Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ferry terminal walk

Enjoying coffee together
Fifteen women (and one man, back today from last week) met in front of the Bellingham Ferry Terminal on a cloudy morning intending to walk to Arroyo Park and back before the forecasted wind and rain hit. Cindy, our leader, decided to shorten our walk so we might be back before 10:00am.

We managed to get in almost five miles (4.8) and the wind was just beginning to come up when we finished, and only a few stray raindrops made an appearance. Some of us decided to enjoy a hot cup of coffee before heading off into the rest of our day. While we sat there, we saw the rain start, and now, more than four hours later, it's still pouring outside. Yes, we dodged it all and had our exercise for the day behind us before it started.

And now I'm sitting inside my cozy apartment finishing up my latest book, Becoming, by Michelle Obama. At first I thought I'd buy the Kindle version, but when I saw the book at our local bookstore, I decided to buy the hard copy so I'd be able to look as much as I wanted at the color pictures in the center. I'm glad I did, because it really helped me visualize how much she has done for women in general. Not to mention how young she is: lots more time, I hope to make more of a difference in the world, especially for black women.

Once I'm done with the book, which will be later today, I'll start a fluffy novel that I've also been looking forward to reading. It's still raining hard and blowing outside. A good day to curl up with a book (or two).

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Lookout Mountain 2018

Our group today, taken by Amy
Seven Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to spend a day hiking a new trail in the Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve. Three more hikers, who live nearby, met us at the trailhead, so there were ten of us on a day in between rain showers. (We actually had a few raindrops anyway.)
The new Rufus Creek trail
There are four miles of new trails added to the Preserve, and we spent most of our time today on the new Rufus Creek trail. Parts of it are brand new, and some places were reconstructed from previous trails. There's a little bit of uphill now and then, but nothing too strenuous (almost 2,000 feet up and down today).
Explanation of future plans
I found a link on our local newspaper that explains what the next steps are for the area. We hiked all the way up to the junction with the Cougar Ridge trail but it's not only closed, it will apparently be reserved for mountain bikes once it's finished. However, there are more areas to be developed, and in the end we will have many more miles of beautiful forest to explore.
Moss and ferns
Once we got to the junction of the closed Cougar Ridge trail and Rufus Creek trail, we decided to stop for lunch. Since what rain we had wasn't much, and since there wasn't a breath of wind, we spent more than a half-hour laughing and sharing stories, in no hurry to leave.
Lots of fresh cut logs to sit on
We considered perhaps going down the Cougar Ridge trail, even though it is still closed, but instead we turned around and went back the way we had come. It was hoped that perhaps we might see a bit of a view at the overlook on the way back, since it was completely socked in when we first passed by.
Misty view (taken by Melanie)
Sure enough, there was a bit of a view of the lake and, if you use your imagination, you can see Mt. Baker on the horizon. I look forward to coming back here on a sunny day and enjoying the complete view. However, this was pretty darn nice!
So many ferns
We live in such a beautiful place, and anyone who loves trees and moss and ferns and mushrooms would love it, too. What a great place to be outdoors and get some exercise. We covered almost ten miles, and would have if we had taken a short trip to the waterfall, but we'll leave that for another day. Everyone was happy and spent as we headed back home, another great day with my pals.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The original Earthrise picture

From Astronomy Picture of the Day on Christmas Eve
This lovely picture of our beautiful planet was taken fifty years ago today, from the Apollo 8 spacecraft. Most of us have seen the original one called "Earthrise," but this was the first one taken, in black and white. It's been reconstructed in color, and shows the moon in the foreground and our gorgeous planet on the horizon. It's worth gazing at and considering how precious that blue ball is to everyone. The link takes you to some background about the picture, if you're interested in learning more.

I'm sitting here in my bed, reading the news, blogs, and actually writing my Tuesday post early, for a change, and considering how wonderful that blue planet is. Many good things are happening in many lives right now. I will be going out to one of the few places open on Christmas Day around here, to enjoy coffee and conversation with the usual suspects, just in a different place.
“December is full of the beauty of Light and love we can bring into our life.You can choose to be stressed or you can choose to let the small stuff go and be peaceful this Holiday season. It really is a choice you make.” ― Eileen Anglin
May your day be a wonderful one!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

An unexpected staycation

Fairhaven Inn lobby
On Thursday when I returned home from that windy hike, and finally connected with my guy, we decided to take advantage of the power outage (with no idea when it might come back) and spend the night at the Fairhaven Village Inn. That's where I wrote my last post, because it had (1) power and (2) internet connection. Very different from what was happening at home. And it was a very nice interlude. We're calling it our Christmas getaway.

While eating dinner at a nearby restaurant, I overheard others talking about having no power, either. Many places around the area were all down. After a nice and comfortable night, SG and I went our separate ways: he took all our stuff back home (where the power had returned), while I walked a short distance down the street to my yoga studio and took a walk-in holiday yoga class. It was really lovely. Then I caught the bus back downtown. This was the bus I rode on.
Decorated bus with Christmas music, too
Apparently there are two buses like this, and I just happened to get on this one, which was really fun to see. Even the ceiling has cotton batting, decorated with snowflakes and Christmas lights. Delightful! Then coming home to a warm and fully functional apartment was also a treat. You forget how essential electricity it is until you don't have it.
Cindy, Nancy, Betty, Meredith (and tree)
This morning we ladies (and one man!) walked twice around Lake Padden, one of our favorite places to walk, and stopped afterwards for coffee at the local supermarket cafeteria. Some wore jingle bells or unusual hats or sweaters today, and I was able to capture this festive shot before taking off for home.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Excitement on Blanchard Mountain

Dianne, me, Melanie, Joy
Before the thirteen Senior Trailblazers set out for Blanchard Mountain on a very windy and rainy day, some of us played around with how it would have been if we were Rockettes, just for fun. And then we went outside in the howling wind for a nice steep but sheltered hike.
We crossed over a bridge early on, with this nice little waterfall. While we felt pretty good about the fact that it wasn't raining, the wind was another thing altogether. It roared over our heads through the trees, and a few times it was so loud it sounded like a freight train!
Mushroom flower
We saw lots of pretty mushrooms on the way to Lizard Lake, not that any of us would be willing to test out their tastiness. Frankly, this one didn't look very edible to me, but one never knows for sure.
Lily Lake
By the time we got to Lily Lake, we decided it was time for an early lunch. Finding some places out of the wind, we were pretty comfy as we enjoyed our lunch, but it was definitely not summertime.
We spread out, looking for places out of the wind
I wandered away for a quick visit to the trees, and I looked back at the group and thought we all looked quite sheltered there amongst the trees. Nobody seemed in a big hurry to leave, but then again, we were outdoors in the midst of a pretty serious wind storm.
Our cozy lunch spot
We really didn't know how bad the wind storm was, but there were times when I was afraid for our safety. We really shouldn't have been out there in that wind, and when Chris was able to get a signal on her phone, she learned that parts of the highway were closed in Bellingham, and that there were several power outages.
Downed branches on the trail
Dianne got this picture of all the detritus on the trail. We also saw plenty of downed trees that were not there earlier. A few times we saw and heard branches breaking and it scared me enough to hide behind larger trees a couple of times. I was very glad when we returned to the cars.

And then when I got home, I learned that our entire neighborhood is without power. I am writing this late because we decided to have dinner out and then hole up in a hotel in Fairhaven. We are likely not to have any power for another day or two, it seems. So we were very lucky to avoid any mishaps today. We covered around eight miles and more than 3,000 feet up and down. A good day outdoors, after all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Delightful December cards

Birthday cards (top) and Christmas cards (bottom)
I don't send out Christmas cards any more. In fact, I rarely receive any, and the ones I've received this year (along with my birthday cards) all have one important thing in common: they are homemade!!

Not only that, they are gorgeous. And thanks to Far Side of Fifty, who is responsible for the ones on the left, I even received a Christmas letter! I have to say it was a delight, one which I shared with SG, who laughed along with me at the funny parts. Rita at Soulcomfort's Corner is responsible for the card with the candles and the Happy Holidays card in front. I have followed both of these fellow bloggers for simply ages, and they know I am not likely to reciprocate in kind, but they continue to gift me with their thoughtfulness year after year. I am humbled and glad they consider me to be worthy!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Busy time of the year

Mt. Baker Bicycle Club
I snagged this wonderful picture from Love Bellingham on Facebook. It didn't list the photographer, just the bike club, and mentioned how important it is to get exercise at this time of the year to stave off the winter blues. I'm not sure what the lighted house is, but it's just so pretty I had to share with my friends.

The shortest day of the year will occur this coming Friday. The sun will rise here at 8:00am and set at 4:15pm, with a day length of eight and a quarter hours. There's just not a lot of light in the sky, even on clear days (which we don't have many of at this time of year), and it amazes me when I look up from my book and see that the sky is dark, although it felt like the day had just begun! In the summer, the opposite happens, and the days seem way too long.

This coming week is filled with appointments, shopping, and whatever exercise I can fit in. With my yoga classes on hiatus, I feel the need to indulge in my new home practice, which came about from the 100-day yoga challenge I started in September and finished yesterday. I did at least fifteen minutes of yoga each day and now find myself thinking about getting in a bit of stretching before heading off to yet another party this afternoon.

I hope you are staying comfortable and getting into the spirit of the season. My scales tell the tale of my recent indulgences. But I'm not letting it stop me!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Holiday party and hike

Intrepid hikers today
Believe it or not, this large group of Senior Trailblazers showed up to hike six miles along the Lake Whatcom shore (Hertz Trail) before our annual holiday party. It was wild and windy, blustery with buckets of rain falling earlier, but by the time we started out around the lake, the rain had lessened considerably. In fact, for a while it almost stopped. We were in the lee side of the wind, so although it was still blowing, we were not much inconvenienced by it.
Melanie's pretty blue braids
We had plenty of time to enjoy the trip out to the turnaround point, and as you can see from this picture of Melanie, it was quiet and relatively dry at this point. This is one of our favorite easy hikes, flat with a nice trail (which had plenty of puddles today), because we knew that at noon we would be meeting at Dianne's house for our annual holiday party.
Looking out at the lake
Before we turned around to walk the three miles back to the cars, we did notice that the wind was no longer making whitecaps on the lake, so the wind shouldn't continue to be much of a problem. We discussed the weather forecast and that everything was going right along with the forecasts.
Big crowd at Dianne's
Some went home to change clothes or freshen up, and I went back to the Senior Center to renew my membership for next year and also remove some of my rain gear and make myself more presentable. By the time I got there, it was hopping, with all three of our hiking groups bringing lots of food to Dianne's home (that's her, the one on the left of the three red ladies). Her beautiful home managed to accommodate around sixty of us! That's more than we've ever had.
Downstairs room
The entire place was overflowing with people and plenty of us found some room downstairs, where she had set up a spare table. Her home is incredibly comfortable and we were thrilled with her generosity to open it to all of us.
Desserts galore
And oh the food! We had tables groaning with every kind of dishes. This is the dessert table, but there were also lots of salads and quiche dishes, and it seemed impossible we could finish it all. We made a valiant effort. That pretty heart-decorated cake was made by Kirk, a flourless gluten-free chocolate cake, and I brought a piece home for later, since I couldn't find any more room in my stomach, but I still wanted it.
Hikers filling their plates
We partied on for several hours, and then finally made our goodbyes and went off to enjoy the rest of our day. It turned out to be a magnificent and bountiful party, with the best company in the whole world! Thank you, Dianne, for being a delightful hostess in the most splendid spirit of the season. Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Season's greetings

The punster strikes again
I received this picture in a text message from my nephew Peter right around Christmas last year (or maybe it was a year or two before), and after a big groan, I then smiled and shook my head at his cleverness. I did have to ask him why THOSE seasonings and not others? I have to surmise it's because they all three have "seasoned" or "seasoning" in their names. I don't think Cajun and Italian seasonings usually go together all that well.

I'll be heading to Florida to visit him and my sister Norma Jean next month. It takes me awhile to gather myself together to travel these days. I spend a bit of time each day giving myself a pep talk and looking forward to those early-morning swims next to Norma Jean in the outdoor pool at her local Y.

It's not that I don't love to be there, but I'm no longer much of a traveler and marvel, when I think back, at how easy it was, once upon a time, to go halfway around the world, several times a year, in pursuit of my old job. My boss, Mickey, is still doing it but I ran out of steam for travel, even across the country, long ago. Thinking about it, though, gives me a little frisson of excitement. My reluctance is beginning to fall away.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lovely outside today

Christmas decorations along the boulevard
This morning I woke to moderate temperatures and didn't even need to scrape ice off the windshield before setting out to join the ladies for our Saturday walk. It's at least 10-15 degrees warmer than it was this time yesterday.

We walked from Woods Coffee at Boulevard Park up the Taylor Street hill, and I struggled up the steepness of it, huffing and puffing and watching the backs of most of my companions get farther and farther away. But then we were at the top, down the hundred-some stairs, and had an easy, nice walk back to our starting point. At this time of year, locals like to decorate the trees and bushes along the boulevard like this. That's part of our group on the left.

There's only a little more than two weeks before Christmas, and even the old grinches like me are beginning to get in the spirit. It was delightful to spend time with each other in the coffee shop afterwards, with lots of laughter and camaraderie. Life is good.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Chuckanut Ridge/Rock Trail Loop

Bob and Victoria
Sixteen Senior Trailblazers met for a wonderful day in the freezing sunshine. Both Bob and Victoria have been traveling a bit, but are now back, looking happy and fit. You can see by the way they are dressed, it wasn't warm, even with full sun. In fact, this morning when I got up to check the weather, it was -5°C (22°F). Brrr! With proper gear, we were able to enjoy being out in the Chuckanuts. Today we went from the Lower Ridge trail over to Gates Overlook, then down the South Lost Lake trail until we met the road where we would hike back to the cars.
Picnic table at Gates Overlook
By the time we reached Gates Overlook, we took the time to use the bathroom and have a quick snack, although it was too early for lunch. We then headed down the Rock trail steps, with lots of sunshine to help keep us (mostly) warm. After just the short stop at Gates, we were again quite cold and walking downhill did little to warm us back up.
Shadows and hikers on the Rock trail
The low angle of the sun and the shape of the rocks made for an interesting shot on our way down to the South Lost Lake trail, where we walked up to the turnoff for Burnout Point. We hiked to the viewpoint where we could see Mt. Baker and the Sisters, about a half-mile longer than the view from Burnout.
The group in front of the majesty
On the left, you can see Melanie making sure I wouldn't miss the mountains as well as the hikers. This was where we all stopped to rest, have lunch, and enjoy the sunshine as much as we could while trying to remain as warm as possible.
Mt. Baker and the Sisters
Then we headed back the way we had come, until we met the South Lost Lake trail again, and continued back to the road. From there, we could decide to visit Fragrance Lake and return that way, or just take the direct route back to the cars.
Frost alongside the trail
In the places where the sun didn't reach, you can see how the frosty plants were decorated for the season. There were moments when I wondered if I would ever warm back up, but I always did, since we kept moving. I had my down jacket that kept me warm when I needed it, but in no time I'd be too warm and had to take it off. After a short hike, we reached the decision point about whether to visit the lake or not.

Everyone seemed just fine going back and skipping the lake, so we ended up going up and down around 2,100 feet (640 meters) during our five-hour hike, covering just under nine miles. We had fitness devices that ranged from 8.75 miles to 10.0, so I'm thinking, based on the way I feel, 9.0 is a good number.
Me at Gates Overlook
Melanie took this picture of me, and I wanted to include it so that all the Trailblazers have been captured for posterity on today's hike. It was a really glorious day; I was pleased by how well all my warm weather gear actually worked! You don't have many December days around here as wonderful as this one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Grey winter skies gone for awhile

Frosty lawn
Well, we finally had a hard freeze. My friend Melanie took this picture yesterday morning: it was 24°F and about that cold again this morning. For the entire coming week, our temperatures are going to be frigid, because of a high pressure dome over the region. It means no rain and sunny skies (not even clouds), making it very cold. Not only overnight, but the temperatures during the day will continue to be below normal.

Considering how mild it's been up until now, our first real wintry blast has been a bit of a shock. I've stopped watering my front porch flowers, and they all look a little worse for wear. But hey, last I checked, it's December and it's supposed to happen!

In some ways, it makes it a little easier to hear the constant Christmas music everywhere I go. Now the holiday seems imminent. It was crazy to hear that same music before Thanksgiving had even occurred, but now... I'm going to be fine with three more weeks of it. Our Trailblazers holiday festivities are a week from Thursday, which is the only party I never miss. It's a good thing, too: my waistline can't take too many, since my ability to resist delicious goodies goes way down at this time of year.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Another trip around the sun

76? Already?
Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Didn't I just celebrate that three-quarters-of-a-century birthday? How can it be that I've already left behind that milestone? It seems literally like it was just yesterday. The portrait is another selfie taken with that app on Messenger. I like the stars above my head, which is very appropriate for someone who rarely feels like she belongs with her feet on the ground. If I were still an active skydiver, I'd be jumping today, just for the thrill of it.

Last year, I had blocked my birthday on Facebook, so I didn't get tons of birthday wishes. Somehow this year that setting has changed, and I've received plenty of them today. I don't know how to change it back, but upon researching the settings, Facebook has now buried them so deep it will take me some time to figure it out. Once you reach a certain age, these reminders may be nice that people are thinking about you, but it's also a nuisance when you'd like to forget how quickly the years pass by.

Whatever, I sure do feel loved and appreciated by my friends and family today. I even received a beautiful homemade card by snail mail from my friend Rita! So I am not going to let my inner grinch take over. I'll simply enjoy the day (again with no rain) and soak in all the good vibes.