Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chalk Festival 2010

Every summer, Bellingham's Allied Arts Festival has a chalk festival, with people of all ages drawing their creations on the downtown sidewalks, with the roads closed and lots of booths set up, selling every manner of art. Prizes are awarded in the chalk festival for each age category. Today I walked around taking pictures of them all, many of them in progress. (Click any to enlarge.) The day was overcast, so the colors showed up really well. Last year, the bright sunshine cast shadows on many of them, but not this year. Sometimes cool, cloudy weather can be beneficial.
This lady was just finishing up her rooster, crowing in the brilliant sunshine. I love blue and purple, my favorite colors, and they are set off perfectly by the bright red, green, and orange, don't you think? This is one of my favorites.
The artist and her friends were admiring this intricate maze, which she had just finished. She was covered with chalk dust, from smears on her face right down to her toes. It must be really challenging to work on these without smearing them, and still making the art, which only lasts a few days, as beautiful as you possibly can.
This owl, with stars and fish, attracted me, too. (Looking at it now, I realize it also has my two favorite colors figuring prominently.) This one has the flavor of the area to me, with all the birds, the fish in the beautiful Bellingham bay, and the brilliant stars of summer.
This one also has the flavor of the area, looks like Mt. Baker to me! It was finished by the time I took this picture, but the nine-year-old artist was probably cleaning himself (or herself) up after the effort. It is amazing that these budding artists are so accomplished. And this last one was created by a 13-year-old artist, which to my eye is every bit as good as any of the others.
There are so many others I could show you, but I restrained myself to concentrate on my favorites from this year. There was also one of Snoopy with the message "Peace" on it that I liked, along with many abstract designs, some promoting organic gardening, and so on. This group is a good representation of the talented artists of all ages from my neck of the woods. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Excelsior via Damfino Lakes

Today, seventeen Senior Trailblazers drove from the Senior Center to the trailhead to Excelsior Ridge via Damfino Lakes (click any picture to enlarge). After driving a ways to the turnoff, we then had to drive on a long winding road for 15 miles before we reached our destination, the trailhead. The hike ended up being almost nine miles long and up and down over 2,300 feet of elevation, so we had all day together. The picture (above) shows us walking the plank over Damfino Lakes. (Why that name? Well, I was told that someone in the distant past asked for the name of the small lakes or ponds, and someone said, "Damn if I know," which of course morphed into "Damfino.")
Whatever. By the time we had trekked through the shady parts, we emerged onto a flat area that led on a gentle uphill to glorious views of my two favorite mountain peaks: Shuksan, seen above, and Baker (still to come). Note that the day was clear, after morning fog and low clouds, and the wildflowers were beyond belief. Stopping to take pictures wasn't easy, because we were anxious to get to the next views.
At lunch we stopped at a place that had views in just about every direction, a nice gentle breeze to keep the bugs to a minimum (yes, they have finally invaded our hikes), and I asked Ward to take a picture of me to show I was really here. This one was snapped as I realized I was entangled in my gear, but you see Peggy laughing on the left and Cindy laughing right above my butt. Some of us wanted to stop in the sun and some in the shade, so this was a perfect compromise.
After lunch, the consensus was that we would hike farther out on High Divide before turning around to return to the cars. Some of us weren't thrilled to keep going, so after a while three of us decided to just stop in the trail and wait for the others to hike out and return to us. While there, I took this glorious picture of Mt. Baker and friends. One person, Pete, was pretty new to me, so we three (including Linda) spent some time learning about each other while the gentle breeze kept the bugs away and we waited for our friends to return.
After a while, I saw, through my trusty telephoto lens, our friends on their way back to us, and this picture shows them heading back, the mountains in the background and the wonderful wildflowers in the foreground. I cannot tell you how magnificent the day really was, but I can't imagine how it might have been a better and more renewing kind of day.
Once we had all returned to being a group again, all seventeen of us disparate and different Seniors headed back to our cars. I snapped this picture just to show you the sky, the trail, the friends, and the flowers that graced my day today. I am overwhelmed with the wonderfulness of today, and I hope I've communicated at least a tiny bit of it to you.

Namaste, my friends.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dirt dives and skydives

Yesterday at Skydive Snohomish, I made four really wonderful skydives. The first two were with Linny and Christine, along with Smart Guy. Somebody showed me these three little guys, barn swallows who have not yet fledged, who have a nest right above the entrance to the bathrooms. Aren't they cute? Soon they will also be in the air showing their stuff. I'll bet they would love to know about "dirt dives," but for them when they leave the nest I don't think they get to come back. It's learn to fly or die.
The next two skydives were a 9-way and a 10-way. When you get as many as nine or ten people paying $25 each to ride up to altitude, we like to see the skydive succeed, so we do what is called a "dirt dive." What skydivers do to help this process is to have a mock-up of the door of the Caravan, as you see here. We learn who will be in what position to create the best exit position to build the first formation as quickly as possible. Here you see the organizer telling each person when to climb out of the airplane, and those left inside the plane are gathered near the door in order to leave as little time as possible between the first and the last to exit. Remember, we only have about a minute in freefall on each skydive.
Now you can see where each person should be when the person in the middle gives the count, so we can all leave together. (That's the person with his leg out.) When the climbout begins, everyone's eyes should be on that person. And if all goes as planned, we should have minimum separation. The formation always builds from the inside out, so once the middle is complete, the others can take their position in the formation.
And then we run the dirt dive out onto the grass, making sure there are no traffic problems to get into your slot. Hopefully the dirt dive will help the skydive to be successful. That guy with his arms out is the camera man; you can see him in the previous picture hanging on the back of the "plane" so he can capture the exit. He has a camera mounted on his helmet that he turns on before leaving the plane.

If the dirt dive is well planned, you can imagine how much it helps the skydive to succeed. On our first one yesterday, we were able to build three different "points" (i.e., make three different formations) before it was time to break off, separate, and track off before opening our parachutes. The second one was ten people, and we made two different formations before it was time to leave.

Today I am a little sore and tired from jumping and packing my parachute four times, but it is a good tired. Ninja Linny and Christine stayed to make probably another three jumps after we left, but I knew we had a good hour and a half drive back home, and I wanted to be sure I wasn't too tired to watch the season premier of "Mad Men." After all, I DO have my priorities.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Farmers' Market 2010

Here in Bellingham during the summer, we are blessed with two days to attend the Farmers' Market, Saturday in Bellingham proper, and Wednesday afternoons in Fairhaven (south Bellingham). This morning, Saturday, I got to the market before the opening bell at 10:00, because my favorite kale is usually gone within minutes from this stand. More than half a dozen people were lined up to get their organic veggies, I was not the only one.
Once I purchased the veggies I could afford (they are not cheap, these organic goodies), I headed over to the fruits and bought a quart of these blueberries. They come in two varieties, and the vendor let me taste them both. One is sweeter; the other is more tart. I went with the sweet ones, but they are both very good. The sun is shining brightly, and I saw this little guy with his parasol, gracing the sunflowers and sign. (As usual, you can click any picture to enlarge.)
As I wandered around the market, snapping pictures, I was told to look for a booth handing out free hugs, but I couldn't find it. I did see this picture, which shows in the background how busy the market was beginning to get, and it had only been open for half an hour. Most people were there to buy, not just to look, judging from the the packages in hand. I was tempted by these tomatoes.
In the far corner, a group of young girls were playing their string instruments to a receptive audience. I stayed and listened for awhile but soon felt it was time to make my way home with my groceries.
On the way out, I saw my friends Gene and Greg, looking like silverbacks with the sun behind them. Gene's parrot must have missed him while he was in Alaska fishing for six weeks (Gene was fishing, not the parrot). Now all seems right with the world with the sun shining, a light breeze, and very pleasant temperatures in the 70s.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Heliotrope Ridge

See that wall of ice behind my fellow hikers? That's Coleman Glacier! Today 14 Senior Trailblazers hiked up three miles or so, close to 2,000 feet in elevation, to the base of Mt. Baker and this incredible glacier on Heliotrope Ridge. The weather was overcast but mostly dry as we made our way through numerous stream crossings (some of which were pretty scary, actually) and up to this glacier. Here's what Ken Wilcox's book says about this hike:
This popular route for hikers and climbers alike offers one of the best places to get up close and personal with a river of ice, namely the Coleman Glacier. For just moderate effort, the scenic rewards are plenty: ancient forest, wildflowers, mountain streams and waterfalls, the Coleman and Roosevelt Glaciers, Mt. Baker, and the Black Buttes.
Well, we couldn't see Mt. Baker or the Black Buttes because we were pretty much inside a cloud for most of the hike, but it made the hiking temperature pretty comfy, especially when compared with last week's nine miles in the sun with twice the elevation gain. Other than the stream crossings, which I found to be a bit daunting, it was a wonderful day! And to share it with thirteen of my most favorite people, well, I do feel quite re-created.
On the trail, I spied some plants with what looked like diamonds right in the middle, when I realized it was the dew and rain congregating right there, giving the impression of jewels. (Click any picture to enlarge so you can get the full effect.) Every time I stopped, even briefly, to take a picture, I was in danger of being left behind by my friends, who have been here before, wanting to get a glimpse of that glacier.
Here's a good picture showing the kinds of decisions we made today. See the tracks through that snowfield? Well, nobody went that way, being pretty sure that the snow underneath has melted enough to make it possible to fall through, and that would be very unpleasant. We either crossed above it or below the snow bridge, hopping across the rocks, with some of us getting our feet wet.
Once we gained the ridge, however, and the glacier was in full view, the fog began to close in! Before long, we had no view of anything, not even of each other, so most of us stopped to have lunch while the braver and more adventurous (all men, I noticed) hiked on a bit farther in the fog. While we sat and enjoyed our break, the fog was so thick that I began to worry about how we would get back down.
After a short while, however, the fog began to lift a little. I got this picture of flowers in the foreground, a waterfall, and the edge of the fog in the background. This beautiful and almost desolate landscape felt so much less so with my companions around me, all seniors, all people I trust and enjoy being out there with. On the way back to the trailhead, we heard a screech and people pointed out to me our visitor: a marmot!
This guy was posing, I swear! Look at the size of him (click to enlarge). He was looking right at me and I think wondering about these two-legged interlopers who keep showing up, looking, and leaving. All in all, it was a wonderful day, and I'm happy to be home after a shower, a glass of wine, and my dinner beside me! I hope you all had as good a day as I had.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Uncertainty of life

This has been another one of those tough weeks for me, with life's uncertainty again making itself known at every turn. First, I put this picture of wildflowers and creek in the meadow from last week's Church Mountain hike in here, because it makes me feel so much better when I look at this delightful scene.

Two days ago I learned that a notable scientist that I had worked with for years in Boulder, Stephen Schneider, died suddenly in an airplane while returning home from Sweden. He was 65. In that "Six Degrees of Separation" mode, I also found that Cliff Mass, whose Washington State weather blog I read daily, was one of his students and wrote a beautiful post about their relationship. Cliff was a summer student at NCAR just before I began to work there in 1979.

And then, today at the gym, I learned that an acquaintance I know from class died when he fell from a ladder. Ben and his wife Karen were regulars at the class, three times a week, and rarely missed unless they were off sailing in their boat. Another couple had missed them and wrote an email to Karen to see if everything was all right. No, it isn't. It was the talk of the class today, and I just can't believe it happened so fast. Karen's children have come to help sell their boat and house and plan to take Karen away to Portland to live with them. It's all so sudden!

It's like the beauty of life, and the fragility of our hold on it, is being driven home to me, just in case I might get complacent and forget that no one is assured another day of life, another breath even. So it makes sense to give thanks for today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

And just now I read Nancy's wonderful post about the power of prayer. I'm not sure this is a synchronous event, but it sure feels warm and welcome in my heart.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Toy Story 3

I just got back from the movies with my friend Judy. We saw Toy Story 3, which amazingly got a 99% freshness rating from Rotten Tomatoes, the highest rating of any movie I've reviewed. I read many of the reviews, and I have to say it was truly an enjoyable movie and I'm not the only one who thinks so. I found a review I especially liked, by Christopher Smith, who said, and I agree,
“Toy Story 3” also is about leaving behind one’s childhood, the knowledge of doing so, and the heartache and exhilaration that can come from it when a way of life is lost and a new one is found. It’s a movie that highlights abandonment issues for the toys in question, and it’s a movie that emotes all of those complex emotions with such sensitivity, you’re once again left with a groundswell of admiration for the skilled people at Pixar, who have an uncanny way of balancing all of this emotional weight with outrageous moments of comedy and action. 
I saw the two previous Toy Story movies, enjoying each of them, but this one, to me, perfects what was begun in the first two. I couldn't believe that I was crying over a bunch of plastic toys as they joined hands in what seemed their inevitable demise. But I was, and I truly enjoyed every minute of the time I spent enthralled in their world.

I especially loved the part where Buzz Lightyear was disabled, and while trying to get him back to normal, Woody and the others flip the wrong switch, turning Buzz into a Latin lover, speaking fluent Spanish and doing the tango with Jessie. That and the scenes between Ken and Barbie are my favorites.

If you want to see a movie that will make you laugh as well as shed a tear or two (or more), you will not be sorry if you see this one. We saw it in 2-D and didn't miss anything, but I suspect it would be lots of fun in 3-D as well. If you go, I'd love to know what you think of it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Four out, four up

Yesterday, ten Senior Trailblazers set out for Church Mountain. Although it had only been three weeks since hiking this trail, our options are still very limited because of the snowpack around some of our favorite hikes. Plus the amount of snow that has melted in three weeks is amazing. I wasn't with them then (I was busy with the dentist), but they didn't make it this far, and you can see that the trail ahead is pretty clear of snow. We hiked up 4,000 feet and covered a little more than four miles, so that's the reason I named the post "four out and four up." (Click any picture to enlarge.)
When we reached the meadow, some of us stayed behind to recuperate, as we had hiked three miles and covered almost 3,000 feet. Here's a picture of Dan sitting by the creek with Mt. Baker behind him. The rest of the group forged on ahead, and we followed them after a quick snack. The area where Dan is sitting has not been clear of snow for long, because everywhere we saw glacier lilies that crop up for a few weeks when the snow has cleared.
This is the first hike this summer where I saw a profusion of wildflowers: phlox, violets, columbine, and what I think are marsh marigolds. False hellibore were everywhere, and I swear they had just burst out of the ground in the last few days. (They are the green broadleaf plants in the first picture on the side of the trail.) After our rest, we followed the other hikers up the last mile.
If you enlarge this picture, you can see the trail we had climbed on our way to the old lookout site. We did cross some snow, but nothing like last week. Oh, and by the way, I had no problem with heat exhaustion yesterday, as it was much cooler, and I was fortified by an electrolyte drink to be on the safe side. The last fifty feet or so of the hike are quite exposed and are really a scramble to the top. But once there, of course I had to ask Al to take my picture.
I am standing where the lookout station used to be. Thinking about how it was constructed all the way up here at 6,100 feet was a little daunting. No trace of it exists any more. After hiking back down to join our cohorts who decided not to make this summit, we then had a little more than four miles and 4,000 feet to descend to the trailhead. It was a long day, but very satisfying and just about perfect weather. A light breeze blew all day, but not enough to make us cold. And, as you can see, the view was just stupendous.

On a side note, about Phoenix, I am still grieving for his loss, but one of the people who lives down below the nest (she calls herself "boonibarb") posted this video on YouTube for us Phoenix lovers who need closure. An arborist braved the tree and got the body down in a backpack (needing both his hands to climb), and if you watch this one-minute-long video as he is lovingly removed from the pack, you can see he was already fully grown and ready to fledge. The body will be sent to a lab to see if the reason for his death can be ascertained.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My last eagle cam

Last night, for no reason that anybody knows yet, this beautiful 11-week-old eaglet died. I have watched his progress since he was born at the end of April, and I loved him. Nobody knows for sure if he was a he or a she, but Phoenix will always be a guy to me.

I showed many of my followers this eagle cam back when the egg was first hatched, because I was thrilled to watch Mom and Dad Hornby, two mature eagles in their twenties, care for this tiny little life, and try to bring him to fruition. Last year, I watched another eagle cam that had three eaglets, and I began to worry about the safety of each one. I stopped watching just before the first eaglet fledged, because I had learned that fledging is a very difficult time in the life of any eagle.

Today I went on a wonderful hike in the wilderness, and I saw, twice, two bald eagles flying overhead, and I thought of Phoenix and the trial awaiting him in a week or two. Then, as I was getting ready to write a post about today's hike, I read my email and found that Phoenix died in the nest last night.

I went to the Facebook page for the Hornby Eagles and learned that his body was taken from the nest and will be autopsied to try to learn the reason for his death. About Monday he began to lose interest in eating, and, well, that was the beginning of the end. I found this page on Vancouver's Time Colonist to give the latest, as of now, that anybody knows.

I'm done with eagle cams. I cannot deal with this, because I've got tears streaming down my face for an eagle I watched grow from a tiny little egg to this beautiful eaglet. I have enough loss and change in my life, and for all of you followers who feel the same as me, I am sorry that I caused pain in your life. As someone said a while back in the chat room on the website, this is not a Disney movie. You can't make it all come out right in nature.

Goodbye, my beautiful Phoenix. May you rise again from the ashes in my heart.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


What makes a day special for you? Is it waking up feeling good, with the sun shining but not too hot? Or is it smelling the coffee as a loved one makes a surprise breakfast?

For me, it's easy. I love to wake up and get a cup of tea, then come back to bed to read what my blogging friends have been up to since I last visited at their place. Today I am recovered from last week's exertions, and the sun rose without any of the marine layer that has affected us since we left the heat wave behind. It was even cold (48 degrees F) on the 14th day of July!! Yes! And by the time I caught the bus to town for my daily workout at the gym, it was almost 60 degrees. Now it's 70 and perfect.

But the best part was finding some of my blogging friends who don't blog every day had put up some new posts. Vagabonde over at Recollections of a Vagabonde (one of my favorites) wrote about what July 14 means to her, being French and all, about her grandfather, and about a song. The post brought grateful tears to my eyes, and I hope anyone who doesn't already know her will visit sometime. You won't be sorry.

Robynn over at Robynn's Ravings is lamenting the way our children up and leave us, with nary a backward glance. She does this with such humor and even a little pathos that I also teared up. Maybe it's just me, today, happy to be alive and counting my blessings. Things sometimes get to me, in a good way.

Even though she's gotten into the habit lately of writing almost every day, Linda at A Slower Pace has become a friend whose journey toward health and wholeness fascinates me, and I smile when I see she's got a post I haven't read yet. What is it about some people who can come through the written word and make me CARE so much?? It's a mystery, but it's another reason I love blogging.

I didn't feel like coming home right away after my workout and shower, so I caught the bus to Fairhaven, a short ride to the southern part of Bellingham. It's always fun for me to go to the Village Bookstore. I hardly need an excuse, but I rummaged around for books that have been recommended on blog posts. Somebody (I don't remember who at the moment) suggested Harlan Coben, a mystery writer I've never read before, so I picked up a used book to give him a try. I ordered 7 Secrets of Synchronicity after reading Trish and Rob MacGregor's blog for a while (they wrote it).

My life is very full for many reasons, not the least of which is my connection to the blogosphere and to my many virtual friends around the world. Some people use Facebook in the same way, but to me it's not the same at all. I also have a Facebook page, but I use it to catch up with old friends and family members, not new and deliciously exciting new acquaintances. I've only given you a taste of some of those who are over on the right-hand side of my blog, "Fun Places to Visit."

You light up my life. Really.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend recovery mode

After spending Saturday and Sunday at the Drop Zone jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (a total of six jumps, three each day) mostly with these two women, Ninja Linny on the left, and Christine on the right, I am pretty darn wiped out.

You might wonder why I called Linny "Ninja," but here's why. She's only five years younger than me in years, but the stamina this woman has would wear out most people, not just me. On Saturday she made seven jumps and packed her parachute in full sun, and made another five or so on Sunday. I'm not sure, because by the time I had made three, I went home, sore and tired, with my parachute unpacked. (I just got it packed up for next weekend.) Christine told me yesterday that she would not be jumping nearly as much as she is if it weren't for Linny. This amazing woman not only works two jobs, but she never shows up at the Drop Zone without homemade goodies, usually still warm from her oven. And then she organizes skydives and rallies the jumpers (I'm one of the happy recipients). She will jump with anyone, no matter the skill level, without even the tiniest bit of recriminations when things don't go as planned. She doesn't have a competitive bone in her body, she just goes like the Energizer Bunny while the rest of us run down around her.

Today I'm in recovery mode and figure I'm probably not cut out for two solid days of hiking and then two solid days of jumping in the same week! Tired does not adequately describe it. So it's taking it easy until Thursday when I'll be out with the Senior Trailblazers again.

On another note, I received the beautiful picture I got for making a donation to Ripple on Friday. I didn't have time to post it earlier, so I'll show you now. I went to the International Bird Rescue Center and made a $10 donation and sent Kelly at the information as required, but I heard nothing back from her. Sharon Wagner, the artist whose picture I wanted, thinks Kelly is probably overwhelmed by the response, so Sharon sent me the sketch and a sweet note to me:
I love the black sand dollar, as it suggests the tragedy in the Gulf without showing the oil-covered wildlife that are suffering and dying. Sharon is a children's illustrator and has a wonderful blog over at Sharon's Paws Create. Check out her lovely website for more.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Abundant sunshine

What a day we had yesterday! Another day of cloudless skies, and record high temperatures set all over the state of Washington. Nine Senior Trailblazers went up the Goat Mountain trail, after having found out on Tuesday that we should be able to get to the meadow, if not all the way to the summit, before being turned back by snow. The picture above shows yet another view of Mt. Shuksan, quite a different vantage point than on Tuesday's hike.
I also found out that I am not invincible, or even as young as I used to be! This picture shows Al on the snow-covered last few hundred feet up to our destination. As we were trekking up this part, I noticed that I was slowing down, feeling awful, and getting rather nauseous. The brilliant sunshine was reflecting back onto me from the snow, and sweat was just pouring out of me. I doggedly put one foot in front of the other and finally made it to the meadow.

Once we had reached our destination, a rock outcropping, it was time for lunch and we had covered almost four miles and gone up 2,700 feet of elevation. As people began to pull out their lunches and seat cushions, I drank more water and tried to pull myself together. I knew I wasn't myself when I didn't even care to take any pictures. I figured resting would help, and it did, but when I pulled out my lunch I could not eat it, I was feeling so sick. Basically I kept this to myself and snapped a few pictures. It was so beautiful up there!
This is a mountain I don't see very often, I believe it's named Seifert, with Ward gazing around at the view (click to enlarge). After Fred and Mike took off for the actual summit of Goat Mountain, we agreed that we would stay and wait for them until 1:00pm, when we would all head back down the trail. Since the rest of the hike would be downhill, I figured I'd be just fine. But it was not to be: once we began down, I knew I wasn't feeling well at all and could not figure out what to do. Several people thought I might be dehydrated, although I was forcing water even though I wasn't thirsty.

When we stopped about halfway, I confessed to everyone how bad I was feeling, and Mike generously offered to carry my pack (along with his own!), which I gratefully accepted. Fred commented that I looked pale and kept a close eye on me. Still pouring in water, and now without my backpack, I began to feel a little better. Once we got back to the cars and I was in air-conditioned comfort in the back seat, I felt almost normal.

The first thing I did when I got home was take a shower, and then collapsed with the book I'm reading. This morning I went to the gym for my regular workout and realized that I was weak as a kitten and still have little appetite. When I got home, I looked for my symptoms on line and found this:
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
Aha! The symptoms include heavy sweating, nausea, paleness, and tiredness. I think that this hike in full sun, so soon after Tuesday's, contributed to my condition. Now, a day later, I am feeling quite normal, although still a little weak, but I just finished a light lunch and am beginning to get my appetite back. I really don't like to think about myself as "elderly," but I guess I am, at 67; I take high blood pressure medication; and I had finished two strenuous hikes in three days in a hot environment.

So, before my blogging buddies tell me to slow down, I hear you! I will be more careful from now on, and I won't push myself so hard. I am willing to admit when I'm wrong, at least sometimes. Believe me, I won't soon forget that experience!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cougar Divide

Yesterday, I set out from Bellingham with two other Senior Trailblazers. We met at 11:00 am in the morning to head up to the High Country. We hoped to get over to the Canyon Creek road, which has a crew working on it every weekday, except during their lunch hour when you can gain access to the road. But after stopping at the Ranger Station and asking about the conditions, we decided not to try it.
Instead, we went up the Wells Creek road up to Cougar Divide, a long, one-lane road winding up over 12 miles, which descends first to Wells Creek and then starts a long climb up to Cougar Divide. We were stopped on the road by snow before we gained the trailhead, but we left the car and set out with our trusty packs and trekking poles. We slogged up over two miles on snow, with full sun and no wind.
When we finally started up the snow, we could see that eventually we would have an incredible view. Little by little the view got more and more amazing, and we could see all the mountains around plus Mt. Baker. That's Mt. Shuksan behind us to the left. I took this picture with my self-timer and tripod, which are now indispensable parts of my backpacking gear. Although there were only a few little clouds now and then, we were so happy when we got any break from the sun at all. Occasionally a light breeze kept us a little cooler as we trekked up 1,000 feet to the ridge. It was snow the whole way until we got to this rock outcropping. (Click any picture to enlarge.)
Here's a picture of Karen sketching Mt. Baker. We didn't even start our hike until after 1:00 pm, so as we were heading back down the snow, the shadows of summer began to lengthen. But with such a clear sky, lots of daylight, and with little to no wind, we didn't hurry back to the car.
Al took this picture of me while we were looking around at the 360-degree view. I thought it would be fun to put some words on the cloud that look like a thought balloon, but I didn't get around to it before deciding to write this post. Tomorrow we will be heading up for another hike to the High Country with the full group, so this would have been lost if I didn't get it up today.
On the way back down the highway to Bellingham, we decided to stop for dinner at the Beer Shrine. As you can see from the sign, it's a beer joint and Wedding Chapel, all in one. We got there a little after 6:00pm and it was quite busy already, on a regular Tuesday night. They make their own local beer and we had a smashingly good pizza (which I didn't get a picture of, darn it). As Al said, we were all hungry enough to eat anything that wasn't fighting back. But I would be happy to eat here again, since it was outstandingly good beer AND food. Tomorrow, another day in the woods with the whole group! With the weather expected to be hot, it should be a good turnout.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Peace and love

I just read this article on the New York Times about Ringo Starr of the Beatles fame, who is turning 70 on Wednesday! As a child of the sixties myself, I listened to the Beatles and actually learned to appreciate their music a little later, in my thirties and forties.

The amazing thing to me is that everywhere I go, I still hear their music, and it's been almost fifty years ago that they were on the scene. Back when I first started this blog in March of 2009, I wrote a post about my musical journey and talked about the Beatles.

It continues to amaze me that often when walking into an elevator, a grocery store, to name a few, I will hear some old Beatles song being played. Even if the song has been re-worked to sound more like true elevator music, the song is still familiar to my ears: "All You Need Is Love," "Let It Be," and so many others sing to me of an earlier more hopeful time. I'm happy to be reminded of it.

Peace and love is what I would like, too. If I could make it happen all over the world, I would. So I will shout "Peace and love" tomorrow at noon and think of how wonderful it will be when the world is showered with it. Here's a brief excerpt from that article linked above (also where I snagged the AP picture of Ringo):
Mr. Starr is also continuing a tradition – one that started with this 2008 Access Hollywood interview – of asking fans to say the words “Peace and love” on his birthday at 12 noon. (Much easier than shouting the lyrics to “Octopus’s Garden.”) If you need to preserve your voice on Wednesday, you can also leave a message at the Beatles’ Facebook page.
Peace and love to you and yours!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cool here, not clear

They say flower pictures are better when taken in overcast conditions. Well, guess what we have here in Bellingham? Cool, cloudy, windy conditions this morning, the temperature not even 60 degrees. Taken yesterday at the Farmers' Market, I thought this picture of the red, white and blue (and yellow, purple and pink) bouquets was quite lovely.

I am almost finished with the book, Biocentrism. (This link will take you to the author's page about the book.) I've been reading about quantum mechanics, Zeno's paradox, entropy, the Time Train, and much more. Here's an excerpt from the chapter entitled, "No Time to Lose":
That time is a fixed arrow is a human construction. That we live on the edge of all time is a fantasy. That there is an irreversible, on-flowing continuum of events linked to galaxies and suns and the Earth is an even greater fantasy. Space and time are forms of animal understanding -- period. We carry them around with us like turtles with shells. So there simply is no absolute self-existing matrix out there in which physical events occur independent of life.
When I was younger, I read quite a lot of science fiction, and I especially loved stories where people in a spaceship would travel to a distant world at close to the speed of light. They would return home to find that all their contemporaries had died long before because of the time differential. This was fascinating to me, particularly when I learned that is exactly what would happen if we could indeed travel at near light speed. To learn that the galaxies and stars sent their light to Earth billions of years ago and they no longer exist as I see them boggles my mind.

At the end of each chapter, Lanza presents a Principle related to his theory of biocentrism. The farther along in the book I travel, the more interested I am. He also tells stories about his childhood, how he got to be a doctor, and about his family dynamics. He'll inject a little unexpected humor now and then that makes me laugh out loud. Although I have a few more chapters to read, I'll be a little sorry when it's over.

Although none of the ideas in the book are completely new to me, they are all put together in a way that has expanded my idea of consciousness, time and space, life and death. It's actually comforting to look at things through the lens of biocentrism. It allows for the possibility of the death of loved ones being something other than what I have experienced. Lanza's sister was killed in an auto accident not long after she had married Ed, the love of her life, and things were looking up for her. From the chapter "Death and Eternity":
Christine had recently lost more than a hundred pounds, and Ed had bought her a pair of diamond earrings as a surprise. It's going to be hard to wait -- I have to admit -- but I know Christine is going to look fabulous in them the next time I see her . . . in whatever form she and I and this amazing play of consciousness assume.
The book also has two appendices, one on the Lorentz Transformation and the other on Einstein's Theory of Relativity. They look a bit daunting, but I will make my way through them in appreciation for the author's ability to take me into his worldview.

Friday, July 2, 2010

If a tree falls

I took this picture of myself with my trusty self-timer, sitting in my favorite chair (as you can see, a simple reclining lawn chair), a glass of wine (just below the purple water bottle), and the red Super Soaker on the floor behind me.  As you can see, I've started reading Biocentrism. And I have already learned, just on Chapter 3, that if a tree falls in a forest and there's nobody around to hear it, it does not make a sound!

Yes, you heard that right: no sound. You will have to take my word on that, until you yourself read the book and discover the incontrovertible truth. So far, the book is absorbing on many levels, not the least of which is that the theory it presents, well, it just feels right. I am nowhere near finished with it, and I'll write a real book review when I'm done, but I did want to write down something that has been percolating within me for a few days now.

I'm going to write fewer posts in the near future, and here's why. First, I find myself casting about for blog fodder all the time, looking at my life events through that lens. I think I actually need to change my focus to discover why I wanted to start blogging in the first place. Second, I really function well when I have a framework within which to work. My other blog only has one post a week, and I spend the week thinking about what I'll address. The desire to be honest with myself, to look at who I used to be and how I got here is the main focus, not some urge to get interesting posts up whether I feel like it or not.

No, I will put one up for sure every Thursday that I go hiking with the Trailblazers, because all of them, including me, like to share it after the fact. Everyone who has internet access visits my post to see what the day looked like according to me (and my camera). I'd also like to have another weekly post that I would label introspective, for now anyway, and one other post to be determined by desire. It would be great if I got to a place where I actually couldn't wait to write it, rather than looking for pictures, ideas, something that would be of interest to my friends.

If I want to, there's nothing to keep me from breaking my new rules, but I'm wondering about other bloggers who have gotten to this juncture. Is there some maturing process that has been at work within me? Smart Guy said it's like when you're a young skydiver, everything is a certain way, but you can't have a hundred jumps forever: you mature as you spend increasing time in the environment. Maybe it's like that. What do you think?