My sister's garden...

I was up early this morning, made my way to the bathroom, and spotted something yellow & white in the garden. Uh, oh... Pip the cat got out during the night. I slipped into my sandals and went out to try and catch her. I was just inches from grabbing her when she spotted me, and was off like a shot.

I knew I'd never catch her, so walked back to the house to see if my sister was awake. The light was so beautiful. The house was quiet, not a sound of anyone stirring. So I grabbed my camera and went back outside, and spent an hour walking around, photographing my sister's amazing garden.


A new life...

It started life in the late 1950s as a chicken coop. This tiny building with a gable roof was one of many that dotted a big pasture near to where DW grew up. And when we went in search of a home and land of our own, we found our perfect place next door to the old chicken farm. We bought five acres with an old farmhouse, a long shed for hay and tractor storage, and this perfect chicken coop.

One of our first purchases was a clutch of baby Rhode Island Red chicks to make the coop a home. It's been years since we had chickens, but the coop lingers on. Today it's my favorite backdrop for photographs of the orchard, the hydrangea, and the butterfly bush.


Unwelcome guest...

Last night I dreamed that the shelter gave Madison to another family, and she ended up in Nebraska. A rude awakening that scared away any chance of sleeping in.

We backtracked along the Columbia to Hood River, then crossed the river and headed up the Klickitat River canyon (taking the time to explore a couple of side roads along the way). We grabbed a few caches, and just a few miles from Goldendale, stopped near one of the new bridges and looked for a cache near a big fir tree. I walked around the tree once, then started looking under branches and rocks. As I reached for a big rock near a strand of old barbed wire, I did a double take when I spotted a tiny snake, six inches from my hand, coiled up against the tree.

I squealed and backed up, and made a beeline for the Pilot. "I'm done!" I yelled in DW's general direction. But when I got there, I thought maybe I'd take just one photo. If I stayed back and used the telephoto, that should be safe, right? So that's what I did. I grabbed the Nikon and tiptoed back toward the tree, and shot the snake's picture. And the snake just watched.

Thank goodness.


Working my way back home...

Oatmeal at my favorite restaurant in Bend. Browsing through quilt shops in Bend, Sisters, Redmond, Terrebone, and Hood River. A purple and green and cream jelly roll, and some gardening-themed fabrics. Some new back roads to explore. Hay fields that made me sneeze, and sparkling water. Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, both sharp peaked and close together. A boulder-strewn glacial valley with hikes toward the mountain that we didn't have time for. An early dinner in Parkdale, looking at the most perfect view of Mount Hood you'll ever find.

My kind of day.


The edge of the wilderness...

Geocaching brought us back to Oregon. We're in search of the oldest caches that still remain, and since geocaching started in the Pacific Northwest, some of the oldest are here. Today we're hiking about ten miles to get two of them: numbers 12 and 16, placed back in early 2000 in the mountains west of Mount Hood. We've poured over topo maps to try and get a sense of the terrain, and read the accounts of those who've gone before us, and we think we're ready.

  The original log book in the 12th geocache ever placed

What those accounts didn't say, and which prove the old adage about pictures and words, is how beautiful the hike was. I expected a faint trail through a clear cut, in the hot sun. But once we made it over the roller-coaster terrain of an old road to a rock quarry and onto the official trail, we found a spectacular trail through the forest.

We started out on a stretch of the Douglas trail, through deep woods at first, then along a vast river valley. The native rhododendrons, which had already finishing blooming in the lowlands, were in full bloom.

We climbed steadily up along the knife edge of a ridge until we reached a junction. Straight ahead would take us into the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness, but our path led us to the left, onto the McCarthy Ridge trail, with stunning views of Mount Hood.

Our cache was near a bench on a wide saddle carpeted with wildflowers, with the mountain in the background.

We stayed a while to enjoy the view and take pictures, and I wished we could keep on walking down this trail, to see where it went, and what other spectacular views we'd find. But we didn't have time today. Maybe one day, we'll come back with packs and spend a few days here.


"Pack me, please?"

Oregon bound tomorrow, for a few days of hiking and geocaching. Madison wants to go.


The one orchard...

    The Italian plum tree in the young orchard is loaded with tiny green globes

The last tree in the old orchard is gone now, cut down and chopped into wood for the stove. It toppled a few years ago in an ice storm, and bore fruit for a couple of years. Still connected to the ground but lying prone, the tree has harbored countless birds, providing shelter for their nests and their young.

Now all that's left is the orchard on the other side of our old farmhouse, the one I've always called the Young Orchard. The trees were small when we moved in, and I could see over them from the windows in the kitchen, and through them to the huge dairy barn next door. Now they're tall and shade the grass underneath, and I hang bird feeders from their branches so I can photograph birds from the bathroom window.


At the top of the world...

A bit over a year ago, we discovered Sun Top lookout while exploring the logging roads north of Mt. Rainier, and met the two women who were volunteering there for a few days. They gave us a tour of the lookout and explained how to watch for fires. As soon as we got home, I called and got our names on the volunteer list.

Tonight was the orientation meeting to learn about volunteering at one of two lookouts, then we waited patiently for our numbers to be drawn. And by the end, we were among the lucky ones.

On top of a high knoll, the lookout has a 360 degree view of the horizon, and a drop-dead gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier. And it will be all ours for four days.


In the city...

Every three months or so we spend a day in the city. After a quick meeting in Belltown, we wander around the Pike Place Market then find a spot for lunch, then head for home.

Today was windy but brilliantly sunny, so we lingered. We walked through the market, and I took pictures. Then we walked uptown to the Seattle Center and back along the waterfront.

Three Seattle landmarks in one day... that just might be a record.



My friend, Cathy, has a wonderful blog and an equally wonderful garden. She always shares photographs of what's in bloom, and a few days ago she asked, "What's blooming in your garden?"

So I took a walk around my overgrown cottage garden, with camera in hand.

The pasture daisies are my favorites right now. I spent years digging them up from the pasture, and the shoulders of the roads, and planting them around the farm gardens. They're smaller than the Shasta daisies, but much bigger than the other wild Northwest daisies that you find in the mountains.

When I had a horse to keep the weeds at bay, the daisies bloomed wild and free down the slope to the pond, giving me a perfect view of them from the house. When the last horse went, I always asked DW not to mow the pastures until the daisies had finished blooming.

The campanula are so tall this year, and they've self-seeded themselves in with the bright cerise Rose Campion and the fireweed (which I am determined to eradicate this year, before it swallows up everything). Being able to thrive just about anywhere is something I love about Campanula; it grows under the lilacs and still grows in old beds that I let return to grass years ago.

Lady's Mantle, perennial bachelor's buttons, Veronica Spicata, Sweet William, foxgloves, and the smoke tree are in full bloom, too. Everything is lavendar and purple and pink and white, my favorite garden colors.