Saturday, December 11, 2010

Costco Cookie Woes

Costco is a dangerous destination, full of temptations for an innocent and unwary shopper. Just last week I was overcome by the sight of some familiar round, red tins, all piled high in a tower along the main aisleway. 

Cookies! those irresistible Danish butter cookies that we love. We rarely buy them, those guilty goodies that encourage easy snacking, overeating, gluttony. So how did that tin end up in my kitchen? I confess, I'm the shopper who weakened and put it in the cart, fully intending to parcel out the cookies sparingly, maybe even freeze some. Honest, I had good intentions, after all that tin held five pounds of cookie delight (just in case you missed the fine print on the tin above).

Here's the sorry sight a little more than one week later. Sigh! Do you suppose Santa and his elves drop by each night after we've gone to bed? I've heard that they're real cookie fans.

No worry, I'll just add more minutes and miles to next week's exercise schedule... that might take care of the guilt if not the calories. It's certain that the only cookies I bake in December should be for gift packages.

Another certainty - I'll avoid that section of the aisle if I visit Costco again soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Seattle Christmas Ships Parade

December seems so festive when the Christmas Ships travel the local waters of Lake Washington and Puget Sound. What a treat it was on Monday night when the whole flotilla cruised past the house, then lingered out in front for a Christmas concert. The weather was perfect, clear and crisp and totally free of wind or rain. In short, a perfect evening for a winter cruise. We bundled up in warm coats, hats and gloves and strolled out to the end of our dock to enjoy the festivities. I'll even admit to joining the onboard choir for a few carols, though they never knew it.  

In years past we strung lights on our previous boat, invited some friends for an onboard dinner and joined in the parade. It was an enjoyable evening for the guests and the hostess, with a hot meal and a warm salon for comfort. Brrrr! the Capt. had to remain alert topside, watching out for traffic like the smaller, unlit boats that would zip across the line of travel. It was fun back in the day, when we kept a boat at our home dock. Since Rhapsody is moored elsewhere, we now enjoy viewing the ships from the comfort of shore. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Baby, it's cold outside.

Tuesday's high temperature

Icicles outside the kitchen bay window 

Snow frosts the Japanese garden lantern

Falling snow hides Mercer Island
Wednesday morning temperature

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Hummingbird Action

It was too icy and slippery for me to venture outside in the yard, but I didn't miss it. I loved watching the bird feeder action from my perch on the stair landing or at the kitchen table. The temperature had dropped below freezing, the snow piled up and I wondered why hummingbirds with any sense remained in town when they could be basking in the SW sunshine and warmth. Then the sun came out and our two resident Rufous hummingbirds appeared pretty content, fluffed up for insulation against the cold wind, but as content as two irascible hummers ever look. 

Hummingbirds can be extremely territorial when it comes to protecting a food source and these two were no exception. I wish I had a video of their dive bombing runs and dizzying aerials as each bird sought to drive off the competition and claim the feeder for itself. There were brief moments when both birds paused, sipped from opposite sides of the feeder, and then resumed the battle. The dominant bird finally rested on a branch or rope, maintaining a vigilant guard against interlopers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bird Feeder Action

This morning's snowfall was a treat, especially since we didn't have to drive anywhere today. While I gazed out the kitchen window, marveling at the beauty and leisurely enjoying a cup of tea, a flurry of motion caught my eye. One of the resident hummingbirds did repeated fly-bys, checking out the empty branch where he expected a winter feeder. Oops! how could I forget my bird feeder duties?!

RL did the footwork on the snowy deck, and will have to do early morning duty for the rest of the week. The feeder will freeze overnight, and a backup container is ready to be swapped in. The problem? the birds wake up hours before we do, and they get a little noisy and aggressive when you keep them waiting. I know that feisty feeling, if my breakfast and that first cup of tea are delayed. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The View from the Window

I have been home for two weeks with my brand new knee, spending most of my time exercising, applying ice, walking laps around the house, napping a lot and sitting in a chair for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Limited to one or two trips downstairs per day, I spend a lot of time gazing out the second story windows. This local eagle looks like a kindred spirit, favoring his right leg but ready to launch.

I may not be ready to fly for a while (or run or jump or dance), but I can hardly wait until I can drive! 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home Again

Happy Halloween,

October has been a traveling kind of month; on the boat, back at home, on the boat,back at home, on the boat... You get the idea. I love being in either location, but I could do without the six-hour drive each way. Why? when the scenery is terrific, full of NW greenery and Fall color, beautiful shorelines and interesting boat traffic. Could it be the alarm clock at 05:30 a.m. that is so annoying?  
Even an early-morning wake up couldn't diminish the dramatic beauty of a Campbell River sunrise on the morning we left.

Then we drove, and ferried, and drove some more.  OK, we did pause for a delicious lunch at El Cazador in Burlington - I had threatened the driver with physical harm if he didn't stop and feed me. And then we kept on driving while it rained, and rained, and rained. 

The flower-filled pumpkin above was waiting for me on the front porch, a UPS delivery that really said "Welcome home." (Thanks, Mom!) Today the sun is shining, the car is unloaded and most of the stuff has been stowed where it belongs. It is good to be home again.

(Small giggle to self over tonight's Halloween math: subtract a very small number of trick or treaters from one bag of Snickers and what's left? Answer: too many tiny candy bars for the freezer and/or me! OMG, how I love frozen Snickers.) 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gone Cruisin'

We're back aboard Rhapsody, doing boat stuff and having fun. Check out this year's cruising or even cooking at the other sites.

This was the view out the pilothouse port window early Saturday morning. Since then we have seen rain showers and downpours, blue sky and heavy overcast and felt a gale blow through the area. It certainly feels like Spring in the Pacific Northwest - just wait a bit and the weather will change! 

The Grass Project is already a dim memory, now that we're out of town and afloat.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grass Project Update

A few days ago Ron added more grass seed. Since then we have seen more sun than rain and the daytime temperatures have risen a bit. All good things. In the encouraging warmth of today's sunshine you can watch the grass grow... well, almost. Those vivid green shoots are getting taller by the hour, except in those annoying bare spots where they haven't even sprouted yet.

Patience, besides grass, I really need to grow some patience.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Green Grass Report... sort of

That's it, the new lawn after three weeks of mixed weather conditions. We have seen downpours, windstorms, nearly freezing overnight temperatures and the occasional sunny day that approached sixty degrees. This is Springtime in Seattle, with its notorious "just wait 15 minutes and conditions will change" weather. Skiers revel in several inches of new snow dumped on nearby mountains while joggers run in the parks dressed in tank tops and shorts. Myself, I vote for warm and sunny.

Sigh, I really wanted magic. Instead I have an invitation to develop patience, to embrace delayed gratification, to visualize green. Give me patience... nah, give me green!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Timing is everything... oh, yeah.

I'm just too disappointed to venture outside with the camera right now, to dodge the raindrops and fight the wind gusts. Perhaps I'm avoiding reality, I really don't want to know what the lawn area looks like until this storm passes... whenever it finally passes. I suspect there are gullies, ridges and new little ponds appearing everywhere and the grass seed is making like boats and sailing away. Or not. What's up with a sudden winter storm in springtime?

Maybe it won't be catastrophic. Updates will be provided... whenever.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Grass Project

Spring is here! it is officially noted, and even printed on the calendar. It’s exuberant presence is on display everywhere.

Our lone Royal Anne cherry, three Asian pear and four ornamental fruit trees are in full riotous bloom, several weeks ahead of schedule. 

I rescued a huge bundle of trimmed cherry branches to enjoy a fresh Spring bouquet inside the house, but I can't force myself to cut anything else blooming in the yard. Spring flowers belong outdoors (besides, daffodils and the like make me sneezy and teary-eyed).

A neighboring Saucer Magnolia is covered with pink blossoms, each massive flower the size of a large nosegay. Today it presents an amazing seasonal display outside the second-story window in my office, and it offers some functional summer shade later in the year.

Our neon yellow daffodils have begun to fade just as the shockingly bright tulips are opening. Vivid waves of squill and ranunculas light up the flower beds, self-seeding and spreading in random patterns.  Rhododendrons flaunt a heavy sprinkling of buds that are just beginning to open, showing traces of pale pinks and deep purples, a preview of things to come. The weeds and mosses are thriving too.

…and then there’s the lawn. Sigh. It is old and has not aged well, worn out in its battle against critters, invasive weeds and enthusiastic mosses. At one time it was vigorous and putting-green smooth, but lately it has developed wrinkles of yellowing mounds and boggy dips (thank you earthquakes, burrowing mountain beavers, and assorted other challenges). Even the new Spring growth looks tired, a bit ragged and sparse, fighting a losing battle against the massed enemies.

Solution? Out with the old and in with a newly-seeded lawn. While we work to keep the grass seed moist, I will also be working on my patience . I can’t wait to see the first hint of green shoots. C’mon Spring, work your magic on my wannabe lawn!

The Grass Project (my version)

Step 1. Strip off the old sod and cart it away.
Step 2. Lower the humps and fill in the hollows. 

Step 3. Bring in some topsoil, grade for drainage, compact it and level it all out.

Step 4. Apply grass seed and the appropriate fertilizer, lime, and whatever else it takes to encourage a sturdy, luxurious growth and discourage cutworms, moss, etc.

Step 5. Water lightly and frequently until green shoots appear and healthy roots  develop.

Now stay tuned for upcoming Green Grass reports.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where did February go?

We flew home from Southern California (Mom’s birthday celebration) early in the month, spent a week on the boat at the end of the month, and the middle just went missing. I do remember that the weather was warm and sunny for days on end - Seattle’s annual one-week-of-sunshine-in-February event. Aside from organizing some paperwork for taxes, doing a little yard work, and swimming twice a week, well I just don’t know where those days disappeared. I hope I had fun!

It won’t be Spring officially for ages, but tell that to the bulbs, shrubs and fruit trees. Everything is SO ready to burst into bloom, ahead of schedule, even before our last frost of the season. The blue sky and vibrant plant blossoms are certainly welcome February treasures, and an invitation to head outside with the camera.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Out and about

These bright cyclamen hang out in the kitchen window and provide cheer 24/7. They seem happy to spend January inside the house... me too, lately.

It has been dreary outside… and cold… and wet.  Some days have been windy enough to rattle the windows and strip branches from trees. Other days were so foggy that the rest of the world completely disappeared, hidden behind thick, billowy pillows of gray. And you know that if it’s Seattle, it can rain for days on end. It has been the kind of weather that keeps me indoors, focused on inside interests. You know, things like organizing the junk drawer, eating cookies, surfing the net, curling up with a good book, cooking

Not today! We have enjoyed a day of mild Spring-like weather, mid fifty degrees warm with big patches of blue sky. And it’s a holiday Monday! Woo hoo! A few raindrops did spatter the ground as we set out on a walk, departing under the only gray cloud in the sky, but the shower didn’t last long. The neighborhood was a busy place, full of people and the happy sounds of their outdoor activities. Groups of bicyclists whooshed past, pet owners stopped to chat, families strolled along the lakeshore path, and walkers moved in packs, vigorously pumping their arms and filling the air with animated chatter.

Fat flower buds on magnolias and rhododendrons looked ready to open soon. A few perennials already flaunted some early blossoms, sparkling in their sunny, protected beds in the park.  The cyclamen and hellabore provided a gentle reminder to get moving and enjoy the outdoors, even in January. 

Light winds aloft blew the clouds away from Mt. Rainier, so today, even the mountain was out!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Thursday Morning Light Show

Too restless to sleep, I tossed and turned and finally realized that no amount of squeezing my eyes shut would block out the morning. With half-closed eyes  and a brain still fuzzy from sleep I wandered downstairs and plopped in front of the kitchen television intending to check out the early stock market activity. Whoa there, what’s up with the neon backdrop in the outside world? The Mountain was out, backlit by a sky afire with hot, electric roses, vivid purples, screaming oranges… you get the picture. It all passed in a matter of minutes as daylight took over and subdued the brilliance, but what an amazing welcome to the day.

The view from the deck, SE toward Mercer Island and Mt. Rainier

Colors reminiscent of a Southwestern sunrise in AZ or NM... not WA

A flock of crows filled the air with raucous caws as they greeted the morning