My second niece graduated from high school last night. It seems impossible that she is an adult already, about to head off into the future…and feeling like all of our futures may well be better because of her.
One of my favorite things through the years has been spending time with my nieces. Here are some pictures from the recent graduate’s murky past, in no particular order.
Today is the last day of 2018. A year that seemed to both drag on and fly by. I looked back through my archives to figure out where it went. Going back over things, I realized that it has been a really wonderful year. The stress of Grandma’s hospitalization and fussing over holidays this past couple of months had driven from my mind the many wonderful and beautiful things that happened and that we saw and did, big and small.
January was just January-short days with a little sun and a lot of clouds.
February has two of my nieces birthdays just a couple of days, but several years, apart, They turned one and seventeen in 2018. The hat was a birthday gift from my husband, who knits, and I have a matching one.
More clouds, and a few mountains:
A short visit from my son and his friend (over Chinese New Year):
A big ship-load of cranes:
In March spring began to creep in, amid some interesting clouds:
One unusually warm day we took an outing to Washington Park Arboretum, in spite of living in Seattle most of my life I had never been. If you are ever in town you should go.
The mist is puffs of tree pollen.
Lots of Hellebores!
More flowers and clouds led up to St. Patrick’s Day:
Brunnera, Jack Frost, in bloom.
St. Patrick’s Day dinner.
Irish soda bread.
An anvil cloud at sunset.
Spring clouds over the Kitsap Peninsula.
On the equinox we went to Solstice Park and watched the sunset.
Our plans for my grandmother’s 95th birthday were thrown off by an outbreak of Noro-virus. We couldn’t have the party we had planned at her facility, but a few hours of phone calls yielded a wheelchair van we could rent and we went out. Fortunately (?) she had had and recovered from the virus a week before her birthday so she could go out…after all 95 is kind of a big deal.
Spring really kicked into gear:
Puget Sound sunset, with clouds.
Tiny Japanese maple blossoms.
In the second half of the month we went to China to visit our son. It was my husband’s first trip so we flew in and out of Beijing so he could see a couple of the more famous sites.
The Great Wall of China
The Forbidden City
Roof guardians on the Hall of Supreme Harmony.
Exquisite detail looking up from below.
My son said of these “one is holding the baby’s ball and the other is tickling its tummy”.
Checking to see if he is on official China time.
View from the top of a nearby hill, imagine if the air was clear….
Ribbon twirling at a nearby park, looked like fun.
My son lives in Shouguang, which is a small city that is part of Weifang Prefecture in Shandong Province. While visiting we took in the Weifang International Kite Festival:
and Shouguang’s claim to fame, the International High-Tech Vegetable Expo:
Less famous, but very lovely is Shouguang’s garden of peonies. We spend a lovely morning there and came home with some fans painted by this gentleman:
May had big changes for me. A little one was that Amie Lu, a gift from one of our son’s co-workers, joined our household. Amie Lu is a safe travel deer. We named her Amie Lu because Amie is friend in French, and the name of her creator, Lu means deer in Chinese.
When we got home from China, my dear friend, Sam (my father’s dog) had lymphoma and had to be put to sleep, she was obviously failing, but it still broke my heart. I still tear up when I think about her.
A new camera: my dearly beloved Nikon P610 started to have a problem with the zoom switch in China and I needed to find a new camera before our trip to England in June. I was in a hurry so I had time to learn how to use it before our June 5 departure.
The new camera made May a month of learning for me. I took a whole lot of pictures trying to learn to take advantage of at least a few of the wide range of features before our trip.
June was really a highlight of this year, and decade, we took a trip that we have talked about on and off for the thirty one years we were married: We walked the Hadrian’s Wall National Train in northern England. We had all kinds of weather and beautiful scenery…and I made it. The walk ended on our 32nd wedding anniversary and we are still married! A few times along the way I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew…but I made it. We ended the trip with a few days at York and a visit to Kew Gardens.
Sunset on Solway Firth.
Sunrise on Solway Firth.
Romans went in straight lines.
We weren’t sure if they would let us pass.
Sun break between squalls.
Looking back at Sewingshields.
There was a bit of wind.
Pagoda and Japanese Garden at Kew Gardens.
Dragon at Kew Gardens.
Since Amie Lu is a safe travel deer, we took her with us. She rode mostly in my pocket, but occasionally demanded to be let out.
After two big trips with just a month between we were ready for some home time. The Puget Sound area in summer is (in my biased opinion) a “world class” beauty spot. I always try to spend July and August at home because, while some places might be as nice, I really feel like no where is actually better. We ended the month with our annual week at Mount Rainier. I love actually staying at Paradise because you can go out in the mornings before the crowds ascend.
Puget Sound sunset.
A rose in my own garden.
Venus and the moon, close-up.
Venus and the waxing moon, near moonset over the Kitsap Peninsula.
One that got away: an artichoke blossom in our garden.
Myrtle Falls at Mount Rainier.
Indian Paintbrush, Paradise at Mount Rainier.
Avalanche Lilies at Paradise on Mount Rainier.
Lupines at Mount Rainier.
July brought into our lives Max, my father’s new puppy. Sweet and affectionate, and the personification of energy, she burst in on us and is well on her way to ruling the roost, because, while she is smart and learning, my dad is neither teaching nor learning. Oh well, it worked with Sam.
Again this year there was a period with a lot of smoke from wildfires in British Columbia. My heart really goes out to the people closer to these mind-boggling blazes. Otherwise it was just summer.
Dahlias, Bellevue Botanical Garden.
Dahlias, Bellevue Botanical Garden.
Dahlias, Bellevue Botanical Garden.
Funky windmill at Bellevue Botanical Gardens
Smoky sunset over Puget Sound.
My neighbor’s sunflowers.
My youngest niece with Ginger.
Smoky sunset over Puget Sound.
The approach of fall.
Spider spinning a web.
Full blown rose in the backyard.
Seed pod of a clematis.
Max, my dad’s new puppy.
This is the month I started the Pull up a Seat Challenge. It has been great fun to see all of the posts that the one, simple theme elicits.
October had two parts, the first three weeks of it I was in Shouguang, Shandong Province, China visiting my son. It was a quiet, just wander around and be in a regular Chinese place sort of trip where I didn’t try to do anything ambitious.
On returning home I drifted along not quite in this time zone until, a few days after I got home we got the call at about 1 am that my grandmother was being taken to the hospital. That started the second real part. Sitting in hospital rooms trying to decipher the technical gibberish and make arrangements, but mostly just waiting.
And fall was going on in full colorful swing during all of the nerve-racking lack of excitement.
In November I went downtown, shocking. I rarely do it even though it takes about 20 minutes on buses that run about 20 minutes apart. It is both familiar and intimidatingly changed. As always I decided that I want to get familiar with it again…it used to be my town. We’ll see if I do better at that in 2019 than I did this year.
High rise buildings from the Polyclinic.
View from the bus.
Downtown buildings, old and new.
Thank goodness the Owl and Thistle is still here!
Otherwise the month was Thanksgiving preparations (we built a ramp so Grandma could come) and the usual late fall prettiness (fall is my favorite time of year).
In November I also started a rather ambitious get my pictures organized and find an efficient workflow project that has made it, at least to start with, less easy to just get a post put together.
The cat has learned to open the laundry shoot, and a couple of other cupboard doors. It is a bit unnerving to hear the thump when I know where everyone is supposed to be. I guess it is her way of letting us know that the attempts to have a real guest room available (it was where she has a bed) are not to her liking.
“and so this is Christmas…” and winter.
Christmas outfits: then and now.
Great Blue Heron on a cold morning.
Time for a warm fire.
Waiting for me to finish shopping.
Christmas Eve the air was exceptionally clear.
My guard dog didn’t prevent Santa from visiting:
Now we are hunkered down trying to keep the animals calm during New Year’s fireworks. I don’t make resolutions, but I do try to make improvements. Maybe I’ll get my new organization system to work, and figure out a more efficient way to work with RAW files…or maybe I’ll eat a bit less and get more exercise. Who knows? Certainly not I.
For a while now I have been really enjoying the beauty of photographs posted by Bren at Ryan Photography. In her November 5th Flower of the Day post she describes how she post processes images using radial and graduated filters in Adobe Lightroom, which I actually have and know, more or less, how to use. So many of the techniques require photoshop or other fancy things I haven’t learned yet. Last week I had an afternoon free from other worries and while the chili cooked I took a few photos from a fall walk around my neighborhood and gave her techniques a try.
I found it to be relaxing, almost like meditation, to play with the light and shadows. A big thank you to Bren for sharing her techniques.
Interesting and dramatic, Chicago is a modern city with modern architecture, where you get a crick in your neck looking up at all the really tall buildings. I spent about twenty three hours there last summer on a train trip (our train arrived one hour after the connecting train left). I doubt we’ll ever go back.
My favorite “looking up picture is one I posted before:
This is York Minster, a photo taken in June of this year.
The thing I do everyday, at least twice, usually three or four times, without exception is walk the dogs.
Ginger wants the squirrel to come down and play with her.
Many of my pictures have a leashes and one or two dogs in the background.
They love people, but can sometimes intimidate by their enthusiasm.
Ginger waiting patiently while I take pictures of flowers.
When they first became our dogs (they had been Grandma’s but she became unable to care for them) we did not have a fully fenced yard. We did finally put up small fences so I can just let them out but by then they were in the habit of being walked and insist on it. Many of my photographs are taken on our dog walks.