March, 2022

March was cold, rainy, windy, with a few sun breaks and early flowers:

We went on three repeat hikes:

Memaloose Hills – March 3rd:

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Cold and windy at the Memaloose Overlook


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Looking to the westward cliffs…


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Zooming in on the blue heron rookery.


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Chatfield Hill – mostly still dormant,


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with a few yellow bells.


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We tried a (new to us) side loop up the lower hill on the return hike.

White River with micro spikes – March 11th:

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Clouds wafted across Mt Hood throughout the hike.


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Our usual lunch spot – snow level is low!


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Return hike – lenticular clouds forming…

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The Labyrinth – March 16th:

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Plenty of water in the Old Hwy. 8 waterfall; Mt Hood on the far horizon.


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Slightly frozen grass widows.


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Labyrinth waterfall


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Yellow bells and buttercups


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My favorite oak grove


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Our guide Ponderosa


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View from the guide tree


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Early yellow parsley


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The haunted tree

Knitting and sewing:

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Quilt for my new niece, born at the end of the month.


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New laptop sleeve.


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‘Brave Enough’ Hitchhiker – yarn by Knitted Wit, pattern by Martina Behm


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Gnome Pun Intended, pattern by Sara Schira, Year of Gnomes, scrap yarn.


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Ripples Make Waves hat for the Guild Service Project; pattern by Casapinka; Knit Picks Hawthorne yarn.


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I started a new pair of socks for travel knitting.

At the end of the month we flew to the east coast to visit family – that will be my next post. 

Washington DC, May 20-25, 2021

Last spring (2020) we cancelled a trip to Washington, DC, due to Covid. Our daughter has been working there for two years, and we hadn’t seen her since the 2019 winter holidays. Fully vaccinated, heeding all CDC precautions, and despite predicted high temperatures and a cicada invasion, we finally got to visit her!

May 20 –  Flying, Georgetown

We were able to take the five hour nonstop flight from Portland, Oregon, to National Airport, where our daughter met us.

We stopped in Georgetown for al fresco tacos and a walk along the canal and waterfront.

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C & O Canal, Georgetown

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Georgetown waterfront path, Kennedy Center in the distance.

Then we checked in to our AirB&B lodging in Logan Circle, near our daughter’s apartment.

May 21 – National Mall walk

It was ‘only’ supposed to be 80 degrees today. We went on an 8 mile walk, from Logan Circle, past the White House, the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin, looking at the monuments along the way.

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Walking toward the White House.

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Looking north at Black Lives Matter Plaza.

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Looking south at Black Lives Matter Plaza.

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Approaching the north side of the White House.

Next stop: the Washington Monument on the National Mall.

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Looking west across the mall toward the Lincoln memorial.

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Our next stop: the Jefferson Memorial, under reconstruction, where we ate our picnic lunch in some nearby shade.

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A blue heron flew across our view as we sat on the grass, admiring reflections in the tidal basin.

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Two official helicopters flew past, as well. According to our daughter, two helicopters means it is the Vice President’s entourage, three for the President. So that might have been Kamala Harris in one of them.

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Inside the Jefferson memorial.

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Looking back as we continued walking around the Tidal Basin.

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The Capitol in the distance, Jefferson’s profile in the monument.

Our next stop was a series of exhibits documenting the legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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FDR, lifesized, in wheelchair.

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Tributes to the hardships of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

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Panels representing the New Deal Programs that revived the economy.

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FDR and his dog, Fala.

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The amazing First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt also gets an alcove.

Our next stop was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, new since my only other visit to the capitol in 2008.

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The large granite sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. was much larger than I expected, a very fitting tribute to his legacy.

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By now we were feeling the heat, and I had seen most of the memorials in this area on my previous visit, so we continued toward the Lincoln Memorial, which I wanted to see again.

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After crossing Independence Avenue again, we passed by the Korean War Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial:

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That airplane is probably on the same flight path we were on the previous day.

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President Lincoln

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The Gettysburg Address

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View north from the steps

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Columns

We still had a couple of miles to walk back to our lodging.

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We visited the Viet Nam War Memorial.

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We saw the Federal Reserve building on Constitution Avenue.

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We sipped cold drinks while walking north toward Dupont Circle.

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We caught another glimpse of our Vice President!

After resting from our long walk we enjoyed a takeout Ethiopian dinner.

May 22 – Great Falls National Park

A hot day – into the 90s! We drove about an hour to Great Falls National Park, VA, to see the falls. It was too hot for a serious hike, but we enjoyed the views and some wildlife.

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The very calm Potomac River, above the falls.

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First viewpoint of the Great Falls of the Potomac River

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Downstream from the falls, and a kayaker

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Park map

We walked downstream to a few of the viewpoints:

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We turned around after looking at Mather Gorge:

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Upstream, Mather Gorge

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Downstream, Mather Gorge

As we walked back, keeping to shady paths where possible, we spotted some wildlife:

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Broad-headed skink, sitting on a log near the trail.

I was very excited to see cardinals for the first time, bathing in the nearby creek while we were eating lunch in the shade. They are very hard to photograph!

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Male cardinal

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Female cardinal

Despite the heat, we enjoyed our visit to the natural world so near our nation’s capitol.

May 23 – Cicadas of Baltimore

We saw these everywhere, though they were not particularly dense in DC proper. On Sunday, we were invited to visit cousins who live in a green suburb on the northside of Baltimore. Just opening the car door upon arrival, we got the full impact of the sound of cicadas. This short video by my husband captures the sound.

I added in my few other cicada photos here.

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Cicada carcasses, Lafayette Square

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Cicada ground holes, Great Falls NP

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Pharaoh cicada, National Arboretum

May 24 – Smithsonian National History Museum

We were lucky to get reservations for this newly reopened museum. We looked at inspiring exhibits of American innovation and history for a couple of hours.

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Arriving at the museum entrance after a slightly rainy walk. Good day to be inside.

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Interior views:

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Inventions:

Pop culture:

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Dorothy’s ruby slippers

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Julia Child’s Kitchen

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Bob Ross

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Yankee ticket booth

History of politics and everyday life:

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George Washington’s chair

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Political signs

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Ballot box

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An exhibit on the changing house through time illustrated the rigors of laundry.

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Helen Keller’s watch

I was surprised to find my own neighborhood depicted in the Transportation exhibit.

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I am always on the lookout for interesting textiles, and I found many to admire throughout the exhibits:

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Old quilt top in the lobby

First Lady dresses:

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So many beads!

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Michelle Obama’s dress

Some other old textiles,

and a couple of items that reminded me of my own youth:

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We enjoyed our time in the museum, but after while I could not take in any more. I love knowing this representation of our material life is preserved, and I hope to visit again someday.

May 25 – National Arboretum, flying home

Our last day. We drove to the Union Market for lunch.

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The Union Market is a converted warehouse, now a food court and entertainment center.

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The queen!

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The rooftop has lots of room for dining,

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and views over the city.

We then wandered around a bit at the National Arboretum.

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Repurposed columns from the U.S. Capitol building stand out on a hill in the center of the arboretum.

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The National herb garden had some pretty blooms:

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It was too hot to go far, but we enjoyed our last day with our daughter.

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Our flight home was mostly above clouds until we saw Mt Hood peeking through.

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This was a wonderful trip, reuniting with our daughter and getting a flavor for her life in DC. And testing the waters for traveling again in the post-vaccination world. We are looking forward to more adventures as the world opens up, however slowly.

May 2021, part 2: Garden, Knitting, Sewing

My garden:

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Native irises

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First roses

Our tomato plants are doing well – next we will add a few basil plants.

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Walking in Portland:

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California poppies

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Same poppies on a cloudy day.

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Meadow rue and allium

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Colorful landscaping

And in the “weird” Portland spirit:

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Fairy garden

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Sidewalk interactive music box display

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Mannequin arms on Yogurt Shop bench

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First local Hood strawberries! (Not weird)

Knitting and sewing:

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I am making progress on my bamboo Em Dash cardigan.

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I’ve finished all of the parts of the albatross – assembly next.

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I am close to finished with the red/brown socks. 

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I started these green socks for travel knitting, made good progress on our DC trip. But I lost at yarn chicken. 

The pinwheel quilt for a new baby in the family is basted and ready for quilting:

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I used this opportunity to knit Egg to Turtle for the big sister. I have had my eye on this Susan B Anderson pattern for a while, and enjoyed the opportunity to make it for someone.

I refreshed my mask supply for our flight to DC and travels there:

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I have some garment sewing patterns queued up for stitching. I’ve been using my Jane Austen pattern weights:

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And in other crafty news, my knitting group is planning a Big Hug-Show and Tell Back Yard Party later this month, after we are all fully vaccinated. It will be great to share all our knitting projects that we have only seen over ZOOM.

Late April 2021

Continuing my neighborhood walks: After the cherry blossoms, the pink snow,

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We go from pink trees

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to pink sidewalks in a week’s time.

And find them all through the neighborhood.

Dogwood trees and other flowers bloom,

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Dogwood

Interestingly cracked concrete catches my eye…

We went on two more hikes with amazing wildflowers:

Tom McCall Trail, OR, April 23

When we hiked here on March 11th, the slopes were covered with purple grass widows. Today, the balsamroot is the star!

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Starting up the trail with friends.

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Lower cliffs, balsamroot and lupine in full bloom!

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Eastward view.

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Every blade abloom under the oak trees.

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Open slopes of balsamroot and Mt Adams.

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Continuing up.

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Paintbrush in bloom on the upper slopes.

Views from the top:

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West to Mt Hood.

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North to Mt Adams.

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Northeast, to the Cherry Orchard.

More views on the hike down:

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Rowena Plateau.

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Paintbrush! and the Memaloose Hills, with their yellow backs.

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Parsley Alley….

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And a few more flowers, for the day.

Bitterroot Trail, Catherine Creek, WA April 26

Aptly lived up to its name – the earlier blooming flowers have faded, but the bitterroot is just getting started today!

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We began near the fairy ponds – now filled with camas lilies; the adjacent rock outcrops hosting glorious bitterroot flowers.

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Lewisia rediviva

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Sprinkled across the basalt; bicolored cluster lilies speckle the meadow beyond.

We wind our way up the slope:

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Eastward.

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Camas lilies and shooting stars.

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Death camas and purple camas lilies

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Turn left at the balsamroot, while admiring the windswept views east,

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and west…

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We drop down the Rowland Wall trail,

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One of the largest clusters of bitterroot buds I have seen…

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buckwheat

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A giant clump of cliff penstomen surprised us!

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More bitterroot scattered across the rocky surface along our return trail.

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This is their time to rise up!

Meanwhile…

We finally had a chance to see the heritage American Chestnut Tree in the Sellwood neighborhood. It dwarves the house, and there is an enormous stump of another chestnut tree behind it.

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Rare American Chestnut, Sellwood, Oregon

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Leaves just budding out.

Knitting

Quilting

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I’m making progress on the baby quilt.

Repotted plant report from Washington DC:

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Commentary on the verdict, and the path forward:

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Blooms of early April 2021

The crabapple tree in our front yard finally bloomed during the second week of April. This tree was in full bloom the day we moved into our house in mid March almost 30 years ago.

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April 9th

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April 11th

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April 15th

Other garden blooms:

And some cupcakes for a friend’s birthday:

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Hikes:

April 2nd, Memaloose Hills, OR –

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Begin at the Memaloose Overlook…

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Today’s star is balsamroot!

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Buttercup carpet in the woods.

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Balsamroot all the way up Chatfield Hill.

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Looking back.

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North view from the top – Mt Adams, paintbrush, yellow parsley.

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Columbia River, Columbia Desert parsley, balsamroot

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Mt Hood to the west.

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Willows and bees near the spring on the return hike.

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Popcorn flowers on Marsh Hill.

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View from Marsh Hill back to the Memaloose Hills.

More wildflowers:

 April 8, Coyote Wall, WA – Our first hike with friends in more than a year! We are all fully vaccinated!

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Starting up The Old Ranch Road.

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Service berry in bloom on the Little Moab Cliffs.

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The edge of the Coyote Wall, yellow parsley.

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And balsamroot, eastward view.

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Southward view.

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And we are going higher!

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Upper cliff edge view.

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A nice meadow near Atwood Road, as we loop eastward before hiking down.

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A day when every blade of grass seems to have a bloom!

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So many flowers!

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Desert parsley along Old Hwy 14 cliff, return hike.

And more flowers:

Knitting

Some progress on two projects:

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I finished the yoke on this bamboo cardigan, and it is way too big, despite careful swatching, so this one is in time out for a while.

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A mystery project for a gift…

Quilting

I am starting a baby quilt for a new family member!

Begin anew! January 2021

January 20, 2021 –  So far 2021 has not brought much change to our daily life, but the relief of having a new president casts a hopeful light on our future! We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this month, with homemade Indian food and leftover Christmas chocolate. We continue in pandemic lockdown mode, staying home unless doing essential shopping, going on neighborhood walks, or weekly out of neighborhood hikes. Vaccines are seeping into the community, mostly to health care professionals and long term care facilities. My husband has temporarily unretired and will be helping with vaccinations. Thus he was able to celebrate inauguration day doubly, as he got his first dose today.

Hiking: We have been on three hiking adventures so far. The first, on January 7th, was our annual trek to see the bald eagle nesting area along the Klickitat River near Lyle, Washington. We saw at least thirty birds, many of them juveniles that still have brown plumage. 

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Bald eagles flying across the Balfour-Klickitat pond.

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One eagle stayed perched in a tree nearby.

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Closer view.

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Many more eagles in the trees across the pond.

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Zooming in, even more eagles can be seen disguised in the foliage.

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Another dozen eagles were out on the sand bar where the Klickitat River flows into the Columbia River.

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Two adults, one juvenile bald eagle on the sand bar.

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Osage oranges along the trail here.

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They are a curious fruit.

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We walked a couple of miles along the Klickitat River trail.

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Downy woodpeckers were in the bushes nearby.

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This is a converted rail trail with a nice even tread.

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We turned around at the Fisher Hill Trestle.

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View down the Klickitat River from the trestle.

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A side stream cascading into the Klickitat River.

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On our return walk we saw a congregation of a couple of dozen eagles circling overhead.

On January 14th, we walked around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Portland. The blue sky was reflected beautifully in the water, and we saw cormorants, herons, and a barred owl near the trailhead.

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Blue sky.

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Reflections in the marsh.

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Winter foliage.

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Muraled Mausoleum across the marsh.

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Oaks Park on winter/Covid hiatus.

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Cormorants and herons, Downtown Portland.

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Cormorants.

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Barred owl.

Back out at Catherine Creek, near Lyle, Washington, on January 19th, we found the first grass widow of spring, then hiked a long loop up Atwood Road, across the top of Sunflower Hill, then down the Desert Parsley Trail back to Rowland Wall, thus completing some of the gaps in our map there. It was a beautiful day – chilly, but conducive to hiking up hill at a steady pace to see the eastern gorge spread below magnificently.

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First grass widow of spring!

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Catherine Creek waterfall set in the winter landscape.

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Mt Hood to the west.

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The arch from Atwood Road.

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An old stove near Atwood Road.

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Lunch view from the top of Sunflower Hill.

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Oak tree, Mt Hood, noonday sun.

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Looking up at our guide Ponderosa from The Desert Parsley Trail.

Knitting: So far this year I have finished knitting a sweater and a gnome, I’ve started a blanket and a new pair of socks:

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Farallon Cardigan

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Here We Gnome Again

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Habitation Throw, using my “advent” yarns exchanged with my knitting group

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Artists Garden Socks

Quilting: I finished my Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt, a companion piece to my Plaid Applecore Charm quilt.

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Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt

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Companion quilts.

A New Day! After a long, satisfying hike yesterday, I got up way too early (for me) to watch the inauguration celebration. I felt some trepidation, due to the recent insurrection. I am very relieved to report that all proceeded beautifully. The participants were diverse, eloquent, hopeful, forward looking! I cried as I witnessed the swearing in of our first female vice president! The singing, the president’s speech, and the prayers were relevant, meaningful, beautifully delivered.  I adored the young poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and the firefighter who signed as well as spoke the Pledge of Allegiance. The outgoing vice president was gracious in the transition. The colorful wool coats of the ladies brightened a blue sky day, when the Capitol, unfortunately, had to be surrounded by military lockdown, as the previous occupant never really conceded to his violent, deluded followers. I am disappointed that my daughter, sitting in her apartment about a mile away from the proceedings, could not witness the day. She assured me they remained safely within, while the din of helicopters continued above. Perhaps, going forward, the domestic terrorists will withdraw and think about the bill of goods they were sold, the lies told, the violence fomented by a greedy, disappointed narcissist who was only ever out for personal profit and aggrandizement, with no concern for the common good, no interest in public service. Good riddance! Meanwhile, executive orders and initiatives are already putting to right some of the damage, and asserting to the world that we want to participate in finding solutions for global problems.  

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Knitting/quilting update and some holiday cheer.

December 10, 2020 – I have been both knitting and quilting away, as the days get shorter, the evenings longer. We usually watch one program in the evenings, and have made our way through the latest seasons of The Crown, The Great British Baking Show (including the holiday edition with the Derry Girls), and The Queen’s Gambit. Some of these require full attention, but the Baking show is pretty relaxed, so I can get a lot of knitting in.

I finished my Dissent Socks and another Ridge Washcloth.

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Dissent Socks, pattern by Tiina Kuu

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Ridge Washcloth, pattern by Hannah Maier

I joined the AdventureGnome Mystery KnitALong, and am also making one of her earlier released gnome patterns, just a little knitting on these every day.

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Adventure Gnome, pattern by Sarah Schira

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Here We Gnome Again, pattern by Sarah Schira

I am making good progress on socks and a hat that are holiday gifts.

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Rafa’s Hat, pattern by Joji Locatelli; Artists Garden Socks, pattern by Tif Neilan

And I finished the quilting on the Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt. I just need to add the binding.

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Holiday Cheer – My knitting group, which has become an online knitting group during the pandemic, cleverly set up a holiday exchange, beginning last summer. Three of the 15 members collected twenty 10 gram mini-skeins of leftover fingering weight yarn from each member, and set up what were were promised as a Solstice Surprise, Advent Calendar, Hanukkah Miracles, or Pagan Pockets (to be ecumenical about it). They really outdid themselves, and we have been assured that they had a lot of fun doing it – despite having to collaborate remotely. I was expecting a bag with twenty balls of yarn, but instead was presented with this magnificent gift -bearing banner. Gifts in pockets, and ribbons with tied-on but hidden yarn balls. It has been so much fun to open one every day and see what my surprise is. I believe the plan is to save the banner and fabric squares for reuse in future years – so it is also a wonderful, reusable item. I am so grateful to these knitters, who I get to see twice a week on knit chat meetups, for helping  to pass the pandemic time so productively and supportively.

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My yarn “Solstice Surprise” banner.

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10 days of surprises, so far!

I have noticed lots of cheerful decorations around the neighborhood on my walks. We lit candles for the first night of Hanukkah tonite, joining our son remotely. Our Christmas tree is up and lighted – I have yet to unpack the ornaments – that will be next.

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Giant ornaments

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Lawn reindeer

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Roof reindeer

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Star Wars heroes

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Porch nutcrackers

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A beautiful sunset –

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reflected in the window.

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Menorah

Today, the first Covid vaccine was approved – we can begin to hope for the end of the pandemic – that is probably the most uplifting thought of all!

Breathing (and quilting!) again…

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.

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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!

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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.

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Plaid Rectangle Charms quilt

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I finished my Rio Calina scarf (Cat Bordhi).

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I made a tiny Mochimochi Gnome.

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.

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Amish Rainbow Balloon Quilt

Quilt Story 4: Amish Rainbow Balloon, 1995

After taking several quilt classes, I was ready to create quilts on my own again. My youngest son, then age 2, was a big fan of both rainbows and hot air balloons. When I saw this fabric at Fabric Depot (my main source of fabric until it closed just last year), I bought a few yards and let it take me on another quilt journey.

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Rainbow Balloon, 36″ x 42″, Margaret Klute, 1995

I found instructions for the Sunshine and Shadow quilt in a library book about Amish quilts. I decided to make the stripes as rainbows, and spent a good long time choosing my rainbow fabrics. I assembled the six-stripe strata, then cut the triangles and sewed them to the background balloon fabric.  I decided to make the border and binding also reflect a diagonal rainbow.

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The red star fabric is still a favorite – wish I had more!

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Stitch in the ditch quilting, machine stitched binding.

I believe I used a rather thick polyester bat in this quilt, though I can’t remember exactly why just now. Maybe the little one said he wanted a thick quilt? It is quilted in the ditch around the blocks and triangles. My son was happy with the result.

Quilt Lessons: Nine Patch Quilt and more

Quilt Story 3: Nine Patch and other Daisy Kingdom class quilts, mid-1990’s

While finishing my Log Cabin quilt, I discovered the world of quilting resources available through library books, TV shows, and local classes. (This was still pre-internet!) In the mid 90’s, I took a series of classes at Daisy Kingdom, a fabric and creative sewing store near me in old town Portland, Oregon. The store was a wonderland of fabric and original design home sewing creations. I learned a variety of quilting skills from local quilt teachers in their upstairs classroom.

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Nine Patch quilt, 38″ x 50″, by Margaret Klute, 1994

Nine Patch: In the Beginning Quilting class, the teacher helped us find a focus fabric and two complementary fabrics, and then make a basic nine patch quilt. I chose this musical print, as my young son was particularly fond of musical instruments. We learned about value as a key to fabric selection and placement, also strip cutting and piecing, sewing accurate seam allowances, and many tips and tricks about assembly, basting, quilting and binding.

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In the Hand Quilting class I learned about pattern transfer, and stitching techniques.

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Hand Quilted Wallhanging, 16″ x 16″, by Margaret Klute, 1996

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The project for the Appliqué class was this small heart appliqué quilt. I chose to set the hearts with scraps of the same fabrics, and then hand quilted the wall hanging.

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Heart Appliqué Wallhanging, 15″ x 15″, by Margaret Klute, 1995

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In the Foundation Piecing class I learned to make stitch and flip blocks on tearaway foundation or paper. I turned my little blocks  (two to three inches wide) into Christmas tree ornaments by blanket stitching them together with gold metallic thread.

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Foundation Paper Pieced Christmas Ornaments, by Margaret Klute, 1990’s

I learned precision piecing skills while taking the Feathered Star Table Runner class. I also learned later the cruel lesson of not prewashing fabric. The red fabric has bled into the background, despite the use of color catchers in the washing machine.

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Feathered Star Table Runner, 15.5″ x 45″, by Margaret Klute, 1995

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Photo taken before the table runner was washed.

Some of the projects took me years to finish. I don’t remember the teacher’s names, but I know that I was lucky to have such a wonderful resource available to me. I was so excited at the time to be immersing myself in quilting. Although Daisy Kingdom is long since gone as a business, its legacy lives on in many creations by former customers like me.

And just for fun: I still have these items in my stash purchased from Daisy Kingdom way back then that are waiting for inspiration and time. Mary Englebreit and Elinor Peace Bailey were two of the Daisy Kingdom fabric designers.

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Mary Englebreit panels

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Elinor Peace Bailey fabric and panel

(outro music by Joni Mitchell: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone!”)