30 December 2010

2011 is an awkward looking number

...but it's here all the same, so here are my resolutions from last year, how I did, and those for this year:

Blog more (obviously)... ha!  clearly not.

Drive less, bike more (grocery store, school, etc)... yes!  I biked to school nearly every day, until my bike brakes came undone, and I haven't been able to fix them yet.

Write more (correspondence).... nope.  but I have a remedy for this one.

Sew more (2009 was the year of the Knit).... knitting is just so darn convenient when you're in school and can only get a few minutes together to work on something.  But I did do this...

Read more....yes, but exclusively school-based.

Establish an advance directive, etc. ...nope.

Volunteer six times... hm, can I count donating blood?  I do that every eight weeks.  other than that, I volunteered about four times.

Make a quilt for Eric and me... nope.

Learn to knit socks... woo hoo! I sure did! 

23 November 2010

snow day

It's true, Seattlites are snow-wusses, but today it gives me a lovely sunny (if very cold) snow day, so I'll take it.  I've just baked gingersnaps, a blueberry coffee cake is in the oven, and I'll sit down with some knitting soon, before turning my attention back to school (the campus may be closed, but I still have lots to do). 

16 October 2010

funny: frank chimero

This funny story came to my blog reader, and I immediately wanted to share it.  Enjoy!

09 October 2010

school: wood shop

I remember laughing in undergrad when I took a soils class (I'm playing in the mud... in college?!?), and now I'm laughing that I'm in grad school and taking wood shop*.

*OK, OK, it's actually called Landscape Materials, but it sure feels like wood shop so far.

02 October 2010

in which I jump out of a perfectly good airplane

I celebrated my birthday (just a little late this year) by going skydiving!  I've never been before, though I'd been wanting to for years and years.  I did a tandem jump from 13,500 feet, with about 60 seconds of free fall before my instructor deployed the parachute.
Bill at Skydive Snohomish was my instructor, and he was great.  Thanks, Bill!!  It was such a thrill, I'm looking forward to going again already!

28 September 2010

quilt: miranda & todd's wonky log cabin

I hope Miranda and Todd like this quilt half as much as I do.  I am really pleased with how it turned out!

02 September 2010

hike: glacier national park, goat haunt (waterton lake)

Unnamed lake, where we stopped for water.
We ate dehydrated, vacuum sealed maple cinnamon toast with rehydrated apples (found here) for breakfast -- not too bad, if I may say so, but then I am a huge fan of any breakfast served on toast.  The toast was bulky to carry, so have it early in the trip.  We ended up chatting at length with two of the guys in our camp.  They had been brought in by horse (though the horses had been taken back to the trailhead).  I clenched my jaw and refused the real cream one of the men offered me to put in my coffee, simply because it had been brought in by a horse.  I don't like what horse packing does to the trails, let's just leave it at that.  As we chatted with the guys, we came to find out that they were plain-clothed Border Patrol agents.  They told us about how they get the hard job of hanging out in GNP (since it abuts the Canadian border) for a spell during the summer.  I was surprised at how forward they were with us, which made me a little skeptical, though it explained (but didn't soften my attitude towards) the horse packing. 

After breakfast, we packed up our gear and headed towards Goat Haunt.  We stopped at an unnamed lake glacial blue lake, and later, at Lake Francis, we could hear thunder, and by the time we were ready to go again, the storm was nearly on top of us, so we hung out under tree and waited it out.  First time I've had to do that.  It showered on and off for a time after that, finally easing up as we approached Goat Haunt. 

Goat Haunt was rather surreal.  We knew it was accessible from the Canadian side of Waterton Lake via a ferry concessionaire, so while we understood that people might be present, it was still odd to come wandering out of the woods and into a developed visitor center area, complete with uniformed Customs agents, NPS law enforcement and swarms of non-backpack-shlepping tourists.  The NPS law enforcement ranger asked us if we had encountered any Border Patrol agents in the backcountry and my skepticism of the two horsepackers evaporated.  We were then asked if we'd seen these folks (we hadn't).  The ranger went on to tell us that there were known bears in Goat Haunt, including a brown-colored black bear. 

Goat Haunt has formal "hiker shelters": concrete slabs with three-walled and roofed cubbies for hikers to pitch their (hopefully free-standing) tent in.  My tent is not free-standing, so I slept sans tent, which is my preference anyway.  If a bear is intent on getting me in the night, making myself into a plastic-wrapped treat isn't going to help me.  We did see the brown-colored black bear while we were enjoying some time lakeside, but he stayed away from camp so far as we could tell.  We did laundry and considered our options for the next day.  The previous day's hike had done a number on some of us and we weren't sure we could safely proceed with our next day (14 miles).  Dinner was "Tamale Pie for Ungrateful Waifs" from Lipsmackin' Backpackin'.  Really good (I'd had a hard time dehydrating the green chilies, so we actually packed in a small can of them -- first time I've ever packed in canned food), but sooo much of it, we nearly didn't finish it.  Cheesecake for dessert. 
The view from the Goat Haunt campsites
(the Goat Haunt Visitor Center is the structure on the shoreline)

Next morning, we had dehydrated eggs with spinach and cheese a la Backpacker's Pantry (much better than I remember from my girl scout days), vacuum-sealed bacon and tortillas for some pretty fine breakfast burritos.  As we were packing up, it became clear what I think we all knew: we weren't going to attempt the 14 mile hike, but take the ferry to Waterton, Alberta and then a shuttle van from there to my car, stationed at the border on the east side of the park.  And that's what we did.

23 August 2010

hike: glacier national park, boulder pass and brown pass

Me at Boulder Pass. 
We got up as early as we could manage, gulped down some coffee and trader joes blueberry muesli mixed with instant oatmeal and topped with cranberries. We had some serious trail to cover this day -- 16.5 miles I believe, is my all-time single day record (I remember having a really long day on my last 50-miler with the girl scouts, but I think that was more like 12 or 13 miles). We headed up and into a recently-burned forest, like a telephone pole farm. Fresh new shrubs covered the ground -- they'll have most of the sun while the trees get reestablished, then thin out again as the forest canopy develops.

Looking down into Hole in the Wall basin
from the east side of Boulder Pass.
The views of Kintla Peak, Agassiz Glacier, and a pass that was formed from the most amazing step-like rock erosion were spectacular. Looking back, we could see Upper and Lower Kintla Lakes... and then the switchbacks began. According to our NPS backcountry permit, we climbed 3470 feet that day... nothing to sneeze at. Up and over Boulder Pass (easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, if only because of the stellar views in all directions), and down into a deep green basin with cascading waterfalls and views of Bowman Lake, Thunderbird Mountain and Brown Pass, where we would camp that night. I realize now that a good bit of this view was also of Canada -- I should've waved. We chatted a lot on the trail (talking is encouraged in bear country), and we played kid's travel games to keep the talking nearly constant, interspersed with "hey bear".

Heading down from Boulder Pass towards Brown Pass,
Bowman Lake in the background.
We arrived at the Brown Pass campground a bit grumpy (did I mention the 16.5 miles?), and were greeted by more mosquitoes than was really necessary (the permit-issuing ranger did warn us about the mosquitoes, at least). There were only three campsites at this campground. We dined on chicken noodle soup (I'm convinced: soup packets are a source of sanity in camp), tortellini with vegetables and I suspect we had some dessert, though I don't recall what it was. Hung the food and tromped off to bed.

more photos can be found here.

18 August 2010

hike: glacier national park, St Mary and Kintla Lakes

I arrived in Montana around noontime on Saturday and was almost immediately smitten. I have long believed that I would love Montana, and it turns out, I was right. A stunningly beautiful mix of mountains, farmland, wetlands and small towns. I headed north from I-90 at St Regis, following State Route 135 along the Clark Fork River. I continued northward on State Route 200 passing through Paradise and connecting with State Route 28 near Plains and heading towards the resort-town surrounded Flathead Lake. US Route 93 took me around the northwest edge of the lake, heading towards Kalispell, an adorable town I could see myself living in some day. US Route 2 (which I could've taken all the way from the Seattle area, with a few extra hours -- next time) took me from Kalispell to West Glacier, and the Park entrance.

Since I was meeting Jana and Mike on the eastern side of the Park, I had to drive the Going to the Sun Road, not that I was complaining. The sunniest of what would be three trips for me on this road, it was gorgeous. Near The Loop, about halfway across the Park, traffic was held up by two men who were flagging down a Park Ranger to tell them that they'd seen a bear about a mile away. I shuddered as I noticed that they were both sporting handguns on their belts. I am much more afraid of them than I am of the Park's bears.

the view from Going to the Sun Road

I arrived at St Mary Campground shortly after Jana and Mike. They'd already checked in with the nearby Backcountry Permit Office and found that no permits were available for our preferred hike, the North Circle. Mike had a printout of the permits that were available as of permit office close of business, so we poured over maps and guidebooks to build a new preferred hike and some alternates. Mike is great at this -- I may hire him to plan all my backcountry hikes for me!

My first night with my red canister of bear spray at my side was a little unnerving and I didn't sleep as well as I might have if I hadn't been downright expecting bears to walk through our camp. They didn't.

Up at 6am, Mike shuffled over to the Backcountry Permit Office and was still the fourth person in line. Jana stayed in camp to make breakfast (blueberry pancakes and bacon), and I brought Mike a cup of coffee (note: Starbucks' single redeeming feature may be Via, their instant coffee -- perfect for backpacking). When we got our turn at the permit counter, I was reminded of how I used to register for classes at Humboldt: planning out my class schedule on graph paper, watching a pair of TV monitors at the commons building that listed the number of seats available in each and every class, then going to the registration office at my appointed time and hoping the classes hadn't filled up while I was standing in line. Mike pointed at a map and named campsites as the ranger entered our choices into a database and would say yea or nay to getting a permit for each. We ended up with a dramatized version of our new preferred hike:

(edited to correct mileages)
Kintla Lake Trailhead to Lower Kintla Lake: 6.3 miles
Lower Kintla Lake to Brown Pass: 16.5 miles (!)
Brown Pass to Goat Haunt: 8.6 miles
Goat Haunt to Mokowanis Lake: 14.3 miles
Layover at Mokowanis Lake: 0 miles
Mokowanis Lake to Chief Mountain: 14.4 miles
TOTAL: 60.1 miles

(The original had the miles spread out a little more evenly)

We divided up the communal gear, food and got my car situated at the ending trailhead, Chief Mountain (right at the US/Canada border). We then hauled across the Park in Jana and Mike's trusty Volvo stationwagon and up to the Kintla Lake Trailhead About four hours to do all that had us setting out onto the trail at about 5:15pm. Fortunately, our first 8 miles were essentially lakeside, so there wasn't much elevation, just mostly flat miles. We heard a pair of loons on the lake -- a lovely, eerie call. Quite a bit of bear sign -- mostly torn up tree bark, where the bears look for insects. Gorgeous mountains surround the lake: the Boundary Mountains to the north and Kintla Peak to the southeast.

scenery around Lower Kintla Lake

We got into camp just as the evening light was dwindling. This was the largest backcountry campground we stayed at, with about seven campsites. The campsites in Glacier's backcountry were unlike any I'd seen before: each designated campsite is just large enough to sleep four (two small tents or one larger one). There's a communal food preparation area, like one of the campsites, but surrounded by benches, and near to that is a constructed bear bagging pole or frame (no searching for a tree branch that was just right!). All food, food-or-otherwise-scented items, and water were to be bagged every night. They even stipulate that sweat-soaked clothing should be "secured", lest some salt-seeking marmot or mountain goat find it while you're not looking. Each campground had a pit toilet (some with walls, some without). Our first dinner was miso soup and chicken curry. The curry was pretty decent -- it was one of the dinners I was charged with preparing back home, so I was pleased to find out that it went over OK.

We saw several mice at this campsite and not an any of the others. They scratched at my tent a few times in the night -- I flicked them away from the inside. Bear spray at my side, I slept well.

06 August 2010

05 August 2010

hike: glacier national park

I can hardly sit still, I am so excited about my upcoming trip to Glacier National Park. I'll stay in Spokane on Friday night, then drive across the skinny bit of Idaho and into Montana Saturday morning. I'll be meeting good friends Jana and Mike on Saturday late afternoon on the eastern side of the park, which gives me all day Saturday to explore the Going to the Sun Road through the park.

I've got all my gear staged in the garage, a few food items left to prep, the ice chest to pack, and dog stuff to pack (Finn stays with his buddies Helo and Atreides). I watched my bear safety DVD twice and bought bear spray, hoping to never use it.

I'll take lots of pictures, I promise!

26 July 2010

hike: glacier mountain

Finn and I set off for Granite Mountain Sunday morning with four liters of water for the two of us, way more lunch than I could eat (I'm usually ravenous when I hike, but not this time), and not a speck of extra clothing (an oversight on my part, but I was way too hot to care). And, sans camera. But whatever, we all know what Mt Rainier looks like on a spectacular cloud-free summer day, right?

Eight miles round trip. Every single step out was uphill, and every single step back was down. Certainly an exercise in heel blistering and toe bashing. Ow. But great. Really great, actually. The top half of the trail is almost entirely exposed, sparse trees creating little oases along the way. On the way back down, Finn would plop his butt on the trail in these shade oases and refuse to move for several minutes. Once we were back into the forested lower portion of the trail, he trotted right along.

I am nearly as sore as I was after Mt St Helens last summer (ok, probably not even close, but it is reminiscent). Wait a minute... that too was eight miles... up... back.... view of mt rainier.... same old, same old....

16 July 2010

colors: freshwater coastal wetlands

I just love these colors!

The colors of the baylands vegetation are gorgeous -- I find them very inspirational and plan to use these photos to guide some future quilting.

05 July 2010

hike: ira springs trail to mason lake

The goal of my second hike of the season was origininally Bandera Mountain, but I changed course to Mason Lake as I reached the trail junction. The Snoqualmie Pass area was socked in with clouds, so I opted for a scenic lake, rather than a view of the clouds. I estimate 8-9 miles total, as I took the "Road Closed" sign too seriously and parked on the forest road about a mile shy of the trailhead (the way between the sign and the trailhead was completely passable, and about 40 cars were in the parking lot when I got back ot the trailhead... oh well. Four and a half hours, round trip. A lovely hike, a very well maintained trail -- you'd have to work really hard to get lost on this trip.

view from the trail looking out over Snoqualmie Pass

dwarf dogwood (Cornus canadensis) dotted the trail edges, along with bear grass, indian paintbrush and lupines.

mason lake, from its outlet, where the trail approaches the lake

26 June 2010

hike: anderson butte

My first hike of the year was to Anderson Butte, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. I was aiming for Watson Lakes, but for a multitude of little reasons, I turned back early, around what I think was the foot of Anderson Butte. Most of the hike was on a snow field, so the trail was sort of a decomposed remnant of a snowmobile trail, getting thinner and weaker as we went. The snow was rapidly melting -- I could hear the snowmelt rushing along the streambed that was under our feet at some points, which made me nervous -- both for myself and for Finn -- if one of us had crashed through the snow, serious trouble could be had, or at the very least, some real discomfort for the return trip. I also got an embarassingly late start, and I wasn't prepared for hiking in the dark. So I called it a day before all the little stresses turned into a big stress and ruined the hike.

It certainly was beautiful though!

aforementioned snowmelt underfoot

finn tries his hand (paw) at forest management

that's Mount Baker there, hiding behind the clouds in the distance

19 June 2010

handmade shopping

I am a huge fan of buying handmade goods, especially locally. To that end, I do as much of my "shopping" at craft fairs and festivals as I can, including today at the Fremont Fair in Seattle. I had on my list a couple of t-shirts, a skirt to wear to Alaska in September, and a wine bottle stopper (that one had been elusive!). Since I want to do what I can to promote buying handmade, here are the websites of the folks I bought from today:

Uzura www.etsy.com/shop/uzura
Intertwined Designs www.intertwineddesigns.com
B Hive Designs www.bhivedesigns.com

go handmade!!

18 June 2010

there's a little saying in these parts....

Q: What do you call a sunny day that comes after two rainy days?

A: Monday

And just to prove our point....

(source: nws.noaa.gov)

28 March 2010

10 March 2010

first bad review

ugh. two out of three reviewers tore me and my design apart today. at least it's over, I guess, but I feel like I have more questions about what I did wrong exactly, countered by a complete disinterest in seeing that project anymore.

for now, some sleep.

tomorrow, some knitting.

27 February 2010

you know you're facing finals in a design program when.....

.... your fridge looks like this.

ps: don't worry mom, I went to the grocery store today.

24 February 2010

crunch time, and a question

As if I haven't been busy all quarter long, I'm about to get even busier. This quarter we're designing a tiny (0.3 acre) park in the downtown area of Seattle. We have the option of making it an off-leash dog park, which it currently is (but was not designed to be), or a people park. As you might imagine, I have some pretty strong feelings on what's a good dog park looks and feels like--from the dog's point of view. So I toyed with some design ideas that included an off-leash area (as well as a partial off-leash area, a third option), but have decided to design a "people park". There are very few families with children in the neighborhood in question, but that demographic is on the rise, so I am trying to design a site that's fun for kids, without being a playground. Any suggestions? I've got some ideas that involve lights, varying ground surfaces and interactive art installations, but I'd love to know -- have you ever seen (or wished you had) something in a park that really caught your attention?

02 January 2010

catching up

I did a few really cool things since I last posted in September (coincidence? I think not). First, I climbed Mt St Helens. Amazing trip, and I'd do it again. I had essentially zero practice or training, and still did pretty well. Not setting any speed climbing records, but it was a great time. I was joined by my friend Brent and his friend Heather, who was on a flight layover between Nova Scotia and Australia. Most folks I know bring a book or knitting for layovers... this woman climbed a mountain.

just getting started

the fog is clearing

the climbing route: Monitor Ridge

on top of the world, but not yet on top of the mountain (Brent, Heather and me)

making progress

getting closer (the horizon line is the top)

looking north from the cornice -- the 1980 eruption blew the top and north side of the volcano off.

at the top! known to the mountain's climbers as half way


Next up, my parents went on a long road trip that included a visit to Seattle and British Columbia. I loved having them here and I loved the time we spent exploring Vancouver and Victoria, BC. We ate well, laughed much and saw new things.

My mom and me at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park....

Here are my parents on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria....

My dad, Finn and me canoeing at Green Lake, Seattle.


Then, just as they'd done some 23 years earlier, my parents dropped me off for my first day of school. My first quarter of full-time grad school went wonderfully, and was as much fun as I've had in a long time. Drawing and coloring, cutting and pasting, showing and telling -- I tell you, this is all the fun of kindergarten with all the perks of adulthood. My classmates are awesome, and my grades are good. I am having a blast.


Lastly, a note from Mr Finn. He gained a little fame when the doggie day care we take him to selected his image to paint on the side of their doggie transport truck. How awesome is this?

thanks, Great Dog!

skagit river eagles

I dragged Finn along to the Skagit River today (say SKAJ-it) to see the bald eagles that take up residence there in December-February for the annual salmon feast. According to the Eagle Watchers docents on hand with info and spotting scopes, the high count for this season was on 30DEC09: 255 eagles. I saw nine. I'm sure there were many more there to be seen, but as Finn hasn't yet learned how to drive, I had to keep my eyes on the road, where there weren't any eagles. We went for a rainy walk at Rockport State Park, which we had entirely to ourselves. The outing certainly scratched an itch I had for a hike, and I saw something new, which is an item I need to add to my list of resolutions.

The Skagit, with two eagles (that I know of) in this photo

Just the scenery

01 January 2010

Resolution number one

Blog more (obviously)

Resolutions the rest:
Drive less, bike more (grocery store, school, etc)
Write more (correspondence)
Sew more (2009 was the year of the Knit)
Read more
Establish an advance directive, etc.
Learn how to ... (TBD)

Oldies but goodies:
Volunteer six times
Make a quilt for Eric and me
Learn to knit socks

And in financial news, I collected $8.17 in street change in 2009.