Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Got my flu shot

Picture lifted from WiseQuacks: Doctors without Boredom
I got my annual flu shot yesterday and no, that's not me. I went to Google Search to find a picture for this post, and I laughed when I saw that one. My pharmacist at RiteAid, Tom, gave me my shot, and I think I might have grimaced a little, but I didn't actually make any noise. It didn't hurt much, just a little sting. That picture appealed to me when I went to the website and found it links to a site called WiseQuacks: Doctors Without Boredom. (This link goes to the "About Us" page, giving information about the two Canadian doctors who run the website and host a weekly talk show.)

I also learned from the link under the picture that people who get a flu shot are at lower risk for stroke, too. It's been quite a long time since I've had the flu, but I well remember the last time. I was home from work for at least a week, and I was a lot younger then. I'll do what I can to avoid the flu, including washing my hands often and getting that annual shot.

Because of my age, the pharmacist wanted to give me the double dose that people over 65 are eligible for, but I declined it. He said it's because as we age our immune systems get weaker, so they give a larger dose to the elderly. Frankly, that seems a little strange to me, since everything else gets weaker, too, and forcing our body to mount a response to the shot might affect other systems negatively. Anyway, I got the regular dose and wonder if I did the right thing. Smart Guy got the high dose shot.

I know some people never get flu shots and don't seem to get sick, but I've got very strong memories of the last time I got it, and I really don't want it again. What do you think?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A fabulous series and a fine walk

The view from the ferry terminal this morning
Today is supposed to be sunny, eventually, but this is how it looked as we ladies started out our five-mile walk from the ferry terminal this morning. I love the changing color of the trees and thought about cropping out the cars and trucks, but I didn't after fiddling with it a bit. It's the trees I wanted to show you, along with the fog. There is still fog outside, even though it's four hours later. It will be gone eventually, but who knows how long before it lifts? Nevertheless, we had a really nice dry walk at a brisk pace.

I am more than halfway through the Ken Burns series on The Roosevelts. I have already learned so much! I didn't know that FDR (Franklin Roosevelt) was 39 when he contracted polio, how it affected his life and how he dealt with it. Last night I watched the fourth in the series of seven, and it was so informative that I watched it again, with Smart Guy joining me. I have three more episodes to go, and I'm looking forward to them very much. I know that at least one of them will teach me a great deal about the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, who redefined what it meant to be the First Lady. I was also reminded that it was only a little more than a century ago (1920) that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution finally gave women the right to vote. That simply boggles my mind.

Anyway, if you get a chance to see that series, don't miss it. Ken Burns amazes me at the way he takes archival footage and brings it to life. And I'm also hoping that the fog will lift tomorrow early enough to let me get my knees in the breeze at Skydive Snohomish. My last season of skydiving is fast coming to a close.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Another soggy hike

Doug, Kirk, Chris, Carol, Rich, Steve, and Mikey
Today looked like it might not be as wet as last week's hike, and sure enough, it wasn't quite that wet, but still. Nine Senior Trailblazers showed up on an overcast but still dry day in Bellingham, and after much discussion we decided to drive the sixty miles up the Mt. Baker Highway to Artist Point and attempt Ptarmigan Ridge. There have been many similar days on this trail in recent years, but last year, on the same date, we had some magnificent views, along with snow. Today was our first hike of the fall season as well.
Mike, Rich and Chris getting ready for the rain
As we drove up the road, the rain began, and didn't let up much at all as we arrived at the Artist Point parking lot and got ready for a wet hike. There's Rich in a poncho and his rain skirt, and Mikey looking on from behind with his umbrella. Chris had devised a belt to hold her poncho in place and it seemed to work very well.
Al in his poncho, Ptarmigan Ridge visible behind him
After we had gone less than a mile, the rain began to lessen, and we even had a quick glimpse of our shadow. Our views (and I know there are some spectacular ones here) were pretty, even if they were a little less inspiring than last year's. It was pleasant to be hiking along in cool weather, especially when it wasn't raining.
Clouds and fall colors
Once we reached the ridge, we decided to chance it and take off some rain gear. Not everyone did this, of course, but some of our number get very hot encased in plastic while exercising. We were also confident that it would not be a constant rain like we had last week. It turned out to be the perfect description of "occasional showers."
Mike, Chris, Rich, Kirk, Doug, Al
As you can see here, Rich removed his poncho and skirt, and Al changed from a poncho to his raincoat. Kirk stashed his poncho, and Mikey put away his umbrella (but not for long). We made our way along the trail to Ptarmigan Ridge. It was actually quite pleasant, but once in awhile the rain would remind us it wasn't completely gone.
Me in my new raincoat (Carol's picture)
I left on my raincoat, which I purchased new yesterday. Yes, I know I have that great eVent jacket from REI, but it sure didn't keep me dry last week, and I wanted something I could carry with me that would be very light and keep me drier. It worked perfectly; I was very pleased, even though it's not an expensive jacket, it did what I needed it to do today.
Return of the rain
And then the rain returned in earnest, and we decided not to stop for lunch but to turn around and make our way back to the trailhead. We thought we could have lunch at the Beer Shrine (or maybe beer and pizza instead of our packaged lunch) if we were willing to wait awhile longer. Nobody wanted to stop and eat, knowing we would get cold, so off we went back to the trailhead. We ended up hiking six miles with a moderate amount of up and down, but nothing like our usual distance.
The muted fall colors on our return
It wasn't even 2:00pm when we returned to the cars, so we drove off hoping for a late lunch at the Shrine, but it was closed. So down the road we went to Refugio's, having a nice (if very late) lunch before heading home. I was very pleased with my own updated rain gear, and we were happy to say goodbye to each other after having spent another fine day in the wilderness together. It turns out it was dry all day in Bellingham, so we actually drove sixty miles, unbeknownst to us at the time, just to play in the rain!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sunrise Autumn 2014

Mt. Baker casting a shadow
When I walked out of the front door this morning, this amazing sight greeted me. The sun is rising directly to the east (I said west, what was I thinking?) on this date, and I figure that Mt. Baker, which is right there in that spot where the cone is, cast a shadow on the sunrise from my vantage point that would only happen today (or maybe a day or two each side of the equinox), but I've never seen anything like this on any other day. Of course, the clouds also had to be just right, too. Cool, huh?

My friend Judy asked me if I had been watching the PBS documentary on the Roosevelt dynasty (seven parts, all available on line or for purchase). I had not, but they are also On Demand for me (since I have Comcast cable), so I went over to watch the first of them this afternoon. I am hooked, and I also learned some historical facts that I didn't know. I'm looking forward to watching the next six. They don't lend themselves to binge-watching, however, so I'll take my time. Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my favorite people; I didn't know she was the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt's younger brother.

I do hope you have a good first day of fall. It's also my sister Markee's 53rd birthday. Happy birthday, sister. When did you ever get that old? Oh wait: I'm nineteen years older than that, so never mind.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The end of summer party

Amy, Al, Carol, me, Rich, Chris, Steve, Jonelle, Karen
For three summers in a row, Jonelle has hosted an end-of-summer party at her place. She likes to go with a theme. For the first year, she said she would really like to see what her hiking buddies look like when they dress up, so that's what we did (the pictures of us in our finery are at the end). Last year, she asked us to wear the oldest thing still in our closet. That made for quite a variety of outfits.

And this year (can you guess?), it was a hat party. In the invitation she said that clothing is optional, but a hat is not. Fourteen people showed up, five in addition to the ones in this picture (taken by Jonelle's husband Carl). It was wonderful to see Amy again, who has been absent from our hikes because of a new knee and back problems.
Amy and Jonelle catching up
That's one unfortunate side effect of being a member of this elite group of Senior Trailblazers: we come and we go, and sometimes we are sidelined for a while because of injuries or our inevitable infirmities. We all, however, enjoy getting together for reunions or holidays to celebrate our connection. You don't spend an entire day together every week for long before you realize your extended family has grown.
Ross, Bob, Steve, Rich telling tall tales
While some of the guys sat around on the porch, unbeknownst to Steve a cake was being prepared to celebrate his birthday, which happened to be yesterday, the day of our party. I must admit I enjoyed the cake in spite of myself, and having eaten more than I intended, today I'm going to be very good. It amazes me that when I overeat, the next morning I am really hungry. Does that happen to everyone?
Sunset taken from Jonelle's porch
Jonelle has a wonderful view of Bellingham Bay from her expansive covered porch, and I caught this picture before we headed back to our respective homes. I again thank all my dear hiking buddies for another simply wonderful summer of hikes to many of the most beautiful places in the universe. And to Jonelle for hosting once again, and I'm already planning my outfit for next year.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A drizzly Hannegan Pass

Wet but happy
It never fails to amaze me: nine Senior Trailblazers showed up this morning in a fairly steady drizzle to drive for more than an hour to Hannegan Pass, where we were scheduled to hike today. The optimists among us felt that we might escape the rain as we drove upwards to begin our trek. Today was just about the opposite of last year, when we hiked all the way to the top of the peak in full sunshine. Check it out here. (You newbies can see just what you missed today.)
Changing leaves, dramatic cliffs behind
It wasn't all bad; in fact, much of it was very tolerable. Last year, I remember almost fainting from the incredible heat from the intense sun; today it was quite easy to hike the more-than-four miles to the pass in a light drizzle. But we didn't ever have a view of much of anything. By the time we made it to the pass, everyone was quite content to settle down to a quick lunch repast and head back down. Nobody was interested in trying for the peak, with no view. Again, last year was very different. 
Bob settling in for a nice lunch, protected from the rain
Our conversation today was quite lively, with Rich and Chris happy to get another chance to check out their rain gear for their upcoming springtime adventure on the Santiago de Camino trail. (I knew I would see them today, and they didn't disappoint me.) We headed back down the trail before 1:00pm, and enjoyed the truncated views.
Waterfalls and flowers
There were several pretty waterfalls to see, and this one goes up quite a bit farther, but since I only had my cellphone camera today, I was limited in what I could photograph. This picture turned out rather nice, considering. As we moved towards our starting point, I kept trying to find a picture that would give a good feeling of what it was like today.
Turning maple leaves covered with water
If you were to enlarge this picture, you would notice that all those leaves are covered with moisture from the rain, which never really let up all day long. Knowing that we had two newbies who have never been on this hike before, I kept turning and looking back as we descended to the trailhead, hoping that some of the incredible views would emerge. But it was not to be.
The valley today
This was all we saw on our return journey down the valley back to the trailhead. We ascended and descended around 2,100 feet of elevation, but the view was the same the entire way: fog and mist. Now I am home, with my glass of wine finished, and now my post finished as well, as I can say that it was actually a fine day, having gotten some good exercise and spent it with good friends. And I might add that something in between last year's intense heat and today constant drizzle might be a great thing for next year!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guess when we will get rain

Beautiful sunflower
I was in line at the grocery store when the woman in front of me was buying a bouquet of these beauties. I grabbed my phone and took this shot. It's so nice to have a camera, a fairly good one, with me everywhere I go. And they apparently continue to improve with each iteration. This Thanksgiving I will have had my phone for two years and can trade it in for a new one. You know I will, but I won't be getting the iPhone6+, that's for sure. Too big, if you ask me. You know it's large when they start calling it a phablet (phone + tablet).

And yes, the rain will be returning to our neck of the woods on Thursday. It's been sunny and more than ten degrees warmer than our normal temperatures, and wouldn't you know it? All that will leave late tomorrow (Wednesday) and stay around for a couple of days. Then back to more of the same sunny skies we've had now for what seems like ages!

It was so nice that I went to the Drop Zone on Sunday and made three skydives with my friends. It was so pleasant that Goldilocks would have approved: it was not too hot, not too cold, just right! Then yesterday it was 82 degrees F (28 C) without a cloud in the sky, a little on the warm side for me. Today, however, it's supposed to be much cooler and high clouds have already begun to move in. I don't mind, really; my raincoat has been neglected for way too long. You know where I'll be on Thursday, come rain or come shine!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Next to last Saturday of Summer 2014

We used to talk to each other: Gene, me, John
I asked a young man at the table behind us to take this picture. He kept smiling at us as I was explaining to John how to do things on his new tablet. The guy said it's the same thing with his mom: he had to teach her how to text so that they could talk to each other. Gene doesn't have wifi in his home, so he brings his tablet to the coffee shop to use their connection, check his email and Facebook. John wanted to know how to get onto Craigslist. He's catching on fast.
Leo and his dad
I was also very pleased to see Leo at the coffee shop; he said his dad brought him in before school and would be taking him after his breakfast (and after Robert's espresso). Leo goes to a Montessori school, and I was going to link to it, but I just discovered that Bellingham has FOUR of them. Although Leo told me the name of his school, I can't remember which one it is. Anyway, he's growing up so fast, it's wonderful to see him now and then. He'll soon be six years old!
Pricey but beautiful
After my morning walk with the ladies, I stopped by the Farmers' Market to pick up some veggies, and I saw these beautiful heirloom tomatoes calling my name. I grimaced when I priced a few of them and decided to be happy with the regular ones from my own garden. Maybe next week.

And yes, summer is quickly coming to a close. A week from Monday, September 22, marks the Autumnal Equinox, and after that day, the nights will get gradually longer than the days, until we descend into winter. But you sure wouldn't know it today: it's sunny (again!) and has already warmed into the 70s, with tomorrow forecast to be even warmer. Oh, all right, I'll take it! Happily.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A beautiful day at Lake Ann

From back: Mary, Rebecca, Carol, Diane, Bob, Steve, Peggy
I know this post is late, and it's because I only walked in the door a few minutes ago from a long day out in the Mt. Baker Wilderness with seventeen Senior Trailblazers. And then downloading my pictures caused another delay, so here it is after 7:00pm and I'm just getting started. The group was so large that we needed to break into two groups, and these are the people I hiked with up to Lake Ann on a beautiful, sunny and cool day.
Mt. Baker from the valley
This hike starts off at about 4700 feet and descends into a valley, where you cross a couple of streams and lots of rocks before you begin your ascent up to Lake Ann at 4800 feet. Along the way you get this marvelous view of Mt. Baker. By the time you climb out of the valley through the rocky shale, you lose sight of this mountain, but there are other benefits.
Rebecca and Lake Ann
As you lose sight of the mountain, you finally see Lake Ann below you after a long climb, with a wonderful vista behind. This was Rebecca's first hike with the Senior Trailblazers, but she didn't have any problems and I really enjoyed getting to know her. Once we got to the top we ran into the other group, who had followed around a mile behind us, so that we wouldn't get into trouble with the rangers (groups are supposed to be 12 or fewer in the wilderness).
Enjoying our lunch while we admire the glaciers on Mt. Shuksan
That's Mt. Shuksan's backside and the upper and lower Curtis glaciers that we're looking at. The day was simply gorgeous and although I feel like I got just a bit too much sun, it was a glorious day. We've come up here in October when the leaves are aflame, and other times when this spot has been covered with snow. But today, it was a perfect hiking temperature, not too hot, not too cold: just right.
Rebecca, Diane, Al, Carol, Steve
I'm using this picture, even though Rebecca has her hand in front of her face, because it shows the glaciers and some of my colorful hiking companions. After lunch, we decided to walk around the lake before heading back down. But before we did, I wanted to get a picture of our newlyweds, Jonelle and Carl, who have been a married couple for ten days now. We give the relationship at least a few more weeks.
Jonelle and Carl, who tied the knot on August 27, 2014
Who knows what lies in our futures when we get out and hike together? They now have combined their lives and destiny but I suspect we'll be seeing lots more of them both for a few years to come. I hope so, anyway. And then we walked around the lake before heading back.
Looking back at Mt. Shuksan and the upper and lower Curtis glaciers
We began our descent across the rocks, then through the valley before starting the final push upwards back to the cars. The temperature stayed cool, but it always seems longer on the way back, being tired and wishing for the hike to end. We call it the "trail stretcher" that comes out on the return trips. But just before we reached the end, I turned and looked back.
Goodbye for another year, Lake Ann
Here you can see where we had been: way over the valley on the other side, where the glaciers and Mt. Shuksan await our return next year, if all goes well. It was simply a wonderful day, filled with so much sunshine, incredible views, and joyful company all day long. I just took the last sip of my wine, so now I'm ready to sign off and rummage in the fridge for dinner. Blessings from Bellingham!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Sunday hike

Fred, Peggy and Diane in front of one of the twin lakes
Well, there I was vacillating about whether or not to go skydiving on Sunday, when on Saturday Peggy mentioned, while on our walk, that three of the Ferndale group were going to Winchester on Sunday and there was room for one more person. Since I had never been there before, that answered my question: let's go hiking!
Blueberries within reach of the trail
The hardest part of this hike up Winchester Mountain to reach a fire lookout is the drive there: It's 6.5 miles on a rutted one-lane road, with cars going in the other direction needing to pull over if possible, or back up until you find a good spot. It took us 45 minutes to travel that short distance. And there were so many cars! I remembered why I'm so glad I get to hike during the week, avoiding countless people, dogs, cars and screaming kids. But we started early, so we beat the crowds for the first part of our trek up to the lookout. It's under two miles and up 1,300 feet (meaning it's steep but short), but the views!
Twin Lakes from the top of Winchester Mtn
We didn't hurry up the trail; it was hard not to sample as many blueberries as we could. When we first reached the lookout, all the people who were up there for the night had started down, and the hordes coming up were still below us. If you look closely at that picture, you can see the parking lot between the two lakes. It holds more than 30 cars, and almost every spot was taken by the time we returned.
Cabin and Mt. Baker in the distance,  sign giving elevation of 6,521 feet
We explored the pristine cabin, which is available to anyone who wants to spend the night there (first come) and signed the guest book. Wouldn't it be incredible to see the stars on a clear night? It would be so quiet and peaceful. And the views!
Diane, Peggy and Mt. Baker
When I took this picture, I was inside the cabin looking at the view of my friends and the mountain. Then I set up the self timer and got this picture of the four of us before we started back down. We spent close to an hour on the top, and before we started our descent, more than a dozen people had arrived, plus dogs, and on the way back down we passed dozens more, with rambunctious kids and their canine companions.
Diane, me, Peggy, Fred
We thought we might saunter down the trail to the High Pass junction and then mosey up that way a little ways, but while we were up here at the top, we noticed that it's not exactly flat to get to High Pass, meaning you would need to descend into a valley and then climb up to see the view. Instead, we were happy to try to beat the crowds of cars that would be all trying to leave at the same time.

As it was, even though it was fairly late in the afternoon, there were still plenty of cars filled with more people on their way up the road. It was actually good that we finally got out when we did. We stopped at Graham's and had our obligatory ice cream cones before heading home. I'm glad we didn't try to cram more into the day, as I was still plenty tired and was glad to have earned my wine. What a great way to spend a Sunday!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Clouds, where are you?

We get some pretty ones around here
I took this picture early in the morning one day last week, before it started to get really sunny again. I find it amusing that we here in the Pacific Northwest are currently warmer than most places in the country. This morning I went out walking with the Fairhaven walkers on a crisp, clear day and walked more than 7 miles. Since Cindy had warned us about the length (longer than our usual walks), only nine of us showed up. That's the smallest group I remember in the years I've walked with them. Several of the ladies are preparing for a marathon in Vancouver, BC, in a month or so, and they have been walking longer distances. Next week is a 15K (9.3 miles) here in Bellingham sponsored by Fairhaven Runners and Walkers. Many of my friends will be running or walking it.

Not me, though. My knees won't take it, and I'm gingerly walking longer distances without using the brace, since I'm not in any pain. I carry it with me, however, and slap it on at the first sign of any discomfort. I was able to get in more than two hours of fast walking today and it feels fine. But I'm still not going to train for a marathon and will take care of myself with shorter pursuits.

It reminds me that once, long ago, I decided to run a marathon and began training for it. Every time I would get above 30 miles in a week, I'd get injured. And now several decades have gone by to remind me that I no longer have to even try. Tomorrow, however, I'm going out with some friends to experience a new hike and enjoy these waning summer days.

The clouds will return, and I'll be happy to see them, too. But for now, sunscreen and my wide-brimmed hat will join me. My raincoat hangs dejectedly in the closet, but I've assured it that it won't be long now.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Heliotrope Ridge on a perfect day

Nice little waterfall on the trail
Ten Senior Trailblazers set out for Heliotrope Ridge on a day without a cloud in the sky. I've done this hike on days when we couldn't see much because of the fog, and times when we couldn't get across the creek. But today, we traveled up the much-used trail to get up close and personal with two of Mt. Baker's glaciers. The Washington Trail Association has a good write-up about the trail here, and I've added an excerpt from that link that says it very well:
As you travel through stunted evergreens, the incredible hulking Baker makes its presence known. Soon encounter the first of two challenging (potentially dangerous) crossings of braided Heliotrope Creek. Plan on getting your feet wet in icy-cold, rapidly moving waters. Be aware, too, that if it's a hot day your return will be even more difficult because of melting snows from above.
We were all together, still, when we reached the first of those challenging stream crossings, but some of us decided to cross, and others didn't want to. (We had also run into three of our friends who were hiking separately. They also decided not to cross.)

Some crossed, some didn't
 I didn't think I'd cross over the stream. Al is busy giving walkie-talkies to the group who will go up the climber's route instead of crossing the stream. It wasn't easy, and thinking of the return route I wasn't sure I was making the right decision, but I made my way across anyway and kept my feet dry!
Pretty flowers at one of the stream crossings
And it was worth it, as we got closer and closer to Coleman Glacier and Mt. Baker, the most amazing pictures caught my eye. It looked as if we could simply mosey up Mt. Baker if we wanted, but it was actually several thousand feet above us. I can see why the people use this area to summit the mountain.
The summit of Mt. Baker, with glacier ice in the foreground
Doesn't it look like you could saunter up there on a nice day? It's much farther than it looks, but the glacier! We were above it, looking down at Coleman Glacier, and it was so close we just gaped at it in awe. So beautiful!
The glacier, Mt. Baker, and Rita
Look at that massive glacier! And we were not far from a very nice lunch spot, but we needed to climb a little more to get there. I was beginning to tire, but I kept trudging along, following my friends to a nice place for lunch. Full sun and incredible views made it possible for me to continue. Time for lunch!
Al and Mike enjoying lunch, others behind them
It was nice to stop and fortify myself with a nice lunch while we stopped to enjoy the amazing views. Al pulled out his binoculars and spied the rest of our group on the other side of the ridge, having lunch as well. We confirmed all this with the walkie-talkies and decided on how we would rejoin them. I used my telephoto and got this shot of the others. They had a great view, too, just different from ours.
There they are! Farther away than last week's mountain goats
The best part is that, since we were line-of-sight with our companions, the walkie-talkies worked great. We all left our lunch spots at the same time and got back together to continue down the trail to our cars. For once, it all worked perfectly.

And now I am sitting in my own living room, the day's work done. I had a great day, as did all the other Trailblazers. I would like to leave you with this picture of me, taken in front of the glacier and magnificent Mt. Baker.
What a great day! Me in front of a glacier and a mountain
I took a few pictures of my friends in this same spot, and once I get this published I will send them their own wonderful pictures taken in front of our old friend Mt. Baker and one of her many glaciers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Garden party

Carol's Labor Day harvest
Yesterday, I decided that it would be a good way to get my exercise by going into the garden and working my little plot. Lots of buttercup leaves had begun to encroach into my area, and the sweet peas and other plants were ready to join the compost heap. So that's just what I did.
One of Nate's sunflowers and clouds
At first it was on the hot and sunny side, but then these clouds came in to give us some cover from the sun. I was joined by Carol, Nate, Hedi and Joan before too long. Joan didn't stay, but the rest of us did, and we worked on clearing our various areas. Nate has finished earning his degree and is currently looking for a job. He's been offered one from Boeing and another from some place in Georgia. We all hope he takes the Boeing job because then he'll be nearby, even if he has to move from our apartments.
Nate's garden spot, next to mine on the left side
Since we still have some open spots, I think it might be possible for me to take over Nate's plot, at least for next season. If there are more people who want to join us, we'll work from there. On the back fence he's got some really good raspberries, and you can see my strawberry plants on the left are encroaching on his plot. They are the best strawberries I ever tasted, so it sure would be nice to have more room for them. We'll see.
Nate sipping his drink, Carol clearing the community garden
We gathered chairs and brought our drinks of choice: Nate had something with gin in it, Carol got a beer, and I drank my wine (Hedi doesn't drink), while we talked about the successful season, with what worked and what didn't. In the picture, the ground under Carol's feet was full of old squash plants and weeds, and she had finished clearing the area when I took this picture. Soon after, she joined us in libations. It was fun, and I have to say I have enjoyed this, my third planting season, the most of any so far. And I'm looking forward to next year!

Right now I'm cooking a stew, made with one of Carol's onions, Nate's parsnips, my garlic and zucchini, and Hedi's crookneck squash. I could add more, but the pot is full, bubbling away happily as I write this. And it will be enjoyed for dinner tonight, along with some good bread! Who would ever have thought I'd actually become an accomplished gardener, looking for more garden real estate? Certainly not me!