Monday, November 30, 2020

Those darn birthdays


Another year older

My dear friend Lily decided I needed not to forget my birthday this year, as I intended to do. She invited me over for a very small gathering (four of us), windows all open as the weather was mild this weekend, and a huge pile of gourmet cupcakes! Behind the sinfully delicious cupcakes is a sweet gift of 2 Bodum double-walled coffee cups. Not only did she make some wonderful guacamole dip, she also served up a store-bought sweet potato pie with ice cream. Needless to say, I was very full and glad that at least the coffee cups would not make me fat! 

And I am not kidding when I say that those cupcakes were wonderful, even if I only ate one. I was able to take home two of them, but fortunately for me, my dear partner took them off my hands (and hips). I am not complaining, it was truly a delightful time. Until I had to step on the scales in the morning, that is. It wasn't as bad as I feared, but now I am hungry for more sweet potato pie. Sometimes you just need to let moderation go by the wayside. At the beginning of holiday season, I am going to have to step up my exercise routine, methinks.

And I received two wonderful crocheted items from a blogging friend, unexpectedly. Well, I guess if other people can acknowledge my birthday, who am I to object? It doesn't make me any younger to ignore those darn birthdays, does it?


Thursday, November 26, 2020

A different Thanksgiving


A few trees still have leaves

We Trailblazers usually don't go hiking on Thanksgiving, since everyone is gathering with family and friends to celebrate the holiday, with many traveling across the country as well. Not so much travel this year, in the middle of a raging pandemic, with our health officials warning against it and many of us older folks continuing to keep our distance to mitigate against possible spreading of the virus. However, I went out for a short five-mile walk down to Arroyo Park with my friends Melanie and Terry.

Terry and Melanie on the Arroyo Park bridge

It is cloudy and overcast today, but without any of the you-know-what (not supposed to come until later). We looked to see if there are still any salmon spawning in Chuckanut Creek, and we found plenty still striving to get upstream, with some dead ones on the sides. It's the end of the season; I'm not sure whether they had already spawned or just didn't have the strength to go the distance.

The bridge and creek

It's a beautiful place for a walk, and I enjoyed the company very much. Since it's Thanksgiving, there was nowhere for us to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea afterwards, but it was a very nice way to begin the holiday.

Spooky tree roots

When I first saw this tree, the roots first reminded me of a spider, but then I realized that this is what is left after an old log has decayed and left tree roots still intact. Nothing really spooky, but my imagination played tricks on me for awhile.

Salads, pizza, and sweet potato rounds

We ordered this delicious non-traditional Thanksgiving food from Greene's Corner yesterday. We were unable to eat it all at once, which was the plan: today we will enjoy the remainder of it, spreading our holiday treat out over a couple of days. Plus, nobody had to cook anything, just enjoy. It's something I might do again when I don't feel like cooking, and also support one of my favorite eateries during this trying time.

My morning smiles

And I'll leave you with this little guy, who greeted me when I woke yesterday, a gift from SG, who often leaves me little artistic creations that he knows will make me smile. I especially like the eyebrows.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Octopus's garden


Snagged from the internet

Last week a friend of mine told me about a Netflix documentary that she enjoyed tremendously, entitled "My Octopus Teacher." I knew little about them, but once I watched it, I got really interested and read all I could find about octopuses. Of course I remembered the old Beatle's song, "The Octopus's Garden," written by Ringo Starr back in 1968 and still available to listen to today. I can still hear the tune rolling around in my head, although I didn't listen to it again because I was afraid of getting an earworm. (It happened anyway.)

The documentary follows the story of a man, Craig Foster, who was diving in the cold waters off the coast of Africa, when he saw an octopus hiding among a cloak of shells.

Enchanted, he began following this incredibly shy creature, trying to prove he wasn't a predator by staying very still in her presence. For weeks she evaded him: hiding in her den, camouflaging herself, or pushing her liquid body into the nearest crack to escape.

And then, one day, she approached him and sent out a tentacle to explore this strange creature. Over the period of about a year, he went every day to see her and they began a wonderful relationship. I've since learned about how incredibly smart these creatures are, and that they can recognize faces, as well as do some amazing things, like unscrewing the lids of jars and solving complex puzzles.

He got her to trust him enough to crawl onto his chest and let him "pet" her, if stroking an octopus can be considering petting. I loved the documentary and now know far more than I ever thought I would about cephalopods (the genus that includes octopuses, cuttlefish, nautiloids, and squid). He stayed with her until she mated and cultivated her thousands of offspring, after which she died. I was heartbroken because he was so overcome. Anyway, it's a really beautiful story of the relationship between two very different species. I'll never see octopuses the same way again.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Another lovely day



After days of heavy rain, we were expecting another day of rain for our Thursday hike. But again, we lucked out, and the rain went elsewhere. It was nice to see all the water in this pretty waterfall, which was pretty sad last time I saw it. Today it's roaring with rainwater.

Unexpected rays of sunlight

Six of us showed up at the Chuckanut trailhead, but right away we were too large for the new restrictions we are facing because of the virus. But one person decided to hike faster and farther by himself, and another decided to take an easy flat walk, while the rest of us (four) decided to hike up to Madrone Crest and back, so we were then within the five-person limit.

Joy, Melanie, and Dave (and me behind the camera)

It was not exactly warm, but we were all well prepared for whatever the weather might throw at us. By the time we started back after reaching Madrone Crest, Mel realized she had left her new hat on the trail, so she went back looking for it (without success). That left Joy and Dave, a married couple, and me to make our way back. They decided to make a diversion to look at Chuckanut Falls, and I headed back to the cars alone. For a group that started too large, we ended up returning almost solo.

Magnificent tree

I saw this tree on the trail, and I loved seeing all those roots holding it up. It reminded me of the recent launch of SpaceX, which sent four astronauts up to the Space Station. Doesn't it look a little like it could take off, too?

Dave on the trail

I love the colors and the autumnal feel of this picture, so I had to share it as a way to finish this post. We covered somewhere around eight miles and a fair amount of elevation, too, but I think we all had different amounts during today's hike. It was enough to make me feel pretty well worked out right now, but actually feeling well enough to pat myself on the back for doing it.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Rainy Monday

At Geneva Pond

I took this picture last Thursday when we went on our usual hike, four of us, expecting it to rain. That was why Melanie chose this hike, but guess what? It didn't rain at all, and we were able to enjoy ourselves and remain dry. Not so much today, however: it's raining hard enough outside to cause the remaining leaves to tremble as heavy drops accumulate on them.

We are getting ready for more restrictions because of Covid spreading quickly throughout our state. We are not alone. It makes me wonder about the future of Al's locks. In the picture you can see that he already has gone from his normal look of close-cropped curls to shoulder-length ones. He hasn't gotten his hair cut since the pandemic began in March. He's one of those lucky men who has kept the majority of his hair and I think he rather likes the fact that he can now pull it into a ponytail if he wants. Plus his wavy locks are rather handsome, if you ask me. I would let MY hair get that long if it looked as good as his does. (It doesn't.)

As of tomorrow, our gyms are closing, all indoor dining is curtailed for the next month or so, and we are being asked not to have any gatherings of more than five people in our homes. Fortunately for me, I'm not going anywhere for Thanksgiving, but I do feel badly for others who are not so lucky. It's going to be a terrible holiday season, I fear. Our shutdown starts at midnight tonight, so maybe I'll go looking for something to hoard. (Just kidding: I hope it won't be like it was in March.)


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Stimpson Family Nature Reserve


Sign at entry to Reserve

Today four Trailblazers headed out to the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve, which has just under five miles of trails in a really beautiful area. We chose this place because it's short, and can be made longer if desired (by going around one of the two loops more than once) or shortened even more in case we get caught out in a real drencher. Happily for us, the rain held off, so we decided to go out to Geneva Pond, the shorter of the two loops, first.

Al and Melanie taking pictures

It was cold, but not terribly uncomfortable, at least while we were moving. We stopped often to take pictures with our cameras. I noticed that when we were here last, during a rainstorm, everything glistened. Not so much today, since the rain had not yet found us.

Geneva Pond

The Nature Reserve is a really beautiful place, and I continue to be so grateful for all the pristine areas around town that we have to choose from. Here's a quick excerpt from the above link:

The forest is largely undisturbed and displays characteristics of an old-growth forest, including Douglas Fir trees over 400 years old, a wide diversity of tree species, snags and decaying logs, and a complex architecture of canopy, understory, shrub layer, and tapestry of the forest floor. 

Part of the reason that the forest is undisturbed is not allowing dogs or horses along the trails, and I found it pleasant to pretty much have the place to ourselves, at least in the beginning. Later, more people arrived to enjoy it with us.

Al, Terry, Melanie (and me behind the camera)

When we started around the longer loop, a woman coming the opposite way warned us about a barred owl that she encountered on the trail. She was wearing her favorite new hat, and the owl swooped down and snatched it right off her head! Apparently the hat had a pompom that the owl must have thought was an animal. She also had quite a bump from its talons. We didn't see it, though, and I was happy about that, but I don't think the owl was very happy with his prize.

Shelf fungi

We did see a few fungi, nothing like we saw on a previous hike, but still enough to add some interest to old fallen logs. The ferns are numerous along the trail, and I spied a little of my favorite species.

Maidenhair ferns

These ferns are delicate and almost always close to water sources. I found an article online that explains why:

Maidenhair Ferns naturally grow in many climates, from forests of the Northeast U.S. to highlands of the Andes mountains. They're commonly found in wet, high-humidity spots, like wedged between rocks next to a waterfall. The genus name Adiantum is actually derived from the Greek word adiantos, or "unwetted," because these ferns' leaves repel water (Emma Loewe).

When we got to the junction of the two loops, after we had navigated them both, we discussed whether or not to make another trip around the pond. We had already enjoyed quite a lovely walk, so we decided to call it a day and head home early. 

Thank you, Stimpson Family

Monday, November 9, 2020

Brilliance in colors and a Netflix series


Now that's red (and yellow)

When I was out walking last week, I saw this incredible bush (or tree, I'm not sure) with the yellow leaves behind it. I know that this time of year we get some of the most beautiful colors ever, and this caught my eye and I knew I wanted to share it with my readers.When they get to this stage, it won't be long before they fall. It's wonderful to be able to preserve the moment with my trusty iPhone camera.

I've watched three of the seven episodes of The Queen's Gambit on Netflix and am enjoying it immensely. The series is based on a book by Walter Tevis, written in 1983. As you might expect by the title, it's all about a female chess champion.

The Queen's Gambit is a fictional story that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), during her quest to become the world's greatest chess player while struggling with emotional issues and drug and alcohol dependency. The story begins in the mid-1950s and proceeds into the 1960s.

 I will probably get ahold of the book once I finish the series so I can compare the novel with the series. I am very impressed by Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Beth Harmon. She makes the character come alive for me. It's also pretty wonderful to have a diversion from the news of the day. I am tentatively optimistic about things, but I'll sure feel a lot better once we get through the next few weeks and months.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Gentle Lake Padden hike


Leaf-strewn trail

Today eight Trailblazers met at Lake Padden in order to have an easy "out" if the projected rain was to start early. It looked like it might hold off until noon or so, but just in case, we were all ready for it. We broke up into two groups, since the limit these days is five. I went with Joy and Dave, and the three of us took off for the trails behind the lake. The others went around the lake and then eventually went back there, too. We never saw them after we split up.

Big leaf maple leaves

Much of the trails behind the lake, which include horse trails, had recent fallen leaves from yesterday's wind. It was lovely to see, and before long I realized that I had left behind the stress of the news behind me. We talked and enjoy each other's company.

Trail among the trees

While waiting as Joy made an equipment adjustment, I noticed that you can see the trail extending along between the trees at this particular spot. We never saw the sun all day, but it was quite pleasant and (happily) dry. The trail in spots was very muddy and in places pretty much of a bog. We needed to navigate those spots carefully to keep our boots from submerging. We did fine, though.

Golden light

Even though we had no sun, some of the leaves were so brilliant that they lit up the trail all by themselves. We really enjoyed our traipse through the forest, and we had no real problems, but there was also not much other than the leaves and the trail itself to photograph. 

Lake Padden

And then we made our way from the trails back to the 2.6-mile loop around the lake. We hoped to see our fellow cohorts, but we didn't see them anywhere. Altogether, we ended up walking around six miles, enjoying the company and the season itself. And now it's time to settle back into the long election process and hope for it to be over soon.


Monday, November 2, 2020

November musings


November barcode (Rita's name)

I have belonged to Flickr, the image hosting service, for a long time now. I've pretty much stopped posting my own pictures on it, but I've kept my account current because I love to see the pictures that many of my friends post. The black-and-white image above was taken by Rita Eberle-Wessner, who lives in Belgium and takes wonderful pictures with her Canon Mark IV camera. Curious about the camera, I looked it up and realized there is a reason why her pictures look so professional: not only because of her incredible eye, but the camera, too. And since it costs thousands of dollars, I'm not likely to follow in her footsteps, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy her art.

Today I went back to my gym, the local YMCA, for the first time since the pandemic hit and closed its doors. It's been reopened for a few months now, and I didn't realize it until I walked by the door and saw people going in for... what? I went inside and discovered that the gym is open in a very limited capacity, and that you must call ahead and reserve a space.

Taken this morning

That's my shoe in the lower right corner. What they have done is separated all the workout machines with plenty of room between them, and this room is considered to be for LifeFitness machines and stationary bikes. Only five people are allowed in at a time. There was one other person in there while I rode the bike. And during the half-hour I was there, it was cleaned by two masked attendants. I felt quite safe. The other room, with the treadmills and weights, is much larger and allows up to 15 people at once. (I'll be sticking with this room for the time being.) I am glad to find somewhere that I can get a workout when the weather is bad this winter.

Tomorrow is the election. We both returned our ballots the day we received them in the mail (Washington is an all-mail state). And I was able to put in our information and go online to see if they had been accepted. They both have, and it put our concerns to rest about signatures and whatnot. Tomorrow I have a yoga class and an acupuncture treatment, both of which will help to keep me centered and, if not serene, at least in good spirits. I will watch the returns for awhile but most likely will know little by the time I head to bed. There's no doubt that I'll enjoy a glass of wine, though.