The rest of December, 2020

Holidays in Pandemia: We were able to enjoy the holidays, though one day seemed like every other, by modifying our traditions. We had Christmas tamales on Christmas Eve, with our sons, in our  backyard, socially distanced. Our daughter and her partner in DC joined us via Facetime. We celebrated together, and avoided the pouring rain of Christmas Day. We very much missed our elaborate traditional Christmas dinner we have shared with good friends for at least the past ten years. We contacted other family and friends via internet. We sent New Years cards, and received many in return. We got through the season, if not with the usual festivities, with enough of a connection to feel and share hope for a better 2021.

Holiday decor: 

Christmas trees:

Knitting:

More holiday cheer:

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Our traditional anise, ginger, and chocolate cookies.

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New reading, writing and listening.

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Our holiday card photo.

Good omens for the New Year:

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We could just see the astronomical event of the season one night – the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter.

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A closer view.

Vaccines are coming!

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And January 20th!

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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Knitting update, neighborhood walks, an art exhibit, and waterfalls…October 2020

Knitting

My fingers have been busy:

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Stripey socks – finished!

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Rio Calina Cowl – getting longer, and I might just make it into a long scarf instead of a cowl.

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Dissent Socks, in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsberg – I’ve finished the ankles – on to the heels!

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.

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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.

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South Falls

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Lower South Falls

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Double Falls

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Middle North Falls

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September – wildfires and smoke

September began with a heat wave, too hot for hiking. I went on my usual walks through the neighborhood, noting the late summer flowers and early signs of fall.

And I finished sewing my summer kimono robe.

We were planning some adventures after the Labor Day weekend, when the trails would be quieter. Instead, quite literally, all hell broke loose. In my last post, I expressed my “hope for a late summer without a local fire season.” I could never have predicted the late summer snowstorm in the Rockies that created an ‘unprecedented’ giant windstorm that swept westward across the continent, fanning the flames of wildfires in every combustible forest on the west coast of North America. We were safe at home, watching in horror, as the news kept getting worse.

Satellite photos from September 11th show the smoke being pulled far out to sea:

After the winds died down, the heavy smoke settled in, limiting visibility, and making breathing painful. We learned how to use the AirNow app to monitor our air quality, constantly refreshing the page, hoping for better results.

For six days I did not go out of doors at all – grateful to have a safe home to harbor in, knowing there were so many families evacuated, and many with their homes burned. Many have still not been able to return; meanwhile the firefighters, Red Cross, and all the social support services have stepped up to aid those in need. I have only gone out once, so far, to pick up a prescription and some groceries. Nobody is walking our neighborhood streets – the air has been too bad. Today it finally shows signs of improvement, and we may be able to step out in the next day or two.

September 16th – our first glimpse of the sun in more than a week.

Knitting

Once again, knitting to the rescue. I have had time to finish a few projects:

And make progress on other projects:

Awake and say
“What time is it?
What day is it? What season?”
No sun,
but not dark,
so…
daytime…

End of summer in a strange year
when all the cues are gone,
and now gone again.
Most things closed down again.
Wildfire smoke blankets our part of the planet.
Fall approaches, but is it the fall of our civilization? Or autumn?
Invisible viruses still pervade the air.
Not quite invisible smoke particles dim our sight, harm our lungs.

A metaphor for the insidious gloom covering our entire nation in an unprecedented election year, the outcome to determine how we will breathe going forward.

9/12/2020

Eleven Lakes and a bear in Indian Heaven Wilderness, and more pandemic knitting

We took two hikes in Indian Heaven Wilderness, a beautiful patch of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mt Adams and Mt St Helens in southern Washington. A few small volcanic peaks rise above the rolling forested landscape that is also spotted with dozens of lakes, and covered with ripe huckleberry bushes in August.

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August 20, 2020 – Indian Racetrack Lake and Red Mountain

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Trailhead into the forest

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Racetrack Lake – the only lake on this hike

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Looking Across Racetrack Meadow to Red Mountain

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View of Mt Adams on the way up to Red Mountain

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Closer view of Mt Adams,

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And closer.

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Nearing the top of Red Mountain

Views from the top:
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Mt Hood beyond Red Mountain Lookout

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We climbed up to the viewing platform on the lookout.

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Some other hikers pointed out a bear cub down on the other side of the mountain, eating huckleberries.

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Looking back east at Mt Adams – clouds now covering the top

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Mt St Helens to the north

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And starting down again, we can see our trail dropping into the woods, and beyond we see the spine of Indian Heaven Wilderness: Berry Mountain, Gifford Peak, burned East Crater, and Lemei Rock.

Some details along the trail:
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Lily pads and grass, Racetrack Lake

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Falls Creek

Hike #57, 6.8 miles, 1500 feet

August 28, 2020 – Thomas Lake trailhead to Junction Lake

The other ten lakes were seen on this hike.

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Once again we enter the forested wilderness…

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Thomas Lake

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Heather Lake

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Dee Lake

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Eunice Lake

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Nuha Lake

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Rock Lakes

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Unnamed lake beyond Rock Lakes

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View of burnt East Crater from the Old Cascade Crest trail segment

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A glimpse of Mt St Helens as we cross the shoulder of East Crater

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Unnamed lake near the trail junction

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Junction Lake, our turnaround point

Some details along the trail:
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Reflections in the lakes…

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Huckleberry bushes turning red

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Mountain ash berries

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Hellebore

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Most likely the last beargrass bloom of summer

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And another view of Mt St Helens above Eunice Lake on the descent.

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Hike #58, 6.8 miles, 630 feet.

Meanwhile, we are floating along through more days of pandemia – some days we see no one at all, only virtual connections to the outside world. Our neighbors leave us tomatoes. We leave them apples and plums and wave across the rose bushes. Downtown is still burning up with civil unrest while I go on placidly through the days of late summer, of pandemia, of this administration… I virtually hold my breath, knock on wood, pray, cast spells, wish for a begin to a return to ‘normalcy’; hope for a late summer without a local fire season, hope for a scientifically tested efficacious vaccine, and hope for a fair election that will allow us to emerge from impending climate change, covid and facism. And I knit…

Knitting –

I cast on a hat and some socks…

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Rafa by Joji Locatelli, Malabrigo Arroyo, Blue green

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Sock, Berroco Sox yarn

Neighborhood sights:

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fern shadows

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Poetry Post

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yard sign

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neighborly tomatoes

And nationally…

My daughter attended the 57th March on Washington,

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The march

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Lincoln Memorial

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The Mall

-and this artwork crossed my social media feed:

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I am still struggling a bit with the new WordPress format….

Another couple of pandemic weeks with a birthday, two hikes on Mt Hood, and knitting…

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.

Birthday cake, flowers from my daughter,
and a few lovely presents.

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.

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The shady forest

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Tree scorched in the early 1900’s.

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Mt Hood, Burnt Lake

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Mountain close up

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Reflection

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.

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Moon over Clark Creek

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Newton Creek trail

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Ghost tree in the forest

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Gnarl Ridge beyond Newton Creek

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Upstream

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Downstream, fireweed

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Mt Hood ahead

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Lunch view of Gnarl Ridge

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Gnarl Ridge closeup

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We saw a few tiny hikers crossing Newton Creek on the Timberline Trail.

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Glacier closeup

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The peak

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Backside of pea gravel ridge, which we walked along as far as the descent into Clark Creek.

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Return hike down Newton Creek.

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….

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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Two trails on Mt Hood –

7/6/2020 – Cloud Cap/Timberline Trail high point –

A favorite hike on the Timberline Trail along the high east edge of the mountain.

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Washington Cascades from the crest of the East Eliot Moraine.

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Eliot Glacier, Mt Hood under clouds.

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Cloud Cap shelter.

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 The clouds lifted while we walked south on the Timberline Trail.

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Crossing snow fields –

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with a view of the mountains.

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Timberline trail high point – 7350 feet.

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Hiking back north on the Timberline Trail along the edge of the sky.

We met this bird along the way:

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And lots of alpine flowers:

(Hike #51, 6 miles, 1650 feet)

7/10/2020 – Barlow Pass to Timberline on the PCT

A new trail for us on the south side of Mt Hood. The first three miles ascend steadily through lovely shaded forest on the gently graded Pacific Crest Trail. As we reached the junction with the Timberline Trail, blooming beargrass with Mt Hood beyond gave us a  breath taking trail moment – both stunning and unexpected! (Hike #52 for 2020!, 11 miles, 1750 feet)

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Barlow Pass Trailhead

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A new Wilderness Area for me.

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Beargrass in the forest.

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Beargrass in the upper meadows.

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Beargrass, and Mt Hood!

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Mt Jefferson and a faint glimpse of the Three Sisters to the south.

Zooming in on Mt Hood:

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Timberline Ski area on the left.

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Top of the mountain.

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Glaciers and crevasses.

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Tiny people walking around up there!

We walked along the Timberline Trail to where we could see Timberline Lodge from an overlook above the Salmon River.

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On our way back, we noticed a waterfall in the White River drainage.

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Knitting

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I finished a Rafa Hat to be gifted (Joji Locatelli, Malabrigo Arroyo Piedras).

Quilting!

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I actually pieced a quilt block, for a Local Quilt Shop raffle quilt.

Garden

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My husband finished making a table for the yard so he can eat breakfast in the garden.

4th of July moonrise

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From Camas, Washington – Columbia River, and alpenglow on Mt Hood.

 

Sisters hiking interlude…

June 28 to July 1, 2020 –

We escaped to Sisters, Oregon, about a three hour drive from home, for a few days of hiking. Our motel room was self contained, we brought all of our own food, and chose uncrowded trails during the week to satisfy pandemic safety concerns for ourselves and others. The trip was successful! It was wonderful to get out of our neighborhood and into the mountains we love so dearly, to see so many wildflowers and mountain views, and to hike both new and familiar trails.

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Cone Peak Meadows June 29, 2020

Famous for wildflowers! We hiked in the fog most of the day – few views, lots of flowers, including some new to me. We didn’t go up to the Iron Mountain Lookout because of the fog, but did hike the entire loop for the first time. (Hike #48, 6.6 mile, 1300 feet)

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Trail map

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Rocky outcrops above the forest slopes were covered with blooming larkspur, Oregon sunshine and blue gillia.

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Lower Cone Peak meadows in the fog.

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Lunch view.

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Fog rising, Cone Peak almost visible.

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Upper Cone Peak Meadows – death camus, larkspur, paintbrush and more.

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Crossing the upper meadows.

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Forested section just north of Iron Mountain.

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Foggy glimpse of Iron Mountain, which we decided not to climb.

Prolific wildflowers in the meadows and forests!

Tam McArthur Rim, June 30, 2020

A favorite hike, often very crowded, was pleasantly unpeopled today. Also, not as windy as expected, and the views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top were stunning from our endpoint – the 7950′ red cinder ridge that leads to Broken Top. We lost the trail briefly in some of the snow patches, but the wide open volcanic landscape made it hard to actually get lost.  Hike #49, 8 miles, 1500 feet.

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Ascending above Three Creeks Lake. That sharp prow on the left  is the overlook.

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Enjoying our lunch view of Broken Top and the Three Sisters from the overlook, while not feeding the chipmunk.

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All the chipmunk got were some close up photos.

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Three Creek Lakes from the overlook.

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We hiked on across the high plateau to the ridge, crossing a few snow patches along the way.

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View from the saddle of the red cinder ridge.

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Our endpoint – the top of the red cinder ridge. Broken Hand and Broken top seem just a few steps further…

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Broken Top and South Sister.

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Three Sisters

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Middle and North Sisters, and the clouds sitting on the Cascade peaks to the north.

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Our trail across the high plateau, back to the lookout.

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We stopped again at the lookout before heading down.

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Western pasque flowers and heather near the lookout.

McKenzie Pass and Clear Lake, July 1, 2020

We drove up to the Dee Wright Observatory at McKenzie Pass, one of my favorite places on the planet, to look at the volcanic landscape and hope for some views. The clouds wafted away from some of the peaks briefly, though the bitter wind was not hospitable to hanging around.

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Black Crater from the observatory.

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The Belknap Craters

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North and Middle Sisters appeared briefly.

We also stopped at Clear Lake, hoping to see the submerged fossil forest under the turquoise clear waters we have heard so much about. We could not see it from the trail. We did find the Great Spring, from which the McKenzie River is born, and a few new flower sightings. We will have to come back and rent a boat to see the underwater forest. (Hike #50, 5 miles, 200 feet).

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Turquoise blue Clear Lake from the trail

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The ripples near the bank are where the water emerges as a spring from under the lava flows.

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Another view of the Great Spring.

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My first time seeing candystick, one of the more unusual flowers in the western Cascades forests.

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Candystick

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Twinflower

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Pink pyrola

Knitting

I brought my latest traveling socks on the trip, and they are finished!

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Hermione’s Everyday Socks, pattern by Erica Lueder, made from Red Heart – Heart and Sole yarn in the Bayou colorway.

Everything that is happening right now-

I keep hearing this expression on the airwaves, to describe the intersection of pandemic, political chaos and antiracist activism. I have been reading the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, journaling about the prompts, and discussing the ideas with my family. I feel not exactly guilty, but impatient, with myself and the world for having accepted a racist society as status quo for so long.