Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fourth of July a little late

Me, Holly, Al, Peggy, Mary
Our first "extra" hike of the season was yesterday, Monday, when eight of us headed south to the Fourth of July trailhead. These hikes take us farther away from home and give us a chance to have dinner together before heading back. Only five of us finished it, however, which makes a story all by itself. Here are the five of us, in a picture taken by a fellow hiker: Al surrounded by this newest group of "gal pals."

We had a fairly new (to us) hiker who ended up having some difficulty with the trail, so Jonelle and Steve, who was driving, took him back to Bellingham, and Mary came back with us. Three can fit rather snugly in Al's back seat, so it wasn't too crowded, plus we are all fairly close friends. Holly is back in town for a short while, and Mary joins us on our hikes occasionally. We made it to the best view, which is situated a little below the pass. There are no summit-type views, but the mountains were really pretty.
I think this is Snowfield Peak
These mountains are fairly high. This hike starts at a low elevation and only gets to 3,600 feet at the pass, giving us a total up-and-down of somewhere around 2,600 feet. Since the first part of the trail is fairly flat, the last two miles up are STEEP. I think this hike should be reclassified from "moderate" to "hard." The weather was almost perfect, with a light breeze and temperature in the 70s. As we sweated uphill, that breeze was sublime and made it much more comfortable, although we were in shaded forest most of time.
Diablo Lake from the overlook
Before we headed to Marblemount for dinner, Al insisted that we take a short trip to the overlook above Diablo Lake, which is this strange blue-green color. One of the informative plaques told me this:
As glaciers in the surrounding high country slowly wear down the mountains, the grinding of rock against rock produces a fine silt that meltwater streams carry into the lake below. This "rock flour" suspended in the water reacts with light to give the lake its blue-green color.
I was tired and a little bit grumpy when Al suggested we take this side trip, but I'm really glad we did. It is an amazing view, and I wouldn't have known what I missed. Al did, though, and since he was driving he made the right decision. Then we headed down to Marblemount for dinner.
Toasting our successful hike (Al had coffee)
 Today I have a bit of residual tiredness from hiking more than ten miles and having spent a fair amount of the day in a car getting there and back. I didn't get home last night until almost 9:00pm, after having met the others at 7:15am. Long day! I woke in the middle of the night worried about my garden, realizing that I hadn't watered it. At 5:30 this morning I was out watering, when I spied a beautiful zucchini, my very own produce! Just now I took its picture before I harvested it. These are small zucchini, ready to eat by the time they reach just a few inches long. There will be more to come, and the delicata squash plant has blossoms! Wow, this is fun!
There are so many things going on in my life right now that I feel just a bit overwhelmed. How would I EVER have time for a job these days? My sister reminded me that I'm ready for a haircut, so now I'm off to get that taken care of. And the bird seed has run out... okay, here I go! Hope you are having a great day, thanks for visiting me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another fantastic Saturday

Kevin, me, Elaine, Linny, Christy
Well, it didn't look like I would be able to go skydiving yesterday after all, as the weather was cloudy and not projected to clear in Snohomish until 3:00 or 4:00pm or even later, so I went on my usual Saturday morning walk. We hustled along on a 6.2-mile walk at a brisk pace. I then called the Drop Zone to see if the forecast had changed at all, if there were any predictions for it to clear earlier.

It was Pilot Appreciation Day, and one where all the groups at the Drop Zone would do "Linny jumps," which are some of Linny's signature skydives. I decided to drive the more than 75 miles south to Snohomish and give my contribution to the bake sale designed to benefit the pilots. At least I could get some socializing in.

By the time I got there, at noon, there were quite a few blue spots among the clouds, and we all got excited about the possibility of getting in a jump or two. As I've said before, we cannot jump through clouds, but we can jump if there are clouds around us. We need to still see the ground and know we will miss them. So off we went, the five of us, and made a successful jump, even though the clouds closed back in and we had to spend hours on the ground in hopes of making another jump. The plane, filled with jumpers that went up after us, spent some time flying around looking for a hole, but the jumpers eventually came back down with the plane. You end up paying for having made a skydive, even though you don't actually go. I've done it in the past, but I'm glad I didn't have to yesterday.

Anyway, after awhile the clouds did clear out, and around 4:30 we made another skydive, a very successful one. As I was packing up afterwards, Tyson (the DZO, Drop Zone Owner) sidled up to me and asked if I was up for another one. (I usually leave no later than 5:00pm because of the long drive north.) Tyson said that Kevin would go for another one if I would, so I agreed. I think he said the same thing to Kevin. No matter, we all went up again for what turned out to be the best skydive of the day, and I quickly gathered up my unpacked parachute and gear and headed home.

5-way spider
I made three "Linny" skydives yesterday. To describe what we did on the last jump, it will take a bit of explanation, but I'll try. Those handles you see on our jumpsuits are called grippers, and they give us something to hold onto when we make a formation in freefall. We made six different formations on that jump before it was time to separate and open our parachutes. It is called a "rotating spider" skydive. The person who is in the center to begin with has a person holding onto each arm and one on each leg, making a "spider" formation. When complete, the next formation is a different person in the center and each person takes a different grip. We rotate so each person goes into the center and you have to remember where you are supposed to be on each formation. It's a bit of a brain teaser, but it worked perfectly, so we were all totally excited when we landed, full of smiles.

Linny told me about a jump that she and Christy made last week after I left, which I found really interesting. An older man who had been sitting around all day introduced himself to Linny and asked if he could jump with them. Not knowing anything about him, how experienced he is or whether or not he could actually do it, she grilled him a bit. He calls himself the Colonel. He probably weighs twice what Linny does, but they went up and made a simply wonderful three-way skydive.

It turns out that the Colonel lives in an RV camper and is traveling around the country making skydives. His wife of 32 years recently died of cancer, and he is going around from place to place. He was heading up to Lost Prairie after his short visit at Snohomish. He also jumped at each Drop Zone in Oregon and Washington, on his way to Montana. Linny said that he hands out a card to each person he jumps with, and I want to share it with you.
He calls himself the Colonel and doesn't give any other name. He's got somewhere around 1,200 skydives and Linny said he is incredibly aware and talented in freefall. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet him and jump with him, but who knows what tomorrow might bring? You meet some pretty interesting people hanging around Drop Zones.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Al and his gal pals

Me, Jonelle, Peggy, Amy (and Noriko still hiking up)
Today six Senior Trailblazers showed up for our hike (rated HARD) to Excelsior Pass. Other than Al, we were all of the female variety of hikers. We knew that the route to the summit of Excelsior Pass would be accessible, since Al, Jonelle and Fred had given it a try last Sunday and made it all the way to the pass, but without any view. Al wrote a blog post, complete with pictures, here.

We hit the trail around a quarter after nine, and Noriko decided after an hour or so to hike at a slower pace, since she was beginning to have the beginnings of a cramp in her calf. The rest of us continued on the uphill shady trail before we broke out of the occasional snow patches. The trail was mostly clear, but there were a few segments of snow remaining, although Jonelle and Al said much of it had melted since last Sunday. The sunshine was relentless, once we left the trees. And the glacier lilies:
I know this picture doesn't do justice to the amazing profusion of glacier lilies, which appear for a short while from under the snow fields and are gone again until next year. Once we got to Excelsior Pass, after four and a half miles and 3,500 feet of elevation gain, we had the most magnificent view of one of my favorite sights: Mt. Baker.
I love this mountain. This was taken from our lunch spot. We reached it around 12:30pm, and all of us were ready for a break. We knew that Noriko was still heading up to the pass and that if she didn't make it all the way to the top, we would pass her on our way back down. Our lunch spot had a wonderful breeze keeping us cool the entire time. It was very gratifying to have made it to the summit, after two earlier tries when we had been turned back by the snow.
Although you can't see it in this picture, we had a great view of the mountain while the breeze kept us nice and cool. The view in the other direction was of the Canadian mountains, which is nowhere nearly as spectacular as our Mt. Baker view. But it was so nice to finally have made it to the top. I asked both Peggy and Al to take a few pictures of me to prove that I was there, too. This one (by Al) was the best of them, so I just have to show it to you.
See? It's ME, Mt. Baker, and my pretty 2012 pink sparkly hat. It was one of the best days I've had in quite a while, and now that I've shared it with you, I can head to the shower to wash off the bug spray and sunscreen. Until our next adventure, I hope you are having fun, too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

News from my neck of the woods

From Cheryl's home page
I just finished a wonderful book. I first learned about it last week when one of my Senior Trailblazers, Peggy, told me she was reading the book and was enjoying it immensely. Although she offered me a chance to borrow it from her once she was finished, I was too impatient to wait and went online and ordered it from Amazon for my iPad. Although I first went to my local library, I learned that it already had 150 holds ahead of me! That meant it would be sometime next year before I had a chance to read it. For $13 I could have it right away. Amazon makes it awfully easy to order these things: in less than a minute it was downloaded onto my iPad.

However, it was a good move. The New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner had written a piece that made me even more impatient to read it, not to mention that I'm not exactly a patient person to begin with. Yesterday I finished it and will continue to think about it and read other things by the author.

Cheryl spent three months on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 1995, and the book is about her experiences. She was lost in many ways, since her beloved mother had died at the age of 45 from lung cancer a few years before and her marriage had fallen apart. She decided to hike the trail alone, although she had never even spent a night backpacking prior to this. Her writing style just kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. Although I'm not sure why it took her so many years to finally write this book, I'm so glad she did. If you decide to spring for it, I don't think you'll be sorry, although it's only available in hardback and it's a bit pricey, unless you go the electronic route.

Yesterday here in Bellingham we had a weather record of our own. I've been watching the awful scorching and dry weather that most of the rest of the country has been going through, and I'm grateful for the cooler weather here in the Pacific Northwest. However, yesterday in Bellingham we had the lowest high temperature for the date, by two degrees. It only made it to 61 degrees F (16 C) and was downright cold. We are already a month into the summer season and have had below-normal temperatures for most of it. That said, it's still a better summer than last year. Who knows if this is because of climate change or just normal variation? Hopefully at least some of what we are all going through is not permanent.

And finally, the other news from my neck of the woods is that my fisherman friend Gene has returned from Alaska. He goes up there for around two months every summer to fish on his boat. We not only don't see him at the coffee shop, but his lady friend Paula and his twenty-year-old parrot don't visit us either. Now everybody is back. I sure enjoyed taking this picture.
Paula with Poop-Stain
Gene says that the bird has the best summer of his life, since Gene used to take him to a bird sitter's home and he didn't get a lot of attention. Paula put a cage for him in her place, and he grew quite attached to her, as you can see. Since they don't live together (Paula and Gene), the bird now has two homes and gets plenty of tender loving care. He's also getting on in years and sleeps much more than he did even a year ago. Both of them speculate that he might have had a small stroke, since he has rather abruptly lost his squawk and is much more docile. I don't know, but I am enjoying seeing the three of them reunited at the coffee shop.

Well, as they say, that's the news from Bellingham, the City of Subdued Excitement, my neck of the woods.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nice laid-back day

From Laserbread's Flickr site
I think I'll go spend some time in my treehouse. I found this picture online somewhere and tracked it down to discover it's the work of a guy named Brock Davis, who lists his occupation as creative director (he doesn't say of what) and I have to agree! He said he couldn't make a tree house for his son, so he created a broccoli house instead. I thought it would make an appropriate break from my own garden pictures.

Yesterday was filled with activity. When I first woke and saw that the skies were overcast, making it unlikely that I would be able to skydive, I decided to go on the 8:00am walk. I had already told my friends that they should hope NOT to see me there, because if I showed up it would be because I couldn't go jumping. After some commiseration, we walked a nice brisk four-plus miles, and I noticed that there were breaks in the clouds, showing some blue sky. Because Snohomish is 80 miles south of Bellingham, there was a possibility that the weather there was completely different.

So I came home and checked the web cam at the Drop Zone and saw that the clouds were indeed beginning to lift. Once I got there, it was 12:30pm and the clouds had opened up enough to begin jump operations. My friends arrived and we quickly got ourselves on a plane. By the time we were ready to exit, however, there was a huge cloud over the airport. We were still able to jump by heading over to the alternate landing area. The FAA doesn't allow skydivers to intentionally jump through clouds and the pilot could lose his license, giving us plenty of incentive to follow that rule.

By the time I packed up to go home, I had made three wonderful skydives and had an excellent day. Tired and happy, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the traffic north wasn't too bad in the early evening. (Usually I head home around 4:00pm.) I pulled into the driveway at 7:30pm. A long day, but a fruitful one. Today's forecast is not good, and now that I'm realizing it's likely that the only possible breaks in the clouds will be brief, I'm spending the day relaxing and enjoying myself. I didn't talk to my garden at all yesterday, so that's where I'm heading next. Although Friday was rainy, yesterday was sunny most of the day; I figure my plants must be missing me. Those aphids and slugs were probably glad for my absence, however.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back to Church

Fog at the beginning of the day's hike
Back to Church Mountain that is, two weeks after our first visits. Our Senior Trailblazer problem right now is having only a few hikes in the High Country that are not completely snowed in. Earlier in the week, Al and some other Trailblazers went up to check out today's scheduled hike and decided that it would be good to let it wait a bit, so seven of us headed up to the Church Mountain meadow once again. It's my third trip in less than a month, but the amazing thing is the difference in the snow levels.
By the time we emerged from the trees and reached the beginning of the meadow, where everything was under snow two weeks ago, now the false hellebore is beginning to emerge everywhere, and the sun was shining in an almost-cloudless sky. All these little plants you see here will be many feet high before we head up again. We could almost see the difference in them during the few hours we spent up there before heading back down.
We were in no danger of reaching the summit, or getting anywhere near it, as the trail disappeared under snow. We decided to keep going upwards until noon when we stopped for lunch, finding a nice shady spot on bare ground. The snowmelt during the last period has encouraged me that we will soon be reaching the actual summit of Church Mountain. The views we had were pretty stupendous, and here's the view from my vantage point for lunch.
Al is busy checking his GPS readings while the rest of us enjoyed our lunch. The areas on the ridge are beginning to sprout lots of flowers on the green slopes as they clear from the snow. Looking the other direction from here, we saw Shuksan and Mt. Baker framed through the trees. I must have a dozen pictures of both of them, but I think this one captured our amazing view of Mt. Baker.
We were perched on a ridge overlooking the valley we had climbed to get to this viewpoint. The light breeze coming off the snow was wonderful, cooling us as we ate and gathered our strength. When I walked over to find a better place to capture Mt. Baker, the air coming up from the valley was at least 15-20 degrees warmer! It was like stepping into a sauna. Our actual temperature was probably somewhere around 60 degrees F, but since we have been accustomed to much cooler temperatures, we felt a bit, well, hot. Once we started back to find the trail and head back to our cars, it felt very warm.
I saw my first glacier lilies of the season today. They emerge when the snow finally retreats, and they don't last long. I've gotten pictures of fields of glacier lilies in past years and hope to do the same this season, but for now this single lovely glacier lily will have to do.

All in all, it was a lovely day, with good friends, lots of sunshine (I'm glad I put on sunscreen before I left home), and pretty much perfect weather: cool at the beginning, not too awfully hot at the end. I look forward to at least one more trip up this trail, when we finally get to the summit, a really beautiful place with 360-degree views. We did make almost eight miles of the nine to the summit and back, and covered 2,700 feet of elevation out of the total 4,000 to the top. That will wait for another day. For now, however, I'm ready for a shower to wash off the sunscreen and bug spray!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tired of hearing about my garden yet?

Oh, I hope not, since it's become my favorite activity lately. Here's what it looks like today, mid-July 2012. I took this picture this morning on my way to the bus. You can see my garden neighbor Clint's half-circles of radishes (on the left side of my garden), and my recently planted kale (front row) and two rows of collards behind are all doing very well. Clint put the walkway of wood chips between our plots and it's been working very well for both of us. It looks like I should be getting out there and weeding the grass and buttercup plants out of the garden pretty soon. Here's a closeup.
You are actually looking at three rows of veggies here. In front is a cabbage (lower right) that is suffering a bit from my vigorous application of soapy water to kill the aphids, with a marigold plant and some zinnias in the row in front of it. Then in the middle row are two very vigorous squash plants, my very favorite kind too, delicata squash. In front of them are my carrots, which I planted from seed. The squash plants don't seem to be bothered by any of the critters I'm dealing with (slugs, aphids and little green caterpillars). In the row behind, from left to right, are two brussels sprouts plants that have been attacked by all three pests, and the two black kale plants that have been harvested twice now. On Sunday I went out and gathered enough leaves to bring in and make into kale chips, which were so delicious I almost didn't leave any for Smart Guy. They are easy to prepare: wash and break into small pieces, toss with a bit of olive oil and salt, then bake for 12 minutes at 350. I was amazed at how tasty they are.
In the final row, which you can't see very well in the middle picture, is my zucchini squash plant, which is covered with blossoms. That pretty yellow flower will soon be a squash! I am thrilled with the adventure of growing my own food, even though I didn't think I would need to become such an expert on garden pests. Now that summer has come to the Pacific Northwest, perhaps my Asian eggplant will recover enough to survive. They need full sun, and each blossom that has come out has died so far.

And I am definitely talking to all my plants, telling them how proud I am of them, how much I appreciate their addition to my life. I don't think I want to consider how much each of these plants has cost me (it's not a small amount), but the payoff in delicious food and blog fodder makes it all worth it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Partly to mostly happy

First actual meal made with my garden kale
Well, here I am sitting at the computer writing another Saturday post, when I fully expected to be skydiving by this time of day. It was not to be. All my gear was set out yesterday evening, ready to go, when the phone rang with Linny telling me the news that the weather forecast was NOT looking good for this weekend after all. When she called, we were in the midst of a thunderstorm, complete with lightning and thunder, something we just don't get all that much here. (Linny lives almost three hours south of me, and the weather tends to vary quite a lot over western Washington.)  She suggested we save ourselves for Sunday, hoping for better weather, so here I am, feeling partly to mostly happy with the way the day is shaping up. That kale was absolutely delicious, my first garden greens where I harvested enough for both of us.
Leo on Friday the 13th
Yesterday at the coffee shop, little Leo was very excited to see me when he walked in with his dad. He is one of my favorite people, and the only three-year-old I know who walks right up and begins chattering away with stories of his latest adventures. "I've got new Crocs, you wanna see how high I can jump with them?" I asked if I could take his picture with my iPad camera; he posed for me in the picture above, and then the fun began.
I know it's a little blurry, but he was suspended in the air, showing me quite well how high he can go. He approved of this picture, so here it is for you to enjoy as well. Those Crocs are pretty amazing, especially with such a fantastic athlete in them.

This morning I went on the Saturday walk with my lady friends, but I left my camera in my pack. There was nothing nearly as interesting to me as last week's creative art. However, after the six-mile fast-paced walk, I hightailed it down to the Farmers' Market for some greens. There again I looked for something exciting to photograph, but nothing appeared. So here I am, picture-less for today. I almost went out to the garden to talk to my plants and take a picture, but instead I'm sitting here writing. The sun is trying to make a comeback, so I'll be heading out to the garden to say hello pretty soon. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a day with full sun tomorrow. Hopefully: it is the Pacific Northwest after all!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First time for Goat 2012

Peggy and Terry at trailhead
Last year, the Senior Trailblazers climbed Goat Mountain three times, turned back the first time (in July 2011) because of inclement weather and lots and lots of snow. Today we didn't actually hit the snow until we reached the "meadow" (remember in the Pacific Northwest at this time of year that meadows are often covered with snow) where three of the eight of us Trailblazers decided to stop and have a nice break, while the rest of us soldiered on to the summit.
The "meadow" from Al's blog
We didn't have our usual leader today, Al, so Steve took over the official duties while I was elected to set the pace, which I agreed to reluctantly, mostly because I think Al and I have about the same pace. In the picture above, you can see that the last mile of the hike was very challenging, in lots of snow. Not to mention that this hike is not very long but never lets up in steepness: in a short three miles we climbed almost 1,000 feet per mile, with the last mile in blinding snow. You simply could not have attempted this climb today without sunglasses, it was so bright. Notice that there is not a cloud in the sky.
Terry, Peggy, Jonelle, and Steve (me behind the camera)
Once we reached the overlook, however, the payoff was tremendous. We had a 360-degree view of so many mountains: that is Shuksan behind my fellow Trailblazers, and we had views of Mt. Baker and Sefrit as well. We sat down and had a rather leisurely lunch, even though we were cognizant of our other three Trailblazers who had decided to stay below us on the dry trail.
Terry took this picture of me, which I like very much, showing Sefrit on the left and Shuksan behind me before we headed back down to join our friends. (When we caught up with them, they were ensconced next to a bubbling brook with a lovely view of their own.) We had full sun but a light breeze coming off the snow that made it quite comfortable, but I am sitting here in front of my computer with my cheeks burning from all the reflected sun (even with plenty of sunscreen). Once we joined our friends, we descended back into the lovely shady trees and made our way back down the sun-dappled trail to our cars.
I took several pictures trying to capture the amazing trail that was Goat Mountain today. This comes as close as I was able, but I noticed that as we descended the light breeze would come and go. Since we are not accustomed to hot weather, it was the full sunshine and lack of a constant breeze that made today's hike seem to be more difficult than it normally would. Now that I am back home, however, I look back on a wonderful day, filled with witty conversations and lots of effort as we experienced the outdoors together. I even got some pictures of trillium that are turning lavender with age, but still absolutely beautiful.
I like to think of our Trailblazers as being like this trillium: even though we are no longer in the first blush of youth, we are still showing the world that we are here and happy to be feeling the sun on our petals. It was a great day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A little worse for wear

  The garden 9 June 2012
Looks nice, doesn't it? All green and tasty, with the kale in the second row from the bottom looking ready to be harvested. In the foreground is a brussels sprout plant, with two more on the right-hand side of the kale. Well, guess what I discovered yesterday as I was out watering the plants? ANOTHER garden pest: aphids! The brussels sprouts and cabbage are all infested with them. Since we want to keep this garden as organic as possible, I went online to discover what to do next. My other plants did not seem to be affected at all, and the three squash plants are getting big enough that they don't seem to be as bothered by the slugs.
My first cherry tomatoes, 10 June 2012
Right now I'm only concerned about getting the aphids under control. I went out last night and cut off the worst infestations and sprayed the rest with a mixture of water, vegetable oil and a few drops of dish soap, as suggested on line. I went out there to check this morning and was encouraged. I will stay vigilant and hopefully get them under control. A few ladybugs were making their rounds, and I discovered that they eat aphids. Come one, come all; have a tasty treat on me! Discovering the aphids made me so upset that when I went to bed last night I couldn't sleep, thinking of waging a battle for my cruciferous veggies. At least, as Smart Guy said, they have good taste.
Christy, Dave, Linny, Cindy, me
Our summer has come out in full force. I drove down to Snohomish on Sunday and made three wonderful skydives with my friends. The air was smooth on the ride up, the skydives were fun, and my landings were all good.  I had walked into the Drop Zone office at one point and just caught the tail end of a conversation. A young man said, "See, there she is!" He looked a bit shamefaced and admitted that he was surprised to see someone my age out there jumping and saw me as an inspiration. I was actually pleased and hope I let him know that. I was a little the worse for wear yesterday, though, with a bit of residual tiredness. But hey, I'm almost seventy!
Abigail Alfano in Pine, Louisiana
Finally, I'd like to share a picture sent to me in an email, showing a flurry of activity around Abigail's hand. She was filling her hummingbird feeder, and they had grown so accustomed to her presence that they didn't even wait for her to put the sugar water back into the feeder before taking a sip. Her husband caught this picture, which just simply makes me smile. She said they are so light and airy when they land that she barely feels it. Isn't it marvelous?

Well, this post went all over the place. Thinking of a title was the hardest part, going from garden lice to skydives to hummingbird heaven. I think the garden is a bit worse for wear (but I'm working on it), I am too, a little tired from not sleeping well and making three skydives, but the hummingbirds: they look like they are raring to go! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Photo safari on a perfect July day

Fairhaven walkers
Summer has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, as you can see. This morning seventeen ladies all gathered to walk from the Farmers' Market in downtown Bellingham to the Fairhaven district and up this LONG hill and down again. And what did we see during our time together?
Christen Mattix kitting a rope to the water
We saw this interesting sight: a woman knitting a long rope that stretched way down that hill in the picture above. I remembered reading about her at the Bellingham Herald a while ago, and I was able to find that link, which explains what she's doing. She calls it "urban art." She knits for an hour a day, rain or shine, and will continue until the rope reaches the water.
Here you can see the rope stretching down toward the water; she's got a ways to go yet, and you can see my shadow in the foreground. (My shadow! I almost forgot what it looks like!) On the way back to the market, we walked by this interesting piece of sculpture, which just appeared one day last October with nobody knowing who the mystery artist might be.
I also found a link on the Herald about Grace, and the discussion about whether or not to let her say. Why would anyone want to remove something like this? If this is graffiti, it's the very best kind. When I used to do Bikram Hot Yoga, we performed this particular pose in every class, using the technique of grasping the ankle from the inside, not the outside. I knew immediately that this artist is familiar with Bikram technique.
And finally, I took a picture of these beautiful colorful flowers at the market, after purchasing my week's rations of greens. Now I am home and will fix myself some lunch before I head out to meet Judy for a movie. Tomorrow will be spent driving south to go skydiving, but today has managed to become very full and busy without even trying. Hope you have a safe, cool, and marvelous weekend, too!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Church twice in a week

Bob, Peggy, Karen, Linda, Al (and me behind the camera)
Church Mountain, that is. When we headed up there last Monday, I wrote a post I called "Church Mountain, Take 1." The plan was to go into the High Country to assess the situation for the rest of the Senior Trailblazers, and Al deemed the hike doable by most. But only six people showed up today, and boy was it a day to remember!
Crossing the creek
On Monday we had "sun breaks," but today we had FULL SUN! I am sitting here writing this post with sunburned cheeks, even though I put plenty of sunscreen on them after we hit the snow. It was amazing to me to see how much snow had melted in just three days. I wonder what it will look like in a week or two after lots of sunshine. Here's where we had lunch today.
That's Mt. Baker and the Sisters behind us. I planted myself between the ladies and the gents while we enjoyed our lunch. You could just feel the incredible warmth of the sun being reflected back at us; I immediately pulled out my sunscreen and applied it liberally. Perhaps I should have done that when we started, but I knew we would be in shade until we reached the meadow (there really is a meadow underneath all that snow).
Al took this picture of me, showing Mt. Baker behind me, the sunshine, and my transition lenses as black as they ever get. We enjoyed our lunch without any need for coats, gloves, or anything to keep us warm; it was, well, pretty much perfect. On the descent, once we reached the shade, we were blinded for a few minutes before we adjusted to the dappled sunlight through the trees.
It could not have been much more perfect a day than it was today. We covered somewhere close to 7 miles, since we walked a bit farther on the snow than we did on Monday, but not much more, and the return trip was quick and painless, as we climbed and descended 2,600 feet of elevation. We were all happy to have been together, to have such a beautiful day, and only to have missed our companions who didn't join us today. I wonder if it was because it was the day after a holiday. Whatever the reason, I wish all of our friends could have experienced it with us.
When we reached the trailhead, I had to stop long enough to take a picture of the incredible profusion of wildflowers. Daisies, foxgloves, buttercups, clover, and more are all in this picture. Now that I am home and showered, I realize my garden needs to be watered! It's been two days since the rain stopped. Heading out right now...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day garden

My 7'x23' (2.1m x 7m) plot
I went out this morning in the sunshine, July 4, to see how my garden fared after the steady rain we had all night long on Monday and all day long yesterday. I walked to the bus yesterday morning in full rain gear and was glad for every bit of it. The rain didn't let up until late in the day, giving the garden a real drenching. I found that my plants had all survived and seemed none the worse for wear. Parts of the garden had standing water, but not my little plot. The weather is supposed to be mostly sunshine for the next week or so, and I expect the garden will take off. My neighbor on the left, Clint, put in wood chips between our plots and seaweed all around both his area and mine, hoping to discourage the slugs.
Before I took this picture, I harvested dozens of leaves from the two kale plants farthest from the camera in the middle row. The two healthy plants in front are brussels sprouts. Those two sad plants in the upper right are my well-chewed sweet basil, which the slugs love; the lack of sunshine we've had means they are looking sad in every garden plot, even if they aren't being eaten. Oh, well; this year is an experiment to see how things do, and next year's garden will be planted by a much more informed gardener. I'm learning by doing. Anyway, I had a kale sandwich for lunch today, and it was simply delicious!
Bent Objects by Terry Border
One of my blogging friends, Far Side of Fifty, sent me a bunch of these Bent Humor pictures, with a note saying, "What artists do if given wire and household objects and too much time on their hands." I wanted to share this one and hope that it gives YOU as many smiles as it has given me. Is this what is meant by burning the candle at both ends? Happy Independence Day!