Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lummi Island excursion

On the ferry to Lummi Island
This morning eighteen of the Fairhaven walking group (all ladies, even though men are welcome) met to carpool to the Lummi Island ferry dock and take the 8:00am ferry across to the island. It's not a very big ferry and takes only eight minutes to get to the island, but it's impossible to get to the island any other way. Cindy does this walk a couple of times every year; it's my second trip, although I looked at my old posts and cannot find the first time. (I was going to link it to show the difference in weather.)
We walked around the perimeter of this part of the island
This is a popular seven-mile-long bike or walk on paved roads. The southern end of the island is quite hilly, but the northern part only has a few mild ups and downs. The day was cloudy and we even had a bit of rain towards the end of the hike, but nothing to make us unhappy. Last time it was sunny and I found it to be too hot. Today, not so much, as you can see from the way we are dressed.
I'm not sure, but I think that is Orcas Island in the distance
We walked right on the road, since there is very little shoulder anywhere, but we could see the cars coming from a long ways off and just scooted to the side while they passed us. It was a very pleasant day, and we kept up a brisk pace until we got to the Beach Store Cafe, a very nice restaurant that was able to accommodate our large group quite easily. The food was great, too, but it sure helps the appetite to have a seven-mile walk beforehand.
Purple columbine
The flowers outside the cafe were stunning, with this pretty purple columbine just begging to be photographed. By the time we walked back to catch the noon ferry, it felt a bit warmer and the day just couldn't have been much better. Even though it wasn't sunny, it didn't matter at all and made our fast walking more comfortable. We were all smiles as we boarded the ferry to return to Bellingham.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Start of the summer season

Steve, Diane, Peggy, Kirk, Sharon, Al, Rita, Sue, Carol, Jonelle
Our Memorial Day hike (a few days early), is a short one around Lake Padden's horse trails, and culminates in a potluck party afterwards. Eleven of us showed up for today's hike, and around the same number joined us later, on an absolutely beautiful day. Al has been cleared for any activity he wishes, except for driving until he either has another episode or six months have passed. He's learning the bus system and getting around fairly well. He took the bus to the Senior Center this morning, getting there in plenty of time.
A short break for water and clothing adjustments
As you can see from the way we are dressed, it was warm; actually it was just perfect for the day's hike, and having Al at the front made everything feel like all's right with the world. Someone pointed out a bushtit nest, which I would certainly have missed by myself, plus I wouldn't have known what I was looking at.
Bushtit nest
These birds would sometimes visit my feeders, and I think they are just the cutest little guys. They were nowhere to be seen this morning, but I learned more about their nests here. They are made from moss, spider webs, and grasses, forming a pouch with a small entrance.
Enchanter's nightshade
There were places on the trail that were quite dark because of the deep forest cover, and I just happened to see this patch of something illuminated by the sunlight. Peggy, who knows her plants, said it was a patch of enchanter's nightshade, which of course I looked up online. It will eventually flower, but I was so pleased to catch that moment of light against the darkness.
Finishing up our hike
I am constantly amazed at the beautiful place I've been so fortunate to find here in the Pacific Northwest, with so many trails and nature preserves. After about two-and-a-half hours of exercise, we headed to the reserved pavilion where we would have our lunch. We pulled out our goodies and joined those who came for the food and skipped the hike. A few of the hikers' partners brought their food and joined us. We enjoyed salads galore, from spinach to potato to kale, and sat down to savor a colorful and healthful meal.
Rita's colorful plate
Kirk brought the salad that was such a hit last year, his kale salad with blueberries, cranberries, roasted cashews and, oh yes, kale. Carol brought a beautiful homemade rhubarb pie, Rita brought a cake, but I skipped both of those desserts to enjoy this.
This watermelon came from Diane and Udo; it had been wrapped in foil and carried in ice, so it was cold and crisp and completely delightful. I fear I ate way too much of it, but I figured it was just watermelon, so what could be the harm?
We couldn't eat any more
The space between Peggy and Carol was occupied by me until I decided I just had to get a picture of the aftermath of the potluck. I was so full that it was hard to get up, but I did it just so you, my dear reader, could enjoy this along with us. I think it's appropriate to say it was a FULL day, and now that I am home and relaxing a little more, I cannot thank these wonderful people enough for all that they did to make it such fun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Simple emoticons have evolved into emojis
There is so much to say about these little faces I don't know where to begin. It may seem like I'm starting in the middle of a story, but that's just because it's so hard to get to the start of things. You might have noticed that I always put an emoticon on the last line of my DJan-ity posts, a smiley face (colon-hyphen-parenthesis), which these days is universally recognized. The emoticon has a very interesting history. Here's a list of typeface emoticons. Nowadays, the simple keystrokes to express different emotions have morphed into emojis, a pictorial representation of the keystrokes.

It all started back in 1982 when a Carnegie Mellon professor (Scott Fahlman) was making a wisecrack while giving an electronic lecture. He placed the colon-hyphen-parenthesis afterwards to make sure nobody thought he was serious. Last year, Samuel Muston of the Independent in the UK wrote an interesting article about it all. Here's an excerpt:
With those three little keystrokes, he changed the English language. And not only that – he also changed the way we think. According to a study by Owen Churches in the latest issue of Social Neuroscience, the "metacommunicative pictorial representations of a facial expression" are now so endemic that we respond to them in the same way we would a human face bearing that expression. 
I learned long ago that it's easy to misinterpret the text of an email without hints as to what the author intended to say. These days it's easy to slap in the appropriate emoticon in case there is any possibility of misunderstanding. Plus, I think they're fun. Check out the list of emoticons for entertainment if you're so inclined.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A 4-year-old violinist and today's garden

He's really good and only four
After the usual walk with the ladies this morning, I went to the Farmers' Market, not because I needed anything, but because I wanted to soak up a little local color. I saw this young busker on the corner who was attracting quite a crowd. He played at least four different tunes while I listened, and I saw that his father was keeping an eye on him and telling him what to play next. I asked the dad how old this young violinist is, and he told me that he's four. Then I noticed that he is missing his left hand, but I didn't ask why. He is simply very good, hand or not, so now you've met him, too.
Sugar snaps and bamboo teepee
Now to my garden. I went out there a few minutes ago to check on things, and to show you how much those sugar snap peas have grown since last week. They are already beginning to reach for things, so I bought this bamboo teepee to give them something to latch onto. By this time next week they will have grown onto it, I suspect. One bit is already sending out a tentacle and heading that way. Isn't it amazing?
Joe's Best spicy salad mix
I bought some spicy salad starts and stuck them into the ground. In just a week, they are all looking very good; there must be half a dozen different greens, which I'll be able to identify quite soon. You can see a broccoli plant in the top of the picture, and a few yellow onions here and there looking a little less bedraggled than last week. 
Romanesco broccoli
I was worried that my romanesco was being attacked by bugs, but when I looked closely, there are little buds that I hope are supposed to be there. When I looked at pictures of this plant on line, I didn't see any with little purple buds. Anybody have an idea what they are? It's early in the season, but I am really mystified.

Now that I've had my Saturday exercise and plan to go to a music concert tonight, I am ready to settle into my favorite chair and read. I've got a book I'm trying to get through before I must return it to the library early next week. Hope all is well in your part of the world!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

South Lookout Mountain

Fog and mist for almost the whole day
Although the weather looked like it would clear up sometime during the day, only seven of us Senior Trailblazers set out for a hike that we did for the first time last year, when we had a view. Ten of us went then and discovered that it's pretty darn steep. We were without our illustrious leader Al, and Sue agreed to set the pace for us. I struggled up the very steep inclines and suddenly remembered it from last year. I had conveniently forgotten.
Carol in the mist
Carol pointed out this old snag to me, which was really beautiful and I asked her to help give the picture some perspective. It turned out well, as you can see; the fog gives the picture a mystery it wouldn't have otherwise. I looked at last year's pictures and found I was drawn to it then, although it looks very different.
Sword fern unfurling
I took several pictures of the flowers, rocks, and ferns as I caught my breath with the steep uphill terrain. I was at the tail end of the group, but since there weren't a lot of us, I managed to keep them in sight most of the time. Mike was back there with me and kept me company. The other five did have to wait for us now and then, as Al's pace up those steep inclines would have been more sedate than Sue's.
Our lunch spot
Once we reached this logging road that would take us to the summit, we decided not to go any farther, since there would be no view, and Peggy needed to be back early anyway. We stopped for an early lunch before we began our descent. We could see the summit through the thick clouds, which came and went, giving us an idea of the last mile of the scheduled hike, should we choose to make it. Instead, we decided to turn around.
Rock with lichen
On the way up, Carol, the observant one, had pointed out this pretty rock to me; I might have missed it in one direction but not both. On the way up my thoughts were occupied with just putting one foot in front of the other and managing not to groan too loudly. Although the steepness was challenging on the way down as well, at least I could keep up.
The fog begins to lift
We noticed that the fog and mist began to lift a little as we descended back to the cars. This out-and-back hike looked very different on the return trip, and only a little while after I took this picture, the sun began to peek through the clouds.
Peggy saw this snake slithering across the trail right in our path, so she used her trekking pole to move him to the side. As I went by, I snapped this picture, but I'm not at all sure what kind of snake it is, not being much of a herpetologist. I'll ask Leo when I see him if he knows what it is. Probably a harmless garden snake, I told myself as I hurried by.
Bleeding heart
The forest is full of these beautiful wild bleeding hearts right now, which look very different from the cultivated variety, but they are some of my favorite flowers. By the time we reached the cars, the sun was completely out and the clouds were gone. We covered somewhere less than eight miles, but we climbed and descended well more than 2,000 feet. I'm well exercised for the day and glad to be home with my feet up. By next week we'll know when Al can join us again. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Leo's new passion

Leo and Gene: notice Leo's t-shirt
Leave it to my friends to wear t-shirts that advertise their interests. Leo, it turns out, was going to school yesterday and his dad brought him to the coffee shop before class, to give us all a thrill. He was loaded down with books about snakes, and then Robert (Leo's dad) showed me what Leo was bringing to class for Show and Tell.
Yep, Leo's new pet
I looked at the small burlap sack and wondered what the heck it was, until Robert opened it up so I could see this snake. (Robert was reading the paper and it fortuitously displayed a Mother's Day advertisement.) Wonder what Leo's mom thinks of this latest pet. I wonder who will be feeding him, since I KNOW what they eat! Oh my.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Another stellar weekend

Walking group on bridge
Yesterday it was 75 deg F (24 C) here in Bellingham. I worked outside in the garden after getting home from my regular Friday exercise class. Today, another beautiful Saturday, there was no way I was going to miss the walk with the ladies, because I was already behind in my weekly activity level, as I missed Thursday's hike. And it was a wonderful time, with sunshine galore and all of us happy to be there. We started from the Ferry Terminal and walked around five miles total before stopping for coffee, our usual routine. The picture above was our destination before turning around and going back the way we had come.
It sure is green, isn't it?
Al sent around another email this morning, saying that he is seeing a cardiologist next week for some more tests and is supposed to avoid exertion, as well as being unable to drive until he's cleared to do so. I'll bet he will be hoping for some resolution sooner rather than later. And when it's so beautiful outside! Let's hope that by next Thursday we'll be seeing him on the trails.
My sugar snap peas
After the walk, I went to the Farmers' Market and then headed home to check on my garden. I've planted sugar snap peas in the middle since it would have made four years of planting them in the same place next to the fence, and I have learned that might be why they weren't quite as tasty last year. Once they begin to get a little taller, I'll add some bamboo rods and twine to give them something to climb on. They are one of my favorite garden enjoyments. Those poor little green shoots on the right are my yellow onions, which will be okay if I don't keep walking on them.
Columbines and iris
At the top of the back stairs coming in from the garden, I spied Carol's lovely columbine, with the iris just about to bloom. (She's one of my neighbors with a green thumb. Everything she plants thrives.) Everything looks good in the garden today; it will take another day or two before I figure out if the salad greens I neglected to get into the ground in a timely fashion will be okay. There's lots of activity out there in the community garden with such fantastic blue skies. We haven't had three days of 70+ weather since early last October, but this weekend it will happen. I love it here!