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.


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,

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.


NZ2020: Days 7 and 8, Queenstown

January 31, 2020

After our morning hike near Lake Wanaka, and then our drive over the Crown Range Road, our guide dropped us off at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queenstown, at about 3 pm. We were directly across from the waterfront, in a walking friendly area of restaurants, shops, and booking agents for any amazing outdoor activities one could wish. My husband was able to schedule a quick dental appointment for a tooth that was acting up. We did our laundry, had a delicious dinner at Bombay Palace, and walked around the harbor area.


Queenstown Harbor and the Remarkable Mountains from our hotel lobby.


Choose your adventure here!


Lots of people enjoying buskers along the waterfront.


Pier walk.


The Wakatipu Vessel by Virginia King depicts a waka (Maori canoe). This is just across the street from our hotel.


February 1, 2020

The next day we wandered around, and explored this beautiful setting. We were surrounded by views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkable Mountains, and Ben Lomand. Dan was able to get a haircut, and we did a little shopping in a craft fair that was set up in the park.


The poem Waipounamu by David Eggleton is inscribed in a long ribbon along the harbor wall.



Each phrase evokes an image or a moment in history of this place.


Local geology is highlighted in this plaza.


Kiwi imagery.


A giant Kiwi sculpture.

After lunch we  walked through the arboretum.



Fern sculpture.


Lily pond


Carved support for a huge tree.


Another view…


We looked back to see the Skyline Gondola going up Bob’s Peak, gateway to the Ben Lomand Trail, which was on our agenda for later in the week.

My google map showed me a “Bench with a beautiful view” at the far end of the peninsula. That seemed a worthy goal for our wanderings.


It was a bit windy, but felt good to sit for a bit.


Looking east from the bench.


Looking west from the bench.

Later, we ate dinner at a Thai restaurant with a window overlooking the harbor and mountains, and then took an evening stroll westward along the shore of Lake Wakatipu.  It had been a relaxing day filled with beautiful views and about 5 miles of walking.



The TSS Earnslaw, a 1912 coal powered steamship.


Double Cone Peak, Remarkables.

We carefully repacked our luggage. Tomorrow, the first day of the rest of our guided tour, would include an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound.


The Remarkables beyond The Wakatipu Vessel in evening light.

Wildflower Rainbows along the trails during Pride month; some knitting, and neighborhood views –

Friday, June 19, 2020, Grassy Knoll, Washington

Wildflower meadows filled the open slopes near the trailhead.

White dogwood, lilies and anemones led us through the shady forest up the steep trail to the ridge crest.

More flowers all the way to the top of Grassy Knoll, and beyond.


Pink cliff penstemons along the rocky ridge, Mt Adams beyond.


Grassy Knoll looks green from here,


but the green slopes are full of flowers!


Summit view toward Mt Hood.


Summit view toward Mt Adams.


Continuing up the ridge, Mt Hood, the Columbia River, and more wildflower meadows.


And more blooming meadows near our turnaround point.

Every color of wildflower was in bloom today!

It was a great day in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. (Hike #46, 6.2 miles, 1350 feet.)

Image 6-25-20 at 3.59 PM

Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Chinidere Mountain, Oregon

We saw many of the same flowers that we saw at Grassy Knoll, though we were a thousand feet higher in altitude, so earlier in the bloom season. (Hike #47, 7.5 miles, 1450 feet.)


Wahtum Lake, near the trailhead.

A few early season flowers still in bloom here:


Ascending into the rainbow meadows on Chinidere Mountain.



Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, and Mt Adams from the summit.


Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson from the summit.


Wahtum Lake and Mt Hood.

A highlight was walking north of Chinidere Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail, into the upper margin of the 2017 burn zone. Beargrass blooms sparkled in the recovering forest.


Wahtum ‘Express’ back to the parking area.



Finished mitts.


A nearly finished Meris cardigan – still have to sew on the buttons.


Sock progress.

Around the neighborhood:

Black Lives Matter signs blooming everywhere, along with summer flowers.

And more action nationally…


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.




In Portland:

IMG_0498IMG_0499IMG_0500IMG_0501IMG_0502IMG_0494IMG_0495IMG_0493Image 6-6-20 at 6.25 PMIMG_0518

In Washington DC:

Image 6-6-20 at 6.14 PMIMG_0490IMG_0496IMG_0491



Walking in my neighborhood…

March 31, 2020

Walking in my neighborhood in the time of coronavirus

It has become a strange do-si-do as we pass each other…

At each corner, each intersection, I look ahead –
If the sidewalk is clear I keep walking.
If someone is coming my way, I cross to the other side of the street.


If we approach each other on the same sidewalk,
one of us will take the time to step aside or
step into the street
to maintain that magical six feet of separation
that is supposed to keep us safe from infecting each other.

This is in my friendly old neighborhood where I have walked for almost thirty years.
Houses of every style, mostly pre1950’s, some homes dating back to the 1800’s.

This is Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby’s neighborhood, for goodness sake!
Usually people are very friendly, walking together, stopping to greet dogs and children.
I notice my favorite landmarks –
the cedar stump carved into an eagle and salmon,
the fairy houses,
my favorite sidewalk patches,
the old curbstones with horse rings,
and this time of year, the tulips and the cherry trees in bloom.
I visit my favorite poetry posts and sometimes take an extra copy.
I scan the Little Free Libraries, and sometimes take or leave a book.

These days I almost hope no one else will be out
so I won’t have to make the awkward do-si-do,
though we usually nod wistfully and
smile apologetically,
as we pass.


Neighborly fence of encouragement!

First Trilliums of spring

March 2020

On two hikes last week we saw the first trilliums of spring. I also went on the Rose City Yarn Crawl with knitting friends, and to the Portland Art Museum to see the exhibition in honor of the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mt St Helens.

Tryon Creek State Park, March 4, 2020

Hike #30 of 2020, 3 miles, 400 feet.


Early trillium blooms scattered on the forest floor.




Trillium buds unfurling

Other early flowers in the forest:


Indian plum


Skunk cabbage


Oregon grape


Salmon berry


Poetry in the park.

Angel’s Rest, March 9, 2020

Hike #31, 5 miles, 1500 feet.


Trillium and oak’s toothwort on the Angel’s Rest trail.


Trillium blooms on the forest floor.

We were treated to the usual stunning views from the top of Angel’s Rest on this sunny, calm day:


West toward Portland.


North to Silver Star Mountain.


East up the Columbia River.



Buttons from Twisted and Close Knit in Portland, and Blizzard in Vancouver.

Portland Art Museum: Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

This exhibit marking the 40th anniversary of the Mt St Helen’s eruption is multifaceted – videos, photography, and paintings, depicting the mountain before and after the eruption. We did not live in the area at the time, but have hiked around the mountain often in the past ten years. My favorite paintings were these two vibrant depictions of the eruption:

2019 review/2020 preview

High points for 2019 were two weddings, a reunion, and a graduation that gave us multiple opportunities for connecting with family and friends. We travelled to San Francisco, southern Connecticut, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado,and twice to Los Angeles.

I look at my intentions set for 2019, and I completed about half of them.  I have kept up with this blog (58 posts), though I know it is occupying time I might have previously spent quilting during late night inspiration sessions.

Hiking – 58 hikes, 289 miles, 51180 feet in elevation. Snowshoeing at Crater Lake, and hiking through the lush wildflower meadows of Mt Rainier were among our amazing experiences last year.

Knitting- According to Ravelry I knit 3353 yards in 17 projects. I made a spectrum of items – hats, a headband, a shawl, a cowl, socks, slippers, fingerless mitts, washcloths, a bib, a cup cozy, a peach and an acorn. I have found a weekly knit group, and I am so enjoying getting to know the other knitters.

Reading- According to Goodreads I read 75 books.

Quilting/sewing- Quilting is mostly in hibernation mode. I mended a lot of hiking pants and altered clothing that were no longer fitting well.

Health update- My health is good. My body has adapted to the acromegaly medications, and I have managed to beat back some of the metabolic issues that the excess growth hormone was amplifying before my diagnosis and surgery. I am maintaining a healthy weight, and hope to keep up with my husband as he heads into retirement.

2020 Plans- Retirement will bring more travel – I am pre-exhausted with the planning, but also looking forward to our upcoming adventures! We have New Zealand, Washington DC, and Italy on our calendar for next year.

I plan to keep up with this blog, though it may have gaps during travel times.

Crafting-  I hope to finish some of those languishing quilts, sew some clothing, set up my embroidery frame, and finish some scrap books that are done but for the writing.  And I have new yarn for three different knitting projects:


Lows – I like to celebrate high points and the beauty in the world on my blog. There have been private losses this year as well. The low I feel it important to acknowledge is the dementor-like gloom of the political climate, the constantly ratcheted upward incivility and threats to democracy, my fear of impulsive ignorance and that someone wants to be the one to start world war three or some facsimile thereof. I return to this poem, found on a neighborhood poetry post last year, that expresses the optimism I try to feel going forward.




Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge birds, a lunar eclipse, and new knitting projects

1/19/2019 Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA, in the fog

We drove the auto tour in the southern, River S Unit, to see if anyone was out today.



We saw several bald eagles through the fog all along the route.

It was a great day for Great Blue Herons near the road.



Great blue heron standing in the field beyond a flock of Canada geese.


We also saw swans and more geese,


lots of nutria swimming, and this one crossing the road:


lots of ducks,


We watched a hawk take a bath on a sign near the exit.


1/20/2019 Lunar Eclipse

The clouds cleared for about 10 minutes. We saw the moon just as it was entering totality. My camera could not see it once it went dark, but we briefly saw the orange glow of the blood red moon before the clouds closed in again.


My best image, hand held and zoomed in.

New knitting

I cast on another pair of socks from Berocco Sox yarn – plain vanilla with a 3×3 cable down the sides.


And a Brioche Watch Cap from  Berroco Millifiori yarn – this makes a cushy and shiny fabric, and works up fast!


Good deeds for the week – I cleaned out my sewing cabinet and organized my threads and notions, so now I should be able to find things and get back to sewing. And I enabled a new sock knitter!

Neighborhood Poetry Posting


Rest In Peace, Mary Oliver. Your poems will live forever.