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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


One of the best things about living in western Washington is the amazing bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables - the only thing I've found that we do better in Missouri are tomatoes.

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

Books, Books, Books!

I was up waaay too late last night trying to finish a book - like that's never happened before:) Now that I have a bit more free time, I've been tackling the precariously tall stack of books I've picked up at garage sales and the library used book table.

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

The Rock, Part II

Thanks to Whitt, who explained the rock to me...
It's igneous quartz, volcanic, and quickly cooled. The divots and channels are from air bubbles! That's so cool...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wish I Knew Geology...

I found this really cool rock while we were testing on the sandbar...At first I thought it was a sort of Quartz, but it has a funny texture...

It almost seems to have been pitted by something rubbing on the surface...and the bottom almost looks like some segmented creature was trapped there a while. Anybody know geology?

Tiny Little Feet

These are the smallest deer tracks I've ever seen! We were excited to find them on the sandbar at Chinook Bend near Carnation, WA during the tracking evaluation.
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

The Tracking Evaluation

I've just gotten in from an intense 2-day Cybertracker
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

Another Graduation

I'm kind of excited that I'll be graduating from the Tracking Intensive program tomorrow...and sad that the year is over. I'll take the trakcing evaluation next week, but that's a seperate thing.
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 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 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

Who's Been Eating the Trees?

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".
In the top photo, taken at Frenchman's Coulee, a porcupine has been taking chunks out of the bark. I've yet to see a complete and clear porcupine track - the ones I've seen have been in loose sand, and not at all clear. However, the clear incisor marks on this tree indicate that one (or more) lives nearby. There's likely a den in the rocks somewhere along the basalt cliffs. It would be worth spending a day there looking for the piles of scat that pour out of a porcupine den...a nice fall or early winter trip. The east side sun will be brutal there in the summer months.
The second photo shows the work of the red-breasted sapsucker...this bird drills holes in the bark to collect sap which then traps insects. I see lots of sapsucker sign here in Washington...On my walk to work -about a mile and a half - I know of 20 trees just along the street that have been worked by these birds...I even saw one once!

Monday, June 1, 2009


I just finished up the final weekend of the Tracking Intensive class. Saturday I got to present my dog tracking project to the class.
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!

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"