Mosquitoes in the outhouse...

It's been raining hard here, and today the wind is blowing. A fire in the woodstove keeps the chill off, and I watched the rain on the lake. We received news from a dear friend; her mother is dying. The dreary, cold day punctuated the sad news.

Overnight the rain on the metal roof pattered and bounced, making the cabin feel cozy and safe. The dozen Mergansers are stretched out in a line; you can barely see the opposite shore.

We brought out a stack of books to read, and I stitched Christmas ornaments, and reveled in the quiet. Madison prowled for hours, then settled on the folded quilt right next to me. It's the closest she's come to being a lap cat, and I like that she showed this affection here at the cabin, the place I love so much.


First light...

Overnight the weather changed. A pre-dawn run to the outhouse under a blanket of stars made me smile, and gave me hope for the day.


Bird count...

Some things I can't help counting. Stairs I climb, especially when I'm carrying my own luggage. Books I've read, so I can share favorite authors and stories with family and friends.

At the cabin, I watch the birds. Each year since we bought our cabin there, it seems like new species have passed through, maybe spending only a few days on their way to elsewhere, maybe staying the whole season. Eagles and ospreys are always around. So are owls. I rarely see them, but I hear them at night, calling outside the window. Ducks and geese change from year to year.

I started keeping a list next to my binoculars, especially those times when there were so many birds on the water, it's hard to remember them all.


Giving thanks...

We are on our own this year for Thanksgiving. I can't even remember the last time we didn't spend Thanksgiving with one or the other of our families. Usually all of DWs family gathers at one of DWs sister's houses; they're the only ones with a house big enough for all of us. But this year, Mike & Karen are in Hawaii, and Mary and her family are spending the holiday weekend at their cabin. The rest of us are on our own.

But it gave me an idea: why not spend Thanksgiving weekend at our cabin? And that was the plan, until the weather turned so soggy and awful. So instead, we'll wait for the weather to clear a bit, then go out in a few days, and take Madison with us. We still need to close up the cabin for the winter, and there are caches to be done on the Peninsula.

I will miss seeing the family, but there is much to be thankful for this season. Health and happiness, family and friends, and a wee cat named Madison.



It seems to be a pattern lately... I'll be working on a project, with an end goal in sight. Then the "what if?" happens. Today, it was these embroidered stars, which were destined to become pincushions. But instead, I think I'll make two more, and piece them together into a Christmas wall hanging.

It seems to be a trend lately, that nothing is ever locked into a single path... that anything can become even better with a bit of imagination.



They started out as crazy pieced coasters, oversized to fit any mug or bowl, and hand quilted. But on the way to being finished, they ended up as pincushions instead. Funny how that happens. These are going to a holiday bazaar at the church that hosts one of my quilt guilds, to raise money for the guild for 2017.



Turning discarded wool clothing into felt for projects has been a deeply satisfying experience. Working with quilting cottons for so many years, I've forgotten the softness and texture and rich colors of wool, how it drapes and holds a shape, how lovely it is to work with.

I've found wool sweaters and skirts at thrift stores, and have also dug into my box of leftover bits of wool from skirts, jackets, and slacks that I made a few decades ago. And a project for January and February, once we get snow and have settled down in the farmhouse for the winter, will be to dismantle a few old outgrown sports coats, so I can turn this soft beautiful wool into felt for applique.


The weekend...

Good friends in our guest room, dinner and wine from around the world, and cherry pie for breakfast. Lots of talk and sharing, photos from a French holiday, and brunch with our circle of good friends. Crab and oysters and eggs benedict and bacon for breakfast. Yummy!

It was sort of an adult's "What did you do on your summer vacation?" get-together, a chance to catch up with everyone, these friends we haven't seen since last spring. There's a baby on the way, and plans for bike rides in the works, new bikes to replace ones stolen in a home robbery (which is a real downer), holiday party invitations, and some sad news as well. But we ended on a good note, with plans to get together again soon, and celebrate the good in everyone's lives. I'm looking forward to that.



It wasn't exactly my kind of hike, but sometimes a closed road is the only trail to get you where you need to go.

    The double yellow was my trail today.

The road to Sunrise is gradually being closed down for the winter. You can't get up to the lodge any more, or even to the "big bend" where you can see three of the four major peaks in the Washington Cascades: Rainier, Adams, and Baker. From the closed gate by the White River campground, we only need to hike up about a mile to get to the earthcache we want to do before they close the road completely.

It's up, up, unrelentingly uphill. So I just put my head down and walked the yellow line, stopping occasionally to take a photo, and check out the view back toward Mt. Rainier. And sometimes I looked down at my feet, to the beautiful signs of autumn.

    A mushroom in the shape of a hard hat

   Wild strawberries turning crimson

The earthcache was all about the Osceola mudflow, which 5600 years ago took the top of Mt. Rainier and carried it down the mountains all the way to Puget Sound. This account gives me the shivers every time I read it:

"This was a catastrophic event, possibly triggered by a small eruption. About one cubic mile of hydrothermally altered rock collapsed as a giant landslide. It took the summit of the mountain, along with part of the northeast flank and the overlying glaciers, racing downwards toward Puget Sound, through the White and Green river valleys, reaching as far as Kent, 70 miles away. Moving an estimated 45 to 60 miles per hour, it covered 212 square miles with mud, rocks and trees, possibly as deep as 300 feet, and destroyed everything in its path."

The mudflow is visible today in various places, including the road cut on the way up to Sunrise. That's it behind me.

At the last corner, a huge cottonwood tree grew. High on the ridge, nowhere near water, it somehow took root and thrived. It was glorious in bright yellow, shining in the morning sun.

We headed back down the hill, glad to be going downhill. Just up WA-410 there's a place to pull off and see Mt. Rainier, standing at the head of the White River valley.moved on, heading toward Tipsoo Lake, we stopped to look at the mountain, with snow blowing off the top.

But by far the best view of my favorite mountain is from the highway just before the top of Chinook Pass, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses over the road. In early summer, the meadows are full of wildflowers, and in the fall the bushes turn to gold and the lake swells from runoff. There's already been snow there, and soon the road will close until late spring.



Another sign of fall... campgrounds and roads near Mt. Rainier start closing down, so they don't have to be maintained during the snowy season. It's frustrating for us, because we like to hike until the snow comes, and many trails are already out of reach.

La Wis Wis is one campground we wanted to visit before winter, and the road is already closed. So we decided to get up at first light (and before breakfast) and walk in. It's a short walk, only a half mile or so from the road. And downhill. Oh, joy... I'd much rather climb on the walk in, and have the downhill on the way out.

As soon as we got to the campground though, I'd forgotten all about that hike back to the highway. This is a beautiful, historic place with buildings made from logs, huge Western Red Cedar trees, and a crystal-clear stream that flows right through the picnic area.

The leaves are nearly down from the trees, making a thick carpet on the ground.

Before we started the long hill back to the highway, we walked over to see the original ranger station that's being restored to the original blueprints from 1937.

In spite of the early hour, and the cold morning, and the unceasing rain... I was glad we made the effort to hike to this beautiful place. And I was never more ready for breakfast.



The light on this tiny alpine lake was amazing today. We scrambled down the hillside and bushwhacked our way to the trail, and followed it to a bird-watching blind. It's a good time of year to watch for migrating birds, but the lake was bare today.

I was glad of the ... the reflections were worth it. All too soon the snow will fly up here in the mountains, and I won't be able to get here until next summer. So every nice day we can, we head for the hills.



    I think maple leaves just might be the prettiest shape in nature

We woke to a steady downpour of rain, but an alert on my phone reminded me that today is the only day this month that the historical museum in Maple Valley is open. First though, breakfast. Testy Chef had a line out the door, but we snagged seats at the counter 'cause no one else wanted them. I love counter seats... you can watch the chef cook, and chat with the staff. We've been regulars here since they opened the doors, but it's the first time we've sat at the counter.

It's still raining. Sigh...

But we still need to find a cache today, and we're still slightly wet from being outside before breakfast. So we went for a walk on the Lake Wilderness trail, and got even wetter. But I came home with a bundle of huge maple leaves and some photos... not bad for such a day.


Ghost leaves...

We walked the deep woods high above the White River today, beneath towering trees, accompanied by a stream running full from all the rain we've had lately. Before we left for the next trail near Crystal Mountain, I aimed my camera at a path full of decaying leaves, fading to nothing on the wet trails, holding onto shape and color, layer upon layer of them... slowly sinking into the ground.