Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I enjoyed the Emmys

Nicole Kidman at the Emmys
I tend to watch most of the awards shows, although I've never gotten into Dancing With the Stars or that sort of thing. Mostly I like to look at the outfits the celebrities wear. Nicole Kidman's was my favorite of all that I saw this year. What do you think?

And I was so pleased that The Handmaid's Tale did so well! It won Best Drama, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress as well as awards for directing, guest actress, and writing. I had to sign up for Hulu just so I could watch it, and I'm glad I did, although I've not watched anything more on Hulu. The next season will continue where the book left off, so I'm hooked.

Plus I discovered another very interesting show while watching; Black Mirror, which I had seen advertised on Netflix but skipped because I thought it was a horror show. Well, in some ways it is: the "black mirror" in the title refers to our TVs, smartphones and tablets. The creator, Charlie Brooker, explained to The Guardian about the series:
If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.
Each episode stands alone, with its own actors and stories. It's similar to the old Twilight Zone, which I loved and watched many times. So far, I've watched two episodes and they are indeed very different from each other, both rather shocking. I'm hooked.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Last lovely summer's day

Unusual bandaid
This morning on my walk with the ladies I saw this car with a well-placed bandaid, but methinks it might need more than just this quick fix. It's not likely to heal up on its own. But it did make me smile. We had a really lovely walk in cool, brisk weather, but tomorrow our drought will end and the rain will return with a vengeance. In fact, I think today we had our last sunny day for awhile. We've got rain in the forecast for the next few days, and Friday will bring the first official day of fall. I found out from Time and Date, one of my favorite websites, that this year we will experience the advent of fall on September 22 at 1:01pm in the Pacific Northwest. It was a really lovely summer, and the first time I've gotten to harvest so many ripe tomatoes in my garden.
Me and Peggy, with Linda and Al in the background
My dear friend Mike (also known as Mikey Poppins since he uses a big umbrella on rainy days) gifted me this week with a CD compilation of pictures taken of me over the years. I'm not sure exactly when this one was taken, but it was a minimum of five years ago, or longer when I look at the pack I was using back then. It made me smile to realize how fortunate I've been to have this group of friends for so long. I know things change, but I will enjoy my memories forever. And I'm still happy to be able to hike, although who knows for how much longer? I need to cherish every single one. And I do.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A great day in the sunshine

Me, Kathy, Tani, Mike, Susie, Richard, Kirk, Joy, Dave, Mel (Al in front)
A passerby took this picture of the eleven of us Senior Trailblazers who decided to take the shorter trip today on Ptarmigan Ridge. There were seven others who made the decision to hike all the way to the Portals, while we would only go to our usual lunch spot, a little more than four miles from the trailhead. Once the other group took off, and we never saw them again all day. They would hike another couple of miles along the same trail.
Me in front of beautiful Mt. Baker
This spot is as far as we got last week when I hiked with the other group. Today this was a resting spot before heading on up the trail towards the portals but stopping far short of them. I hoped to show the difference from today's hike to last week's smoky and very different day. Today we had magnificent views of all the surrounding mountains.
Mt. Shuksan behind us
Since Al was with us once again, we followed his lead and decided to go on farther, but we did stop and rest much longer and much more often than usual. I figured it was partly because Al was not in a hurry to leave these wonderful spots after so much time away.
Our lunch spot
We finally reached our lunch spot and we couldn't have had a better day. With clear skies and a slight breeze, cool and delightful, we were not in a hurry to leave our magnificent view of Mt. Baker. We looked for signs of the others but found nothing. We knew they were all capable people and didn't worry about them.
Kirk with Mt. Baker behind him
I got this great shot of Kirk while we enjoyed our lunch. The portals are visible at about Kirk's collar, and they (the portals) are close to one of Mt. Baker's many glaciers. There is much more snow than we expected and observed last year.
Al and Kirk heading back down the trail
Then it was time for us to head back the way we had come, and the beautiful vistas just did not stop. Here is a tarn in the middle of the picture that is usually snow free by this time of the year, but today we saw that much of it is still covered with snow. On the horizon we could see Glacier Peak, which is only visible from hikes; you cannot drive anywhere to see it any better.
When we got back to the spot where we took the group photo, I captured this picture of Melanie, who I noticed also reflected back to me in her sunglasses what she was seeing. Although it is very dry right now, the intense sunlight on this late summer's day made it seem like it could have been any time of the year and belied the many snow fields we had to cross.
Final traverse to the parking lot at Artist Point
And then we were almost back to the trailhead, having traveled more than eight miles and almost 2,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Many of the beautiful flowers I captured last week are already gone, but the mountains that were missing last week had returned in all their magnificence. And now I am finished, it's 8:00pm and I still need a shower before calling it a day. What a wonderful one it was!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Birthday present like no other

Kitchen art
Don't you just love this picture? I got up and went to the kitchen to make my morning tea when I discovered that someone had been playing with the fruit and tomatoes! My dear partner loves to make these designs partly because he knows I will laugh and be delighted. I sure was.

But that's not what the post is about. I went to the eye doctor's this morning for my annual eye exam and discovered that my cataracts are finally "ripe" and have made the appointments necessary to receive new eyes. My first appointment is the same week as my birthday, and the second one is in mid-December. Wow! The late November appointments are because it's the earliest this very in-demand surgeon has available. With all the restrictions on my activity during the time I have this done, I'm wondering how someone who is as addicted as I am to exercise will manage. It will be worth it for new eyes, though.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

What's that wet stuff?

Our lovely Saturday morning walk
Finally! Yesterday we got a little rain, the first in ages, and then this morning, we woke to cloudy skies, and before we even began our walk at Whatcom Falls Park, it began to sprinkle. It's kept up for hours now, and it sure looks like it will keep up for most of the day. None of us minded; it's been too long since we got any rain, and it has cleared the last of the smoke out of the air. I can hear the rain still hitting our rooftop as I write this.
Teddy Bear sunflowers
Afterwards, I walked over to the Farmers' Market to take a look around, and I saw these really beautiful sunflowers, nothing like I'd ever seen before. Regular ones are in the background, but these are called "teddy bear" sunflowers.

I feel sorry for our neighbors, who are having an outdoor wedding today. It should stop raining before their hired band plays at 8:00pm tonight, but I have to say the rain will make for some fun stories for them to tell their children many years from now.

My sister Norma Jean is hunkering down in her daughter's rented house in Tampa. And now, the forecasters are saying that the hurricane has moved from the middle of the Florida coast to the west, where she is. She had to leave her mobile home because of mandatory evacuations, but now I'm worried that she has not yet reached a safe place. At least this area is not under evacuation orders. At least not yet.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A wonderful new group

At the trailhead (taken by Charlene)
Today ten Senior Trailblazers from the second group (the "relaxed" Trailblazers, rather than the "half fast" group, my usual one) went to Artist Point to hike Ptarmigan Ridge. You know I've been thinking about it for awhile, and today I did it. And you know what? I'll be joining these wonderful people again, probably sooner rather than later. I already knew three of them, but I made the acquaintance of the others today.
Yellow skies and very little view today
Although the haze from the forest fires was supposed to be gone, or diminished at the very least, we hiked right into the smoky surroundings, and it never got better. Once in awhile we'd cast a shadow, but most of the time it looked like this.
Bill on the trail
Bill used to hike with the other group, so I knew him quite well. He's got two artificial knees but sure does fine with them, and I saw that the group had some faster and some slower hikers, just like ours. It was sure nice for me not to be at the tail end of this group. Owen, our leader, set a good pace and stopped often to let the others catch up. This allowed for everyone to hike at his or her best speed.
Desmond the newbie
Desmond had never been on one of these hikes before, but he did very well. He lives next door to Charlene, and she suggested he might want to try one of these hikes. At first he was a little slow, but by the time we finished, he was managing to keep up a good pace, just a teeny bit slower than the rest. I do hope he will return; not all the hikes are as challenging as this one.
Leslie, Jean, Cookie
By the time the hike was over, I felt as though I had known these people for ages. It turns out that Leslie is a friend of my friend John from the coffee shop, and we had heard about each other from him. Now that we have met, I can see why John likes her so much, she's great! They are all lots of fun and we laughed quite a lot as the day went on.
Lovely flowers
Although we had little view, we sure did see a lot of beautiful flowers along the way. It amazes me how they manage to flourish in high altitudes with a very short time to bloom. We also saw some mountain goats, but they were too far away for me to capture with my phone camera.
Leslie, me, Jean and Cookie
I asked for a picture of all the white-haired women in front of what we could see of the mountains, and this picture was what I got. Noriko would have been in the picture too, although she's in her late seventies and her hair is still dark!
The clearest view we had today
This picture shows that we had no views at all today, other than a view of the hazy skies and close-by mountains. But it was such a good day anyway: we covered around six miles and some elevation, while being at a high altitude to start with. And we stopped at Graham's for our regulation ice cream on the way back, just like the other group does! So I was happy and had a super day, in spite of the haze. Life is good, and I'm thrilled to have made so many new friends.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Scary skies

Yellow sky and wan sunlight
This morning I couldn't believe how warm it had stayed overnight, but it was because of all the smoke that held in the heat. We are receiving smoke from eastern Washington fires, as well as Montana and a fire not far from Seattle (Cle Elum).

You can smell the smoke in the air, and the terrific heat we were supposed to have today didn't materialize, as the smoke cut much of the sun's heat. But it sure does seem like we are on another planet, doesn't it?