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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 . . .

Snowshoeing out of Icycle Creek near Leavenworth


This is just a short drive out of Leavenworth. My two friends and I had a great weekend in a rental condo there. Snuggling up with hot drinks in the evenings, taking a leisurely morning, watching the mists rise in the morning. We were pleasantly surprised with mostly sunny weather, as the weather report had been kind of gloomy for the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon we did some fun wine-tasting at Icycle Ridge Winery. They have a beautifully made wonderful log-cabin lodge. There were a few too many stuffed deer, wild cats, bears, and turkeys for my taste, but still, the place was beautiful, the wines were great, and the people were very nice.

Dead bear decoration and deer heads - kinda weird, but fit the area.

Icycle creek at Leavenworth
Icycle creek at Leavenworth

There were about 6-12 inches of snow under the bare fruit trees and wine vines. The hills surrounding the winery were lightly coated with snow, and a river flowed nearby. Beautiful!

On Sunday morning (yes, I know, I’m not in chronological order here) I attempted cross-country skiing. I don’t know if I am more interested in the sport, or kind of discouraged. The trouble with snow is it is slippery. The trouble is me, is I am afraid of falling. Which I did every time I tried to go down a hill with any slope to it at all. I kept falling, and I don’t know if I was falling because I lost my balance, or because I was afraid of going too fast, and then falling.

It was all fun!

Hamster report


snow covered peaks from Excelsior Pass

Snow covered peaks from Excelsior Pass

Yes  . . .  finally, the sun came out. I was racing around trying to find a good, lightweight backpacking stove, since the one I bought at REI a month ago only worked for one meal and I could not get it to light again, so went home a day early on my last backpack trip. I wasn’t upset about that, it started raining seriously hard on the way out, but it left me without a stove.

Excelsior Ridge

Excelsior Ridge

So I tried to find another at REI, and being in a hurry, picked one that looked good in the catalog and ordered it. When it came, it must have weighed 5 lbs (I excaggerate, slightly). That wasn’t going to work. Besides, the dimensions were huge. I don’t know who would carry that thing. Maybe some young buck with more energy than brains. No offense, I was just annoyed at my second attempt to find a stove. Haste really does make waste. It is still sitting on my floor, waiting for me to return it. Thank god REI takes returns, hardly any questions asked.

Views from the ridge - Mt. Shuksan

Views from the ridge - Mt. Shuksan

Just a day before my hike, I ran into an outdoor store that just happens to be next to a grocery store I sometimes shop at on my way home. They had a really nice, very lightweight stove and it was on sale. Only they do not take returns. I hesitated, wondering if I was being foolish, made an executive decision and bought it.

Views from Excelsior Pass

Views from Excelsior Pass

It worked great. I had no problems with it; it was easy to set up, and ran a very long time on the fuel. I had brought an extra bottle of white gas, just in case, but didn’t even touch it. It is back in my garage, as I write this.

The trail up Excelsior from Mount Baker Hwy is really steep, but I enjoy it. It is in the trees about 90% of the way, and I like trees, so that works for me. There are lots of switchbacks, and some interesting/ odd things to look at along the way. Close to the trail head there is a HUGE hole in the ground just to the side of the trail. I always look down it, it looks big enough for a bear, maybe, so I look and walk away, hoping nothing with claws, fangs and an attitude comes out while I’m there.

Wildflowers in the meadows

Wildflowers in the meadows

There is a pretty waterfall at one switchback turn, with a nice rock to sit on, I always stop there for a water and snack break. The trail is about 4.1 miles one way, and about 3,000 feet elevation gain.



There was lots of snow at the ridge, which I was counting on, for melting to replace my water. I do not like to carry a lot of water, its freaking heavy. I could have used slightly less snow, but it is hard to get nature to accomodate my exact requirements. It was just fine as it was.

The sky was perfectly clear Friday and Saturday, and so the views were incredible. Mount Shuksan and Baker were awesome, as were all the ridges and the Canadian range.

I’ll see how many of my photos I can get on here . . .

Mount Baker from Excelsior Pass
Mount Baker from Excelsior Pass
Wilderness Hamster


one of many waterfalls on trail

Many waterfalls and streams crossing trail

Too much snow this year; I tried this hike, but after about 3 miles the steep snowfields covering the trail became too hazardous for someone without an ice axe.  It was overcast and the trail was becoming hidden in the fog as well, so I was having trouble following the footsteps in the snow.

Forest in the mist

Next time I’ll bring my ice axe and some crampons. I’m getting tired of only hiking 3 miles up the trails.  It was beautiful, but no views other than trees in the fog!

Fog & snow on upper trail

Fog & snow on upper trail


They (the scientists) say the effect of climate change in the Pacific Northwest will be more snow in the winter and more rain year round.


Mist & snow on upper trail

Rocks at base of snow slopes

It seems to be working out that way. I have my rain barrel, but due to damaging my finger and just procrastinating, I haven’t hooked it up to my downspout yet. I’m such a slacker.

Hazardous river crossing

scary river crossing


I tried to get a photo of this crossing that accurately showed how hazardous and frightening it was, but didn’t succeed. It was very steep, one rock that you could put a boot on would be quite a bit above the next one downstream from it. The water is just melted, and the air temp is way too low to contemplate how cold you would be if you miss-stepped and got too much of yourself in that icy water.

Looking forward to my next hike in the mountains – with my ice ax and crampons, in August?

Hamster report


Well, it snowed in April. I didn’t recall that it occassionally does this, but I checked and yes, in 2008 we got snow in April. This morning it stuck to the ground and “piled” up to about an inch, possibly less, depending on where you were standing.

A Camelia in snow in April

A Camelia in snow in April

I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures on my way out to the car. The drive to work was pretty, every tiny branch and every fir tree had a layer of white snow. It was all gone by 10 am, but it made the morning fun and unusual!

More Camelias in snow

More Camelias in snow!

I had fun at my archery practise last night. It was pouring down rain all the way to the practise place – I could hardly see the road due to the downpour and the road spray. Of course it didn’t slow down most of the drivers – they think they’re immortal, as they whiz by at 70 when the drivers can’t see far enough ahead to stop if they needed to. Idiots.

While shooting away at the target (still at 10 yards) I decided it might help to get a site for my bow. When shooting, I’m not sure what to look at to aim. As long as I’m in the gallery, I try to locate my bow at a certain distance from the bulles-eye, but my arm wobbles some, and the distance varies since I don’t have a definite point to sight on. So, next week, I’ll have the archery people put a site on my bow.

Blue flowers in the snow

Blue flowers in snow at the office

One more photo of the surprise snowfall on April 14th! There are little blue flowers peeking out through a layer of snow.

Hamster report

Bellinghamsters are rugged outdoors types

Nothing stops a Bellinghamster's outdoor recreation

I am happy to go for a hike, run or bike in the rain; I enjoy snowshoeing and hiking in the snow.  But this guy tops me by a long ways.  I do not engage in water sports when the outside temperature is below freezing.  I don’t care what they say about how warm the suits they wear are, I don’t believe them.  This guy is going paddle surfing; look behind him – there is snow on the ground.  The temp is in the 20’s. 

Icy roads and out of control sliding cars

Icy roads and out of control sliding cars

Here’s a reason to stay off the roads until the sanding trucks have gone by:

So, it’s supposed to snow again this evening, with another 2 – 3 inches of snow, but then do a typical Pacific NW weather thing and warm up, turning to rain. 

When I was a kid growing up here, I found that so ‘effing frustrating.  Because I wanted to play in the snow, and we didn’t get it every year, and then when we did, it often snowed for a few hours and ended up with a couple hours of rain.  That turned the snow to an ugly brown slush very quickly.

We really have just the right amount of snow here; it rarely gets to be more than 12″, and when it does that, it melts within a week, rarely it might last 2 weeks, as it did a couple of years ago.  Then its back to the same ‘ol, same ‘ol, drizzly rain or just clouds with no precipitation.

Anyway, I like it here and if you just love the snow, its only 1 hour away, up at Mount Baker.

The hamster is feeling pretty good today

Well, I’m working on my new side business that I hope in time will provide some decent income for me.  For one thing, it doesn’t require me to be under 30 to be profitable!  Yes, its one of “those” home business, but it is with a solid company providing services people need and use – home phones (video, no less!), cell phones, internet, and TV.  If you are in Canada, you can get discount rates on your gas and electric bills. 

Anyway, that’s been sucking up some of my time.  Sorry about the negative adjectives when referring to my “time”.  I never have had enough time to go out and have “fun”.  Hoping to become self-sufficient through this home business so that I can, soon! 

Snow on Trees

Snow on Trees

Well, besides that, I had mom on Sunday all day, did training for the new business on Saturday; set up one of my sons with a video phone on Sunday so I can see my granddaughter when he goes back home to the east coast. 

Oh, here’s a project anyone can love: I spent about an hour working on untangling the wires and cables attached to my computer.  That had me using all the 4 letter words my kids taught me!  I was crawlng around under the computer desk and shoving my head between speakers, the bottom of the desk and the shelf that is about 4″ off the floor, which a huge speaker that my sons set up sits on, along with the modem and a backup drive.  Has anyone else tried this who wears bifocals?  Just try to get the right distance to see what is in front of your face. 

Anyway, I was able to untangle the cables enough so that (after 5 years) I was able to locate one of the little speakers some distance from the computer.  There are 4 cute little mini speakers you are supposed to locate around the room for that stereo sound, but their cords had been hopelessly tangle up so that they were all perched right next to the computer. 

My deck on Sunday, with snow

My deck on Sunday, with snow

Another task that I am happy to report on is my deck.  No, it isn’t done yet, but my friend and her bro came over on Saturday and he was able to get the Trex decking that I had managed to get “humped” up in a couple of places, down flat!  We got some more screws in as well, so the deck is now looking good and coming along.  Slow, but sure.

We had snow on Saturday night, a big event here, as we don’t have snow all winter – just for a week or two now and then.  I got about 3″ at my house and for once it didn’t immediately warm up and fall off the trees.  The temps went down and the snow stayed frozen on all the Douglas Fir trees and the bare branches of all the brush and deciduous trees.  It is very pretty.  I took my mom for a couple of outings on Sunday to see the snow; it was great.

Hamster dreams

So, I’m uploading a few pics of my backyard and down the street in the “big snow” we had here over Thanksgiving. As it often does around here, it turned to rain on Friday and it was all gone by Friday night.  Which, pretty as the snow is, I don’t really like driving in it that much, so I was relieved, as I was driving to Seattle (about 90 miles, I was going to West Seattle, which is actually south of downtown Seattle and a little to the west).  Pic #1:

Street pic in snow

Street pic in snowI took this picture through my upstairs window screen. I know, I just didn't want to go to the trouble of taking the screen off. I was curious as to how it would turn out. It's actually really good, considering. Backyard snow

Here’s another one:

The total take on snow was ab
Snow - my backyard

Snow - my backyard

out 3″ at my place.  The higher hills got 4- 5 inches, based on my unscientific observation of snow on car roofs coming west on the Mount Baker highway. 

My house is at 450 feet, based on Google earth.  Everyone got some snow, the total varied depending on elevation. 
It’s fun to go out and try to figure out what kind of critter made the tracks in the fresh snow.  Some looked like rabbit trackes (I used to see them up at my family cabin at Snoqualmie pass, when we still had the cabin.) 
Anyway, I had some more accounting hell and took a quiz and a test on Sunday, as I was in Seattle on Saturday, the day I usually take the chapter tests.  The test went all right, but I totally blew the quiz.  Does anyone else have classes where the questions are written in such a way as to make it uncertain what the hell they are asking?  If the question is indecipherable, then you can assume your answer will probably not be what they are looking for.  When I was a kid we used to have a name for this type of question, you don’t want to know what we called them.
It’s not fair to test students on their psychic abilities instead of the topics under study in the books.
Hamster is mildly pissed off.

Whoa!  I just checked the weather and its 13 degrees (F)  right now!  Thank god there is no wind at the moment.  Last night they say it got up to 60 mph gusts.  The power went out sometime during the night, I know because all my digital clocks were flashing this morning.  I just re-set them 2 days ago.  I wish they all came with back up batteries, like the one my son bought.  Good job, Tristan. 

Here are the pics I promised (you can all breath now – in, out, in, out, you know the drill).

My new deck structural components with 3" of snow
Deck joists with snow

So, anyway, I get all excited when it snows.  I don’t enjoy driving in it, but I’m a good snow driver, so go figure.  Anyway, the snow is beautiful and I love to snowshoe, walk and just look at it. 

The sun is out today and it is working out to be a beautiful, cold day.

So, I never did get any help with my accounting program (Peachtree) problem.  This time the issue was the program would not save/ post my journal data; something about the date it didn’t like.  I put a description of my problem on the class website LAST WEDNESDAY, but did not get any assistance, either from the other students OR THE TEACHER.  By Saturday morning I was kinda stressed about this.

Pretty winter scene

Pretty winter scene

However, I had been thinking about it for the last 3 days and had developed a theory.  I decided that if no one answered my pleas for help by Saturday noon, I would try my theory.  The way I did it was I deleted my data I had entered already and exited from Peachtree. I then re-opened it, keeping the year in the date field that was the default year.  Our instructor told us to use 2006, but I thought it probably didn’t matter what year it was, as long as the month and day were correct.

Well, it worked.  I was so freakin’ relieved I entered some data and then saved it all and gave myself a break.  I felt like I deserved it.  I’ll be working on it again tonight, and it should be fine from now on, I am keeping my fingers crossed though. 

In addition to the accounting stuff, it has snowed and iced here in the PNW.  I picked up my mom Saturday and brought her to my house, but it was a real skating rink on the roads.  Thank god my dad was a good driver and taught me how to drive in the snow.  I’m really good at snow/ ice driving, but for some reason it always scares me.  I keep telling myself how good I am at it, but it stresses me out, none-the-less.   

Another winter snow scene

Another winter snow scene

Crap, I took some pictures of the snow on the deck (structural only, still), but I don’t have the camera with me.  Oh, well, I’ll put the pics on the blog tomorrow.  It’s not very spectacular, just proof that yes, it has snowed here.  The temp has been hovering around 26 degrees since Friday, and today is lower.  The wind is picking up too, the weather prediction is for up to 45 mph winds this evening.  I would really love a nice wood stove for backup heating, it would lower my stress level.  I looked up the costs though, and it looks like I could get a stove (EPA certified) for around a $1,000 and then the installation costs are supposed to be around $3,000.  Way beyond my budget.

Well, you know what 45 mph winds mean; branches down on power lines, and power outages.  Oh well, its actually kinda fun when the power goes out, unless you are on the internet working on accounting homework!

Hamsters rule.