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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Do I Look Homeless To You????

I was early getting into Kirkland by bus, and Ellen had forgotten her phone. It had been raining hard when I'd left Duvall early Monday morning and so I'd wrapped a trash bag around my backpack, which was stuffed full for 2 days at Ellen's. I had noticed that when the Kifaru pack gets wet, it smells a bit.
I'd picked up some cookies for the party and had found my Mom's birthday present at a Barnes and Noble store in Bellevue, so I also had a large plastic bag that I was trying to hang on to as I tracked the otter and then a Yorkshire Terrier on Juanita Beach. The cold wind was blowing in off the water. I was wearing my fleece camo hunting cap to keep my ears warm, and some really dirty wool gloves I'd found in my pockets. I guess I did look a bit - ragged.
I suppose it's even possible that I was behaving city norms, anyway. Still, I was a bit taken aback when the gentleman approached me in the parking lot. "Are you OK?", he asked. "I've been watching you wander around for a while, and it's cold out...I thought you might be one of the homeless."
Fortunatly, Ellen soon arrived and my would-be rescuer at least believed that I do have friends - but perhaps not that I'm entirely sane.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Naturalist's Christmas Week

What a fun week I've had! My friend Ellen proved to be quite entertaining - although I'm certain she said she wasn't going to any trouble for the Monday night pre-Christmas Ship party, she set out a feast. There must have been 35 people in her house prior to all of us going down to the beach at Denny Park. The cold wind blowing across Lake Washington did not stop the festivities. A large fire kept us warm while carolers on the boats sang holiday favorites. Then we returned to Ellen's for more eggnog.
On Tuesday, after an amazing breakfast and a long walk with her dog Taz, she treated me to the Festival of Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden for a magical tour. Afterwards, we enjoyed margaritas with good Mexican food and girl talk.
Some highlights I'll blog about next week:
  • 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

Merry Christmas!

I have a week off for the holidays, and plan to watch my favorite Christmas movies with friend Shondell on Sunday - "Die Hard" and "Lethal Weapon"...popcorn and brownies are the plan.

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

Lingerie by Columbia

It's cold in the valley this week - Missouri cold, except without the wind chill. It was in the low single digits last night. I'm still walking the mile and a half to work, which I think says something about my dislike (OK, hatred) of driving. The hair inside my nose froze this morning before I'd reached the end of my block. I don't care...much...I have several sets of long underwear that allow me to get out early and walk up the hill after dark without danger of frostbite...lingerie is what you make of it. My black wool set is quite fashionable.
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

I've Seen the Tracks...Now Here Are the River Otters!

I was starting to think that otters are invisible...I've seen tracks on the sand bar near Index, on Osprey Swamp at the school land, and at several of the interesting places I've gone on field trips...but no otters. Then, the day before Thanksgiving, I needed to get my oil changed. I dropped my vehicle off at the garage and walked up hill to the trail at McCormick Park. I thought I'd walk a while until they called me to come get my car.

Five hours later, I got the call...still, I felt like I'd had a great day, and I would not have seen this pair if it had only taken the hour I expected. The River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is a member of the mustelidae family. They are both playful and wicked carnivores - kind of like me!

This pair seemed to enjoy looking at me as much as I enjoyed watching them...they hung around for about 20 minutes while I shot pictures until my camera battery ran down. I'm really glad that I got to see these beautiful animals - the trail is just 2 blocks from Highway 203, and the trail is used by walkers (with or without dogs), bikers, and the occassional horseback rider. Who would guess that otters would live so close to such an active trail?

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"