Saturday, June 30, 2012

Before I forget

Finally finished planting my garden
Before I forget to post this blog, I'd better get it written down. I swear, last Saturday I had every intention of writing a post, and I even had a topic: the death of Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise of his kind in the world. When I traveled there I met him, if you can call looking at his shell meeting him. In my mind, I had written and posted all about it, but no, I found that I completely spaced not only Saturday's post, but Tuesday's as well.

So all about my garden! Those closest three rows you see in the picture were planted yesterday, with collard starts and black kale. I also put some marigold plants in each row to discourage pests. Slugs are driving me crazy. Look what they've done to my squash plant.
It's not just the leaves close to the ground; they have almost entirely eaten my sweet basil, which it seems they love. I am reduced to using Sluggo (those little white pellets on the ground), since they don't seem to be deterred in the least by the eggshells. I have yet to try the beer solution, but someone suggested copper all around the entire garden. I just went out to inspect those last rows and they did munch on a few of those tender leaves as well. Since they were planted yesterday, I know they are either not taking the bait or there are just too many of them. Not everybody is unwelcome, though. Yesterday I noticed this guy who seemed to fall in love with the young radish leaves:
Is this a moth or a butterfly? He's really huge, beautiful and unafraid to pose for his picture, it seems. Such a pretty thing. He was in my neighbor's garden plot, just flitting back and forth around the newly sprouted radishes. I also saw this morning an exciting opening blossom on my Asian eggplant. Those slugs better not bother this guy, since I have every intention of eating the fruit of it myself!
Asian eggplant blossom, 30 June 2012
Yesterday I broke a few leaves off the kale plants I put in the ground last month, which are looking really good. Apparently slugs prefer basil to kale; although they've tasted them they haven't attacked kale in the same way as other plants. You can see there are two varieties of kale here, although now I don't remember which is which. One is more strongly flavored than the other, but the two of us took a stem each and raised them like glasses of wine before we devoured them raw. Yum!
When I awoke this morning to a light rain (good for the garden!), I decided to go ahead and go on the morning walk with my lady friends. On the way there, the rain grew heavy enough for me to wonder about my decision, but before we had gone once around Lake Padden, the rain had stopped and we even saw the sun a few times. Little Alfie was sporting a brand-new raincoat, with cute little buttons and a hood. When he jumped up in his owner's arms, she pulled the hood up, but I missed the shot. He reluctantly allowed me to get this picture for you to enjoy.
By the time we returned from going around the lake twice (a total of 5.2 miles), this little raincoat was completely muddy and dirty, much like our shoes. I was really glad I went, though, since I am now feeling much more appreciative of the overcast skies than when I first got out of bed. In a short while I'll head to the movies with Judy. It's already been a good day, and I managed to remember to write a post for my blog!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Maple Grove

Our Trailblazers June 2012, picture taken by Con
I have just spent the past hour looking for the last time I wrote about a Senior Trailblazers trip to Maple Grove on the South Trail of Baker Lake. Well, we last visited this place in late March 2009, and I wasn't exactly writing posts every week about our trips as I do today. There wasn't one, and we had a lot of snow back then. But not today. Eight of us met at the Senior Center to decide where we might go on this late June day, since our scheduled trip was out of the question, due to the deep snow at Sauk Mountain. After last week's humbling experience on the Excelsior Pass trail, we decided to try another trip south to Baker Lake and take the trail to Maple Grove.
Foxgloves at the trailhead
When we arrived at the trailhead, we met Cindy and Con, two Trailblazers who were planning to hike the trail as well, so we became ten until we stopped for lunch. Although the day called for a 70% chance of rain (no surprise), the day dawned clear and mostly sunny. Almost the entire day we had more sun than clouds, and we knew the rain was expected later in the day. The trail was so beautiful, with old growth trees and gentle, easy terrain, so we were feeling particularly happy to be in such a gorgeous place, with no snow.
For the first part of the hike, we met no other people on the trail and simply enjoyed the abundant birdsong and light breeze. This trail has little elevation gain and loss (I think the whole day was less than 1,400), so we didn't need to do anything more than enjoy the beauty of the big old trees and lovely greenery. We did have one stream crossing that would have been difficult without the assistance of a metal rope to give me a little courage.
You can see the strong current under our feet as we made our way across; the roaring water and the narrow log gave us a challenge, but everyone successfully navigated the crossing. We took a little side trip to look at the campsites at Anderson Creek, and I caught this lovely picture of Mt. Shuksan reflected in Baker Lake.
Mt. Shuksan reflected in Baker Lake
All of my pictures of Mt. Baker, which was visible as well as Mt. Shuksan, were washed out due to the high clouds, but this one I felt was worthy of some admiration. Al took a picture of me alone in front of this beautiful view, but I like to limit the number of pictures I put on these posts, so it will need to wait for another time. As you can see, there was little wind to stir the water on Baker Lake, and the clouds were there but didn't obscure the view.
At Maple Grove, enjoying perfect weather
We stopped for lunch at Maple Grove, having traveled four-and-a-half miles to get there. The weather continued to be just about perfect as we ate and enjoyed each other's company before heading back the way we had come. Cindy and Con stayed behind to make their own way home, while the other eight Trailblazers said farewell for now and went on our way. We met several other hikers on the way back, but until then we had this beautiful place to ourselves. Nowhere was I able to find a picture that could capture the beauty of the day, the enormous gorgeous trees, and then I looked up.
The canopy of beautiful trees surrounded us and gave us shade and shelter. By the time we reached our cars, we had covered 8.4 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss on an absolutely perfect day, weather in the low 70s, light breeze, no rain, and the best company I could imagine. Now I am home, happy and content, and glad to share my day with you. Until next time, I offer you some happy virtual hugs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where did the time go?

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized I hadn't written a post this past weekend, OR one yesterday, either! And tomorrow is the Thursday hike again, with my obligatory post of the day spent outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. I've been spending the days going into town as usual, riding my bike, watering the garden, and reading. I finished two books this weekend and started The Invisible Bridge, which I unfortunately cannot put down. Being 600 pages long, this is a bit of a problem. I'm halfway through the book, and I'm loving it.  That link takes you to a New York Times book review, called "When Europe Wept," which I found for you to understand a bit of why this book has absorbed me. It begins in 1937 with a young Hungarian Jewish man going to Paris to study architecture. He is caught up in the horrible events in Europe, along with being Jewish. I care deeply about Andras and his family, and because of him, I've become a bit of a slacker here on my blog. I apologize, but if you want to get involved in a very good read and lose a few days or weeks of your own life, read this book.
Yesterday morning on my way to the bus, I stopped to say hello to my garden and snapped this picture of the early morning rays on the kale. It's so pretty, how can I ever bring myself to eat these leaves? Don't worry, I will, I'm just not sure when it's appropriate to harvest them and whether I just take a few off and leave the plant intact. There is plenty of information available on line, so I'll do some checking when it seems like the time is right. I've got blossoms on my Asian eggplant, which also excites me, thinking of actual eggplants showing up.

And I'm fighting with the slugs. Right now I'm saving eggshells and spreading them around my plants, hoping they won't like the feeling as they slither onto my plants during the night. I was told one sure-fire way to get rid of slugs is to put out pie tins filled with beer. They will fall in and drown as they get drunk, I'm told. That seems like a strange way to keep them away; with my luck they will start a tavern and spread the word to all their friends. (smile)

I really truly thought I had written a post here on Saturday and then yesterday I thought about writing another one, but I looked up from my book and found that it was time for bed. How did that happen? Where did the time go? I'll be back here again tomorrow after our hike, hoping to keep myself on track. I know I'm the one who sets these deadlines for myself, but they feel as real to me as any I followed when I was working. Now I'm off to read my friends' blogs! Until tomorrow...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

First Excelsior Pass attempt

Jonelle at the Flume
Nine Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center this morning to make our first 2012 attempt to get to Excelsior Pass. Three weeks ago, Fred and Al headed up to this trailhead to see what kind of shape it's in. Here's what Al wrote about it then. In the three weeks since he was here, he said much of the snow that he was falling through at that time is now gone. We went almost three miles before we ran into some serious snow, at about 4,000 feet elevation.
Snow and downed trees
By the time I took this picture, we were on snow the whole time, with only Al's GPS and some previous trail markers giving us an idea that we were headed towards the pass. We soldiered on for another mile, gaining almost another 1,000 feet, before we stopped for lunch. We had 800 vertical feet to go in heavy snow before we would be at the top, so we decided to try again another day and just find a sunny spot on the snow. On the way up, we noticed that the air temperature would be very cold and then very warm, as if competing weather systems were fighting for the upper hand.
Our lunch spot was pretty nice, considering that we were sitting on snow but basking in the sunshine as we ate lunch and gathered our strength for the descent. While I was sitting here enjoying the sun, I looked up and saw a ring around the sun, which we decided must have something to do with the humidity. (None of us really knows what caused it.) It made for a very impressive picture, though.
I suspect that the ring follows all the way around the sun, but I was only able to get this picture with the tree covering the sun itself. Pretty cool, huh? I wasn't at all convinced that the picture would turn out, but it certainly did. As I readied myself for the descent, I noticed that Jonelle was looking pretty spiffy, all black on the white snow, so I begged for a picture.
Jonelle in the snow
Linda told Jonelle she has never had so many pictures taken of her as he has since I joined the group, pointing my camera impertinently at my photogenic companions. Jonelle and I both have transition lenses on our glasses, which turn jet black when we are on the snow. I love this picture and make no excuses for including it.
We made our way back through the snow to the incredible greenery; that one mile we spent totally on the snow was the slowest and most difficult part of this journey. It gives us a chance to come back here a bit later in the season and make it all the way to the top. When we did that last year, we had an incredible view, but it wasn't until August that we got there. In fact, it was the first summit we reached last year, and it took another another two months before the snow gave us a chance. Hopefully this year will be better, but it's still early, only being the end of June and all.
Jonelle blowing out her candles
When we finally reached the trailhead, Amy pulled out some cupcakes so we could celebrate Jonelle's June birthday with her. I didn't actually get a picture of her blowing out the candle, but our social secretary, Amy, was (as always) making sure that we ALL feel the love. It was a very good day, even if we only went 7.2 miles (one of those miles was up snow!). In those short miles we covered 3,000 feet of elevation up and down. No wonder I'm feeling a bit tired.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This and that

Our community garden is now in full swing, as you can see here. I took this picture on Saturday, not wanting to wade into it since we have had almost two inches of rain these past three days. It was cloudy and rainy Saturday through most of Monday. Our temperature never got out of the sixties, while much of the rest of the country sweltered. Here's the latest forecast from the Climate Prediction Center for the coming 6–10 days:
Looks like the Pacific Northwest and the northeast part of the country will be cooler than normal, and the precipitation map (available from the link) shows those two places will be wetter than normal, too. Great for the garden but not so great for hiking, biking or skydiving. Although we go on our Thursday hikes rain or shine, it sure would be nice to have some shine for a change.

Last Friday, however, was a beautiful day and I rode my bike a fair distance. It surprises me how differently I use the quadricep muscles for bicycling, which is the only reason I can explain how sore they were after what I considered to be a short ride (10–12 miles). I got fenders so I can ride in the rain, but I had little desire to go out and break them in. It's amazing to me how many bikes are on the road: I never noticed before, but now I watch each rider and take note of their techniques for riding in traffic. I downloaded a map of the bike routes around town; there are quite a lot, and since I can ride the bus with my bike to avoid most traffic and get to parks and other places, I'll probably do a fair amount of that.

Yesterday my friend Judy and I went to see Hysteria, a move made last year with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy, among others. It is a comedy set in England in the mid-nineteenth century, when Dr. Mortimer Granville invented the vibrator for the medical treatment of hysteria. That is historical fact, but the movie is a whimsical comedy with some really fun performances. It didn't get great reviews (only 55% on Rotten Tomatoes), but Roger Ebert liked it and wrote
This milestone in human progress has never received the respect it deserves, and yet vibrators have been selling widely and well ever since, even in the early Sears catalogs. ... The performances are spot on, and I especially like the spunky Gyllenhaal.
So did I. This is not a great movie, but I really enjoyed it, laughed a lot, and I thought the guy sitting next to me was going to have a paroxysm of his own, he was laughing so hard at times. If you want to laugh and appreciate some good period costumes and acting, this is the movie for you.

I'm also reading and enjoying a book written and released last fall by Dr. Andrew Weil, Spontaneous Happiness. I'm halfway through it, and I'm enjoying hearing all the ways he suggests finding my own pathway to mental health in a world that I find difficult to appreciate at times. I sometimes get overwhelmed with current world events and lose my perspective, and he suggests many ways to find balance.

Well, that's why this post is titled "This and That." Filled with unrelated stuff, with my own small universe right at the center. I so enjoy reading about what is going on in the lives of my blogging buddies; I hope you will find this a little entertaining.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Meet Butch

Smart Guy took this picture just a few minutes ago of Butch and me. I named her "Butch" because she's got that horizontal bar and could be mistaken for a boy, but she's definitely a girl; I know, she told me. She got a complete tuneup, new tires and brake pads, and really rides wonderfully. The guy at Kulshan Cycles told me, when I picked her up, that she has an 18" frame and was considered "top of the line back in the day." I rode the bike around the block before I took her in, and the ride now is completely different! Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, so I rode to Fairhaven, about 6-8 miles. Lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine. I rode back along Boulevard Park to the bus station and took the bus for the last three miles, probably having ridden a total of 10-12 miles. My legs were getting tired. I managed to get the bike secured onto the front of the bus without any problem.
Today it's raining, so I skipped the morning walk, not to mention that the gardening muscles and bicycling muscles are both a bit on the sore side. I figure the rain is good for the garden and a day off is not going to hurt anything. The flowers are out everywhere, and these peonies say hello to me on my way to check my veggies in the garden. Aren't they pretty?

Tomorrow is looking like more of the same weather, which means no skydiving this weekend. Today it's raining and there's a 70% chance for tomorrow. Even if it's not raining, it's likely to be cloudy. Someone asked recently why we can't jump through clouds. It's an FAA regulation: when you jump out of the plane, you need to see the ground. A plane could be on the other side of the cloud. When we get ready to leave the plane, we take a good look around for any air traffic, and the pilot also keeps watch. Of course, if you happen to fall through a cloud, there's nothing to be done about it, you can't very well stop! The pilot can lose his or her license if he or she allows a parachutist to get out and jump through clouds. Back in 1967, sixteen skydivers jumped out through clouds over Lake Erie and drowned, thinking they were over land. I found a legal document online that tells the tale here.

I'll read some of the books I've got from the library, or maybe even spend some time walking around in the rain (I know for  fact I won't melt), but I probably won't be riding Butch, digging in the garden (which will just be mud), or jumping out of airplanes. The rain is falling gently on the roof right now. Oh, and just for your pleasure, I found that Ray Morris, one of the Flickr people I follow, recently caught this amorous picture of two eagles.
Kiss Me
Ray Morris Flickr site
It's that time of year, I guess.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cub Creek repeat

Eleven Senior Trailblazers decided to skip Welcome Pass (on the schedule for today) because Al, Steve, and Fred went up last Sunday to check out the snow levels in the High Country. They reported to us that it would be prudent to let those hikes "marinate" for a while yet. Instead, we went up the south side of Stewart Mountain, also known as Cub Creek, which we last visited in February; it was raining and snowing that day. You can see how different it was just a few months back. The weather today was predicted to clear in the afternoon. No rain at all when we started out.
We did, however, earn our "Trailblazer" moniker today. There is a very faint trail somewhere there within the bushes, so tall that Jonelle is almost obscured. We bushwhacked our way out of these bushes only to find ourselves engulfed in fog. The higher we got, the foggier it was, meaning we wouldn't be able to see any view again today; we stopped for lunch out of the wind right on the logging road, rather than going to the south summit. There was no reason to do that, as our main focus became putting on all the clothes we brought to keep ourselves warm and settling in for a nice lunch.
Three people joined us today that I haven't seen in awhile. That's Diane in the foreground, who has returned from her winter home to spend the summer with us. Ward (Norm's friend, not Linda's husband Ward) also joined us for the first time this year. And Aspen, who was on a hike with us last fall, showed up today as well. The company made it all worthwhile. And we had to stay close together: here's why.
It was necessary to keep track of eleven people on this old logging road as we made our way down, and people disappeared into the mist in no time. We had a few sprinkles, either that or the fog got really thick for a bit, but otherwise we stayed dry. It was cold, though: I needed all the clothes I brought. Someone remembered at lunchtime that today is Flag Day, and Steve was wearing all the right colors, so I'll close with this picture.
By the time we reached the cars, we had climbed a total of 2,500 feet and covered 9.3 miles in total, which made it a good workout even if there was no view. All in all, a very good day, and now it's Wine Thirty! Guess where I'm going...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Garden is coming along

Amy, Marym, and Clint, June 2012
This past weekend the community garden took a huge step forward. We hauled in four yards of topsoil, that nice looking stuff in the beds behind Amy. I myself shoveled at least one yard all by myself. How much is a yard, you ask? Well, I now can answer that question. It fills the back of a pickup and is one cubic yard of soil. That's a LOT!
The way it happened is that Carol (not shown, but that's her son's pickup) decided to get a yard of soil to put on top of the hard clay soil (rototilled not very deep and mixed with horse manure) and everybody wanted some, too. I split a yard with another person because I had already planted at least a third of my plot.
My half topsoil plot, with Clint's plot on left and unused plot on right
That's the way my garden looked by the end of the day Saturday, with the already planted stuff showing itself looking pretty perky, and my virgin topsoil, which now has Swiss chard, a tomato plant, green beans, and cabbage in half of it. I still want to get some collard starts and more kale in the remaining two rows. I have been going outside to say hello to my veggies every morning before I head out to catch the bus, give them plenty of encouragement, and see if they are asking for water.

I've made some mistakes: I stuck the cabbage into the ground and Clint looked at it skeptically. He told me that there were EIGHT cabbage plants, and they all needed to be separated and stuck in rows, since they would get very large. What am I going to do with all that cabbage? Hope my neighbors like cabbage.

But what is so exciting to me is to observe the way the squash plants have begun to grow. The zucchini squash has more than doubled in size, and the two delicata squash plants are growing rapidly. My zinnia and marigold seeds have germinated and are showing pretty green sprouts. No sign of the carrots from seed yet, but I'm optimistic. I am enjoying myself far more than I ever thought I would, and it's a long time before I'll be eating anything from the garden. The community spirit is another side benefit; many of my fellow residents are now friends of mine, and we all have different approaches to the garden.

Amy decided not to plant in rows but instead companion plant in delightful randomness. At least it looks that way to me, but she has a notebook and is monitoring the plants' progress meticulously. It inspired Clint to dig up his already planted onions and plant them in a sine wave pattern, with his other plants whimsically placed around it. Mine are planted in rows, because I didn't know any better and I don't want to disturb them since they're doing so well. But next year, watch out!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tuneups and brussels sprouts

Here's my first garden starts! Nobody told me what a LOT OF WORK it was to prepare just the ground you see in the picture. Although the entire area had been rototilled and broken up somewhat, with the horse manure mixed in, I still needed to get the old shovel into the ground to break it up more and mix it with what is called "soil amendment." I chose three bags of premium compost, which came with the instructions to mix with 50% soil. Well! Once I got a big shovel of soil, I had to break it up with a hoe until I could get it mixed together and looking moderately soil-like. I have more than half of my plot still to go. This weekend will see me out there preparing the rest of it, hopefully.
Here I am showing Mary, another gardener-to-be, what I've got started. Now when I go to the grocery store, I spend some time looking over the garden starts outside, and I'm thinking that bush beans (the snap kind) and collards will be next. I've got three different brussels sprouts plants, three basil plants, ONE zucchini plant (I heard you, and frankly it looks the happiest of any of them), and two Asian eggplants out there. I was told that these eggplants mature earlier and are better for our short growing season. Oh, and two delicata squash plants. I also planted some carrots from seed.

The "new" bike is in getting a tuneup, new tires, and fenders. This is the Pacific Northwest, after all, and I figure I won't mind having fenders the first time I'm riding in the rain. Today I took the bike to Kulshan Cycles, which comes very well recommended by everyone I asked. We discussed what happens to rubber when it gets old (it deteriorates, even when not used) and so at the very minimum I needed to replace the brake pads. I decided to go ahead and get new tires as well, even though the ones on the bike would probably be just fine for the amount of riding I'll be doing. But it seemed prudent just to replace them, too. I'll pick her up on Wednesday, and I'm really excited now!

Between the garden and bicycling, I hope I will have some time left over for skydiving and my regular workouts. I'm learning that gardening muscles are not the same ones as those I use for lifting weights. Now I understand what Annie at Elegant Blessings is talking about when she comes in from a long day in the garden. Of course, she's also got chickens and acres of land to worry about, while I've got just a teeny little plot. There is so much to learn! But I'm a willing student.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What a day we had

Intrepid Trailblazers Al, Jonelle, Steve
When I first started hiking with the Trailblazers more than three years ago, I was told not to watch the weather trying to decide whether we would go or not because, as Al said to me back then, "We go rain or shine." Today was not one of the shiny ones. Only four of us showed up on another rainy day, with rain or rain showers in the forecast for the entire day. I almost stayed home myself. I am sure glad I didn't, since it was an exceptionally wonderful day.

We were scheduled to drive up to the Mt. Baker Wilderness and make our first excursion of the year to Excelsior Pass. Al and Fred went there a week or so ago to check out the snow situation. Al wrote about it here. However, it's a fairly long drive, and I suggested that hiking locally in the rain was a bit more acceptable to me than driving for an hour and THEN hiking in the rain, so we decided to head up to the Clayton Beach parking lot and hike up to Burnout Point and then down to Fragrance Lake. We last went up there in March, with lots of snow. It looked very different just two months ago, with snow and fog; today everything is green and in bloom.
By the time we got to the first viewpoint, the rain had let up a bit and the wind was really blowing. We even had a view of the bay, which surprised me. When we started out, I thought it would be a repeat of last week's hike. I asked Al to take a picture of me with the view behind me. You can see by my transition lenses that we had no sun at this point.
I had taken off my jacket and draped it across my shoulders, since the hard uphill in this part of the trek was causing me to overheat. And the rain wasn't too bad anyway. Off we went up to the clearcut, the least attractive part of this hike. We didn't see Baker or have much view in the distance, but the clouds were lightening up and I got a good look at Lost Lake.
From this high point of our journey, we began a gradual downhill to Fragrance Lake, where we would stop for lunch. Along the way, Steve pointed out that the salmon berries are just beginning to ripen. I ate this one right after I took its picture; it was very tart and not quite ripe, but here it is almost mid-June and I'm already eating this year's fruit. In a few more days I suspect it would have been much better.
It's not quite in focus. I didn't have time to get it just right as I was trying not to hold up my friends from getting to our lunch spot. Once we got to Fragrance Lake and ate our lunch, suddenly we were inundated with lots of kids! It was quite a surprise, being a Thursday, but one of the teachers told us it that the entire third grade class from an elementary school in Burlington was enjoying the outdoors along with us. We decided to hike around the lake before heading back, and I got this picture of some of them on the other side of the lake.
That's where we had lunch a bit earlier. As you can see, nobody is huddled under trees trying to avoid the rain, because by this time it had stopped completely. On the way back down, we even began to cast a shadow, and then sun breaks filtered through the trees. It was far nicer than I could ever have imagined when I started out from home this morning. Here's a picture of Jonelle and all the incredible ferns that are now sharing their beauty with us.
When Jonelle saw this picture, she noticed her "hat hair" which we all had from the rain hats we wore earlier. I, however, couldn't help but see the way all the colors of spring showed up in this lovely picture. And now, as I sit here writing this, the rain has started again, much harder than anything we experienced today. We must be doing something right. By the time we reached the parking lot, we had covered almost ten miles and 2,100 feet of elevation gain and loss. It was a super wonderful day. I'm so glad I got myself out today, rain or shine!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Exciting stuff keeping me busy

I just became the proud owner of this ten-year-old bicycle, which has been ridden only a few times. My sister was going to send me hers, and I mentioned it while on my last hike. It turned out that this bike was also available for cheap and was right in Bellingham, too! I picked it up yesterday from my friend's home and today I bought a helmet, bicycle pump, and a lock. We had to deflate the front tire to get it off (past the brakes) and stick it in the back of my car, but it's home now and only needs to be turned upright and taken for a spin. That's one thing going on, and now I can put it aside while I concentrate on the garden!
Our community garden is taking shape, and we are all working in our areas to get our soil ready for planting already-started seedlings. I bought 4.5 cubic feet of garden compost this morning, and the three bags in the right-hand side of the picture are ready for me to take out the contents and hoe it into the ground. This is quite a lot of work, and I'm learning from watching my neighbors as they prepare their own plots. I will be spending more money this year for a bit of return than during any other year, but I am such a neophyte at this I'm confused by what is the best and most productive way to do this. We do have one guy who knows exactly what to do and is making the rest of us envious.
One guess where his plot is. The center plot is a community garden for all of us to use, and people have been putting plants in there one at a time. I'm just hoping to get my own veggies into the ground by the end of the week. Things keep coming up and interfering with my plans. And then yesterday I managed to cut my left middle finger when slicing up an apple, right at the knuckle joint, and every time I stress it, it begins to bleed all over again. I won't work in the garden without gardening gloves on, so I'm not too worried about it, but it makes me angry at myself.

And right about now, early afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, the transit of Venus is beginning. We cannot see it here, as the clouds are covering the sun and spitting a bit of rain as well. (Perfect for working in the garden if I can just get everything else accomplished first.) The planet Venus will pass in front of the sun for the next six hours. The picture below was taken in 2004, and today's transit will be the last one until 2117.
From Astronomy Picture of the Day
The little dot on the right-hand side of the sun is Venus. I'm sure a picture of today's event will appear on the APOD site tomorrow or very soon, at any rate.

Since there are so many things going on in my life at the moment, I neglected to write a post this past weekend and am determined to get one up before going out to dig in the garden. Spreading compost and planting stuff is a lot of work, although very rewarding nevertheless. I also bought zinnias and marigolds to plant and will get those in this week as well, to help control pests, my blogging buddies tell me. I can hardly wait until I have plants to show you, but I can't accomplish everything all at once, although I do try.

This past Sunday I made two skydives in very unsettled weather. Lots of clouds (you can't jump through clouds) meant we sat around for two hours before getting in the plane for our first skydive of the day. Sometimes it's harder to sit around than it is to jump. I was as tired when I left after two skydives as I was last week when I made four. When I got home I didn't get around to writing a post and hoped it would happen yesterday, but it didn't. I'm trying to tell myself that the deadlines I set for myself are mine alone and nobody is going to lose any sleep over my failure to publish a post, but it doesn't take away my desire to write one.

When the weather is fine this summer I will get to know my new bicycle, spend every other waking minute I can in the garden, and blog in between times. Oh, and reading YOUR posts is high on my list, so I need to make time for that. It's like missing a coffee date, otherwise.