Shorter Days and Early Sunsets

We gained an hour last night – which really means we lost it – and the shorter days mean early sunsets.  So I took advantage of the break in the rain and walked to the park this afternoon before five. The clouds hung low and heavy in the horizon, at first the color of peaches and cream, then changing to grape and lavender.

A neighbor was out with his children, all bundled up, rosy-cheeked and happy.

I found my favorite winter tree near the boys playing basketball.

A blimp-cloud loomed large overhead seeming ready to invade

but minutes later turned charcoal gray and harmless.

I really do like this time of year, regardless of the rain, for the fresh air and early sunsets.

I returned home as happy as those youngsters.

~ Susanne

Home is Where the Lap Is

After years and years and generations of cats it was finally time to replace the old chair in my office. I was waiting to see how Benji would react as nobody enjoyed that chair as much as he did.

I found the perfect replacement.  It was soft and plush and fit the space in my office nicely. What would Benji think?

Poised on the bench, I was ready with my camera to see what he thought of the new chair.  I expected him to inspect it, maybe circle around a bit before jumping up for his afternoon nap.  And I was ready to start the training to keep him from using it as a scratching post, as the old chair had become.

I called him into the room for the big reveal and he jumped onto my lap across from the empty chair. Not what I expected.

“Benji, don’t you notice anything different?”

“No Sue, what?” he replied.

“The chair, Benji. I finally got a new chair for us. Don’t you want to check it out?”

“I’m pretty comfortable here with you Sue.  You know how much I like your lap.”

So the other training would wait.  There would be no lesson today except for one: home is where the lap is.

Sweet boy that Benji.

~ Susanne and Benji

Return of the Salmon

It happens every year in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon return to the rivers and streams of their birth to spawn.  Three main species of salmon return to the Cedar River in Renton:  the Sockeye, Chinook and Coho.  The Sockeye is the most abundant and I recently visited the Cedar to see them make their journey upstream.

The glint of the salmon in the river surrounded by autumn leaves reminded me of this week’s prompt from Travel with Intent, Golden.

~  Susanne

Dreaming of the Road to Hana

Not Hana, but the Road to Hana, a narrow, winding, white-knuckle drive through tropical forest, over one lane bridges, with dramatic views of waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean. Yes, this is the ultimate road trip and you’ll find it on the island of Maui in Hawaii.  Perhaps I’m thinking of Maui today because I wish to escape from the monsoon rains that have finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest.  (It was inevitable.) Perhaps you also need to escape for reasons of your own and if so then this post is for you.

Now assuming you do not actually live in Maui,  you first need to get to the island.  That is NOT a road trip.  Once there however, you can hit the road like we did leaving from our hotel on Maui’s south side,  heading north toward Kahului.  According to Wikipedia,  “although Hana is only about 52 miles (84 km) from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive even when no stops are made since the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, of which 46 are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves along Route 360 from just east of Kahului to Hana, almost all of it through lush, tropical rainforest.”

What’s not to like about that?  Well believe it or not, all those curves can be rough for those who are prone to car sickness.  Not knowing for sure we took the advice of a friend and rented a convertible and made the drive top down, with fresh island air filling our senses and yes, it was awesome.  In fact, I wish I was there right now but this little reminiscence will have to do.

We left early in the morning in hopes of beating the crowds – well, it was worth a try – and once past Kahului,  headed east through Paia – worth a separate trip of its own – and soon we were are on that famous winding road.

The only tough part would be to decide where to stop, for there are all kinds of charms and attractions and they are marked on maps you pick up for the drive. Gardens?  Yes, we stopped at the Garden of Eden  (honest) where we got a peek at this lovely waterfall,

and a look at this view apparently made famous in Jurassic Park.

We saw many more waterfalls alongside the road or at the end of short hikes so here are a couple more.

As far as stops go, did I mention the banana bread?  Famous along here. We stopped by the village of Keanae where we saw this charming stone church, built in 1856,

and enjoyed our fresh-baked banana bread while watching the waves crash on the shore.

It was all wonderful but I think my favorite stop was at the black sand beach – the beach that starts with a ‘W’ – that I can neither say nor type.

For me this was a real ‘pinch me’ moment;  like seriously, how lucky was I to be on a beautiful and remote black sand Hawaiian beach??

And so I was overcome by the Joy of it all as you can see in the picture below.  (Please ignore the boy in the background.  My husband took the picture and I don’t currently have the software or skill set or energy to crop him – the boy that is –  out!  😉 )

After a few hours we  arrived in Hana which you might have thought was our destination.

But no, as you have probably guessed by now,  it was the Road to Hana we were after and we enjoyed it immensely.  Many people turn around at this point and go back the same way they came (recommended by tour books and car rental companies) but no, not us.  We took the advice of those in the know and continued our journey around the lonely backside of Haleakala where we had the road to ourselves,  save for a few cows.

The Road to Hana; it puts the Road, back into Road Trip.

~  Susanne

P.S.  This post was inspired by Gin & Lemonade’s prompt, Road Trip.

A Little Cat Humor

“Watcha doin’ there Benji?”

“Takin’ my bath, Sue.  Getting ready for the big trip.”

“What trip is that Benji?”

“I don’t know.  Wherever it is your going.  I’d like to come along if you don’t mind.”

“But Benji, you really don’t like riding in the car.  Have you forgotten? I think you’d be much happier at home. But I’ll bring you back a present, I promise.”

And a few days later I did.

He was enthralled.

~ Susanne

Ready or Not

It’s 4th grade and I’m at the school that looms large in my memory.

We’re sitting on the steps under the overhang of the building,  a covered entryway somewhere between in and out.  School hasn’t started yet and it’s almost 8:30.   I’m with my best friend Joyce and we’re playing a game called ‘Safety Sam,’ my mom’s invention.

No props just pure imagination and we’re preparing to go on a trip to somewhere and pack our invisible bags.

And then the low rumbling begins.

And the ground starts moving.

Back and forth.

‘Safety Sam’ is the name of the game and we quickly jump off the steps and run outside to the playground.

Mrs. Halgramson is there blowing a whistle, and early arrivers are gathering together and many are crying which I find strange.

‘Our house is cracked, and things were falling off the shelves!’ they say.

To me and Joyce it’s a game, but to others fear and destruction.

The date is April 29, 1965 and it’s my first earthquake but not my last. You can read more about it here.

Other places in the United States have hurricanes.  Tornados.  Flooding.  In the Pacific Northwest we have earthquakes and are always being asked the question:  Are you ready for the Big One?  But exactly how does one prepare for an earthquake?

This post was inspired by Lorna’s prompt over at Gin and Lemonade, Prep.

~ Susanne

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Things People Drive

I was disappointed when Word Press stopped the Daily Post Prompts and Weekly Challenges as they used to help fuel my posts.   When my own inspiration ran dry, I could often rise up to a prompt or challenge.  Fortunately other bloggers have picked up the mantle including Cee’s Photography. The topic of Cee’s  Fun Foto Challenge this week is ‘Things People Drive’ so here you go!

How about this 1947 Lincoln?   I wish it was in my garage but I found it at the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma.  It reminds me of an old Mercury we had when I was a kid.  The era I guess.  It was long and smooth and rounded and yellow, and could hold the whole family with all  five kids.  I  can remember standing on the back seat of that car – it was like a sofa and no seatbelts in those days –  holding an ice cream cone and when there was a bump in the road I anointed the car’s headliner with chocolate ice cream.  I can still see that smudged imprint on the interior.

Next up is a ferry boat.  I must have taken one across Puget Sound hundreds of times but honestly it never gets old.  The Washington State Ferry system is the largest in the country and fourth largest in the world in case you didn’t know.

My last picture comes from Gene Coulon Park. I photograph the sailboats of the Renton Sailing Club nearly every time I visit, as I did this morning under foggy skies. I used a manual setting for the picture and like the dreamy look I got.

There you have it!   Things People Drive.

~ Susanne

More Fall Glory in Purple and Gold at Soos Creek Botanical Garden

I don’t mean to overdo it with the fall themed posts, but glory surrounds us this time of year in the Pacific Northwest and after a visit to Soos Creek Botanical Garden yesterday I had to share a few more pictures with you if only for the purple and gold.

Soos Creek Botanical Garden has several strolling gardens and I focused on the Carlmas Long Borders promenade, starting at the Schaefer Pond Garden.

I walked the sweeping lawn between the two mixed borders, absorbing the color and fragrance along with the fog and morning dew, not knowing what I might find tucked in among the trees and shrubs;

like roses still in bloom!

After my shoes were soaked through from the grass – yes, it was worth it – I walked the gravelly trails behind the borders.

I was especially smitten with the hydrangeas, not only with the flowers but with the purple leaves!

Or was it lavender?  Either way, I can’t remember seeing leaves in such a beautiful shade of purple before!

We have Maurice Skagen to thank for the garden, whose Norwegian ancestors purchased the initial property in the late nineteenth century. Additional land was acquired over time and in the 1980s, Maurice toured England and Japan and was inspired to create “stroll gardens.” A number of rare plants were purchased during these trips and others were added from nurseries around the Pacific Northwest.

The 22 acre garden is open to the public free of charge (donations welcome), Wednesday – Saturday through November 3rd, and will reopen again next March. For more information check out their website:

~ Susanne

Cute Cat, Messy Bed

Happy Saturday from Benji, the cute one who lives with us.

~ Susanne

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Places People Visit

On our road trip to Yellowstone last month we stopped by a number of places we might not otherwise visit.  In Eastern Washington, it was the tiny town of Zillah for a look at the Teapot Dome Service Station, a charming piece of Americana.  For those of you unacquainted with American history, the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s involved bribery and corruption in the leasing of oil reserves and was the most serious government scandal in the U.S. before Watergate.  The gas station built in 1922 was a nod to the scandal, though the real ‘Teapot Dome’ was the location of one of the leased oil reserves  in Wyoming.

We stopped by Craters of the Moon (the one on earth in Idaho) where we hiked trails in the blazing sun over lava encrusted landscape;

including to the top of a cinder cone where the air was dry and windy.

We visited the Grand Tetons,  surely a destination in itself, but for us a drive-thru and overshadowed by its neighbor to the north,

Yellowstone National Park, our final destination and the best of the best places people visit.

In response to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Places People Visit  CFFC.

~ Susanne

Fun with Tiger and Benji

“Really Benji, did you have to run him out of the room?”

“What do you mean Sue?”

“You know what I mean Benji. Tiger was sitting there minding his own business,

until you came along and ran him off. Can’t you give him a break?”

“But he was in my chair, Sue.”

“Actually it’s my chair, Benji.  I just let you use it.”

“Well it was time for my bath. I always take my bath in the chair.”

“Tiger can have it in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping on the bed.”

“That’s awfully kind of you Benji.”

“Thanks Sue.  That means a lot coming from you.  Oh.  And could you turn out the light on your way out?  It’s time for my nap.”

“Sure Benji.”

~ Susanne


I hope you enjoy these fanciful jellyfish as much as I did today at the Pt. Defiance Pacific Seas Aquarium.  I thought they’d be a nice fit for the Sunday Challenge at ‘Travel with Intent,’ where this week’s word prompt is Blue.

~ Susanne

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