There was plenty of building material along this river in the Cascades. I like to think the architect marked the perfect spot to photograph the river.

This rocky riverbank reminded me of our time spent at Ruby Beach last summer, when we made a game out of finding the perfect stack-up of flat stones to make a tower.


Spring comes...

The high country is the last to see the brilliant spring greens of the deciduous trees, so a detour home from the east side was definitely a must. Yakima canyon to White Pass, then over Chinook Pass toward Mount Rainier. The mountain was playing hard to get today, buried in clouds and invisible from just above Tipsoo Lake. But the Naches River was picture perfect, and we even saw a big spring salmon.


A new dog in the neighborhood

We'd stopped for the mail, and our neighbor waved us over. We waved "Hello," in return, then noticed the cute bundle of energy at his feet. Cool... a new puppy!

Koko is a mostly black German Shepherd, just 7 weeks old, one of eight in the litter. His dad was mostly black, so it will be fun to see how Koko changes as he grows. Inn the way of all puppies, he's absolutely adorable. I'm so happy to have a dog living next door again!


Lilac is the scent of spring

Life is short, and life is beautiful, and everything is lovely. 
Love it, embrace it, smell the lilacs, play with the dog, 
and love endlessly and fiercely with everything you've got. 
Live without regret.

There are four old lilac bushes on the farm, planted along an old fence line, long gone, that separated a small paddock from the young orchard. The bushes are spectacular this year, full of fragrance and blooms, overgrowing their allotted space.

But I never mind this kind of exuberance. And when pruning is mentioned, I say, "Wait until after they bloom." It's always my response when pruning is suggested.

For lilacs are heady and rich with scent, not lightly scented, not barely detected on the warm evening breeze. Lilacs are demanding, and I never ignore their desire:  that I come close, gather up an armful of blooms with both hands, bury my face in their spicy fragrance, and inhale as deeply as I can. Only then am I released to walk away.


Arbor Day

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree 
is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver
~Martin Luther

Along the Snoqualmie Valley trail


Detailing day

A few days ago I turned my back on the gardens (again) and spent a couple of afternoons with my wee red roadster, affectionately called TrueRed.

We planned to go on a road trip with our old Miata club in a few days. So the car got a bath, then rubbed all over with a clay bar to remove all those little bits that get bonded to the paint. Silky smooth, it was ready for polish, then wax, then a final top coat.

Until it looked like this... polished to a mirror finish.


Back roads...

I took a back road instead of the highway today, on my way to the plateau for another try for my favorite mountain. This small pond is usually deserted except for geese (the snowy variety in winter, the Canada variety in spring). But today there were no birds, just a couple of fishermen in a small boat, barely ruffling the surface.

It was so peaceful, I decided to spend some time hanging out by the sturdy gate with its obviously ignored signpost. In spite of the telephone pole gatepost and the beefy timbers of the gate, gravity has pulled it even with the slope of the land.

The rusty sign, the silent fishermen, the trees and grasses turning the green of spring... so beautiful and peaceful in the early morning light.

And while I was there, the mountain peeked out briefly from under its cap of clouds. You can just make out its perfect "ice cream cone" shape.



It was such fun today, exploring and taking pictures with a long-time friend who loves photography as much as I do.

The lilacs are in bloom, and the native maple trees are full of plump catkins and bright green leaves, and the river is swollen with runoff from nearby snowfields.

Today we explored in the Snoqualmie River Valley. Next time, who knows? But I know it will be just as much fun as today.



We went out for the day with our old car club today, for a drive along the Sound, then ending the day at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.

The property was once a dairy farm, with dikes to hold back the river water (and the tides), and create grazing land for the cows. It's a beautiful spot, currently chock full of Canada geese looking for nesting spots.

I loved the pair of white dairy barns. From this viewpoint, you couldn't tell there were two identical barns, but the trail eventually led to a viewing platform right next to them.

for more information, see Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge


Wandering... Victor Falls

My camera and I headed out on the back roads today, and while following my nose toward Buckley, I stumbled across a brand-new parking area for Victor Falls. I knew about the falls because a very popular mountain biking area bears the name, and had always intended to ride there. But I'd never seen the waterfall before. There is probably a way down to the creek bed for better views (there was mention of a steep root ladder) but I declined... I was satisfied with taking a few photos from the top.

Victor Falls near Bonney Lake
Curtain-type waterfall, 70 feet high


Lone tree

This is my favorite lone tree so far. It stands alone in a clearing, surrounded by monster mango trees that soar into the heavens. The perspective makes it hard to guess the height of this smaller tree, but everything was big in this rain forest near Akaka Falls on Hawaii:  the philodendron leaves that cover the tree trunk, the huge ferns on the forest floor, and mango trees can grow to 90 feet with canopies nearly as wide as the tree is tall.


Broken gable barn

This lovely old, well-tended barn is one of many on the Enumclaw plateau. It stands on a side road that runs hard up against the foothills, with a backdrop of woods and a fruit tree standing guard. At the other end of this short road is my favorite old farmhouse, with its own heritage barn, so whenever I'm out this way, my car always seems to take the detour, so I can check up on them.


Chasing The Mountain

I've been obsessed with our local landmark lately... probably because it's not be visible for days. It's easy to feel withdrawal symptoms when Mount Rainier hides behind its curtain of clouds. At 14,411 feet, it makes its own weather, so even on clear days down here in the lowlands, the mountain can still be shrouded in clouds.

But worse in my eyes are the ever-shrinking viewpoints where you can see The Mountain in a natural setting. I appreciate being able to see it from the freeway, from the Seattle waterfront, from surface roads lined with powerlines. I love seeing it from the Vashon ferry, too. But for me, it's best seen cradled in the foothills, with trees and pastureland spreading out in the foreground.

Mount Rainier in early morning from the Enumclaw plateau, with fresh snow in the foothills

So that's my goal for the next few sunny days: to explore the back roads past the blight of suburbia, but still reasonably close to home. And find those perfect vantage points where I can photograph our mountain to my heart's content.


Moments... life and reruns

This was an interesting week.  Monday and Tuesday we helped on the bottling line at DeLille Cellars. Sorting foils and packing boxes, feeding empty bottles into the machine, labeling and sealing cases, stacking boxes on pallets. Hard work, but we met some nice people and had a good time. We also came home with bottles of Aix, D2, and Chaleur Estate Blanc, nine bottles in all.

True Red came out with us, first to breakfast in Woodinville, then waited outside the bottling truck until we were finished each day.

Tuesday we joined our old car club for dinner at Claim Jumper. We haven't been active for a few years, and maybe it's time to start taking the wee car out to play with her old buddies.

Wednesday, it rained. Oh, joy...

Thursday was a day of perfect spring weather, and while Dave mowed the lawn, I weeded all the patio borders, dug out some unwanted volunteer blackberries, and cut back the ferns.

When the grass got too thick and tall for the lawn tractor, the big boy came out to play.

Friday and Saturday we rested after our labors. Dave did the taxes, and during breaks we watched old M*A*S*H reruns. I started reviewing my landscape photographs from the past five years of road trips, wrote in my journal, and planned a photography road trip close to home.


Baby buck

This morning I opened the kitchen blinds and glanced into the orchard, and there he was:  our baby buck, grazing on the bright green spring grass.

My camera was in the bedroom, and Dave was still in bed. I tiptoed in, grabbed my camera bag, slid open the bathroom window while thumbing the on switch, and missed him. He'd moved out to the pasture, so I got the shots I could with no time to fiddle with settings.

Then I leaned my elbows on the sill, and watched until he moved out of sight, down to the pond.

We'd lived at the farm, in this small rural valley, for 25 years before we ever saw a deer. The valley was just crying out for deer, full of horse pastures and orchards, ringed with wooded hillsides. A lot of people besides us had horses, and there was hay and grain in barns up and down the valley. But we never saw any deer.

My neighbors who had vegetable gardens thought I was crazy, because deer can become a real nuisance. But I never had anything on my place that I couldn't share with a couple of deer. They're welcome to apples from the orchard, and all the blackberries (and blackberry canes) they can eat. There's always tall grass to shelter them, and a pond for water. I lost more lettuce and spinach over the years to my flock of geese.

Then five years ago during a cold winter, we had a 4-point buck and a doe spend the day with us, and from then on, we'd see deer a few times a year. This small buck is new. We've seen him twice in the past couple of months, and he still hasn't grown his antlers for the year. I didn't see the doe today; maybe she was bedded down in the front pasture.


Red barn

I'm craving a road trip in the worst way, but it's a bad time to get on the road. So I'm feeding the wanderlust by reliving my favorite road trips from the past couple of years.

One trip I do plan to take this spring is to photograph my favorite Washington heritage barns, starting in Kittitas County. They have the only barn quilt trail in Washington, perfect for this lover of barns and quilts.

Broken gable barn between Colfax and Pullman, in the rolling hills of Palouse country



Sometimes you get the best look at the sunset when you look toward the east.

Rolling hills of the Palouse at sunset, October 2011


A surgeon's touch

Easter Sunday is always a gathering of family for food and wine and an afternoon of talking and planning.

I won't soon remember this gathering. It started with surgery on a recalcitrant wine bottle by Dr. Bruce. Pliers didn't work, vice grips didn't work, but pliers and vise grips did the trick! (Who would have thought a screw cork would be so tough to pull?)

The afternoon ended with the guys taking turns trying on my MX-5 roadster for size, Mark had the worst time; at 6 ft. 8, he's not exactly the driver that Mazda designed the MX-5 was designed for.

Brother Bruce is 6 ft. 2, and fits it perfectly.

So we laughed, and took photos, and wandered back inside... leaving the top down. A half hour later I glanced outside, and our sunny afternoon had turned black and stormy and it was raining. Dang! I ran outside with a towel and my key and pulled up the top, but not before it got pretty damp inside, and I got pretty darn wet outside.


Lunar eclipse

The alarm went off at 3:45... I cheated and let myself sleep a few extra minutes. Then I pulled on my warm clothes, and ran upstairs to see where the moon was. Cool... it's clear!

The eclipse was already under way. Tripod in hand, I slid across the front porch (it's well below freezing, and frost was forming on the wood boards) and out to the orchard, and set up the tripod.
Brrr...  it's cold.

The last time I saw a total lunar eclipse, it was twilight and I'd walked across the yard to get something out of the barn, and as I walked back to the house, there was the moon, hanging over the valley. And in partial eclipse. I didn't even know there was going to be one! We stood outside in the balmy air, and watched the complete cycle.

Tonight's show will be a short one, but spectacular.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the final stage. Just as the last sliver of brightness faded, the clouds rose up from the horizon, and blocked out the moon. I waited and watched, and the clouds just got thicker, until they blocked out the sky.

I'm envious of the beautiful moon photographs people in other places were able to capture. When the next lunar eclipse comes around this fall, I'll plan to be somewhere with less cloud cover, maybe Idaho. And maybe I'll have a faster, longer telephoto lens.

My calendar is already marked for September 28th.


Homegrown racetrack

From the archives, May 2005 | A decade ago, we were avid mountain bikers. One of our favorite places to go was Moab, the center of all things slickrock and an amazing place to ride. Our group of friends rented a house in town for a week, and did nothing but ride bike.

Moab also had the benefit of being close to "our" uncle (he's Dave's uncle, but I claim him, too), who lives in western Colorado. When we could, we'd take a couple of days off and go for a visit, or see him on our way home.

When Dee wasn't working as a postmaster, he raised Thoroughbred racehorses. On a remote part of his farm he had a track bulldozed, just a short jog from the barn. Each morning, the trainer would ride each horse from the ranch out to the track for a workout. One morning Dave and I drove out a bumpy dirt road to watch the gallops. We climbed up one of the adobe hills, and pulled up a piece of dirt. This gorgeous, big Quarter horse was dwarfed by the adobe cliffs behind the track.

I loved this grey gelding, and wish I'd taken him home with me.


Surrounded by trees...

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness
- John Muir

From the archives, November 2011 | The northern slope of Tiger Mountain above the tiny mill town of Preston, the morning after (and during) the first snowfall of the season. Cottonwood and alder and maple merge into the evergreens like a green and gold crazy quilt, and where the trees disappear into the clouds, it's snowing.