Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Tomato Summer

This summer has gone down in my record book as the winner for the one with the most sunny days and temperatures above 75.  It's what I call a "tomato summer"--a summer when the days and nights are warm enough to produce truly vine-ripened tomatoes bursting with the kind of flavor I remember from my childhood back East.  If you've never had a ripe tomato fresh off the vine in New Jersey, where all that heat and humidity produces heaven in a red, round vessel of bliss, it might be worth the airfare to give it a try!  I digress.  

Yesterday I visited Joe's Garden, our local organic farm which I wrote about here to pick up the week's worth of veggies for dinner.  

They were reasonably priced and at the peak of their flavor.  

Jessi and Josh have joined a co-operative farm where the put in "sweat equity" in exchange for unlimited fresh vegetables and fruit all summer long.  We stopped by there when I was visiting her last week

We picked some blackberries and  raspberries and then filled two shopping bags with tomatoes, lettuce, beans, potatoes, zucchini, rhubarb, kale, corn, carrots and herbs and then walked out...without paying anything!  Now that's my kind of shopping!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Points South

Last week I took this bus
to Portland to visit Jessi.  It was certainly faster than the train; we made it there in 5 hours vs. Amtrak which takes about 6.5 hrs.  It wasn't terribly comfortable, the seats are a little hard and just didn't seem to fit my body very well and there was minimal leg room for someone with a 34" inseam!  But I was curious so I wanted to try it and it was $6.00 cheaper than the train.  The driver doesn't help you with luggage, so you have to heft your suitcase into the bay and also retrieve it...I had to climb all the way into the bay to get to my suitcase on my return journey.  Wish I had a photo of that!  :)

My goal on this trip was to help Jessi get her classroom in order for the new school year.  Every year they have to take down all their bulletin boards, charts, etc. and all the furniture is piled into the center of the room so they can wax the floors, so it's a chore to restore order.  One of my main jobs was to try to find the reading levels for all her reading books.  She has bins and bins full of them and it's a somewhat arduous task that involves searching multiple data bases and, if all else fails, Google.  I managed to put a dent in the piles, but she still has many yet to do.
 The before photo...sadly i don't have an after photo, we weren't allowed to put anything heavy on the linoleum until the wax had "cured"
 Just a few of the dozens of bins of books that had to be labeled.  I'd work on them all day and then we'd take a bunch home to work on at night
 It's time for a new bulletin board in the hall

Hard at work

Mabel Rush Elementary is a newer school and it's really beautiful.  There are lots of windows letting in lots of light, great color schemes and details that make it friendly and inviting for kids. Check out the beautiful courtyard outside of the staff lunchroom.  It even sports a small water fountain...what a great place to relax and recharge.

When I got off the bus from Bellingham, we took a long walk around the Wildlife Refuge near where Jessi lives.  Her friend Karissa came with us.  It felt so good to stretch my legs after being cramped on the bus for 5 hours.

 This is a bald eagle's nest that is protected by the reserve.  When there are young eagles in the nest, this path we are on is off limits to make sure the eaglets are not disturbed.
 Hmmm, what's that in the path?  Looks kind of like a big rat....hmmmmm
 Nope, it's a muskrat and there are two of them....muskrat love????

 Artsy photo of the sun and a tree...the result is not as satisfying as it used to be with my old Canon FTB
 These "pods" were growing on many of the oaks in the reserve.  They are called galls and are apparently the home to the mealy oak gall wasps.
It wasn't all work, Jessi and I went to the new Cinetopia to see "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Helen Mirren's new movie.  WOW, this theater was amazing.  If you choose to, dinner can be served to you as you recline in the cushy chairs complete with footstools!  We really enjoyed the movie too!

On Saturday we spent the day at the Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, a large recreation area with multiple rides and things to do.   Josh's company was having their summer company party there and I was included!  I decided to be brave and try the Alpine Sled.  It was thrilling, even if I did have trouble figuring out how to control the "go fast/go slow" stick shift.  I made it down in one piece! We played miniature golf and were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and dessert.  What a great idea for a company party that is family friendly!

Jessi and Josh are both great cooks and I was treated to great meals the whole week I was there.  

Josh's specialty is fish and chips.  His fried halibut was the best I've ever had, I tried to divert their attention and eat theirs, too, but didn't succeed!

For nostalgia's sake Jess and I watched multiple episodes of "Gilmore Girls", just like we did when she was living at home. It was a great way to entertain ourselves while we were labeling all those books!
All too soon it was time to head home.  It's never easy to leave, but I'll be back!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Elf Strikes Again!

Look what I found on my front porch yesterday morning!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Music By the Bay

We Pacific N'orwesters wait all year for these golden days of summer.  And this year's summer has been particularly long and wonderful.  I don't recall another year with so many days of full sun and warm temperatures.  Bellingham celebrates summer with multiple outdoor music venues throughout the city.  Every week there is a huge concert at Boulevard Park; Elizabeth Park (a smaller neighborhood park) hosts another weekly concert and there is a weekly jazz event in the commons next to the Bellwether Hotel.  After the long months of dark and drizzle we use any excuse to spend as much time outdoors as possible.  Last week we stopped in at the concert at Boulevard Park.  It was warm enough even after sunset to sit in the breeze and enjoy the music and do some people watching.

View from the top of the "tower stairs" heading down into the park

Now this is the way to go--park your own boat next to the beach and enjoy your cocktails while you enjoy the music!

I can remember a time when we could go to a public event and run into lots of folks we knew--not so anymore...who are all these people and where did they come from?  

We're being watched!  That's not a plane, it's a drone which spent its time hovering around the crowd and taking my picture while I'm taking its picture!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First Fruits

Wally's very first ripe tomato!  He bought two bushes this spring, a sweet 100 cherry tomato and a grape tomato, and has spent all summer faithfully moving the containers from one side of the patio to the other to maximize their sun exposure.  And...voila!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Walking the Talk...

Sorry, didn't quite make it back to this post in just a day, life happens! So, where was I?  

Now we're looking north and we're on the "business" side of the harbor.  Initially this harbor was all about the fishing industry, there were hundreds of fishing boats and there were dozens of cold storage and canning facilities--this place was bustling.  Forty years ago the Boldt Decision gave the Native American tribes rights to their fair share of the fish harvest.  As a result of this decision and the over-fishing that took place for decades that lead to poor runs of salmon, the fishing "industry" in Bellingham virtually collapsed.  There are still fishermen who make a large portion of their yearly income through fishing, but most local fishermen ply the waters for crab.    For salmon, Alaksa has become the new hot spot. 

Crab pots waiting for next season!

Now we're looking east across the harbor from where I started.  The houses on the hill are on Eldridge Avenue, a section of older, stately homes with great water views....and the trains that roar by regularly just down the hill from them!  I've noticed that the engineers seem to take particular delight in blowing their horns for a much longer time at night!  

Some more of the ports lovely landscaping

I love the grasses that they have planted.

And we're right back where we started.  Thanks for coming along!