A walk through an open space park in the Green River valley with my Aussie relatives today. We walked, and waded into the blackberry patches to eat ripe berries, and climbed a wildlife viewing tower that was seriously creepy for the height-challenged. But the coolest thing was when DW spotted this beautiful dragonfly, one we've never seen before. It looks a lot like the 12-spotted skimmer that's found on the east coast. Beautiful, isn't it?


Sources of creativity...

My handwritten journal entries have had a common action item the past few weeks: bring Electric | Journal up to date.

I don't know why it's been so hard to keep it going lately. I'm taking lots of photographs, and I get out every day for a walk and a geocache, and we've done a few long weekend trips to explore. There have been so many new places to explore, and people to watch. But that spark to write about what I see, that's been missing lately.

I think it all comes down to the source of my creativity. Lately, when I'm home, writing isn't what I need. What I need is quilting.

But the spark will be back. It's been part of me since I was a kid, and I know it won't be gone long.


The weekend starts on Tuesday...

One thing I love about retirement is that the word "weekend" has no meaning anymore. Saturday and Sunday are just two days of the week. In fact if anything, they have a negative meaning now. They are days to avoid if we want to head out and do anything.

Caching trips and photography trips are best on those five days in the middle of the week, sandwiched by Sunday and Saturday, when most folks are at work. And this week was no exception. With three days free in the middle, we hatched a plan to head north on the back roads toward Baker Lake, up on the North Cascades highway, then to Bellingham for a couple of nights.

The day was filled with lots of geocache challenges to find, logging roads to explore, wildflowers to photograph, and views to appreciate. And then a relaxing evening at our favorite brewpub over a pint of Cabin Fever, then a Reuben sandwich and Caesar salad.


Nine pounds...

Is it possible to have a nine-pound backpack for a weekend trip into the mountains? There's actually such a packing list, but I have to say I'm skeptical. Sleeping bag, half of a tent, pack, stove, freeze-dried food, ultralight cook pot and bowl, a change of clothes, a rain jacket (you never go into the mountains in the PNW without rain gear), a fly rod and reel, and a dSLR camera. That should about do it. I know that nine pounds is impossible. But I know my recently sprained ankle will thank me for having the lightest pack possible.

I'll try for fifteen pounds.



New boots...

Last month while hiking in an area that was once full of active coal mines, my Lowa hiking shoes gave up the ghost. The sole of one detached from the toe and just flopped around. Dave pulled a long piece of parachute cord off his pack and we jury-rigged a strap to hold it in place, then walked the mile or so back to the trailhead. The cord slipped and slid, and in the end, I walked holding the ends of the cord and pulling my foot up. Very awkward, but it got me back to the Pilot.

I thought about making do with my old (1972) leather REI hiking boots, which are still comfortable but weigh about four pounds. An hour of walking around the house in these 1973 boots convinced me to look for something modern. In the end, I chose hiking shoes made by Keen. DW bought a pair last year and loves them, and I love the tread and stiff soles, and the high arch nestles right up into my equally high arch. Instantly comfortable. I can hardly wait to take them hiking.

On the way home we stopped in at REI, and as we headed for the door with our small bottle of boot waterproofing, we paused to look at a tent set up in the entrance. It's an oblong dome style, mostly mesh with a rain fly, a door on each long side, and a pair of vestibules. Tempting... So once at home, we checked tent reviews and measured our old Eureka Timberline tent. It isn't a lot bigger than the old tend, but what sold it for me is the side doors (we can both come and go without disturbing each other), and the vestibules (for pack and boots). So after a few hours of thought, we ordered one.

We'll be testing out a lot of new gear on our upcoming pack trip!



Before leaving the show yesterday, I walked around with my camera and took pictures of some of my favorite quilts, color combinations, and quilting designs. There were so many quilts to love. I especially liked how people embellished their quilts, with embroidery and tiny buttons. Of all the beautiful quilts, I liked the small quilts the best.



There are definite advantages to working a quilt show. 

You get to see all the quilts before anyone else. You get to talk with the vendors and the people working the booths before they get overwhelmed with customers. 

And you get to buy raffle tickets and get them into the jar early, when the odds are the best.

And me, who never wins anything, actually won! I picked a small wicker picnic basket (which will be perfect for the trunk of the MX-5),which came with a complete stack of 42 Moda fat quarters... in my favorite colors.


On display...

Last March I joined a quilt guild, my first. Then I joined another. It's such a pleasure to spend time with other people who share my interest in quilting. Today we're setting up for the annual quilt show which starts tomorrow. I didn't have a specific job, but got there early in hopes of being able to hang the quilt entries. That worked out well!

My favorite spot was the display of antique quilts and sewing machines, and all the crocheted aprons, pot holders, and doll clothes strung across the top. My mom made a lot of potholders, and wore them out to threads. But there were a few to keep, and I buy them when I can in thrift and antique stores.

The show starts tomorrow, and I'll be here early to shop in the bazaar... there are fabric pre-cuts in my favorite colors for just a couple of dollars.


Rail trail with a view...

There's a mountain in there... really. But today it never showed its face. So as we walked the railroad grade south to Enumclaw, I had to be content with pastures and woods, hedges and barns, and the occasional cow (or herd of cows). It was a perfect day for a hike, and a couple of dozen geocaches. And a burger and a beer at The Mint afterwards.


Backpacking and fly fishing...

The backpack trip plans are coming together, three days with DWs siblings and their families. We've been trying on our packs and trying to figure out how the heck to get that in there? And we have a new tent!

There will be event t-shirts, and fly fishing, and hiking out to find our daily geocache, and learning how to outsmart bears (and cougars) who might want to eat our food. And singing around the campfire and falling asleep next to the river, under a canopy of stars.

I can hardly wait!



We found a hidden neighborhood above Maple Valley today, full of really nice big homes on large lots. It gave us access to trails that run all the way to the bluff overlooking the valley and the river. Some of the trails are old roads; maybe dating back to when the area was dotted with coal mines. We had quite a nice morning of hiking there.

Once home, I went to Trader Joe's then went downstairs to quilt. DW mowed the fencelines in the front pasture, then mowed several wide paths to give me access to the tansy (and the blackberries once they're ripe). When I finished pulling tansy, I pruned blackberries and looked for branches to build a rustic fence like the one in my sister's garden.

We finished up a tiring but satisfying day with dinner at the Irish pub in Kent, fish & chips and an IPA. A relaxing time, until the very loud (and drunk) 20-something brunette arrived with a group of friends. Fortunately, we were done eating, and could leave. The wait staff and bartender looked like they wished they could leave, too.


A haven for ducks...

We discovered the prettiest park today, on the west hill above our town. This ridge is dotted with small lakes, most surrounded by homes and cabins. This lake, though, is a park. It's wooded on one side, grassy on the other, and has a network of trails to stroll. There's even a rickety boardwalk and bridge that spans a narrow neck of the lake. It says "Danger, do not cross" but we did anyway. I'm guessing it's because the bridge is awash when the lake level is high, but today it was high and dry.

This small cove to one side of the lake is a haven for ducks... and water lilies.

It looks like a good place for fly fishing, with a broad beach for a backcast, and quiet water for a float tube, and a lot of insects.



A horrible attempt at making raspberry oatmeal bars for DW, who has been asking for them for weeks now. The preserves from fresh raspberries didn't work at all; wish I'd used store-bought jam. I ended up with a nice batch of runny sauce; maybe I'll buy another container of raspberries to crush up and mix into it. Or a jar of jam to stir into it. Anything to get it thick. Tomorrow I'll deal with that.

Late morning I started another little quilt, tiny blocks with a diagonal strip down the middle.
We walked the Soos Creek trail this afternoon, then did a cache in Fairwood, then home for chicken and our favorite cabbage soup.

While I watched tv with Dave, I pulled fabrics from two jelly rolls for a couple of quilt kits. It turned into a late night for me... I just couldn't stop playing with fabric!



I haven't written in Electric | Journal recently, and I'm nearly a month behind. I have taken my camera out and about more, and we had a great mini-holiday in Oregon last week. Lots of geocaching, lots of photography, and lots of exploring some new back roads. But I do feel bad about turning my back on my blog.

My days have returned to something approaching a routine. The early morning is for sewing, with a mug of tea by the machine, and a cat stretched out in the windowsill. Once DW gets up, I cook oatmeal and we have breakfast, maybe watch a bit of television, catch up on e-mail, and I read my friends' blog posts from the previous day.

In the afternoon, I bring up a stack of quilt blocks to pin, and the next morning I sew. It's become a comfortable routine, something I've been craving for a while now.

The quilt I'm working on now will go up on the wall in the living room, I think. The center of the quilt top is done (after a lot of struggle getting the star blocks to play nicely with the 4-patch blocks). I just need to choose fabrics for the narrow and wide borders and get them attached, then I'm ready to start hand quilting. I think the colors will be perfect with the area rug and the new chairs.


Taking stock...

An armload of new books from the library, then a long wander through Costco where we found two new comfy chairs to replace our aging sofa. Getting the chairs home from the store was far easier than figuring out how to get the 34-year-old sofa out the front door and into the bed of our even older GMC pickup, but we finally managed it. It was sad to see it go, but I love how the new chairs open up space in the living room.

After dinner and before the light faded, I pulled on boots and walked the pastures, checking on the blackberries and orchard trees. It will be hard to find berries this year, but the pear and plum and apple trees are loaded with fruit.


I should, but...

It's been a common refrain lately. There are things to do at home, but there are hikes to do and caches to find, and views to chase with the camera. Today over breakfast I suggested going over the pass to do a string of challenge caches high up above Lake Kachess, and see what else we can find. So that's what we did.

It was cloudy today, so there weren't any wonderful views. the last time we headed up this road, we didn't get far before being turned back by deep snow. The snow is gone now, and we were able to drive all the way to the Rampart Ridge trailhead, one of our favorite hikes. Today we didn't do any hiking, just stopped to enjoy the wildflowers and the views before working our way back down to I-90 and home.


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're on the last leg of our little road trip, and will be home tonight. This morning, after a big breakfast, 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.