Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Delightful December cards

Birthday cards (top) and Christmas cards (bottom)
I don't send out Christmas cards any more. In fact, I rarely receive any, and the ones I've received this year (along with my birthday cards) all have one important thing in common: they are homemade!!

Not only that, they are gorgeous. And thanks to Far Side of Fifty, who is responsible for the ones on the left, I even received a Christmas letter! I have to say it was a delight, one which I shared with SG, who laughed along with me at the funny parts. Rita at Soulcomfort's Corner is responsible for the card with the candles and the Happy Holidays card in front. I have followed both of these fellow bloggers for simply ages, and they know I am not likely to reciprocate in kind, but they continue to gift me with their thoughtfulness year after year. I am humbled and glad they consider me to be worthy!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Busy time of the year

Mt. Baker Bicycle Club
I snagged this wonderful picture from Love Bellingham on Facebook. It didn't list the photographer, just the bike club, and mentioned how important it is to get exercise at this time of the year to stave off the winter blues. I'm not sure what the lighted house is, but it's just so pretty I had to share with my friends.

The shortest day of the year will occur this coming Friday. The sun will rise here at 8:00am and set at 4:15pm, with a day length of eight and a quarter hours. There's just not a lot of light in the sky, even on clear days (which we don't have many of at this time of year), and it amazes me when I look up from my book and see that the sky is dark, although it felt like the day had just begun! In the summer, the opposite happens, and the days seem way too long.

This coming week is filled with appointments, shopping, and whatever exercise I can fit in. With my yoga classes on hiatus, I feel the need to indulge in my new home practice, which came about from the 100-day yoga challenge I started in September and finished yesterday. I did at least fifteen minutes of yoga each day and now find myself thinking about getting in a bit of stretching before heading off to yet another party this afternoon.

I hope you are staying comfortable and getting into the spirit of the season. My scales tell the tale of my recent indulgences. But I'm not letting it stop me!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Holiday party and hike

Intrepid hikers today
Believe it or not, this large group of Senior Trailblazers showed up to hike six miles along the Lake Whatcom shore (Hertz Trail) before our annual holiday party. It was wild and windy, blustery with buckets of rain falling earlier, but by the time we started out around the lake, the rain had lessened considerably. In fact, for a while it almost stopped. We were in the lee side of the wind, so although it was still blowing, we were not much inconvenienced by it.
Melanie's pretty blue braids
We had plenty of time to enjoy the trip out to the turnaround point, and as you can see from this picture of Melanie, it was quiet and relatively dry at this point. This is one of our favorite easy hikes, flat with a nice trail (which had plenty of puddles today), because we knew that at noon we would be meeting at Dianne's house for our annual holiday party.
Looking out at the lake
Before we turned around to walk the three miles back to the cars, we did notice that the wind was no longer making whitecaps on the lake, so the wind shouldn't continue to be much of a problem. We discussed the weather forecast and that everything was going right along with the forecasts.
Big crowd at Dianne's
Some went home to change clothes or freshen up, and I went back to the Senior Center to renew my membership for next year and also remove some of my rain gear and make myself more presentable. By the time I got there, it was hopping, with all three of our hiking groups bringing lots of food to Dianne's home (that's her, the one on the left of the three red ladies). Her beautiful home managed to accommodate around sixty of us! That's more than we've ever had.
Downstairs room
The entire place was overflowing with people and plenty of us found some room downstairs, where she had set up a spare table. Her home is incredibly comfortable and we were thrilled with her generosity to open it to all of us.
Desserts galore
And oh the food! We had tables groaning with every kind of dishes. This is the dessert table, but there were also lots of salads and quiche dishes, and it seemed impossible we could finish it all. We made a valiant effort. That pretty heart-decorated cake was made by Kirk, a flourless gluten-free chocolate cake, and I brought a piece home for later, since I couldn't find any more room in my stomach, but I still wanted it.
Hikers filling their plates
We partied on for several hours, and then finally made our goodbyes and went off to enjoy the rest of our day. It turned out to be a magnificent and bountiful party, with the best company in the whole world! Thank you, Dianne, for being a delightful hostess in the most splendid spirit of the season. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Season's greetings

The punster strikes again
I received this picture in a text message from my nephew Peter right around Christmas last year (or maybe it was a year or two before), and after a big groan, I then smiled and shook my head at his cleverness. I did have to ask him why THOSE seasonings and not others? I have to surmise it's because they all three have "seasoned" or "seasoning" in their names. I don't think Cajun and Italian seasonings usually go together all that well.

I'll be heading to Florida to visit him and my sister Norma Jean next month. It takes me awhile to gather myself together to travel these days. I spend a bit of time each day giving myself a pep talk and looking forward to those early-morning swims next to Norma Jean in the outdoor pool at her local Y.

It's not that I don't love to be there, but I'm no longer much of a traveler and marvel, when I think back, at how easy it was, once upon a time, to go halfway around the world, several times a year, in pursuit of my old job. My boss, Mickey, is still doing it but I ran out of steam for travel, even across the country, long ago. Thinking about it, though, gives me a little frisson of excitement. My reluctance is beginning to fall away.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lovely outside today

Christmas decorations along the boulevard
This morning I woke to moderate temperatures and didn't even need to scrape ice off the windshield before setting out to join the ladies for our Saturday walk. It's at least 10-15 degrees warmer than it was this time yesterday.

We walked from Woods Coffee at Boulevard Park up the Taylor Street hill, and I struggled up the steepness of it, huffing and puffing and watching the backs of most of my companions get farther and farther away. But then we were at the top, down the hundred-some stairs, and had an easy, nice walk back to our starting point. At this time of year, locals like to decorate the trees and bushes along the boulevard like this. That's part of our group on the left.

There's only a little more than two weeks before Christmas, and even the old grinches like me are beginning to get in the spirit. It was delightful to spend time with each other in the coffee shop afterwards, with lots of laughter and camaraderie. Life is good.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Chuckanut Ridge/Rock Trail Loop

Bob and Victoria
Sixteen Senior Trailblazers met for a wonderful day in the freezing sunshine. Both Bob and Victoria have been traveling a bit, but are now back, looking happy and fit. You can see by the way they are dressed, it wasn't warm, even with full sun. In fact, this morning when I got up to check the weather, it was -5°C (22°F). Brrr! With proper gear, we were able to enjoy being out in the Chuckanuts. Today we went from the Lower Ridge trail over to Gates Overlook, then down the South Lost Lake trail until we met the road where we would hike back to the cars.
Picnic table at Gates Overlook
By the time we reached Gates Overlook, we took the time to use the bathroom and have a quick snack, although it was too early for lunch. We then headed down the Rock trail steps, with lots of sunshine to help keep us (mostly) warm. After just the short stop at Gates, we were again quite cold and walking downhill did little to warm us back up.
Shadows and hikers on the Rock trail
The low angle of the sun and the shape of the rocks made for an interesting shot on our way down to the South Lost Lake trail, where we walked up to the turnoff for Burnout Point. We hiked to the viewpoint where we could see Mt. Baker and the Sisters, about a half-mile longer than the view from Burnout.
The group in front of the majesty
On the left, you can see Melanie making sure I wouldn't miss the mountains as well as the hikers. This was where we all stopped to rest, have lunch, and enjoy the sunshine as much as we could while trying to remain as warm as possible.
Mt. Baker and the Sisters
Then we headed back the way we had come, until we met the South Lost Lake trail again, and continued back to the road. From there, we could decide to visit Fragrance Lake and return that way, or just take the direct route back to the cars.
Frost alongside the trail
In the places where the sun didn't reach, you can see how the frosty plants were decorated for the season. There were moments when I wondered if I would ever warm back up, but I always did, since we kept moving. I had my down jacket that kept me warm when I needed it, but in no time I'd be too warm and had to take it off. After a short hike, we reached the decision point about whether to visit the lake or not.

Everyone seemed just fine going back and skipping the lake, so we ended up going up and down around 2,100 feet (640 meters) during our five-hour hike, covering just under nine miles. We had fitness devices that ranged from 8.75 miles to 10.0, so I'm thinking, based on the way I feel, 9.0 is a good number.
Me at Gates Overlook
Melanie took this picture of me, and I wanted to include it so that all the Trailblazers have been captured for posterity on today's hike. It was a really glorious day; I was pleased by how well all my warm weather gear actually worked! You don't have many December days around here as wonderful as this one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Grey winter skies gone for awhile

Frosty lawn
Well, we finally had a hard freeze. My friend Melanie took this picture yesterday morning: it was 24°F and about that cold again this morning. For the entire coming week, our temperatures are going to be frigid, because of a high pressure dome over the region. It means no rain and sunny skies (not even clouds), making it very cold. Not only overnight, but the temperatures during the day will continue to be below normal.

Considering how mild it's been up until now, our first real wintry blast has been a bit of a shock. I've stopped watering my front porch flowers, and they all look a little worse for wear. But hey, last I checked, it's December and it's supposed to happen!

In some ways, it makes it a little easier to hear the constant Christmas music everywhere I go. Now the holiday seems imminent. It was crazy to hear that same music before Thanksgiving had even occurred, but now... I'm going to be fine with three more weeks of it. Our Trailblazers holiday festivities are a week from Thursday, which is the only party I never miss. It's a good thing, too: my waistline can't take too many, since my ability to resist delicious goodies goes way down at this time of year.