Friday, July 18, 2008

Goings On

If you don't hear from me for a while, assume I'm out doing something fun with the kids, or sewing or photographing wildflowers. There are just too many great things to do in the summer.

Lately I've:

- picked, with the help of my family, 130 pounds of blueberries. I like to freeze them, and then make smoothies, blueberry sauce for waffles, or let the kids pour rice milk on them when they are frozen. The rice milk freezes around them and makes a cold summer Popsicle substitute.

- My best Thai girlfriend visited America. Another friend paid her way. She was in Portland for three days, my daughter and I made a quick trip to Portland to visit her. She is special because she helped me have such a nice time when I lived in Thailand around 15 years ago. I named my daughter after her.

- While in Portland I bought a Singer treadle machine. It is a W9, made somewhere between 1905 and 1920. It is in a beautiful 7 drawer cabinet, that reminds me of the one my great grandma had. I am considering naming the machine after my great grandma, but I'm not sure if Mildred is a fitting name. I don't have her running yet. She needs a new belt installed.

- My son came down with the Coxsackie virus and has been a very sick boy for over a week, so I've been spending a lot of time nursing him. It seems to me he got a worse case then most. It is usually only found in children under age 4, and he is age 8.

We have tons of plans for the weeks ahead. I'll write if I can, but don't count on it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Walk around Lost Lake

Views of snowy Mt. Hood are the most famous feature of Lost Lake, but because of misty clouds we didn't get to see it this time. Pacific Rhododendrons are probably the second most famous item at this little lake, but Trilliums would be a close third. We found them on every walk we took from our campsite, blooming in lovely parts of three.

The trail around the lake is around 3 miles long. Since you didn't get to come with us, I thought I'd show you some of the things you missed.

Vine maples heavy with drops of mist.

We found a fallen tree that had a good amount of bounce to it. Each of the kids had a good ride. And yes, just as I snapped this picture a white dog came shooting up the trail out of no where just so he could get he could get his picture taken too. He almost looks like part of the snow bank, if you're not paying attention.

A bee squeezing into a Penstemon blossom.

A Red-breasted Sapsucker landed on the stump for us to view.

Tiger lilies placidly bounced on their stems in sunny spots along the way.

Twin flowers tiny bells carpet the shadowed forest floor.

Vanilla Leaf rests in deep shade with it's vanilla scented foliage and floral crown.

Wild Bleeding hearts shyly show their hearts above their finely disected leaves.

Mist covered fern frond unrolls as a moment of light finds it's way between clouds.

Droplets sparkle on a huckleberry leaf.

The watercolors of lupine buds rest the eye.

Skunk cabbage, known for it's famous oder, rises at great odds out of melting snow banks and swampy puddles.

Avalanche lilies grow in warming soils just after snow melt. Droplets cling to the petals as to an umbrella. Stamens stay dry and ready for visits from searching bees. A small insect rests on top in between showers.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bunchberry Dogwood - Cornus unalaschkensis

You are probably familiar with Dogwood trees, but have you met their smaller cousin, Bunchberry Dogwood? The white petal-like sepals look similar in both plants and both are from the genis cornus.
The bunchberry dogwood, Cornus unalaschkensis the lives on the west coast is similar to and often confused with the east coast bunchberry, Cornus canadensis. The have four petal-like bracts with small flowers in the center. The fruit is a bunch of red berries, each with 1 pit. They like to grow in the deep duff of moist forests of the mountains. They spread by trailing or ascending stems from rhizomes. Their leaves turn red in winter.

These bunchberry dogwoods were growing by the trail at Lost Lake, Mt. Hood, Oregon, and were photographed July 4.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Calypso Orchid

There is a lovely cluster of Calypso Orchids by the Lost Lake trail that I'm sure most people walk on by. But those who keep their eyes open will discover a little cove of wildflower treasure.

I learned that Calypso Orchids are really fragile. When someone even gently picks a flower the tender rootlets attached to the underground corm are broken and the Western Fairyslipper usually dies. This most beautiful of orchids is not endangered, but it needs a special combination of shade, moisture and soil difficult to find out of an old growth forest. It gets some nourishment from it's single leaf, but also has a partnership with fungus to get nourishment from the roots of trees. Washington Native Orchid web page has more about these magenta jewels of forest.

Western White Anemone

Western White Anemone Anemone deltoidea grows on the west side of Oregon and Washington, south of the Olympic peninsula down to Northern California. It can also be found in the Wallowa mountains in northeast Oregon. Three toothed leaves circle the lower stem below the single white flower made up of 5 petal-like sepals.

The Oregon anemone Anemone oregana grows in mostly the same area, but it has five blue petal-like sepals, and leaves divided into three parts.

Northern Green Bog-Orchid or Rein-Orchid

I don't know if you have ever noticed green or white flowered orchids growing in wet areas before. There is quite a variety of them in Oregon and Washington. They don't look like much from a distance. They blend in well with the other foliage. But really, they are worth another look.
There are fascinating little details to note which help to distinguish it from another species. I've had quite a time examining the details of my photos trying to come up with an identification today. I have four wildflower guides sharing my recliner and a laptop computer on my lap. Using all four books and the guide at the Washington Native Orchids website, I have concluded that my best hunch is that we found a Northern Green Bog Orchid, Platanthera hyperborea or Platanthera Aquilanis (Habenaria Hyperborea). It seems they have been changing the names of these orchids quite a bit. The older books have the genius as Habenaria and the new ones have Platanthera, but with two different species names also. Platanthera is Latin for" flat anthers." The common name 'rein-orchid' comes from the Lain habenas, 'a strap' or 'a rein,' and refers to the shape of the lip and spur. The species name hyperborea means 'beyond the north' and refers to this species occurrence in above the Arctic Circle.

This orchid has lance shaped leaves going up it's stem. It has 25 to 45 flowers that are greenish-yellow to whitish-green. The upper two petals and sepal work together to from a hood covering the top of the flower. The lower lip is longer then the spur that is behind the flower. Two sepals point out to the side. They can grow up to 23" tall and generally bloom sometime between July and August, depending on location and elevation.

Pacific Rhododendrons - a Wild Garden by Mount Hood

The Mount Hood area is famous for it's spring bloom Pacific Rhododendrons

Rhododendron macrophyllum.  Their lovely pink blossoms are so similar to the
cultivated types of Rhododendrons that you might feel you are in a garden when
you see them. They are the state flower of Washington state, but can be found
in coastal and mountainous areas from British Columbia to Northern California.
Learn more about them here.

Driving along the road from Hood River to Lost Lake you can see walls of pink Pacific Rhododendrons in
bloom. There are many curves along the road, so you have to drive slow. This gives plenty of time to
see their blooming beauty.

Phantom Orchid - Rare find

When we were at Mount Hood, of course my eyes were on the lookout for wildflowers. One of the most exciting finds was a little patch of Phantom Orchids. I couldn't remember what they were when I saw them, because if I have seen them before, it was only once and long ago. It took a little searching to find them online. The interesting website of Washington Native Orchids was a great help. I learned there that there are 41 native orchid species in Washington State. Most of the orchids are very fragile and the plant dies immediately if the flower is picked or the plant is transplanted. They need certain fungi that are the soil where they grow. Some only live in old growth forest.

Phanton Orchids are leafless and completely white. They don't use photosynthesis to manufacture energy for the plant. Instead they are "parasites using fungal intermediaries to withdraw nutrients from other plants." You can learn more about it here.

This group of 4 - 6 Phantom orchids were found on the left side Whatam Lake Road, not far past the road block and the slide area. Whatam Lake Road is on the north side of Mt. Hood, out of Hood River, north of Lost Lake.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sunset Rainbow

On the evening of June 6 we looked out our south east windows to see this rainbow. What was making the rainbow?

The setting sun out our northwest windows was casting enough light to leave a rainbow in it's wake. What glory from the hand of the Creator!

July 4 Fun

Over the July 4 holiday we were able to meet with my parents and sisters at Lost Lake on the north side of Mount Hood in Oregon. What a beautiful place to go. Dad was able to pick out a perfect campsite for us. There were early spring flowers and melting snow everywhere. Summer is a little late in coming up there, but I didn't mind. I was glad to be out in the woods where the air smelled of fresh evergreen trees, and birds were heard all around.

The really good news is that Mom came and is doing excellent! Her health has improved dramatically since she stopped eating gluten 5 weeks ago. Most people would have just said she was getting old. But she is another illustration reminding us that most conditions of "old age" are caused by something, and many of those things are fixable, if people have the courage to make the changes. It isn't easy for mom to give up her favorite foods. Many gluten intolerant people have bread as their favorite food. It can actually be a sign of gluten intolerance. For some people they find it is not worth it to give up their favorite tastes, and they would rather suffer with ill health. But mom was willing to do what ever it took to have better health. I'm so proud of her courage and determination. Not every health issue is gone yet, but enough are clearly improved to show she is on the right track. With time, I think she is going to feel years younger then she did just a couple months ago. Mom was able to go on walks with us and she had the energy to spend all 4 days out camping with us. Even at the end she had strength to spare. Go mom!

My cutie pie niece and her mom had fun down at the lake. The water was melted snow water, but she still wanted to get in and play.

At the like my son got his first fishing lesson from his big cousin J. There was some serious concentration going on there.

Forest Zoo did end up catching his first fish, the only fish of the day.

The fish really swallowed the hook. Cousin J had quite a time getting the hook out. The fish was in no condition to be released. And Forest doesn't eat fish. So He gave it to a lady who was fishing beside us. She sure was pleased.

Papa brought his kayaks so there was even more fun to be had at the lake.

The kids were quickly at ease when they had their turn to paddle. The followed big cousin J clear to the other side of the lake and back.

Some of us followed the three mile trail around the lake. When we got to the far side of the lake we discovered that there was still much snow that had not melted. At times we could only guess which way the trail went.

It was a little slippery in places, but not too hard as the snow was well packed, and lots of fallen needles provided a little extra traction. We got to see little flowers push their way up through the snow on the edges. We were told that normally the snow was gone and Trilliams were blooming in April. But this year was different and we got to see early spring in summer. I will show you the flowers we found in another post.

One afternoon we decided to take a drive to a nearby lake that my sisters and I had hiked to back when we were in elementary school. The drive turned out to be a real adventure as not to far up the Whatum Lake Road, there was a road block indicating a damaged road ahead.

Disappointed, we got out of the cars and decided to walk up the road to see weather a car could get around the road damage. We saw that it could, but another car came through and told us they had been up as far as you could drive, and that there were trees crossing the road.

We took what appeared to be a short cut back to Lost Lake of the Whatum Lake Road and discovered yet another adventure. My sister, driver of the lead car was ready for adventure. She drove under a fallen tree with out a flinch. At least I couldn't see any flinches from where I sat in the car that followed her.

When she got to a tree laying in the road, she did hesitate long enough let two younsters out to assess the situation. With their encouragement she drove right over the top of those trees.

I think she would have kept going, but we reached the point where we could go on no farther. It was quite the adventure. We turned around and made our way back out the way we came. Next time though, I think someone might bring a chain saw.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sunset July 2

There weren't as many clouds in the sky on July 2, but the sunset was still spectacular as a fiery red sun sank below the horizon.

Isaiah 60:19-21 (King James Version)

19The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.

20Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

21Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.

Sunset July 1

Summer weather is here and I'm enjoying every bit of it. I'm very glad for some warmth and sunshine.

Here is the sunset from July 1. What a beauty!