Saturday, October 31, 2009


Since the Apple store in Vancouver is 45 miles north, and the only other one is 65 miles to the south, we decided to take my sick iMac to the one in Vancouver. This of course means we need to cross the Canadian/US Border, just 20 miles north of home. As we neared the border, we saw this sign, which tells us how much time we will probably need to get across based on traffic. We, of course, smiled at this because we are proud owners of NEXUS passes, which means we use a special lane that considerably shortens the sometimes intolerable wait times. (Before NEXUS, we waited sometimes close to an hour to get across.)

Once we cross into Canada, there's a Visitor Centre that I've not visited yet, but it looks quite nice. The main difference you notice right away is that the signs to tell you distances are now in kilometers and not miles. Speed limits are also posted in kilometers, so if it says the speed limit is 100, I halve it and add 10% (i.e., 60mph). It was my Spousal Unit who taught me this trick.

You could be in the US, considering all the Starbucks, IHOPs, and other stores that are so totally familiar to us here. The only thing is you can't hand them a buck: they want a loonie (Canadian money) instead. Fortunately credit cards are easy ways around the money problem.

Lots of high rise buildings as we approach Vancouver. The Apple store is located in the Pacific Centre Mall, so we are going right into the heart of downtown. The buses are electric, with wires above them. People seem to use these at a greater volume than we do in the States.

(I have mentioned this before, but you can click any picture to enlarge. I download my pictures in large size and then use the clever sizer to decide how to display them.) We parked in an underground garage that unfortunately didn't have any signs to tell you where you left the car. We carefully checked the few landmarks so we could find our car again. This is our destination, where I went to the Genius Bar. For those who are not Mac owners, this store could be anywhere. Lots of people wandering around in blue or orange t-shirts are the ones who direct you to your destination or sell you some gadget you can't live without, if only you knew.

After finding a coffee shop nearby so I could fortify myself, we waited a few minutes before my name was called for the Genius Bar. We explained the sound my iMac is making, our Genius plugged it in and in the incredible noise of the environment was able to diagnose a defective fan. We already knew this, but we had to leave my baby behind for 3-5 days. We headed back to our car, miraculously located it, and headed home. This next picture is taken at the corner of 11th and Granville in downtown Vancouver. It was the purple and the chocolate that attracted me, I guess.

It is still a fair distance to the US Border crossing, but we headed back south, having made only a few little errors in judgment. Husband had driven virtually all around the building with google maps and knew where to go to find the correct streets. We approached the border with this sign:

The wait times are always longer going across to the States, because they must hire more cranky and suspicious border guards. I don't know what the difference is, but instead of the 25 minutes stated here, we only had to wait maybe two minutes in our special NEXUS lane. We never fail to feel smug as we pass by all the cars waiting forever to get across. I well remember when I would look with envy at those people going so quickly through, which is why we got them in the first place. We had to send them a densely packed four pages of background material, go into their office for a personal interview, be fingerprinted and mug-shotted and then in a few weeks we received our passes in the mail.

They will call us when the fan has been replaced, but until then I am happily using my trusty laptop to keep up with my coffee klatch people and make sure I don't get too far behind! Happy Halloween, everyone! I'm taking my camera everywhere I go today, hoping for some cool pictures to share.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poncho Anderson

Eleven intrepid Senior Trailblazers met at 8:00 (in the dark) to decide where we would hike for our "October Surprise." Since this was scheduled to be our last hike in the High Country for the season, I think we were all a little disappointed with the weather forecast: rain. Almost everyone, including me, was ready with ponchos to drape over our gear (click any picture to enlarge). We have a fairly interesting weather situation here in Bellingham. We are right at the bottom of the Fraser Valley which comes roaring out of Canada and Vancouver, meaning that our weather tends to resemble Vancouver's more often than Seattle's. Here's what Cliff Mass had to say about today's weather, written last night:
A warm front is now approaching our area, bringing clouds and light precipitation. Most of the rain will be done with by 10 AM and there should be breaks tomorrow afternoon. The 24-h precipitation ending 5 PM shows modest rain over the lowlands, with heavier amounts (1.5-2 inches) southwest of the Olympics and Mt Rainer. Nothing major.
Well, of course I told my fellow hikers, and eleven of us showed up to hike in the rain! I told them confidently that by 10:00 or so we would no longer be in constant rain. By the end of the very wet day, after being subjected to numerous comments on the order of "sun breaks?"  and snickers, I had to remind them of this important fact: "A forecast is a forecast; it's not a guarantee." That warm front has still not made landfall, and it's 5:00pm.

We hiked up Anderson Mountain for a round trip of ten miles in light rain, mist, darkness at times, and even some snow (see above).  I had a great time and I hope my ten fellow hikers did, too. It was the first extended hike I've done since I banged my shin way back on October 8th. Today, the 29th, marks three weeks, and I didn't have any problems and did not fall or even stumble. I did notice the slippery spots and made sure that if, by some chance, I did fall, I was NOT going to hit any nasty exposed tree roots. Our lunch spot was very dark, down in the trees, trying to escape the wind and rain:

That's me with my totally cool mittens that allow you to stick your fingers out while leaving them on the rest of your hands. Notice Frank behind me; you can see he's a little wet. And it's, well, a little DARK. We didn't spend a lot of time having lunch, since everyone was very cold. But once we got moving again after lunch, we warmed up pretty well. All in all, it was a great day, and I'm here at home now, happy to be showered and fed, and ready for tomorrow.

We will be heading up to Vancouver in Canada to see a specialist about my iMac. Like I said, it's making sounds it never did before, but since I've got AppleCare and there's a Genius Bar there, we will haul my baby up and let you know what happens. I've got my camera ready to show you what the place is like up there in that other country! Until then.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cyber coffee klatch

Something weird is happening with all of our computers. All this morning I've been trying to figure out what is wrong with my beautiful iMac (I'm now on my trusty laptop). It started making a sound like a bicycle with a playing card in its wheel, i.e., a loud whirring sound that has never been there before. I have spent an hour or two on the phone with Apple. More about that later.

The picture above? I had to download it again since it was ready for my new post on my iMac, but I just LOVED it when I ran across it. This is the way I feel when I'm blogging with all my friends. It's like we are all sitting around a virtual table and talking to each other about our daily lives. It's so immediate. I look forward to seeing what my cohorts have posted today, each with her (or his) own flavor. And then I comment, and I look for their comments on my latest posts. Although it's not likely that I will ever meet any of you, I must say that without a doubt you are important to me. Not just because I feel like I know you, but because you also know about me.

I will use the rest of my time here to answer questions that some of you have asked. First, how is my leg doing? Well, tomorrow will be my second hike on it since I smacked it. There is still some discoloration but nothing compared to the picture I posted at the end of "Fall Colors." The center of the direct hit is still a little warm and tender, but also so much better.

Second, the yarn story. I am waiting for my bank account to be plumped up a little at the first of the month, and then I'll go down to Spincycle and buy a bunch of yarn and a pattern, and tell you what I'm going to make. I intend to make something for Sandy's homeless people as well as something for myself. To tell you the truth, I don't think it will be $42/skein for the homeless, or even for me, but something a little more durable and less pricey. But I will support my local Spincycle people. Maybe once I tell them what I'm going to do they might give me a bunch of unmatched samples or something, and I can get excited about spreading the word.

I have the faintest mental suggestion that someone asked me a question I haven't answered. Judy, I think of you every day when I go to the gym, because I need the Sweetie key chain with my gym pass on it to get inside. (I won it!) Today I bounced around and worked up a good sweat. Then I went for a massage from my favorite therapist.

And finally, the iMac: it's still in the process of going through a "extended testing" to see if any of the hardware shows up as bad. But in the meantime, my husband and I made an appointment and will be heading to Vancouver, Canada, this Friday to visit the closest Apple store to see if they can replace this bad fan. I'm pretty sure that's what it is, because it hasn't changed in intensity since this morning. It will be fun: it's closer to us than the Seattle stores, and it's in downtown Vancouver! Other than having to carry a cumbersome iMac into the store (in its original box, of course) and having to find a place to park, it will be a great adventure! More later.

Tomorrow I'm going hiking in the rain. I'm ready for anything. Rain, hail, just try me! I'm ready.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meditation on yarn

Lately I've been thinking, very seriously, of taking up knitting again (click any picture to enlarge). At the Farmers' Market, each week I've been enchanted with beautiful handspun yarns and I've fondled them a little more with each passing week. The Spincycle Yarn Store has been tempting me the most, so last week I actually looked at some of the yarns with the idea of maybe making something as a meditative activity this fall.

This merino wool/silk blend caught my eye, so I actually looked at the price. Well. So much for meditation: I had to spend a little time catching my breath at the price. I want to know, ladies, is this because it's the best that it costs so much?? It is all local. Here's a short excerpt from their website (under "about us"):
Inspired by the rich colors of their surroundings, and using local fibers, they hand-dye every batch and spin every inch in their messy little studio in downtown Bellingham, Washington. They travel to market on very cute bicycles, hauling all their beautiful yarn and display racks on bike trailers. They are committed to spinning yarn that is both fresh and classic, to inspiring your craft with ever-changing textures and colors, and to advancing the knitting revolution!
I know it's more expensive than most, but to make this little "harf" (hat and scarf combo), I would need three skeins at $42/skein! Is this beyond the beyond or should I shop around? Perhaps I should just mention that I fell in love with the feel of this yarn and had a hard time tearing myself away, although once I looked at the price I wondered if I would be better off, if I want to take up some sort of meditative activity, to attend a yoga class.

My mother used to knit a sweater a week. She taught me to change the way I knit from taking my right hand to throw the yarn over the needle to using my left-hand first finger like a shuttle. It took me knitting an entire sweater to learn it, because the tension is not consistent until you get the hang of it. Maybe it's partly because I miss my mom that I want to remember her by taking up her favorite activity again. Or maybe it's the sun coming up later and going down earlier.

The Spincycle people use local yarns whenever they can, and after learning that they haul their stuff to the market every week on bicycles, I'm pretty sure I should support these wonderful people. What do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2009


credit: Flame Warriors by Mike Reed

While I was wandering around at the Farmers' Market today, my pocket rang. Fishing my cellphone out of my pocket, I was struck by the difference in my (and probably your) life today versus what it was in my grandmother's day. She would not have known what I meant by that first sentence, but you did. As I strolled around in the sunshine, I pondered how, if my grandmother were here how could I explain that difference?

When my husband and I moved up here, we both kept our cellphones, and he got a local number while I kept my Colorado one, to ensure that both our old and our new friends could contact us. We didn't get a landline. It's been almost two years now, and we haven't missed it at all. Our internet connection is wi-fi, and if I want to talk with someone I can't raise on my cell, I use iChat or Skype. We have two laptops and two desktops in our two-bedroom apartment, and we use them all.

The granny in the first picture is Mike Reed's idea of an old lady who incites people on the internet. Some of my fellow bloggers might qualify, but I try to keep it down. But I could if I wanted to! I am connected to a whole cyber world out there that is as real to me as my friends at the gym. I may see my fellow exercisers daily, but when Nancy at Life in the Second Half or Rae at Weather Vane stir up some cyber dust, I'm right there with them.

I blog daily, or almost daily, and if by some chance I leave the house without my cell, I feel totally disconnected. It just wasn't that long ago that I didn't mind walking around without being able to contact someone, or be contacted. How quickly all that changed. When I first thought about getting a cellphone, I remember hesitating, thinking how nice it was to be incommunicado, and now... well, that seems so last century.

When I used to travel internationally for my old job, I would often head to the internet cafe in China, Vietnam, or Thailand if I didn't have connectivity in my hotel room. As the years passed, we chose only to stay in places that offered wi-fi in the room, so we didn't need to go out to connect. Little by little, I found that my entire existence moved from the novelty to the necessity of being connected.

Nowadays I feel a sense of superiority when I see people sitting on the bus reading their twitter accounts, because I don't use that. I also don't use my cellphone to text or to connect to the internet. It's partly because I am feeling so connected now that I don't feel the need. But looking back at where I've come from, it seems possible that I could go down that road someday.  I've got a Facebook page, a cellphone, two computers (one portable), two blogs, and a website.

Just for fun, in re-reading that last paragraph, I wondered how much of it Granny would have understood, and how I would have described it to her. Pardon me for a minute while I do a little yoga.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Short, sweet, Swift Creek

Twelve of us Seniors headed up I-5 and onto the North Cascades Highway to start our trek up the Swift Creek Trail. I should have read this before we headed out (from Hiking Whatcom County by Ken Wilcox):
Despite some recent trail work, portions are difficult, overgrown, and hard to follow. A foot log with cable handline was in place at Rainbow Creek in mid-2006, but a critical bridge was missing at Swift Creek, two miles above Rainbow. Experienced hikers may be able to ford at lower water in mid- to late summer. Check conditions beforehand.
Well, you guessed it: when we got to Swift Creek, there was no way to continue, so we stopped and had an early lunch at Swift Creek and then headed back. One of our hikers had done quite a bit of work on the trail this summer, so he knew where the trail actually veered from the older trail to a more reasonable one. Here's our lunch spot:
A total of about 5 miles round trip. With time to spare, we decided to hike up to the natural hot springs and found a man in the springs (not very hot, if you ask me) who said he had been there all day and was cleaning out the bottom. We then headed back to the cars. After some discussion, we decided to try and find the trail to Rainbow Falls, which started out at a very obviously overgrown trail. Some decided to skip this excitment, while the rest (some of us were afraid we would miss a good picture) bushwhacked through brush and fallen logs for about a half-mile before turning around and heading back down, all without a view of the falls. All in all, I'm counting the day as somewhere near 7 miles. I didn't re-injure my leg and was careful when bushwhacking that nothing hit the left shin. This picture was taken at the "hot" spring.
Although we had no view from the trail, Swift Creek was truly awesome, and the clouds and the colors in the trees were also very lovely. The trail winds through mossy and very beautiful country. Sometimes the ground sprang back at me; it was like walking on a mattress. But the best views were from the parking lot!

At this time of year, the trees on the hillside look almost like they are on fire. Although they are a little past their peak, I was so happy to get this picture before we headed home. At least I only missed one week and will be there for the last hike in the High Country next Thursday.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More about food

Little Darling preschool children learning about making bread (click to enlarge)

Today when I went to get some bread and brownies that are made here at the Great Harvest Bread Company, I saw these adorable little ones (the short people in red caps) and their teacher learning about how bread is made. This wonderful store also offers free samples, and I walk by here every day on my way to the bus. I try really hard not to get too many free samples, but this is where the bread my husband and I both eat comes from. He likes something called "Dakota seed" and I like the whole wheat sourdough. The feeling of family is strong in the store; they know me and call me by name as a "regular."

I've discovered that Bellingham, my new home, and Boulder, my old home, have many things in common. Both have a reputation for being different in food consciousness from their surrounding towns. I got a cup of coffee and asked if the beans are free trade. My server assured me that they are and said that here in Bellingham almost every coffee shop (except for the chains like Starbucks) use free trade coffee. At the Food Co-op where I do the majority of my shopping, everything that is carried in the store is supposedly good for the environment. We have the ability to go to a farm a few miles away and pick our own apples right off the tree. Milk, cheese and yogurt are processed within a short distance of my town (mostly in Bow, WA).

All this is uppermost in my mind right now as I continue reading Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food. Right now I'm reading about how the low-fat craze actually caused people to get sicker and fatter. People followed the dietary guidelines to eat more low-fat foods, and they replaced "bad" saturated fats with polyunsaturated and trans fats. We now know that trans fats really DO make us sick. And Pollan points out that Americans didn't eat less; they just ate the same amount but added more low-fat foods. Here's a telling quote (pp. 51-52):
Play your cards right and you can even get the American Heart Association to endorse your new breakfast cereal as "heart healthy." As I write, the FDA has just signed off on a new health claim for Frito-Lay chips on the grounds that eating chips fried in polyunsaturated fats can help you reduce your consumption of saturated fats, thereby conferring blessings on your cardiovascular system. So can a notorious junk food pass through the needle eye of nutritionist logic and come out the other side looking like a health food.
I'm at the end of Part I (of three), "The Age of Nutritionism," and just beginning Part II, "The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilization." The last part is "Getting Over Nutritionism." I'll keep you posted. But if you're interested in learning more right now, I found this very good interview on NPR with Pollan. It also has a picture of him, which interested me. He looks like he's in very good shape.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Singin' in the rain

During the recent rain, I caught a bus and (heading to Fairhaven and the bookstore) I got off early so I could walk along the bay, with my trusty umbrella and raincoat (and camera). We don't usually get downpours here in the Pacific Northwest. My husband says in North Carolina they called them "frog stranglers" and a friend from Missouri referred to them as "toad chokers" -- both of which seem to refer to rain coming down so hard and fast that the poor amphibians were unable to cope. (He says this is more like six inches in a couple of hours!) But here in Bellingham, we usually have a nice light rain, where it can rain all day and still not add a half inch to the total.

This lone duck was swimming in the bay with nobody else around him, and far away in the distance a ship was alight in the gloom. [I have been informed this is a cormorant, not a duck.] I was pretty comfortable in my gear, except I realized after awhile I should have added rain pants; I would have been a lot drier. No matter, it wasn't cold, and I hummed a little tune as I walked. Not many people out and about in the rain. After walking around and getting pretty wet, I finished the stroll in Fairhaven and went into my local bookstore, then caught the bus back home. The rain was still coming down.

After I arrived home, we had a deluge. Suddenly I heard the rain so loud on the roof it roared, and in the distance, thunder. Then lightning. We went out on the front porch and watched in amazement as we experienced a true thunderstorm here in Bellingham.

After the excitement was over, I nestled down in my favorite chair and picked up the book I bought while at the bookstore, Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. This link goes to Pollan's own description of the book and what he wanted to communicate in it. He sums it all up in seven words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I'm just starting the book, but so far I'm enjoying it very much.

There are worse things than having a good book to read, light rain pattering outside, birds all congregating at my feeders and adding their own background sounds to my day. This beautiful little girl I captured in the rain looks like she's not having any problem enjoying life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Amazing that this plant found enough soil to grow in concrete!

When I left my long-time massage therapist in Boulder, she gave me a wonderful gift of some lavender oil (which she used during my massage), a CD with my favorite tape of all the ones she played over seven years of visits every other week. Best of all, she gave me a little packet of angel cards, which are small little cards with one word written on them. I keep them in a special bowl and every once in a while I draw one out and ponder the message. Yesterday, I received "Resilience."

It has caused me to wonder about what resilience means. In the top picture, I was amazed on one of our hikes to see this concrete bridge with a sprouted plant. I suppose years have passed to blow enough soil into the cracks to give this plant a place to purchase. And it seems to have done a pretty good job of it, too. My longtime boss, Mickey, used to take pictures of nature reasserting itself like this all over the world in his travels. I would see him huddled over a small crack in the concrete and knew that was what he was doing.

We humans are pretty resilient, too. As I watch my leg heal and read about the various illnesses of my blogging friends, as we limp and sniffle and ache -- and recover, I might add, I think about how we keep coming back up after we are down with life's little (and not so little) challenges. Most of the time we do make it at least part way back so we can continue to enjoy life.

Resilience is something my wild birds are needing in the coming months. I wonder if they know about winter or what their experience of life is. I seem to have an abundance of chickadees and goldfinches right now, along with the ubiquitous sparrows and now some nuthatches and woodpeckers are visiting the suet feeder I recently put out. The juncos are beginning to return, and I'm happy to see that they also like to eat the nyjer thistle that drops from the thistle sock onto the ground. I took this picture of one of my favorite chickadees, a chestnut-backed chickadee, yesterday, using the flash. At one point I had six of them all begging me to take their picture (I swear!). (Click any to enlarge.)

Then there is the resilience of our planet, in the face of the onslaught of population pressures that are beyond what I could ever have imagined when I was born 67 years ago. Walking around the Farmers' Market yesterday in the rain, I saw this sign perched against these warty pumpkins, and I realized that if we all treated the earth's resources as finite instead of infinite, we would all be so much better off. Because of the reminder by so many of my blogging friends, I am trying to lessen my footprint on the earth in every way I can. Maybe you can think of something you can do yourself. If everyone did small little things, maybe it will catch on. Probably not in my lifetime, but maybe in the lifetime of your children. Or their children. Thank God for Resilience!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Last night as I was going to sleep, quite without me being able to do anything about it, the poem written by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass about the Jabberwock came to mind. I found myself straining to remember what the poem was, and for some reason I could remember the whole first stanza, and then some:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Do you do strange things with your brain like that? So of course, this morning I googled "jabberwocky" and have been on quite a strange journey ever since. According to Wikipedia, this poem made of nonsense and portmanteau words is considered to be one of the greatest nonsense poems ever written in the English language. In fact, two of the words he came up with have entered the language: chortle and galumph.

And of course I was fascinated by the definition of portmanteau. It is exactly what the name of my blog is, after all: a combination of my name (DJan) with the "ity" word of your choice. I actually think of it being "insanity" but it could also be "sanity" or some other word I haven't thought of yet. Some well-known examples of portmanteau words are "wordplay" (the name of this post), "chocoholic" and "wikipedia," to name a few. Each of the links takes you to the Wikipedia description, which I found to be quite entertaining.

I also remembered the whole Humpty Dumpty conversation, once I got started with this line of thought, that Alice had with Humpty. Do you remember? He discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice. Their conversation has been used to justify lines of thought in more than 250 legal cases, two of them before the Supreme Court. This link will take you to the conversation, if you have the interest.

Language is so much fun! And to find out how completely taken I was with Lewis Carroll's book, I discovered during my journey this morning that I had already made a post way back in March about another character in the Looking Glass: The Walrus. In re-reading the post all these months later, I found that it was another time that I was just beginning to fall into sleep that I thought of that poem.

I suppose this means it's time for me to re-read Through the Looking Glass, don't you think? For those who are interested in the entire poem, the first link in this post will take you there. I thought about putting it in here, but I find the posts I enjoy the most are not terribly long and leave the details to the reader to explore further.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Apartment driveway in the rain

This is the time of year here in Bellingham when the rainbirds start to head south. That's what the old timers call those people who come here in the springtime and leave in the fall, when the rains begin and the days get shorter and shorter. This morning I overslept because the sun doesn't come up until 7:30am these days, and although I'm a morning person and wake up naturally, there must be some part of me that responds to the light, or lack of it.

Did you notice my new updated format? I wanted something that would allow me to change the top picture now and then. I took that picture of Mt. Baker last month and just love it, and Rae told me how to make it fit, so there you have it: my new look. I really love some of the blogs that my friends have, but I can't seem to find all the options that I want to be in one template, and fixing the html is just way too much like work. I found a new template but didn't like the spacing between the lines, so I went into the html to fix it, and boy was it a mess when I finished. This simple blogger template gives me the right spacing, so I think I'll stick with this one for awhile. If any of you have some tips of how YOU manage to create your gorgeous blogs, I'm sure wanting to hear about it.

I missed my Thursday hike. I didn't think it would be such a woeful feeling to skip one week, but when you go every week, it makes skipping one feel like you're an invalid. Invalid: what an interesting word, accent on the first syllable and you gimp around the room; accent on the second and that's what I feel like right now. Although I just got back from the gym, and today was the first time I was able to exercise enough to work up a good sweat, it just wasn't enough.

Which reminds me. The 30 Day Throw Down is now concentrating on exercise: how to get enough and how other people work it into their lives. I am sure willing to give you a tour of my gym, but there are always people working out in it, and I feel unsure about how to get pictures without making people upset at some cheeky broad taking pictures of them. I'll work on figuring out how to do that. I think Robynn (of the aforementioned blog) is temporarily without internet access in California. Doesn't this seem like it's happening a lot lately?

I took this picture looking up at the sky when the sun came out yesterday. The wind and rain are blowing all the leaves off the trees today, so I thought I'd give us a little treat to finish the blog. I'm watching it rain and listening to the wind. Not bad when one is sitting in a nice warm place with a beautiful iMac in front of her!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall colors

Everyone, it seems, is talking about (and posting pictures of) fall  colors. It's that time of year, when everything begins to fire up, so to speak, in flames of red and orange. I was expecting a huge storm this morning, but it looks as if it's heading to California and Oregon first, before it hits Washington on Friday. Every day the forecast changes quite a lot.

Yesterday, thinking that all the leaves will be off the trees from the windstorm and with things not looking all that good in rain, I headed out with my trusty camera and took pictures of some of the most beautiful sights I could find. And oh yes, I made two wonderful purchases at last Saturday's Farmers' Market that I haven't yet shared with my blogging friends, so I'm adding a couple pictures of them in too. These gourds were two for a dollar, and I just couldn't resist their shapes. These two look like they are dancing together, to me at least, and the fall colors through the window behind them also show a distinct change of season. (Click any picture to enlarge.)

Saturday was very cold. In fact, we set a record cold temperature for the date. It was in the 30s during the day and, although the sun was shining, it felt really frigid. I wandered over to Northstar Wool Designs, a table with wonderful hats, most of them felted. (If you don't know what this means, you make something in wool and then boil it, which makes it have a completely different texture and size.) My first experience with felting was when I knit myself a wonderful wool sweater and then took it on a cross-country ski trip. Since I was sweating quite heavily, by the time I got home my sweater was felted under the arms and on the back under my pack. Quite ruined for anything but skiing. But on Saturday, I tried on a beautiful hat and I couldn't make myself take it off. Kim Brooke, the artist, says she only uses merlino wool, which is why the hat is so soft and non-scratchy. I'll use it all through the upcoming winter.

So far, my new Snow Leopard OS is behaving, once we found out that it would freeze when getting ready to go into screen saver mode (something didn't get pushed forward), and now I'm noticing a distinctly faster iMac. Now that we've found the problem, I'm happy we decided to upgrade to this new OS. I'd love to hear what others think of it.

And then, of course, there's the "other" fall colors. I couldn't resist adding one more picture of my leg as of today, in all its glory of color from my fall last Thursday. I will not be hiking tomorrow, because my leg is still recovering, and I'm still icing and elevating, both of which are hard to do when you're on a trek. Next week, I hope.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


What a day. I woke up to my new OS (operating system) of Snow Leopard on my MacBook, which didn't work all that well as my husband tried to get it to stop freezing up solid. Somehow, it got a little better, because I read all my blogs and papers and it didn't freeze up.

Then I went to check on my credit card, since the balance seemed a little high. And guess what? Two bogus credit card charges!! I called my bank right away and canceled my card, but someone didn't take good care of my card, and I've had this one for almost a decade. Dang!

I get to the gym and find that my pass is missing, I lost it somewhere. It's not hard to get a replacement, but dang! Another thing to make my day less than perfect. I got the replacement card, but what did I do with the other one? Only I could have lost it in the first place, by not taking proper care of it.

So I'm disgruntled. And then, the Willow party is tonight, and I forgot to get my tux ready! I've got a date with k.d. lang, and she insisted that I dress in a tux, which I did get together, finally. We've got to get to the Willow Manor Ball before it's over!

So today has been a mixture of really tough stuff and really cool stuff. I see that most of my blogging friends have gone to the ball, and I sure didn't want to be left out!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last one

Okay, just one more post that relates to my leg. Some pictures, and an absolutely wonderful get well card. Linny is one of the women that I jump with on a regular basis at the Drop Zone in Snohomish. She and about three others (Christine, Cindy, Dave) formed a core group of fun jumpers (with about a half dozen others who come and go) that gave me one of the best summers in the sky that I've had in a long time. Until two years ago, every weekend was consumed with teaching the First Jump Course and jumping with students. Rarely did I have a weekend in Colorado to just play in the sky. Now that's all I really care to do.

 Linny, Cindy, Christine, DJan

Yesterday I got a call from Linny at the end of the day to tell me how much they all missed me at the DZ. Of course I was wishing I could be there, but I knew that even going to sit around and visit is dangerous for me, thinking that I am really well enough to make a jump ("well, if I'm really careful and ..."). I've done it before and been sorry. Linny told me she had made me a card and to go check my post office box, which I did. This is what I found.

A puzzle! I opened the envelope and put the pieces on the kitchen table, and went to work. Once I realized that it is a circle, I was able to proceed with quite a bit of speed (like maybe a half hour) to solve it.

Any of these pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them. Apparently Linny is as talented an artist as she is in the air.  And to finish my leg saga, I just now took the ace bandage off to see if I could show how well my leg is doing. You have to remember that Thursday afternoon when I smacked the shinbone, the place where you see a scab had a half-a-softball-sized hematoma under it. (For those who don't know, a hematoma is a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues.)

You can see the marks left by the ace bandage, but although you can see that there is a small amount of swelling, because of the flash you can't see the really awesome coloring that goes from just below the knee to the anklebone. (Maybe this last picture will give some inkling of what I mean.) I suspect that this discoloration will continue for a week or so, but I am now able to walk around normally. On Thursday I thought I would be lucky to be off crutches by now, but it is healing up very fast. By next weekend, if the weather is good, I should be able to go off to Snohomish and get my knees in the breeze (i.e., make a skydive).

Between my blogging friends' good wishes and wonderful comments and my dear skydiving friends (and oh yes, also my Facebook friends), I feel surrounded by love and feel truly blessed. Who could ask for more? I guess I could also mention my beloved husband who fixes me scrumptious steamed veggies and fulfills my desire for a life partner.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Health care

Cartoon courtesy of Seppo Leinonen. Be sure to check out his other great cartoons!
My husband and I have been having quite the experience with our health care coverage lately. We have different coverages, because of moving from Colorado to Washington state, and not being able to deal with the massive extra costs we faced. We are both on Medicare, but I take prescription drugs and he does not. We were on the Humana Advantage plan in Colorado, which was very excellent and only cost us an extra $20 each over and above the Medicare Part B.

Not the same animal here in Washington: the plan we had changed from $20 to $82 (each!) per month, and not very many doctors were willing to take it. Since I was in my initial year on Medicare, I had the option to opt out of the Advantage plan and go back to regular Medicare. So that's what I did. I also joined the Center for Senior Health at St. Joseph's Hospital on the recommendation of several people, and got a Medigap (supplemental insurance) plan from USAA. I also kept the Humana Medicare Part D, the drug coverage. We moved my husband over to Secure Horizons Advantage plan, which seemed like a good idea at the time. The Center for Senior Health will only take Medicare patients, not Advantage patients.

As long as you're not sick, the Advantage plan works well. But he got an ear infection last month and went looking for a clinic that would take the plan. After a long search, he found one and went to it; they gave him antibiotics and all seemed okay. Until it didn't get better, and he went back to the clinic (no doctors there, BTW, just RNs). So they reamed his ear out for a couple of hours, managed to perforate the eardrum, and sent him to a specialist later in the week. So much pain and suffering, and now it's been three weeks, he still has a hole in his eardrum but is now beginning (beginning!) to recover from his treatment. Yesterday he went back to the ENT (ear nose throat) specialist and goes again in two weeks.

And last Thursday I fell on the hike to Rainbow Ridge, really smashed my shin on a tree root, and within minutes it had swelled to the size of a baseball. Very scary. One of my cohorts had an ace bandage, so we bound it up and I walked out (only another half mile or so), elevated my leg once we got to the car, and my fellow hikers stopped at the first grocery store and I hobbled in and got some frozen peas. (These are the best to use, because they are easily broken apart and can be refrozen again and again, although they aren't any good to eat.) Everyone told me I should go to the emergency room. Well, the thought of sitting for hours, literally hours, in an emergency room to have a doctor tell me to use RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), did not sound like what I wanted to be doing. Since this ain't my first rodeo, not the first time this cowgirl's been throwed, I have self medicated. And I don't have any doctor bills, either.

That's the same trusty package of frozen peas draped over my left leg, up on the desk. Today (48 hours after hurting it) I went to the gym and rode the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes and did some upper body exercises. Now, as I write this, my leg is up on the desk, like this, and I'm happy that it appears I've dodged a bullet. But health care in this country is broken, and I'm hoping that something is about to change.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Painful Rainbow Ridge

You may be wondering why the word "painful" is included in this post, but wait, you'll find out. We had a beautiful day, and 15 Senior Trailblazers headed up to Rainbow Ridge, an absolutely gorgeous hike. This view when we made it to the ridge (after about a mile's slog through steep uphill wet and slippery trail), shows Baker Lake in the background and the fall colors in the foreground.

We didn't go very far, but once you are on the ridge, you are actually "there" and enjoying the fantastic view. Weather was great, cool but sunny. Here's a picture of 11 of the Seniors:

I was taking the picture, and three of the slower hikers were still making it up to the ridge, where this was taken. It doesn't show up all that well, but Mt. Baker is behind them.

Look at the colors we saw. Notice a little snow on the side of the trail, which was also present in places as we hiked. We went probably somewhere a bit short of six miles round trip, with some pretty steep uphill and downhill. After gaining the ridge, most of our uphill and downhill canceled each other out. The blueberries were profuse and we ate them as we hiked.

We looked down at this valley as we had lunch. It's so beautiful here, and we really enjoyed ourselves. On the way back down, the trail was very slippery and even treacherous in places. Although I had hiking poles, at one point I slipped and fell forward onto an exposed tree root, scraping my shin, which caused me severe pain. I lay there in the mud for awhile groaning, but then took a look and stood up to see if I could walk. Since I had obviously not broken anything, we resumed our downward hike. Within a few minutes, I was aware that my shin hurt like crazy, and stopped. We were all stunned to see a softball-sized hematoma that was obviously not okay!

One of the hikers, Gary, is a retired nurse, and he had a good first aid kit. We bound up the injured leg with an ace bandage and kept going. When we got to the trailhead, I was not at all shy about laying down by the car and asking my fellow hikers to take off my boots and help me into the car. As we had a long drive, I elevated my leg and as soon as possible got some frozen peas (the best!) onto the shin. Now I am at home, and I've got my leg on the table next to me, with those same frozen peas wrapping around it. I'm going to be okay, but I won't be working out tomorrow!

Here's a last picture of Mt. Baker, after we started back down the trail, some beautiful clouds began to join my favorite peak:

You can click on any of these pictures to enlarge. I am so happy to have had a wonderful, if painful, day in the high country surrounded by such outstanding friends. I'll be okay, don't worry!