Posting from my peaceful Portland neighborhood –

A trifecta of crises descends on my town –

I have been distracted from posting by current events. All I have been able to think about is how my community has been attacked by our own government. Federal gestapo-like forces have invaded Portland’s mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations, and created a war zone in the four downtown blocks around the federal building. Click-bait and spot news entertainment have focused on the four square blocks of federally-incited violence that occurs after most demonstrators have gone home. The leadership void in DC is trying to distract from inept pandemic management and interrupt local progress toward ending white supremacy. The ‘stormtroopers’ sent by a failed president are causing the violence. Today there is an announcement of an agreement to withdraw the troops. Our state and city have serious antiracist/police reform legislation proposals underway. I am cautiously optimistic.

I am speaking from a condition of white, middle class privilege. I myself have not been downtown, although I know people who have. I am of an age and health situation that I  think the best thing I can do to help is to stay home, not contribute to spreading Covid-19. I stay aware of what is going on, donate money, and hope that the trifecta of political, economic, and public health crises our country is experiencing will begin to resolve after November elections.

I honor the Black Lives Matter protesters. I appreciate the wall of moms, the dads with leaf (teargas) blowers, the wall of vets, the volunteer medics, street cleaners, and cooks, all the folks who have put themselves on the line to keep the conversation about systemic racism and police reform going.

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Meanwhile, in my neighborhood…

The quiet and calm in my neighborhood are uninterrupted. I see signs of support and blooming flowers on my walks.

We have been eating sungold tomatoes and basil from our garden, and we’ve celebrated another family birthday.

I seem to be obsessed with knitting dishcloths and have also cast on a new sweater.

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We have been out hiking in the past two weeks to places we have been before.

Lookout Mountain, July 22, 2020

Wildflower meadows and views of nine Cascade volcanoes, from Mt Rainier to Broken Top. Hike #53, 3.5 miles, 650 feet.

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Mt Adams beyond the wildflower meadows of High Prairie.

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Mt Hood from the volcanic spire overlook.

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Glacier close up.

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Mt Adams from the summit approach trail.

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Mt Hood from the summit approach trail.

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Washington Cascades from the summit.

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Oregon Cascades from the summit.

Notable wildflowers:

Salmon River, July 28, 2020

A mostly shaded trail on a hot day along the Wild and Scenic Salmon River through old growth forest on the slopes of Mt Hood. Hike #54, 4.5 miles, 300 feet.

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Peaceful lunch spot along the river…

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arnica

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monkey flower

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Notable flowers…

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Ghost pipe

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Clarkia and blue gillia on a sunny cliff

Finding some peace in the old growth forest…

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I’ve learned a lot about racism this week…

June 6, 2020 – Black Lives Matter – A disturbing and contemplative week following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. While continuing Pandemic sheltering, I spent a lot of time reading, listening, learning, and reframing some of my thinking, and I plan to do more in the future. I have had conversations with friends and watched videos. We have made donations to the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center. I have a lot of questions, and I continue to listen and learn. There have already been some positive steps going forward toward resetting how community safety is practiced.

Some images and words from this week that I want to remember: all from social media or newspapers, attributed as best as I could.

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In Portland:

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In Washington DC:

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Aspirational:

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Two hikes as our trails reopen…

Boundary Trail, Mt St Helens, Washington –

May 27, 2020 – Trails and parks in Oregon and Washington are slowly reopening for careful, “social distance” hiking. We chose a sunny Wednesday to hike at Mt St Helens. The road to the Visitor Center is still closed, so we began our hike on the Hummocks Trail, and continued on to the Boundary Trail. (Hike #42, 8 miles, 1625 feet)

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Red marks our route.

The trail crosses through the hummocks, which are debris avalanche and landslide deposits from the violent May 18, 1980 eruption. Though once a barren moonscape, the hummocks are now lush and green, covered with plants and shady alder groves, and surrounded by ponds and wetlands.

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Alder groves and ponds near the trailhead.

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The trail comes out into open landscape at the junction with the Boundary Trail, then heads off into lowlands along the Toutle River, before climbing steeply up the flanks of Johnston Ridge. From here on we almost always had a full on view of the mountain.

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Boundary Trail Junction

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Zooming in…

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Crossing the Toutle River lowlands.

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Heading up, Indian paintbrush and Mt St Helens.

Once high enough, we can see north to the west end of Coldwater Lake, and back to the ponds in the hummocks, our starting point.

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Closer view of Coldwater Lake.

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Lovely view from our lunch stop.

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Red current in bloom as we continue eastward.

We reached our farthest view point, not quite to the Loowit Turnout on the road.

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Coldwater Peak

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Mt Adams and a glimpse of Spirit Lake

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Mt St Helens

I felt a bit out of shape on this hike, so we only went as far as a viewpoint where Mt  Adams comes into view, before we reached the Loowit Viewpoint. It was fairly hot, and once out of the hummock zone, there is no shade. What is amazing is how much shade there is in the hummocks area, because everything in sight has regrown since the eruption 40 years ago.

A last look back at the mountain on our return hike:

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40 year old stumps, with younger trees in the foreground.

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Sheep sorrel, Toutle River

Wildflowers are beginning to bloom – in a couple of weeks it will be very colorful here.

We stopped at the Castle Lake Viewpoint on our drive home for a last look today, with plans to return in the not too distant future.

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Castle Lake Viewpoint

Wildwood Trail Hike 4

Friday, May 29, 2020 – In continuation of a pandemic goal to hike all of the 30 mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, we walked another section, from Springville Road to the Wildwood Trail, to the Trillium Trail and back to our trailhead on Fire Road 7. This section of the Wildwood Trail is cut into the sides of steep forested slopes. It was dry and warm today, but well shaded. We saw a few flowers, a few birds, a lot of trail runners, and a few hiking groups. Most of the hikers pulled masks up when passing. Trail runners mostly did not. We did our best to give them a wide space. We all need the fresh air! (Hike #43, 5.2 miles, 460 feet)

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Trailhead

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Springville Road

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The first wild roses I have seen this year.

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Fern shadows

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Ferns

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Our return trail is all uphill!

Knitting

I am getting ready to start new projects, so I have been hand winding yarn, knitting a gauge swatch, and spending lots of time searching the glorious Ravelry pattern library, which in my opinion is the very best place in all of the internet. I also cast on a gift knit – fingerless mitts.

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A note on the times we are living in  I support the Black Lives Matter protests going on this weekend. It may be a long time before the “all are created equal” spirit of our nation is realized, but I try to live my life in support of it. On a more positive note, I was happy to see the successful SpaceX launch this weekend, furthering work my father participated in as rocket scientist.

Knitting finish! and another Forest Park hike –

May 22, 2020

For the third week in a row we went to Forest Park on Portland’s west side to hike. We chose the segment of the Wildwood Trail from Germantown Road to Springville Road, looping back to where we started via Leif Erickson Drive and the Cannon Trail (5.6 miles, 500 feet, hike #41 for 2020.) There was a 20% chance of rain for the day – I think we got all of it during our hike. The last time I hiked in this much rain I was in a rainforest in New Zealand! 

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We began our hike in the rain.

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A cedar dripping with rain and moss.

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There were some sun breaks.

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Returning down the wide, social distance friendly, Leif Erickson Drive.

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Robins were hopping along the trail.

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Honeysuckle blooming along the Cannon Trail.

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Thoughts of New Zealand!

Knitting Finish!

The Which Came First? shawl by designer Cheri Clark used three full skeins (1260 yards) of Malabrigo Mechita in the Piedras color way! I will be mailing this to my daughter, who chose the yarn when I saw her in January.

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From bottom to top, eggs (eyelets), chicken feet, chicken wire.

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Remains of the three skeins of yarn.

Garden and neighborhood:

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Penstemon blooming in our front yard.

Two kinds of poppies in the neighborhood:

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California poppies

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Oriental poppies

More words of encouragement on a local Poetry Post:

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Forest Park again…

May 15, 2020 – Wildwood Trail: Newberry Road/BPA Road Loop

We returned to the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park on the west side of Portland for another pandemic hike. It had been raining off and on all week, and the forest was a little drippy. Clouds blocked the view of mountains we saw from the BPA Road last week, but there were lots of new wildflowers this week. (Hike #40, 6.5 miles, 1250 feet)

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Newberry Road trailhead

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Fern-lined trail

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Forest

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Powerline cut – no mountains this week.

In other good news, nearby forests and state parks are gradually reopening, so we will soon have a wider geography available.

Knitting

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A finish!  Patons Kroy Celestial Purple traveling socks.

Neighborhood walks-

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nasturtium

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dogwood

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Porch parade

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Porch pig

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Tethered horse

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More words of encouragement!

Addendum – Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, May 5, 2020

When Washington State reopened some public lands, we went to the driving loop at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. The wintering birds – swans, geese, and sandhill cranes – had flown on. Today we saw turtles, redwing blackbirds, egrets and herons. This was our first foray out of our neighborhood in two months, and it was great just to see some wide open spaces from the safe space of our car!

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Egret in the distance.

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Turtles

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Red wing blackbirds in the meadows.

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Forest Park

Friday May 8, 2020 Wildwood Trail

We hiked out and back, from the Germantown Road trailhead to a little ways up the BPA Road. It was wonderful to be able to hike a good distance on an actual trail. The forest was beautiful, wildflowers were blooming, and we got an unexpected view of two mountains at our turnaround point.

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Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens on view from the power line road

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We decided to hike with masks and careful distance mode, in Forest Park, a huge city park in the hills west of Portland. We don’t often hike here because it is across town, and we usually drive a little farther to go to the Columbia River Gorge. It is one of the few trails close to us that is open, and friends reported that they felt safe on their hike there. The Wildwood Trail is 30 miles long. I hope to complete all the segments over time. Hike #39, 6.4 miles, 1060 feet.

Flowers in the neighborhood

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native iris

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red clover

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rhododendron

Knitting

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One of the sleeves cooperated and the other did not. Maybe next week…

A sad week. We lost a family member to a long standing illness (not Covid). He lives far enough away, that given the pandemic circumstances, we can’t go and be with his family. The key people that need to be together are together, but it is difficult to participate from afar. I will be thinking of him when we go for our next forest walk, because he was a man of the forest.

Pandemic Week 8 – a strange family birthday.

Another week. I continue strategies of sheltering in place, and keeping my distance from too much news – there is too much cognitive dissonance of what is reported, what is predicted, what to expect. We are well trained scientists in this house, so our decisions are logical. But having never chosen to live in Antarctica, or on a submarine, or a space station, I miss living my life in the world among other people. I watch from my window. On my moderately quiet street with bike lanes and good sidewalks I see plenty of bikers and walkers, but the interaction is passive. On we go, though, knowing it may be like this for a while.

On a positive note, people in my neighborhood have been creating flower hearts for all the walkers:

Hike of the week: laps on the dirt path at Wilshire park-

April 28, 2020 – I continue my neighborhood walks, but the cement is hard on my feet. I walked extra laps on the bark chip paths at Wilshire Park to get in a longer distance “hike” that was easier on my feet. And there were a few wildflowers blooming in the native plant garden! Hike #38, 4.5 miles, 180 feet.

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fringe cup

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salal

A double birthday cut in half-

My husband and son share a birthday, 39 years apart. We would normally celebrate together, but our son lives across town in a flat with four flatmates, and is not in our isolation pod. I baked the traditional family chocolate birthday cake and cut it in half. We delivered the half cake and gifts to his front porch, then had a brief conversation from the sidewalk.  My husband said it was his strangest birthday ever, and is grateful to have had a big party last year. Both had plenty of well wishes delivered by various electronic means.

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Sad half birthday cakes, but they tasted good!

I am still knitting…

on the same projects (sock, sweater, shawl). I have made a fair amount of progress, and am clinging to my knit group google hangouts for connection. I might have a finish next week.

Peninsula Park Rose Garden

 

April 23, 2020 – Another urban hike-

We walked to the Peninsula Park Rose Garden through northeast Portland. Neighborhood gardens are bursting with flowers, but it was much too early for the rose garden.

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It is pink snow season in Portland! (cherry blossoms)

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These red and white camellias reminded me of the “Painting the roses red!” scene from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.

Our route took us through the Alberta Arts neighborhood where personal artistic expression is abundant!

We finally reached the Peninsula Park Rose Garden after walking about 4 miles. 

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The rose garden was built in 1913.

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The rose beds are sunken below street level.

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Peonies near the entrance were the brightest color there today.

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Brickwork paths.

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The gazebo

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The only blooming roses.

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Looking west across the rose garden.

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Hike #37, 8.4 miles, 200 feet. We are hoping to find a dirt trail nearby to walk next week – the cement is very hard on my poor arthritic feet, as I am trying to keep my fitness levels up for the duration…

Knitting

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I finished the ‘eggs’ and the ‘chicken feet’ on the Which Came First shawl. On to the ‘chicken wire’!

PS. Happy 3rd Blogiversary to me – I published my first post in April of 2017!

 

Rocky Butte

Another week of Pandemic, another urban volcano hike, new spring blooms, a bit of crafting, and some good advice from George Washington.

April 16, 2020 – Hike of the Week

Rocky Butte is another Boring Volcanic Field volcano in Portland. We walked there from the Rose City Golf course, and had a great view of the High Cascades Peaks, with a coyote sighting along the way.

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After walking flat city streets, we began the uphill climb on Rocky Butte Road.

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A coyote, crossing the road ahead.

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The coyote continued up into the forest.

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Meanwhile, we walked up the road and through the tunnel.

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The road, tunnel, and stone walls were built in the 1930’s as part of a WPA post-depression infrastructure project.

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Eventually, we reached the park on the summit.

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Views in all directions:

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East to Mt Hood

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North to Mt St Helens

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Columbia River, Mt St Helens

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Mt St Helens

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Northwest, down the Columbia River

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West to the Fremont Bridge, Portland

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West to downtown Portland

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Southeast to Mt Jefferson

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Mt Jefferson

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Mt Hood again

And a last look at Mt St Helens before heading down.

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I always love a Peak Finder!

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Hike#36, 6.5 miles, 420 feet.

New blooms in the neighborhood and garden this week:

Crafting:

I made forward and reverse progress on my Meris sweater. While playing yarn chicken, I made the sleeves too short. I have knit just about every part of this sweater three times, so now I will reknit the lower sleeves.  I sewed more masks, started sewing a new bathrobe to replace the one I left behind in Queenstown, and continued knitting Emily’s shawl, and the purple socks.

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Meanwhile in Portland:

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Physical distancing demonstrated by our founding father!

Mask sewing, knitting, neighborhood walks, and hiking a local volcano…

I’m not exactly sure – I think it is the second week of April…

We are lucky to be just sheltering in place, only venturing out for walks, weekly grocery replenishing, and the occasional medical appointment. So far we are healthy and doing our part by staying home.

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I made masks for family and friends.

I am enjoying meeting my knitting group via the internet, and making progress on a shawl for my daughter.

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Which Came First shawl, pattern by Cheri Clark, Malabrigo Mechita, Piedras colorway.

We are busy with home projects, both inside and out.

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We made a nice dinner for the first night of passover, which we shared virtually with one of our sons.

I continue my usual neighborhood walks. We have had some amazingly beautiful spring days. Trees are blooming, leafing out, glowing in the sunshine!

Our crabapple tree has come into full bloom this week.

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Earliest blooms

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Looking out from the upstairs window

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Queen Catherine has come out of retirement to show solidarity with the neighborhood!

We walked to a farther distant park in town to make up for not being able to take our usual hike of the week in wilder surroundings just now.

Mt Tabor Park, Portland, 4/9/2020

Mt Tabor is a relict 300,000 year old cinder cone, over 600 feet high, that is a popular park on the east side of Portland. It is about 3.5 miles from our house, so by the time we walked up and around the reservoirs and to the top of the hill we had covered over 8 miles for the day, with a little bit of hill climbing.

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Our route was through residential neighborhoods.

Native wildflowers, which I am so missing from our hikes, are blooming in front yards.

When we reached Mt Tabor Park, we continued uphill, past the reservoirs and through the woods to the top. No cars are allowed on the roads, and trails are wide, so we were easily able to keep our distance from other people.

We found a bench to eat lunch with a westward view toward downtown Portland.

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After lunch, we walked down past the amphitheater where the excavated hillside reveals the volcanic structure of Mt Tabor.

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On our walk to and from Mt Tabor we saw encouraging signs of pandemic solidarity throughout the neighborhoods…

We saw a tribute to John Prine – sadly, one of the coronavirus victims this week.

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More words of encouragement! One of my knit group members shared a photo of this plaque from the FDR Monument in Washington DC…a message of hope and guidance that applies to our times as well.

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