Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Only Hurricane here is the Ridge

I am more than grateful to not have to board up my windows and stock up on water and food like my son and friends in Florida have to do for the next two months.

You see, it's hurricane season there: June, too soon; July, stand by; August, a must; September, remember; October, nearly over; November.... well, who knows what it was for November? Pretty rare for intense storms in November.

So the only hurricane I think about out here is Hurricane Ridge... is it open? Are the roads clear? Can I go up in my car or do I have to take the shuttle (because there's too much snow).

Deer are unafraid of humans on the Ridge. 
Going up to Hurricane Ridge reminds me ever so faintly of the family trips up to Miller State Park on Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, N.H. (And I find it interesting we have a Miller State Park here in Clallam County, too, but not for the same guy.)
Driving back down from the Ridge taking photo from sunroof.

First, there was the decision to go, and sometimes it must have felt to my parents like herding snakes to get all four of us into the station wagon.

Then there was the food, coolers of beverages, fruit, ingredients for cooking over the campfire and as I'm remembering it, I was 9 or 10 and probably not a lot of help.

The drive from our house to the base of the mountain was less than half an hour, but as most kids remember things, it seemed so much, much longer.

The road was winding, and sometimes when I have dreams of roads up mountains, my brain uses that one as a backdrop.

Once on top, we charged around on the smooth granite looking for the best site to claim as our own for the evening, expecting it would get cool enough for a campfire. I know we usually went up there late in the summer because the hunt was on for blueberries on the low-growing bushes.

And the best part of all was climbing up the forest ranger lookout tower  (The link will take you to Chuck's webpage about the park and you can see his photos. I don't have any to share.) to see how far we could see without binoculars. For me that was the stair in front of me because I was so nearsighted.

But I could push my coke bottle glasses into my face and increase the clarity a little bit that way. Honestly, I didn't mind it because I didn't know any different. My life was a haze from early on and only by the light of the moon at home in bed could I read without straining my eyes. Strange.

What moves this even more into the Twilight Zone is that the park was named for General James Miller, a hero of the Battle of Lundy's Lane in the War of 1812, and a native of Hancock. I was unaware of the humor of the Universe that would 10 years later march me down the aisle with a guy who had the same name, but I'm not sure if the joke extended to his being a distant relation of the General.

Coming down the mountain after running around, eating all kinds of foods, including marshmallows, melted chocolates and graham bars, it was almost a certainty someone would call out, "I'm feeling sick..." and my father would rush to find a wide enough spot to pull over before his vehicle was permanently sullied.

And my last visit to the park was when we drove my mother up there for a picnic with assorted other relatives and by then she was getting a haze in her eyes as she was approaching 90, I think. As we reminisced about 'the good old days,' she reminded me that coming up to have a cook-out was no picnic for her. I said, "Yup, that's pretty much what I'd think about it now if I had to bring a wild bunch up here, but I am grateful for the memories I have."

I'm not sure if I knew then that might be my last visit as well... who knows when I might return? But my memory carries me up and over that last hump in the road to the parking lot and I don't have to ask permission to get out of the car and rush to the highest rock to look down on home.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hot Night on the Spit

It was really hot in Sequim tonight, so I decided to go down to Dungeness Spit and have a picnic dinner.
Path to Dungeness Spit as sun sets.
I tried to find a friend to go with me, but one was going up to the lake and another was going to the casino to dance and the other one never replied.

Oh, well, I'm pretty good company for myself, so off I went. It was definitely in my plan to have a walk before or after dinner and this way I certainly got to do that... both ways.

There wasn't much of a breeze, and because it was already after 6 p.m., the path to the spit was quiet.

My picnic dinner on the spit.
I could hear birds fluttering about getting into a nest someplace, or making those last calls to others to come and roost. The sea air filtered up through the tall evergreens mixing with the dusty forest smell.

Nice. Peaceful.
I walked alone and just as I got down near the spit I could see a few folks making their way up the path because there is a deadline that everyone has to be off the beach one half hour before sunset. 

And out of the ether come yellow jackets. How do they know there is food to be eaten? I kept pushing one away and finally had to cover up what I was trying to eat, only opening it when I was ready to take a bite. And one of them got into the plastic bag that was holding grapes. But when I stopped feeling resistance to their presence, they took off. That was weird. 

When the tide is in, the spit looks like it is littered with
dinosaur bones. If you look closely you can see someone
up on one of the huge logs near the tideline.
Sunset watching is done up on the bluff and then you have to be out of the park at 'dusk,' which is a sort of fluid time because some days (if cloudy) it gets darker quicker than if it is clear, like it was tonight.
The Olympic range gets a lovely purple color as the light fades, but the
smoky haze affects the colors right now.
These are the bluffs that are eroding
at an alarming rate.
I did manage to walk for 43 minutes, getting credit for 4256 steps, which is about 2 miles, I think.

There is such a 'beachy' smell there... washed up bird feathers, small crabs, shells of other things, seaweed, damp sand from the recent high tide, and weathered salt-infused wood.
I later discovered this was a couple who were
celebrating a wedding anniversary.
Soon it was time to head back up and a couple that I had taken a photo of walking on the beach asked me to take their photo with their camera because it is their wedding anniversary. Congratulations, you two!!
The sun is setting earlier now; it was 8:05 p.m. tonight.

Then it was off to the bluff to watch the sunset. I am not sure if the time of sunset is when it starts or when it finishes. I wasn't watching my time as I took the photos. All I know is that it is now getting darker a little bit sooner every day.

No disappointment in the sunset tonight... all the smoke from the fires in the Olympics created a lovely reddish glow and I met a nice woman from Tacoma so we chatted as the sun set, with me taking photos as we shared observations. 
Just after the sun set, the Puget Sound breeze began and the
air chilled down immediately. And I live here!!
Thanks, Christina, for making the evening more colorful! And for using my favorite saying, "Does it get any better than this?"
Everyone is gone; hope the sun comes back tomorrow...
By the time I got home the temperature inside was down to a livable 75. I checked on the cats and they were still alive - not roasted yet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer's Closing

Sterling Silver, old rose's last bloom.
I cannot believe it is the latter part of August and summer, such as it was for us, is closing down.

Oh yes, we will have some gorgeous warm days now, but the sun is setting earlier and earlier and the signs are all there.

A huge clue for me is when my Sterling Silver rose puts out one last burst of glorious lavender color and although the floribunda has several blooms, usually only one has its trademark scent in any density.

So, that day has arrived. I picked it so I can enjoy it inside for a few days, but there won't be many.

And unfortunately, I cannot provide you, my dear readers, with a sample sniff... it's a heady rose smell, really quite strong, with an energy that just heals you as you inhale. I cannot describe it much better than that.

Please enjoy the photos and intend with me that we all enjoy the fall and all the beauty it will bring us as we let the roses rest for another season. (Shot with my Canon EOS Rebel with a telephoto and a macro, just for fun.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blueberry delight

Blueberry heaven for me is being able to walk out my door and pick them. And blueberry season is my absolute favorite time of year. Having fresh blueberries is really all I ever want during the summer. 
Blueberries just waiting for the sprinkler to quit.
Oh yeah, I love strawberries and raspberries and I make jam out of them, but it's these little delicate morsels of sun-kissed blueness that tickles me best.
I have a friend who married into a family with a blueberry patch and I was invited over to help pick them.

They are (were) pretty good, but I think my almost-1/2 inch berries could give them a run for the judge's stand if I could get more than a handful at a time.

And for lots of folks now blueberry harvesting is all over.
This is an almost-life-sized photo of the blueberries I am growing. Yum!
I seem to be blessed to have a late blooming variety I guess, or else there is enough shade that they don't know what day it is.

But one of my plants (they were all installed last year) gave very few blooms and so little fruit that I am considering removing it from the area and putting it out and away to survive on its own. You have to pull your weight in my garden and six berries doesn't cut it.

The other three have done really well, and the ones shown here have had the biggest and sweetest fruit.
Right after I took the pictures I gathered up all the bluest ones which amounted to about 1/2 a cup. No point in saving them, so I ate them all with every shard of sunshine still in them. They were exquisite.

Oh, you wanted me to save one for you? You didn't speak up soon enough... sorry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Anacortes and Ferry Fun

A placid August morning on the Puget Sound, heading for
Coupeville from Port Townsend, WA.
The tide is high and the sun is on it's way as I catch the ferry for Coupeville so I can drive up to Anacortes, WA. A dear friend and I have planned a couple of days of riding on ferries in the sunshine with some good food and other entertainments as they manifest. 
The approach to Coupeville is serene; great for anyone
making their first docking. I don't know if there was a new
captain on board, but that's what I was thinking when I
took this shot.
Mt. Baker rises up from the Cascade rim.
With such clear skies, the opportunity for taking some good photos is more than likely. And Lady Baker has lifted her cloud skirts so we can see her fulsome beauty. 

I opened up my sunroof and the side windows and cruised along with a fresh cup of latte to my destination. I was thinking, "Everything is going just great in my world!"

And so it continued.

Carol and I met in person almost exactly four years ago at the Chihuly glass museum in Seattle. This was a nice way to commemorate our friendship and to celebrate some of the least expensive fun things to do in Washington: ride the ferries around the San Juan Islands. It was only about $6 to be a walk on passenger and it lasted all day!
Friday Harbor... boats...
We caught the 11:45 ferry to Friday Harbor, walked around, saw art stores, museums, boats and folks.

Self-contained island near Orcas Island in the San Juan Island chair in
Washington. The dock is on the other side of the island.
Then the 5 p.m. ferry to Orcas was a quick stop, another at Shaw Island and finally we got off at Lopez. Not so much by choice as by requirement; the inter-island ferries do not go to Anacortes.

Shaw Island is the smallest of all.

Lopez Island ferry dock seen on approach.

Arriving at Lopez Island, WA in the San Juan islands.

Lopez Island ferry dock has a whimsical flower display.

Mount Baker as seen from Lopez Island ferry dock.
Our wait at Lopez was too long to be idyllic and too short to either walk or get a ride into downtown Lopez. So we chatted with the ferry folks, met a former coach and his wife who were there for a wedding, took some pictures and enjoyed the fact that it was warm, but cool in the shade where we found seats.

By the time the big ferry arrived to return us to Anacortes, the air was cooling down and we were lagging in our steps. (I logged over 10,800 steps on this day alone!)
View from the ferry as we were arriving in Anacortes, WA.
Sunday morning was another sunny day, but the wind chill was brisk with a small craft advisory. Nevertheless, Carol had it in her mind to drag me out of the hotel and take a drive up to Cap Sante to watch the sunrise. And I got some great shots; here are a couple of them.
Cap Sante, Anacortes, WA at sunrise, August 14, 2016.
Another Cap Sante shot at sunrise.

On our way to have lunch, we saw this interesting sight.
It appears to be the hull of a wooden ship that has been put
on the rocks to make a breakwater and harbor.

Here is a closer view of the prow of the old ship... wow.
 It was well worth it!! Even if I was still in my pjs! (True!)

We returned to the B&B (breakfast was not worth mentioning there) to shower and prep ourselves for our 'religious education' portion of the trip.

The delicious Crab and Bay Shrimp over Linguini with a
lobster cream sauce, bread with cheese could have been a little
more crisped under the broiler... but very good overall!
And the treat I liked a lot: a restaurant lunch overlooking the water so we could see boats of all kinds moving against the tide and wind while we enjoyed bay shrimp and fresh crab in linguini with a lobster cream sauce, followed by a key lime pie and now, a diet.

That was enough to hold us through the rest of the day and so it was a drive to the top of Mount Erie to view the entire area with some side visits and lots of photo opps.

Back up to Cap Sante for a closing sunset shot...
Anacortes at sunset, Sunday, August 14, 2016. This was
taken with my Samsung phone.
Now I have a very thorough view of Anacortes and its environs and can easily see why my friend Wes enjoys it so much. And could even think about relocating there with all the water and mountain views. But affordability for me requires a rather large influx of cash and Source hasn't delivered that yet.

Solving the Starbucks Mystery

My Grande cup from Starbucks in the process of doing my
scientific study of what I am actually getting when I order it.
I am quite sure I am not alone in wondering what a cup of Grande-anything at Starbucks means.

Awhile ago I purchased a Starbucks 'mug' with label on the bottom that specifies it as a "14" ounce container.

It actually holds 16 ounces when filled to just below the lid line.

But when I have ordered a 16-ounce beverage at Starbucks, it never gets filled up. I was becoming frustrated with what I felt was a 'rip-off.'

So I decided to buy a Grande Latte and take the cup home. This is what I found out.

Aside from the fact that Starbucks says they are offering their patrons a 16-ounce drink for about $3.75, what the guest asks for determines the final price, but they will NEVER get a full 16 ounces.

Here is why.
This has blue water in it so you can easily
see what is considered the 'fill line' for a cup
of Grande anything.
The 16-ounce cup means 16 ounces can be held in the cup, but they cannot fill it to the full mark, because of the risk of spillage, for one thing.

But it also means that no one is ever going to get a full 16 ounces of product. At best, it will be about 14 ounces.

Note where the blue water line is... 14 ounces.
And depending on the baristas, it could be slightly more or significantly less.

If you want a beverage containing 16 ounces of whatever you like, you will have to order the larger cup (or bring one of your own that holds more than 16 ounces).

And... if Starbucks was being honest, they would offer their patrons a Grande, designated as a 14-ounce beverage, NOT a 16-ounce beverage. That's why everyone is complaining.

And if I was doing public relations for Starbucks, I would launch a campaign of honesty with a cut in costs showing the cut in sizes and the calories involved and how it all would be better for everyone knowing just what they are getting.

But I'm retired for good...

Monday, August 8, 2016

I've had the blues...

But nothing like the blues I enjoyed August 6th at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival!!

I was fortunate enough to share them with a new friend and we walked from venue to venue after a lovely Thai dinner to hear some awesome performers.

The first on the list was Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes who plays an old battered acoustic guitar in the Bentonia school style of country blues. 

Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes in the Key City
Theatre in Port Townsend, WA.
Think of Jack Owens and Skip James and Henry Stuckey. 

Think primitive, dirt-down grit, folks blues. 

The feeling is key, and there were plenty of feelings about no-good wimmin and good or bad likker with some humor worked in.

Nothing fancy about the way Holmes delivered the goods.

But his white hair and skin stretched tight over old bones told the audience he knew what he was singing about.

We got front row seats and it was pure delight to watch him provide us with all the range of emotions that the blues can render.

The next venue was Standing Room Only in the Cotton Building for Corey Ledet on the accordion and Chaz Leary on the washboard presenting some Creole/Zydeco tunes which just got your feet moving, I don't care how little dancing you might do.

Ledet was born in Texas but eventually moved to Louisiana as his love of Zydeco pulled him in. You can hear the roots of his work and his mentors: Clifton Chenier, John Delafose with Wilbert Thibodeaux and The Zydeco Rascals.

Leary makes the washboard seem so easy, but he has received international recognition in acoustic country blues playing with a huge variety of bands like the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, The Iguanas, Tuba Fats, Royal Fingerbowl, the Jazz Vipers, The Palmetto Bug Stompers and Washboard Rodeo. 

Corey Ledet & Washboard Chaz Leary in the Cotton Building.
I had a chance to play the washboard with a group of Cajun Zydeco women performers last year in Port Townsend and I loved the rhythm of it all. Watching Leary made me realize how much farther I need to go to be even a little bit more proficient.

The American VFW hall was on the way back toward the theatre so we stopped in to hear Wendy DeWitt playing boogie-woogie and blues as if her pants were on fire and she needed to get the next measure done before calling the fire department!

Wendy DeWitt with Kirk Harwood, Dean Mueller and
Orville Johnson or Mark Graham.
There were lots of folks dancing and it was pretty loud, no places to sit to watch easily, so we opted to return to the theatre to catch the last bit of music from Steve James, but really aiming for the closer, Guy Davis.

We later wished we hadn't missed all of James' performance because his slide guitar was totally pro and no surprise because he is a recording artist with instructional books, DVDs and on line lessons of the cornerstone blues in the style of Bo Diddley and Howard Armstrong.

But Guy Davis didn't disappoint, either. With his six and 12-string acoustic guitars and his harmonica, he told us tales we might not want to hear but we couldn't stop listening, like his newest song "Sweetbelly," (not yet recorded but sure to be a hit) about a little gal who grew up thinking women were paid for by cigarettes.
Guy Davis, blues musician, teacher, song
writer, author and actor, gracing the stage
at Key City Theatre in Port Townsend.

Davis has been on major television and radio shows and you can tell that the influence of Blind Willie McTell and Fats Waller were not wasted on him. The son of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, this musician, teacher, songwriter, author and actor gave us his all, right down to the work song about a man who "done gone."

Stories in song you didn't want to hear, but
couldn't stop listening to the end.
I was sitting next to an Australian engineer, name of Bandy, who works in Papua, New Guinea, but who had taken his vacation by coming to the NW to participate in this Centrum workshop and performance event.

Bandy said that Davis was an "exceptional teacher, pushing everyone to reach a little higher, dig a little deeper," and he was pretty thrilled to have come away with improved skills on his own guitar and harmonica.

I am so glad I was able to enjoy this evening of music and storytelling, because that is what the blues is about... telling stories; some good, some bad, some happy, some sad, to a collection of musical beats derived from different locales, the Delta of Mississippi, the Ozarks, the Piedmont and others.

Just last year I delighted in Maria Muldaur's visit to Port Angeles, sharing the roots of her creative life in folk and blues. It seems to be a theme in my own life with the Seeger family introduced at the Woodstock Country School in Vermont carrying me along its own river of discovery with this current group of artists. Great evening. Wonderful companionship. Remarkable performers. Does it get any better than this?