Council will vote on an ordinance that would have the date of October 13 designated as "Coast Salish Day." It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. Oh, and on another subject, I have already interviewed two of my friends to follow up with the idea of having a short biography here on the blog (Gene and Rita), but I've still got to write them and get an okay from each, making sure I get the facts right. I'm having fun already!
Sheltered from the rain
This morning, 14 of the walkers gathered in hopes of beating the rain that was on its way. Actually, we had just finished our walk when the heavy rain began. It kept up like this (see it coming off the roof?) for maybe a half hour and then the sun came out! It's one of those October days when sun, rain and clouds vie for dominance. It's that in-between time of year, and we all gathered afterwards for some coffee and conversation. A nice day, actually.