Monday, July 28, 2008

Let The Fun Begin

Tomorrow our family arrives from Colorado. There will be hugs and greetings and cooking and eating and playing and laughing and packing up and then after dinner we'll head to the cabin on Whidbey Island for two nights, three days. We'll be back in town Thursday evening so that we can get to the hydroplane time trials and air show over Lake Washington on Friday. I will hope to check in with you cyber friends then, before we get too busy again. Hopefully there will be pictures of beach fun and horse clam digging. The weather man is talking rain showers, which would be very bad timing! But here in the northwest we're used to playing in the rain. See you later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


On Tuesday my grandchildren will be back, with both our daughter and son-in-law! We have been busy around here getting ready so when they come we can just play! We'll go to Whidbey Island, the Seafair Hydroplane and airshow events in Seattle, Rockaway Beach in Oregon, a family reunion in Vernonia,Oregon, and a few days here just to hang out. Whew! I think I need to rest up.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seafair in Seattle - Ballard

Seafair in Seattle is our big summer celebration. It is a big umbrella event incorporating lots of local festivals and parades, as well as the big stuff: Tonight's Torchlight Parade and next week's hydroplane races and air show. More about that later.
Today was Ballard's turn. Ballard, a city within the city of Seattle, is a community bordered by Puget Sound, Fisherman's Terminal and the Lake Washington Ship Canal and Locks. Ballard has a distinct Scandinavian air, as it was settled by immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Their celebration is the Seafood Fest.
We were out touring gardens in greater Seattle today and dropped in to check out the scene. It included arts and craft booths, community organizations, and lots of food.
Climbing for cash. The money was still there when we left. The lutefisk eating contest was a highlight. These guys don't exactly look Nordic, do they? I have no idea what happened because as soon as the word "go" was given, everyone sitting in the audience stood up and I couldn't see a thing. I think there was some quick slurping of the gelatinous goo, and within seconds a winner was declared. I think it was fortunate for all that the portions were small. Eew. For anyone who has seen The Deadliest Catch, the TV show on Discovery Channel, you know the name Sig Hanson, captain of the Northwestern. Sig's boat is docked here in Ballard and tonight he is the grand marshal of the Torchlight Parade. Watch out for the Pirates!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Why Is the Sky Blue?

To show off the flowers, of course. Nature knows how to stage her art!
Sky Watch Friday (Photos taken today in my garden)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

To Every Thing There is a Season

I spent most of this afternoon in my garden, snipping and clipping. Roses needed deadheading. Welsh poppies, which can produce millions of seeds, needed to be beheaded before the seeds ripened. Columbine and foxglove, left to dry, can now be cut back and the seeds shaken onto the ground to reseed. Weeds, trying their best to hide, were found and plucked. Lady's Mantle and Cat Mint will soon need cutting back to encourage fresh growth. It felt good to get these tasks done, but when I looked over my work, it didn't look as good as it felt because something had changed.
We are now in high summer. The fresh exuberance of spring into early summer is gone. The blush is off the rose, and even those roses are fewer. It always makes me a bit sad to turn this corner in the changing seasons. And yet, this begins the slower time in the garden, the lazy, hazy days of summer, if you will. There will be vegetables to collect for dinner, raspberries to enjoy for a while yet, and that lone rose in the vase, where there was an exuberant bouquet, will still smell sweet and be appreciated for its singular form and color, joined by sprigs of lavender.
Gardening is about being in tune with nature and the changes it brings. I take photos of the spring abundance to remember, and yes, sometimes to wish I could hold on to it, but then move on to the delights of the next stage.
And oh, I must not forget the hydrangeas. It is now their time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Le Tour

I love to watch the Tour de France. This morning I was up early to take our neighbor to the airport so I checked in "live" before leaving the house, and then backed up the broadcast ( isn't technology grand!)and watched it from where I left off while I had a leisurely breakfast. There was more work to do but it could wait. I had missed too many mornings with Le Tour and wasn't going to let this one slip away. Today the riders, 150 of them left now, had to climb two mountains. They are in the French Alps, near the Italian border. The first mountain was about 7000 feet, then they had to descend way back down only to be faced with a 9,100 foot climb, over the highest mountain pass in Europe. Now just in case you aren't aware, they are doing this on bicycles! When they descend, they can be going up to 50 miles per hour on a narrow, winding road with steep drop offs. There were several crashes. The first rider over the 9,100 foot pass soon found himself over the edge, hanging on to a rock, watching his bike slide away down the mountain side. But the ascent, miles and miles of steep grade with no relief, pushing and pushing to the top! What incredible physical shape one must be in to achieve this, and what determination it must take to keep going! After all of that, there is only one winner. The rest are just participants. At the end of 21 days, plus a couple of rest days, there is only room for the top three on the podium. Most know by now that they will not win, and yet they keep going. It amazes me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Busy Day

Mid-July is hedge pruning time. Ordinarily, we like our green walls, 120 feet of holly on the east side, 100 feet of fir on the south side, and several columns of each throughout the yard. But this time of year we hate them, until we get them trimmed and back into shape. They are tall and require ladders. Tom cuts while I stand below and steady the ladder. The holly is prickly so we have to wear heavy clothes even if it's hot. Then there's the clean up, and eventually the shredding in the composter, since no yard waste leaves our yard, and it all gets recycled into compost or mulch. Today, after about a week of working at this task, usually in the cool of the mornings, we finished! Hallelujah! That was about noon. Then we got the raspberries picked as the clouds cleared off and the day warmed up. After a late lunch, Tom helped our neighbor check in with her airline tickets for her flight tomorrow. We'll take her to the airport at 6:30 am. We then continued in the task of setting up the new computer, arranging the hardware and dealing with the wires. We felt proud of ourselves when we were able to copy our email address list to the new email program. It was a very simple process once we figured out the new terms for the common functions, and which buttons did what. This evening, after a walk, we cashed in frequent flier miles for tickets to Colorado to spend Halloween with our grandchildren and their parents. Now we are tired.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Up to Speed....For Now

Click, click, wow! What a difference! I can reclaim some of my life back now that I don't have to sit and wait for things to happen. The new computer knows how to jump to it! Hi, all. We are back in business here after our computer upgrade. All it takes to keep up is money, and time, and patience. And of course that price you saw in the ad always gets doubled when you add on everything you need to make it work. At first I was very annoyed that the life span of technology is so short. Then I began to rationalize, and it worked. I discovered that even if this new set up were to last only three years, it would still be only one dollar a day! Now where else can you get communication, information, and entertainment for a dollar a day? A latte and chocolate cost lots more than that. Be talking to you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Trying To Keep Up

We spent some time at a computer store today commiserating with another "mature" couple about trying to keep up with technology as we all waited for the store clerks to write up our work orders. Those work orders were the result of buying new computers and then asking "Now what?" So we are paying to have our old hard drive files transferred to our new CPU, and to get the new one up and running. We really have no clue, and sometimes it's better to pay someone. It will probably be cheaper in the long run! Anyway, I will be away from my blog for a few days. I'll look you all up when I get back on line. Don't forget me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Skywatch Friday - Dragonfly Sky

We've had many days of blue skies, unusual for Seattle. All the creatures are happy, especially the humans! (Photo taken Tuesday in my garden)

My Paradise

I have been fortunate to have visited many beautiful places in my now 64 years; the grandeur of our canyons and sandstone formations in the Southwest US, the countryside and stately homes and gardens of England, Germany's Black forest region, the Alps of Germany, Austria and northern Switzerland, and the fiords of Norway come to mind. But there is no more wonderful place for me than Paradise on the southern flanks of the mountain, on a sunny July day, in Mt. Rainier National Park, here in Washington.
I took these photos three years ago today on my 61st birthday. I am revisiting my favorite place today through my photos. Next year I plan to be back there in person. Reflection Lake, just up the road from Paradise, was the site of our daughter's wedding in 2001.The wedding dinner was held in Paradise Inn, the old national park lodge. We all stayed overnight then, and Tom and I stayed there for my birthday three years ago. The lodge has just reopened after being refurbished. I plan to be on the guest list this time next year. Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lovely Lavender

Who doesn't love lavender? It's color and fragrance attract bees and butterflies and me!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cama Beach State Park

Parking is in a lot up on the bank. Visitors walk down the trail to the water level. If you are staying, garden carts are provided for your gear.
I am thinking that the program may have been geared to city slickers, since most local folks are pretty familiar with cows. The "exhibits" seemed quite contented. A pair of bald eagles watched from above.Cama Beach is an old fishing camp, which was purchased by the state. The cabins have been refurbished and are already booked for this summer. The park opened in June. The Center for Wooden Boats, headquartered in Seattle, has opened a branch here, where they build and refurbish wooden canoes.
We had a great day exploring and enjoying this land of mountains and trees, sky and seas.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mountains, Trees, Sky and Water

There is a strip of land north of Seattle and south of the Canadian border that is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean waters that pour into Puget Sound from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the rugged mountains of the North Cascades. Those mountains are punctuated by the volcanic peak of Mount Baker. The water is a maze of channels around costal islands. One of those islands is Whidbey, of which I write lovingly. Between Whidbey Island and the mainland is Camano Island, smaller than Whidbey and much less developed.
Saturday we went north to this area to tour some Open Gardens that belong to members of the Northwest Perennial Alliance, a gardening organization to which we also belong. It was a chance to see some new gardens, and to visit Camano Island, which we had never done before.

Our first stops were in the community of Tulalip, named after the Indian tribe that has reservation lands there. The owners of these gardens had wonderful views west to Whidbey and Camano Islands.

From Tulalip, we drove north to Stanwood, for more gardens, and then across the Stillaguamish River estuary onto Camano Island. Camano is heavily forested, with a fringe on beach houses around its coastline and a small amount of inner-island farming and development.

As with much of the coastline in Washington State, unfortunately, there is very limited access if you are not a property owner. We were able to catch glimpses of views as we circled the island.

Looking west across to Whidbey Island and the Olympic mountains in the background.

Looking east to the mainland and Mount Baker.

Besides visiting gardens, we checked out Washington's newest state park, on Camano Island. Look for that in my next posting.