Monday, August 30, 2021

It's beginning, fall is almost here

Leaves are changing color

 I took this picture earlier today as I began my walk home through Cornwall Park, after having visited the coffee shop and enjoyed my daily latte. It was a bit more crowded than I was comfortable with, but most people got their coffee and/or food and left quickly. Everyone was wearing a mask, but when you sit down to drink your coffee, you need to remove your mask. I couldn't help but think about that schoolteacher in California who lowered her mask to read to a class of elementary school kids and, through that action, infected more than half of the classroom. That means that this new Delta variant is incredibly contagious, and although I'm vaccinated, I don't feel nearly as safe as I did before.

I'll be in line to get a booster as soon as they make it available to me. I know it seems a little selfish for those of us who are already vaccinated to want even more protection, but at my age (and never having been tested for antibodies), I'll take whatever additional protection I can get. Our hospital is already seeing enough new infections that they are asking anybody who doesn't need to go to the hospital to stay away. This new surge is really worrisome.

It's obvious to me that, with such an incredible number of new infections every day around the entire country, there will be more variants to deal with in the future. Will we ever be truly over this pandemic? I'm beginning to wonder.

We are, however, just beginning to enter into my favorite time of the year: fall, when the leaves turn glorious colors and the air seems fresh and clear in a way it never does during summer. Sometimes we'll have Indian Summer for as long as a month, and I'm holding out hope that this will be one of those years.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Blanchard forest hike

Trail to Lily and Lizard Lakes

My friend Melanie and I decided to hike up to Lily and Lizard Lakes on the Blanchard Forest Block, south of Bellingham. There are trails that go several different places, so we wanted to head up towards a couple of our favorite lakes. We started at the Upper Trailhead and were joined by a friend of ours for part of the hike, Chris and his dog Bo.

Bo, Chris, and Melanie (I took the picture)

The four of us hiked up to the junction that leads to several different trails. Chris and Bo went off towards Lizard Lake, with a plan to hike up the British Army trail. After they left, the two of us went up the middle trail, one I had not been on before, that leads to what I hoped would be a vista overlooking Lake Samish and a view of Mt. Baker. With the overcast skies, there was little chance of a good view, but we went anyway.

Lizard Extension trail

There were three trails, one to Lizard Lake and one to Lily Lake, with another middle trail that I had never been on before. It went mostly uphill and joined the service road, with what I hoped was a view. But after quite a distance and no view, we turned around to go back to the trails we knew.

Upon reaching the service road

Before heading back, when we reached the end of the existing trail, we noticed many signs on trees, telling us of logging that will be taking place shortly. There were many doomed trees giving us the bad news. I was glad I got to go up there to see these lovely trees before the logging starts.

Lizard Lake

We turned around and returned to the junction and decided to take a quick trip over to Lizard Lake, just to see what it looks like today. Skipping Lily Lake, we took the trail over to the Alternate Incline Trail, which leads back to the service road that would take us back to the parking lot.

Alternate Incline Trail

This lovely trail meanders downwards towards the service road, and it was nice to walk down it today, as we made our way back. I enjoyed it very much, although not so much the service road (which tends to be hard on my feet), but we made it back in good time. We had been expecting rain all day, but we returned, dry, without mishap.

Me and Mel at the junction

Before he split off, Chris took this picture of the two of us, just before we started down the Alternate Incline Trail. Today, we climbed and descended around 1,500 feet during our hike, and covered around 7.5 miles. It was a really good day! And as we came into sight of the car, it began to rain. We were once again blessed by the Weather Gods. And now I'm home, finishing up my post, and ready to rummage around looking for something I can eat on my diet. Another great outing with a dear, dear friend.


Monday, August 23, 2021

Lovely rain

Raindrops on the roses

I walked home from the coffee shop once again through the Cornwall Park rose garden, with the hopes of seeing them covered with beautiful drops of rain that has cleared our air and given us some especially delightfully cool weather. Looking ahead at the forecast for the rest of the month, we are not likely to see temperatures reaching anything close to hot. Next month will be September, with a chance to experience some Indian Summer weather, but it is so much nicer than the heat and humidity of midsummer. We'll see. Today is perfect for someone like me.

I just watched the news that the Pfizer vaccine for Covid has been given full approval by the FDA, not just the "emergency use" status it had until today. I received the Pfizer vaccine in March, so it looks like I will be eligible for a booster shot in early November. Considering the virulence of the Delta variant, I will probably want to get it (the booster, not the variant).

I am making progress with my desire to lose a few pounds and have been counting my calories on the Lose It! app, and this morning, 12 days in, I saw a welcome number on the scales today. At this rate I'll be back to where I want to be within a month. The hard part, with any diet, is to find a way to maintain after reaching your goal weight and not just start the rollercoaster heading the other way.

But I'm optimistic. I've managed before to maintain my goal weight for more than a decade and only seemed to get derailed by the pandemic, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Today starts a new mandate in Washington State to wear a mask inside. I was pleased to see this past weekend that my favorite indoor places had already started. I have seen almost everyone in the grocery store wearing a mask, and I'm glad to be living somewhere that enforces these mandates. It makes me feel so much safer. My sister who lives in Florida is not so lucky.

One of the things that drives me crazy lately is not being able to remember things very well. I had just decided I need to make a quick trip to the grocery store, but I can't remember what for. And I have all these convenient reminders available to me on my phone, but I always think I'll remember and don't record it. Sigh. Oh well.


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Fragrance Lake hike today

Pretty trail

Today Melanie and I split off from the rest of the Senior Trailblazers to blaze our own trail at Fragrance Lake. It's a nice place and well known to both of us. The rest of the group decided to hike locally also, because of smoke in the atmosphere. Nobody wanted to drive up to the High Country and be dismayed by the haze. Down here, the weather was cool and overcast for the first part of the day, with an ideal hiking temperature. The air quality was also perfect.

The service road is still beautiful

There are two ways to get to the lake from the Larrabee Parking Lot, one on a nice trail, and the other back along a very nice service road (see above). We headed up to the lake via the trail, stopping at a viewpoint (which I thought I got pictures of, but instead I managed to turn on my phone by mistake and drain the battery).

Fragrance Lake

I was surprised by how many people we saw on the way to the lake. Lots of hikers, bikers, and runners. Everyone, it seems, was taking advantage of the cool morning weather, with little to no breeze.

Even a few fishermen

We saw these two fishing and asked if they caught anything, and they told us that the county stocks the lake with fish; although they had not caught any yet, they'd had a few nibbles.

Tree growing out of a rock?

Halfway around the lake there is a trail that leads down to the Two Dollar trail on Cleator Road. To make our trip just a little longer (so we could log six miles), we walked a short distance on this trail because it's so beautiful and enjoyable. Not far beyond this spot, it begins to head downwards, so we turned around and headed back to the car via the service road.

Me, captured by Mel

Melanie took this picture of me, and since I don't see any obvious unpleasantries, such as rolls of flab spilling over my pants, I kind of like it. We also did about 1,400 feet of elevation gain and loss, and just shy of six miles when we returned. It meant I was powerfully hungry when I got home, so the first order of business was a hearty lunch! 

Now I'm finishing my post as I consider the fine day I am enjoying: a nice hike, great company, and now a full tummy. If I can just stay away from the news, I should be content and serene for the rest of the day. It's always good for me to get out and take pleasure in the forests that surround me.


Monday, August 16, 2021

Promising a rose garden

Cornwall Park roses #1

Today I walked through the Cornwall Park Rose Garden again.  I don't want to think about anything at this time but beautiful roses and intend to forget about the news. It's all too grim to even contemplate, but roses always make me smile. I might also try to find a funny cartoon that will make you laugh, but I do hope the roses will do their thing.

Cornwall Park roses #2

After having walked to the bus stop this morning and going, as usual, to the coffee shop, John and I enjoyed some conversation among the hubbub of the people, which seemed a bit more raucous and noisy that usual. Maybe it was just me, with my nerves jangling from me trying to have kept up with the, well, you know.

I am on Day 5 of a months-long journey to get rid of my excess poundage. At least that's what the projection is, losing a half-pound a week, trying to lose seven pounds. It may not sound like much, but for someone as short as me, it's significant. And the pandemic slowdown didn't help much. I have to keep on top of things or it will become even harder to deal with. So far, according to the scales, I'm ahead, but I also know from previous attempts to lose weight, I always find the first few days to be the easiest to see a difference on the scales. It astounds me how little food it takes to accrue my meager 1,200 daily calories. It sounds like a lot in theory, but in practice, not so much. 

Cornwall Park rose #3

It helps me to have something else to focus on, rather than the news of the day. Now it's time for me to find a funny cartoon to share. Here goes:

Snagged from the internet

Have a great day, folks! Keep smiling!


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Hot and harrowing times

Our lovely trail today

Because of the heat advisories all up and down the west coast today, all Senior Trailblazer groups called off scheduled trips to the High Country out of caution about old people overheating. One group went off to Whidbey Island to be near the water, and another group decided (I think) to climb Mt. Erie, inland but shady and hopefully not too hot.

Melanie and I decided to stay local and headed off an hour earlier than usual to the Hertz trail, a nice three-mile-long flat trail along Lake Whatcom. When we started out, it was quite cool and very comfortable as we made our way to the end of the trail, thinking we might beat the heat and be done early. I was really surprised by the amount of smoke in the air.

Lots of haze

I suppose if you thought the grey skies were caused by fog, it might not seem to be all that unwelcome. But we knew that the haze is caused by smoke from fires. The orange sky that greeted me when I walked outside at sunrise was my first clue. It might keep the worst of the heat down a bit, I thought.

 They climbed the tree over and over

We watched these two young men climb up this old tree and jump into the water multiple times. They were having a great time and told us the water was just fine! They had ridden their Jet Skis over to the area and eventually took off for other adventures. 

Canadian geese keeping cool

Then we saw these geese looking pretty in the water as we made our way back the way we had come. It was still quite cool and comfortable as we walked back to the parking lot, but the sun had come out and the temperature had risen by about twenty degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn't until we reached the parking lot that we got a blast of hot wind in our faces. Yes, we had made the best choice by walking our six miles in relative comfort.

Arriving back home, I walked into the living room to see SG glued to the TV, watching the latest news about the surge of troops being sent to Afghanistan, since apparently the capital city is in danger of being overrun at any time. This is terrible news, and I fear not only for the Americans in danger, but also all the Afghani citizens who are facing certain disaster. 

I completely forgot about the gentle forest I just left behind and am now in mental turmoil about the situation unfolding across the world. I am sending positive thoughts to all who are suffering and wishing for the best possible outcome.


Monday, August 9, 2021

Searching for spirituality

Another Rita Eberle-Wessner

This serene landscape is taken by one of my favorite artists. She entitled it "Cathedral" and you can see why. To me, this picture gives me a chance to walk into a forest cathedral and reflect on all the surrounding beauty. I do get a chance to see places like this in my frequent walks, but I also know I can visit at any time by gazing at Rita's work whenever I want.

I have recently been studying Tibetan Buddhism a little, mostly because of having stumbled upon a series of four books by David Michie, who writes stories about Buddhist philosophy from the point of view of The Dalai Lama's Cat. I have been interested in and have followed various spiritual paths during my long life, and I seem to keep returning to the tenets of Buddhism. Several years ago (around six) I took up yoga once again, after having practiced it in my twenties. It's completely different, looking at the philosophy after having enjoyed almost eight decades of life.

Once long ago, I lived in a commune in Sacramento. I had just divorced my third husband and my son had gone to live with his father in Michigan. This left me completely without any obligations, and since I had saved a little money, I quit my job and became a, well, a hippie. There were around twenty people living together in this commune, in a huge old mansion that had seen better days. In the basement there was a very large ballroom, and a couple times a week, Sufi dancing was practiced there. I got involved in studying Buddhism at that time, and I went to various retreats and gatherings with friends to learn more.

One day, I went with some friends to hear an Indian female sage, I think she was a nun. She spoke no English and had an interpreter with her. We all gathered in the large room, which held maybe a hundred people comfortably, crossed our legs and settled in to hear what she had to impart. I remember nothing of her message, but she did ask us to join in an experiment with her: she asked us to meditate using a particular mantra and listen to what emerged in our consciousness.

After a few minutes, I began to feel a warmth spreading in my forehead, where the fabled Third Eye is located, and it caused me to lose all track of time as I sat in a very blissful state. I can still remember the feeling, but I don't remember anything else about that day. It's never happened to me since, although for years I did meditate every day.

It does make me wonder if there really is anything to all those ancient spiritual teachings. I have been away from even thinking about such things for decades, but I can feel something beginning to reawaken within my spirit. Have you ever experienced anything like that yourself?


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Damfino Lakes 2021

My hiking cohorts: Melanie, Mike, Kirk, Sue

I won't lie: I was afraid I might not be able to complete this hike today, my first one back since the sprained ankle a month ago. Not only was I insecure about the state of my ankle, I was also worried about being able to tolerate the heat. When we first considered doing this hike, it was supposed to be partly cloudy and not too awfully hot. But it was full, direct sun for much of the day, and the possibility of rain has dropped precipitously.

Four of the hikers on the trail

At first the group suggested that I lead, since I am the least strong, and I could set the pace. I really don't like doing that, because I know I am holding them up. But we set out for Excelsior Pass, following the trail past two very small lakes and upwards towards the pass. I no longer had to lead. Much of the first part of the hike is in trees and it was very delightful, other than the flies, which weren't bad unless you stopped for a few minutes. Then they swarmed and were pretty much very annoying. A slight breeze would make them disperse, as long as we kept moving.

The others far ahead, with our destination in view

Melanie stayed with me while the others took off for the pass, which is visible on the right-hand side of the picture. She was perfectly able to match their pace, but I wasn't and she didn't want to leave me. It's pretty miserable not feeling like I could keep up, but at least I was there and continuing to move forward.

Creek is almost dry, but still lots of flowers

Although it's hard to see in this picture, there were plenty of lupines, valerian, monkey flowers, and bistort, even though we are in a prolonged period without any rain. That might end tomorrow, meaning we would tie the longest period without measurable rain, but the prospects of precipitation keep going down as time passes.

The pass, our lunch spot, and Mt. Baker

After lunch, the five others decided to hike up to Excelsior Peak, but I stayed behind because I was needing to conserve my energy. They headed up the High Divide trail until they met the trail heading directly to the top of the peak. I walked down the trail a ways but kept trying to find some place that would give me some shade as well as a little breeze to lessen the bugs.

Mt. Baker and a few clouds

I saw this wonderful view of Mt. Baker while on the High Divide trail, and you might notice that the clouds are beginning to make an appearance. Not enough to satisfy me, but they are still pretty. At one point I saw them on top, and they waved to me, although I didn't know for sure it was them until they returned.

Heading back down

And then we returned the way we had come, although instead of going uphill, it was downhill, but still very sunny and warm. My ankle did just fine, although I sure do wonder how I would have navigated this without my trekking poles.

New sign and a happy hiker

On the way back down, Melanie noticed this brand-new sign delineating the wilderness boundary. She asked for a picture and I rather like this one, showing my headgear and a chaste smile, belying the actual way I was feeling: tired, sore, and wishing I was already home.

Damfino Lake

We passed by the lakes again on our way back. There are two of these small little ponds, with a name that apparently comes from someone having asked what their names are, and a wag answered "Damn if I know." It might or might not be true, but they are definitely nice to look at. 

And then we were back at the cars and headed back home, with a good day of around seven miles under our belts, and another adventure behind us. I was glad that I made it without further injury.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Loaf-Mass Day

Lammas loaf owl with salt eyes
(This file is licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license)

Ever heard of Lammas (or Loaf-Mass) Day? Well, we're there, celebrating the day between the first day of summer and the fall equinox! Days are getting shorter up here at our latitude by almost three minutes a day, and although we still have the potentially hot month of August ahead, we are hopefully past the worst of the heat.
August begins with Lammas Day, Loaf Mass Day, the day in the Book of Common Prayer calendar when a loaf baked with flour from newly harvested corn would be brought into church and blessed. It's one of the oldest points of contact between the agricultural world and the Church.

 And if I had any corn in my garden, I too could bake a loaf from the new corn and get it blessed by somebody in some church somewhere. Yeah, right! If I ever went to church, that is, and if I knew how to bake bread. I did know how once upon a time, but that is so far in the past that I have totally forgotten how. In any event, I can still mark the day on the calendar and give thanks that we are halfway through the summer season, my least favorite of the year. I know plenty of people look forward to warm days and long nights, I'm just not one of them. My favorite season is fall, and we are now closer than ever!

Blackberries everywhere

On my way back home from the coffee shop, gym and bus ride,  I walk daily past these blackberry bushes, watching them go from bare branches with no leaves to flowers, and now to the ripening berries. These are Himalayan blackberries, not native to our area but ubiquitous and prone to taking over large swatches of land. But I have to say, they are incredibly delicious and a delightful snack on the way home. I munched several, but when I found one that simply fell off the vine into my hand and melted in my mouth, I stopped. Why keep going when you've reached perfection?

Now if I could only find the perfect post, I could stop right there. However, I don't think I'm really in any danger on that front. And I am actually enjoying writing them lately, since I've given myself permission to go wherever my fancy leads, wherever my internal winds blow.