Early June, 2022

The sun came out for a few days, and the roses finally bloomed, seemingly all at once.

Hiking: We hiked twice on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, where wild flowers are also blooming late this year.

June 1 – Hardy Ridge – We found some of the earliest blooming wildflowers on top of Hardy Ridge (8.2 miles, 2100 feet).

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Fading trillium

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Oregon anemones

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Glacier lilies

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Eastward view toward Table Mountain.

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Phlox Point, and plenty of black flies photobombing us.

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Blue jay near our lunch stop.

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Looking south toward Oregon on our return hike. Service berry bushes in bloom.

June 7 – Cape Horn – We started in the middle, at the Strunk Road Trailhead, since the full loop is not open this time of year. We were hoping to see the tall larkspur, which can be profuse along this trial.

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Lupine blooming in reclaimed fields along the trail to the Nancy Russell Overlook.

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Cow parsley also in full bloom.

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Tall ferns unfurling

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Tall ferns

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And we found the larkspur!

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Larkspur blooming all along the trail…

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More larkspur…

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Also, candy flower and buttercups.

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More buttercups.

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Maple trees were leafing out.

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Avens at the Hwy 14 underpass.

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We made our way to the Lower Oak Overlook, where the trail is closed for falcon nesting season. The river viewpoints were very windy, but it was calm and protected in the forest. We retraced our steps, back up the larkspur lined trail, for a 4 mile, 650 foot hike for the day. Lovely!

Knitting – I finished my June gnome for the ‘Year of Gnomes’, and made progress on socks, a hat and a sweater…

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June Jester Gnome, Oh, Gnome, You Didn’t pattern by Sarah Schira

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Side view, with jingle bells and pockets.

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I was inspired by a Cirque du Soleil show from 20 years ago, and some other knitters’ Mardi Gras interpretations of the pattern.

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Works in progress.

And spent much time preparing for our overseas adventure to Scotland and Iceland… finally! Postoned and postponed and postponed again. I will report back!

April 2022

We returned from our east coast trip early in the month, happy to see our bulbs and crabapple tree in full bloom.

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Checker lilies

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Tulips

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Crabapple

On April 11th we had an unusual late season snowstorm covering all the blossoms. It melted within a day, and though hail, wind and rain hit sporadically that week, we were also treated to several rainbows.

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Snow on the crabapple blossoms

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and tulips

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Hail and crabapple blossoms

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Sunny deluge

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Rainbow

We hiked the Lyle Cherry Orchard West Loop on April 6th, – our second time on this new trail. Today we saw the early spring flowers, the always spectacular views, and a lot less wind compared to our hike here last December!

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Eastern gorge, red poison oak beginning to leaf out.

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Death camas in abundance throughout the lower plateau.

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Death camus

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Mt Adams from the upper trail

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Pink filaree carpeting the upper oak groves

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View to the western gorge and early balsam root blooms.

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Balsamroot

On April 15th, we took a quick loop through Tryon Creek on our annual spring hike to see the trillium and skunk cabbage….

April 21st to 27th we travelled to the southwest, Nevada and Utah, the subject of my next post.

On return to Portland, the neon green of our city glowed from the airplane window. I was pleased to see the dogwoods and azaleas in the neighborhood in full bloom.

My knitting this month:

And…I celebrate the approval of our new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson…though her presence will probably not be enough to thwart the regressive decisions looming….

January 2022 in Portland

The first couple of weeks were very cold, followed by many days of rain dripping down the windows, yarn loops sliding by on the needles, and just a few sun breaks. A tsunami from Tonga, the Omicron surge just beginning to decline, a trip to Joshua Tree cancelled…another pandemic month in Portland.

Hikes:

1/9/2022 Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion in Portland – A rare sunny day – everyone out on the trails – we continued our section hike of the Wildwood Trail, completing about 3 more miles as we hiked up and back to Pittock Mansion from the arboretum, crossing the new Barbara Walker Bridge for the first time.

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Up until last year, hikers had to scurry across the very busy Burnside Street.

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 Barbara Walker Bridge.

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Urban trail graffiti

We reached the 1914 Pittock Mansion, and walked around to the viewing areas…

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Pittock Mansion

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Views from the property to the Cascade Mountains…

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Mt Hood

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Portland and Mt Hood

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Mt St Helens

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Mt Rainier beyond Mt St Helens

Returning back over the Barbara Walker Crossing…

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1/12/2022 Eagles and snow near Lyle, WA – Our annual trip to see the eagles at the Balfour/Klickitat Preserve:

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Calm Columbia River looking east from the Hood River Bridge.

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Snowy ground near Coyote Wall.

We walked to the eagle viewing area near the mouth of the Klickitat River:

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Osage oranges along the trail

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Frozen lakeshore, eagle flying above the island

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Eagle and ducks

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Looking up Klickitat Canyon – white eagle heads in the trees

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Bald Eagle

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Bald eagle

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We saw more than twenty today.

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Looking south to Tom McCall Point.

Next we walked some of the trails at nearby Catherine Creek.

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Snowy slopes at Catherine Creek

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Frozen Fairy Ponds

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The arch

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Mt Hood and the orchards of Mosier

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Eastern Gorge

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Grass widow foliage, but no blooms.

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The waterfall.

1/18/2022 Swans at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA – We walked the 2.5 mile Oaks to Wetland Trail.

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Swans in the distance, from the railroad bridge

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Fungus

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Belted kingfisher

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Trumpeter swans

Then we drove the auto tour, looking for more swans.

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Plenty of tundra and trumpeter swans in the northern lake…

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American coot

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Northern harrier next to the road.

1/28/2020 Chehalem Ridge Nature Park, OR – Our first visit to this new park south of Forest Grove. We walked almost six miles on the trails, quiet today with a few views of the distant mountains.

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Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

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Mt St Helens and Mt Adams

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Farmlands and Coast Range to the west

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Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens

Neighborhood:

On our first sunny day, I went outside for what seemed like the first time in weeks, to see blue sky and low angle winter shadows:

1/16/2022 – Another sunny day, we met friends and walked a long loop on the hilly streets south of downtown Portland.

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Mt Hood from SW Portland

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Mt Hood and the Tilikum Bridge over the Willamette River

By the end of the month, viburnum and crocus were beginning to bloom…

Knitting:

I did get a lot of knitting done this month, since the outdoors were so inclement. And I am still meeting once or twice weekly with my knitting group over Zoom.

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Winding yarn on my new swift.

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Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Shawl, in progress

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New pile of yarn from the guild to make hats for our service project.

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I used online tutorials to learn Tunisian crochet.

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I finished a languishing WIP – The Ella Improv Cowl, by Cecelia Campochiaro, using marling and sequence knitting techniques.

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A Gnoah gnome, (Imagined Landscapes), sent via Intergalactic Gnome Transport to the burgeoning colony in Washington DC.

Addenda:

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The volcano in Tonga!

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The snow in DC.

Other adventures – January 10th was the 4th anniversary of my pituitary surgery. With constant vigilance and good doctors, all my hormone levels are now within the normal range. I feel healthy and strong and grateful for early diagnosis and the miracles of modern medical science, especially the monthly injections that keep the acromegaly in check.

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On to February – pandemic numbers are going down in our neck of the woods – we may actually travel somewhere – stay tuned.

December 2021: knitting, the neighborhood, gnomes for the holiday…

Knitting – I finished up some holiday projects – socks, a hat, two gnomes, and a brioche skirt for me! …

I learned how to make a Dorset Button, as a tree ornament, from a kit by TJFrogg of Skye.

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And I finished a cross stitch bookmark kit for my husband, which he purchased in New Zealand, and which represents our hope to return there some day to see Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

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Neighborhood…On my neighborhood walks, I witnessed fall colors giving way to holiday decor…

Tree baubles, disco Santa, and the abominable snowman…

On one block, four or five large installations face off, including two Snoopys:

December has brought lots of rain, and now a deep freeze and snow between Christmas and New Years.

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Holidays…We had a quiet Hannukah at home.

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Our daughter was home from DC for about 2 weeks. I missed her assistance with the holiday prep elf work last year.

We were so glad to enjoy Christmas dinner with friends, also missed last year. We got to see their tree, and share our time on this one day, all vaccines and pretest precaution protocols in place.

Being able to be with a limited number of family and friends made this so much better than last year. I am grateful we are all healthy!  I wish everyone a triple vaxxxed (or whatever it takes) happy New Year, 2022!

December 2021, Walking adventures

We went on a couple of hikes, and walked among Van Gogh paintings in a digital art experience.

Lyle Loop, 12/2/2021, 5 miles, 1250 feet

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Clockwise track

A new loop has been carved out of the Nature Conservancy Lyle Cherry Orchard property. We tried it on a windy (but not tooo windy) day- lovely blue sky and puffy clouds our backdrop. We climbed up the familiar tiers of basalt flows, above the Convict Road,

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Looking down on the Convict Road

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Windy blue skies above

then headed west, to a new trail carved into the grassy slope.

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It curves around the mountain above the town of Lyle.

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As the trail circled to the north, Mt Adams appeared on the horizon.

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Zooming in

On the northern side of the loop, out of the wind, we walked through lovely oak woodlands, occasionally switching back past views of Lyle, and of Mt Adams again.

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Lyle, Klickitat River delta

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Lyle town sign, in white rocks

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Mt Adams again,

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now with clouds.

Eventually, our trail intersected the Cherry Orchard Loop, and we descended on the familiar trail.

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A lovely day on the sunny side of the mountains.

Tracy Hill, Catherine Creek, WA, 12/8/2021,  5.3 miles, 1200 feet

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Our counterclockwise trail map 

Calm and bright; clouds topping the highest hills; some blue sky distant:

DSC01336some of our plant friends in their winter garb:

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bitteroot

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parsley

Ravens and cows:

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ravens

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cows

Columbia River shining:

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oak and ponderosa sharing the sky:

Ent on the skyline: 

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It’s very birdie in this section, chirping and calling, flashes of blue, rust, white and black between trees, I can’t quite see them; blue jays and woodpeckers?

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Up Tracy Hill’s open slopes:

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View up Major Canyon, to the east

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Seating at the top of Tracy Hill

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A well earned rest

and down again:  

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halfway down

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above the arch

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Looking back at the top of Tracy Hill

It felt a bit like walking in a painting. I was interested to compare it with walking in digital paintings the next day…

Beyond VanGogh, Oregon Convention Center, 12/8/2021 – We did actually walk in pictures, as the digital imagery swirled around us, and the paintings painted themselves on the walls. All beautiful and colorful, and an excellent reminder of Van Gogh’s work. I loved seeing:

the flowers that melded together then blew away:

the swirls of starry night whirling:

walls of self portraits:

buildings appearing from simple sketched lines to full color paint strokes:

signatures writing themselves in a patchwork of squares:

dark starry skies dripping down the walls:

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However, Beyond Van Gogh was not a wilderness experience. I enjoyed the visual imagery, but would have liked to see it in an Imax setting. Perhaps if we had been stationary, I would have felt more in control regarding Covid precautions, especially now that omicron is spreading. There were too many people wandering around in the hall. I was constantly checking over my shoulder to get away from someone standing tooo close with their mask slipping down. I guess I’m not ready to resume life in the peopled world yet.

For the rest of December it has been raining, and now is cold (for us) and snowing. Not conducive to driving to the trails or hiking.  I’ve mainly been taking neighborhood walks in the brief dry spells. I will be glad to return to walking in the real hills after this Canadian cold front moves on.

The rest of October, 2021: knitting, neighborhood, more hikes…

A transitional month – the last of the summer flowers, leaves turning and falling, more rain, an atmospheric river event. We got our Covid booster shots, are poised for reentry, again, again, again, again….

Knitting, etc: 

I knitted some little creatures – a gnome, three cats and a witch, and finished a pair of socks. My collection of twelve hats and a cowl are blocked and ready for donation to a local women’s shelter. I sewed potholders and a door light curtain for my daughter.

Around the neighborhood:

Colors of the season:

Two more hikes, besides our Mt Adams and Eagle Creek adventures:

With more frequent rain in western Oregon, we go east of the mountains, beyond the rain shadow. 

10/21/2021 Tom McCall Point, Oregon: Orange oak trees, views of Mt Adams and Mt Hood, and a surprise viewing of a buck near the top of the mountain.

10/27/2021 The Labyrinth, Washington: A saunter with our son through some of my favorite basalt piles and oak groves on an overcast day with sun breaks.

New Zealand Albatross update: The chick Tiaki that I watched in the webcam from the time it was laid as an egg last fall, to its fledging in September 2021, has flown across the South Pacific Ocean to the coast of South America.

And some inspiration for staying positive…

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Internet meme – author unknown.

What happened in September 2021…

Home and garden:

Knitting:

I finished more hats for the Women’s Shelter donation, made progress on socks and a shawl, both excellent travel knitting, and began knitting the fall Mystery Gnome. And I received a late but welcome crocheted bag as a birthday gift from my sister.

Hiking:

We spent a lot of time on hiking trails! In addition to two out of town trips to the Olympic Peninsula and Mt Baker, and a day hike at Cloud Cap on Mt Hood, all described in separate posts, we went on six other adventures:

September 9, East Crater Trail, Indian Heaven, Washington. Return to Junction Lake.

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Into the woods

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East Crater

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Junction Lake

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Mountain ash

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Huckleberry

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Mt St Helens from the PCT Southbound

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Birds in a water hole in a mostly dry creek

September 17, Portland Arboretum. Early fall color on a beautiful day.

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Aralia

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Sumac

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Hop hornbeam

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Douglas fir with sap

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September 24, Kiwa Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Looking for Sandhill Cranes while we can still hike the trail before it is closed for the winter nesting season.

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Nightshade berries near the creek

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Woodland

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Grassland with teasel

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These are the sandhill cranes we are looking for!

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Resident nesting pair with colt

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September 26 – Saltzman Road in Forest Park, Portland. Our first time on this particular trail through the park, we walked 6 miles while catching up with friends.

September 28, Crawford Oaks, Washington. A return to an oft hiked trail, we escaped the rain in Portland and saw only 4 other hikers the entire day.

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Columbia Hills from The Dalles Bridge

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Geologic context

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Eight Miles Falls

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Pear tree

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Our usual lunch spot

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Clouds and wind

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Eastward

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Tufts

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The “one tree”

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Dried balsamroot, Dalles Mountain Ranch

Some foliage for the day:

September 30, Coyote Wall, Washington. Another often hiked trail, again with friends. A beautiful day up there!

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Puffy clouds and rocks

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Coyote Wall

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Mt Hood in the clouds

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Return hike

Other news:

Tiaki, the Albatross chick I have been watching in New Zealand via webcam, has fledged!

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The blue line is a tracker on Tiaki, the red line is one of her parents.

A family member acquired a new-to-him car.

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I attended an in-person book group meeting, where we watched the moon rise over the Willamette River from Sauvie Island.

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More hiking in August, 2021: a witch’s castle, an artesian spring, and waterfalls

In addition to our walk at Nehalem Bay earlier in the month, we hiked three other days in August before going on our trip to the Olympic Mountains at the end of the month.

8-17-2021 – Wildwood Trail/Witches Castle

We added another 2 miles to our section hike of the Wildwood Trail.

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A five mile loop – Wildwood Trail to Birch Trail to Holman Lane

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The forest was dry and dusty today

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Balch Creek

This segment of the Wildwood Trail passes by the “Witches Castle”, formerly a visitor center, now a destination for various graffiti artists and partiers, and a colorful landmark in the green forest.

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Meanwhile, in the forest, harbingers of fall in the maple trees….

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We only have 5 miles remaining in our pandemic thru hike.

8-22-2021 – Dry Creek Falls

We returned to this short hike in the gorge with our visiting  daughter. And I noted that, while we were not in Iceland, we were looking at a waterfall and columnar basalts…

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Dry Creek

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Dry Creek Falls

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Columnar basalts

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Columnar basalts, vine maples and cedar branches

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Bridge on the PCT over Dry Creek

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There were a few colorful flowers and berries along the trail…

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Fireweed

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Penstemon

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Solomon seal

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And the evil poison oak, showing its fall colors

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A ghost tree along the path.

8 26-2021  Little Zigzag Falls and Little Crater Lake, Mt Hood

We planned to hike up high on Mt Hood today, but the cloud cover directed us otherwise.

Little Zigzag Falls – We’ve never stopped here before because the hike is so short – less than a mile round trip. This trail through beautiful green forest along a mountain stream will be a good one to keep in mind for visitors on the grand round-the-mountain tour.

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Remnants of the old Mt Hood Highway near the trailhead

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The trail follows along the edge of Little Zigzag Creek

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Little Zigzag Falls

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Rock-hugging tree at the top of the falls

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View upstream from the top of the falls

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Another view of Little Zigzag Falls

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Exposed tree roots near the falls

Little Crater Lake – This lake, south of Mt Hood, has long been on my ‘to visit’ list.

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The lake is an easy walk from the trail head.

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Little Crater Lake

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The true blue color…

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The lake is not actually a crater – it was formed by an artesian spring.

The blue clarity of the water is mesmerizing. I love the reflections. My little camera has a hard time catching the actually vibrancy of the turquoise blue, but none of the brighter blues here are exaggerated.

We continued to a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that follows the northern arm of Timothy Lake, where we found more lovely views and foliage.

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PCT to Timothy Lake

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Northern arm of Timothy Lake

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More reflections…

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We passed by Little Crater Lake again on our return hike – once again admiring the deep blue and the reflections.

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Little Crater Lake again

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Siltstone stratigraphy

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Reflections and abstractions

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I plan to return next spring when the wildflowers are blooming!

August 2021 – summer gardens, knitting an albatross, the wing and the wheel….

August turned out a bit differently than planned, as we had to cancel travel due to the spread of the delta variant of Covid-19. I celebrated another birthday, walked the neighborhood, ate lots of fresh garden tomatoes, knitted, sewed masks, enjoyed my daughter’s visit, and went on a few hikes (next post). 

Neighborhood and garden

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Summer roses

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Echinacea

 

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Shadows

 

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View to downtown from Alameda Ridge from the top of…

 

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the 38th Avenue stairs.

 

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Signs of support in the neighborhood…

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Water splashing in the Beverly Cleary sculpture garden.

 

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Harbinger…

 

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Puffy clouds in the evening sky,

 

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Half moon rising,

 

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Alpenglow

 

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Farmer’s market and garden bounty

 

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Birthday cupcakes and books

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Knitting and sewing

An Albatross –

I finished knitting an Albatross Chick, pattern by Rachel Borello Carroll. The face and legs are perfect, the body and wings a less accurate reproduction, but I love having the chick on my shelf.

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During our travels in New Zealand in February of 2020, we saw albatross chicks in their nests at the Royal Albatross Center in Taiaroa.

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Albatross, taken from the bird blind at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head, February, 2020

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After we returned home, almost immediately into pandemic lockdown, I discovered the albatross chick Atawhai, who we probably saw on our visit, was live on camera 24/7 on the Albatross Webcam: https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds…

I spent many a moment of zen during this pandemic, watching Atawhai sitting in the beautiful landscape that we visited, the beaches we walked upon beyond. Atawhai fledged in September of 2020.

This year I have been watching the new season of albatross on the webcam. There is a new fluffy chick named Tiaki, who will also fledge soon. She is down to only a few fluffy feathers, and spends lots of time stretching her wings in the wind (wingspan about 3 meters!) One day in the next month, the wind and wings will catch together successfully, and she will fly off for a few years, somehow knowing how to dive into the water to get food, having never touched it before. And new chicks will be hatched in January. The photos here are screenshots from the Webcam.

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Other knitting and sewing: I finished two more hats for donation, and made new masks for my daughter.

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Not traveling

Our travel destination turned from orange to red the week before departure, so we will not be walking through the Mid Atlantic Ridge, not watching an active volcano in the twilight, not walking along the shores of a glacial lake with floating icebergs, or seeing the birds and marine life of the North Atlantic ocean. We thought we would be too early for northern lights, but I was looking forward to seeing the lopi yarn, the black sand beaches, all the recent volcanic features, and the many waterfalls….   I heard an interesting discussion about the ethics of making the choice to not get vaccinated, and whether people making that choice (excepting those with true medical reasons) should have consequences. I fall squarely on the side of yes they should, and not because my travel plans are delayed. People are dying, people are surviving with long term consequences. Everyone’s life has been interrupted, and will continue to be until herd immunity can be achieved. So yes, I think that those selfishly ignoring the science, unwilling or unable to evaluate all the misinformation out there for what it is (more divisive rhetoric from the right wing patriarchy), should be restricted in their ability to move through public spaces freely, especially when they won’t offer the courtesy of at least wearing a frigging mask! It is a public health emergency!

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RIP Nanci Griffith

We lost one of my favorite singer songwriters this month. I have been listening to her beautiful voice and poetry for more than 40 years, and will continue to listen. 

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There’s a pale sky in the east, all the stars are in the west
Oh, here’s to all the dreamers, may our open hearts find rest
The wing and the wheel are gonna carry us along
And we’ll have memories for company, long after the songs are gone.

Nanci Griffith – Wing and the Wheel

 

June 2021 – Emerging…but into a heat dome?

It is June 2021 and I am emerging from pandemic life a little more each day, like the cicadas from their seventeen year hibernation, or the Munchkins of Oz after the tornado dropped the house of the Wicked Witch of the East on them. Well not exactly like that. But I am slowly meeting more friends in real life, blinking at the brightness of their unmasked smiles; hesitantly, then greedily leaning into their hugs; ramping up our conversations of all the not shared words of the past fifteen months. Then I go home and recover from the intensity of the interactions, but feel more relaxed, more appreciative of life before the pandemic, when meeting my knitting group and chatting for a few hours was a weekly occurrence; when the warmth of shared interactions was not impeded by a cold glassy screen.

I know the global pandemic is not over, that many places are still locked down and in crisis. People anxiously await their vaccinations, as I did three months ago. People with young children continue sheltering until their vaccines are approved.  But it is time for us to go outside again…

Around town:

We are enjoying berry season! We went on several hikes (see the next post), and also to see the roses.

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June 8 – Portland International Rose Test Garden – We visited during the week when Portland traditionally celebrates the Rose Festival, mostly cancelled this year due to Covid-19. On this showery day, we saw a full rainbow of glistening roses – appropriate for Pride month!

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Knitting :

I have completed two projects – socks, and a donation hat. I have four works in progress: another donation hat, socks, a cardigan and a gnome:

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Kroy socks

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Donation Tam Topper

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WIPs

I also met in person with my knitting group a few times, still outdoors and careful, but no masks as we are all vaccinated. We visited the Knitted Wit Warehouse on her open house day, and I acquired some new yarn. I also got a pile of potential from our knitter’s destash table at one of our meetups. It is so hard to leave beautiful yarn behind, knowing it was all going to donation if not taken home by one of us. So not sure what I am making with these, but I love the colorful potential!

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New skeins

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New to me destash table collection

Quilting :

I finished the baby quilt and sent it along to the new little one.

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What the heck is a heat dome, and why is it lingering around my neighborhood!

At the end of the month, we were challenged again, by the heat dome! A rare meteorological event that produced record high temperatures across the usually mild Pacific Northwest, and once again confined us to our indoor spaces for a few days. Fortunately for me, we have an air conditioned house, but it is not common in Oregon. As the temperatures rose and the air stagnated, I was reminded of my time in Tucson, AZ, when the summer temperatures were commonly above 100 degrees, but not in the 110’s! We are out of it now, but it was uncomfortable, and catastrophic for many. 

We resorted to making popsicles from our ancient Tupperware molds.

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These neighborhood cactus plants were blooming and happy.

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We are hoping for a mild July….