First time...

She doesn't look it in this picture, but Madison took to her new harness like a duck to water, and loved sharing the deck with us. She's actually a lap cat at the cabin... maybe she's clinging to the familiar because being outside is all so new, but it doesn't matter. I'll take it.

Yesterday the weather pattern changed, and smoke from the B.C. wildfires started to move south into Washington. As we drove around the canal and explored the back roads, we could see the smoky haze hanging in the air. We didn't know it at the time, but the smoke would be with us for three weeks, hiding the sky and turning the rising and setting sun into great disks of red.


A cabin by a lake...

Taking this...

Gets me to this. A glorious four days at the cabin.

There will be pruning (a lot of pruning), replacing the storm collar on the chimney, repairing the steps to the lake, swimming, reading on the deck, playing with Madison, quilting, geocaching, and watching the eagle's nest across the lake. 

Twenty years ago this summer, we bought our first piece of property here. And a year later, we bought the cabin next door. In those twenty years, we've shared the place with family and friends, watched a lot of kids grow from babies to adults with kids of their own, watched beavers swim along the shore, and eagles and osprey fish in the lake. Six of our cats have come to the lake with us, curling up by the woodstove and sleeping on the bed, and occasionally catching a mouse. We've seen countless gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, thunderstorms that dumped sheets of rain and lit up the sky, and winter snows and a frozen lake. So many memories, such good times.

Summertime at the lake... heavenly days.


Just my style...

The past couple of days, I worked at my guild's annual quilt show. I am always in awe of the creativity that is on display these three days. I especially love the quilts that mirror my personal style, like this beautiful applique quilt. It was by far my favorite quilt this year.

The appliqued flowers caught my eye first, then the embroidery, and the embellishments. It's clever and whimsical and beautifully made, and the fabrics and colors are wonderful.

The quilt is the result of a class designed to teach machine embroidery, and each of the blocks showcased a different stitch. Once the class was over, the final task was to combine all the blocks into a finished quilt.

Although I think the finished quilt is a bit busy, and admit that maybe I would have assembled it differently, that's the fun thing about quilting: give ten people the same pattern, and you'll get ten different quilts.

I kept coming back to this quilt, to look more closely at the applique work and the flowers, and each time I noticed different details.

I've never done much applique work, but this quilt definitely inspires me to give it a try.


Along the river...

Just five of us at Material Girls today... we had such a fun morning, sewing and talking. We all met less than a year ago, and I feel like I've known these ladies for years.

Our meteor-watching chairs arrived; we're going to the top of Crystal Mountain next month for a high-mountain view of the best meteor shower of the year.

We walked along the Cedar River in the early afternoon, and discovered a beautiful pond, tucked between the river and the trail. When I was a kid, it was a thrill to see a train crossing the river on the old trestle here. And now the tracks are gone, and
I wished I'd brought my big-girl camera.

Home again, to dig up a volunteer wild rose that's way too prickly to keep, then spread wood chips on everything I've weeded the past few days. I quit when it got too hot, and escaped to the cool basement to sew. When the summer turns this warm, I'm so grateful for a daylight basement.



The wild and crazy style of a cottage garden has always appealed to me, especially since I moved into a 1923 farmhouse surrounded by pastures and orchards. I never considered another style when designing my perennial gardens.

This year the gardens grew way beyond my wildest dreams, with lush and vivid foliage and blooms. I weeded early and often, but other than that, really just kept my hands off and let them grow.

There's a lesson here...



Wildflowers are amazing, and in the month of July, truly spectacular. But sometimes simple green can be just as wonderful.



We took an early morning hike down to Sunrise Lake today, a steep downhill walk from the switchback viewpoint just downhill from Sunrise. This might just be the most stunning approach anywhere in Mount Rainier National Park. After the last switchback, it's a straight shot directly into the side of the mountain (or so it seems).

DW hiked this trail decades ago with friends, hiking past the Palisades and camping overnight in a meadow full of springs (and during the night, full of elk and wolves chasing the elk, a long and humourous story that I never tire of hearing). But today, we didn't go farther than the first lake.

I've been leery of this hike for years, because downhill all the way to the lake also means an uphill climb to get back out. But it really wasn't bad. There's just a bit of snow left on the trail, and on the hills that ring the lake. We had the trail to ourselves, found our earthcache, took a lot of photographs of the amazing reflections, and decided to walk clear around the lake before heading up.

From above, the lake is deep green. Down at the lake shore, it's a vivid blue that rivals the sky.


Let it be...

I have tried so many times over the years to grow columbines of pink and lavender and pale blue, and those beautiful bi-color plants of white with yellow or lavender. But somehow they always morph into this stunning dark purple.

So I have learned to let them be... to allow them to grow and bloom the way they want, and be happy with the result. They reward me by pushing their way out of the ground early each spring, growing into lush green mounds, and blooming steadily into early July.



It's the start of wildflower season, and it's looking like a great year for hunting the alpine wildflowers.

At a mile high near Mount Rainier National park, the bear grass, lupine, and paintbrush are in full bloom, in meadows free from snow for just about two weeks.


Dawn's early light...

The band of pink appeared around the horizon at 3:30 this morning. With nothing but windows between me and the horizon, it was impossible to miss. I was amazed at how much color was in the sky, so long before first light. I guess that's because my bunk is a mile high.

I looked out the window for a bit, then decided that with no clouds in the sky, the sunrise would be ho-hum, and I rolled over and went back to sleep.

DW woke me up at 4:45. "You're going to miss the sunrise," he said. I rolled over again, but knew that I'd regret it later if I didn't get outside with my camera. So I pulled on my sweatshirt and sandals, and went out into the light.

We're expecting a lot of people to come up today, to enjoy the view of the mountain, stay for a picnic, maybe go hiking. It's a great place to celebrate the 4th of July.

But for now, I'll take in the serenity and quiet of this special place, alone on top of a hill.



Today was our first day at Suntop. We left clouds and rain behind, and at a mile high, broke through the clouds to find sun and clear skies. A photographer walked up the trail to the lookout about an hour before color started showing in the sky. And it lingered on and on, well beyond last light. At 10:30, I was still walking around with my camera, looking for one last photograph.

This was the most magical sunset ever.

The setting sun lit up clouds in the Puget Sound lowlands like waves on the ocean

One of the lookout's original folding chairs from the 1930s



We're volunteering at Suntop lookout for a couple of days, sort of like backpacking but with bunks and a killer view.

Mac the geocaching travel bear will come along, to visit geocaches and ride the trails in my backpack.


My father's garden...

I have vivid memories of working in the yard when I was a child. It was a family effort, weeding the flower beds (my sisters and me), mowing the grass with a push mower (my dad), raking leaves in the fall, and hauling everything to a pile by the burn barrel to be burned once dry. The joys of growing flowers escaped me then; it was just a lot of work.

After the yard was spruced up, Dad would fire up the barbecue and we'd have a picnic in the back yard. I remember warm summer days and soft breezes, blue skies, web lawn chairs, and ice cream floats. Those were good days.

My dad loved flowers, but I only have sketchy memories of what actually grew in the yard. There were azaleas and rhododendrons, and a thorny witch hazel in one corner. And there were a lot of trees: locust, mountain ash, dogwood, and hemlock. Mom loved the shade; we girls always wished for just a little patch of sun for sunbathing.

We moved to our little farm in the fall, so I had no idea what would push up come spring. Like my childhood home, the gardens were full of rhododendrons and azaleas, and surrounded by trees. I was happy to find daisies and primroses, and especially pleased to find rose campion, something I remembered from my parent's yard, but had never seen anywhere else.

I loved that connection. Memories of home and childhood, every time I look out the windows.

. . . . .

Rose campion was being cultivated in English gardens by the 1600s, and came to America in the 1700s. The first mention of Rose campion in American gardening literature is in Thomas Jefferson's garden book, where in 1767 he recorded that the Lychnis was in bloom at his boyhood home. It's a hardy biennial that blooms in early summer, with brilliant magenta flowers and fuzzy gray-green foliage.