Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cemetery walk and art

Bayview Cemetery on 29 October 2016
Twenty-five women showed up this morning for our walk, even though it was possibly going to rain on us. It didn't, though, and our leader Cindy told us we'd be walking through the Bayview Cemetery since it's Halloween Weekend. Costumes will begin to emerge on the streets as tonight, Saturday night, is the big one for parties.
Still no rain, well into the walk
It's been such a different place to visit on previous years. We didn't see anything really scary on our walk today, but I did learn from this website that the cemetery is reputed to be haunted.
Among the legends connected with this cemetery are a floating apparition, hot spots and haunted monuments. One is called the Death Bed and rumor has it that anyone who lies on it will move their death closer. Another haunted monument, Angel Eyes, is believed to be home to a spirit that roams the cemetery.
Hmmm. I'll have to pay closer attention. Now that I know what to look for, you never know what you might see. Of course it could always be a costume, right? We weren't dressed up for the occasion, since we were going to visit the art studio of one of our regular members, Ebba, after the walk.
Some of Ebba's glass creations
I have a pair of Ebba's earrings, but today I learned about the glass flowers and birds that she also creates in her studio. She has worked with glass for a long time, but these days it's more of a hobby that happens to give her some income. It was so nice to see her setup.
The kiln
She also provided us with plenty of goodies, which I enjoyed very much, since I had gotten pretty hungry on our seven-mile walk. Oh, and although we didn't have a DROP of rain while we were walking, it started up just as we got in our cars to head out to Ebba's. Do you think we are just lucky, or is one of us holding the rain back? It's been raining ever since.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oyster Dome in reverse

Ellen dressed warmly, and Mikey dressed in his regular outfit
Today nine Senior Trailblazers showed up on another rainy day, with no idea where we might go for our Thursday hike. Obviously the original destination in the wilderness was not going to work out, since even though it was forecast to be rainy in town, it was forecast to be more so in the High Country. We finally decided to head up to Oyster Dome, a regular winter hike, but this time do it in the opposite direction from usual, since it's a nice nine-mile loop.
Samish Bay Overlook
Usually we arrive at Samish Overlook towards the end of our hike, but this time it was early. As you can see, we didn't have wonderful weather, but it was only windy when we were in open areas like this one; the rest of the time we were in the trees snd sheltered. Plus we didn't have much of the "r" word, just the occasional mist.
Linda with a giant maple leaf
At this time of year, the trail is covered with golden leaves everywhere, and the giant maple trees shed these amazingly beautiful ones. We have to tread on them, but they didn't seem to mind. Sometimes we thought we might need to don our raincoats, but we only used them for warmth when it got windy.
Leafy carpet
By the time we reached Oyster Dome, it was a few minutes past noon. The view from the Dome is always nice, but although it looked quite lovely, it was too cold to stop, so once we admired the view, we went back down to a place out of the wind.
View of Samish Bay from Oyster Dome
Once we had our lunch, it was time to start the final push back to the cars. There is only one section of the trail that we cover twice, so it was fun to see the Oyster Dome trail from the other direction than we usually take. It almost seemed like a new trail.
Mushrooms growing in an old tree stump
These mushrooms are growing all around this old tree stump, and inside it as well. We admired it for a few minutes before resuming our descent. I am sorry that the picture doesn't do it justice. Some of those little mushrooms really did look almost lime green.
Looking up at the canopy above us
At one point, I looked up to see the beautiful canopy of trees that we walked under today. And as I said, we never had much precipitation to cause us concern. We covered around nine miles and almost 2,000 feet of elevation, and after not knowing what to expect, we were all pleasantly surprised by the fine day we had. Returning to town, I noticed large puddles, making me think we were again protected from the rain by our guardian angels. And choosing just the right trail for the day!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday again already

Gene and John at Avellino's
I smile when I see these guys hanging out at the coffee shop as I arrive for my regular morning latte. Once I opened up my own iPad, I decided to capture this picture for my post, and then I logged in so that I could join them in digital community. They are both reading Facebook and will stop to share either a cartoon or a video that we might not be seeing at the moment. What a world we live in today: we really did talk to each other once upon a time.
This year's giant pumpkin
And over at the Community Co-op this morning, I saw that they have put out the annual giant pumpkin for patrons to guess its weight. I remember vaguely seeing the weight of last year's giant pumpkin, but now I've forgotten. Maybe it was somewhere in the 300 to 400-pound range. I'm not sure. Anyway, this is a big one, don't you think?

Now that I've gotten my morning exercise routine out of the way, and once this post is written, I don't have anything else on my calendar for the day. Tomorrow is a really full schedule, and then Thursday is the hike. I'm not sure where we'll go, since it's forecast to be another damp one, and we're probably not going into the wilderness area. You never can tell, though; maybe the forecast will change in two days.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A beautiful Saturday in October

Reflection of leaves on Lake Padden
This morning dawned clear and cool, after several days of rain, interspersed with a little sunshine here and there. No rain today, though: it's simply gorgeous. Twenty-three women showed up to walk twice around Lake Padden. Some of them went off for coffee, but I headed over to the Farmers' Market to pick up some bread and headed home to get my laundry done.
Zack's art work this morning
And earlier, when I got my usual latte, my barista created this smile, the first of the day for me. Now my laundry is drying and I'm feeling pretty good about the rest of this fine day. Hope you are having a wonderful day in your part of the world, too.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

What a fine, crazy hike

Eleven of the SIXTEEN who showed up this morning
When I arrived at the Senior Center up on a rainy, dark day for our Thursday hike, I sure didn't expect to see a crowd. One by one, Senior Trailblazers showed up on a day that was not only rainy, but was expected to stay that way for hours. As some of the others were getting ready, I captured this picture, with Al, Rich, Barb, Jim, and me missing. Does it look rainy? it was!
Misty forest
We decided to park at the North Chuckanut trailhead and hike up to Pine and Cedar Lakes. When Al suggested that we might take a short side trip up to Raptor Ridge, I thought to myself that it would add a little distance, but after all, we were out to get exercise, so why not? As we hiked, the rain did come and go, and some of us were even willing to take our raincoats off to stay a little bit cooler.
Raptor Ridge when we arrived
By the time we got to Raptor Ridge, to our surprise the rain had pretty much stopped, and the clouds parted to give us the tiniest bit of a view!
Looking out at the view from the ridge
Although it came and went, for a brief moment we even had sunshine illuminate the ridge, but it was very short-lived. No matter, it wasn't raining, it wasn't really cold, and we had all our friends to visit with. We headed from here to Pine Lake for a lunch stop. We saw this pretty fungi (or as one hiker said, a fun guy.)
Some pretty fungi
We finally made our way to Pine Lake for lunch right around noon. By this time, the rain had let up pretty much, and as we sat down to enjoy ourselves, we got a real treat: sunshine!
Pine Lake
The sun came out to light up the trees and the lake as we sat down on the soggy ground for a nice repast. We'd hike more than five miles and some of us were more than ready for lunch,
Making ourselves comfortable
Finally we decided it was time to start our return journey and leave our wonderful surroundings for another day. We had traveled over this boardwalk to get to our lunch spot, and now it was time to navigate these slippery boards again.
Proceed with caution
Since these boards were wet, we had to carefully pick our way back to the trail so we could return. Fortunately everybody was able to stay dry as we began the journey back to the cars. We decided to go straight back with no side trips, since we knew we would cover more than ten miles and more than 2,000 feet anyway.
Yellow leaves and the trail
Finally we got back to the cars, and we realized that we had been given a wonderful day with plenty of exercise, and a mostly dry afternoon. Everybody was feeling pretty good, and as we drove back to the Senior Center, guess what? It began to rain again! Somebody up there likes us, that's what we decided. Another wonderful day with some of the best people! What's not to like?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It's that time of year again

Keith's spooky front porch
My downstairs neighbor Keith has once again hauled out his Halloween decorations. Since I walk up the stairs to my apartment right next to his front porch, I get to smile at these several times a day. I think most of the pumpkins are from his garden. The eyes on his BBQ are new this year. Glad he's got a sign warning people about the danger here.
My new rain jacket
And I just got back from REI, where I purchased yet another rain jacket. The one I bought last year didn't work very well, and it was too heavy. This one feels just right, but the enormous selection didn't make it an easy choice. Not to mention the prices were all over the place; this one was sort of middle-of-the-road. The reviews online were mostly positive, and it has high zippers which makes it much easier to use the pockets when I'm wearing my backpack with the waist belt.

To think I could have spent close to $400 on a rain jacket shocked me! This is an REI brand, which means it's less expensive than a Patagonia or Black Diamond, which I also looked at and tried on for size. If you're interested, REI has a very interesting page that explains how rain gear actually works. Check it out here. My new jacket is made with something called "REI Elements" and has pit (underarm) zips, which I think really helps to keep me drier and certainly more comfortable when I have to wear it while hiking.

Anyway, you know I'll keep you posted if it works well enough to recommend. I just returned from reading the entire page I linked. Very interesting read indeed!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Another wet day

Lily's coffee and mine this morning
Both Lily and I went off to join the ladies for the 8:00am walk on this soggy morning. We had a brief respite between rainstorms and started off walking in dry weather. Now it's after 1:00pm and it's been raining pretty consistently since halfway through the walk.

We are heading off to a going-away party for my dear friend Carol, who is moving from the apartment complex at the end of the month. It's bittersweet to lose one of my favorite neighbors. Since the apartment is next door to Lynn's, she is hoping for a sweet single guy in his sixties who likes to go places who will move in to Carol's old place. We''ll see what we get!
Taken in our back yard early this summer
Carol is moving back to North Carolina where her family lives. That's Carol in the back with sunglasses on. She will surely be missed. We'll send her off in style, though!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A short, rainy but enjoyable hike

Lisa, Mel, Carol, Ellen, Peggy, Al, Steve (and me)
Yes, eight Senior Trailblazers showed up for what we knew would be a wet hike. We were supposed to be heading into the wilderness, but when we saw a forecast of three inches of rain where were would have hiked, we decided to make it something closer to home. We ended up carpooling over to the North Shore of Lake Whatcom, three miles each way on a mostly flat trail with trees that would shelter us from some of the wind.
Lake Whatcom
We never had a hard rain, but it was wet from the time we started at 8:30am until we finished the hike at 11:00am. Two and a half hours out and back, and everybody had someone to chat with as we walked, making it seem even shorter.
Al with his umbrella
Al took a tip from Mikey and carried an umbrella, which he wasn't sure he would be able to use, if the wind was a problem, but we didn't have any, so he was able to stay pretty darn dry under it. He also didn't carry his pack, although most of the rest of us did.
Red leaves
It was a gentle, enjoyable way to spend a rainy morning together. And since we were done so early, we decided to head back to the Senior Center and have lunch inside where it would be warm and cozy.
Melanie at the trailhead
Once we got back to the cars, I saw that Mel's pretty blue hat was sparkling with raindrops. We only had a light sprinkle falling as we piled in and drove the half-hour back to the Center. Not a really exciting hike, for sure, but downright pleasant indeed. And here it is, early in the afternoon, and I've got an entire day left to settle in, as well as to get ready for the wind storm forecast for tonight.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Vashon Island adventure

Looking like I know what to do
My writers' retreat is behind me for another year, but I am filled with wonderful memories of the five days we spent together, with quite an adventure last Sunday: we rented kayaks and a guide and went out in Quartermaster Harbor on what turned out to be a perfect day. I had never before been in a kayak and was more than a little anxious about it. Sandi, too, was a first-timer. No more! We are both no longer neophytes. After two hours in the salt water, meandering around in rented kayaks, we learned how to paddle, turn, speed up, slow down, and basically how to save our lives if we were to overturn. (Nobody did.)
Linda, me, Sandi, Jann, Deb rafting up
I also learned about "rafting up," where we all get close to each other's kayaks and grab ahold of the paddles. It allowed Erin, our guide, to take this picture. It was all so much fun, and although I was worried about whether I'd even be able to move my arms the next day, I was surprised to find that other than a tiny bit of sensation in my upper arms, I was just fine! About twenty minutes in, I was getting worried because my arms felt so tired already, but Erin showed me what I was doing wrong (mostly gripping the paddle tightly and not pushing with the opposite arm). What a difference, once I found out how to do it right!

We have all made the commitment to come back for another writers' retreat next October, and Erin, Director of Fun for Vashon Watersports, has agreed to help us decide whether we will have another day on the water next year or help find us another exciting adventure on the island.

And there is so much I need to process from the writing we did, but that will be for another time. I'm a little tired from such an intense week, so for the present, it's going to be a little R&R. A happy tired, though.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Our Saturday ritual

Linda, Sandi, Deb, me, Jann
We Vashonistas are taking a break today from our intense schedule of the past two days, with morning and afternoon writing sessions. In a little while, we'll have an afternoon session, but we spent the morning doing what has become our Saturday ritual: breakfast at the Hardware Store (a local restaurant) and then a saunter over to the Farmers' Market. Smaller than ever this year, the vendors were under tents to keep out of the rain. It was indeed still sprinkling a little, and overnight it rained heavily. We were fortunate that it had mostly stopped when we took the picture above. (Thanks to the passerby for the great photos.)

Since this is our fifth year, we had t-shirts designed by my friend Neil, a skydiving friend from years ago, who gave me a super deal on them. They are lavender (of course), since we are staying at the Lavender Hill Farm for the fifth year. Our shirts say: "Vashonista: 5th Reunion, October 2016."

We have one more full day here, tomorrow, and then Monday we will head back into our lives, with another wonderful retreat behind us. I am having a great time, with plenty of blog fodder, and much, much more.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fifth year on Vashon Island

Yesterday's view from Quartermaster Harbor
Yesterday, after the five of us arrived separately by ferry on Vashon Island for our fifth annual writers' retreat, three of us went for a three-mile walk. The three-mile loop takes us by the harbor, and the brilliant blue skies and fluffy white clouds made quite a spectacle, as you can see here. Then we went back to join the others at our wonderful Lavender Hill Farm to make ourselves comfortable in our respective rooms. I have always stayed in one of the basement rooms, until this time. I am ensconced in the suite, for the first time, and now everyone will have had a chance to experience it.
The large suite, my room for five days
The bed is huge, and the separate bath and sitting room are incredibly spacious. I felt a little swallowed up by all the space, at first. After having slept there last night and getting a great night's sleep, I can see why everybody wants to have that room.
Deb, our facilitator, making a bouquet
This morning we began the work. Deb has taken several courses to learn how to facilitate writing groups using the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. We just spent our first morning session using writing prompts and giving and getting feedback from our impromptu writings. Every year I learn a little more about the method, Deb's proficiency increases, and I get to enjoy the company of my fellow Vashonistas.
The living room
This is our writing area; and we are taking a two-hour break for lunch Three of the women went off to town, while I sit here writing this post and Linda is taking a nap. She stayed up rather late, and as usual I was the first to leave last night so that I could get to bed at a reasonable hour and feel quite rested.

Although the writing work is valuable, it is also quite intensive, so we will continue to have a few days more of writing and then for the weekend will explore places on the island that we want to know more about. We leave on Monday, so I will be here on Saturday and will post from Vashon Island once more. We've got rain moving in, quite a lot of it for awhile, but we three walking buddies will head out each morning at 7:00am for the three-mile walk. It's the best way to start a day of mental exercise, I think. More later.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sunrise from my front porch

Mt. Baker and the first rays of the sun
At this time of year, the sun is rising almost exactly due east, and this picture shows yesterday's first light as I watched from my front porch. I rise early enough to do my Five Tibetan Rites before I begin my day. When it's not too cold, I really enjoy being out there, but when it gets below 40°F I move inside.

I have been doing the Five Tibetan Rites for more than two years now, and there are several things that may or may not be attributed to the practice. Since there is only one of me, it's impossible to say whether doing these exercises make any difference at all. But I took high blood pressure medication for more than a decade, and recently I began to notice that even a small dose of the prescription meds seemed to be causing my blood pressure to be too low. With my doctor's blessing, I gradually began taking less and less of it, all the while monitoring my BP closely, and now that I've been off it for several months, my BP is still staying low. Could it be the Rites? I have no way of knowing.

Still, something has changed. My weight has stayed the same (or even up a little), and I did start doing yoga twice a week in January of this year, so... who knows? Anyway, it's a positive change.

Also, it's awfully nice to get up in the morning and work out the kinks with these exercises. My upcoming week will have some new wrinkles in it, as I leave on Wednesday for my fifth annual reunion with my blogging buddies! Right now things are looking good from here.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Attempt at an iPad post

we're off to see the wizard 
One of my blogging friends. Far Side of Fifty, mentioned that she was able to write a blog post from her iPad. I figured I'd give it a try. For me, the hardest part is that my pictures in photos are not available. So I went into my new iPad Pro and here I am, giving it a shot. The picture above must have been used sometime earlier and there it was in my Google Images.

I also tried to highlight Far Side of Fifty to link it, but I can't figure out how. Plus hard as I try, I can't seem to download pictures that I took right here on my iPad! No, this is much harder so I won't be doing it except in a pinch.

We had a wonderful but rather difficult walk this morning with the ladies: first up Taylor Street and a full seven miles of walking. There were only eleven of us. Many stayed home when they saw it would be up the hill. I'm glad I went, though, now that I'm home and happily ensconced in my favorite chair! I was the oldest today but I wasn't the slowest. I'm bragging now.