Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ebey's Landing

The trail head at Ebey’s Landing, Whidbey Island, Washington

“We are going where?”
“Around the tip of that bluff.  We are not walking along the beach, it is too rocky for tennis shoes and you are not wearing boots.  We will walk along the bluff and turn around at the lagoon pond.”
“Okay.  How far is it?”
“About 3.5 miles round trip but we won’t go quite that far today, maybe 3 miles.”

It was partly sunny with lots of clouds in the blue sky, visibility across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains was not clear due to a little fog and the clouds but otherwise it was a good day for a hike.  Cool enough to be comfortable, a dry sandy dirt trail, and sunshine in December.  The trail is a loop that has half on the bluff and half on the beach.  I enjoy walking on the beach but my toe is still not 100% and I have been avoiding boots until the nail grows out more, hence no beach walk today and no really steep downhill walking either if it can be avoided.

Looking back toward the trail head

Part way up to the bluff we looked back to where we started.  There were several people hiking on the trail including some families with very young children. 

The lagoon

We made it to the lagoon!  Just past this point the trail has several switchbacks and is very steep as it descends to the beach.  Not something I want to try with my toe.  We will go just a little bit farther then turn back.  The cool water in our canteens plus snacks like chocolate covered pretzels are welcome treats.  

Clouds & the beach from the bluff

Farmland as seen from bluff trail

Ebey’s Landing is named for Colonel Isaac Ebey who founded the first community as a result of the westward movement along the Oregon Trail and the Donation Land Grants of 1850-1855 that encouraged migration west and subsequent settlement. There is still a large area of farmland on the island.  More than 100 years ago the Pratt family settled at Ebey’s Landing and farmed.  In 1999 when Robert Y. Pratt passed away he left approximately 150 acres to the Nature Conservancy.  That organization had already purchased an additional 400 acres so the preserve is now about 546 acres.  There will be wild flowers blooming along the bluff in the Spring and many birds and other wildlife. 

A small picnic lunch in the car and a stop to visit with my aunt, uncle and cousin who live on the island completed the hiking day this week.  The sun was setting over their pond when we headed off to catch the ferry back to the mainland.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Carkeek Park

 Carkeek beach Looking north from the overpass

We took a walk in Carkeek Park a few days ago.  It is amazing how much wooded areas and wetlands still exist in these city parks. 

We parked in the main lot and started off through the Bog on this boardwalk shown in the photo below.  Even though it is winter there were a couple of Mallard ducks swimming in the bog pool.  The water comes from Piper’s Creek that winds through the park and crosses the path in several places.

 Boardwalk over the Bog

Two Mallard ducks swimming

The trail winds through the bog area on boardwalks, small grated bridges and dirt paths and then crosses a picnic meadow before climbing slightly through woods up to the Piper’s orchard.  The orchard still has trees, some over 100 years old that are producing apples, pears, quince and nuts.  Most bear fruit varieties that are no longer grown.   The Pipers homesteaded the property following the 1889 fire in Seattle.  Later the land was purchased by Carkeek and still later donated to the city for use as a park.  The orchard lay dormant for years then was cleared and restored by volunteers.  Today the fruit from the orchard is sold to help maintain it.

Piper's Orchard

From the orchard we dipped back down the hill a little bit and then up again to the forest.  It was foggy and a little chilly but the light was great for picture taking.

Douglas Fir trees, a deep forest in a city

 Some of the trees had ferns growing right out of their trunks.

Old tree with many holes in the trunk

We eventually reached the top viewpoint but it was too foggy to get a good look at the mountains or the water.  On the way back down to the parking area we did have one place where we could look out and see the water and the gulls through the trees.

Looking through the trees at the gulls on the beach

The circular route we took through the Bog was less steep than if we had gone up to the viewpoint first.  The entire route was about 2 ½ miles of mostly level or slightly inclined trail.  Although we did have a small amount of snow in the city a week ago it has been mostly dry so the dirt trail was free of mud and easy to walk. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 122

Emmett "Bud" Wright with skis, 1920

The Park City Museum in Park City, Utah has taken several historical photographs and made them into postcards.  This one, above, shows a group of telephone linemen including Emmett “Bud” Wright at the far left holding the skis.  The picture is dated 1920.

Looking at the skis he his holding it is possible to see that one is significantly longer than the other one.  While Bud was out on his lineman duties repairing phone lines he took a fall and one of his 10’ long handmade skis broke.  He continued the rest of the way on one long and one shorter ski.   He, and others like him, became local heroes who kept the phone lines open, put up new poles, and checked the lines during the winter months.  In tribute to Bud Wright there is a bronze statue of him in Park City.

These telephone linemen were called “Boomers.”  They had special equipment to aid in climbing the poles such as hooks and braces for their legs and boots, belts with loops and pockets to carry the tools needed once they got up to the top.  They also worked in teams to install new or replacement poles.  Setting the new, young pole in place was hard, dangerous work.  It required the use of planks to slide the end of the pole into a pre-dug hole and ropes to haul it upright.  Cross-arms were attached before raising the pole.  Pine poles called “pikes” were used to guide the larger, longer pole into place.  The Boomers had to know when to get out of way to avoid being crushed by a pole that fell instead of being safely installed. 

First settled in 1848 by Mormon pioneers and named originally for Parley P. Pratt as Parley’s Park City the name was later shortened to Park City.  When gold and silver were found here many outsiders came to work the mines and Park City became a rough and tumble mining town by 1870 very unlike most of the rest of the Mormon towns.  Today many of the old buildings have been restored and it is primarily a tourist and ski town.  The museum, located on the main street, has a scale-sized model of the silver mining operation, many old photographs, and other displays from the early days. 

Bud Wright, Joe Holland and Chet Jensen, ca 1922

Also from the museum collection this second card, above,  shows Bud Wright at the left and two others, Joe Holland and Chet Jensen standing at the top of Main Street with Hillside Avenue in the background.  It is dated ca 1922. 

For more information about Park City and the Linemen, see:


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

‘Tis the season, dessert, 11 – Tusenbladstärta

I thought I was all done with baking for this season and then wanted to do something special for Christmas Eve.  The result is this Swedish dessert called Tusenbladstärta  that I modified just a tiny bit to make it red & white for Christmas.   It is made in parts and then assembled several hours or overnight before serving.  The original recipe is found in Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook, p. 314-315.  I have quadrupled this recipe in the past and made the rounds larger than 7 inches when serving a large group of people but it is rich and this small version can be cut into 12 pieces.  Although it was eaten the last time before I could try it, I think it would freeze well too.


¾ cup butter
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons very cold water
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Mix butter, flour, salt & cinnamon until crumbly.  Sprinkle in the water and stir with a fork until the pieces start to adhere to each other.  Gather the dough into a ball, then divide ball into 6 parts.  Roll each part into circles of approximately 7” (the size of a dessert/salad plate.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Prick the pastry rounds with a fork and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon sugar.  Bake each circle on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on wire rack or paper towels.

Custard filling

¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup whipping cream, chilled

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a 1 quart saucepan.  Stir in milk.  Cook over medium to medium high heat stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir for 1 min.  Remove from heat and stir in the slightly beaten egg.  Blend and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 min.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Cover and let the custard mix cool a little before putting in the refrigerator and cooling completely (about one hour).  When the custard is cold, whip the cream until stiff.  Fold the cream into the custard.

Applesauce layer

1 cup thick Applesauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix together.


Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on the serving plate or dish and place one of the round pastry pieces on the sugar.   Put 1/3 cup of the applesauce mix on the top of the first layer.  Place second round on top and put 1/3 to ½ cup custard mix on the top of this layer.  Alternate ending with the custard on top so it looks a little like frosting.  Decorate with more powdered sugar sprinkled on, almond slices and at the last minute before serving add maraschino cherries.  Adding the cherries too soon will result in the red bleeding into the custard, which is fine if that is the look you are trying to achieve but if the separate colors of cream/white and red are desired don’t put the cherries on too soon.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Visions of sugarplums . . .


Orchestra Seattle & Seattle Chamber Singers
 Handel's Messiah

Pacific Northwest Ballet 
The Nutcracker

 Lights outside

Olympic View Manor, every house in this neighborhood is decorated with lights and displays.  Buses were creeping long the streets taking groups of people on tours to see the outdoor lights.

Lights inside

 "For unto you a child is born"



It snowed during the night and covered the yard with just a about an inch of white frosting.  It is warming up now, though, and raining so it will all be gone in a few hours or at least by evening.  Very pretty while it lasts.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 121

It is the week before Christmas and visions of sugarplums are probably dancing in quite a few heads.  Last year I discovered that it was possible to write to the Julenisse, the Norwegian equivalent of Santa Claus, and get a postcard in return.  The result is shown above.  Thousands of children across the globe write keeping Julenissen postkontor very busy at this time of year. 

The town of Drøbak, Norway is located about 30 miles south of the capital city, Oslo. Julenissen (like Santa) arrives at his residence in Drøbak during the month of November and stays through the Christmas holidays.  He does drop by at other times of the year, though, so visitors are sometimes fortunate enough to encounter him in the summer, for example, and get a photo taken with him.  Many of the buildings in the town have been restored from the 18th century making it a charming and popular tourist destination especially during the winter.  There is a Julenisse post office and a toy shop.  Julenisse crossing signs like the one below can be found on the streets.

Julenisse crossing sign


One legend about the Julenisse or Santa Claus says that he was born under a rock in Vindfangerbukta north of Drøbak several hundred years ago.  “That is why Drøbak is the Christmas town above all others.”  One of the tourist attractions in the town is the Christmas house or Julehuset that is located right next to the town hall.  Busloads of people come to see the Julenisser, trolls, elves, and gnomes in the house. 

Inside the Julehuset

The founder of the Post Office and the Christmas house is Eva Willy Johansen.  Christmas cards and stamps are available at the “Santa Post Office.” 

The Julenisse post office in Drøbak, Norway.

The official Julenissen postmark.

As it turns out there is more than one place to visit or write to the Julenisse in Norway.  In addition to the Julehus in Drøbak there is one further north at Savalen, Hedmark, Norway where the Nissemor (mother nisse or Mrs. Claus) and all the little nisser work and play.  Nissemor has cocoa, coffee, tea and soft drinks as well as julegrøt (Christmas porridge) available for visitors.  Do you suppose there are other Julenisse houses and post offices in different places throughout Norway? 

There are many, many Santa Claus websites.  American children can email Santa Claus and get an instant reply.   Some of the Santa’s mentioned also offered phone conversations with children. 

Please see these sites for more information about contacting the Julenisse or Santa Claus.



Happy Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do you see what I see?

On a walk around Green Lake today what should we see but a tiny Christmas tree floating in the lake . . .

All decorated with golden balls and if you look close you will see lights too.  Battery powered?  Who knows?  It is a delightful, unexpected piece of public art.

Also along the Green Lake path this red, white and green heart placed in the center of an old tree stump.  A friend told me the following story behind this display.  A very old tree stood here, all that is left is the stump.  The people who walk the trail petitioned to save the tree and were successful for nine years.  But, sadly, the tree was diseased and had to eventually be removed.  A bench is supposed to be made from the wood but so far no bench as been installed at this location.  In the meantime one family comes every so often to place fresh flowers on the stump as a memorial to this much loved tree.

Two gifts of love shared with all those who pass by.  Thank you.

For a more complete story about the tree stump see:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Garden D'Lights



Garden D’Lights

Each year during the Christmas season the Bellevue Botanical Garden decorates with lights.  On a cold but clear evening we went to visit the Garden D’Lights and here are some of the things we saw.  The display was reduced in size this year due to a construction project for the new visitor center but it was beautiful and fun with lots of different things to look for like butterflies, frogs, geckos, a honey bear (Winnie the Pooh) and the spider, Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web, Frosty the Snowman plus many others.  Most evenings have a small fee and require a ticket for entry but there are a few free nights too so check the newspaper if you live locally.  The light show will last through December and into the first week of January.

 Honey Bear aka Winnie the Pooh




 More sunflowers

 Flowers & butterflies

Spider aka Charlotte of Charlotte's Web

 Poinsettia Tree

 Golden tree, pond & swan

 White & red tree

Flowers on an trellis

 Snowman aka Frosty the Snowman

Tree with icicle lights