Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Loving the sun, but heading home soon

Hibiscus flower

I am so enjoying this incredible weather here in Florida, but even though it's snowing, blowing and overall yucky at home, I will be very glad to return to my own Pacific Northwest environment and my sweet partner, and my friends at the coffee shop. I've had a long enough vacation in the sunshine. 

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and allow my flight to take off on time at 7:15am. I see there is a big weather disturbance in the Midwest, but I don't see anything that we shouldn't be able to avoid. But who knows?

Because my flight is early in the morning on Thursday, which also is my birthday, I decided to give myself a treat and spend the night before my flight at the Tampa airport in a cushy hotel room. It will provide a more serene beginning to my long trip. Plus, Norma Jean won't need to drive me to the airport before dawn; instead we will head down to my sister Markee's home in Apollo Beach tomorrow, the day before, and enjoy her and her husband Bob's company. They want to take us out to dinner, which will be fine. Afterwards, we will get into Norma Jean's car and she will drive me directly to the airport, less than an hour away.

All the rest of my family members made it to their respective homes safe and sound, and once I look out the airplane window and see Seattle's Space Needle below (assuming we can see anything, that is), I'll be only one three-hour shuttle ride away from my own home in Bellingham. You know I will be very happy to pull into the end of that ride, looking around for SG's car. He's bringing me three overcoats, just in case!

My Thursday post will not be on time, probably. Nothing is ever guaranteed when one is traveling. So, who knows? Until then, I'll be happily getting accustomed once again to the Pacific time zone. And I look forward to my first visit back to the coffee shop!


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Holiday today, a good day in Florida

Youngest and the oldest

Yesterday, after a long red-eye plane trip (with unfortunately a screaming baby in a seat across the aisle), I arrived in Tampa. My sister Norma Jean greeted me and drove me to her home in Zephyrhills. Then we drove south for another almost-hour to Apollo Beach, where my youngest sister Fia and her husband Russ had already arrived days before. Fia's birthday was last week, and mine is next. But we got to get big hugs from all the family members who had already arrived. Fia just turned sixty, and I'll turn eighty.

It's so warm and filled with family, everywhere I look is another person I haven’t talked to, in a long, long time. I try to keep myself in a happy place, but I keep finding feelings and emotions spilling out, and I have to go find someplace where I can just relax. It’s been so long since I have been around others, that are not constant family and friends. I am beginning to feel what getting old it really means. I am having trouble with my eyes, and I realize that my hearing is not very good anymore, and it’s getting to be a bit of a hassle to try to make somebody understand what I’m trying to get across. I am not anxious to uncover emotions that have been dormant for so long, but I realize that this is the time and place to do so. 

I am hoping hoping that one of these days before I leave, I will have had a chance to have a heart to heart conversation with each of my siblings. But I am missing my Washington family every day. And I suppose that it won’t get better until I actually get back home.

So, on that ambivalent note, I’m going to try to get all this done, so I can post this and forget about the larger world, and concentrate on my beautiful family that I am a part of. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Ready as I can get

Carry-on, travel pillow, backpack purse

I took a picture of my stuff that I will take with me on my trip today. This one will not be over until tomorrow morning, when I arrive in Tampa, hopefully with my sister being able to find me standing in the correct pickup area after a long plane flight, made longer because of adding three extra hours. I'll go from PST to EST. I am scheduled to arrive at 6:00am Florida time, but 3:00am to my body clock.

Hubby and I both laughed when we noticed, in the above picture, the rug being taped down in the corner, but we are old and do this to eliminate or at least lessen falls. I tripped on that corner once, and it was enough to take that precaution. It doesn't look wonderful, but who cares?

Here in Bellingham, we went two weeks without a drop of rain, until now, and we will get probably an inch or even more before it goes away again. It's pouring out there right now. But what a difference it has made in our ambient temperature! We are more than twenty degrees warmer than the frigid temperatures we endured for a week or more.

And Florida, here I come! I am looking forward very much to seeing my family, especially Norma Jean, who until the pandemic I visited every winter since her husband died in 2011. It's been a long time, punctuated with FaceTime visits, but in a few short hours (hopefully) we'll be able to hug in person! And then there's my brother Buz and sister Fia, whom I haven't seen since our dear sister PJ died in 2014.

Lots of family, lots to catch up with, and lots of delicious food to consume. I'll be back on my own feed once I return home. Until then, I will enjoy! I wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. I am truly grateful for all my numerous blessings, of which you, dear reader, are one.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Sunny November day

Frosty lawn

 Today Melanie and I decided to head to one of our favorite places, Lake Padden, and hike into the back trails and, if necessary to get enough steps, take a loop around the lake. The baseball field (in the summer months) was completely covered with frost, so we thought we should take our trekking poles in case it was slippery. (It wasn't, surprisingly.)

Interesting moss on that tree

The area had changed a bit since we were last here a few weeks ago. We've had some rain, and then a long dry spell, and plenty of wind and cold temperatures to encourage the leaves to fall. But the sunny day made us quite happy to be out and about. There are so many trails behind the lake, and I've walked some of them but it's easy to get lost or turned around. Fortunately, at most of the junctures you've got a map to help you navigate.

Still some leaves on the trees

In the unprotected areas, the wind was quite strong and coming from Canada, so it wasn't exactly all that warm. But since we were moving at a good pace, we kept warm enough to take off our gloves, eventually. I did notice some valleys where it was much colder, and where the wind had not yet scoured out the frost. 

An animal's cave?

I don't remember ever seeing this tree before, with the enormous hole in its side. It's still alive and seems to be holding its own, even with this part missing. I wonder how old this tree is. I'm not sure I could find it again. However, in any event, we decided to head down to the lake and make one loop around it (2.6 miles).

Mel's brownies

Before we did that, we stopped for a quick snack, since Mel had made these brownies and was convinced that we should have some. She also brought some raspberry jam to spread on them, since she thought they weren't sweet enough. She had cut the sugar in the recipe in half, but I thought they were simply wonderful. Not that I minded having the jam on them. After our repast, we walked around the lake.

Heron taking in the sun

It was so bright and beautiful, and this heron on the buoy had found his place to enjoy the view (and possibly catch some lunch). You can see how much the leaves have fallen from the trees on the far side.

Serenity everywhere we looked

There were plenty of ducks and geese also enjoying the beautiful day, and we saw lots of people out walking their dogs, as well as a few squirrels here and there. Everyone and everything seemed to be enjoying the day, and we ended up covering 6.5 miles in total, with 1,100 feet of elevation gain and loss. Not too shabby for an almost eighty-year-old. I feel so blessed to live in such a wonderful place, and to have a hiking companion who also feeds me such good food!


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Day of 8 Billion

Snapped on my way home this morning

It was really cold this morning as I walked through Cornwall Park on my way home from the coffee shop. Or, at least from where John left me on the sidewalk to begin my two-and-a-half mile excursion. It got really cold last night, and we had a hard freeze, with these frozen leaves telling the tale. Although the brilliant sun was warming things up quickly, the places where it hadn't yet reached were quite beautiful in frosty splendor.
Frost is the most sophisticated of poets. —Peter Davison

 When I got home and warmed myself by the heater, I made a quick check of the news on my laptop. Two things struck me, the first was learning that today is the Day of 8 Billion. Yes, that's right: today is the estimated day that the human population reached that stupendous milestone. It only took us 12 years to increase from 7 billion to 8 billion. And during the past fifty years, two-thirds of the world's population of mammals (other than humans), fish, reptiles and amphibians have been lost. Two-thirds, I guess to make room for humanity. That's pretty terrifying, if you ask me.

The other unfortunate news is that moments after Ukraine President Zelensky spoke to the gathering of the Heads of States and Government in Indonesia, Russia launched a huge barrage of missiles at numerous targets in Ukraine, and one missile apparently landed in Poland, killing two people. Poland is a NATO member, and right now it's being assessed whether this was deliberate or not. If it is, there will be a huge escalation of the war in Ukraine, as the NATO members would need to come to Poland's aid. But I cannot believe it was deliberate, since Russia already has its hands full with a war they appear to be losing. Anyway, it just happened and more will be known in the fullness of time.

In any event, I will be trying my best to keep calm and remain optimistic. I am very grateful for my newfound meditation practice, since it seems to be helping me take world events in stride. At least a little bit. How about you? Have you found a way to maintain your equilibrium as the world shudders?


Thursday, November 10, 2022

Back to the Chuckanuts

Lower Salal trail

Today, Melanie and I set out from the Chuckanut trailhead to find our way up to the Lower Salal trail (one of my favorites) and join the Hemlock trail for our way back to the car. It was overcast but several degrees warmer than we've been experiencing lately, so it was almost up to our usual temperatures for this day in November. Still just a bit cool, but moderating a bit every day. Lots of leaves on the trails, making for a lovely carpet to hike on. Most of my pictures at this time of year are quite similar: lots of fall carpeting and quiet beauty.

Favorite rocket ship root system

I think I always take a picture of this strange root system on the tree, that looks to me like a rocket ship about to launch. It looks different every time I visit, but it never launches, much to my delight relief.

Leaf-strewn bridge

We were still on the Lower Salal trail when we crossed this bridge, and we walked a short distance on the Salal itself, before coming to the Hemlock trail. Although it's obviously November environs, it is still so very pretty to my eyes. In a half year, we'll be scanning the area for trillium.

Melanie suggested we take a side trip to see "the Dude," a tree with an interesting face, which Mel has said is reminiscent of "The Big Lebowski," played by Jeff Bridges in the 1998 film. We had to attach the doobie, because although sometimes there is one already there, today we had to find a stick just the right size to give him a toke.

Chuckanut Falls

And then we took the trail down to Chuckanut Falls, figuring there would be some water in it, after our recent rains. Sure enough, there was a steady stream coming down the falls, although nothing like we sometimes see after a major rainstorm. Still very pretty, though.

Old trees and golden leaves

I love the beautiful trees in this forest, this one showing off its lovely bark, with the golden leaves of the shrubbery behind brightening up the scene. We had no sun at all today, but the leaves brought the light to us.

More gold

We were almost back to the trailhead when I saw this one, and it called out to me to capture its beauty before the next windstorm brings all these pieces of gold onto the forest floor. We covered a bit more than six miles, with 1,500 feet of elevation gain and loss, making it quite a worthy outing. I am blessed by the magnificence of our forests, and by the friendship that I have with Mel. Just another great day in the Pacific Northwest with a really good friend.


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Fire and ice

Snow on the roses

Yes, yesterday we got some snow in the morning, not much, but enough to grace these pretty roses in the Cornwall Rose Garden. These are just about the last of them until we see fresh buds show up in the springtime. That's another half a year away, I fear. But I can always visit my friends who live in Australia, where they are just beginning their late spring season, with lots of flowers, including roses. Or I can visit some of my own posts from earlier in the year.

After the rain went away, the wind came up, this time a strong flow through the Fraser Gap in Canada, which always brings COLD with it. This time is no exception; I awoke in the middle of the night to the unmistakable sound of our heat turning on for the first time this season. But with the sun shining, I thought it wouldn't feel quite so cold, but I was mistaken. When I walked home from the rose garden this morning, the fierce wind seemed to be in my face, no matter which direction I was traveling. I finished my fifty-minute walk five minutes sooner than I normally would, because I was walking fast to get home and out of the wind. My cheeks were almost as red as these roses.

Then I headed to Fairhaven  for my monthly acupuncture treatment. (This is what I am referring to when I'm talking about the Needle Man.) Today Warren worked on my stiff neck and shoulder, which tends to bother me occasionally, and I decided I'd give the area a bit of extra attention. Once he had the needles in place, he hooked them up to a machine that sends a stimulating vibration, more like a tapping, into the needles. He's done that before for knee or ankle pain, but this was a first for my shoulder.

He also treated my usual aches and pains, and right now I'm feeling quite pain-free. And filled with optimism, as usual after I see him for a treatment. Now if I just stay away from the news, I should be fine for the next little tranche of time.


Thursday, November 3, 2022

Rainy, cold and beautiful

The most sun we saw today

Melanie let me choose where we would hike today, with the temperature almost down to freezing when I walked out the door, and with rain expected sometime during the day, I didn't want to do anything too terribly challenging. But I still wanted to get my steps in and take some pictures. We ended up driving to Lake Padden and making two loops around the lake with a bit of the back trails thrown in for good measure. As you can see in this picture, we actually had a few visible shadows, but no sun.

Golden leaves 

It was a very nice visit to the trails behind the main loop around the lake, which added some distance for us. We also saw lots of people whose dogs were taking them for a walk. Those back trails allow for dogs to be off leash, and they took plenty of advantage of their need to sniff, run exuberantly, and fertilize the premises. Most people followed the rules and picked up after their dogs.

Fireweed gone to seed

You can tell how far we are from the summer flowers, when you look at the bones of the fireweed, which is purple and lush when in bloom. It's also a late summer/early autumn flower, so it's obvious we are well on our way to winter.

Just before the rain started

All those lovely trees will soon be bare, as we have a big storm headed our way, with lots of wind and rain. But for now, it's just looking beautiful. This was almost the last picture I took today, because not long after, it began to mist heavily, which then turned into serious rain. I pulled out my raincoat and we finished our nice hike as we headed towards the warmth and dry conditions of Mel's car. We went 6.4 miles and up and down a measly 880 feet, but it was a good workout, and we both felt satisfied with the day by the time we finished.

Mel had brought along some of her famous buckwheat chocolate chip cookies, which I really enjoyed. Mel is a really wonderful friend! I am at home now, content and having no need to go anywhere else today. And I am filled with gratitude for my many blessings.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

November is here

Favorite tree

I've been walking by this tree almost daily ever since the YMCA closed down during the pandemic and I switched to getting in a three-mile walk most days. The Y opened again last year, but without my favorite hi-lo aerobics class, and they just let the instructor go after decades of service. She's still not over it, I hear, and I can't really blame her.

Anyway, they never reopened the women's locker room, and my locker still sits there with much of my workout clothes that I left there so I wouldn't have to carry them back and forth. I went there once to take out a few things, but I had to be accompanied by a worker in order to even open it. I gave up, hoping it wouldn't be too long before I could get back to the gym, but here it is three years later and it's not looking promising.

About that tree: I had been looking for signs of its leaves turning in the fashion of past years, a little at a time. But day after day, nothing had even begun to change. Until yesterday, when I walked by the tree to see it aflame! It was a rainy and overcast day, but nothing kept me from seeing the beautiful tree in its fall glory.

We received well over two inches of rain during the atmospheric river, but today is dry and even showing some sun in between the clouds. Oh, and I found out that what I thought was a raincoat is nothing of the sort, and I got home yesterday soaking wet everywhere, except my feet (my shoes are definitely waterproof). It wasn't all that cold, but that's coming very soon. 

Today I hauled out the carry-on bag I'll be using for my trip, which is now only three weeks away. I measured it to make sure it meets the new carry-on standards. By this time next month, I'll be on my return journey, if all goes as planned. Nothing is ever certain these days, especially when thinking about airplane travel. It's hard for me to imagine that I once had little to no problem flying anywhere, or even jumping out of airplanes for decades, but now I'm just a little old lady not anxious to leave home.

Last night I dreamed I was in Florida with all my siblings, and it was chaotic. I kept trying to find a bathroom that wasn't occupied, or somewhere to sleep comfortably. Perhaps I'll get all those jitters out of the way before I actually travel there. (The sun just came out in full force, and it brought a smile to my face. Florida should have lots of sun, right?) Fortunately I will not have to take many changes of clothes, since my sister and I are the same size and I'll be using her stuff mostly, which is good since I don't have much to wear for warm weather. The trip is getting closer by the minute!