Today was an easy day... which I felt was deserved, after five days of hiking. I slept in (until 7:00) and looked out the windows at the yard (and the weeds that just won't stop sprouting), did a little bit of quilting, and caught up with blog posts and photo editing.

My list of things to do keeps getting longer, but I just can't keep out of the woods and off the trails. Is there anything better than letting your feet take you exploring in a new place?



Today we hiked again near Cedar Mountain, and bushwhacked through acres of blackberry brambles and young maple trees. We climbed up rotten stumps and overgrown piles of logging slag. I ruined a pair of jeans.

All in the name of finding a geocache. A very sneaky, tough, geocache.

I was decidedly prickly after two hours of searching. Maybe not as prickly as the stalks and leaves of this Devil's Club, but close.

Hot and tired and prickly, but we found the cache.


Little quilts...

It was my turn for an early morning. I was wide awake at 5:00, so when Madison hopped down, I got up and dressed, and took my mug of tea down to the quilting studio. I finished this little Lincoln Logs quilt top before noon, and I just love the border fabric. I bought this fishing motif fabric maybe twenty years ago, and it's nice to have found the perfect project for it.

We finished the day with a short hike around the powerline trails, then came home to cabbage soup plus shared my leftover Reuben sandwich from the Sidetrack. It was just as good the second day.



My back is getting better, and I felt good enough to grab a hiking pole and go for a walk in the woods with DW. The trails around Cedar Mountain have been our destination for the past couple of weeks, and it's been fun to explore new territory, especially an area so close to home. We walked and cached and looked at the wildflowers, and as we climbed to the top of the mountain, it started to rain. The lowering clouds and rain blocked any view today; hopefully the next hike will be on a sunny day. We pulled on our raincoats and took a different route back to the trailhead, but really didn't need them. The dense woods kept the rain from making it to the ground.

A BLT and a cold Irish Death finished out our day. When we stopped at the mailbox to get the mail, I looked down the hill over the pasture. There was so much water vapor in the air, it looked like fog.



My favorite kind of day. Breakfast with DW and Madison. Time spent quilting. Puttering around the house, and walking the garden with my camera. Meeting my sister-in-law and her husband for dinner. Talking and laughing and catching up.

Simple days are the best.


Flying solo...

We headed different directions today. I headed west, looking for caches, and running errands, and on the way home, decided to take a detour to drive past my old college. Not sure why I felt the urge to do this, and I was shocked to see how much it's grown. This narrow road once led to the north side of campus, which was hidden from view behind a thick stand of trees. The campus has jumped the road, and spawned a new set of buildings, and the trees are gone. Sad.

While DW cleaned the driveway with his new pressure washer, I chopped vegetables for soup, then pressed the blocks I hand-pieced last night. I'm almost finished with the starburst blocks; maybe tomorrow.


Birthday boy...

A 3-point buck and a doe spent the afternoon in our pasture

A day of projects and errands, a few geocaches, and a long walk on the trail. We finished up the day at our favorite not-so-local pub in Enumclaw, the Yella Beak. It's kind of a civilized biker bar, with great food and friendly people, and it was DW's choice for where to have his birthday dinner.


A field of weeds...

Even weeds are beautiful, in the right place, in the right light.


Cottage garden

In the late spring, I always know when there's going to be a change in the weather. We get a week of brilliant sunshine and the peony buds swell before my eyes. I count the buds, and the anticipation is almost more than I can stand.

And just as those gorgeous flower heads grow heavy and start to open up, the weather changes. The warm, sunny days turn cloudy, and a big storm blows in from the coast, and it rains. It pours down rain. And it always has, as long as I've had peonies in the garden.

The rain collects in those gorgeous flower heads, and they slowly sink to the ground. I shake them off, and stake the plants, but usually I just start cutting them and bringing them inside to dry off and finish opening up.

A lot of my favorite perennials come into bloom with the peonies: bluebells, white and blue speedwell, purple iris and columbine. I stuff vases with flowers and sprigs of lemon balm, and the scent fills the house.

My oldest peonies are more than 20 years old, and each year they produce more and more buds. Fairy's Petticoat grows in a border by the patio. It's a beautiful pale pink with extravant fragrance, with huge blooms that slowly turn white. Nick Shaylor grows in a corner by the garage, where I pass by every day. Its pink blooms start out with red edges, then slowly fade to a soft pink. It has 34 buds on it this year, a new record.

I love everything about peonies. The wonderful fragrance. The way they open slowly, from tight little buds an inch across, into huge, extravagant blooms.

Kansas was a slow starter; it had one or two blooms for years, until we had to take out a huge fir tree that shaded the garden for much of the day. The next year, it had six blooms, and this year there are more than a dozen. I love the bright carmine red of this peony.

This is my favorite part of the cottage garden, which has been neglected so far this year. But the foxglove and the speedwell and the iris are in bloom, the bright orange poppies will bloom for another month, and there's still a carpet of forget-me-not's. (And if you look closely, you'll see a couple of stray blackberry vines; every time I cut them out, they're back within a week. I swear!)

My only peony failure is that I planted into a big pot, and it has never bloomed. I don't even remember the variety or color. I know that peonies hate to be transplanted, but I think it's time to take desperate measures! Maybe I'll get lucky, and it will finally bloom.


Yellow and blue...

I found a patch of forget-me-not's in a shady corner, where the buttercups have threatened to take over. It seems as though whenever I find time to work in the yard, it rains. And as much as I love being a Northwest girl, gardening in the rain just isn't something I'm willing to do.

I thought this would be the year I'd bring the gardens back into shape. It's been years since I've added any new plants, and I'd really like to do that. But getting things established means being close to home, especially in the summertime. The rest of the year I don't worry so much, because we usually get regular rainfall. But having to be close to home to water the garden puts a damper on travel plans. And I love the freedom to be spontaneous, to take a long road trip, to explore.


What we don't see...

This leaf caught my eye recently, on a walk in the woods. I only noticed the spiky branch later, when I ran the photography through Photoshop to add my web page title to it. Just goes to show that what we don't see at first may well end up being the most interesting element of the picture.


Northwest green...

I don't like to manipulate my photographs, unless something drastic needs to be done. When the color is just what I remember, and the composition is what suits me, I leave it strictly alone.

This canopy of green is alongside a trail in the beautiful Lake Sylvia State Park near Montesano. I especially loved the big shamrocks (and not a 4-leaf clover to be seen).


Spotted teal...

Our annual road trip: from the cabin to Port Townsend, and home down the west side of the canal. A long, beautiful day of hiking and exploring, picking up a few geocaches, and taking a few pictures along the way.

While walking through one of my favorite old state parks on Hood Canal, I spotted this small bird's nest on the ground under a huckleberry bush.


At the lake...

Finally, we found the time to make it out to our lakeside cabin for a few days. Madison came with us, her first car ride since we brought her home last winter. All of our cats spent time at the cabin, and they were different there. Just like we use the cabin to relax and dump the stress, I think our cats are more relaxed there, too.

We unloaded and hauled the Adirondack chairs to the deck, popped open a couple of cold beers, and dipped chips into salsa. And enjoyed the sun on the water, the bright blue sky, and watching the fishermen trying their luck. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the water was choppy most of the afternoon. But eventually the bugs drove us off the deck and away from a beautiful evening... with a now-calm lake and the sun going down.


Unexpected places...

A forgotten trail along the river is only used by fishermen these days, and that's a shame.


Some alone time...

I woke to a perfect, beautiful spring day... and that made even more glad I decided to take a day to myself. DW headed off to a family barbecue; I headed off on a road trip, getting away for some time to myself, and some time at a favorite quilt shop that may be closing its doors. The gardens were in full sun when I got home, so I took pictures instead of pulling weeds, then pulled up my favorite lawn chair and read.


By hand...

I spent a happy few hours in the sewing room today, finishing up a small quilt. It's one of a dozen or so kits I've put together over the past couple of months. Every piece in it came from my scrap bins and from fat quarters I've had for years, and some of these fabrics have been in my sewing room for years. 

I had so much fun doing this, once I made the first kit, I didn't want to stop. So I chose more patterns and fabrics, and bundled each one together with the instructions. 

Just like a quilt store. 

But all for me. 

Some will be wall hangings or table toppers, and some are big enough for lap quilts for cold winter evenings. I like that I used up so many scraps of fabric, and freed up so much room. For more fabric.

When possible, I plan to hand quilted the small ones; they'll be perfect projects to take to the cabin, and on our summer road trips.


New friends...

Today was a few hours editing photographs, and a few more in the yard, collecting prunings for the burn pile, and digging out the perennial borders. Then I went off with a friend to our first quilt guild meeting. An art quilter came to speak, and to show some of her original designs. 

This is a close-up of the border of one of her small quilts, with free-motion machine quilting, curved seams, hand-pieced four-patch blocks, and hand embroidery accents. I loved this quilt, and wished I'd made it. Just those small touches of embroidery elevated the quilt beyond beautiful.


Not soft at all...

We went bushwhacking today, up an overgrown trail through woods of huge maple trees and cedars, and everywhere, these small bushy spruce trees. The first time I brushed past one, it felt like being stabbed with a hundred needles. Looks so soft and cuddly. Not so much.



Madison's post-bath washing, which with her fur coat, takes a couple of hours. Then she'll sleep for another couple of hours. I love her furry feet!

Sleep came hard last night; long naps, however lovely, don't do much to help me get a good night's sleep. I pulled out my tablet and watched quilting videos. Then tried again to sleep. Then pulled out the tablet again. Sigh...

Dave stayed up way too late, so he was in the same shape I was when we got up at 8:00. So I suggested we take the wee red MX-5 to breakfast at a favorite spot in Enumclaw, which included homemade molasses cookies. They make them every morning, and pass them around to their customers. Nice, yes?

Anyway, our great start to the morning led to geocaching in Buckley and Wilkeson, lots of back roads with the top down on a beautiful day. But we finally had to point the car toward home.

Where I turned my back on all that yard work, and took a long nap.



One of those "right place, right time" shots. We drove in, DW said, "Oh, look!" and I was out of the Pilot with camera in hand before he even stopped the car.


A not-so quiet day

I was up by 7:00, after listening to a lot of chiming cycles from the clock in the living room. It was sunny and bright outside the windows, and I wasn't remotely hungry after our late dinner last night. So, I thought I'd get an early start in the garden. I made a mug of lemon tea and checked the thermometer. Oh... 41 degrees. Maybe I'll wait a bit for the sun to warm things up!

So I worked in the quilting studio this morning, and hung the new hummingbird feeders, and got Madison set up to watch them from her tower. She was enthralled.

Finally I made it outside into the sunshine, where I pulled weeds, and edged, and moved landscape boulders, and dug through sod that's been thriving for a couple of decades. I thought about the quilt I'm making, and the quilt guild I just joined, and the plans for the summer. And about friends coming to visit, and my eldest sister who is coming this summer, and how beautiful this place is... and how much I love it.

After Dave finished mowing, we went for a short hike, and finished the day at Hop Jacks at Four Corners, where I had the best Cobb salad ever.