Thanksgiving approaches and once again I am baking three kinds of pie, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and a turkey breast. There will be mashed potatoes and (store bought) gravy, roasted brussels sprouts, and veggie lasagna. For four people. We will be grateful for abundance and eat all the leftovers for days. We will be grateful for all the years we could share the meal with a larger group of family and friends. I will even make just a little bit of whipped cream for the pies, to keep with tradition, this year when we struggle to keep the traditions afloat. We won’t be using the good china, the antique gravy boat, or grandma’s silver. We won’t be lighting candles or lingering over the table. We will be in the backyard, grateful that it is not raining. Grateful that after a negative covid test and continued social distancing, we can set up a separate table for our son to join us, and we can sit together for as long as the weather holds. We will be grateful to have lots of warm clothes, hand knitted socks, scarves and sweaters to keep us warm while we celebrate our first, and hopefully our last, Covid Thanksgiving. November 25, 2020
November 11th, 2020 – Well yeah!!! Biden and Harris won the election! We will have a new administration in January! Action will be taken on the pandemic, on climate change, on humanitarian treatment of every person, with intelligent, informed, common sense in decision making.
And, our new vice president Kamala Harris represents the breaking of the glass ceiling for so many underrepresented and often abused populations of people! What joy!
Halloween was celebrated in a subdued way.
My neighborhood trees have gone through their beautiful color change cycle. Just today I walked through red, yellow and orange paved sidewalks. Rain is turning leaf piles to mush. The city clean up trucks are coming tomorrow.
For me, now that I know that our current president will be replaced by someone with decency, I can feel my stress levels decreasing. So many events this year involving breath – the coronavirus, the smoke from wildfires, the political morass…I am beginning to breathe more freely again!
Another thing I can do again has to do with my crafting. I love quilting and sewing, but for me it is a different sort of creativity than knitting. And for me, all the stress of the past four years has found its best relief in knitting. I am grateful, and I will keep on knitting. But on Friday night, when my son told me I really did have reason to be optimistic, I got the notion to pull out a languishing quilt top. Quilting is a different creation process to knitting, and not nearly as immediately satisfying as picking up needles and frantically knitting until I calm down a bit. I have already basted the quilt, and am making decisions about thread and pattern, so soon will be stitching.
I have no delusions that our national way forward will be easy. Almost half of the nation voted for our country to stay on the same path. I believe that people are allowed to believe whatever they want, but there should be a wall that separates church and state. White supremacy is wrong. I and more than 75 million other Americans, not to mention millions of global citizens, have been holding our breath these four years, knitting frenetically in my case, waiting to be able to breathe again. When all the law suits and the recounts and the lame attempts at coup are done, we will all be inhaling deeply, exhaling freely, back on the path of decency, with many long hills still to climb, but a worst scenario overcome.
My fingers have been busy:
Walks around the neighborhood,
New signs, whimsy, architectural elements:
Fall colors evolving…
I have been hunting witches and other Halloween displays, to be shared in a later post.
Portland Textile Month, Tiny Pricks Art Installation
We visited the exhibition window to see the stitchery, made by artists who embroider a quote onto a vintage textile as a form of protest. It is not how I want to spend my crafting time – but I was glad to get a chance to see a small sampling of the thousands of pieces that have been contributed to this crowd-sourced artwork.
Silver Falls State Park
October 19th – We hiked the 5 mile waterfall loop. It was hard to relax and enjoy the scenery – there were a fair number unmasked, seemingly Covid-protocol-oblivious hikers. We cut our day shorter than usual. The waterfalls are always beautiful, and the light streaming through the yellow big leaf maples enchanting.
8/17/2020 – I’ve had a birthday, which we celebrated with a hike and a socially distanced takeout Thai dinner with our two sons. Despite the palpable pandemic/political chaos tension in the world I have much to be grateful for. Although I am missing having our usual summer get togethers with extended family, so is everyone in the world right now. I am especially grateful that we saw almost every relation last year, between two weddings and a graduation trip to the east coast. My latest acromegaly lab tests all look good, and, we are eating homegrown tomatoes and basil almost every day.
I have been knitting, knitting, knitting away on a few projects, fingers keeping the anxiety away.
My neighborhood walks continue to reveal signs of encouragement and solidarity.
Also in the neighborhood, late summer flowers, shadow play, interesting architectural elements, and tinges of the autumn ahead….
Two hikes on opposite sides of Mt Hood –
Burnt Lake August 5, 2020
My birthday hike on the west side of Mt Hood was mostly through shady forest, on a hot day, with a few stream crossings, and late season flowers. The other time we hiked here the mountain was under a cloud, so today we were very glad to see the beautiful reflections of Mt Hood in the lake. Hike #55, 8.5 miles, 1500 feet.
Notable flowers and plants:
Newton Creek to Timberline Trail, August 10, 2020
We started from the Elk Meadows trailhead, then walked uphill along the Newton Creek Trail, stopping for lunch near the Timberline Trail junction where we enjoyed lovely views of Mt Hood and Gnarl Ridge. We then walked south on the Timberline Trail toward Mt Hood Meadows for a short distance before turning back. Hike #56, 7.7 miles, 1600 feet.
Editing note – This is my first post with the New WordPress Editor, so there are lots of formatting inconsistencies. Not loving it, but I suppose I will get used to it as I continue hurling forward into the future, keeping my synapses sharp by constant novelty….
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.
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 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.
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.
Peaceful lunch spot along the river…
Finding some peace in the old growth forest…
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.
In Washington DC:
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)
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.
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.
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.
We reached our farthest view point, not quite to the Loowit Turnout on the road.
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:
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
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.
Garden and neighborhood:
Two kinds of poppies in the neighborhood:
More words of encouragement on a local Poetry Post:
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)
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!
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.
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
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.