Thursday, July 6, 2017

Solstice 2017

A Great Blue Heron fishes in Sequim Bay, WA.
All promises of warmer weather by the National Weather Service in Seattle are suspect now. We have been hearing from them that that "tomorrow is going to be significantly warmer than yesterday," for weeks and I don't call a 4 degree increase particularly significant.
The heron takes off for other fishing locations.


The heron doesn't care as long as the fishing is good. But we are under grey skies again and I have to reorder another bottle of Vitamin D - sigh. My happiness factor is not weather-dependent, but my gardening is suffering from limited sun exposure. The bees have been doing their due-diligence in pollinating, but the flowers seem droopy.


Last year, I never even went swimming in Lake Crescent because there was not enough sunshine to warm up even the top layer close to the beach. Coupled with snowpack running off this year, I cannot begin to forecast a day when I might willingly put my toe into the water, much less my entire body.

I was on the Sequim Bay Race Committee on the weekend of June 17th, which by 'normal' (meaning past years) conditions should have been in the 70's. But I was wearing long underwear, a down vest and was still feeling cold in the low 50's under cloudy - and then windless - skies. We were only able to run two good races. And anyone without a motor and no paddles had to be towed back to the marina.
Five boats turned out for the June 17th Saturday races and a good start.
My house in Florida looks more and more inviting except for the bugs, snakes and humidity. Oh, and being too far from the ocean.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Third Race to Alaska Underway


Early setup and blocking of the road access to the Northwest
Maritime Center and Point Hudson Marina.
I volunteered again (second year) for the Race to Alaska (R2AK) and have to admit I was disappointed at the overall turnout. Not just the turnout for the Ruckus, the pre-race party, but the local public support (people wandering around and meeting folks) was diminished from the previous year.

It appeared to me that the race itself was lacking any Significant Sailors, those with regional, national or world-wide competitive skills to create a draw. Not that those who have elected to compete are Insignificant, not by any stretch! But for an event to have continued sponsor support and public support, there has to be interest.

Quote from the R2AK site: "It’s like the Iditarod, on a boat, with a chance of drowning, being run down by a freighter, or eaten by a grizzly bear. There are squalls, killer whales, tidal currents that run upwards of 20 miles an hour, and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

It's sitting on a wet platform for hours on end, (or standing if you are going it on a SUP) with no engine, no resupply lines (or repair shops) for over 700 miles (whoever sailed in a straight line?).

Last year there were 15 world records established (or broken) and the reward for the winner is $10,000 cash, nailed to a tree, with a set of steak knives for second place and a sigh of relief for all the rest who make it. Out of 44 racers in 2016, 26 completed the course. Perhaps the locals are under-whelmed or had other things to do, but this is an amazing race by any standards.

I was on duty from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Chandlery (same as last year) and although we had some visitors, my impression was that we were lacking in folks who wanted to purchase R2AK gear (t-shirts, caps, pins, pocket flasks) whereas last year there seemed to be more demand.

Chart of the race course posted on the Cotton
Building gave everyone info about the race.
This year there definitely was better organization around the race itself, with plenty of good information for newcomers to learn about it and the racers. But the street was not filled with boats as it had been the year before, so it was a lot harder to talk personally to any of the racers in a casual way. And so it lacked the energy of "We're all gathered here to launch ourselves into this challenging event" feeling (in my humble, retired-PR, opinion).

In 2017 there were 64 entrants to the race, and of those 21 only had plans to go as far as Victoria. The tremendous gale  that blew up after the start (and all were forewarned of it's approach) and huge waves in Puget Sound eliminated at least 10 contestants for Ketchikan through various damages, (some of which may have been psychological as well as physical) although no one was lost at sea.

It was a battering that some will not care to repeat. (You can read about it here: R2AK.com)


Stand-Up Paddle boarders have my utmost respect.
That left 34 boats to go the distance. I say 'boats,' but five of the vessels are actually stand-up paddle-boards (SUPs) (3), a rowing vessel and a kayak (the first ever to take on this task) and nine of the rest of the boats are 20 feet or less in length. So almost half the fleet is made up of small boats. That in itself is challenging since it is hard to provision a vessel for even a week with so little free space and this could be a three-week journey.

I follow the race on the Tracker (located here: http://tracker.r2ak.com) and cheer for all the competitors because as a life-long sailor, I know it takes tremendous courage, stamina, resilience, and  hopefulness to do a long race, much less one like this. Here is another link for some updates by some of the racers firsthand: 48 North.

So I hope my readers will go to the R2AK website, get the tracker and follow some of these indomitable folks, comment on their progress, and give them the encouragement they will surely need to make it all the way to Ketchikan.

UPDATE: The third Race to Alaska was won by three brothers from Marblehead, Mass., as Team Pure & Wild/FreeBurd and the steak knives went to Team Broderna about five minutes later. It was a close and exciting finish by two awesome teams!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Sands of Time


The scent of wild roses mixed with ocean air is heavenly.
 Since I arrived on the Olympic Peninsula, I have enjoyed some wonderful walks on natural lands. One of my favorites has been the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, also known as Dungeness Spit.

When I first came here in 2013, I was taken for a walk along the bluffs and was transfixed with the fragility and the beauty of a place that is in a state of constant change.

I walked these bluffs several times that year and often each year I come back at least a few times, sometimes to share it with visitors. Below are some pictures taken from 2013.

In 2013, there was still some walkway left near this post.
Now the post is gone, the tree is gone, the paths are gone.

This was in July 2013 and there was still a path to the right
of the photo. That path was eroded last year and is gone now.
All of this bluff shown here is gone now. I'm estimating at
least 20 feet has been taken in the past four years.

This was a previous path; the Rangers have their work cut
out from underneath them...
Another view of the previous path... gone in 2017.


And today when I went for a walk to remember my friend Cynthia Little who has crossed over (one month ago today) as she was the first one to show me the bluffs with her dog, Keena, I was shocked to discover that in the last year alone, we have lost ALL the walkways!

And areas that were inland by 25 or 30 feet and were tree-covered are now open to the Sound with the encroachment threatening those walkways as well. Here are the photos from today.
The barrier prevents anyone from walking along the bluff;
that SW path was open last fall but I knew it was eroding fast.

A new sign, a new blockage preventing any foot traffic to
the east on the bluffs of Dungeness Spit.

Overstating the obvious; there's a 100-ft. drop there.

If you look closely, you can see a huge piece
of bluff is about to drop off.
While the view is still impressive, this view opened up this
last winter. Previously it was trees and undergrowth.
The light reflects off the Sound and this path may only be
here for another summer. This used to be thick with trees
and undergrowth. Ever-changing beauty.
Another view of the wild rose.
(I've done two other blogs on this area: "Hot Night on the Spit" and "The Dungeness Spit" if you want to read more about it and see some other photos.)
We have had a lot of gale force winds this last fall and winter, and also stormy seas. Both of these elements are part of the erosion of the spit. No matter how much the Rangers try to arrest the action, it will continue. The sands of time... sliding away.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Spring Comes Slowly

What a lesson in patience Spring is teaching me this season!

I want it now!!

I want the smells, the color, the heat of a new spring morning.

But Spring this year says, "Wait. Patience. Enjoy THIS moment. Not the one that will be coming, but THIS very moment."

Dark-eyed Junkos used this birdhouse this year for their
clutch of hatchlings.
So I watch the Dark-eyed Junko pair feed their babies and listen to his irritated "chit-chit-chit" when I get too close to the nest. And see how they both trust me when I back away so they can continue to do their parental duties.

Today I weeded and trimmed the raspberry patch, added some organic soil for topping (it needs more) and repaired the metal guides that will keep the vines from falling down.

It was enjoyable to simply sit on my weeding bench and pull everything that is not raspberry.

A few bees stopped by to see if there were any blooms worth investigating and in the distance I could hear the local target range firing their clay pigeons into the air, motorcycles were zooming along in the sunshine, swallows were doing their vortexy circles and I was totally focused on my task.

(NOTE: I started writing this in mid-May and now at the edge of June, I am finally getting it posted. The message is still the same; appreciate now... no regrets for yesterday, no anxiety about tomorrow.)

Although I felt a little achy when I was done, it was satisfying and meditative. I'm learning... be here now. In THIS moment.

Multiple Myeloma and Issues with Sepsis

Son-in-law walks with one of the twins down to clear the
drainage pipe at the end of their field.
When I first started posting on this blog, it was because someone near and dear to me had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (MM).

It is wonderfully remarkable that after close to a decade of dealing with the disease (and two auto stem cell transplants and the final and best allogenic one) this dear fellow can celebrate another birthday, perhaps after he finishes mowing the big field or clearing the drainage pipe.

But I have other folks in my virtual life who are not faring so well with the disease. They both live in the UK and they both have recently attempted to arrest the disease with stem cell transplants.

And why, on my birthday, do I have the remembrances of bad news days? When I think I'm getting a call to wish me well for over decades of living, I instead get one that announces tragic stuff.

I want to see, after more than a decade of even identifying MM, that great strides are being achieved toward remission or even a cure. Tom Brokaw announced a couple of years ago that he was living with his diagnosis and he has the benefit of being in the higher echelons of income and status, so he quite likely has a better chance at life extension. And as more people who have public identities help to raise awareness and funds, perhaps this will come. But it is too damn slow for some.

The magenta spinnaker flies full before the
wind in Sequim Bay, Washington.
One hopeful aspect of dealing with the process of transplanting cells is overcoming the sepsis (poisoning of the system because of infection) following the 'cleaning' and replacing stem cells. The body is neutropenic (without resistance to illness and infection) having no white blood cells to work with and many folks succumb before their new cells can get working.

Dr. Paul Marik, affiliated with Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, VA, has started using a combination of Vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine to combat sepsis with some good results. (See www.pilotonline to read the story.)

As Marik pointed out in the story, it is difficult to get funding to promote a solution that does not provide a profit. This is all too familiar in all aspects of medical treatments, not just Myeloma. Any solution to ease pain and discomfort that doesn't use Big Pharma products doesn't get much mention or much credibility.

The deep magenta color in the magnolias reminds me of the 'color' of Myeloma funding... like the color of the blood cells that are needed to overcome it.

Magnolias in springtime; a time of hope.
Go here www.myeloma.org.uk to learn more about the disease and if you care to donate, I know that friends of Mike and Emma will appreciate that although it may not benefit them, it might help others.

I will mention again that using sublingual Vitamin B12 for relief from restless leg or nerve pain in the extremities has been proven, at least in my case, to have significant and cumulative benefits. While I do not have MM, I do what I can to follow resources and post what I find here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Red and Yellow with Grey

A friend who lives in the Hebrides Island (Scotland) recently posted a series of pictures on Facebook showing his world with red and yellow being the accent colors. I was impressed, intrigued and threw down my own gauntlet to meet his reds and yellows with those found on the Olympic Peninsula.

Ohhhhh, I should have waited.

It was March. And it was still cold. And wet. And rainy. And grey.

Outside my kitchen window, the building is a pale yellow
and the cones are a sort of red... almost.
And not wanting to give in with traditional and commercial photos of McDonald's, Les Schwab Tires and Econolodge, I started searching for various spots of color. Of course, I looked close to home first.

After that I drove around a bit, a good excuse to become familiar with my new-to-me car, which is also grey. (The salesman said he would give me an additional discount if I could decide that I liked grey.)

So I found a Robin and the hummingbird feeder is definitely red and yellow.

American Robin caught in drive-by shooting... 
My front yard with hummingbird feeder and Christmas
lights still waiting to be taken down.
Then it was off to Sequim to see what I might find and there is quite a bit of yellow and red when you start looking for it.

This is a great exercise in 'seeing' and I am glad I made the effort because when you start focusing on one thing, suddenly that item of focus begins to appear all over the place.

For days after I finished this 'challenge,' I was still finding spots of red and yellow as I drove about.





 After visiting downtown Sequim and a local market, I thought I was done, but I had to go over to Port Townsend and on my way back I captured this sweet shot of the mountains with the yellow strip in the road and the red taillights of the car ahead of me. It's one of my favorite views when I am heading home... love seeing the mountains layer by layer ahead of me.

Highway 101 heading west into Clallam County in Washington State.
So this was my March activity, and I probably should have posted it sooner, but right after I finished getting the photos, I had to have some emergency dental work and I was in a lot of pain for a couple of weeks. I am all better now, and so I'm posting this last shot just because I can and because it was the last local snowfall - my hopefulness for spring.

The last local snowfall... we got more than a dusting over elevations above
500 feet that day. I rushed to get the white of the snow over the ever-so-faint
green buds that were eager to come out.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Lenten Season 2017

Rhododendron on Passover
THE WINTER has taken a long time to leave us this year. And while I haven't posted in almost five weeks, I've been busy and just have neglected my blog-dom.

Frieda (in Jerry's lap)
So, working backwards, I have been the go-between in getting a rescue dog into a new home... not mine.

I was surfing on FaceBook, just randomly reading posts of friends of mine and saw a chocolate Labrador which was a trigger for me, having had two of those precious creatures.

The woman offering the dog was not a personal friend, but the friend of a friend. She was looking to re-home a mature, fixed, female lab and I immediately thought of a couple I knew whose dog had recently died.

I contacted the husband, but he said they were not interested at this time, however they knew someone who was. It turned out the couple who did want the dog were connected to me by my former church affiliation as well as through my art group. I contacted the FB lady, gave her the name and number of the folks, they connected and two days later the dog was in her new home.

At the next art group meeting, the new owner came up to me in tears of gratitude, telling me how wonderful this dog was and how happy they were that I helped to make it possible. I asked if I could meet the new member of the family and was invited over. They have named her Frieda, after Frieda Kahlo, (one of my favorite artists) and fortunately her personality is much calmer than her namesake.

Pat and Jerry love her, and she loves lying on the coach snuggled up to Jerry or in his lap. I whispered to Freida as I was leaving, "Remember who is feeding you." (Pat)

Grey Owl landing on branch (may end up being part of a bedtime story
book) or a series of nighttime paintings... not sure.
My contribution to the "Whale of an Art Show" in Port Angeles, WA.
It is quite large (for me) as an 18 by 24-inch piece and it is titled
"Playdate in the NW".
And I've continued to paint, with one painting going in the "Whale of an Art Show" at the Heatherton Galley in Port Angeles and some others just for my own entertainment. The show continues for the month of April and tomorrow, the 14th, is the Artists' Reception. I'll be interested to see who shows up for it.
Screenshot of the Olympic National Park's webcam at the
top of Hurricane Ridge... still a lot of snow up there!
Passover began and I have a greater interest in understanding the Jewish traditions since I began studying the Hebrew letters of the alphabet this past year. פֶּסַח‎ The event is for the "Jewish people who celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses." (according to Wikipedia... but I want to clarify that it was liberation from slavery and thus their freedom as a nation, a nation that was led by Moses. Not that they were freed from the leadership of Moses, which the quoted portion suggests.)

This painting of a sunset over a lake in Lake City, FL, was initiated by a
photograph sent to me by Mr. Willie Harris. I decided to add him into the
scene and he is now the proud owner of the original artwork. He said he will
get it framed and I will hang in his living room... great!!
So, dear readers, you can see that I've been busy and I hope you are able to resurrect yourselves from your winters wherever you are and have a delightful spring season!!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Birds and Quilts

It's a strange combination, birds and quilts. But believe me, there is a connection between the two.

All winter long I have been working on a Mystery Quilt, developed by Bonnie K. Hunter at www.Quiltville.com. Finally, in the last few days of February I put on a push and finished piecing it together. It will be awhile before I can afford the materials to finish it off and have it professionally quilted, but it is done.
The "En Provence" pattern for the 2016 Mystery Quilt by Bonnie K. Hunter,
which I completed at the end of February 2017. Almost 12 weeks of work.
It was a great way to spend the dark days of winter, sewing for hours, cutting for more, stitching up and having dates with Jack the Seam Ripper, but I learned a lot. Oh, did I say that it was my First Quilt ever?

So, as I was recovering from looking at the purples, pinks, yellows and greens of the quilt, my eyes were given a treat of seeing several types of early birds at the casual feeder I set up. This has been a particularly cold (and wet, and snowy) winter here, so I decided they could use some augmenting fuel. I had junkos, chickadees, sparrows and the biggest were the Varied Thrush pair that really chowed down at my seed restaurant.
According to several bird books, this is the male of the
Varied Thrush. Isn't he beautiful?

The entrance to Robin Hill Park, Sequim, WA after a 3-inch
snowfall. Quite a bit for us in this area.
Last year I signed up to be a Weather Spotter and part of my volunteer assignment is to report into the local National Weather Service office as we have interesting weather. I do not have a weather station, but my camera and my ruler were acceptable and there must have been hundreds of other spotters who used the same devices to report our storm conditions. And as I write this tonight, March 4, we are under another weather advisory for snow conditions tonight... sigh.
Outside my front door during the February 6th storm.

But, I have good wheels for getting around in adverse weather, so it doesn't really bother me. What I noticed in the February storm was how sparkly the snow crystals were. Sometimes they are just pellets or too wet to be very interesting. I love the sound of snow crunching under my feet.

So we go from seeing green grass to white snow and back again. The promise is that if we get snow again, it will melt quickly because the forecast calls for temperatures in the 40's.

I am just about ready to start spending my days getting my garden cleaned up and watching the clematis bloom. Maybe now the quilt is done, so is winter.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Hearts and Flowers

This is the month of romance, hearts and flowers, friendship, love and all those tender things. It is going to be my month of gratitudes and appreciation as well.

So here are 28 things I am acknowledging:
Me in La Conner, WA (2016)

1) My own body; for putting up with my indulgences and still it keeps on ticking and showing me how resilient it can be. I love you, my body, for all the places you have taken me and all the places we haven't seen yet!

2) My children; because you remind me of how I was instrumental in starting something that has turned out very well, not entirely because of my influence, but still I take pride in knowing each of you.

3) The rest of my family of origin including all the grands: Each of you has helped to shape me into who I am today from experiences, events and connections. I am grateful for it all.

4) My very best and longest friend of all, Dee Rivard: hardly seems possible we have known each other for all these decades and that it has taken me so long to realize how important it was that you got to be the Long Ranger for once... this is your year! Ride hard and long and I'll still be riding with you... Kemosabe!

5) Blessed and special friends, some with years of connection, others with less. A couple I will mention here: Rod Normandin, who died Jan. 11, was one of the first folks in Sequim to be truly helpful to me and worked with me to purchase (and then sell) my first place and then was diligent and supportive as we worked on the purchase of my present home not believing me when I said the other one would sell in three weeks... which it did... and gave us both laughter and a sigh of relief. You will be missed, my friend. Carol Joy, who celebrates her first wedding anniversary this month, is dear to my heart for her teaching, supporting, blessing and loving me whether we're close in distance or not. Jenna Rose, the twirly girl, former roommate and dancing pal, keeps reminding me of my responsibility to stay happy.

Cleopurr-tra and Maksim
6) There are two fur babies in my household: Maksim (Russian for 'the greatest') and Cleopurr-tra keep me warm and busy picking up their toys. Oh, and lest I forget, my water balancer, Blue, the Siamese fighting fish, who also entertains the cats.

7) I am so grateful for my steady and reliable car which has the name "Ankh," referring to the Egyptian heiroglyphic meaning "life." I get a lot of joy from this car that has heated seats in the winter and a sunroof in the summer. And in line with that, appreciating the folks at Murray Motors in Port Angeles who keep her running.

8) My home; a sweet little place in a nice community, placed so that I'm at the edge of things, just as I like it... with a manageable garden and last year I had lots of raspberries and blueberries in it!

Guessing that this is some kind of Thrush, but my bird
friends say the beak is too long. Anyone know?
9) The birds that come to visit... junkos and robins and various wrens, swallows, crows, eagles, etc. Though the eagles only come as far as the top of the nearby trees, it is a pleasure to hear them call out to each other.

10) My computer... updated by my son-in-law, it takes me far and wide with connections to folks all over the globe. It stores all my photos of various places and things, holds my budget safely, and is a daily source of instruction and inspiration.
Pretty sure this is a junko taken in January. 
11) The local YMCA provides me with a place to exercise, swim, and be in community with like-minded folks... it's worth the membership fee to not have equipment crowding my living room!

12) My artist groups: I am fortunate to have several and each of them offers me something special to encourage and stimulate my creative juices!
My most recent watercolor from a photograph by Mark Balcer.
This is an 11 by 17 on 350# paper.

13) The Android device that gives me access to hundreds of free books on the Washington State library system, and other free books or movies on other sites, making the dark days of winter hurry by!

14) Bonnie Hunter, originator of the Mystery Quilt, gave me joy and frustration in equal measure as I learned how to build a quilt for the very first time starting in November. The "En Provence" pattern caused me to cut out too many items because I didn't read it well enough, so I have more stuff for another one, perhaps next winter.

Here is a picture of the progress so far:
"En Provence," the Mystery Quilt by
Bonnie Hunter, still has a few panels to go.
15) Financial advisors: Nichols and Pratt, a Boston, MA, firm along with Edward Jones, are appreciated for keeping my financial life in balance so that I can enjoy my retirement which includes exploring my world locally and at a greater distance.

16) The T-mobile phone that costs me the least of any I've ever owned and gives me information, connection, and direction (I'm a WAZER) plus keeping my schedule so I don't miss appointments. Does it get any better than this?

17) All the baristas: who from one provider to another always have a happy smile when I pull up for a vanilla latte and don't make a face if I ask for a little extra milk - I appreciate you all!!

New couch is perfect for me!
18) Brian from Sequim Consignment: who struggled to get my new-to-me couch into my living room and was prompt about getting repairs done to the damage created by the move. And I just love how cozy the replacement couch is!!

19) All the Abrahamsters in my life who support and encourage me by setting a shining example of staying fierce about alignment, minding their own business, focusing on the downstream and soothing phrases that keep joy flowing... I really love and appreciate you!

20) For all the men and women in our military who do their very best to protect the rights of democracy at home and abroad.

21) Grateful for my Naturopathic Physician for discovering that my adrenals needed support and essentially rescuing me from having a personal dead battery... recharged and moving on!!

22) Appreciating the two art show organizers that made it possible for me to show my work in two separate shows in this area for the first time last year. And feeling excited about having my own show in September in Sequim!
Light reflecting off the frame of my Dungeness Sunset,
a watercolor on 10 by 12" cold press paper.

23) Appreciating all the musicians in the area who play in a number of venues so that folks like me can go and dance for a reasonable fee, and for all the fun and laughter I have when I do go dancing.

24) Grateful for the opportunity to learn more about PSYCH-K (TM) and to incorporate it into my Reiki processes, for the highest and best good of all concerned.
The Olympics, as seen from Sequim, WA.
25) For this beautiful part of the world, which gives me delight daily!!

26) For all the scientists and others working for a cure for Multiple Myeloma, so that no one has to endure the challenges it brings, I am truly grateful.

27) The developers of the digital cameras that I use frequently, in my phone, around my neck, in my hand, to capture all that I am appreciating... they get a big hug of gratitude!

and finally,

28) Appreciating all my readers, without whom I could not have continued this blog, and especially those who have, and continue to make, encouraging comments or observations!

May your February be full of things you can appreciate or have gratitude for!!