Back on the Trail – Grass Widows, Bald Eagles and Osage Oranges (18-4)

This has mostly been a recovery week – taking things very slowly, and with awareness to my limitations. I have been able to walk more, drive the slow back way, and gradually increase all my activities.

Catherine Creek Trail, WA   1/28/2018      (#3)

I saved my weekend energy for a walk on one of the easiest trails – the Universal Access  trail at Catherine Creek just east of Hood River along the Columbia River. We often include this trail as a quick stop on our hiking trips to see the latest blooms.  Today at my slow pace I appreciated the paved surface and benches along the way, the small details and micro landscapes. Grass widows are beginning to bloom.



View to the west, labyrinth waterfall in the distance


Lookback: A couple of pictures with snow, and with more flowers:





Balfour-Klickitat Eagles

We also stopped at the Balfour-Klickitat trail near Lyle, WA to look for bald eagles in their nesting area. We saw about a dozen, mostly juveniles, perched in the trees around the pond, and taking occasional practice flights.


White spots are bald eagles


Another highlight of this location are the Osage oranges, at this point, mostly lying on the ground in colorful curious piles. Signage explains that the fruit is inedible, but that the thorny dense foliage was used as a natural fencing material by settlers in the west in the 1800’s.



Lookback : A couple of pictures from snowier days:


12/28/2015    Six eagles


12/30/2016   Osage oranges

Knitting and quilting

Progress on the Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward Shawl:


My sister sent me a bouquet of fabric as a get well gift – a beautiful rainbow of batiks that will fit beautifully into my collection for my rainbow themed quilts in planning stages.


And the first crocus peaked up in my front yard:


A Healing Week (18-3)


Home for a week now, each day I am more awake, more alert, more me.

Each day I walk a bit more, usually with Sean, at a glacial pace. First to the end of the block, then around the block. On Saturday Dan escorted me a full slow mile around the neighborhood, and on Sunday we visited Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Ribsy at Grant Park. I am disappointed not to participate in the Women’s March this year, but have given myself permission to temporarily ignore the outer world as I heal from this event.


Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, Grant Park

I have been thinking about trust. What is it that allowed me to trust people I’ve met only briefly, including some on the team I never will meet while conscious, to thread some sort of mechanism into my brain and perform this surgery. That is the foundation of civilization, I suppose, that the standards put in place by experts will be upheld, that we all expect to do our best by each other, that we trust.


Some time is passed in the evenings with Dan and Sean, watching ‘The Good Place’ and adding several repeats to my Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward shawl. The yarn is Tosh Merino Light in the Mandala and Flashdance colorways.


A mantra for the week from one of my favorite podcasts:


Marquam Hill, Portland, OR (18-2)

1/10/18     A different kind of Adventure of the Week:      Marqham Hill

Begins with a pre-dawn drive up Sam Jackson Road, four flights of stairs in the parking garage, into the entrance hall where I get my wristband; down to the preop suite where I wipe myself with antiseptic wipes and change into a snap on gown, booties and shower cap. That’s when it all gets real. Someone comes to start the IV;  I sign all the forms that admit knowledge of possible bad outcomes including death, and then they whisk me away into the OR ante room. I start shaking uncontrollably as they transfer me to the operating table, but they give me oxygen and then the mask, say “Count down five breaths”.  I only remember three.

Someone is tugging at a mask on my face. There are bright lights in my eyes. They are holding me in place, putting oxygen tubes in my nose, needles in my arms. I am coming awake and it is over and they say I am doing fine.

Then there are a number of hours I am in and out of awake. Dan is there holding my hand. Emily is sitting next to me giving me droplets of water and encouraging me to eat one saltine cracker that takes 2 1/2 hours. There is a light above that is too bright and one doctor says the hospital is full and I may have to stay in this space all night. It is very noisy and bright and I feel discouraged. Eventually they do find a room for me and wheel me in most carefully. Now here I have been for three days with the kindest of nurses caring for me, doctors coming and going in teams all hours of the night, needles poking, measuring ins and outs. Brian and Sean keep me company and take me on walks around the halls and I appreciate their presence. Dan is ever-present and stays the first night. Emily stays the next two nights and I slowly shed tubes and wires and medications until I feel almost ready to go home.

By day three I am feeling very accomplished to make several laps around the 10th floor neurosurgery ward, and a walk to the view plaza above the Portland Tram, resting and looking at all three snow covered peaks on the skyline on a beautiful blue sky day.


Mt Hood and lower waterfront from Portland Tram plaza


Mt St Helens and Mt Adams


Mt St Helens and a peek at Mt Rainier over its left shoulder (photos by Dan)

Friends and family have texted emailed visited called, sent flowers balloons meals good wishes. Now I just look forward to slowly getting better and less dizzy as I adjust to the new me. No more excess human growth hormone seeping from an adenoma on my pituitary. No more hidden acromegaly.

After 4 days on the hill we drive home, me shielding my eyes from the too bright sun and the overwhelming motion around me. I walk as if balancing a marble on my brittle bubble of a head, each day my equilibrium slowly increasing. In a few weeks I hope to be able to move better, drive, smell, hike…continue the adventures.

Meanwhile, the knitting:

I’ve added a few rows to the Girl From the Grocery Store Shawl, though I may rename it Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward.




2018 Begins (18-1)

1/1/2018    Oaks to Wetlands Wildlife Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA    (Hike #1 for 2018)

2018 begins with a 2 mile walk at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. Cold, quiet, it felt good to stretch our legs in the sun, see swans and geese in the distant ponds, and an egret flying down the swale.


Shadows on the approach bridge


Swans in the distant pond


An egret flying along the trail


Oak tree



1/6/2018      Deschutes River Trail       (Hike #2)

Blue sky, crisp air, deep blue water, golden grasslands, great escape from the clouds in Portland. Solid boots on the trail, maybe the last time for a while…

We begin by walking along the river:

The trail heads up hill across Ferry Springs Canyon:


snow in the shade



View back to the Columbia River, and the Columbia Hills in Washington



Closer view of the confluence


Columnar basalt above



Geese at the trailhead

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GPS track


We have been here twice before – we saw spring wildflowers in April of 2013


and fall colors in November of 2016.





train across the river



I knit away on Emily’s green shawl try to think of all the things to do before the surgery.  I am organized and scattered at the same time.  I try to anticipate all the needs and soon the time will be used up and I will see what happens on the other side. Hard to set goals for the New Year as I don’t know what to expect for the recovery so I just knit on…


Emily’s Flyaway Twist shawl, completed

38. New Years Eve / Farewell 2017

Wind Mountain, WA     Last Hike of the Week for 2017   (#59)    12/31/2017

Wind Mountain is a 1907 foot tall cone shaped mountain that juts out into the Columbia River on the Washington shore just west of Dog Mountain. These photos show Wind Mountain as seen on previous adventures:


From the Starvation Ridge area (southeast), May 2017


From Starvation Ridge, with rainbow, May 2017


From Dog Mountain (east), May 2013


From Grassy Knoll (north). Wind Mountain is the lower cone on the right side of the photo, June 2017.   Mt Defiance and Mt Hood are beyond, across the Columbia River. Wind Mountain is rather small by comparison, from this perspective.

The trail is short and steep – about 1.25 miles/1100 feet up from the trailhead on the north slope.  Our hike on New Year’s Eve was bitter cold at the beginning and eponymously windy.  We enjoyed beautiful views from the top, and felt this was a great way to end 2017.


Historical significance explained near the top

Views from the top:


To the west – Beacon Rock in the distance


To the east, Dog Mountain and beyond toward Starvation Ridge across the Columbia RIver


Looking north to where Grassy Knoll and Mt Adams would be if there were no clouds.

The trail seemed steeper on the way down.


Some details:


Red Oregon grape leaves


A peaceful forest path




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GPS track

Lookback: We hiked here in February of 2013 on a less windy and cloudy day, and could see all the way to Mt Adams and Mt St Helens


East to Dog Mountain


North to Mt Adams


Northwest, with Silver Star Mountain and Mt St Helens


West to Beacon Rock

Happy New Year!

In the evening we went downtown for a lovely dinner out with friends, and a New Year’s Eve concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, featuring Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony ringing in 2018 at midnight.

And finally, some totals for 2017:

603 Total Miles walked, of which 294 were on hiking trails during 59 hikes, with a total of 50,500′ elevation gained.

76 Books read according to my Goodreads page.  My two favorites were: Jane Austen, The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly, and Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.

6707 yards of yarn knitted in 10 finished projects according to my Ravelry page:

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38 Blog Posts  I am happy to say I have posted weekly since beginning the blog last April.  I am still exploring what I want it to be, but I have enjoyed the motivation to write a bit each week, and I love documenting life events. I hope to keep up the pace in 2018, with more detailed quilt stories added in, once the big adventure with the surgeon is gotten through on January 10th.  I keep thinking of the chorus to an old camp story about a hike through the woods with various obstacles:

“Can’t go under it, can’t go over it, can’t go around it, gotta go through it.”

And I suppose the same can be said about the challenges that face our nation in the next year. Our family holiday letter included this statement:

“It would be incomplete not to mention that 2017 has been a difficult year on the political front. We marched with women and men in January, and although some days it feels like we are barely hanging on by our fingernails, we cling to the belief that the checks and balances built into our Constitution will hold, and that the rule of law and equal protection under the law will win the day.”

Welcome 2018!