Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Night Circus

Despite Leela's suggestion that perhaps I should sew all day today I think this will be a heavy yard work day. The area will be busy with weekend travelers and vacationers. Probably after I get my errands done this morning I will mostly stick around the house.

I finished reading "The Night Circus" this week. Similar to "Discovery of Witches" and "Shadow of Night" (where IS the third book?!) at the end of "The Night Circus" I almost read the entire thing all over again. I am positive there were things I missed.

The biggest struggle I had with "The Night Circus" is the back and forth of dates. Chapters were not necessarily in dated chronological order. I know this about myself already, but when books start chapters with the date I tend not to pay attention. In this book it at times REALLY matters what the date was and so I would be part way into one chapter and looking back at the date of the previous chapter. Again, this has to do more with how I read and I will say the more I got into the book the better I got at following the different threaded time lines.

"The Night Circus" has some simply beautiful moments with scenes that are unlike anything you will probably ever read because of the total fantasy of the circus. The ending felt rushed to me, but perhaps it was because I had too many questions or possibly because the book just had to end and everything just had to be dumped out to make it end. There were many characters that I could have probably followed just their lives and each of those characters could have been a book on its own.

Thanks to the book's epilogue (which was not dated) I did look up: and almost wrote a test e-mail to (which I assume probably goes to the author). The e-mail address on the proprietor's business card in this epilogue suggests that a circus dating back to the late 1800s somehow survives to present time. Book readers also know Bailey was around 12 in 1897. However time and aging and memory works differently in the circus and I hope you will read the book to experience this.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer Rain

Since today's rain storm happened in August I figure we will still call it summer rain. The reality is, fall is coming and I have mixed feelings about it.

This week Nim got some used toys from other dogs. This snake just cracks me up. He seems to use it like a body pillow.

The Dog Tornado we are borrowing and he really likes this one. I am not sure if it is because we do so many food dispensing games or not, but he figured this one out super quick. It rained so hard today that food toys were used frequently to get some activity.

I decided to work on another quilt in the pile on this rainy day. It was that or clean the refrigerator, which still desperately needs to be cleaned, but my quilt pile is also becoming a desperate mess of another sort.

This time I remembered to attach the table which I completely forgot with the last quilt. I just don't think about using it after using a standard machine so long. It is taking some getting used to. I drop my elbows normally and with this attachment I really can't. I also would like to kneel on the chair but that doesn't work with the pedal.

I have had just a series of issues this time around. Mostly I think because I needed to clean all the fuzz out of the bobbin area after the last quilt. Several tangles, broken threads, and skipped stitches later I finally took everything apart and cleaned it out and it is running much better now.

Check out Leela's new "spot." Lucky me. And yes, she is there while I am sewing. I guess I should be grateful it is not Emile who is a foot biter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fuller Mountain Failure - North Fork Snoqualmie

This is what Nim looked like Wednesday morning:

So I took that as a sign he needed a hiking break. Today we woke up and decided to hike Fuller Mountain. It is a primitive/unmaintained trail that I know well but today success was not on our side. 

The trail head is along the side of a fast moving logging road. If you don't know it is there, you won't find it.

This part it though an old "Weyerhaeuser Forest" (Hancock owns it now I think). There are signs that at one point there was going to be an actual loop trail, but it is long gone. Basically people like me who know it is there use the trail to cut some of the logging roads. It is too bad too because it is a pretty area.

I was grateful this log bridge was still there, despite being narrow and slick.

The trail is ridiculously overgrown and there are several downed trees from storms, but nothing like the conditions once we hit Fuller.

Basically I challenge you to actually find the trail in most of the photos. And it is just as hard to find it while you are hiking it, even for someone like me that knows it very well.

We kept pushing hard and got our view of Klaus Lake along the way.

Not many photos were taken at the worst of this trail. I had too much going on trying to find the route and getting the dog through it. It was a marginal trail at best anyway, but the storm damage has destroyed parts of it. You would spend a lot of time trying to get around a tree and then even more time trying to find the trail again.

Ultimately I gave up. Fuller is actually a small mountain and you don't have to worry too much about getting actually lost, but you can spend some quality hours stuck in miserable thick. This was a lot of hard work on the dog and even coming back down I did a decent cross country route that I don't think he was thrilled with when I couldn't find the trail for awhile.

So we will try again later. I need flagging tape and some clearing tools and a lot more patience. I don't want the route lost. The trail was always fairly undefined at the top anyway, but you at least need to know what you did so you can get back out of it.

Once we got ourselves back out we hiked some logging roads out to Klaus Lake to try and redeem the day. Even that areas is far more overgrown right now. But one of the old signs was still readable.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bare Mountain - North Fork Snoqualmie

After yesterday's successful hike I knew exactly which trail I wanted to do next.

I never could do Bare Mountain with Odin and we had several attempts.The problem lies in a creek crossing about 1/2 mile in. The water is deep and fast moving and Odin would have none of it. Between the dry summer and Nim being overall a bit more willing with water I decided to try again.

There was no way to safely deal with photographing the crossing, but we made it. The water was definitely lower than I have seen it, but still moving and deep. I doubt Nim would do it in the spring when the water is really high (and cold) and I wouldn't ask him to.

The part we crossed had water about up to Nim's chest and I was going across a log next to him. He wanted up on the log, but to be honest he was safer in the water. On the other side of the log the creek goes into a funnel and drops probably at least 20 feet so I wouldn't wanted him to fall off the log at that point.

Once again we had about 1 - 1.5 miles of drainage crap. There is just no nice way to talk about it, and it is even less thrilling on the way out.

Our second crossing had a bridge and then past that is the one part of the trail that really has some pretty and mature trees.

After a brief stint in the woods it is a lot of fields, a lot of climbing switch backs, and a lot of sun. The trail is in decent shape, but narrow and slightly sloped often. Both of us stepped off it more than once.

I am glad we started early as we did. Pretty quickly I let Nim set the pace.

Sometimes I think he just wants to lay in the shade so he can watch things. This trip really made me slow down. It was a longer trail with a steady climb and really I had absolutely no reason to hike it fast and Nim simply couldn't.

After today I think there are some hikes I am taking off the list until we get out of summer heat. I am just not sure it is worth getting him this hot. The temperature actually wasn't that bad until we started descending and we had a steady breeze. I think the issue was the constant sun on his black coat more than anything.

Once I saw Paradise Lakes I knew we were roughly the last mile from the summit.

Getting closer...

Finally we were on the summit. According to my map it is about 5400 ft and just stunning views. I really couldn't capture it very well photographically.

There are just so many photos I am leaving off. The summit is a lot like Tenerife in that it isn't very large, it is flat and rocky. I really wished I had a pad for us up there. We probably would have hung out longer if I had.

Nim and me on Bare Mountain. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday Lake - North Fork Snoqualmie

Last night I sucked it up and bought the Hancock non-motorized permit so that this morning we could head for Sunday Lake. This trail head is located off the North Fork road and is what I considered a limited season trail. In fact I have far more failures at this hike than I have successes.

The first seasonal issue is a swamp. Which was almost dry right now thanks to our hot summer. It also has bugs and Nim was in a snit about taking a photo there. Basically we crossed it fine without me shedding boots, socks, and pants. I sank a bit, but nothing bad.

The swamp is basically a pond once the rain season comes in.

The Sunday Lake trail itself isn't particularly long and doesn't gain heavy elevation, it is however very poorly maintained (if at all) and a lot of the difficulty of the trail comes from it being overgrown, creek bed in the trail, and several fallen trees. 

I think somewhere I have a photo of Odin on this same stump. I so wish I had seen our forest when trees were this big. Amazing.

Slowly the trail becomes more drainage bed.

Just before you drop in to cross the North Fork, there is this beautiful rock wall. I have never been able to photograph it with any justice. It is so dark and over grown there.

The second seasonal issue to this hike is the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Frequently crossing the North Fork is where I fail and head back to the car even if I did wade the swamp. And I always go into this hike knowing I may not complete it. I don't even consider it in the spring.

It isn't just getting myself across, it is crossing dogs that by breed notoriously don't do well in water.

Today it was a non-issue. I have never had the crossing be this dry. I think a couple of things happened: one, the area clearly had a serious flood come through in the past few years because the actual bed is quite different (I will actually have to get back there when the river is running high to see how much of the changed bed it is covering) and two, we are having a VERY dry summer.

Once we crossed we were off! Because I often don't get past the river this part of the trail always feels a bit more unknown.

There is one area in particular with a lot of evidence of past logging and people living back there.

After the barrels photo Nim was off running around and jumped off something that had a much farther drop than he planned. He stay closer after that.

After the logging area it was back to business. Part of the trail get much rockier and more overgrown. The rocks aren't great fun for dogs and it is slow going for both of us. He jumped a lot of fall and I climbed a lot.

Finally we reached the lake. Nim is looking down because of the large dragon flies. The lake was really low. Again, a trade off for a hot summer. I could safely cross and get to the lake, but it wasn't as pretty as other times I have got back there. Still, it was peaceful and quiet.

On the trip back Nim wanted to stay in the North Fork much longer. You can see it is not brightly sunny today, but SO muggy.

Back across the swamp...

...Nim could listen to bird noises out there all day long.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Finished Quilt and Trying to Salvage a Garden

Wednesday late morning I turned over the trapped kitty to rescue. Considering she was in my house for all of 12 hours, it was still pretty hard on me. I tried to keep my mind off her by baking for the rest of the day.

Thursday morning I woke up and saw a squirrel digging around in Nim's garden and knew that my 2 week seriously neglected garden was on the agenda.

I have 4 tomato plants and have grown like 7 tomatoes in total. Rats. Since I apparently can grow the tomato plants just fine I am assuming this comes down to an issue of sun. I think Nim's garden needs to be moved eventually too.

So I heavily pruned the tomato plants in a final season effort to ripen the few tomatoes I have.

In the process I found a cucumber. It isn't that I didn't know the cucumber plants were in there, I just didn't realize it had climbed up a tomato. Maybe it will ripen too.

One of my 4 types of pepper plants is actually thriving. The other three are struggling. The bossiest plant in the garden?...

...Brussels is thy name. Sheesh. Who know some that results in a tall stalk of basically tight balls was such a garden hog?! One pepper plant I have had to sacrifice. Between the Brussels and the Borage that plant doesn't have a prayer.

I planted the Borage because it is suppose to have this special relationship with cucumbers. Well I need to research that relationship better because right now the Borage is drowning the cucumber.

Nim has been exceptionally attached and attentive this week. I am not sure if it is because the week has been so hard on me or if it is because our weekend long workshop was such a good experience for him.

After battling the garden for awhile the "rain" (more like a light drizzle) came in and I switched to quilting.

Since getting the Baby Lock in February, this was my first real attempt at free motion. What really surprised me was that I preferred the closed foot over the open one. I have to think about that.

See the furry black quilt back? It is actually fairly thick and thankfully I had the presence of mind to attempt a quilt without any batting because this thing was a thick beast!

I am just glad because it is fuzzy it hides my stitches well.

Overall quilting went well. I think some of the issues were more related to the backing. I am definitely learning the feel and speed of a new machine. It was so nice to have the longer neck!

Have a good Friday!