Archive for the ‘Snoqualmie’ Category

I’m sure I will have bad days ahead, where bears scare me, the septic pump fails, or a tree falls on the chicken coop. But the honeymoon in our new house is sweet indeed!

Running this morning on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail I came across…

I do believe that is a beaver dam. I have never seen them in Washington, though I knew we had them.

Coming back up my hill I saw my neighbors Peter, Paul & Mary (as I have named them). Mary is hanging back. She’s still shy with me…


And The Supremes…


As I ascended up my hill out of the fog, I wondered at the beauty of the sun in the forest. Our forest. Do we really get to live here?


The sign behind Sunny reads “Stewardship Forest.” The previous owners participated in a Federal program that no longer exists, which was to encourage native tree planting on private lands.  They planted over 2,000 trees on this property. Little seedlings that now stand at 4-7 feet among the “second growth” trees.

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Okay! So there is a word for it! That makes me extremely happy, because it means I have something I can use to replace “freak.”

Source: Urban Dictionary

Source: Urban Dictionary


Now, before anyone gets their fur up, I want to be clear that I am not criticizing my sun-loving fellow humans in any way.  Like a lot of people in this world, I just want to be understood.  Dry, warm, light-infused days are extremely useful, I agree.  What I want to convey is a mysterious phenomenon that I cannot even explain.

“…who finds joy and peace of mind…”

Joy and peace of mind. Why?  I really don’t know.  But we band of pluves (known to each other by secret handshake, aka manic happiness when clouds are present) just seem to thrive when the month names start ending with “ber” and “brr” is on our lips.

I take that back; it’s not really about temperature.  I think it’s about light.  For me, anyway, it has nothing to do with getting cold, or wet for that matter.  (Though, speaking as an avid knitter, I can’t wait to wear sweaters again.) I think the light is more beautiful to us, like the way film directors want to shoot outdoor scenes on overcast days to get more vivid colors.

My other theory is that it is linked to eye color. We blue/green eyed folks have Northern climes in our blood, and perhaps an instinctive sense of comfort in low light.  Moreover, there is a practical matter: bright sunlight hurts us.  It hurts.  I must have half a dozen pairs of sunglasses, and keep 2 emergency pairs in my car. And if the brightness doesn’t get you, there is the dreaded Sunlight Squint Headache.  When I encounter someone who has blue or green eyes and doesn’t suffer like this, I cling to my little theory by wondering if they are a medical aberration, or possibly in denial, having been brainwashed by the peer pressure of brown eyed friends.

Then there is the romance of storms: the coziness of a good book by the fire, the lovely sound of rainfall, and the grand finale – rainbows (just enough sun, but not so much to ruin a perfectly good cloud cover).


The first year we lived here in the Snoqualmie Valley, where we have 80 inches of rain per year instead of the 35 we had in Seattle, we bought a treadmill.  That winter it rained and rained (and snowed) and I clung desperately to that treadmill while the blizzards and torrents leered at the window.  At first, that is.  By the end of that first winter I felt like I never wanted to pound that rubber track again. The Dreadmill.  In all the winters that have followed, two words have saved me: proper gear. It’s only water after all.  If I cannot run in all weathers, I don’t want to run at all.  Only two weather conditions will make me cancel a run: lightening and ice.  Learned those the hard way.  Nowadays I have a harder time running in summer heat than I ever did in storms.

In praise of tempests, I guess I should be noble and include a chat about how beneficial rain is to growing food, not to mention the beautiful green trees here. (Bill Murray, “…up there in the Pacific Northwest…” -first 15 seconds:)

But we are talking about joy and peace of mind rather than practical applications like pretty trees and good crops.

Joy and peace of mind. It is the reverse of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Away goes the sun, and suddenly we pluviophiles are electrified with energy, ideas, confidence, a sense of well being, and goodwill towards most everyone… even the sun lovers, who shake their heads at our joy and long for California.


P.S. What I knit when it’s too hot for a half a sweater on your lap. Fingerless mitts. 🙂



P.P.S  It rained yesterday. 😀



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WHEN WILL IT END?!? Don’t answer. I know it ends late in September. Regular readers of my blog might recall that I don’t particularly like summer weather.  Of course, I have to write this on the one day (the only day?) this summer which has seen us creep into the 90sF. Wimp.

This morning we awoke to a smokey smell and a warm pool of air, both of which were delivered by overnight express from Eastern Washington. They’ve been on fire over on that side of the Cascade range for the past few weeks, as usual for summer. Now it is nearly my bedtime but we are still in the 80s. (For non-local readers, that is weird. We generally cool off at night.) The thunder clouds are starting to roll in.  Tomorrow is going to be a hot, wet, noisy mess.

Screen shot 2014-08-11 at 8.22.48 PM

Source: Weather.com



But it is great wedding weather! Well, not tomorrow, but in general the warm sunny days have been a real gift for anyone who wants to play outdoors.

Sunny and I take the stage at the Skagit Highland Games

Sunny and I take the stage at the Skagit Highland Games

What I am doing most outdoors is… cooking!  This is the first summer I have really taken full advantage of our grill, which has a little side burner for whatever needs to be cooked in a pot or pan.  My rule this summer has been: if I cannot cook it outside, I’m not cooking.  IMG_3596

The hardest part has been finding ways to use my CSA vegetables without turning on the stove or oven. Houses get hot enough without steaming broccoli or roasting chickens.


Screen shot 2014-07-05 at 5.51.15 PM

Source: City of Snoqualmie

Sorry, that’s not funny.  These poor neighbors of ours had a 4th of July rocket land on their wood shingle roof this summer.  It makes me miss the wet, chilly days even more when I drive by the ruins. It makes me shudder.

Stay cool! Think October! Ok. I’ll think October and you go ahead and enjoy August.


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“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” -Love Story (that was a movie, for you younger readers). Well, it’s a ridiculous quote if you ask me. A person you love should be the first in line to receive your mea culpa if one is merited.  Nevertheless, what is unworthy of true love may actually make sense to blogging. So here is my non-apology for radio silence. Good lord, has it really been over 7 months?


The joy of my life since January has been… my new dog.  Sunny is a nine year old Border Collie whose former owner passed away.  A dear friend, who owns Sunny’s sister, introduced us and worked diligently to arrange the adoption. Running buddy, house protector, cat wrangler, and affectionate companion… these roles scarcely begin to represent how much he does for me and how deeply I adore him.

This adoption was a perfect example of that bumper sticker that reads “Who rescued who?” (Don’t you just want to get out a marker and add that “m”? Arg!) What a smart, sensitive, and helpful dog he is.  It was only after he had settled into my home and heart before my friend gave me his papers, and we discovered that Sunny is the grandson of a champion Border Collie named Stetson! We have no sheep in our HOA-controlled neighborhood, but Sunny’s smarts and intuition are daily proof of his heritage. It is as if he can read my mind sometimes.

Sunny watching over Pilot, Pilot stealing Sunny's bed.

Sunny watching over Pilot, Pilot stealing Sunny’s bed.

And now that I have a dog (drum roll please), I feel safe enough to run trails!  So much fun.  The peace and beauty of trails, and their strengthening effect on my legs have been such pleasure.  In spite of TWO bear encounters in the past month, I am as enthusiastic as ever.  It is therapy. It is the anti-treadmill.


My greatest accomplishment of my life, the raising and homeschooling of my daughter, is nearly finished.  This past school year (her junior year) has been busy and fulfilling.  If you do not know much about homeschooling, let me just mention that nowadays there are so many people doing it, so much curriculum to choose from, and so many opportunities for educational experiences, that only a part of the business gets done at home.  It really should be called “home-based instruction,” which is in fact what the state of Washington calls it. Yes, we do let our kids out of the house!  (I know that is the number one misconception of homeschooling, the S word.) Anyway, we have one more year to teach, facilitate, guide and support her at home. What a privilege.


And in the world of harp… oh my, yes – it is a harp blog. OK. For some reason, I always think this is the least interesting topic that I talk about.  I practice, I perform. I teach a bit.  Not much to say about it all.  I don’t talk about the zen mind required for plucking a perfect harmonic or the best way to make string ties because I can just see my non-harpist audience surfing away.  I don’t blog about my clients or the people I meet, in case it violates their privacy. But perhaps I should make more of an effort to include musical topics. We’ll see.

Nevertheless, since my last foray into Blog Land there has been one important development.  A new harp.

Pilgrim Clarsach

Pilgrim Clarsach

I long to avoid a lot of  blah-blah-blah about the how and the why of getting this new instrument, so I will just say that this is a replacement for my Thormahlen Swan, which is now for sale.  Details upon request. 😉  The new harp, a “Clarsach” made by Pilgrim Harps in England, has a lovely, very Celtic tone, perfect for the Scottish music I play.  This model was originally designed for Derek Bell of the Chieftains, though it has undergone a few minor revisions.

I will be playing this new harp at the Skagit Valley Highland Games on July 12 at 10:25 AM.

I still play at the Black Dog in Snoqualmie every Second Sunday (mostly on my pedal harp, but occasionally on the Celtic harp). That is a brunch performance, 10:30 to noon, and all proceeds still go to Pasado’s Safe Haven Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. I will continue to appear through October, then I plan to take a break from this gig until next spring.

Music I have been working on lately: Medley of tunes from the film Titanic, When You Wish Upon a Star, Glenlivet, Flowers of the Forest, and Beauty and the Beast (for a wedding client).

My great, mysterious challenge and goal for the remainder of 2014: make more YouTube videos of my music! Great, because it would be so helpful for my clients, and mysterious because I cannot figure out why I’m stuck and not doing it!

For now, cheers!

We love those trails!

We love those trails!

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“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Alice in Wonderland.

I have little use for the impossible, being a very practical sort of person. And six is a difficult number when what you are counting might flutter by only every 15 minutes or so, over the course of hours.

So I count Five Beautiful Things sometimes. Mostly, I count them when I am running.  It is a marvelous distraction from ugly things (trash), annoying things (bad drivers, off-leash dogs), and discouraging things (“When will this summer heat ever end?”).

Wow. This really makes me sound like a new-age, lavender scented, dance-in-the-meadows kind of dreamer. Which I am not.  I like to rant and I hold grudges. I get very cranky about all kinds of things. Sometimes I laugh out loud at perverse or dark humor.  (To wit, have you listened to Welcome To Nightvale? It’s Twilight Zone meets Monty Python. So funny. )

But I have a very restless mind, and sometimes it likes the challenge of a counting game.  Moreover, there is a sort possessive urge in me to put things on lists.  For instance, if I list:  mist in a forest, orange tabby cat sitting on a white fence, Mt. Si with new snow, trellis with vines, pink cloud… I feel like I own them in a way.   And dammit, it feels nice. Who couldn’t use a little more Nice in their lives?

Pink Cloud

Number 5, a pink cloud.


Harp at the Black Dog went really well.  Knowing I was playing for a cause energized me and changed the way I was playing.  If you live in the area, I’ll be there every 2nd Sunday, 10:30-noon to raise money for animal rescue and shelter.

Fundraiser at The Black Dog


Knitting – Feels like I’m stuck in the mud.  I make progress, but there are too many projects on the needles! (Three cardigans, two pair socks, and a lace shawl.)  Unable (or unwilling) to set some aside and just finish a project, I rotate through them, changing every week.  Never again, Cynthia!  Bad, bad, bad!  Limits and boundaries are your friend! Here it is in writing in case I need to refer back: ONE stockinette project, ONE lace, texture or color-work project, and ONE pair of socks. That’s what I can handle.  Sheesh, what was I thinking?

Running – In spite of the hottest, most humid summer I can remember as a runner, I have stuck to my marathon plan fairly closely. I am not 100% sure that has been a healthy thing to do.  There have been long runs when I really felt ill from the heat but forced myself to finish. I hate that, because I cannot get a good idea of my real fitness when I feel that bad.  My last really long run before Marathon Day is this weekend, then we’ll see in two weeks. I might really be in miserable shape, or I might find it was all an illusion if the weather cools off on race day.



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As some of you will recall, I have been playing for brunch at The Black Dog cafe in Snoqualmie on second Sundays this summer.  (The last one scheduled is Sept. 8, but I hope to continue on after that. Please Like me on Facebook with the widget on the right to get updates.)   It is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which to play, and I enjoy it very much.

The Black Dog is more than a cafe, and more than a music/theater venue.  There is always a variety of art, antiques and crafts to peruse and to buy, and always a friendly, talk-to-the-folks-at-the-next-table kind of atmosphere.


Occasionally it gets quiet and slow…

Slow moment

At other times, I wonder if I can be heard above the happy sounds of food and friends.

It is so relaxed and laid back at The Black Dog that I have to force myself to get into proper clothing (not pj’s and tshirts, Cynthia!), and maybe even do my hair.  Which, it turns out, is hopeless. The Black Dog is a hip, hap’nin kind of place, but I seem incapable of looking even remotely hip and always seem to end up looking more like Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

Mary Ann

Despite groovy earrings and leopard skin dress, just not hip.

Chronically unhip

Despite cool earrings, I arrive at the Black Dog looking typically un-hip.

But I don’t play the Black Dog to feel like I could look good in leather. Nor do I play the Black Dog for the money, which is minimal. I play there because I love the musical freedom and the warm reception.  (And the coffee.)  Last week as I looked over at the little tip jar between tunes,  I thought, “I don’t need that.” And then I thought about my true reasons for playing there and decided to add one more.

Once upon a time there was an innocent creature, a donkey named Pasado, who was hurt, and hurt, and hurt some more until he died.  Do you remember?   I cried when it happened and have cried over it many times since.  Just writing about it, I am crying now.  That unfathomable event summed up the worst of humanity.  The sanctuary that was created in response to it sums up the best of humanity.

Pasado's Safe Haven Sanctuary

When I was a little girl, our father died and our mother went to work while we were in school. Working moms were not as common back then.  During the day, whenever I was not at school, I remember feeling like there was not a soul on earth who would protect me if I needed it.  I remember every danger, every close call, and a few incidents where I did not escape harm. A psychologist might stroke her chin and theorize that my tears for Pasado are tears for my own vulnerable young self.  Surely there is some truth to that.  But I survived and grew strong whereas Pasado did not.

Starting with my next visit on September 8, 100% of the proceeds from my music at The Black Dog will be sent to Pasado’s Safe Haven animal sanctuary.  I really hope you will come to The Black Dog on a second Sunday morning, enjoy the food and some harp music, and leave a few bucks in the jar for animal rescue.   Thank you!

harp at The Black Dog

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I cannot believe it is only the beginning of August.  I think I might wonder at this every year, but it might be like childbirth — you just forget.

With all the lovely grey (no sarcasm – I really like it) that is our Normal Weather, it just seems impossible that a whole month of sunshine was just the beginning of summer, and that we have more to come.  Such weather was also a metaphor for busy times in July…  we have a lot more summer to go!

Here are some photo highlights from the past month….


Mt. Rainier from Snoqualmie neighborhood. One clear day after another…. is this my world?

One of many abandoned train tunnels on the Iron Goat Trail. By going both directions on the trail and doubling back, we got 14 miles out of it.


Mr. K was awesome – though not a runner these days, he jogged-with-walk-breaks the whole 14 miles with me, even after falling and scraping up his elbow and leg. You can see the abrasion in this picture.


I enjoyed participating in the “Harper’s Circle” at the Enumclaw Highland Games, the one time/place all month where I actually got cold. (You can see me shivering on the far left in the picture.) It was so much fun that I think I will do more of these next summer (we have several Scottish Highland Games in this area), but I will bring along some good Scottish wool! I had such a cute outfit on too – and had to cover it all with one of my husband’s “emergency sweatshirts” from the back of his car. Sigh.



In the midst of having family visitors from out of town, we scrambled to get a couple of beds ready for our close friends who live a stone’s throw from the Mt. Si fire that broke out in late July. It was a close call, but they were able to stay in their home after all.



I brought my smaller harp on a 2 day getaway to The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth WA. One of the most peaceful spots on earth.


There are two videos up this week on YouTube, and I hope to post more in the next couple of weeks.  Please subscribe to my channel, HarpMyDay, if you would like to see updates.

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I stopped dreaming of a white Christmas in 2008. I must have been super bad that year because instead of coal in my stocking I got my own personal glacier.  Mr. K was out of town on business just before Christmas, and we got a few inches of snow. Then, the wind started to blow. Hard.

It was the kind of wind that makes you wonder if a house can blow down even if you don’t live in hurricane country. We didn’t lose power, but we awoke to a snow drift  that formed a solid wall across the driveway. It was nearly 5 feet high and at least 10 feet from the house side to the street. My neighbor got one too.  The rest of the neighborhood was pretty clear. It was just so bizarre. People out walking their dogs stopped to take a picture. Cars slowed down to stare.


It would have been nice to just get out the sled and enjoy our new private sledding hill, except that I was to pick up Mr. K from the airport that afternoon.  Out came the snow shovel and to work I went.

After about 45 minutes of sweaty digging, I had scarcely made a dent in the thing.  From over the top of the remaining heap I could see cars slowing a bit to yell helpful things like, “That’s quite a drift ya’ got there!”  Would it be so bad if my husband had to take a taxi home from the airport? I wanted to cry.

By and by, a woman in a minivan pulled to a stop in front of Mount Kuni, rolled down her window and apologetically explained that she had two teenage boys in the back seat who would help me but they wanted payment.  Oh glory be. Name your price!  They dashed home for more snow shovels.

Hours later, we three had created Kuni Pass. All was well.  Here I am the following morning, December 23, 2008, on my way out for a morning run:


(Oh my goodness! Do you see Santa’s reindeer in the sky behind me?  Ok, yeah. Those are my neighbor’s xmas lights.)

Ever since that day, I always think twice before wishing for a white Christmas.  But maybe, just a little?

That is the Seattle forecast, and we are up in the foothills at higher elevation!

Dear Santa, I have been very good this year and I would like you to please bring me my own Bobcat.

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Just a minute, let me get my head out of this paper bag.  OK. I think I’m done hyperventilating.

I have a YouTube video!  My deepest thanks go to my clever and creative daughter, who did the filming and spent hours with the somewhat frustrating iMovie while trying not to use bad words in front of her mother.  I don’t know how I could have done it without you, Helen!

If it seems like I’m making a fuss over one humble little production, let me just explain that I have enormous anxiety about being filmed (or photographed for that matter) while I am playing. It took me a year of standing on the threshold before I finally got the nerve for this.  Fortunately, I don’t think it will be a whole year before I repeat the feat.



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This is my absolute favorite time of year.  Now that the interminable curse of dry weather has lifted, the fall colors really shine. I read once that filmmakers prefer a grey sky for vibrant colors.  I heartily agree.

I normally do not go into the woods alone; I run with friends if I want trails. But today there were so many people out and about, and so many of them disappearing into the trailheads, that I decided to venture in myself.  The main trouble is bears (see my previous post on this).  Remembering a friend who always wore a “bear bell” on trails to warn bears of her approach, I clipped my house keys to my zipper pull and bravely jingled forth!

“I thought you were a dog,” said an elderly woman whom I passed along the trail.  I will try to take that in a good way.

Anyway, it was gorgeous.

Here is the view from one of the little paved trails I explored.

Gentle, light showers, beautiful colors… trail running is just fabulous in October.  I tried a few trails on Snoqualmie Ridge  I’ve never run before and had a marvelous time.

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Things are finally starting to cool down a bit. I was so excited about the rain last weekend that I celebrated by starting a little scarf in autumn colors. Here’s to crisp nights, pretty trees, and all things pumpkin-flavored.

The stitch pattern is “seafoam,” though I’ve seen it called other things.  The yarn is Malabrigo Rios.

I am ready to put the ridiculously dry “Indian summer” behind me, forgive Mother Nature for her cruelty, and move on. Let’s do Autumn now.  And if Mother Nature wants to make it up to me, she will make this season last “too long” as well. 🙂

Fall colors on Gilman Blvd. in Issaquah WA, 2011

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OK. Two months of sunshine is not that much. But I’m done. I want this to end. I want rain. I want to wear sweaters.

Unless you are a very close friend, you will not hear me talk this way to your face.  “Isn’t it nice out?” “Yep. It’s grand. Let’s grill something!”

I won’t rain on your parade. But this is my blog and I can cry if I want to. So no, it’s not nice out. It’s bloody hot and dry and if I liked it so much I would live in California.

Sorry. Little tantrum. But evidently Mother Nature is on my side. In fact, she is burning up about this.  Literally. 

In this picture, taken last week, we see the smoke beginning to flow in from the east. The 100+ wildfires on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains were sparked by lightening on September 8 and the smoke just keeps on coming.

Clouds of smoke, from fires far away

In the count-your-blessings department, at least my back yard is not on fire.  But can we please have a bit of rain soon?

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Today is the day I sort through pictures, finish up laundry, and get things back in order all over the house.  I have had the kind of month you would never want to repeat if you knew how crazy it would get, but I’d never want to give up the memories I have. Wonderful, lasting memories…

For example, during a day hike at Twin Falls with my visiting family we came across this little guy. (His little high-tops and goggles are worn for medical purposes.)   How cute is that?

I had the privilege of playing for the wedding of a young lady I’ve known since she was a little girl. (Excuse me a minute while I go get a tissue.)

I played, I worked, I hosted, I visited, and my beloved Schedule (I’m that kind of person) went totally out the window.  On one day, I fit in a four mile run, a practice session, a few hours at the Boeing Classic and a somewhat rushed visit to a quilt show. In my world, this is the definition of crazy.

An incredible example of “thread painting” on a quilt.

In the midst of the insanity, I seriously considered becoming an alcoholic, but I didn’t have time. And I rather like my liver.

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The laaaaast measure is memorized!  

I don’t usually do things this way. I don’t usually memorize a piece of music a few measures at a time and then woodshed it.  (To woodshed is to seclude oneself and play parts of a piece repeatedly to get them perfect. I was told that the term originally referred to being sent out to the woodshed, perhaps with a scratchy old fiddle, because the constant repetition was driving everyone in the house nuts.)

My normal order of business with new music is to analyze, sight read it, divide it into sections, sight read some more, and eventually woodshed the sections.  Many pieces never get memorized at all. If a piece is sounding great to me right off the page I will often leave that umbilical cord in place.

The piece”Dawn” by Dario Marianelli, from the movie Pride and Prejudice, was altogether different for me right from the start.  Sight reading is not my forte to begin with, but with “Dawn” it was downright painful.  I wanted all that flow and emotion; I could hear it in my head. But the plodding pace of cold sight reading seemed like doing the Mona Lisa in paint-by-numbers. With primary colors only.

Being a piano piece, “Dawn” presented me with the usual challenge of assigning eight fingers to a ten-finger arrangement. (Harpists cannot use the pinky fingers.) Some of the cross under/over choices took me a while to work out. I’ve got a lot of sticky spots to smooth over, but I’m so pleased with myself it’s disgusting. After all, it still sounds awful, with all my stops and starts.  But I can tell it will come together very quickly now.

Let me just take a moment now to hang my head in shame over the fact that I still have not made any YouTube videos. I am told it’s quite easy and there is just no excuse.  I’m not really into self-loathing, but this is starting to really weigh on me. Sigh.  Well, whenever I do get my act together, I expect to burst forth in a veritable marathon of recordings. And “Dawn” will definitely be among them.

Weather update… Fantastic thunderhead over the Cascades last evening!

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Once again, my hopes of living in a perfect, risk-free world are dashed.  Recent events have confirmed that I am not, precisely speaking, safe when I go out running.

We were watching a documentary about lions, one scene of which showed this poor African guy’s scars from a lion attack.  I thought, “Wow, good thing we don’t live there!”  That’s when the Great Cosmic Whap of Truth hit me in the head.  “Cougars” =  “Mountain Lions.”  Mountain Lions.   

Now, you can tell me over and over how few people in the US have been attacked (“and even fewer killed!” – big smile) by cougars in the past 50 years, or 100 years, or whatever little statistic you want to trot out.  But I’m not buying it.

Do not feed on runners, lion!

Here is my logic. Cougars like to chase down stuff that runs.  I run.  I run where cougars have been sighted.

At a wildlife lecture a few years back, a cougar specialist explained that if you have spent a fair amount of time hiking, biking or running in the woods around here, even if you’ve never seen a cougar, you “can be sure a cougar has seen you.”  I still get chills up my spine at the memory of his slide show, where we were repeatedly challenged to “find the cougar” in the photo of seemingly deserted woods. No one could, until he pointed it out, hiding, watching, staring into the camera.

At Northwest Trek, a marker high up on a tree shows the point from which a cougar can jump down on prey. It was damn high, certainly out of my peripheral vision range.

And then there is The Snoqualmie Bear Problem.  At a community meeting I attended last week, the main message was about garbage being left out, and about the new law where you can get a ticket for “unintentional feeding” of bears.  If I am found lying half-eaten on the trail, I hope they will let me off with just a warning.

Actually I’m not as frightened of the bears as I am of the lions, but I have had some close encounters.  Early one morning while running, I was about to enter a narrow, public pathway that cuts between two houses and leads into a little greenbelt. A very nice lady with a towel on her head came out of her house and yelled, “Don’t go in there! There is a bear!”  Ah. That would explain the garbage strewn all over the street.

The poo of Pooh.

Since bears cannot hide as well as cougars, and cannot jump down on me from the highest branch of a Douglas Fir, I tend to be a little less nervous about them. But I do think about them a lot, especially in winter when I’m running in the dark, early mornings.  I always look for trash cans overturned and listen for rustling in the bushes.  If I’m on a trail, I notice droppings and I keep my ears open.

Speaking of early mornings, I have a request.  Please don’t get behind the wheel of a car while you are still asleep.  I’m “only human” too, and I am sure I’ve been a crappy driver on more than one occasion, so I’ll try to make this civil…  Just because it’s dark-o-clock-early and you feel like you are alone on the road, there are actually other people using this asphalt.  See those miniature people lined up on the corner? Those are called “school children waiting for the bus” and here come some more, trying to cross in front of your speeding car in a 20 mph zone.

Now, listen carefully, because this part seems to be really hard for most drivers to understand…  When you turn right, it’s not enough to stop at that stop sign and look to your left.  I know, I know – what could possibly be coming from the right?  Well, me, actually.  Over the years, I could have been hit by cars at least a dozen times because of the nothing-could-possibly-come-from-the-right syndrome.  But fortunately, when I go out, I am awake.

It turns out that after all my fears and precautions, one of the most immediate dangers I face is: my own feet. This past weekend, after getting through fifteen miles without being attacked, eaten, or hit by a car,  I caught my toe on a bump in the sidewalk, just two blocks from home, and went down.  So, no risk-free world after all.

Snoqualmie Valley Trail

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