Saturday, February 6, 2016

Almost gardening time

Rob's in on the right, my neglected spot on the left
A few of the Pinewood Heights gardeners have been busy lately. Not me, though. Rob's section, which is all nicely prepared for planting, is behind that blue bin that is filled with rainwater. Think we've had a little rain lately? Yes! The only things in my section are some white bins, a green watering can, and lots of weeds. Rob makes me look bad.
More rainwater and lots of stuff from last year, plus weeds
Looking across the way from Rob's and my garden areas, however, you can see lots of sticks from Carol's last harvest and a wheelbarrow filled with rainwater. We've got a lot of work to do, but when the sun comes out I get the itch. This will be the fifth year I've planted a garden, with some crops that never fail, and others that never work out. This year I'll stick with cherry tomatoes in case we don't have lots of sunshine, along with strawberries, raspberries (already planted), broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, and some squash.
The center section under Lynn's tutelage
We are very fortunate to have a new gardener, Lynn, who has won awards in the past for her gardens. And earlier this winter this section looked a whole lot more like the above pictures: nothing but weeds before she tackled it. Now, however, it's beginning to look like we will have a wonderful place this summer. I'm actually beginning to feel the urge to get my hands in that soil!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Another day without rain

Steve, Carol, Roger, Chris, Rich
The weather was supposed to be rainy at least in the early afternoon, but eight Senior Trailblazers set out from the Senior Center to hike up the South Lookout Mountain trail anyway. We've done it a couple times before, always in May, so this is the earliest we have done this hike. It's not one of my favorites, because the seldom-used trails are very steep in places and rather challenging.
First signs of snow
We knew we would be climbing steeply throughout the hike, which starts near Cain Lake and then goes pretty much straight up (a total of 2,500 feet of elevation gain and loss) to the top of the mountain. And yes, there it was: the snow that probably fell last night while it was raining in Bellingham.
The light fog came and went
We climbed through dense forest until we reached the road that heads to the top of Lookout Mountain. As you can see, the snow was much deeper as we got ready to leave the safety of the trees.
Just before we came out of the trees
With the iffy forecast, we didn't think we would have a view at all, but instead, we had magnificent views of Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters. Down below us you can see Cain Lake where we began our climb.
The mountains, lakes, fog and trees galore
Wow! That is just one of the most beautiful sights, on a day when none of us expected any view at all. Not only was this unexpected (where was the rain?), but we were fairly confident that any rainfall was not imminent. After all, look at that sky!
A short hike to see what view we might have in the other direction
After a short climb along the road, this picture was taken looking 180 degrees from the last picture, when we were looking at the mountains. This view was overlooking Lake Samish and the interstate that travels between Bellingham and Seattle (I-5).
Lake Samish
We could hear the traffic, even at this altitude, and since it was now after noon, we decided to have lunch here, just out of the breeze. As we made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed our lunch, the fog moved in all around us. Suddenly we had no view at all. As we gathered up our stuff after lunch and began our downward descent, none of these vistas were visible at all. Just dense fog.

But no rain. Covering just under eight miles and all that elevation gain and loss made me feel pretty darn tired as we reached the cars. Another wonderful day, and you will not be surprised to learn that, as we started back to Bellingham, the rain clouds opened up and simply poured! We were inside our warm and cozy cars, smiling to ourselves and congratulating one another at yet another day without rain!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Opening doors

Robert and Gene replacing the doorknob at Avellino's
When I got to the coffeeshop this morning, Gene was puzzling over the new doorknob he had just purchased to replace the one that broke at Avellino's this morning. The real problem was getting the old one off first. After trying various unsuccessful methods, another customer walked up and told Gene where the likely spot to press might be, and before long it was off. Then the only problem was putting in the new one, which was pretty straightforward.

Except that he managed to replace the outside knob and the latch first, and when he pushed the inside knob onto the correct place, the outside knob fell right off onto the pavement. Ooops! We were locked in. It took quite a bit of help from other customers before it was all finished. Fortunately he got help from an arriving customer who pushed the outside knob back on so she could come inside and get some coffee. The phrase "it takes a village" went through my mind as I watched. I was the holder of the flashlight as they worked away.
William at Yoga Northwest
Then I was off to open another kind of door at my Tuesday yoga class. I am now taking a class on Tuesdays as well as Wednesdays, and I am enjoying them both very much. William's class is easier and less challenging then the one Denise teaches, but both are helping to strengthen my back and to regain some lost flexibility. I always prided myself on how flexible I was, but as I've aged that has changed. Both of these yoga classes are designed to be gentle for people with knee and back issues. No shoulder- or headstands. And it's another place where I feel right at home.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

An alfalfa model and a movie

My mama in 1941
My brother was going through some old boxes of papers and found this page from the Kern County local newspaper. My mom wasn't married to my dad yet; that would happen later in the same year, and I was born in December 1942. So I wasn't even a gleam in my dad's eye when this picture was taken.

The caption underneath the picture says: "It Pays to Publicize: Constant efforts by the Kern County Chamber of Commerce and farm organizations placed Kern hay in a topnotch position where it netted highest prices in Southern California markets. Featuring extra-leafy quality, Kern alfalfa brought returns as high as $20 a ton."

Things haven't changed much. Pretty models are still used in much the same way to advertise products. I guess you could say my mom was a hayseed, huh? I simply love this picture.

Yesterday I went to see The Revenant. I'm glad I saw it because now I understand the reason it will garner so many Oscars at the Academy Awards. There are some amazingly beautiful scenes in the movie, but the acting by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy (he truly deserves to win for this performance) made it an unforgettable experience. I wouldn't call this movie wonderful, but it's definitely unforgettable. I'm glad I didn't live through that period of our country's history.

I've got an all-day training session ahead for the Washington Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA) volunteer work I will be doing, so I'll cut this short so I can get out the door for my 8:00am session. Until later, then.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hoypus Hill and Ala Spit

Steve, Al, Bill, Ward, Linda, Chris, Carol, Rich (and I took the picture)
Nine of us showed up today, in spite of the awful weather we had all night long: lots and lots of rain and wind, making today's hike look very unpleasant. But still, as I said last week, you gotta just go with it and see what happens. We drove 45 miles south through a driving rain, making me even less optimistic about the day.
No rain, lots of soft light
But by the time we stepped out of the cars and began our hike, it was beautiful! Although there was no sunshine, there was also no rain. Hoypus Hill is one of our usual wintertime hikes, on Whidbey Island near Deception Pass. Here's a map of the place.
Hoypus Hill and Ala Spit
We started at Cornet Bay, right across from Goose Rock on this map, and hiked around the trails in the middle of the hill, before heading over to Ala Spit, that little finger on the right-hand side of the picture, which was actually accessible as the tide was going out, and there was very little wind as we settled down to have our lunch.
Our view from our lunch spot
You wouldn't know it to look at this picture, but it's NOT black and white. The sun was beginning to make an appearance, and the birds were coming out as well. We were entertained by oystercatchers, kingfishers, gulls, and even an eagle out on the Skagit Bay as we had lunch.
Looking out at the bay while the sky cleared
We enjoyed our lunch in full sun. You can see how the clouds just cleared away and made it very hard to get up and leave afterwards. We don't often linger over lunch during the winter, but we did today. And then it was finally time to start our return trip.
Our trails were well marked
Our final trail takes us by some wonderful Old Growth trees, which I always look forward to seeing. Today was no exception.
Big old tree and a beautiful sky
There is really no way to capture the magnificence of these trees, but that doesn't stop me from trying. This one just kept going up and up, making the end of a wonderful day even more enjoyable. We ended up going nine and a half miles and more than 1,000 feet up and down. I'm allowed to be tired, but I've got a meeting to go to tonight, so I'll stop this right here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bent out of shape to missing her

Kitty at home in my lap
Last week a friend of mine asked me to take care of her kitty in her home for five days while she flew off to Denver. She was leaving the next morning and her original caretaker had fallen through, and she needed someone who would be willing to go over and make sure the cat had enough food and water, clean the litter box, and maybe even sit with her for awhile. I'd never even met the cat before.

I reluctantly agreed, but I woke that night angry at myself for not saying no, for being a pushover once again. That first evening I went over with a glass of wine and sat down in a chair. I had been hiking all day and it felt good to sit down and sip my wine. No cat to be seen anywhere. After a few minutes, though, I saw two wide green eyes assessing me from behind the couch. Cautiously she approached me and before I knew it, she had presented herself for petting. Purring loudly, the cat took to me like I was an old friend. My heart melted and I felt myself begin to smile and enjoy her. (I've been a cat owner in the past, but it's been a long time.)

After doing the duties required of me, I ended up spending several hours with her that first evening, and every day and evening after that. She's been declawed (front paws) and has been a house cat for her entire life, which (I estimate) is somewhere around 8 to 10 years. Not a young cat, but not an old one, either. Her current owner inherited her when the original owner died.

My friend came home late last night, and now I find myself missing the kitty's presence. I changed in just a few days from being angry about it to really wishing I could visit her again soon. I'll talk to my friend to see if I can possibly have visitation rights.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Saturday in January

My morning coffee, ornamented by Zack the barista
Today started out very well, and here it is mid-afternoon and I can safely say it's been a wonderful day. My friend Lynn and I set out from the coffee shop before the sunrise to meet the ladies for our morning walk. The rain was supposed to stay away until around 10:30am, and when we started out it was only overcast. It didn't stop more than a dozen of us from enjoying a lovely five-mile walk with hills, puddles, and eventually rain. Nobody minded all that much.
Whatcom Falls in full roar
We walked up some steep hills I was pleased to see that even if I couldn't keep up with the fastest walkers, I was able to power up the hills without too much huffing and puffing. Usually it's my rear end that gives out first, and today was no exception. My lungs were just fine.
All downhill from here
And then from the high point, we walked back down the hills to the parking lot next to the lake. It was raining by this time, so once we made it back to the cars, we separated to our various homes. I'm not sure anybody stayed for coffee. Once Lynn and I got home (since she lives just a few doors down from me), we changed into dry clothes and headed to the movie theater for the matinee.

We saw Carol, with Best Actress (Cate Blanchett) and Best Supporting Actress (Rooney Mara) nominees for the Oscars, and boy, what a movie it is! I'm really surprised it wasn't nominated for Best Picture, because it's just wonderful. We both sat there stunned at the very moving ending. It's set in the early 1950s and the costumes and period were perfect. Alex Doenau in his review of the movie, summed it up for me:
Carol is a snow globe of a movie: an ornate and delicate piece, frozen in time. Lavishly designed and performed with precision, it’s a love story that deserves to endure.
I hope that everyone has a chance to see it. I'd love to hear what my readers think of it. Now it's time to read this over, review, and hit publish.