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Aug. 7th, 2013

Middle Fork Snoqualmie River

High 80s, August, it's not summer in the Pacific Northwest until we've gone river walking. Dennis took a day off mid-week, to take advantage of the stunning weather. We zipped out to our favorite spot off I90, and headed to the river.

River walking requires strong water shoes (Keenes), or old tennis shoes. We parked on the side of the tiny gravel road, loaded our gear, and headed up the river.



We set up a picnic spot, but before sitting down, we went just a bit further up the river to explore.

Around one bend was a perfect place for a scramble.

Deep green pool made by the twisted trees.

Soon we headed back downstream to our picnic spot.
Lots of cavorting in the water, playing with clay, tormenting sibs.

While resting we had opportunity to see the circle around the sun.

Packing up, heading home.

But on the way out, we couldn't resist a final swim under the looming granite cliffs.

This is a gorgeous pool made by the confluence of two shoots of the river coming back together.

Aug. 5th, 2013

Remlinger Farms, last visit?

Took the girls to Remlinger Farms probably for the last time. Ann officially too big for the horse, but they let her go anyway. Even Eleanor has aged out of several of the rides. Only the 'big' rides like roller coaster still okay.



I had never seen the peacock. Ann found him in a shed below the goat place.


On the little biking scooters we went around 3 times before any one else even showed up. What a perfectly gorgeous day. If it is our last, what a nice time it was!

Jun. 28th, 2013

Westfield shopping

We woke up today at a reasonable hour but with no parental drive. The kids kept asking us where we were going today, but the answer was only meh. Finally just before noon I finished getting ready what I could for Greece, and Dennis finished looking into Westfields, and away we went, to do some shopping.

Westfields is an indoor mall where the real people go. Dennis and I had discussed taking the kids to Oxford street, but it’s such a crazy place and is mainly composed of chains, anyway. So instead of all the hassle of going into downtown London, we went two underground stops farther out, and poked around indoors.

The mall was hopping, on a Friday at noon. We did a slow tour around the inside, 3 storey high ceilings on the main floor, then ended up at the food court. Except for being so very busy we almost couldn't find a table before we walked away, the food court was totally awesome. No neon! No chains! The only real picture I took was a sign that caught my eye, up above where we sat, advertising ‘Proper Hamburgers’.

I bought a chicken karma for Ann and a Chad something for me. Dennis scored with chicken and steak pot pies. Pieter wanted another sandwich at Pret a Manger. We all shared out the different tastes.

What I wanted to record via the camera were all the different people I saw, but just made mental notes. There are many different shades of chocolate. Over this trip I'm guessing I've seen about 15% of women wearing the burqa, although not with the facial covering but with slits for eyes. Another few percent had face free but wore head scarves. New London is very different from Old England. Vibrant and different.

Jun. 9th, 2013

Boulder River hike

We went on our first hike of true summer a few weekends ago. We returned to Boulder River. Haven't been back since E was little. The river was running high, lots of snow melt. Great sounds, great sights. Love the thunder of the river and waterfall. I also really love scrambling up along the river, across the rocks and logs that have been placed by the huge force of the river. It's like a huge playground for me. Here's my boot while we rest and take a break.


The trail starts up way high above the water, then slowly the river climbs up to meet the trail. We stopped several times to climb/slide down to the river to play. Here's P enjoying our lunch spot.


We started early, so the rocks and trail were a bit wet from the overcast, but we were in full sun by the time we climbed down to have lunch by the river. The river cuts through a steep and deep cleft, and the sun literally goes behind the wall of rock (from where the water falls) by 1pm, so early is necessary if you want to bask in the sun. All the food, play, sound and sun was too much for E. Great day.

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Oct. 6th, 2012

Little Mt. Si and 2 Bros Pumpkin Patch

Last hike of the season.

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The hike begins with a view to Rattlesnake Ledge, the small bump far off and in the center. We've taken the kids there twice.

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Looking up to the goal from the valley below.

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Great rocks.

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Lunch at the top on the shady side, looking to Mt. Si.

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A takes a turn carrying the pink backpack.

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Even after going up to the top and back down, P&E still have energy leftover for scramble.

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Pumpkin hunting.

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A discovers some very late harvest blackberries.

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Must find just the right one .....

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Finally, we wore her out.
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Oct. 5th, 2012

Fall 2012

Fall has been a full, beautiful month of hot sun and cool air. Love that gorgeous weather in the PNW.

Here are pictures of my garden. In October, roses, tomatoes, and even a corn cob. Not much compared with last year, but since I raised those tomatoes from seed, I do feel some accomplishment.
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We had Grandma visiting for a week while Dennis is away in NY. I took her on a walk through Redmond Watershed, to our blueberry farm, to the Two brother’s farm where we get our pumpkins, and here we are still enjoying the sunshine at Victor’s.
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Today I took the A, E and N to Monroe’s Reptile Zoo, to see “the Reptile Guy”. The girls really enjoyed themselves, and they even got to ‘hold the snake’ which means giggle while the snake slithers all over their head and shoulders.
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We went a few miles further out to stop at our favorite farm stand in Sultan’s. Ummm, pluots.

Sep. 28th, 2012

Greek and Roman Mythology

I’ve started a 10-week online course through coursera.org “Greek and Romany Mythology”, offered by the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve always wanted to read the classics, but know myself well enough that without help it wasn’t going to happen. The first week’s 7 video lectures are each about 20 minutes long, and have covered the concept of myth as well as the Trojan War and now we’re into Homer’s The Odyssey. I’ve managed to get into the reading and am up to book 5.

The main thing that strikes me about The Odyssey is that the humans in Homer’s writing are much like modern humans. The writing shows people with complex layered emotions, reacting to issues of power and status. It’s actually a lot like a soap opera on a very grand stage, across the Mediterranean. Also, this book is one of the classics of our world, so in reading the original I recognize so many secondary references in current times: names, dates, situations. Finally, I’m struck by how much more conducive to learning this setup is for me! If I have a question about who Ajax is, I just look it up via google before carrying on reading. Having questions answered immediately is so much better for comprehension. An added bonus is that with kid demands, I can find 20 minutes to watch a video, and I can lug Homer along with me to swim class, so the structure of the course also lends itself to my life as mom.

It’s the 1st week. Let’s see if I’m still gung ho after 10 tests, 2 essays, and many hours more of reading!
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I’ve wanted to try archery since 3rd grade when I used to go to a 4-H camp and was too young. In the new spirit of trying all of the things on my ‘list’ (bagpipes, Latin, hang gliding, classics) I dropped in Friday night, and for a month I’ve been learning archery through the Enso center in Redmond.

Archery is very “yogic”, it seems to me, it’s all about thinking your body position. First, get your set point with your best hand. Jay, the instructor, had me find my set point with my hand right to the edge of my chin, thumb under my jaw with forefinger alongside the cheek. You need to keep the same set point each time to help with accuracy, however, I decided to go for left and right hand, and Jay found me a bow so I can switch back and forth when one side gets tired. Then, you ‘knock your arrow’ onto the string by placing the arrow knock onto the string. The arrows runs opposite from the hand; if right handed, the arrow should run along the outside left of the bow. Getting the arrow knocked and set on the string took the most fumbling. Next, pull the string back with arrow knocked and look at the target with both eyes. Finally, put strength into the effort by pulling the shoulders back, loose and hold while you watch your target. It’s kind of like a dance, arrow to string, pull back to set position, tense, loose, watch the flight, get another arrow, begin again. After every one is done shooting their arrows and placed their bows on the ground or balanced on the orange cones making the safety line, one person will say, ‘bows down’ and we all go retrieve our arrows.

Most of my fellow archers seem very expert. They speak of how many (horned animal)s they shot on their last trip to (Wyoming?) state. There’s a younger crowd of high schoolers and an older crowd who fletch their own arrows. There was a dad with his young son and me. So, an interesting group.

Sep. 1st, 2012

Ashland Lakes

Just back from a day hike around Ashland lakes. Lovely. This area is usually full of water with 100-180 annual days of rain (http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ashland-lakes). The area is so incredibly wet that the entire lake system is boarded. As in, the 3 lakes we hiked were completely circled by boardwalk! At 3000 feet! Literally miles of boards because of the wet. Today, there was sunshine. Not even bugs. Dry, gorgeous, and to ourselves for most of the walk. Just amazing.

Blue huckleberries only grow above 2000 feet. Between the sunshine and water they were everywhere, and especially Dennis and the girls kept stopping. Our hands and mouths were blue/red, and we brought a container home. A bit 'gamey' is the only way to describe them. Not really sweet, but huge and juicy.

The girls are playing on some of the supplies used to make the miles of boardwalk.

Beaver Lake, a short deviation off the trail, was the most amazingly beautiful green and solitary lake in the yellow sunshine. This is a shade of green I usually only see in spring.

Somehow the blue huckleberries kept staining the boards. Do the animals like us carry the berries over to the boards to a pretty lunch spot? No bushes anywhere near, yet berry stains on the boards. An arty shot.

Tiny little frogs hopped all over. A being exquisitely careful.

Dennis helping the frog hunt.

Sunshine gilding A's hair while she holds her frog.

E trying to find "her own" frog.

Time for A's frog to be let free.

Every now and then amongst the 2nd growth, there were enormous trees. Dennis' guess is that these old growth crags were too gnarled for the loggers to take.

Dennis and the girls wanted to fight through the brush to the Upper Ashland lake. I decided to watch the packs and sunshine on water.

Tree art.

There were several signs, watch out for bears. Didn't see them, but everywhere we went there were holes. A lot were probably water built, but every other tree it seemed there were burrow holes.
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Aug. 16th, 2012

5 Caves Cove Tuesday, Last Day

Great last snorkel experience. 5 Caves Cove was surge-y on the surface, but the visibility was fantastic, about 20-25 feet. We all felt the urge to dive and dive in that clear blue.

Underwater the surge was a gentle rocking motion and on top the sun was bright and hot on our backs. I saw only 1 of the 5 underwater caves, but several SCUBA divers followed on the ocean floor below us.

The girls were underwater dolphin acrobats. They dived and curved into the clear water, watching schools of fish, turtles, colorful coral, sea caves.

E's pix came out especially well.
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On each snorkeling trip we saw 1-5 turtles swimming with us, over the reefs and even when we did body surfing. This video is the best of the lot.

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Here’s the entrance to the underwater cave:
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Under water docking-hug by A.

It’s a 3D world, like astronauts in space.

Blue fish and young eel.

Convict fish in group.

Our last searing hot beach adventure.

Last thoughts.

The heat! Every afternoon we hid inside, away from the sunshine, and baked under spinning ceiling fans. Every day, opening up all the sliding doors when we wake up to get the cool air, or closing all the sliding doors to keep the cool in when we went out.

After that first morning, the birds weren’t able to wake up anyone, we just slept right through.

The wind! These last nights have been hard to sleep through the slapping of the slats in the house.

Dennis fed us so much glorious fruit: papaya, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, dragon fruit, banana, passion fruit, apple bananas, pine apple, coconut. Cold fruit in the houses’ little blue cooler after snorkeling was almost a transcendental experience.

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