Monday, June 29, 2020

The Supremes in June

A rainbow of flamingos
Spoiler Alert: I am going to venture into a minefield of political musings, something I rarely, if ever, do on my blog. But this has been quite a month of incredible rulings made by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). It started off in the middle of the month with a ruling that makes it illegal to fire someone because of being gay or transgender. Not only that, but the argument supporting the ruling was written by Neil Gorsuch, a conservative. (Read this CNN Opinion article about it.)

And then SCOTUS disallowed the Administration from throwing out DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) as currently written. But it held out hope for the administration to fix it and then re-submit it, which would then allow for the immediate deportation of all 7 million DACA recipients. (Article from The Hill about this one.) For now, though, they are safe from deportation.

And, today, SCOTUS ruled that Louisiana's abortion law is unconstitutional. They pointed out that many hospitals in the region are religiously affiliated or conservative and don't allow abortions to take place in their facilities in any event, which severely limits the number of doctors who can carry out the procedure.
The law required that doctors providing abortions have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals, which the justices said led to an undue burden on women. Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices in the 5-4 decision in a blow to anti-abortion groups. The court struck down a similar policy in Texas in 2016, the opinion noted.
There is one more bombshell ruling still to come, and that is whether or not Congress has a right to get ahold of Trump's tax returns. Although it seems to be mostly related to our current president, it will also establish the boundaries between the executive branch and Congress that are not at all clear at the present time.
The court is expected to determine the scope of congressional power to issue subpoenas in furtherance of its legislative function, and whether the President has "absolute immunity" from even being investigated criminally while in office. 
I'm not sure when this ruling will be given, but I am hoping it will show that we voters should definitely be given that information. But hey, three out of four isn't bad. I know I may be upsetting some of my long-time readers with this post, but I simply couldn't resist writing this after today's ruling.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Interurban trail

The Interurban trail
Today three of us (and Joe, Dianne's wonderful dog) went out for a walk on the Interurban trail. I have never been on it, since it is the starting point for many walks on Chuckanut Mountain, and I never realized it was there. I was actually surprised to find it so enjoyable, because much of it looks just like this: flat, wide, and surrounded by trees.
Lots of ferns and emerging sunshine
It was really nice to see all the ferns and beautiful fir and cedar trees, many of them regal and mature. There are also many homes along the trail, with signs marking restricted access, but it is mostly a very agreeable walk, with little that will challenge anybody's sore knees or back.
The sign says, "K9 H2O"
There were lots and lots of people on the trail, and everyone, almost without exception, wore a mask, even if it was (like us) mostly to pull it up to cover one's nose and mouth while passing by. One gentleman pointed out this water stop for dogs. That's his dog coming up after a drink. I looked at it: a small bowl with water filling it slowly from a spring. I put my hand in the water and found it to be very cold. Joe took a quick swig himself.
Our turnaround spot
Although it was cool and foggy when we started out, by the time we got here, to our turnaround point after more than three miles in, the sun had come out in full force and the temperature rose a bit (it was perfect, in the mid-sixties, or 18°C). That's me in the picture with Dianne and Joe; Melanie took it).
Melanie, Joe, and some cheese
Joe is a well-mannered three-year-old poodle, who doesn't bark or attack other dogs, and sits when asked. He loves cheese, and Mel pulled out a small snack she tried to eat herself, but she ended up giving most of it to Joe, after having been seduced by those pleading black eyes.
Chuckanut Bay
We had some lovely views of the bay, with Lummi Island rising up and looking quite impressive. I see that contrails from jet planes are returning again, after months of their absence. We returned to our cars by retracing our steps, having walked almost seven miles with little elevation gain and loss. All in all, just a pretty perfect day, even if not a challenging one.

Monday, June 22, 2020


Front porch flowers
Yesterday was the first full day of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere. That means that one of my favorite blogging friends who lives in Canberra is experiencing her first full day of winter. It is very curious to me to realize that our beautiful planet has such lovely seasons, and that they are opposite on either side of the equator.

We still haven't had any real heat, but that will be coming in future weeks and months: our warmest days are usually in August, and even then it's usually not all that hot for long. My front porch faces east, and the bright sunlight poured in this morning. At this time of the year I get full shade on the porch from noon on. It makes for such a pleasant place to hang out when the lawn mowers and leaf blowers are quiet.

The long-term forecast for the summer is for the US to be warmer than normal. But that's an  increasing trend as the global climate warms. I just saw on the news that it's even warm right now in Russia:
A heat wave in Russia on Saturday sent temperatures in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk soaring to 38°Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). Meteorologists say that would be the highest number ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle. (from VoA)
Yikes! And it's just now summer. Hopefully it's an anomaly and it will cool down a little once the heat wave breaks. The entire article is fascinating (linked above). I will be spending my days on my shady front porch admiring my petunias and giving thanks that I'm not in blistering hot Siberia!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

After the rain

Lake Whatcom
Today we awoke to blue skies and relatively warm temperatures. As I write this in the late afternoon, the temperature is 68°F (20°C), and after plenty of rain and cloudy skies for days on end, this seems like a wonderful change. To some of my readers, it's still on the cool side, but for me today, and my friend Melanie who also hiked with me, it was just about perfect.
Foxglove and plenty of greenery
We walked the entire Hertz trail, which meanders from the parking lot to the end 3.1 miles one way. It's almost flat, with less than 100 feet of elevation along the wide and gentle grade. It was once the site of a railroad, the Bellingham Bay & Eastern Railroad, built in 1902, but nothing of it still exists, except for the lovely trail.
The old railroad bed, now a trail
The entire trail, early in the morning at least, is in shade, and walkers with their dogs and kids are also frequent users of this beautiful place. We saw probably a dozen or so other people who were out early on this gorgeous Pacific Northwest day.
Not being very experienced about our local mushrooms, I just took a picture of these guys. To me, they look similar to the ones I buy in the grocery store, but who knows whether these are safe to eat or not.
Lake Whatcom almost back at the start
Just as we were finishing our walk, we saw something swimming across the lake. We both laughed and said, "could it be a shark?" It was traveling quickly and suddenly we saw what it was: a young deer!
Tuckered out
We saw a tired and very wet deer emerge from the water. It was pretty worn out, and it didn't try to run away, but just watched us as it continued to shake water off its back. Those wobbly legs then carried on, walking by us and heading down the trail. He didn't look back. I hope he's alright by now. I have no idea why he was swimming across the lake, but he was so far out in the middle when we first spotted him that I figure he came from the opposite bank. But I don't know for sure.

Anyway, we finished and since it was almost noon, we decided to have lunch at one of the recently opened restaurants nearby. We enjoyed quesadillas together but skipped the margaritas, since we both had to drive and it was still early in the day. No matter, it was a truly wonderful day and I'm happy to be home having walked a few miles in a beautiful place with a dear friend.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The rain continues

Lunch break
Yesterday, I was able to have a nice walk and saw these local residents out for their lunch, it seems. The little one is still has spots, but they didn't show up all that well in the picture. Today, however, I'm inside, staying dry. Last Thursday we walked in the rain, but by late afternoon the skies had cleared and the sun was shining. And it was also lovely all day yesterday.

It doesn't look like that will happen today, however. I'm reconciled to getting my daily exercise, if I decide to, in a Health and Fitness video from my local Y. Somehow it's just not that much fun. I'd much rather be outdoors. But I'll survive.

I got a call from the office of a hematologist, which had received a referral from my doctor. That was a little bit of a surprise, since she suggested that I see one, but wanted me to first get another blood test a couple of weeks after the original one. Since I was able to ascertain that I only need to pay my usual co-pay to see this mysterious doctor, I'll go ahead and do it all. Apparently my doctor is concerned about my low white blood cell count and wants to rule out any underlying conditions. I appreciate her thoroughness, but it was still a bit surprising, since I had already decided that the second blood test would be perfect. Ah well, who am I to turn down a visit to a new doctor?

When I tried to add the above picture, I again had difficulty finding a way to insert it. I tried lots of stuff and then went online to see if others are having problems. One person suggested clearing the cache on my browser, which I did without any success. Then I went over to the HTML tag and was able to add a picture using that work-around. Sigh. If anybody out there has any other ideas about how to fix this problem, I'm all ears.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Drippy but satisfying

Boulevard Park once the rain let up a little
When I went to join Melanie and Dianne for a nice walk along the Interurban trail, the 20% chance of rain seemed to be minimal, certainly do-able. But once we arrived, the rain started and was heavy enough that we didn't really want to head out. So instead, we drove to Boulevard Park and went inside the recently reopened Woods Coffee to wait out what we thought would be a quick shower.
Melanie, Dianne and Joe
Not! It didn't let up for quite awhile, but finally we decided we could brave the rain and headed towards Fairhaven and the Interurban trail from another vantage point. We didn't go far, actually, maybe five miles tops, but we enjoyed being out on the trail and each other's company. I also enjoyed getting to know Joe, Dianne's three-year-old poodle. Quite a different day than any of us expected.
Green and lovely
I'm not sure, but I think this is a constructed salmon ladder that is used by salmon as they swim upstream to spawn. There are several along this stream, and I remember once long ago seeing a picture that had volunteers helping the salmon get up the ladder. Anyway, it was a very nice day in its own way. 

Now that I'm home, warm and dry, it even looks better than it did before, when I was wet and rather chilled. I hope next week will have a bright ray of sunshine or two, rather than the liquid sunshine we had today.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Best time of the year

Melanie took this
Last Thursday, Melanie and I walked twice around Lake Padden. It was a bit cloudy but it didn't rain, and the cool breeze kept us comfortable as we journeyed our 5.2 miles. It was just what I needed, what the doctor ordered, so to speak. I've been unable to do long hikes without injury, so this was just right.

Then yesterday on Facebook, I saw that Mel had gone on a much longer and steeper hike with two of our Trailblazers, and I realized that I've been holding her back. I don't think I could have done the 9+ miles and 2,500 feet elevation. It's a bit jarring to realize that if the Trailblazers were to begin hiking together again right now, I couldn't join them.

We have just moved to Phase 2 in the reopening plan, and that means now some establishments are allowing people to come inside and enjoy coffee while remaining and not having to leave right away. Yesterday I went looking for someplace to get my hair cut, and every single place I went had no openings until the middle of next week. Apparently, I'm not the only shaggy-haired person in town. I did eventually go to my regular hair salon to find out why I haven't been getting through. Same story, but she promised to call me and get me on the schedule. She's booked through June 17th!

When I got home, she called me and said she'd come in early on Tuesday if I were willing. Willing? I can't wait! Tomorrow at the crack of 8:00 I'll be there. And she knows I'll give her a hefty tip for getting me in.

Thursday I'll see my acupuncturist, and then on Friday my first massage in three months! For someone who has been getting one every 3 weeks for years, it will be a real joy to finally, once again, put myself under her capable hands. Phase 2, here I come!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Shorter walk today

Ducks relaxing in the grass
Today I asked Melanie if she would be willing to join me for a couple loops around Lake Padden, rather than try anything more difficult, considering my back. It's so much better than it was last week, but I realize that I'm pushing it by going on any long excursions these days. That said, I am hoping that eventually I'll be able to join my fellow Trailblazers whenever we are able to start our hikes again. She and I set out early and took lots of pictures along the way.
We saw this little guy holding very still as we took pictures of him. I think he thought if he didn't move, we wouldn't see him. There were plenty of people out with their dogs, so I suspect he didn't stay here very long. It was cool and breezy, with us wanting to keep moving so we wouldn't get too cold, but we enjoyed walking and talking as we covered the trails.
Lots of pretty flowers
June is such a lovely time of the year, and flowers are abundant everywhere one looks. I don't know what these are, but they come in several different shades of pink and lavender.
Think he knows how to catch a fish?
We saw these two fishermen, who have been joined with someone who knows what they're going to be pulling out of the water. I wish I'd been around to see who ended up with the first catch. Wonder if they even know he's back there.

It was nice to be outdoors today, even if the temperature could have been a little warmer. We saw lots of people with their dogs, and perhaps half of those we saw were wearing a mask. Although it's certainly easier to walk and hike without one, it just seems like a thoughtful thing to wear, just in case.
Sign of the times
Hanging on the rear view mirror, something that the owner of the car probably uses when inside. Masks are required indoors, while we are still in Phase I of our reopening strategy. Our county has petitioned to move to Phase II, which hopefully will happen soon. Then I will be able to go spend money at REI, as well as see my acupuncturist and massage therapist again. In any event, I had a lovely time today with my friend Mel.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Little pleasures

A repurposed little library
The owners of this home used to have a little lending library outside on their front lawn. With the circumstances of our lives being what they are, they changed it to a place where people can take and/or leave items that people might need during a time when they are out of a job and can't afford to buy food for their pets, and more. I especially like that they are offering masks in their cupboard.

It makes me happy to see people helping neighbors in my little community. At this time in our history, it's awfully hard to find something to be happy about. With the ongoing pandemic (and our continuing lockdown), along with the awful events of the past week with enormously large protests in every large city (with no social distancing), I am worried about what our immediate future holds. However, it does no good to concentrate on such things; I need to find positive things to focus on. Hence, the little kitchen cupboard on the street.
What a flower!
At this moment in time, myriad rhododendrons are in bloom. This is a very different one, but I do think it's a rhodie. I walk by it on my daily walks and yesterday I had to take a picture to remember its unusual beauty. Now that it's June, just about every flower around is deciding to show off its gorgeous blooms. It makes me very happy, being able to enjoy the sunshine, which has returned after a couple of very wet days. I've turned off the TV and the incessant noise emanating from the talking heads. It's easier and less redundant to keep up to date reading the news on my laptop.

And there are plenty of uplifting movies and series to lose myself in, should I be so inclined. Just another one of the little pleasures I have available to enjoy. What are you finding to keep your spirits up these days?