Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
- Otter sighting in Juanita Park!
- Another dog for my tracking project
- Being mistaken for a homeless woman
- Sylvia, the largest tree in King County
- A fabulous lunch and tea near the bus stop in Redmond
Friday, December 18, 2009
Then I'll ride the bus into Seattle on Monday (I have 2 free passes that have to be used by the end of the year!) and I'll wind up in Kirkland to help Ellen make cookies and join her and other good friends at Denny Park to see the Christmas Ship...There will be caroling, a huge bonfire on the shore (firemen too!) and dogs, kids, the entire neighborhood...and wine. Check it out here...
Ellen has plans for seeing Christmas lights and events on Tuesday, then I'll return on the Wednesday bus for a quiet end of week with the cat, a pile of good books, and plenty of hot chocolate.
Merry Christmas to all my friends!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Leaving the water dripping in the kitchen and bathroom sinks, and the cabinet doors open underneath has kept the pipes from freezing. I have food and tea, the cat is fat and happy and will sit on my lap and purr in the evening, and there are plenty of books stacked on my stairs waiting to be read. Life is good in the valley. And the cold spell won't last nearly as long here as it will back in the midwest.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Really, now, is it so surprising that 8 natruralists (and one cat) would gather on the floor in front of the fireplace to look at moss through microscopes and with hand lenses? Our November book club selection was "Gathering Moss:A Natural and Cultural History" by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
We gathered, shared a wonderful harvest potluck, then spent a couple of hours on the floor enchanted by the tiny mossy "forests" and the inhabitants thereof. Miniscule transparent worms, teeny unidentified beings...what an amazing amount of life in a handful of moss.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Work is a little crazy just now - getting ready for an audit in December, so lots more paperwork for me! Should go well, but just the word "audit" is scary. And I bet the auditor is worried, too. Wilderness Awareness School is not like her usual gig...We are...unique.
The lovely fall weather continues with lots of rain and enough wind to drop a tree across the road just around the corner from my little apartment. When I came to work this morning the road was clear, but lots of debris still on the road. Missouri trees are quite a lot shorter than Washington trees. I never used to worry about getting hit by a tree except during tornado weather.
If the rain keeps coming in from the coast I don't know if I'll go tracking on Saturday. The sandbar may not be accessible. Of course, post flood tracking is really awesome...not that I'm hoping for floods.
I hit 2 King County Library used book sales a couple of weeks ago, so I have lots of good reading material to keep me company if I can't go tracking. With a cup of hot tea and a purring cat on my lap, it's all good!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
This is a Golden Plover- Pacific, I believe (Pluvailis fulva). It was a quiet bird, hardly moving from this spot. I liked the bright yellow and black markings.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I hear it's a cool place to spend a day, and I've been wanting to go ever since I arrived here 3 years ago. It's about time...I'll take lots of pictures to share next time I post.
We intend to catch the marine mammals talk and the one on octopuses. And I hear there's a tide pool exhibit where I can touch some of the smaller critters!
Tomorrow, I play!
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Around the corner and near the highway, I saw a large doe and 2 smaller deer, all standing broadside as if taunting me. They were on the far side of the pasture that backs up against the Starbucks parking lot just around the way...They saw me, and all three animals watched as I continued on my way...the fog was light, but did complicate getting a good photo of the threesome.
Paper purchased, I started back up the steep hill. I hoped to see the deer again, as I'd only been 10 minutes or so in getting the paper. But they were gone...
Just at the crest of the hill where the pasture meets the brushy edge, I noticed something grey and stopped to bring my camera up and use the zoom feature to look...The coyote saw me and bounded into the brush! I only got a glimpse of it, but was happy to know that my run 0f coyote sightings is not over yet!
Friday, September 4, 2009
I know they are still around. I heard them howl just after 12:30 this morning...Since I wasn't sleeping, I was happy to hear them sing! I was trying to finish a book , "A New Earth" by Eckert Tolle, and I have to say that I was not enjoying it all that much. The coyotes were a reminder that I needed to put it down and go to sleep...but I expected to get the latest by Suzanne Arruda in the mail today and have it for the weekend. However, it did not arrive :(
Oh well, something to look forward to...and I still have to finish the Tolle book. Parts of it have been good and inspirational, but I just think he's a bit "out there". Or perhaps I was too tired to appreciate it. At any rate, another 20 pages, and I'm done. Tonight the coyotes will have to sing to themselves.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I keep forgetting to bring in my disk with photos from my visit with Missouri friends a couple of weeks ago. Pike's Place Market in downtown Seattle with Madonna and Dave, with lunch at Lowell's overlooking the water..then an afternoon on the deck of the B&B where they were staying.
I had a great time, enjoyed catching up with my friends, and loved the quiet of the deck after the noise and commotion of the Market. Even on a Friday it was crowded and loud!
I don't think they got the ultimate Seattle vacation...it was sunny the entire week they were visiting the Hoh Rainforest, Victoria and Seattle. It was actually hotter here than back at their St. Louis area home. They should come back in November and get the rain!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Go check it out...the link takes you to the correct story. The photo is of Laura, a fellow staff member here at WAS. She was in my Residential Program class, too.
The story is about a Walkabout - a wander across the landscape finding water, food and shelter where you can. It's quite a bit more strenuous than most of our classes...and there's no cook. It's a fun trip for the type of person who is interested in survival skills.
Monday, July 27, 2009
She sent a photo from her phone today, and the sun is shining in the Hoh Rain Forest...It's been shining for a very long time...I LIKE the rain. I miss it, and hope it comes back soon.
I've been aflicted with little migraines of late, and I'm sure it's because the sun has been shining for 2 and a half months.
I'll be taking off Friday to meet Madonna at the pig on the corner by Pike Place Market...I'm happy about that, and hope that we get some real Seattle weather, otherwise she'll think it's just like Missouri.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Right now I'm snacking on ripe red Chelan cherries delivered to work by one of our Community School families. Some of my friends gave me a gift certificate for fresh produce and it seems I have a credit! I love the just-picked, locally grown (or just brought over the pass) goodies...Soon, the Bings, my favorites, will be ripe. The Rainiers are the most beautiful of the cherries with their yellow blushed skin, but the darker red cherries are my favorites.
Duvall has a wonderful farmer's market on Thursday afternoons, and I made a point last year to try new vegetables every week. Now I know that I like the Jerusalem artichokes, the chard, the kale...but the fresh fruits are what I crave the most...and the pie from George's Bakery in Fall City...they make pie crust almost as good as Granny did!
I love summers here...
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Last night I had to give up around midnight with only a hundred or so pages left in "Memoirs of a Geisha", by Arthur Golden. I'd resisted reading it for a long time because I've often found popular novels to be boring or just awful but I've been enchanted with the story. It's well told, and filled with fascinating bits of history...some of it said not to be quite true. And it's a bit depressing to be reminded of all the things women historically have had to do when men abandon them.
Tonight I'll finish those last hundred pages easily, and then it will be time to choose the next book from my stack. I wonder which one I'll choose?
Here are some recent selections I've enjoyed:
- "The Fellowship of the Ring" by JJR Tolkien - you may remember that my friend Madonna sent that one to me a while back...I'd forgotten how the books differ from the movies! It was nice to revisit Frodo and Sam and the gang.
- "High Country" by Nevada Barr - I enjoy the Anna Pigeon mysteries, each set in a different National Park. This one visited Yosemite, a park I have yet to see.
- "The Mastery of Love" by Don Miguel Ruiz _ don't ask me why I'm reading relationship books...I found it at the library used book table, and had enjoyed his "The Four Agreements" some time back.
- "The Grand Finale" by Janet Evanovich - not her best one, and pure fluff. Check out her Stephanie Plum novels for better reading.
As you can see, it's an eclectic reading list...just the kind I like.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
This little black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawn must have frolicked all night in the sand...these little tracks were everywhere! Casey, our evaluator, said that it messed up several of his questions for us...and left a few interesting ones for us to figure out.
Friday, June 12, 2009
evaluation, and I'm worn out, dirty, bloody from blackberry brambles and mosquito bites...and really, really happy!
My official score was an 84, high enough to make me a Level 2 Tracker...and better than that, all 8 of us taking this test scored a Level 2 or better! It was really cool to see people I've been in class with all year doing so well...and a mark of the quality of tracking education we got in this year's Tracking Intensive class at Wilderness Awareness School.
I'm headed home for a shower, and some homemade soup followed by a glass of wine to celebrate! It's been such a fun year and I've learned so much about tracking and wildlife, and myself...and after these past two days, I see how much more I have to learn...I love that tracking is a never ending learning experience!
Friday, June 5, 2009
When I was a kid, graduation meant the end of something...I see this one much like I saw my graduation from the Residential Program in 2007...as the beginning.
I used to think that once I'd set out on a path there was no changing my mind, no second chance, no do overs.
Now I know better.
From this point onward I can call myself a tracker, and know that it's true. When I was a kid, I used to dream about being someone who could follow marks on the ground, read the stories written there by hoofs and paws...Now I can do that - some times anyway. I'll learn more with experience. We always do.
One thing I'd ask, if life is being kind to you right now, is to go to the web site at www.wildernessawareness.org and make a donation to our yearly scholarship fund. We have an opportunity to double your gift up to $20,000.00 and every bit helps.
I would not have had the courage to come here and do this remarkable thing I've done without the help of the scholarship I recieved - it made a world of difference to me...I hope we can offer the same gift to many other students in the next year. I'm giving $25.00. How about you?
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Some of the most interesting signs birds and animals leave are not tracks, but feeding sign. Trees seem too big to be "prey" for critters, but I've seen some pretty cool "tree tracks".
Monday, June 1, 2009
I spent a lot of time worrying about it. Public speaking has never been my thing. I knew I was on to something, and that my research was valid...and the thought of standing up and telling my classmates and instructors what I'd found was frightening.
One thing I've learned here at Wilderness Awareness School is that people will support you if you ask. My instructor, Dave Moskowitz, reminded me that everyone in the audience would be very interested in the project. I also arranged for a couple of my classmates to tackle me if I bolted for the door!
What really helped was that some of our Elders came in to support me! Many thanks to Pam, Jenn, Walt and his wife Katy, and to Auntie Barbara who all took time on a sunny Washington Saturday to come out and witness my presentation. I had other friends in the room, too. Ellen and Jonathan came - Ellen's dog Taz was in the project, and Jonathan is a tracker and former Rezzie and TI student. Current Rezzie Shondell, who helped with some of the dog tracking was there to support me, too.
I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it! I guess speaking about something you're passionate about is a little different than an assigned topic...I never would have belived that it would be fun.
My Missouri friend Madonna says I have to start owning my power...Yeah, I Rocked!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
A recent hike in McCormick Park brought me the chance to take this photo...my duck ID is shakey, but I believe it's a Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). I had another post in mind today, but did not bring the proper photo disk...Oh well, another day.
Big News! Saturday is the day I give my presentaion of my dog tracking project to the Tracking Intensive class! I believe it's a good one, and that my research is sound...and I'm scared to death of standing up in front of the class...Yet another thing I'm doing for the first time since the Residential Program.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Compare them to the tracks of the Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) to the right. It's interesting how different the tracks are considering that they are very similar animals...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
myself when I saw these tracks on my
way to work recently...They were so clear and gave good front and back prints - I usually only find one or the other. I had to check with my Tracking Intensive instructor to make sure I had the ID right before I shared with you.
I'm still unsure when I first see a new track, and even though I thought I knew what it was after checking the field guides, I doubted myself...mainly because I thought I had a resident one of these mammals in my yard!
Turns out I was wrong, and after a closer look at the track photos I'd taken in the snow and realized that my resident critter is a different member of this family. My neighbor hood critter is smaller, and is a Pacific Northwest native. These tracks were in a residential area, just a few blocks from the office. This tasty animal lives back in Missouri, Arkansas and Oaklahoma, and is really an introduced species here...so no reason for all my friends back home not to make a guess about it...I'm not telling until someone leaves a guess in the comments area...Click on the word comment below, and give it a shot!
Monday, April 20, 2009
I picked some Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) , enough for my favorite spring treat. Knotweed is an introduced and invasive species, one which the state of Washington would love to get rid of, so I do my part by eating as much as I can before it gets too big and tough. I only pick the young shoots, no higher than my knee, or bigger around than my thumb. I clean off the leaves, wash and cut into inch long sections. It can then be added to your favorite Apple Crisp recipe. Mine goes something like this - its a very forgiving recipe, so the measurements don't have to be exact. Knotweed has a taste similar to Rhubarb.
(Be sure you have properly identified Japanese Knotweed before you harvest it. Folks who can't eat Rhubarb have told me that they can't eat this plant, either, so use your common sense and try a small amount to see if it agrees with you before you go crazy.)
- One package of frozen strawberries, thawed until they can be cut into halves or quarters.
- Three apples, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks (can be any type - I use what I have on hand)
- An equal (more or less) amount of chopped knotweed.
- Sugar to taste - about 1/4 cup for me
Top with a mixture of about 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup packed brown sugar, with a stick of butter cut in. The mixture will be crumbly and dry.
Bake in oven until the fruit is done - about 30- 45 minutes. Top warm crisp with vanilla ice cream for a real treat.
It's easy, and a bit tart...and a good way to use a noxious weed! (Jonathan tells me he has used the leaves in stirfries, but I haven't tried that yet.)
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
- First and second ferry rides - the Tracking Intensive folks said that Norfolk Lake in Arkansas didn't count! It was really COLD on the deck, but I enjoyed watching the gulls and cormorants! The return trip was the best-sunny and great views of Mt. Baker and Rainier. The Space Needle looked like a toy from the far side of Puget Sound.
- First trip to the Peninsula!
- First time in Olympic National Park!
- First mountain lion tracks! At the Sol Duc area...in snow...It was funny because they were of a size that could have been big bobcat, but as Marcus pointed out, the stride was 3 1/2 feet long.
Wonderful trip, good weather, fun group. I love TI weekends!
Friday, April 3, 2009
With luck, we will find tracks of the fisher ( Martes pennanti )...a rare animal that looks somewhat like it's kin, the mink and weasel. I'm hoping for clear tracks, and good weather...right now the sun is shining, but we are about 5 hours and a ferry ride away from the campground. I'll report back next week!
Monday, March 30, 2009
Here's the list:
- 2 Chihuahuas
- 2 Shih Tzus
- 2 lab mixes
- 1 Basset Hound
- 1 Great Pyrenees
- 1 Boxer mix
- 1 Groenendal mix
- 1 English Springer Spaniel
- 1 Leonberger
It's fun to see how the various breeds move and how their tracks differ...I could spend a lifetime and not get to all 400+ breeds of dog. I have to get busy!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
still absolutely astounded that
we had such good tracking conditions...This pair of tracks left in the mud may have been a ewe and her yearling - or it might have been a front (larger) and rear track. It's kind of far off to the side to be the front and rear of the same animal. We did see 9 Bighorns (Ovis canadensis) cross the valley ahead of our group. And it's an area that the animals use all the time. These tracks were not crossing the valley, but were going down the trail in the direction of the bridge and parking lot...others were going up the valley trail.
Bighorns are diurnal, meaning that they are active in the daytime. They typically sleep in beds on the hillside, and so I doubt that they gather in the valley at night when people are less likely to be found there.
The canyon is a big draw to hikers, fly fishermen, rockhounds, and dog walkers. I'm surprised - and blessed -that we saw the animals and found so many tracks.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
realize why I've been in such a
strange mood the past week or
so. As I was preparing a bank
deposit around noon I had to
enter the date, and then it hit me.
February 17 used to be my anniversary. This would have been 30 years...The Ex left in the summer of our 24th year, and the divorce was final just 3 days before our 25th Anniversary...Oh, that's it. That's why I've been unusually distracted and even a little bit ... not sad, exactly... I can't even think of the word that would cover the feeling I've had this past week. There must be one, and I bet my friends Madonna and Sally will e-mail it to me right away. It probably has something to do with moving on.
What I do know is that once I got the connection I put on my coat, and because I now have the sort of job that allows me to do so, I took a long walk...and decided that I needed to mark the occasion in some way. Not a celebration, exactly, but a rememberance of sorts.
There's a grocery store down the street...I wondered around for a while, looking at the
marked-down Valentine's Day candy...that didn't seem exactly right, but I craved something sweet. What I took back to the office to share with my coworkers was a big box of Pepperidge Farm cookies...the Entertaining collection...9 different kinds of cookies...the ones I don't often allow myself. It felt decadent! It felt really good to offer my friends a sweet treat and to be able to tell them why I felt the need to mark the day. Best of all, it felt really good to be able to do it without tears...like the swans in the photo today, I feel like I'm finally moving on.
Monday, February 16, 2009
The Tracking Intensive class went to Northwest Trek on Sunday, Feb. 15th. It was a great day to be out, as the animals were active...I'll be posting photos on my WebShots page in a few days! Today, I wanted to share the wolf howl I caught on video. I apologize for the camera noise...and the shaky video.
The howling was very exciting! I heard a coyote yip from the nearby pens, and first wolf made a really low, deep howl...that's when I turned on the video. You can hear the coyotes in the background, and they really set the wolves off! Just pretend that you don't see the fence in the background.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The big disappointment was that the dog park by the river not only flooded, but seems not to be repaired in the aftermath. I'd hoped to make some connections there and find dogs to add to my Tracking Intensive project...but now I'll have to look elsewhere.
On a happier note, I was able to pick up enough Black Cottonwood (Populus nigra) buds to start a new batch of oil for making salve in the fall.
Just to spend a little while outside in the sun was fabulous! I've also noticed that the evening sky stays light a little bit longer - I'm so happy that spring is getting a little closer each day!
Friday, January 23, 2009
It's the second book she's sent me recently. "The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging" by Arianna Huffington and friends arrived in time for my birthday although she mailed it from St. Louis on December 12th. Given our record snows in December I'm surprised it's not still in a drift somewhere. It's a good book, and I have been using some of her hints in this blog. Madonna says I'm going to get rich off it someday. I could live with that. It's a great book if you are thinking about starting your own blog. You might want to check it out.
I've recieved other books as gifts this year, too...One of them I'll feature in another "episode" of my blog because it's a cool naturalist/travel book from my friend Laurie.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
What if I invited you to take a photo of your dog and a photo of your dog's track?Would you e-mail them to me so that I could put them in a photo album on our new school "Village" web site? It might be fun to see a bunch of dogs and their tracks all in one spot.
Tomorrow, I'll have an example of what I'd like to see you send. I'm thinking a full body shot of the dog (no people - I'm not tracking people) and a good close up of the dog's tracks, preferably with something for scale - a penny works great if you don't have a ruler in your camera bag.
Is anyone interested? Let me know!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
tell for a couple of weeks, but couldn't.
My old Missouri friends sent me a surprise for my
birthday, and I couldn't blog about it because I didn't
know if my Mom reads my blog or not....and my sister and I have been planning a surprise 70th birthday party for her for months. She thought it was a party for Andrew, my great-nephew who turned 6 on the 5th!
My hospital co-workers sent me a banner that nearly 50 people had signed with good wishes and kind thoughts...They also collected $110 in one and five dollar bills to help me get to Arksansas for the party! I'm not the "msuhy" type, but their kindness nearly made me cry. I had been a bit worried about how I would eat on the trip...the tickets were bought, but I would be short on traveling money. You could say that it really met a need!
I flew out of Seattle just ahead of a storm that would cause record flooding in my part of the state, and which would have kept me from going at all if my flight had been 24 hours later. It was a bumpy ride out of SeaTac, and my seatmate was a twitchy fellow who wanted to talk all the way to Dallas/Ft.Worth. I hoped to sleep on that part of the trip because we left just after midnight, and I had worked most of Tuesday and was tired.
There was a 2 hour delay while our pilot to Little Rock found a plane that he liked - I'm not complaining...if the pilot doesn't trust it, I don't want to be in it. I was really gald to see my sister Susan at the gate.
It's still a 3 hour drive to Violet Hill, where she and Mom live, so we stopped to have a bit of dinner on the way. Out here in Washington, they call it lunch, but I always had breakfast, dinner and supper, so that's what we had. It's been a while since I enjoyed steak and loaded smashed potatoes with sweet tea...I have to say that Pacific Northwest cooking doesn't come close to Southern meals...I miss the food more than I realized.
Mom was truly surprised...and happy. We had a big combined birthday party for the two of us and the 6 year old. I bet that Andrew still has blue lips from the frosting on the cupcakes!
On Thursday, Mom followed me around for a couple of hours while I tracked 4 more dogs, and found groundhog tracks in a cow pie in the pasture. We spooked a whitetail doe from the old slave cemetary . No armadillos or tracks were found, much to my dismay. Susan had promised I'd see and/or track them, but the ground was dry, hard and rocky, and we didn't even see any road-killed ones to check out.
Since Tracking Intensive class was this weekend, I flew home on Friday. About 130 miles out from Seattle, the pilot noted that we could see Mounts Rainier, Adams, St. Hellens and Hood all lined up against the horizon! What a beautiful welcome home it was.
Saturday we learned about bird feathers, and on Sunday we played in silt under bridges at Fall City and Carnation...one thing about floods is that the tracking is really good when the water goes down. Look for more photos soon!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Links to Cool Sites:
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"