The wonderful chaos that is family...

Family weekend at the lake... I love these weekends! My niece and nephew and their families came late afternoon, and as soon as we unpacked and stowed the food, we all headed for the lake. The neighbors just got a new float delivered, which became the magnet for the kids. A canoe and a stand-up paddleboard, and a flotilla of inflatables, kept us all entertained.

My sister and brother-in-law arrived just after dark, in time to watch the blue moon rise over the lake. It was one of the most beautiful full moons I've ever seen, a spectacular, huge silver disk that shone through the trees, and glimmered in the lake.

Swimming lessons...

Geocaches on the way to the lake, a stop for cold beer, chairs on the deck, and kids laughing and yelling out in the lake. A very good start to a family weekend at the cabin.

By mid-afternoon it was 95 degrees, and I was longing for a swim. It was almost too warm to stay outside, then I saw horses at the public landing and ran for the camera. They splashed around for a half hour, and even got the grey Arab to go for a swim.



Surviving the heat...

I haven't spent much time writing lately, or taken my camera out for a walk. It's been too hot to do much of anything. I water the garden, and we've been doing a lot of geocaching, and we've gotten a lot done in the bathroom: patching sheetrock, digging out old caulk and replacing it, and wiring in a new outlet at the other end of the counter. I've nearly finished washing off the remains of the wallpaper glue, and if there's any chore I could have chosen for these hot days, this is it. It was heaven to rinse my sponge in cold water, over and over, for hours.

Things are going along just fine outdoors, without my help. The mulch I put down in the flowerbeds is keeping the weeds in check, for now. The birds clean out the feeders every few days, and the hummingbirds chase each other away from the nectar. The quail family raised seven chicks, and five of them survived. The blackberries are so good, already.

Today, my nephew and his family arrive from Tasmania, to begin a 3-month road trip through the American West, and into Canada. We'll celebrate their arrival with a weekend at the lake, and I'm looking forward to swimming and floating. There's nowhere I'd rather be on these hot summer days, than at our cabin.


Feeling a bit nostalgic...

We used to meet friends at The Dog & Pony after a long work week. It was always a bit of a dive, with limited parking and questionable decor. But the D&P had the best selection of beer on tap, and good food, and it was smack in the middle of where all of us worked. That made it the logical choice. But once our friends started to retire, or moved to other jobs, we gradually stopped coming.

Last week we drove past, and noticed the new paint job. Then we discovered it was the target of a Restaurant Impossible episode. This we've got to see! So after a hot day spent geocaching (we're still ignoring that bathroom!), we came here for a beer and dinner.

The regulars might miss the stained floor and mis-matched tables and chairs, the multi-colored paint and bits of wallpaper and stenciling, and the lack of stools at the bar. Not me. The place is as friendly as always, and now it looks good.


Back to the park

We haven't been to Pt. Defiance for years, and have already been here three times since April. I used to come here with a friend the summer after Green River, to ride bikes on the 5-Mile Road. Today we came to meet up with a couple of fellow geocachers, and helped find a new place for a missing geocache on this slide-prone hillside.

It was our second day at Pt. Defiance this week, and it's been easy to ignore the indoor chores (even the bathroom remodel), in favor of being outside in the woods, and walking on the beach. And geocaching.


Neighborhood pub...

It's a familiar statement of ours: Why isn't this in our neighborhood?

We say it about our favorite breakfast place (in Maple Valley), and our favorite brick-walled bar & grill (in Prosser), and our favorite winery (in Zillah).

We spent most of this hot day at Pt. Defiance Park, geocaching and hiking through the woods and walking on the beach. Afterwards, we looked for a place to have dinner, and found the Park Way Tavern. It's in my favorite neighborhood in Tacoma, streets full of old homes and shady trees, close to downtown but also close to the bluff that faces north, toward Puget Sound and Vashon Island.

We cooled off with a beer, and ordered burgers, and people watched for a couple of hours. The food was good, the beer list is long, and the place is full of charm and character. It definitely makes the list.

As we left, the sun was low and red, shining right down the street and lighting up the pavement.

What a great place to finish up the day.


The not-so-baby buck

This guy started hanging around the farm a couple of years ago, first with a small doe, and last year, all alone. His antlers in this mid-May photo are still velvet-covered.

Today I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I walked past the dining room windows. He was walking around under the big cedar tree that overhangs our patio. It's so shady and dark under there, I almost didn't see him. Later in the afternoon, when it was hot and sill, he and his mate took a snooze under the trees in the old orchard.

I'm always glad to see deer on our place, but I always wonder what my neighbors think. Two of my neighbors are avid gardeners: Lucy, who has planted every foot of her gorgeous acre lot, and Jim, who spends all his spare time working outside on his two-plus acres. Our other neighbor, who shares our long side and has horses and cattle (and exotic birds), doesn't mind when the deer visit.


On a hot summer day...

A black cat among roses, 
phlox, lilac-misted under a quarter moon,
the sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still.
It is dazed with moonlight,
contented with perfume...” 
― Amy Lowell

I have wilted in the heat, but the garden hasn't. Early this morning I pulled weeds and watered, then retreated to the house. After spending the afternoon in front of the fan, working on a quilt and writing, we headed out to find a few geocaches. We struck out on three level 5 caches (the most difficult), then hoped for dinner and a beer at the Milton. But after a very slow day, they closed early. So we went to another favorite spot, The Chalet in Puyallup. An Irish Death took care of the heat, and we had a late supper watching the colors of the sunset shining on Mount Rainier.


Finch for breakfast

We had a late breakfast at Mom's Kitchen this morning, and we were just finishing up our coffee when the waitress started laughing and pointing toward the door. I turned around and looked, just as a finch strolled through the door and right up to the counter.

When we left a few minutes later, she was happily munching on the fragments of a slice of bread. When we drove out, she was taking crumbs from the fingers of one of the customers.


Will it ever cool down?

We had a frustrating day, hunting for materials for our bathroom remodel. It was hot and tiring and at the end of the day, all we had to show for it was some some decisions. But that's something, I guess.

We headed for the Irish Pub in town, which we'd always intended to try. But when we walked up to the door, we found only a sign: "We've closed our doors, thanks for your business." Grrr...

So we ended up at the Airways Brewery for appetizers and icy cold beer. It was just what we needed.


More Ireland is coming...

It's been amazingly warm for June the past couple of weeks, so I've turned my back on the garden and outside chores. Instead, I've focused on things I can do while sitting in front of a fan, or in the wine cellar (always cool). I even rearranged my big freezer!

More fun was returning to the quilt that's been up on the design wall for more than a year. I've steadily finished blocks for this queen-sized sampler quilt, and only have seven more blocks to finish.

But our bathroom remodel beckons, and the weather has cooled down, so the garden needs me, too.

I will upload some photos from the past couple of weekends, but then for a few days, I won't be posting any new blogs or photos.

I'll catch up soon, I promise!


Green on green, with sheep

I've been thinking a lot about Ireland during this heat wave. While our grass dries up in the heat, I think about fields of green punctuated with white. I swear it cools me down, just a little.


Sun Top

Today was a two mountain day. A day of exploring around Mount Rainier National Park, with a small side trip toward Mount Adams.

The day was partly about escaping the heat by heading into the mountains, and partly about finishing up the 25 caches of the Rainier100 challenge. It was a perfect day.

We went to see the Wilkeson coke ovens, then drove up the Mowich Lake Road, something we haven't done in years. We did some hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, checked out an archeological site in a cave, and found a new-to-us waterfall.

But by far the best thing we did was drive to the end of the Sun Top lookout road. Oh, my... what a trip! The road climbs from WA-410 at the White River, up and up to the top of an old volcano, 3000+ feet above the valley. It's a spectacular, vertigo-inducing drive up, with the sky getting closer and the trees falling lower, until you come out on the last switchback at about 5300 feet. And there it is, The Mountain, right in your face just 15 miles away.

We drove up in the early evening, the day drowsy with the day's heat, but with the promise of cooling come nightfall. There is a 360 degree view from here, all the way to the Olympics and Mount Baker on a clear day (but not today because of haze).

We met the two ladies who are volunteer fire watchers for the next couple of nights, and got a tour of the lookout. There are bunks for three, windows on four sides, counters to hold a cook stove, and cooking pots. And a never-ending view.

Driving home, this experience was the only thing we could talk about. The amazing panorramic view, and the beautiful classic fire lookout. I can just picture what it would be like to stay here overnight. The deafening quiet. Watching the sun go down from 5300 feet, and the sun rising in the east the next morning. That endless view. And can you just imagine the star gazing?

Becoming a volunteer fire watcher here, or any of the fire lookouts, is definitely on my list!