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Whew! Last weekend seemed long. Mom needs me to pay her rent now, as she keeps forgetting how to write a check. This Saturday I made the plunge and told her I would take over paying the rent. I’m not a pushy, or assertive type person, so this type of thing seems fraught with stress to me. Well, actually it went off ok.

I was sick a lot this last January and February, so I got behind in things like getting tax papers together for the CPA. On Sunday I thought I could finish up and drop them off, but I realized at the last-minute, that I did not have the Social Security tax thingy – 1099 I think it is called. So I called mom, not knowing if she would make any sense of what I was asking her to look for. I noticed on last years form that it was mailed to mom’s address, so I figured she probably got it and didn’t know what to do with it. Either that or she gave it to me and I lost it . . .

So, she didn’t find it and so I had to go over there and look for it, stressing out all the time (I know, I don’t HAVE to stress about things, but have you ever tried to call the Social Security office for someone else – ie, not yourself?) As it turned out, I was really tired when I went, as my small car died a month or so ago, and I have made the decision to get another used little car, and have an appointment to pick it up Monday after work, so I had to clean up the garage so it would fit in there.

I have been working on wiring a light for the front porch, so I could plug-in a light out there so mom could see the steps in the dark, and so the garage was a mess. So I had to drill some holes and screw in some hooks for a 25 foot ladder I keep for accessing the roof (which, by the way, is growing a nice thick crop of moss, which I have to get rid of soon, or lose my nice less-than-10 year old roof). I had to hang up some other stuff that was scattered on the garage floor from some other work I’d been doing in there.

By the time I’d finished sweeping and re-hanging things, I was pretty tired, and then I realized I didn’t have the Social Security form and yes, I was stressing. The good news is, I went to mom’s, went through all of her papers (she seems to have a lot, for someone who only has 3 bills per month, but anyway, I went through everything and hallelujah! I found it! I am still surprised, and very pleased.

So, tonight I pick up the new, used little car and give it an overnight test drive, and hopefully everything will be OK. Then I get to do MY income tax crap. Oh, my god. I swear, I’m taking off and going hiking before the end of the month, or I will explode myself all over somewhere!

IMG_3312This is what I mean . . .


So, anyway, I never get a flu shot, and never plan to, but this winter I guess I got the flu. I would call it a bad cold and when I looked up on the internet how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, I had some symptoms from both categories, so I still don’t know. However, I know I got what seemed like a bad cold, and for two weeks simply dragged myself everywhere I had to go, including work, sorry guys. If we could get some sick-leave, I would be happy to stay home, but if I don’t come to work, I don’t get paid, so . . . everyone at work got sick.

But, before you blame me, I was not the first person to get sick. My boss, who did get a flu shot, was the first to get sick. So much for the flu shot.

Well, then after two weeks, I felt like my regular self, so I started going back to the gym. After a week, I was sick again! So another two weeks dragging myself here and there, and now I’m fine again, and back at the gym.

You know what really pisses me off? My 88 year old mom, who still wanted me to pick her up for the day, never got my cold/flu. I guess I’m glad for that, but at the same time, I kind of resent it, if you know what I mean.

Hamster report out!

PS: I’m planning my summer and fall hikes and backpacks, can hardly wait to get out on the trails again.


Fourth of July Pass

So . . . I got tired of the road biking thing, for several reasons, and switched to running. Want to know why? Well, I’m going to tell you.

When I was in high school I ran every morning, and I had to do it by myself, as there were no girls running programs. In fact, the only girls sports were swimming and I think there might have been a tennis program. I sucked at both, but loved to run, so I just did it by myself, in the morning. Then years went by, and I lived in neighborhoods where it wasn’t a very smart thing to do, for a woman to run by herself, and when I married, my husband’s idea of exercise was to go to the bakery and buy a big loaf of bread, fill it with gourmet meats and cheese and pork out.

Then I had kids, and couldn’t leave them to go running, and no, they didn’t have those running strollers then like they do now.

Then I went to college, in my late 30’s and 40’s, and guess what, no time to run. Then I started a career that required oodles of over time, same problem with finding time to run, and besides, my kids were still at home, but not the chubby hubby.

OK, the other main reason for running now is, I love being outdoors, but not exercising next to cars. Road biking is just that, and while I did enjoy doing it with my friends, they are all gone now! One is in Germany, and the other moved to Seattle, actually quite a few miles south of Seattle, so I’d be biking by myself.

The other reason is, the low carbohydrate diet for insulin resistance and to avoid getting diabetes type II, has left me really tired. I have enough energy to get around town, go to work, etc, but can tell when I work out that the energy is just not there. The Naturopath found out that my thyroid wasn’t doing much, so I suspect there is some issue with the nutrients getting into my cells, so I’m hoping that in time it will work itself out. The Dr. couldn’t think of anything else to do, as the better my blood level nutrition looked, the more tired I was.

My favorite lake for running - Lake Padden

As I said, I’m OK now, but not a ball of fire, the energy isn’t really there. So, I run 4 – 6 miles twice a week, and when I get tired I walk for a couple of minutes. I am encouraged that I am able now to run 1.5 miles, or even a little further, before I have to walk. I’m still needing to stay on pretty level trails to run, as I don’t really have the energy to go up hills.

I am encouraged though, I can see improvement, and hope that this will make my backpacking easier this summer. I enjoy running around one of our local lakes, most of the trail is in trees, and there are ferns and all sorts of brush in our local forest. I just am not motivated to run along a road!

Hamster report

The origional shower, soon to be gone

So, last weekend, my friend and I got started tearing out the old one-piece shower. We didn’t want to spend more money on tools as this is a very low-budget project. So we tried to make do with a small grinder with the only cutting blade we could get for it, a masonry blade.

Well, you might guess how that turned out. We (my friend) cut one side of the shower all the way around, but the tool made so much dust (yes we were wearing face masks) and vibrated so much he decided to try another method to get the back, the side and the floor of the shower out.

Tearing out the showers back wall

So he took an adjustable slip joint pliers (kinda large ones) and a 18 inch long bar that could be slipped over the handle of the pliers, and just yanked pieces of the shower out in a line, all along the top edge, down to the floor and across the floor. He did this until we had the shower out in 3 sections plus the floor. It was messy, but we had it out.

I took the pieces to the dump the next day. We now have the studs and floor showing (it all looks nice and dry, so that was a relief), but because we didn’t have the best saw for the job, we now have the edges of the shower still attached to the walls. We’ll see what we need to do to get that out. Besides, we need to bring the shower pan up and fit it exactly into the space.

So there it is - old shower (mostly) gone!

There is a vent pipe that the original builders did not keep inside the wall. It is inside the wall at the top, but sticks out into the shower space a little at the bottom. We may be able to cut the shower pan around it, or we may need to move the vent pipe. I’m glad my friend knows how to do this stuff, because it seems kind of overwhelming to me.

Hamster report

My awesome granddaughter - almost 4 years

Ok, I tried to post on Monday, but WordPress is a pain the butt and I couldn’t get it to upload more than 1 photo, so I got disgusted and just closed it.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse


I’m going to Japan next week with my geiger counter, so I’m trying to post a few photos of San Diego before I go.

My mom grew up in various lighthouses along the Oregon and Washington coasts, during the ’20’s and 30’s. The government was closing the lighthouse keepers residences due to automating the lights, so the family had to keep moving to one of the remaining manually maintained lighthouses. Hence, my interest in lighthouses.

Carousel at Disneyland

My son and granddaughter and I visited Disneyland (Los Angeles), and Point Loma lighthouse, a park with lots of seals (very cool), and an amazing liquor store with just about every kind of alcoholic drink you can imagine; but I was only looking for one bottle of beer, and I didn’t want to buy a six-pack, so that was the place to go.

They have some pretty funny-looking trees in southern California, the desert effect, I suppose. I was told they were the inspiration for the trees in the Dr. Seuss books. I can believe it.

Dr. Seuss’ trees

So, there you go! I’ll write about Okinawa and what my geiger counter senses over there. Wish me luck and good health, it is a scary place to go right now.

Hamster report

Typical Post Office in December

I’m not sure whether to blame my kids for moving so far away, or the Post Office for being inefficient, or the clowns masquerading as Senators who made the Post Office fund their pension fund for 75 years out into the future.  If you don’t know about that, look it up, there were plenty of articles on it recently.

See Okinawa? Tiny little dot to the southwest of Japan mainland

So a week ago, I spent half an hour in line at the P.O. to mail packages to my granddaughter and my son in California. Then last night, I spent another 1/2 hour doing the same for my son in Japan. Unfortunately, I was almost through the line before I realized I hadn’t filled out the forms required to mail stuff overseas. So I squatted down and used one of my boxes for a table and started filling a form out.

It is inconvenient, to say the least, to keep squatting down and writing, then having to keep getting up as the line moves. If I had a small box I could stand up and use it for a table, holding it, but the boxes were just a little bit too big to do that. So, I was squatting, getting up, squatting, getting up, it was tedious and in spite of my athletic activities, it was hard to do by about the 10th squat.

I can’t wait till I’m 70, that’ll be tons of fun.

When I was done I decided to go get some booze, the liquore store is just across the street.

Hamster report


So, have I mentioned that I LOVE hiking in the mountains, AND I take care of my 87-year-old mom every Saturday?  What that means is, it is usually sunny and nice on Saturdays, and rainy and cloudy on Sundays, the day I get to go hiking.

This weekend was no exception. If I could have gone Saturday, I would have seen spectacular views of the North Cascades; Mount Baker, Shucksan, and north to the Canadian mountains. However, I was free on Sunday, so I went, “hell or high water” as the expression goes. I could say my hiking in poor weather conditions builds character, but I’m 61 and my character is already built, so the universe’ efforts are kind of wasted on me.

On my way down, I did meet 3 young people going up. Now, to get to where I met them, they had to hike for an hour in 6 inches of wet snow and blowing wind with icy rain pouring down.

Guess what they were wearing? Shorts. I kid you not. They did have good boots on, I noticed, so I decided they weren’t completely insane. They were nice and spoke to this solitary old lady who was actually dressed for the weather and asked me if they were almost there.


Snow Covered Meadows


Snow and mist


Running into snow


Trail beyond ridge


I couldn’t see any views and was a little bit concerned that if the rain should turn to snow it would cover up the footprints I’d followed up there, and I’d get totally lost if that happened. I bring all my emergency stuff on hikes, but I am convinced that if the worst happened and I had to spend the night on the mountain in icy rain or wet snow that I would die of hypothermia in an hour.

So I do my best to see that does not happen. Besides, I couldn’t see any views, other than the really awesome little alpine trees and the blowing mists coming up over the ridge. I do enjoy seeing the trees through the fog, but there is a limit to how long I want to spend peering at misty tree-shapes through the fog, wondering all the while if this icy rain is going to turn to snow before I get back down, or if the clouds will close in and cause a white-out where I might have trouble seeing the boot-prints in the snow I’m following.

All is well, as usual, and I’m looking forward to my next trek in the rain. I think I need a better jacket though, I did get pretty damp, plus my gloves leaked like a seive.

Hamster report

So, what to talk about . . . OK, well, I saw a British sci-fi on Friday evening –  Attack the Block, at Bellingham’s Pickford theater. I started volunteering there about a month ago, and as I have a hard time finding any movies I want to see, I’ve had my little “paycheck” (they give us free tickets each time we volunteer) nearly a month.  


Attack the Block Movie Poster

I have to say, I enjoyed the movie, except that I am a bit squeamish about gory scenes, and there were a couple of these. Otherwise it was an enjoyable story. The main characters were very likeable – or became so as the story progressed. I think the ending was a bit too realistic, I guess I shouldn’t say too much – see the movie. The new awareness all the main characters had of each other at the end left a good feeling.

What I mean when I say a movie was too realistic is similar to what I used to tell my kids when they would ask why I so disliked zombie movies (with all the gore and eating of people). My response was always “If I want to see something scary and gross, I’ll turn on the news.” I wasn’t being sarcastic.

What this meant was, I go to movies to get away from reality, not to find it. Get it? I may be a bit inconsistent, as there has to be enough reality to make the movie believable, but not so much that it connects in my mind to world events. That’s probably why I have a hard time finding any movies to watch. That and I can’t stand watching people behave stupidly – which is what a lot of movies are.

Alrighty then. Next topic – aw, I’ll talk about rain barrels tomorrow. Maybe I’ll remember to get a photo of my rain barrel project. If I can get home before it’s dark, that is. Man, it’s getting dark earlier and earlier.

Hamster report.

This is real, and it is good

The sad tally this past week:

  • Raccoons – 3
  • Squirrels – 2
  • Unidentified – 3
  • Cat – 1

The Free Online Dictionary defines “roadkill”, with it’s number 2 definition as:

Slang: One that has failed or been defeated and is no longer worthy of consideration.”

Are not most Americans now “roadkill”? Our economy is disintigrating, and for about 30% of us, education and college degrees have no effect on job searches. As far as I have been able to discern, the primary qualification for getting a job, is being under the age of 40. The younger, the better. And if you are cute, that is a major plus.

Roadkill? We are all roadkill. Some just don’t know it yet. “It will get better, it always has before, so it will this time.” Really? Open your eyes and use logic and ask yourself the question again.

What is the old saying? “If your neighbor loses their job, it is a recession. If you lose your job, it is a depression.” Can we not see beyond the tip of our noses? What was the old Simon and Garfunkel song, The Sound of Silence:

“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

Well, I have an excellent quotation at home on my fridge, but I can’t seem to find it on the internet. I think it is by Carl Jung, and it goes something like this:

If we follow the rules and regulations of society, we may be accepted, even admired for our good deeds; but following the mores of a society may just be a mask. For deep inside us, there may be an uncomfortable feeling that something is wrong.

I will have to get a copy of the actual quote and print it out. It is a very thoughtful quotation. If we follow the rules and laws of our society, does that mean we are “good”? Even if everyone around us accepts these laws and mores as the highest standards of human behavior, are they really? We need to think for ourselves and examine why we do what we do.

Hamster report

View from trail

The weather was iffy before I started this hike, but I had planned it as my last backpack of the year, and I had scheduled someone to care for my cats while I was gone, not to mention getting my 86-year-old mom to accept my not being there on Saturday.

friendly marmot

brave marmot

It is impossible to take off only when the sun is shining; so many things have to be planned ahead! I was lucky to get in 2 backpacks with sunny weather this year. This has not been a summer with much sun.

views and tarns

tarn below Yellow Aster Butte

So I drove up on Friday, holding my breath as my ancient Ford Escort bumped over the big rocks and potholes on the 4.5 mile Forest Service road off the Mount Baker Highway. I made it to the trailhead and there was only 1 car there – this is a heavily used trail, but this was a Friday, so little or no people were expected until Saturday.

Another tarn

icy snow melt pond below Yellow Aster Butte

I never saw the car owner Friday. The weather was decent that day, allowing me to hike up the steep trail in cooler weather than I had last weekend on my scouting trip. The clouds were there, but up high enough that I could see the base of Shuksan and Baker as well as most of the snow-covered ridge that connects them.

My tent and tarp

Tent and tarp anticipating rain

There was a brave Marmot who popped out of his (or her?) hole just a foot or two from the trail. He popped back in when he spotted me, but as I passed his hole he popped out again, and decided to stay! I was standing about 5 feet from him and he allowed me to pull out my camera and take 3 or 4 photos, only popping back inside his den when 3 young people and their dog came by. I suspect the dog was a bit too much for him.

I expected rain during the night and on Saturday; it did start to rain sometime in the night, but when I got up around 7 am, it was snowing!  In addition, the clouds had moved in, and if I had not studied the trail when I came in, I would not know where it was. The distance one could see was about 20 feet.

I was concerned that the snow might continue, and not knowing whether it would or not, I immediately packed up and started out. My main concern was the extremely steep switchback section of trail that goes up a bluff to the ridge above the tarns. If the snow began to stick, that would be a hazardous trail.

I found the trail and got to the base of the bluff, and started up. The wind was strong, blowing ice crystals in my face. I wanted to take photos to show how the weather had transformed the area, but my hands were numb; I have a problem with my fingers turning numb very quickly when the temperature is even in the low 60’s (fahrenheit). So, unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures until I was up on the ridge and halfway down the trail!

It was exciting and a challenge to my common sense. Before packing up and heading out, I briefly considered fixing my breakfast and waiting to see if the weather turned more favorable. I suspect that it did, but decided I wouldn’t take the chance, since I was hiking by myself!

Hamster report