Monday, November 29, 2021

A bit of this and that

Dripping branches and SUN

Walking home from where John left me off after our coffee shop adventure, I saw that the sun had not only risen, but that the skies were beginning to clear after two more days of record-setting rain. We have had more than twelve inches of rain this month, with more to come tomorrow, the last day of the month. Many roads are once again flooded, with another atmospheric river poised to remind us that the rain is not done with us yet. But today we have a bit of a respite.

As I made my way through Cornwall Park, skipping the Rose Garden, since now there are only rose hips left to admire, I saw that the sunshine caused a light ground fog to emerge over the fields. And now the sky is filled with plenty of clouds, with only a short peek of the sun available now and then. But, according to the forecast, we should be free of any more rain for a few more hours, at least. Yesterday I tried to find a time in the early afternoon to get in a short walk, but the rain kept me to a brief half-hour, and then I was beginning to get grumpy as the rain just kept on coming down.

Fifteen or so years later

My old boss Mickey sent me the picture on the left a couple of days ago, and I decided to compare it to the one taken at Thanksgiving (shared in my last post) just to mark the differences. Nobody lives another 6,000 days without some sign of it, but I was interested in noticing that although my jawline is a little softer, and the creases in my eyelids a bit heavier, there is much just the same. Some people don't change their haircuts very often, and I seem to be one of them. It also helps that the latest picture is a soft focus, making my wrinkles a little less obvious.

What doesn't show in the new me is the amount of change in my eyesight. Before I got cataract surgery, I had to wear glasses all the time. That changed, once I got the new lenses inserted. Now I only need to wear them for distance. I had always been nearsighted and saw no reason to change that. I am so very grateful for my recent Paperwhite (Kindle) purchase, which lets me read for much longer periods before my eyes give out. My old eyes just don't work as well as they once did, and the AMD (age-related macular degeneration) continues to forge ahead. I can still drive during the daylight hours, but that won't be the case once I lose my central focus. I am simply grateful for all I can do these days.

And now I'm going to sweep my front porch, which has lots of leaves and other detritus making it look rather cluttered. Then I will sit back and enjoy the glimpses of sun while we still have some to see.


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Stress-free Thanksgiving

John, Gene, Mel, me

In past years, Lily would have been with us as we searched for a decent cup of coffee on Thanksgiving Day, when our usual place is closed for the holiday. (She's in Guatemala at the moment.) In fact, almost every venue I tried in order to find coffee decided to give their employees a day off. Not Safeway, however, which has a Starbucks on site, so there we headed. I've found that I can usually get fairly decent coffee if I order an Americano (a simple shot or two of espresso) with added water. And for me, a little cream.

Melanie brought some pumpkin brownies she made yesterday and we enjoyed them, with enough for me to take one home and eat it later. Mel thought they tasted bitter, so she bought the whipped cream but nobody used it, or even felt it was needed. I found it delicious. After watching the rain come down in sheets from the window, we headed home and decided against trying to get in any sort of hike today. And now, as I sit here writing this post, the wind has come up to drive the heavy rain horizontal. No, unless it changes a lot, I'll not be getting my usual exercise today.

Our Thanksgiving Day feast

I also decided to make our holiday as stress-free as possible, with no cooking and no cleanup. I pre-ordered our dinner from the local Community Food Co-op and will "nosh" on it all day long: thick slices of turkey, green beans almondine, maple glazed delicata squash, stuffing, "smashed" potatoes (lightly mashed with skins on and a little bit of seasoning), chicken gravy, and cranberry sauce. I had a serving of everything, a little bit, and will help myself to more once I feel the urge. It makes way more sense to me to eat small servings all day long than one heavy meal all at once. And everything is really tasty!

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be much better, so I'll walk to the bus in the morning and then probably head over to the Y for a nice workout. With all this rain on top of the huge amount we had last week, I do hope we can keep from having any more flooding. I am so grateful for an easy and satisfying Thanksgiving, with a warm and dry place to live, friends and family all doing well, and nothing to do except enjoy my day of rest and relaxation. Now that this post is done, I can sit back and decide what I want to do with the rest of the day. Happy day to one and all!


Monday, November 22, 2021

Magnificent sunrise

Taken this morning by Emily Polis Gibson

When I walked out into the early morning sunrise, it was really lovely and I tried to snap a picture, but I figured that someone on my latest favorite place on Facebook would have done a better job of capturing it than I did. Sure enough, Emily Polis Gibson has a series of photos on the Seeing Bellingham group page. This is taken from her fabulous collection. I tried to link to her page, whether or not it works is not clear to me. But isn't it beautiful?

It's been a week of mostly difficult news stories. I've been trying to keep myself from taking in too much of the most dire ones, and looking constantly for some lighthearted stories to help keep me sane. I don't need to list them (although I did briefly consider it), since our news outlets keep going over and over them, just in case somebody somewhere thinks one might escape my notice.

I can't see today's date without remembering 1963, when JFK was taken from this world. But it is also the birthday of one of my favorite people, Karen Lynch, married for many years to my old boss Mickey Glantz. I was at their wedding, which people thought might not last, because of the age difference between them (something like 13 years), but these days it would not even be considered notable. Times and customs change over the years, sometimes for the better.

I am so grateful that I have recently begun a meditation practice of following my breath for 15-20 minutes each morning after I get out of bed and before heading out the door. I am amazed at how just that short practice has calmed my mind and given me a new way to find some serenity. Of course we breathe all the time, but how often do we pay attention to our breath? For me, it was pretty much never, and now I am aware that I am constantly breathing! It's one of the few parts of our nervous system that is within our ability to change. The breath is a barometer for our nervous system. If you're interested in learning more, you can check out the Yogic Breathing Study Guide

Once I started taking yoga on a regular basis, I was introduced to pranayama, using the breath to become more focused. From that link:
Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic responses serve a purpose. Ultimately, we are looking for balance and some degree of mastery over the nervous system, so that we see the purpose of each state and can use the practices of yoga to find a place of inner equilibrium. Yoga helps us to establish—and maintain—this balance of the two.
Hey, look at that! I did find something positive to give you today, on top of that wonderful sunrise. Perhaps the coming American holiday of Thanksgiving will spread throughout our country and shower blessings of abundance, peace, tranquility, and love upon us. It can happen and I'm willing to start with myself. 


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Today's hike was an adventure

Our first obstacle

With all the road closures and washed-out hiking areas, Mel and I decided to to hike up the Chanterelle trail, one of our favorites, hoping that the forecast rain would hold off until we got done. And sure enough, that's almost what happened. This downed tree across the trail required us to climb up above it, so that we could access the trail without having to try to climb under (or over) this obstacle. 

The other Trailblazers were heading out on longer hikes than we were ready for, so this five-mile-long round trip was perfect for us today. When we started out, there was no rain, but we knew it was coming. There were plenty of other places along the Chanterelle trail that had already been cleared, but fellow hikers warned us of two barriers that we would encounter. Neither was too hard to navigate, since we have seen much worse in our years on the trails.

A fern-covered fallen log

No, this is not a green caterpillar creeping down the side of the hill, but a fallen log that has been down long enough to be completely covered with licorice ferns. I love seeing how nature manages to take the forest detritus and turn it into something beautiful.

Peeking out

This was the second obstacle, and it definitely was more difficult to get across, but we did just fine. You can see the fallen logs and the broken bridge underneath. I was careful to watch my step, but we both got through it, both directions, without mishap.

Mel navigating the tangle

Mel almost blends into the forest here, but you can see her once she got to the far side of the downed trees. Other than these two places, we were able to continue all the way to the viewpoint, where we actually had a view.

The viewpoint today

I've taken this picture many times over the years, but this was the first time that the two of us had the entire viewpoint to ourselves. In all sorts of weather, we have usually had company here. Not today. Perhaps everyone was staying home because of the coming rain. Not like we've been a stranger to it lately; many streets and trails are still impassable because of the torrents of rain we endured this past week.

Another angle from the viewpoint

Mel took this lovely picture from the viewpoint. You can see that dark grey sky above the lake, filled with moisture that would soon be coming down. By that point, however, we were heading back down the trail to the waiting car, so we avoided the heaviest of the rain.

Our very green forest

It was just about when I took this final picture that I felt the first of the rain, but it was light and not uncomfortable at all. However, by the time we reached the car and climbed in to head home, the rain picked up. A lot. It was strong enough to require Mel's windshield wipers to go full blast, for awhile at least.

As we headed back to the safety of our warm homes, it lessened until it became a more normal downpour. We have had too much of a good thing lately, I must say. We stopped at Mel's favorite culinary delight: Chocolate Necessities. We both enjoyed a truffle before we went our separate ways. It was a truly satisfying way to end a pretty perfect Thursday hike! Thanks, Mel!


Monday, November 15, 2021

Indoor workout today

View from the treadmill

This morning, in the midst of another Pineapple Express (warm rain coming up the coast from Hawaii), I was getting ready to set out for the bus, armed with all the rain gear I could manage: raincoat, cap to keep its hood upright to protect my glasses, rain pants, and waterproof shoes. Yep, I was just about to set out when John called me to say that my chariot was awaiting me in the parking lot! He had driven  from the coffee shop to my place, to keep me from having to walk in the heavy rain.

Well, of course I took him up on it, but that meant I still needed to find a way to get some exercise and close my exercise rings on my iWatch. So, instead of letting him drive me home, I headed over to the Y, where I have an account, and went inside to use some of the devices. I got on the treadmill (seen above) for 30 minutes, and then rode the stationary bike to nowhere for another 20 minutes. Then I caught a bus back to the closest stop to home, when usually I would get off early for a bit longer walk. Not today, not with the heavy and unceasing rain, and with the wind making it scary as well. I was able to close two of the three rings before reaching home, so I was happy.

Insufficient drainpipe

I could hear the water splashing on the concrete outside my bedroom window, meaning that our drain pipe was clogged and not carrying the rain to the ground. And with so much more rain on the way, I took this picture and sent it to the manager, knowing that he needed to know about it even if he had to wait until later to get on the roof to fix it.

Nice-sized puddles

Coming back from the bus, there were plenty of places like this one that I had to navigate around; the ground is so saturated and soft that I was careful not to walk under any trees and skipped the park in case there might be uprooted trees ready to come down any minute.

On the bus, I could hear the driver listening to the reports from other bus drivers needing to take different routes because of flooded roadways. And there was even one notice of the main I-5 highway closed off because of fallen trees. I was happy to get home and hunker down. No more going outside for me today. Tomorrow is supposed to be much better, with the rain coming to a stop and the temperatures plummeting to normal ranges. We have already received more than four inches of rain in the last 24 hours, with more to come today. I'm glad to live away from rivers and streams!


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Day walk

Lake Padden this morning

It was just me this morning. Mel is visiting some friends in Arizona, and after checking (1) the weather forecast and (2) where the two Senior Trailblazers group were headed, I decided to just take myself around Lake Padden. I did this walk last Saturday, but it never fails to be just right. Two times around gives me more than five miles, and since today is a holiday (Veterans Day) and the kids are not in school, I knew I would have plenty of company.

When you start out at the dog park entrance, traveling clockwise, a short distance up the trail that goes around the lake, there is an enticing trail that heads up on the left. Never having taken it before, I decided to give it a go. It goes quite steeply uphill for a distance, and I did see some trees I'd never seen before.

A natural garden stump

The trail was muddy in spots, but the rain that is supposed to come our way this afternoon had not started yet, and it stayed dry throughout my walk. There was also little to no wind, but the skies were overcast, as you can tell from the photo below.

Not a black and white shot, really

Although it's really dark, I like the mood of it. For one thing, you can see how smooth the water is in the lake, and the misty low clouds also helped set the scene. As I walked, the skies did lighten up a little.

Trees are still lovely

I asked the mother for permission to take this photo, since it was either wait for them to leave (they weren't in any hurry) or add them in. I was struck by how glassy smooth the water had become, and how much color still remains in the trees. It was a beautiful walk and although I missed my pal, I was glad to finish while the weather remained calm. We are forecast to get several more inches of rain before it's all over.

And I do want to take a moment to thank all our veterans for their service.  On the news this morning, I was reminded that this is the first Veterans Day when the United States is not at war in more than two decades. I truly wish I could wave a magic wand and put an end to all wars. I wish you and all my dear loved ones a truly serene holiday.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Full sun today

One of our electric buses

This was my first morning walk to the bus since the time changed in the middle of the night, early Sunday morning. Today, there was enough light in the sky for me to capture a picture of the all-electric bus at the stop across the street. I was also lucky enough to ride one going the opposite direction, to downtown and my coffee shop.

Before too long, all the buses we have here in Bellingham will be electric, like this one. It's much quieter to ride, and hopefully we will all be able to do our part to help reduce our carbon footprints. By the time I arrived at my departure destination on my way back home, the sun was shining brightly and raising the outdoor temperature quickly. It had been quite cold overnight, around 43°F (5.5°C), but by the time I headed for Cornwall Park, the chilly air was actually comfortable. I decided to walk my usual long version home (around three miles), through the park and down my favorite street, East Maplewood Avenue. A short street that runs between Meridian and Northwest, it's filled with lots of delightful things to see.

Some great pumpkin carvers live here

Over the last weeks, I have smiled many times at the funny pumpkin with the long tongue, and today I figured I'd better get a shot before these guys head for the dumpster. The sunshine caused him to be striped, but he is amusing in any light at all. Good job to the pumpkin carvers!

Scarecrows? Crowscares?

These two alien beings in a nearby yard caught my eye, too. Once I decided to take their picture, I realized that one of those scarecrows is actually a crow. This delightful scene also brought a smile, and capturing the last red leaves on the tree, as they vibrated in the sun, was a bonus.

We have quite a bit of rain in our future, but not right at this moment. As I look outdoors and see all the sunshine, I guess I need to somehow store the view for safekeeping. Putting them in my blog is as good a way as any, I suppose.


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Another rainy one, but lovely anyway

Our walk today

 Mel and I are not sure where the rest of the Senior Trailblazers went today. I suspect they followed the rules and went up to Oyster Dome from the Chuckanut Highway. We decided to go by ourselves to the Hertz trail at Lake Whatcom. It's one of our favorites, and with the forecast for lots of wind and rain, we wanted to be able to turn around if we needed to.

Lake Whatcom when we started out

As it turned out, we didn't, although it was definitely weather-y when we first took a look at the lake. One reason we chose this trail is that the wind was coming from the south, meaning we would be somewhat protected from the worst of the rain.

A carpet of leaves

In many places along this gorgeous trail, we saw lots of leaves on the ground, making a beautiful magic carpet for us to walk on. There were, as we learned, a few rocks and even the occasional puddle underneath this carpet, but we were dressed for it and took our time.

Two fish getting frisky

There are two bridges on this trail that cross over small streams that usually have, at this time of the year, fish returning to their spawning grounds. As we crossed one bridge, we saw these two fish, one male and one female (red arrows in upper left), doing what looked like acrobatics in the water. A park employee had just arrived and explained what we were seeing. He said that the female (the darker one) will get right up close to the male (the lighter one in back) and then she'll roll over on her side in some sort of courtship ritual. I know so little about this, but it was definitely fun to see all those fish contortions.

The wind and rain lessened

As we started back on the three-mile-long trail, the rain and wind had lessened quite markedly. Now, though, as I sit inside my warm apartment, it's started up again and is now looking quite inhospitable out there. I do hope that the other Trailblazers were able to get up the trail and back down before the worst of the wind and rain hit.

In any event, I am happy to have had a very nice outing, with nobody any the worse for wear. It was a great day!


Monday, November 1, 2021

Coffee shop updates

Cool Halloween latte

Yesterday (Halloween) at the coffee shop, my new barista surprised me with this wonderful spooky skeleton in my latte. As I sipped it, the creature began to look like "The Scream" portrait by Edvard Munch. It was just the best way to begin a very fun day.

Then I called my friend Lily to see if she would like to walk around Lake Padden with me on chilly but sunny day. She accepted, and after we went once around, we drove over to Whole Foods, where before the pandemic we would sit down to a buffet breakfast. Although the foods are limited in comparison to last year, we were actually able to sit down and eat inside at our favorite pre-pandemic spot. So things are definitely getting back to normal, even if it's happening s-l-o-w-l-y.

Four days post-op

And then, this morning we at Avellino's were treated to a quick visit by John, only four days after his massive right-shoulder rebuild, accompanied by his daughter Peggy. She's acting as his caregiver during these first weeks until he can return to his own home. With a little help from his family and friends, he should be comfortable and able to get around indoors for the coming period. He says the shoulder hurts way more than his left shoulder did after the surgery last year, but the doctor said it was in worse shape and required more work. He cannot do much right now except sleep and eat prepared meals, but that should change by the time he gets the stitches out in a couple more weeks. In any event, it was so nice to see him getting up and around, even if it was because he needed to see his insurance agent and sign some papers.

I did wonder just how he's going to manage signing since he's right-handed. But that isn't anything I need to worry about. He had to drag his right hand up to the table with his left, in order to tap numbers into his phone, and there is no possibility of him taking off his jacket just yet. The things you don't realize you cannot do when your arm is completely out of commission. But it will get better, day by day.