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.


Tacos, thunder, and rain...

I trimmed the small 9-patch blocks and put them up on the design wall, where I can shuffle them around until I'm satisfied with the layout. I took the star blocks upstairs with me, to pin while watching Grey's Anatomy. These blocks are a nightmare to get lined up; maybe it's time to stop making stars and go on to a different block.

I set out the t-shirt information to the family, and started getting ready for a trip to Oregon next week for some hiking and geocaching. Just in case there's time, I made a list of quilt shops to add to my phone. It's always fun to visit new quilt shops.

Late afternoon, we went for a walk on the Soos Creek trail, then went to the Sidetrack for taco night. Soft tacos for $1.25, can't beat that.

Once home again, I worked on the star quilt in front of the tv for a while, then we heard it: thunder booming in the distance, moving ever closer. Lightning, thunder, rain all around us... it was a very cool show. Maddie was sound asleep on the sofa, so I pulled her into my arms and she slept there for 45 minutes, which is a record for this little bundle of energy. I went to bed to read, and opened the windows to listen to the storm, but it had passed east, toward the Cascades.


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.


The good in the day...

Cutting my nails too short, then realizing how thin it makes my fingers look. That my long brown hair has just a bit of gray. Dancing at Emily's graduation party. Singing the oldies with Karen and Mary and Jessica. Enjoying Leonetti merlot from Bruce's wine cellar. Talking with Val about art and the thrill of finding those special places to paint (or photograph). That my farmhouse is 93 years old this year. And that Madison at nearly one year, still loves to play.



June has been a month of unconnected days, of waking up thinking, "What shall we do today?" No planning other than a few appointments, just following our noses (which some days led us no further than the living room).

The weather has followed suit... hot sunny days followed by misty rainfall, enough to keep the gardener in me just a bit off balance. The result is some perennial beds that are overgrown with things that don't belong, and others that are manicured and tidy. The orchard trees, with suckers pruned in early April, are full of tiny orbs: red apples and green pears, yellow plums and purple Italian prunes.

In my mind I see them in full ripeness and color, but today they're tiny and green, hiding among the leaves.


Back seat...

    Beaver pond near Koeneman Lake

My camera has taken a back seat to just about everything else lately. Instead I've been quilting, and hiking, and trying to find time to work in the garden when it isn't soggy (which has been hard the past week).

I've gotten out of the habit of carrying my Nikon with me wherever I go, relying instead on my camera phone. But it's just not the same.

I feel different when I have the weight of my big camera in my hands. That I'm doing more than just capturing a brief moment, but instead thinking and focusing and looking for the story. Letting the lens show me the best image, not settling for the first good shot. Changing settings and trying different things, in search of the best photograph.

So my promise for the week, and from now on, is to make sure the Nikon is always with me.

Even if I'm just going downstairs to work on a quilt.



Yesterday's sore throat is heading straight toward the inevitable: losing my voice. I finished reading my current book, and took a long nap at noon. It was 90 degrees when I got up, hot enough that the deck scorched DWs feet when he went out barefoot. Mike dropped off the pasture sprayer; the nearly two acres that we mow need some TLC this summer. First up, herbicide before the weeds go dormant. It will be the first time for that in a couple of decades; DW always said he hated to encourage the grass to grow any faster than it already does. (Mowing the grass is not one of his favorite things to do.)

We're both wilting in the heat, and decided to wait for it to cool down before we head off to find a cache. So I went back to bed for another nap. When it dropped to a tolerable 88 degrees, we picked an easy cache near home. No hiking for either of us today.

Not in any hurry to head home to a hot farmhouse (or to even think about cooking), we decided that BLT's sounded good. Just around the corner was a place that has been around since high school, with great food and cold beer. Not a bad way to end a hot summer day.


Foot traffic only...

Our day started and ended in Olympia, with the in-between taken on back roads and trails, hiking to a few geocaches, and to a beautiful lake on Key Peninsula. We didn't even know this one existed; a signpost across from a public landing on another lake gave it away. We grabbed our packs and walking sticks and headed up the steep hill through the woods. The trees gave way to a clear-cut full of foxgloves in full bloom, then plunged back into woods again.

We crossed a creek on a footbridge someone made by laying boards on top of a log jam... a bit creepy but stable enough. If I'd hiked in my Keens I would just have waded the creek. Up one more steep hill and a turn to the right, and there was the lake. Crystal clear and full of fish (and mosquitos!), it was beautiful. We sat on the shore and ate a snack, and watched the fish rise. I wish we'd brought our fly rods; wonder if we could hike in with float tubes?

The best thing, though, was this beautiful marsh created by a beaver dam. It was full of birds and choked with dead trees, and the water reflected the deep blue sky.

We ended the day at Fish Tale Brewing in Olympia, sandwiches and an IPA, talking about our day, and where the next adventure will take us.


Simple (disjointed) days...

A disjointed day that started with a sleepless night, a few hours in front of the computer, writing and editing photos, then an escape to the basement to sort fabric and sew. Leaving the cool spaces of my sewing room for the hot sunshine was a bit of a shock in the mid-afternoon. A couple of geocaches, then home to change clothes to meet DWs sister and brother-in-law for dinner.


In six months...

Madison has grown from kitten to cat, but still hasn't grown into her feet. She tops the scale at just over 12 pounds, and is still growing. Her tail looks like it belongs on a squirrel, and she carries it straight up in the air. Her hair is so thick, you can't see her skin. She can finally jump up onto her cat tower without having to first jump onto a chair... pretty soon she'll figure out she can jump up on the counters; yikes! She sleeps at the foot of the bed, and gets up two or three times a night to check to make sure we're still there. She's changed from a medium-hair cat to a long-haired cat, with long hair between her toes and guard hairs down her back. Her eyes are still amber and green.

Six months ago today, this sweet kitten came home to our house. Everyone thought Maine Coon, but we're pretty sure she's a Siberian. Which don't stop growing until they're five years old. Oh my.


Hide and seek, anyone?

We hiked Cedar Mountain again today, to pick up a few finals and just to get out in the woods again. It will be hot again, so we went early, and the morning light was beautiful.