Thursday, March 29, 2012

Goose Rock 2012

Rosario Strait from West Beach, choppy sea at high tide
Eight Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center in a light rain and howling wind to drive south to Deception Pass State Park and hike up to Goose Rock, a fairly easy hike on a not-so-nice day. Since the weather forecast gave us a 100% chance of rain, we decided to take our chances and hope for at least some time out of the rain. Once again, we were fortunate indeed. Although it was still raining lightly and the wind blowing pretty hard when we arrived, it had moderated quite a lot in the hour it took for us to get to the West Beach parking lot near Cranberry Lake.
The well-marked trail around the perimeter of Goose Rock has lots of madrona trees (like the one with the odd bark on the right) and red currant plants in bloom. Still no rain and the temperature was pleasant, as long as we kept moving. As we ascended up to the summit, I saw this immature eagle (I'm pretty sure) lazily circling in the air above us.
We could hear bird sounds in the distance, and several times the unmistakeable call of an eagle, along with gulls, varied thrush, wrens, and others I couldn't identify. It was a very pleasant experience as we made our way to the top. Once there, the wind was fierce, so we donned our coats, which we had shed as we hiked in the shelter of the trees. I asked for a photo, with all of us bundled up in the cold. Almost all of us.
Steve, Al, Jim, Frank, Karen, Marjan
I asked Mike to stay out of the picture because he really does look like he was on a different hike! It was either two photos or let everybody think I had photoshopped him in. He's not like the rest of us; although he carries all the same gear, he rarely seems to need anything but a hat and gloves. In the summertime, he carries enough water to continually douse himself.
Mike on same hike. How does he do it?
I also asked Al to take a picture of me on the top of Goose Rock, showing me in my best imitation of the Angelina Jolie Oscar stance. I'm wearing my wonderful REI jacket that cost me an arm and a leg (but I still seem to have enough of each) and my new North Face pants, getting their first workout.
It was way too windy and uncomfortable for us to have our lunch here, so we decided to hike on back to the picnic shelter at North Beach. It is covered with a thatch roof with a great view of the ocean, but the breeze kept us from staying around for too long. And then... it began to rain. We only had about three-quarters of a mile back to the cars. Since the tide was going out, we thought we might walk along the beach, but the rain changed our plans. The trees protected us from the worst of the rain, and we still had a nice view of the beach. You can see it got soggy all of a sudden.
By the time we reached the cars, we had covered 6 and a half miles with about a thousand feet of elevation gain and loss. It wasn't one of our hard hikes (that's coming next week), but it was very pleasant and relatively dry. Once we pulled out of the parking lot, the rain began in earnest. We congratulated ourselves again for our good luck, and Al stated that he planned it that way (yeah, right). We were finished at an earlier time than usual, but it was a really good day, once again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Warning: Diva alert

Yesterday, my sister Norma Jean sent me this picture of Lexie, showing that this young lady is going to be dangerous in a couple of decades. Or sooner. Capturing hearts right and left, she's simply adorable! As many of you know, Lexie is my grand-niece, Norma Jean's only grandchild, and truly one of the New Generation. She was conceived using donor sperm and is being raised by a single parent, my niece Allison. I wrote all about it here. I was planning on editing the picture to remove the warning label, but after giving it some thought, I decided to use it as part of the title of this post.

Because of the wonders of technology, I get to see Lexie and her mom on video chat fairly often. She's a toddler now, smart as a whip, and growing by leaps and bounds. Since I talk with Norma Jean two or three times a week on iChat, we swap stories of our lives as well as pictures. She couldn't wait to show me this one. It's definitely a keeper, don't you think?

Today I met a new friend at the coffee shop. I was meditating on this picture while sipping my coffee, and a young dark-haired woman sat down in the adjoining chair. She's obviously in her early twenties, if not younger, and I was thinking about the passage of time, as I often do. Lexie is growing up so fast, but as she ages, so do I. The woman caught me staring at her, and she held my gaze, looking right back at me. I decided to start a conversation. "I was just wondering: when you look at me, do you see an old woman?" She studied me for a moment and shook her head. This began a conversation about how older people become invisible, and she introduced herself to me as Alana (or Ilana, I'm not sure of the spelling). She's indeed 21 and finished her education last fall, majoring in theater, which I find really interesting. I almost asked if I could take her picture for the blog, but instead I gave her my card and told her that if she's interested she could read what I write and even leave a comment if she wants.

Alana (I like that spelling) is working at the YMCA right now and is hoping to be accepted into the Peace Corps. I remember when that was something I considered doing, long ago, and she reminded me that I still can if I choose to. This began a conversation about travel; I am reluctant to travel any more, but she's looking forward to discovering the world and different cultures. She's at the beginning of her adventures, and I am content to be settling into my easy chair (after a good workout, of course).

It was time for me to catch the bus, so we said goodbye. I hope to see her again. What was most amazing to me is that during the conversation, her assurance and direct gaze made me feel I was in the presence of an old soul. Her image keeps creeping back into my mind. When I was her age, I was nowhere near as confident and self-assured as she is. The women's movement hadn't even begun in the early sixties when I was her age. It gives me confidence that we are indeed making some forward progress. Lexie, what will the world be like when YOU turn twenty-one?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A photo safari

When I was working, my boss would often suggest we go on a "photo safari" after the day's work, in order to capture the feelings and culture of the exotic places where we traveled. I went on my own photo safari not long ago to capture the same thing here in the Pacific Northwest. I walked out the door last week to catch the bus, sun coming up, and I saw this lovely heart that the flickers had created out of suet. It was a quick capture; now the right-hand side of the heart has been consumed. But here we go on a journey of exploration!
Sitting in the back of Al's car on our way to hike the British Army Trail, I saw Lake Samish through the window and thought perhaps I might be able to capture a bit of the feeling of the day. The car was on the highway, moving at a normal speed, but the raindrops on the window stood still. Although we arrived in the rain, it stopped just in time for us to enjoy an almost rain-free trek.
At the coffee shop (Avellino's) that I frequent before heading to my exercise class, I observed little Leo playing with a slinky. I don't get to see him nearly as often as I once did, since he is now in preschool several days a week. Instead of asking me to read to him these days, he asks me to pull out my iPad and he scrolls through either mountain pictures or flower pictures. He doesn't need me to show him how to work it. He is also at the age (three) where he can either play quietly like this or be a little terror when he doesn't get his way.
Also at Avellino's, I spied my fisherman friend Gene with his new lady friend Paula. They hang out together most days, although I've learned from Gene that she isn't naturally an early morning person like he is, so when I see him without her, it's because she didn't want to be hustled out of her morning routine in order to hang out at the coffee shop.
Last Thursday when I visited the Seattle Art Museum, I took pictures of many pieces in the permanent collection, including this very interesting clock. You don't see things like this any more, with all those moving parts. Everything is digital these days. I didn't take a picture of the explanation of this clock, unfortunately, so I guess I'll have to go back and visit the museum again. Happily.
And all over the entire city, the flowers are beginning to bloom, the birds are singing earlier as the days get longer, on their way to summer. Three months of spring, my favorite time of the year. My nose is also beginning to notice that everything is blooming. Well, I hope you enjoyed our photo safari as much as I did. Until the next time, I hope you will be well.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anderson Mountain 2012

Linda and Ward in front of the Big Stump
Only seven Trailblazers showed up for today's hike up Anderson Mountain. I'm not sure why, because the skies were clear when we met at the Center. They didn't stay that way for long, though. We started the hike at the Alger Road entrance, since a gate closed off the road we have taken sometimes to the Big Stump to begin the hike. This adds another two miles, but because we knew we would be dealing with quite a bit of snow at the top, we were glad to have more of the trek at a lower elevation. We ran into about a foot of fresh snow almost immediately, once we left the old logging road.
Although the rest of the country is experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures, we are still locked into a wet and snowy (at higher elevations) weather pattern. This is the most snow we have encountered on Anderson Mountain at this time of year. As we climbed, we also noticed that our pretty blue skies were beginning to change in character. By the time we reached the clearcut area, we weren't sure we would escape today without needing to don our raincoats.
This is taken in the clearcut area, which is beginning to slowly recover. You can see that the sun is shining in the far distance, but not where we were. The snow also made it difficult to hike, as we began to break through a hard crust at times, requiring quite a bit more energy to go forward, almost as much as one spends hiking in sand. Finally, though, the skies lifted and we got this great view of Lake Whatcom.
Although it looks quite warm, it wasn't, and a light breeze took even more of our body warmth from us. We had only hiked for just under four miles when we decided to stop for lunch. We reached a part of the trail that is covered with downed trees, and with as much snow as we had to navigate, forward travel became treacherous as we would fall in up to our knees. Al is perched on a log as we ate a quick lunch before heading back down.
I'm hoping that these pictures will make those of you who are already using your air conditioners feel a bit cooler. We didn't spend much time here. However, once we got back out of the snow and hit the old logging road, that ornery old sunshine came out in force. We were all much more comfortable on the return trip to the cars. The weather forecast for today gave us a 60% change of precipitation, but we didn't even have a drop. Lately, we've been pretty lucky with our Thursday hikes.
By the time we finished, we had hiked up and down around 2,000 feet and covered a little less than eight of our planned ten-mile hike. We decided, however, that the difficulty of hiking in all that snow meant I should be able to add at least two more miles! Walking in more than a foot of heavy snow is definitely a challenge, and I'm tired and happy to have had another excellent day in the outdoors with my good friends.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gauguin and Polynesia

From Seattle Art Museum link
Today Judy and I went to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) with the Bellingham Senior Activities Center to see a special exhibit of Paul Gauguin's art and some excellent Polynesian culture. It's only here until the end of April. I had never been to SAM before, but I will definitely be returning. Here's the information about this particular exhibit:
Seattle Art Museum presents the only United States stop for Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise, a landmark show highlighting the complex relationship between Paul Gauguin's work and the art and culture of Polynesia. The exhibition, on view at SAM Downtown February 9 through April 29, 2012, includes about 60 of Gauguin's brilliantly hued paintings, sculptures and works on paper, which are displayed alongside 60 major examples of Polynesian sculpture that fueled his search for the exotic. Organized by the Art Centre Basel, the show is comprised of works on loan from some of the world's most prestigious museums and private collections.
I wasn't allowed to take any pictures inside this exhibit, because (as was explained to me) SAM does not own any of this art. They were taken from many different places from around the globe, and it is a stunning and truly amazing show. I was, however, given permission to take pictures of much of the permanent exhibit at SAM, as long as I didn't use a flash. Judy took this picture of me in front of a piece called Some/One by Korean artist Do-Ho Suh, constructed from 100,000 military dog tags as a memorial to fallen soldiers. It is art that takes one's breath away.
So much of the permanent exhibit was enlightening and amazing, but we knew that we needed to keep an eye on the clock, as we were required to enter the Gauguin/Polynesia exhibit within a short time frame, so it ended that we were hurrying from room to room. If you have ever been to a museum such as SAM, you know that a few hours only gives you a chance to see and absorb a small portion of the art. I was taken by this sculpture:
Something about the posture of this warrior on the back of the magnificent horse spoke to me of bravery and bygone times. I studied it and felt fortunate to be able to capture it with my camera. While we were waiting for the hour to pass, I asked a museum guide if there was anything that we should be sure not to miss in the permanent collection, and she told us to be sure and visit the porcelain room. There are more than a thousand pieces of porcelain collected from all over the world here.
Prior to the eighteenth century, porcelain was a rarity, a treasured material produced exclusively in Asia. European palaces in 17th–18th-century had walls from floor to ceiling made from porcelain. This room contains astonishing pieces from that era. I was so impressed. I could spend an entire day in this one room.

When you first enter the Seattle Art Museum, however, you are assaulted with a piece of artistic vision that one has to see to believe: it is called Inopportune: Stage One, where Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang took nine white Ford Taurus cars and suspended them from the ceiling with pulsing light rods coming out of them. It's worth the price of admission just to see these.
This was my first visit to the Seattle Art Museum. It will not be the last. I was privileged to see the Gauguin/Polynesia exhibit, which I cannot represent here, but I was also more than a little impressed with the art they have gathered in the permanent exhibit. I cannot praise it with enough enthusiasm to express how happy I am that I got to spend the day seeing more than 60 original pictures from Paul Gauguin's last decade of life, as well as to visit SAM for the day. If you get a chance to see it, please do. You will not be sorry.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


These daffodils were first spotted on February 18, and I took the final one, with them in bloom, yesterday, March 16. In less than a month, they went from little green sprouts into flowers. Sometimes I think if I took a picture in the morning and then again in the evening, I would be able to see a difference. Once the flowers of spring erupt, there's no stopping them.

What surprises me is how I turn my back and stop paying attention and before I know it, a bright spot of color catches my eye. I love it, and in another few weeks I'll be taking walks in the neighborhood just to capture all the flowers that will bloom and disappear in the blink of an eye. Cameras are so nice; I just wish that digital cameras had been around decades ago... but then I would be inundated with even more pictures. I realized the other day that I have almost 10,000 pictures in my iPhoto library. I have been toying with the idea of upgrading to a later version, but I am fearful that I might not be able to find my pictures without having to search around in virtual file drawers. Nothing is ever simple with computers, it seems. But with digital images, I take way more pictures than I once did.

I have actual, not virtual, drawers filled with pictures I can't bring myself to throw away, and every time I go through them, sorting, I find something that takes me back to past adventures and people long gone. The passage of my own evolution from a little girl to a senior citizen is rather interesting to contemplate. Those drawers filled with old negatives I'll never look at again, and snapshots that are a permanent record of times gone by, who can throw those things away?

Long ago, I remember my parents had amassed a huge footlocker filled with pictures taken of relatives and friends that were so old that nobody could recognize many of the people in them. I remember going through the footlocker back when my parents were alive, sorting pictures by era. I think my siblings took some of the pictures, and I myself have a few of them, old memories of days gone by.
Norma Jean and Jan 1947(?)
When I don't see somebody for a long time, they remain in my mind's eye the way they were when I last saw them, as if time only passes when I'm watching. Does everybody do that? There have been times when I've been absolutely shocked to discover that a relative who was a kid when I saw them last has become a parent! Boy, you turn your back for a minute and everything changes. Time marches on, unless someone snaps a picture that freezes a moment to be exclaimed over and appreciated sixty years later. I'm glad I became a photographer... just in time.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

British Army Trail

When I left the house this morning, wondering if I had lost my mind, the wind was blowing 25-50mph and the rain was coming down hard. Imagine my surprise to arrive at the Senior Center to find eight other Trailblazers, determined to make the best of the day. We carpooled to the trailhead and, lo and behold, the rain stopped, and we were protected from the wind by Blanchard Mountain. Lovely!

This was my first hike on this particular trail on the north side of Blanchard Mountain. It leads to some familiar friends, Lizard and Lily Lakes, which we visit several times every winter season. But we had never gone up this way before. I asked why it is called the British Army Trail and nobody knew the story right off. Thank heavens for search engines, again! I found this information on a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article written in 2000:
A trail continues around the left side of Lizard Lake, passes a large boulder to become a section of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). This trail leads to the newly constructed British Army Trail, built by visiting British Army soldiers and PNT volunteers.
It is no longer "newly constructed" but is in very good condition and was a pleasure to hike. That description started from the lake and returned down to the Pacific Northwest Trail. We started the hike, however, on an old logging road that looked more like a stream.
We were ready for the rain that didn't show up, but we had plenty of mud and water to navigate on our way up to Lizard Lake. Although it didn't rain, we could hear the wind howling in the distance and had occasional misty moments.
You can see the blaze on the tree; the British Army Trail was heavily marked, and we wondered if people might use it at night, accounting for the many blazes. We finished the outbound part of our hike when we reached Lizard Lake, which had some snow on it, as well as beaver activity.
After a quick snack, we turned around and headed back to the cars. We had made arrangements for a party at the Senior Center, a potluck hosted by Amy, to celebrate the birthdays of Karen and Marjan. Amy never misses a birthday, and she's traveling soon, so this worked out great. After we had covered almost nine miles and 2,000 feet up and down, we all met back at the Center to share our goodies with one another.
We dug in and visited with each other for awhile, then cleaned up and headed home. It's now almost 4:00pm and I'm tired and satisfied from another day well spent, in the company of dear friends. Somebody is watching out for us: a day that showed every indication to be a true "washout" turned out to be a successful, beautiful day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vernal equinox 2012

When I was coming out of the Pickford theater on Saturday, I saw these crocuses and sunshine greeting me. I immediately dropped everything and pulled out my camera. At first I wondered about the concentric circles on the walkway, but then I realized they must be stylized raindrops! Perfect for the Pacific Northwest. When I went into the theater, it was blowing hard with horizontal stinging raindrops... I much prefer these.

Now that Daylight Saving Time is behind us, I was wondering when we will actually have the vernal equinox and went on line (of course) to find out. What did I do before search engines? I truly cannot remember, it's now such a part of my life. On the Old Farmer's Almanac website, I found some interesting information.
On the first day of spring -- the vernal equinox -- day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.
This year Spring officially begins on March 20 at 1:14am EDT. Since I am on Pacific Daylight Time, it will occur here three hours earlier, making it (let's see) March 19 at 10:14pm. And if what the Almanac says is true, I expect I can start celebrating Spring any minute now! However, I woke up this morning in the dark and saw more light outside than I expected. It was from snow that fell overnight. We are in a particularly stormy period, with wind, cold, and occasional snowfall. Tonight it might even get below freezing again. I snapped this picture at the bus stop.
These pretty pink flowers (heather?) don't seem to mind the white decoration, which is probably all gone now, several hours later. When I got to my class today, I noticed the numbers were down, probably because of snow on the roads, although it doesn't usually take much for some people to decide not to exercise. Afterwards, though, I know they probably didn't feel as good as I did. I know I'm rubbing it in, but they can take it, since they don't read my blog.

The bus was late again this morning, so I had to really hustle to get to class on time. I passed several other ladies on their way into class, but they drove and didn't need to change, so I charged on past them on my way to the locker room. Made it to class right on time and was already warmed up to boot.

It's funny: it never occurs to me to stay home, since I take the bus and don't have to drive, and it gives me something to look forward to. My sister Norma Jean and I were talking yesterday about the comfort of routine. I love my daily schedule and know that it suits me. She has hers in much the same fashion. Could it be genetic? I know that other people chafe against schedules, but for me it defines my day, and my sister is exactly the same. She told me that several people cannot believe that she prefers to get up and head out the door to go swimming at 6:15am. After all, we're retired now and there's no need to get up at the crack of dawn. I'm happiest when I am able to begin my day with exercise. Yep, it must be genetic!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Safety Day 2012

Me and Christy, picture by Linny
I know some of my blogging buddies wonder how I can jump out of perfectly good airplanes on a regular basis. Well, I don't do it nearly as often as I once did, so now it's kind of important for me to attend Safety Day at my local Drop Zone. In the old days, I made more than 200 jumps every year, sometimes as many as 400. These days, I'm lucky to get fifty in, so Safety Day is made for jumpers like me: getting ready to get back into the swing of things, but feeling pretty rusty after not having made a skydive since October.
I am not alone in my desire to get current and ready for the upcoming season. Today was USPA (United States Parachute Association) Safety Day at Drop Zones around the country. Skydive Snohomish provides seminars and free food for the entire day to encourage people to attend. Here you can see that the attendance was pretty darn good: around 120 people showed up on a rainy, dreary Pacific Northwest kind of day to attend seminars and get refreshers about how to be safe.
If a person attended all six sessions and got signed off by the instructor, you were then eligible to enter a raffle that gave over $9,000 in prizes. If your name was called. I've attended this before, and although I didn't win anything, I enjoyed myself tremendously and if your name was drawn (mine wasn't), you got to choose your prize. I learned way more than I expected. My favorite session was with Dieter, who is a rocket scientist five days a week and flies the Cessna 182 for the Drop Zone on weekends. I was fascinated by him when he told us what he does during the week:
Here is Dieter explaining about a Mars lander that he helped to design, describing how the Phoenix lander used a parachute to slow its descent, much the same as skydivers do, except with the thin atmosphere of Mars, it was going a LOT faster than we are going when we deploy our parachutes. It was very interesting to see the parallels. (If you enlarge the picture you can read the text.)

Now I am safe at home, but I'll be losing an hour of sleep tonight as we change our clocks over to Daylight Saving Time here in the Pacific, but tomorrow, I am pleased to note that the sun will set after 7:00pm. More time for skydives once the rain disappears. Isn't it funny what a simple change of clock time can do for a person's disposition?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hoypus Hill

Eleven Senior Trailblazers carpooled south to Deception Pass State Park to hike around in the Hoypus Hill area. We have been having cool and unsettled weather in our part of the world, but today we expected it to be nice, and it was. Although not as warm as we hoped, we saw no other hikers all day long on the many trails in this section of the park. We visited this place last year in late April. I wrote about it here.
Most of the trails are marked, and as you may have guessed, that first picture was taken in Fern Gully. As you might be able to see behind Peggy, some of the trails were a bit boggy, but nothing like last year's experience. Anyway, as we trekked along, we were getting warmed up and shed our jackets, and I was so pleased and surprised to see lots of signs that spring is indeed coming to my part of the world. Here is a picture of an Indian Plum in full bloom.
After walking on the trails for a while, Al decided he'd like to make it over to see Ala Spit, a peninsula near Hoypus Hill that would give us a place to settle in for lunch. We walked on a paved road past private residences until we reached the parking area for the spit. There was only one car there, so we walked along the peninsula and found a nice place for lunch.
Here you see Peggy, Linda and Ward all settled down out of the breeze to enjoy their lunch in the sunshine at Ala Spit. I did ask them to please stop munching down their sandwiches for a minute, which they were happy to do (I have caught everyone in various unflattering poses with food in their mouths and posted the pictures anyway). Seagulls were out during the low tide catching up mussels and/or clams and dropping them onto the rocks to open them. I wandered around and snapped pictures but they were way too fast for me.
As we donned our gear and readied ourselves for the return trip back to the cars, I got this shot of some of our hikers on the beach, showing that we are actually casting shadows onto the ground. Nobody was really tremendously warm, but the sunshine was a lovely addition to our day. It didn't take long after we began the return trip before many of the jackets came off.
I got down in the leaves on the return trail to get this picture of some stinging nettles that are coming up, too. A sure sign of spring. If you enlarge this picture you can see those little hairs coming out of the leaves, and if I were to inadvertently brush up against one, I would be itching still, but I was careful to avoid them. By the time we returned to our cars, we had hiked more than nine miles and covered around 1,000 feet up and down. Not one of our difficult hikes, but it was a very satisfying day spent with good friends.

On the way home, while sitting in the back seat of Al's car, I happened to see an amazing sight out the window. I couldn't understand what I was seeing, at first, because it looked like something tumbling rapidly out of the sky, turning and whirling, until suddenly two bald eagles separated. I realized that I was seeing an eagle mating display. These were either two rivals for a female, or a pair trying to decide if they want to get hitched for a lifetime. After I pointed out the eagles to the others, we watched them until they were out of sight. They hitched up one more time before they disappeared in the trees. I found this information online about what I saw. It was truly amazing. Yes, spring is here; mating has begun, and the air is filled with anticipation of the delights of springtime.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is coming fast now

Yesterday it rained all day long, from the time I walked out to catch the bus (still loving my eVent raincoat from REI) until late in the afternoon. I saw these pretty little guys peeking up from the small garden behind the YMCA, and in the process of snapping this picture my camera was getting splattered, so I stopped after taking this one.

As I sat in front of my computer in the afternoon, alternately cursing and praising Pixelmator, I saw a few sun breaks. (BTW, the new header is my latest Pixelmator creation.) The weather said it would clear up on today, Tuesday. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke to... snow!
From my front porch, I saw the rays of the sun as it came up over the horizon, and indeed the sky had cleared. But during the night we received a couple of inches of snow, as well as temperatures below freezing. Even now (1:00pm), after the sun has been shining all day, it is still barely 40 degrees F. Where the sun hasn't reached the sidewalks and streets, it's still slippery and rather treacherous.
I was the first person to navigate the stairs this morning. You can see the first rays of the sun hitting the middle of the stairs, but they were pretty slick when I needed to go down them, so I held on tight to the railing. In the previous picture, notice where the cars are parked. After I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw some interesting tracks in the snow.
Those are raccoon tracks in between the cars and the shrubs, aren't they? Since they look like little hands, and all of them heading in one direction, I figured it might be mom and her family out looking for an early morning snack. However, I think raccoons are nocturnal, so perhaps these were made at night. Anybody know much about their habits? I've seen skunks and deer emerge from the blackberry brambles, but I am now convinced that raccoons live in there, too. I've never seen any.

Spring! It's coming fast now. Sunday is the beginning of 2012 Daylight Saving Time. This means I'll lose an hour of sleep Sunday night, heading to the bus at what was 6:30am the day before, but on Monday morning will be 7:30am. Spring ahead, fall back: that's how I remember it. In the fall I get to sleep an extra hour, and this coming Sunday night it will be taken back. Sort of.

The sun will set after 7:00pm on Sunday, though, which makes me feel pretty good. Those lovely purple flowers will be coming into bloom soon, and I'll try to get a picture of them. Many of my blogging buddies have been posting pictures of their flowers, and soon the Pacific Northwest springtime bounty will grace my blog, too.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March haircut

In my last post I mentioned that I could tell from the picture Ward took of me on Thursday that I really needed a haircut. So yesterday I got myself down to the local salon and got 'er done. She cut it pretty short in the back, which I appreciate, because in two months it begins to look a lot like, well, the "before" picture. Although someone else might not think it looks too long, it's obvious to me. Smart Guy took this picture for me so I could illustrate how I think my hair should always stay. But you know, it never does. No matter what I want it to do, it continues to grow! Fortunately for me, I have finally found a hairdresser who is (a) not expensive, and (b) gives me what I ask for. She left the bangs a little long, but I asked for them. My new eyeglasses are also a plus. Since they have transition lenses, you can tell we didn't have much sunlight in that first outdoor picture to darken them. I love not having to think about sunglasses; they are just there, or not.
As long as I'm on the subject of hair, I thought of this picture I took on our Thursday hike of Al's curls. My grandmother used to use something to create Marcel waves in her hair and after looking it up (hence the link), I found it was a style that was all the rage during the 1920s. I think I saw it in the recent movie "The Artist" as well. The natural waves that Al has (he's letting his hair grow a bit) would have made many a young flapper envious!

I am really going to miss Picnik, which I used to create the collage of the first two photos. Although it's going away in mid-April, it's still available for use until then. I know I should be trying to duplicate what I did using Pixelmator, but it's not so easy. I have to learn HOW and now that I've let the program languish on my desktop for a month or so, I need to begin all over again. In Picnik, I just uploaded the two pictures and was even able to use the airbrush on my neck. At first I tried to remove the wrinkles, but it looked very weird, so I opted instead to use a nice little softening technique with the airbrush. These same tools are also available in Pixelmator, but not as an editing tool called "airbrush." So, as long as I have it available to me, I'll continue to use Picnik.

Today I went for a six-mile walk with the Fairhaven walking group. Although it rained all day long yesterday, we had a beautiful DRY walk this morning. I learned that during February, Bellingham received more than four inches of rain. We had only a week or so of dry days; all the rest (20, to be exact) had some rain. Ah, but it's March, finally! Although our winter has been on the mild side, I am looking forward to the beautiful sunny dry weekends ahead. I will also hopefully get a chance to make my first skydive of 2012 sometime in the near future. Have a great weekend, and I'll be "seeing" you soon!