Find My Favorite Books at

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Book Reccomendation for My Tracker Friends

I'm headed home this evening to finish a book that I've greatly enjoyed reading this week.

"The Tiger - A True Story of Vengeance and Survival" by John Vailant is the February selection for Duvall Reads book club. I did not choose it, although it was on my (rather long) list of books to watch for. I'm glad that someone else who had enjoyed it put it on our list. 

For once, I will have interesting things to add to the conversation as I believe that a tracker will read this engaging book differently than others will.

In 1997, in the wilderness of that narrow finger-like  part of Russia that lies between  China and the Sea of Japan, teams of professional hunter/trackers  went after a confirmed man-eating Amur tiger. The photos of those men show strong, burly guys who all look like they could take on dinosaurs if needed. Some of them had already faced man-killing tigers in previous encounters, and more than one had scars to prove it.

I've tracked the odd cougar in the forests of western Washington. I've never felt particularly afraid of finding the cougar. Of course I've not tracked one with the intent to actually locate the animal...or one that was leaving bloody human body parts along it's trail.

I can't imagine tracking a tiger - any tiger - in the forests of the Taiga. Especially not an injured one that is known to have killed and eaten at least 2 trappers. 

I won't give away much of the story, but will say only that it's well researched and told with a storyteller's passion for plot and character development.  The book contains some lovely passages tigers and about tracking. And some terrifying ones as well.

As a tracker, the image that will stick with me always is the description of what the men found on the ice on a river near the remains of the second body. Probably only trackers will understand the chill I got reading  of the"pale and hairless" tiger scat.

If you enjoy true outdoor tales well told, I recommend you get this book.
Here is one place to buy the book:

 (Note that I do receive a small stipend for items purchased through links on this page.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Herbs for an Injured Wrist

As promised some time ago, I will go into detail about how I used herbs to heal a badly sprained wrist.

I am not suggesting that you do the same. Always consult your medical practitioner if you have an illness or injury. 

If you are interested in using herbs for your own medical needs, please educate yourself first!
Herbs do not work the same way that drugs do. There's no easy replace drug A with Herb B chart. Nor should there be.

These are resources that I use and trust:
Read this first! 
- a free site. If you like what you see here, the monthly subscription site is well worth the price! It's at - 

I like the list of herbal books found on the Methow
Valley Herbs site, and any listed here will be a book that can be trusted. My personal favorite for the beginning herbalist is "Rosemary Gladstar's Recipes for Vibrant Health." There's nothing in here that can hurt you, and it's easy to get started with her

I've been studying herbs for 6 or 7 years now, and have become something of a kitchen table herbalist. I've  created a home health kit with a number of salves, tinctures and teas that I have made myself using recipes found in the good herbal references and the websites noted above. 

There are herbs that I use every day (ginkgo, hawthorn, and olive leaf) and those that I use as needed for coping with stress (skullcap, passion flower, or catnip - it depends on what's keeping me from relaxing.) 

I also have a few emergency herbs on hand for use in extreme, but not go-see-a-doctor situations (comfrey leaf, not root for injuries,  and Oregon Grape for infections.) I was quite proud of having purchased a bottle of California poppy tincture just in case I needed something for pain. OTC pain relievers are hard on the liver. 

My mistake was in storing the emergency supplies on the bottom of the stack of's hard to move boxes with one hand. And, I found that I could not open the sealed bottle of poppy tincture, so I did have to resort to the bottle of Advil that I had purchased on sale and with a coupon...just in case.

Along with frequent visits to my chiropractor the first 3 days to asses the damage and reassure both of us that no bones were broken, I did use ice to reduce the swelling. And I attempted to make a poultice with the comfrey leaves. That was messy, since my arm was bruised and swollen from fingertips to elbow. 

I finally just poured a cup of leaves and a kettle of hot water into a basin that was large enough to stick my entire lower arm into. After adding cold water to fill the basin I left it on the edge of the sink, and every time I passed by it, I stuck my arm in. I soon found that the cool water and comfrey slurry  was more comforting than ice packs. It worked wonderfully well to reduce the bruising and the swelling. 

Between soaks, I used a commercial arnica ointment that reduces pain. Over the course of the first week, I used a tube of the ointment, and a bottle of 24 Advil. 

Every day I went to work for 4 hours - a bookkeeper can't just take January off until W2s, 1099s and quarterly taxes are done. My chiropractor suggested using the fingers as much as possible. My typing speed and accuracy suffered, but the daily exercise kept them flexible. 

On the third week the bruising was gone, and the swelling  confined to the wrist and thumb joints. I added 2 products from a California herbalist, which I purchased here:

The Busted Joint Ointment and Elixir contain herbs that repair ligaments and tendons. They are amazing products and I will never be without a spare tin of ointment and bottle of elixir if I can help it. Yes, I could make my own version, but these are so nice, and work so well. I continue to use both as my wrist regains the range of motion that I thought I'd never see again. 

It's a slow process, but I am content that, at least for me, it has been the right choice. I am certain that had I gone to the fire station the morning I fell, I'd have wound up in ER and likely been sent to surgery. 

Many people think that's what I sh0uld have done. I'm content to take the slower, non-invasive and so much less expensive route.  

Healing should take time. I believe that one of the worst things about modern medicine is that we think it's normal to rush a recovery...have the surgery, take the "magic" pills, rush back into our daily lives. Our bodies know better. Give a hurt a chance to repair itself...follow the desire to just go to bed and let nature make the the healing process with sleep, nourishing food and healing herbs.

Don't force the body to heal. Allow it to happen. 


Sunday, May 26, 2013

I'm Back

On January 2nd I slipped on black ice and sprained my right wrist pretty badly. It's one of those injuries that would have healed in a couple of weeks when I was 20.  At 54 it's not been as fast or as easy.  As a result, I had to step back from some of my normal activities. 

It's only been a week since I was able to start the car by using my right hand to turn the key, and I'm really excited about that since that means I'm on the road to full recovery.

Instead of worrying about what I could not do, I've been taking the enforced rest as a gift of time and an opportunity to really think about a number of important issues in my life.  

When it comes down to it, do I actually believe what I say I believe?

And how do the answers to those questions affect how I live my life?

Immediately I was faced with 2 big life questions - one involving my health care choices and the other about my work ethic .

I was on my way to work when I fell. I'd actually driven because the weather was sketchy. I only stopped to run one errand, and I'd been careless.  Before I'd even managed to get to my feet it was evident that my dominate hand was swelling and that the level of pain I was feeling meant that I was going to have to seek help. There were no other people on the street, and there's a fire station 3 blocks away. I knew that I could get emergency treatment there...but I'd be passing my chiropractor's office first. 

Now, I worked as a nurse's aide in nursing homes and a rural hospital for many years.  I've passed both Red Cross and Wilderness First Aid courses a number of times. I know how to assess an injury. As I walked I made note of the fact that I could move all my fingers, they were warm and pink, and had excellent blood return. I wasn't bleeding, and there were no deformities that indicated a broken bone. I chose my chiropractor.

It was the right choice for me.  Others might have chosen differently, and it's certainly not for me to make that decision for anyone else. A fair number of friends and relatives thought I'd made an error in judgement. I disagree.

I was prepared to go to an ER if at any time I felt that "modern" medicine would have served me better. Again, I'm comfortable making that assessment. And my chiropractor was looking for reasons to send me to the ER because he doesn't want to be responsible for my making a bad decision. In this instance, his thorough examination (fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck and back) confirmed what I already bones were broken. It was an injury that could safely be handled at home. How I did that with chiropractic care, herbs and excercises will be the subject of another post. 

The point of today's ramble is that in the question of health care, I do actually believe and practice what I say I believe. The short version is that modern medicine is great - when it's needed. For most of life's ills and injuries it might not be the best choice for everyone. If you don't feel that you can make your own decisions about your health, then by all means find a doctor that you trust. 

But if you are like me and do think you are trained and capable enough to handle the situation at hand, then don't let the opinions of others sway you into heading to the doctor for their comfort. You have that option at any time. If you are always  assessing the situation to see that what you're doing is working, and that the situation is not getting worse, then I think self-care is a valid choice. 

The work ethic question actually caused me more discomfort with my beliefs. I'm the bookkeeper. January is not a good time for the bookkeeper to have a bum arm. 

On top of the routine day to day tasks that keep a company running, January brings quarterly tax filing, reports to unemployment and  other state and federal entities, and the need to get W4s and 1099s in the mail. 

And I don't like to call in sick. Taking pre-approved time off is fine. Calling in is unprofessional and causes others to have to do your work. Perhaps it's all those years in health care that have trained me to suck it up and go to work no matter how I feel.

This has probably been the one area where my beliefs did not hold up. I've come to realize that I was wrong about this first job is to take care of myself. 

Yes, people I work with were inconvenienced during the early days of my recovery.  It seemed to bother me much more than it did them. My supervisor came at my call to pick me up when I found that I could not drive.  Her daughter helped get my car to my house. Another co-worker faithfully picked me up for 2 weeks when the mornings were frosty and I was terrified of falling again. People helped out without my asking.

I worked 4 hour days for a whole week, then 6 hour days for another and used vacation time as needed. No one complained. I got the taxes and reports filed, W2s and 1099s out on time, bills paid and January payroll done. Much of the routine work did not get done until mid February. No one complained. Most of the pressure to be a "good employee" was coming from me. 

I'm working on changing that belief's a work in progress. I'll let you know how that goes...and I'll touch on the self-care I did in a future post, and even delve into the areas of religion and politics as time goes on and I am able to respectfully articulate the answers to those questions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Since I left work on Friday, I've been to 2 tree lightings, had my picture taken on a Harley and another with Santa, attended a Friends of the Library board training session, rode on THE Christmas ship (thanks Ellen!), sang carols in the rain on said ship on Lake Union with the Space Needle and Seattle skyline in the background, had my 1st ever Anthony's  clam chowder (I'm not supposed to call it fish soup), and took a 2 hour hike in St. Edward Park with Ellen and her dog Taz. (Another first - our summer camp and monthly program kids hang out there.)
And got my first ever offer of a senior discount at the movies...I took it. I figured if I looked that old, I needed it.  Of course the kid selling tickets looked about 12, so I imagine I did appear elderly to him.  "Life of Pi" was amazingly done, and stayed pretty close to the book as I remember it...but parents really should read a bit about it before taking children if those children do not understand that tigers eat other animals...every time the tiger acted like a tiger, there was crying from the back of the theater.
I've been so blessed with opportunity for fun this fall.  Since my last check-in, I've been treated to a weekend on Stevens Pass in a very comfortable cabin on the Skykomish River with a trip into Leavenworth for Oktoberfest. 5 couples from chchurch shared their vacation with me and another single lady - they wouldn't even accept gas money!  We had a blast, and the area was lovely. I really need to learn to fly fish!
Thanksgiving was spent in the company of other dear friends, with good food and wine - just as it should be when family is far away. 

Life has been incredibly complex lately, and rich, and exhausting, and wonderful.  An old Missouri friend left this message on my FaceBook page: Linda, it is so great to see you being such an outgoing person. I remember the shy Linda that didn't do much -- You are an inspiration!

Sometimes it's hard to remember who I was when I came out here in September of 2006. While I still struggle with the why, I am truly thankful to be here. And I'm thankful for those who remind me of how far I've come, and for those who have helped me along the way.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's Nice to Have Friends!

I am blessed to have such good friends!

One of the realities of working for a non-profit is that sometimes you work really hard for long hours. And it's worth it because you know the value of what you do...if not, you should probably be doing something else.
 Sometimes it gets hard to remember why you do what you do.  Lately I've been feeling a bit put-upon and ragged around the edges...I usually try to keep it to myself, but my friends know.

Without my asking, this is what I've been gifted with the past 3 weeks:
  • The friend from Bible study who e-mailed out of the blue to volunteer to come to the office and help out gave me the gift of her time and attention.  She spent the day stuffing envelopes while I worked on catching up with data entry. (A second Bible study friend would have joined us, but was ill - and we were glad she stayed home to get better -and that she did not share her germs  that's the gift of health.)
  • The friend who bought my lunch and listened to me let off steam on a Saturday gave me the gift of food and attention. 
  • The friend who called to find me just getting ready to leave the office at 7 pm, and drove across town so that I would not have to walk (a mile and a half - uphill...really). She also offered food, but I had put pork ribs and sweet potatoes in the slow cooker before I left the house. We sat in her truck for an hour while she gave me her attention. (Do you see the theme here?)
  • The dear friend from far away, who mailed me a gift certificate for a massage sent me the gift of health and comfort...I am so looking forward to getting to use it! I'm going for the ultimate 2 hour craniosacral session with the extra aromatherapy option. 
Aside from the unexpected generosity of these wonderful people, the thing that I noticed was that I initially started to decline each gift..."Oh, don't let me take up your time."...  "You don't have to treat me." ...  "I don't want to be a bother."... "That's too much to spend on me."

I almost did the same thing when another distant friend packed up all her yarn and knitting needles to send me last year. As I use the beautiful wool and the bamboo needles that I would not have purchased for myself, I am ever grateful that she thought of me, and that I did not turn down the offer.

Thankfully, I over road my first response and accepted all the gifts in the spirit in which they were offered.  I am very grateful, and I am truly blessed to have friends who know me so well that I don't have to ask for their love and support - the very best gifts of all. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Short and Sweet Tracking Story

Yesterday as I neared the office I noticed that the new houses going up on First were nearing completion and that someone has been planting ornamental along the sidewalk...Immediatly, I also noticed the deer tracks amongst the new shrubs.

"Those tracks look really fresh," I thought..."really, really fresh."

Even then, I was astonished to look up and see 2 smallish Blacktailed bucks and a little doe not a block ahead of me!  I've only rarely seen bucks in velvet, and I enjoyed watching the pair of "fuzzy-antlered" fellows and their consort walk down the street away from me.

Yes indeed...those tracks were really, really fresh!

And I had the opportunity to look at the tracks on my walk home, and again this morning, adding to my "mind's eye" ability to tell a bit about the age of a track. Now I'm off for another look at them as I head for my book club meeting... 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Close Encounters of the Wild Kind

This morning on my walk to work I nearly ran into a pair of Black tail deer...and I was on foot. The local deer are accustomed to wondering my neighborhood and recent new building activity has changed their normal routes.  I did not expect to see them pop out of a side street just around the corner from where I live...I followed for nearly 4 blocks, taking photos, but had to hang back so as not to spook them into traffic. At the busy intersection, 3 vehicles stopped and let the pair cross into a yard where I've often seen up to 8 deer feeding.  Duvall residents are accustomed to seeing deer in the street. 
I can't say that this is one of the pair I saw this morning, but it's within sight of the intersection I just referred  to, but further on down the street -the dip in the road is very near the yard my morning companions entered.  There's a well-worn trail between the fence and the rock wall where deer move frequently between feeding and bedding areas...fortunately the drivers this morning were more aware than these girls were...They were deep in conversation, and I do not believe either of them saw this deer.  I count it as a true blessing when I have a close encounter with the local wildlife!

Friday, April 20, 2012


As of last evening, I'm officially a trustee on the Duvall Friends of the Library board. The word "trustee" always makes me think of Cool Hand Luke.  If your library books are overdue, I think it means that I get to come to your house and set the hounds on you...or perhaps I just have to attend one meeting a month and vote on stuff...I've already volunteered to help with the used book sale (that's almost a conflict of interest!)
I love libraries! 
Our little town only had a shelf of books in the corner of the general store and one in the grade school that were serviced by the Bookmobile.  I would try my best to collect gold stars in class so that I'd be allowed inside that marvelous traveling library to choose books for our shelf.  I think my classmates got tired of Billy and Blaze. 
The only up side to leaving the farm in mid 3rd grade was that my new school had an entire library, as did my new town.
The head librarian tried to run me out of the adult section, but I insisted that I could read well enough to handle the books I wanted to check out. She very wisely made me prove it.  
I grabbed a paperback Louis L'Amour off the shelf and started to read aloud to her from Down the Long Hills. Then she made me tell her in my own words why the little boy on the big red stallion was responsible for taking care of the even smaller girl until his dad could find them after the wagon train was attacked.
The librarian studied me for a moment, then gave me permission to check out whatever I wanted to read!  That's still one of the happiest memories of my childhood, and I still love that western story. 
I'm delighted that I might have a chance to make sure that other little kids have an equal opportunity to read books.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rumble of Thunder

On Thursday we had a thunderstorm here on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains.  It lasted about 17 minutes.  Friends later reported seeing the lightning... I've always hated thunderstorms...I spent many nights back home hiding out in someone's basement fearing the lightning and potential tornadoes that can come with spring storms in the Midwest.  One of the reasons I stayed here was that, although it rains often in western Washington, it's nearly always a quiet and gentle rain.  It was late in the work day, and I was surprised to hear the rumble and only left my computer to verify it when the wind hit my office window so hard that I swear I felt the glass move.  With the wind came a hard rain that blew in sideways - much like a Missouri rain storm.  Small, soft hailstones slid down the window and melted away before my eyes.  At first I wasn't able to see the cottonwoods down by the river for the rain, but almost immediately the rain started to slack off, and I watched the treetops whip wildly around...this did not look like a typical rain. 
I quickly saved my work on the computer and grabbed my coat and keys, thinking to get home before the storm got worse.  Crossing the parking lot, I evaded most of the puddles and streams of water running down the slope of the parking lot.  It was necessary to actually turn the wipers on, not just set them to occasionally swipe the windshield.
At the stoplight I had to lower my window to verify that it was safe to turn left on the green light, it was raining so hard. I was so glad I'd not walked to work as I often do!   It's a mile and a half from my door to the office - a bit further by going down to the highway, but not by I approached my turn back up hill, I saw sunbeams cutting through the darkest of the clouds on the southern end of the squall...the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started, the wind stilled, the trees quieted.  By the time I'd parked in the garage and walked up the stairs to my rooms the storm was gone.  The cat was relaxing in a puddle of sunlight that warmed the corner of the bed. 
I'm so thankful to be here where even the thunderstorms don't last long enough to put me into a panic...I hope that my friends and family back in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas  will be so lucky this year.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Latest From the Foothills

Today I reached a tracking milestone...a very dear friend, at the request of her husband, mailed me a package of Missouri scat to ID...coyote...lots of cottontail rabbit hair...somehow I feel like this is a great honor. I really am a bad #** tracker chick!
You may have seen the crazy western Washington weather on the news.  The sun was out today, but last week was just insane.  Four snow days, a rally unusual ice storm (not in my neighborhood, but close), rain, wind and many people with no power...It was wonderful!  Of course, the longest stretch I was without power was 22 hours from just past midnight Thursday night/Friday morning to 10 pm Friday night...and it wasn't bad. 
Linda's Special Storm Survival Tips:
  • When the power is on, keep the cell phone and Kindle plugged in so they will work when the power is out.
  • Keep a pan of water simmering on the stove so that when the power does go out you can make tea.
  • Books...old fashioned, but they work when you've ignored the first rule. E-readers are good, too...can't have too many books.
  • You can knit by book light.
  • White wool long johns, hunter orange knit hats, hot pink and purple wool slippers and blue fuzzy  gloves are a perfectly respectable ensemble for lounging around the house when the lights are out. The cat doesn't care.
  • Cheese and crackers and freeze dried peas (straight from the can, dry and crispy) make a nice meal in a pinch. Particularly if you paid attention to the second rule.
  • The cat is perfectly happy to keep your feet warm in a pinch - you know, when she's cold enough to cuddle.
  • You will be just fine without TV and Internet.  Really.
  • Be kind to the people who want to rescue you from the solitude...but don't let them succeed - unless you want to be rescued.
  • Snow tracking is fun! 
  • So is birdwatching from the window. 
  • When the power goes out and you pack your freezer with snow, just give the birds the bread crumbs you had frozen for meatloaf. 
  • Give thanks for the people out in the storm who work so hard to get the power back on for you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Very short Update

Goodness, time flies these days...

What I've been up to since mid September:
  • Taught 2 four hour basic tracking classes at a women's event
  • Successfully navigated the King County Bus system, Amtrak, and the Portland Light Rail
  • Spent hours in Powell Books
  • Presented my domestic dog tgracking project at the International Society of Professional Trackers symposium
  • Took 4 bubble baths in 2 days - one on either side of the symposium - at fancy hotels in Portland
  • Discovered that the words "German" and "Bakery" go together quite nicely
  • Came home with lots of ideas about where to take the project from here
  • Decided to turn it into a field guide
  • Survived the annual audit at work, followed by payroll and 2 days of quarterly taxes -in one week
  • Knitted 2 of 6 scarves I need for Christmas presents (socks are not gonna happen this year)
  • Read 16 books - 9 fiction
Still to do in December:
  • Book club tonight -"The Help"
  • Bunco tomorrow night with ladies from my church
  • Knit
  • Knit
  • Knit
  • Vist my freind Ellen in Kirkland to help put out and light a bunch of luminarias on the beach to welcome the Christmas ships on the evening of the's becoming a tradition! I'm making biscuits and gravy for breakfast and we will have hot coco and perhaps a nice warm rum drink after the ships...
  • Knit
  • Mail scarves to Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri
  • Get really serious about tracking dogs
Looks like I'll be keeping busy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


One of the native Pacific Northwest mammals that I've been eager to see has proved to be elusive.  The Apoldonatia, or Mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa) is a primitive rodent that leaves ankle-breaking burrows all over the Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Swordfern (Polystichum munitum) forests that I've been playing in ever since I arrived here in September of 2006.
While I've seen lots of feeding sign and stepped into many a Mountain beaver hole, and have seen clear tracks in a mud puddle, I only just saw my first live animal. And I had my camera!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Something New and Different

 I've always been fascinated with glass. I've played around with stained glass, and my tools and a stash of colored glass are still waiting in storage back in Missouri.  It's something I plan to take up again when I have the room to do it.
 When we went to Silver Dollar City, I'd stand and watch the glass blowers as long as my family or friends would let me.  But glass blowing is not a craft one can take up at home, and so I never really thought much about learning that craft.
Recently, a friend found a groupon for the Redmond School of Glass, and we took a mini glass blowing class. We each got to choose one of 3 color combos and decide if we wanted to add texture to our ornament or float. 

The nice young man in the photo pulled a glob of molten glass from the furnace, then handed me the pipe to apply a coat of crushed lavendar, pink and blue glass, then I heated the glob in the "glory hole" and repeatd the crushed glass coating.  The hard part was remembering to continually turn the pipe so that the glob did not start to slump off the pipe.  By keeping up a constant turning motion, the glob stays more or less round. I opted for texture, applied by the instructor, who laid the glass into a wooden mold cut inside with a diamond pattern. Our instructor plopped the hot glass into the mold and gave a puff of air to expand the ball, which picked up the pattern. It sort of reminded me of one of my antique target balls.

 We worked in teams under close supervision...the glass starts at nearly 2000 degrees and cools slowly. While another  student did the blowing, I shaped the hot glass. Here, the danger is in squeezing too hard and cutting off the glob. Getting the correct grip was the most difficult part for me to catch on to.
(I thought the blowing part was easy - it did not take nearly as much air as blowing up a balloon.)
This is what we wanted to see as the still red-hot glass expanded into a neat round shape.  Our instructor cut off the finished ball, then quickly formed a loop on top to create the hanger for the ornament. Then he stuck it in an oven to cool slowly overnight.  If glass cools too quickly, bad things can happen!
It wasn't until 2 days later that I got to see the finished result.  I think it's very pretty, and I'd like totake more classes. Check out the website at

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And the Final Cedar River Watershed Story

Once we completed the watershed tour, Ellen and I sat on a bench near the rain drums and ate our sack lunches...all the while looking at Rattlesnake Ledge. The trail winds up around this peak across the lake.  It's a 2 mile trail that rises 1,175 feet in elevation.  The trail tops out on the treeless edge of rock on the right side of the peak...hikers who make the top look like ants from this viewpoint.
Now I can walk all day on a level path, but I'm not great on hills.  And I get vertigo. Ellen, however, is training for the Himalayas.  She's going in November.  I said I'd go as far as it was fun.  And it wasn't bad, except that as we neared the top, people started running down hill towards us, and I got scared.  We turned back about 3/4 of the way to the's the view:
By turning back, we did get to see a couple of cool things!

The plant above is called an Indian Pipe, or Ghost Plant. The Latin name is Monotropa uniflora, and it's a  saprophytic plant, or a parasitic plant that does not produce any chlorophyll. It's the first one I've seen, and I found it strangely beautiful.

The coolest thing happened after we got back to the lake.  I picked a table off in a little opening by the edge of the water to eat my last sandwich.  I didn't get a picture of the Osprey (Pandion halietus)that appeared over the willows, hovered for a moment, then hit the water right in front of us! We couldn't believe our luck.  The bird disappeared under the water, and came back up without a fish.  It was amazing to be standing right there when it happened.  I didn't even care that I couldn't get a photo.

All in all, it was a great day, and we had such a good time.  I'd recommend the watershed tour to anyone - it's well worth the $10.00 it cost, and the visitor's center is free, as is parking - but be careful not to park in the Iron Horse State Park lot without a Discover Pass.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cedar River Watershed Tour, Part 2

After leaving the Masonary Dam and the loons, we drove deeper into the watershed, arriving at a covered area on the shore of Chester Morris Lake. Across the lake there's a bit of old growth forest still on the top of one of the peaks.  We could see bits of the taller trees through the fog.  Our guide told us that  a few Spotted owls nest there, as well as the rare Marbled murlet.  Those brave birds nest inland in old growth, but fly at night to the ocean where they feed.  North Bend is at least an hour to Seattle by highway...and the ocean is further yet. 

The old growth forest is on the mountain top on the far upper right...under the fog.
Our guided tour continued to the Upper Cedar Falls, and perhaps the most beautiful water I've ever seen. It leaks out of the lake and is  filtered by the glacial sand - at least that's what they think. The blue water is coming in from a creek on the left...

We could have stayed here forever...but the tour was nearly over.  As we learned how they are working with native tribes to allow access to their former hunting and gathering grounds, we kept a watch out for the ever-elusive wildlife. Not a single mammal was sighted, although deer, elk, black bear and the rare cougar have been seen by tour groups.
In my next post I'll tell you about our hike up the trail towards Rattlesnake Ridge.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cedar River Watershed Tour - the Best $10.00 Tour Ever, Part 1

 Ellen Haas picked me up early on Friday, August 5th and we headed off to North Bend and Rattlesnake Lake for the Cedar River Watershed tour.  About 70% of Seattle drinking water comes from this watershed, which is closed to access, except through the tours that Seattle Public Utilites run. 

For $10.00 ($5.00 for seniors), you can ride on a comfortable bus into the no access area and learn about the history of the watershed from a naturalist tour guide.  I liked the mix of history and the amazing chance to go into a closed area.  This is Ellen standing on the Masonary Dam, with the Masonary Pool in the background...Chester Morris Lake is further in the background. 

The dam, built in the early 1900's
Our group was small, but one of the older men had been a fire lookout from one of the nearby mountaintops in his youth.

We expected sunshine and warm temperatures, but the fog never lifted, and the wind was cool...I understand the view of the mountains is quite something to see when the sky is clear.

What we did see was beautiful...and then a pair of big birds landed off a point in the distance...not ducks or geese, I first sighting of wild loons, almost too far out to get photos!
                                 They sit so low in the water!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Link To My Domestic Dog Tracking Project Blog

I've created a second blog dedicated to the Domestic Dog Tracking Project because I know that many readers of this blog are not particularly interested in the dog project. If you are interested, I hope that you will follow it, too.  Here's the link:

I'll still write about tracking on this blog, because it's so central to who I am, but I'll spare you the dog tracks here. Do give the new blog a look, because it's a really cool project, and I'm extremely proud of it.  I just made the first post there, and have lots that I'll be adding over the next few weeks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Oh my goodness, it's been a crazy month!  I've hardly had time to think, let alone blog about what's been going on...Here's a short rundown of what I've been up to since I last checked in...funny how many of them are about endings of one sort or another:
  • Quick trip to Oklahoma the first week of May to celebrate my baby brother's 50th birthday - the end of our youth...
  • Many days and nights of worry about friends and loved ones in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri due to serious tornado outbreaks!  One of the towns we'd driven through on the way to my brother's was hit, and Joplin, Missouri is (was?) only 100 miles or so from the area I lived in before I came west. For over 100 people in SW Missouri it was truly the end...
  • Graduation for all our Wilderness Awareness School students, ages 4-adult...the end of the school year makes me emotional - and our staff is changing quite a bit next fall.  It's going to be awesome, but different.  The end of an era, I suppose.
  • I'm on the final part of a huge cross-stitch project that I brought out with me in's for a friend, and I've worked (or not) on it for way too long...I'm taking off most of this coming week, and I'll complete the darned thing before week's end!  That one is the end of a chore I wish I'd not taken on.
That's the thing about endings...some are painful, others just make you face reality...and some free you to do other things...With the cross-stitch gone, I'll be able to enjoy the yarn and knitting needles friend Margaret sent me - boxes of the good stuff that I wouldn't buy for myself...After a series of endings, it's good to have a beginning to look forward to!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Other Pic I Got

I took about 20 photos of this little weasel (pun intended)...most of them turned out to be pics of where she was just a moment before...Still, I'm delighted to get 2 pictures of such a rare animal!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rare Sighting

Hey! I see you! This little guy was a special treat, as we've only just started to see him/her on our land near Duvall, Washington.
One of our adult program instuctors noticed this Short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea) during a class. The hole that it's popping out of is about the size of a quarter. It's at the base of as stump just a few feet from the woodshed outside Malalo, the rustic 8-sided structure where we hold many of our ceremonial events at Wilderness Awareness School. I signed up at the last minute for a 2 day wilderness first aid and CPR certifications had expired, and now that I'm beginning to lead some small groups on my own, I figured I should take care of that...and I like to be up at the land. I took my camera along hoping to see this guy (or gal). And see it I did...getting photos was much harder. They move really fast!

The Short-tailed weasel is a tiny member of the mustelid family, and is a vicious little killer! The instructor saw it take a vole into the burrow, and then return several times with infant voles. For an animal about 8 inches long, that's some feat! I like cute little furry critters with teeth.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Unexpected Tracking Danger

On Saturday I decided to take advantage of the dry and somewhat sunny afternoon to wonder down by Coe Clemmons Creek, which runs through Taylor Park. It's a small park that runs east to west between my neighborhood and the post office in downtown Duvall. The creek meanders along the bottom of the steep-sided gully that separates the playground from the houses that back up to the creek on the south. From the head of the park where the creek passes under 3rd Ave to highway 203 at the far western edge it's about 6 city blocks in distance and about half a city block wide. The playground and picnic area only take up about 2 city blocks, and the upper block and the lower 3 blocks are just wild. A local school group did do some cleanup and trail work along the creek a couple of years ago, and I often see teens and sometimes families walking along the creek. There are also deer trails in several areas along the street - they seem to take the steepest routes. I've been seeing a big doe with what I believe to be her 2 year old daughter and her 2 yearlings, one of which is starting to sprout some buttons on his head. The youngsters both have some interesting "cowlicks" on their sides, so it's pretty easy to recognize them. They have been a block away from my apartment, and I've seen them in various places along my walk to and from work. I've seen tracks along the street on days that I missed the deer. I started to wonder if they spent time in the lower section of the park...I hadn't really ever taken the path that goes down the hillside past the parking lot. On Saturday, I decided to take a look. I found lots of deer tracks! The path switchbacks along, and the deer have made shortcuts from the upper path to the second and third paths. If I'd had plaster in my pocket I'd have made some casts of the clear tracks I found. It was really nice to just wonder along, not taking measurements, and not having a camera along to take photos. I was just tracking for fun...and almost got wiped out in the process. Now, I'm 52 years old...I've let my hair go grey, and I've put on a few more pounds than I'd like to admit to recently. But I do walk a mile and a half to work and back most days, and I often pack groceries up the hill in my backpack rather than get the car out of the garage. But I'm no athlete...never have been, don't want to be. So, imagine me in mid path, bent over admiring a nice deer track in a muddy's deep and the cleaves are spread and the dew claws are there...and I'm thinking that the animal must have come off the hillside pretty fast. And I hear a funny noise - one that makes me think I should pay attention. So I look up and see a kid on a bike, pedaling as fast as he can, and headed right at me...he looks as scared as I feel! I want you to know that I lept - yes, lept - off the trail and avoided a collision by inches...I felt the air on my arm as he sped past. I saw admiration on his face as he went by. Now, I'll confess that it was not a graceful gazelle-like leap, but I'd have bet (and the kid would have, too) that I was not capable of any sort of leap. I guess it's just another survival skill I've learned at Wilderness Awareness School. That, and my weekly visit to my chiropractor saved me from an ugly tracking accident.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Report

I'm kind of a rock star, you the end of my weekend Ladies retreat a number of young women came to me to ask if they could have their picture taken with me. Some of them told me I should be on "Survivor". How does one become such a heroine to 20 yer old Christian women?
I think it's partly because I won my very first ever team sports award on Saturday morning. I was one of 6 members of the team declared "Most Challenged" in the Warrior Princess Boot Camp games. We placed 3rd...out of 3 teams. But I did get 2 of my 3 grenades into the baskets, and I let one of my teammates paint my face with cammo and pink...I was stunning.
Another reason might be that I took my really cool fish spear that we made in class (WARP07) to add some warrior-like authenticity to my costume on Saturday evening. But the main reason was that I shared some of my favorite outdoor things with a few of them during a short walk in the park just off highway 90 in Issaquah. We found cottonwood buds just ready for harvesting to make oil for salves. There was not a nettle, a dandelion, or even a plantain to talk about nor did we see any birds, except for the 15 or 20 Great Blue Herons that flew from the trees down by the creek. They were exciting, but were pretty high up and flying fast. The park signage had pointed out that the trail to the rookery was closed, and so we could not investigate that option. Then we hit a muddy patch of trail, and I feared losing them I pointed out that trackers LOVE mud. One of the young ladies inquired about what I might be tracking on the trail. "Well, there are dog tracks, and I saw a coyote track just back a bit," I said.
"Can you show me a coyote track?"
"I sure can," I replied and pointed to the ground just in front of us. "And there's a coyote scat," I told her. "See the little bones?" Much to my surprise, she took photos!
Had I been alone, or with other trackers, I might have teased apart the scat for a closer look at the tiny vertebrae to see if I could identify the coyote's last meal...but with my new friends, I decided to play it safe and not scare them out of tracking...who knows, one of those photos may be my intro to Tracker fame! Anybody need a famous tracker chick to teach a class? I can bring my own spear!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rest and Relaxation!

I'm hanging out at the office waiting for Duvall Reads book club to start at 7pm. Tonight we will discuss "Founding Brothers" by Joseph J. Ellis. It's a good book, but it broke my heart. I've always thought that the men who wrote the Constitution were good and honest men...I was dismayed to find that it's not all that far from "I did non have sex with that woman" to Thomas Jefferson's "I did not hire that man to write lies about you." I'm afraid politics have always been ugly. It should be a good discussion, and I'm looking forward to hearing the opinions of others.
Tomorrow, I'm off on a 3 day Ladies Retreat with 79 other 'girls' from my church. We will be at a fancy hotel in Issaquah, enjoying good food, high thread count sheets, a pool and walking trails in Lake Sammamish State Park - if the weather improves...We've had hail the past two days...Now that won't stop me from going out on Saturday afternoon- we have several hours of free time, and I'm hoping to get some of my girlfriends out to see if we can find interesting tracks in the park. There's a bit of beach area along the lake that's about half a mile from our lodging. We could easily find river otter tracks there! It's been a while since I've had a Friday off to do something fun! I'll report back next week.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Taking February Back

February is a stressful month for me. The divorce was final on February 14, 2003...three days before what would have been our 25th anniversary. In retrospect, it was probably the best Valentine I ever got. But it's still sad, and I tend to do a lot of what we call inner tracking at this time of year.
I'm happy to finally say that I've found a way to take back the month of February. This year, two of my good friends joined me for what we called the First Annual Guinevere was an Idiot Film Festival. Just because we are single women doesn't mean that we can't celebrate Valentine's Day in our own way. We watched my favorite romantic movies - Terminator and Quigley Down Under, shared a wonderful meal with wine and strawberries to dip in chocolate fondue, and enjoyed individual boxes of candy and bouquets of white daises and red carnations.
What - you don't think our movies are romantic? What's not romantic about a guy who will come through time for a woman he's only seen a photo of? Not to mention that he'll fight Arnie, and die protecting her at the end...And Quigley is just about the perfect cowboy fantasy...and that's about all I'm going to say about it...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Funny Story...

I decided that I wanted to use part of my tax refund to join the International Society of Professional Trackers. They have a cool newsletter, and published my domestic dog tracking project in the fall of 2009. I've continued to do reading about dog feet, and have decided that I'm on to something. Seemed like a good idea to make connections with other trackers and keep up with the news about tracking...
Within 24 hours of filling out the on-line registration and paying the fee, I was invited to become the moderator of the Wilderness Awareness School group on the ISPT website. I agreed. And then wondered what I'd gotten myself into. I'm the bookkeeper for crying out loud. Who's gonna listen to what I have to say about tracking?
I've been the moderator for another 24 hours, and already I've increased our group membership from 4 to 5 (well, 6 counting me) and I've had nice conversations with Del Morris, the executive director of the ISPT. He promises to teach me what I need to know about handling the group. Kim Cabrera, the nice lady who helped me publish my dog tracking story has already said some nice things about my three legged dog track photo, and James Lowery, has communicated with me through the group. He's author of the book, "The Tracker's Field Guide". I brought it with me from Missouri when I came to study at WAS, so it was exciting to have him contact me through the group!
If you are a tracker who is not yet a member of the ISPT, you should take a look at the web site at You can join the WAS group once you are a member. I'd like to see all my tracker friends there.
And I thought I was only joining to read the newsletter!

My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"