Saturday, December 30, 2017

Another day and we did it this time

Lake Whatcom this morning
The weather is MUCH nicer outside today: we ladies drove a bit to get to our trailhead at Lake Whatcom, the same trail the Trailblazers did a couple weeks ago, and we walked our 6.2 miles in high spirits. Although we had a couple of inches of rain in the past two days, today it was mostly dry (just a little mist at the beginning) and the trail was in fairly good shape. I waited to take a picture when I saw a bit of blue sky, so you would know it is in color.
Stopped to take a picture and got behind again
The leaves are mostly off the deciduous trees and on the ground, making a bed for the sleeping ferns and other plants to come up in the spring, completing the cycle. This mostly flat hike is one of my favorites, year round.

There were around a dozen of us, with three dogs who visited with several other canines on the trail. This particular walk gets plenty of use and is a good place to walk in a light rain, too, I've discovered, at least when there are more leaves on the trees you stay pretty dry.
Linda and Riley
I asked Linda to turn around so I could get a picture, and Riley heard me, it seems, and turned to the camera as well. I finished the walk feeling really good, no aches and pains, no knee issues. Linda and I discussed our various body parts and their health at length; we're doing pretty well for a couple of septuagenarians.

Then I came home and before I sat down to write this, I streamed the latest episode of "Call the Midwife," the Christmas 2017 special, and I am not ashamed to say I was crying like a baby by the end, but in a good way. Still feeling warm and fuzzy from it. I recommend it if you are interested in the characters at all. They feel like family, as I've watched the show since the beginning and read all three books the characters are based on.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

No hiking for me today

Look at the ice forecast!
When I woke this morning to pack up and go out with my fellow Senior Trailblazers, I checked the forecast, which had been for rain all day. No matter, it won't be the first time for me, but this is what I saw: We had a Winter Weather Warning, with the whole of Bellingham forecast to be encased in ice.

But just to check, I went out to the front porch and it didn't seem so bad. But then I got my trusty headlamp and looked at the steps: they were covered with ice, and the rain was hitting them and making even more ice. I came back inside and pondered what to do. I was certainly not going anywhere at that moment.

Although I couldn't hike (or at least shouldn't), I decided to wait awhile and then head to the bus and make my way down to the coffee shop and then decide what to do next. In the short half-hour between when I first checked the steps and when I finally did, the temperature had risen enough that the only really bad place was the steps, because they are elevated and just right to gather ice.

I walked to the bus in the dark, noticing that there were only a few patches of ice and they were easy to miss. I also noticed that by the time I reached the coffee shop, I could have gone just about anywhere with no problem. However, it was still raining (and will continue all day), so I headed over to the gym and got a little exercise in the dry and warm main exercise area.

And now I'm back home, having had an outing but feeling a little sorry I didn't press right on through. I have no idea if anybody showed up, and if so, where they ended up going. I will find out, though, I'm sure. Yesterday at the eye doctor's, I got the All Clear to do pretty much anything, and with only a final three-week checkup on the right eye, and three more weeks of twice-daily drops in it. Left eye is now considered all done. Yay!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Not your usual Christmas breakfast

Beer and pizza!
While the three of us, John, Lilly and I, went off looking for a place to purchase a decent cup of coffee on Christmas morning, we did actually find a nice place at the local Safeway store, which had a nice cafeteria and was even open at 8:00am on Christmas morning. We headed over there to enjoy coffee rather than at our wonderful Avellino's, which was closed on Christmas to give everybody a chance to be with their own families. Gene showed up while we were at the Safeway store, and he told us about a new place we should check out, Greene's Corner.

After looking online and discovering that it would open at 10:00am on Christmas morning, we went over to take a look. It's a place that features pizza and an incredible variety of on-tap beer. Now that might not seem like what most people would have for Christmas breakfast, but after we sampled some of the beer and ordered ourselves a rather wonderful thin-crust East Coast style pizza, we couldn't have been happier! I got myself some of the darkest porter they had, a meal in itself, and a piece of what is called "Holy Aioli" pizza. Wow! We enjoyed this as a rather unusual Christmas breakfast, and I took a piece of pizza home to my partner as well.

It was a delightful way to begin my unforgettable Christmas day. It might be the beginning of a new tradition!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve Morning

Avellino's all dressed up for the holidays
This morning started long before the sun came up, with Lily and I joining John at the coffee shop for our "go" juice before our walk with the ladies. It was really cold out, with a stiff wind and sub-freezing temperatures. Brrr! But we were dressed for it and lo and behold, seventeen women showed up at Lake Padden for a couple brisk walks around the lake.
Walkers all dressed up, too
Cindy (our leader) had suggested that we might wear jingle bells on our shoes (many of us did) and perhaps an ugly hat or sweater, which is why some of us are looking so dressed up. Shirley won by wearing a Christmas tree on her head. That's her in the lower right. There's a picture with me in it, too, but I really love this one the best. Nancy had not yet arrived, and with me behind the camera, there's our group portrait of hardy walkers this Christmas Eve Eve Morning.
Two poets hard at work
We then went to visit the Farmers' Market for the last day of the 2017 season and saw this couple sitting in sunshine, trying to stay warm while they took requests for free poems. "Any subject, just suggest one," she said. I asked for one about friends. The young lady went right to work and wrote it for me right on the spot.
Almost completed work of art
Here it is:
I learned to type on a similar old manual typewriter, although it was a little bit more substantial, but still not that different. I was so impressed with her poem and ability to create in that chilly environment. We pressed a little money into the jar and hurried to our waiting warm car before heading home.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

First day of winter

Trailblazers hiking Lookout Mountain today
And no, I wasn't with them, since it was only Tuesday I had that second eye done. I'm taking it easy, but I'll be back next week if all goes as planned. Chris sent me this picture this morning to tell me about eight hardy souls who hiked up Lookout Mountain in some light snow on this, the first official day of winter. As usual I had to laugh at Richard's short sleeves on a day like today when it isn't even going to reach freezing. He's just naturally warm blooded. Melanie sent me a couple of pictures, too. She must be behind the camera in this one:
Trailblazers at trailhead
Even at the beginning of the hike, Richard is underdressed, making me feel cold just to look at him. I'm pretty sure that they enjoyed themselves, even in the frigid temperatures, but I'm not sorry I couldn't join them today.
Leo blowing out his birthday candles
On Monday evening, I went to my friend Leo's home to help him celebrate his ninth birthday. We had a wonderful time, but I had to leave early because of the need to stop eating and get ready for the next day's surgery. It went very well, and on Tuesday I had the patch taken off and saw... not much. Everything was blurry and totally different from the previous surgery, when I could see everything as soon as they removed it. However, by yesterday, things were much more clear, and today when I woke I realized the miracle is complete: I am now able to see everything I need to without glasses except for distance.

And the other miracle is that my doctor was willing to give me a prescription for distance glasses ahead of time, and I took it to Links Optical here in Bellingham and bought a new pair of glasses, which were prepared for me in just a few hours! And when I put them on and looked out at the world, for the first time in simply ages, I could see 20/20 once again! For now, the missing vision is invisible with my two new intraocular lenses.

I am sitting here in front of my laptop without my glasses, seeing crystal clear, and feel like I've been given a reprieve from the darkness that I felt closing in on me with AMD. What a Christmas gift I've been given. I am feeling incredibly fortunate. Oh, and one more thing: a picture of Leo and me, showing how much he's grown this year.
Me and Leo on the occasion of his ninth birthday

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Second eye all done

In recovery room this morning
Well, it's done. The second eye has been operated on and a new lens inserted to replace the cataract. It's supposedly more "myopic" (with a closer focus) than the other, but I won't know any of that until the patch is removed tomorrow. My blood pressure was higher this morning that I have seen in awhile, but I suspect that's because I was more nervous than the first time, but I don't know why.

I'm not supposed to read or do much today but rest, and that's good. I am posting this just to let you know it all went as expected, and that I'm back at home and resting. I felt much more woozy after the anesthesia this time, and I really needed that wheelchair afterwards. After I got home, I sat down in my easy chair and haven't felt much need to do anything but rest.

Tomorrow I'll get the patch off and start the drops and hope for another quick recovery. Amazing surgery advances these days!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Yuletide greetings

Our Saturday walkers this morning
Today we ladies met on a crisp morning at the gazebo behind Barkley Haggen's store, which is all decked out for the season. I was especially happy with the wonderful variety of colors we all wore. I was behind the camera, but in this picture, everyone looks as happy and ready for our five-mile walk as I was. (There is a male in the picture, Riley, Linda's dog.) A few more walkers joined us after the picture was taken, so we had around twenty in all. Men are more than welcome, but somehow they just don't keep coming back.
Two ravens
My friend Melanie sent me this Christmas card and I just had to share it, I love it so much. I hope you like it, too. If I were a sender of cards, this one would be my choice, so consider it sent from my home to yours.

Tuesday is the big day, the second cataract surgery, and I'll be posting again to let you know I'm home and all's well. I hope, anyway. In the astrology world, when Mercury is retrograde (as it is right now), things sometimes don't work out as planned. Fingers crossed for a good outcome.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas hike and party

Some of today's trail walkers
Today many of the "half-fast" group met at the trailhead of what is now called the Hertz Trail, on the north shore of Lake Whatcom, to make a 6.2-mile round trip before heading off to Sue and Jim's home for our annual Christmas potluck. The weather was fine, cool and mostly clear, the last nice day for awhile, it seems. Rain is headed our way, but not today.
Ward, Linda, Louann
Some people arrived a little late to be in the picture, but I always have a soft spot for Ward and Linda and got this picture of them before we turned around to head back to the cars (there were nineteen of us in all). Louann is one of our newer hikers, and I was happy to see her joining us for one of our easier and shorter hikes.
Chris, Melanie, Peggy
You can see what a nice trail this is; it was a railroad grade (information is available in the link above) and I hear there are plans to make it longer at some point. It's relatively flat and well maintained and mostly well shaded by abundant trees.
Some of our incredible desserts
Then we made our way to Sue and Jim's to join the other group (the "relaxed" hikers) to have a wonderful potluck. The desserts were outstanding, and I must admit I tried almost all of them. Bob and Melanie brought cranberry tortes, simply delicious. Of course I ate too much, but there was also a wonderful vegetarian chili and plenty of salads, which I enjoyed before digging into the desserts.
At the long table enjoying a feast
There were between thirty and forty of us, scattered among several rooms, where we managed to eat our fill, with festive and joyous chatter and lots of laughter. If you took your plate to the kitchen to refill it, your place at the table was usually gone by the time you returned. No matter; there were plenty of places to sit and visit with others.
Victoria back from Whoville
And our very own Victoria with her whimsical headgear, always photogenic, wishes all of YOU, dear readers, a wonderful and wonder-filled holiday season. Now that I'm home and the post written, I need to take a bit of Alka-Seltzer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

All about salmon

Looking for salmon swimming upstream
Last Saturday it was cold enough for frosty streets, so our leader changed where we would have gone to a nice trek from Bellingham to Fairhaven and then on part of the Interurban trail. The trail crosses Chuckanut Creek and at this time of the year, it is possible to see adult salmon heading back to the place where they were born. One or two of my commenters made me realize that the life cycle of salmon is not well known, so here you go!

First of all, this link will give you plenty of details about the seven stages of the salmon's life cycle. But mostly, it's good to know that salmon are born in freshwater before heading to the sea, where they spend the majority of their lives. Salmon live for different numbers of years, depending on the species, and then they head back to the freshwater where they were born to spawn. Spawning is when they begin to make dramatic physical changes and begin the process again. From that link:
Interestingly, salmon in the spawner stage will migrate back to almost the same exact spot where they were born. Species like the Chum salmon will migrate up to 2000 miles to spawn! The distance they go depends on the species and the river. Upon reaching the gravel beds, the females will lay their eggs in the gravel while the males fertilize them with something called “milt.” This spawning “run” occurs during the summer months and provides the best fishing opportunities. 
We saw two adults resting in the water, still alive, but on their way out, having done what they set out to do: return to the spot where they were first born. I learned that these salmon are not good to eat (by humans, at least), but they provide nutrients for other creatures.

Living here in the Pacific Northwest, I've learned to appreciate the varying flavors of several different species of salmon, but my favorite is Sockeye, and I learned that they live the longest before returning home to spawn.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Clear and cold

Fog rolling in
Today eighteen of us ladies met in the cold weather to go for our usual Saturday morning walk. Since it was slippery in spots, our leader, Cindy, decided that we would walk to Fairhaven along Boulevard Park instead of going up the Taylor Dock stairs and down, which would likely be treacherous. Although we had to watch our step, it was just beautiful, and nobody tried to walk fast today, just in case. The beautiful clear day changed, though, as we approached the water, as dense fog rolled in.
Lauren and Cindy walk into the fog
We walked all the way to the Interurban trail in Fairhaven and saw a couple of big salmon resting in the creek waters (no picture, unfortunately) after having spawned and getting ready to die. They were at least a foot or two in length! Then we walked back to our starting point, having covered around five miles. It is definitely cold today and where the low sun doesn't hit, the frost will stay until we warm up a bit.

I am still, every day, surprised by the clarity of vision I now have in my operated eye and am looking forward to the time when I've finished all this eye business and can get distance glasses and see even better. It's wonderful to live in a time when this commonplace surgery is available to people like me on Medicare. I am grateful.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pine and Cedar Lakes, and Raptor Ridge

First light coming through the trees
Eighteen Senior Trailblazers came out today, on a wonderful sunny (but cold) morning to hit the Pine and Cedar trail and make a side trip to Raptor Ridge as well. This is the trail that gives you more than a thousand feet of elevation in just over a mile and a half. Here's a good description of the entire trail. It says that this is "possibly the toughest 1-2 mile stretch in the Chuckanuts," and I have to agree. The last time I did it I thought I would never do it again, but lo and behold, there I was, happy to be there and grunting my way up the steep hill.
Richard helping Lisa over a downed tree
First we headed down the trail to Cedar Lake, and Al wanted to be sure we went to the Overlook, since we would most likely have a wonderful view of Mt. Baker and the Sisters. We had a couple of downed trees that we had to navigate, and after I made it across, thanks to Richard's help, I captured him helping Lisa to make it over. And sure enough, this is what we saw at the Overlook.
Mt. Baker on the left and the Sisters to its right
I have been here many times before, but usually we have no view at all. Today it could not have been better. The still air and sunshine warmed us up nicely, but with the sun so low in the sky all day, it never did feel balmy unless we were in full sun. Like this:
Most of our large group today
No wind, full sun, and happy Trailblazers posing for a picture at my behest. You can see why so many of us came out today; it was perfect weather for hiking in the Chuckanuts, and we had such great company! We are standing here looking in the direction of Cedar Lake, which was simply beautiful on this perfect December day.
Icy boardwalk and ice-covered stick
As we walked carefully on those frozen boardwalks to the lake, I saw this frozen stick looking quite elegant in the water. It was treacherous, walking on those boards, but I was careful not to slip. And then we walked back to the trail and headed over to Pine Lake.
Pine Lake with a little ice
This lake, not far from Cedar Lake, had some ice on it, as you can see here. It doesn't get a great deal of sunshine at this time of the year, but look at those golden trees on the left! Still a beautiful place to visit, even now.
Lou Ann on Raptor Ridge
After a short discussion, we decided to make a side trip over to Raptor Ridge, where we would stop to have lunch. Lou Ann is a fairly new Trailblazers, and I was able to capture her with the sun shining in her hair. If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can also see Mt. Rainier, very faint but definitely visible today. It's rare we actually have a chance to see it.

And then it was time to return to the cars and make our way back down those steep 1.7 miles. My knees did better today than last year, so I am very happy. By the way, I want to apologize to anybody who was waiting for my last Tuesday's post. Obviously, I forgot, and I will try not to let myself get buried so deeply in a book next week that I forget my blogging duties, accidental though it was.

All in all, I only missed one week on the trails, and my surgeon has given me the All Clear to rejoin my usual exercise routine. What a day it was, and I was thrilled to be one of the magical eighteen.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Diamond Jubilee

Making a wish with Lily and Hedi
I had a simply wonderful Diamond birthday yesterday. You can see me here making a wish as I celebrated with my friends. I'm wearing the new vest that Lily gave me, and a beautiful red rose from Hedi. We enjoyed a strawberry cake that was filled with everything but calories, according to Lily (I didn't believe her but enjoyed it no matter how many calories).  Notice I am NOT wearing my glass because my new eye allows me to see incredibly well without modifying the old eye. Oh Joy!
John's cranberry and my chocolate and coconut almond ice cream
My friend John took me to Mallard's Ice Cream Shoppe on a rainy and cold day for me to enjoy a double scoop of the best ice cream in the world. By the time I finished it, I vowed never to eat ice cream again for awhile, feeling more than a little full. But it tasted so good while it was going down.

I received other gifts and many best wishes for the day on Facebook, but these will do for now. What a great thing to have such wonderful friends and family for my Diamond Jubilee birthday! And now I'm sharing it with my other dear friends, my virtual community. Here's a picture of me and SG taken last evening.
Two happy septuagenarians