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  • Archive for October, 2011

    bounty
    I wasn’t expecting to have this much of a harvest last Thursday. It started raining around 4pm, a heavy rain, one that I was hoping would refill the rain barrel. I was glad I didn’t have to water as the last time I went the well had run dry, spitting air out instead of water and twisting the hoses around like one of those old 80s water games.

    I started poking around not expecting much but I’d lift a giant zucchini leaf to find a fruit waiting to be harvested, and cucumbers cautiously hiding behind leaves. It was a surprise every time I went to a new bed, finding more things to harvest and of course I didn’t end up bringing anything to carry it all out so I had to rummage in my truck for a reusable grocery sack to carry everything out.

    All of the cucumbers except the suyo long ended up being converted into three jars of pickles. Pickles and I go way back. I can’t pinpoint when my love affair with the salty-vinegary goodness began but probably sometime when I started teething and could eat solid food. I grew up eating my grandmother’s pickles, made from cucumbers she grew, bought at a farmers market or if they had pickling cucumbers at the store. It isn’t unusual for me to polish off a whole jar in one sitting. I remember people warning me the acid would erode my stomach, but I didn’t care. A perfect Sunday evening mean growing up would be leftovers from Nan’s (my grandmother) of cheese potatoes, fried chicken, maybe some okra and definitely pickles!

    One small delight in returning to Texas is that when you go to a movie theater, pickles are sold at the concession stand. I think I found them at one theater in Florida, but otherwise I was out of luck. I don’t know if this is an option in other states, but if it is let me know! I’m also fond of pickle popcorn, salt and vinegar chips…I have an addiction!

    As for pickle recipes, we are trying a variety of recipes and Chris made some of Nan’s pickles while I was in PA a few weeks ago. He’s also made Klaussen like pickles and I made some using a recipe from my grandmother on my dad’s side. The cucumbers in this photo ended up in a variation of this recipe from Food in Jars. Basically I only followed the vinegar, water and salt recommendations and then added my own spices.

    I’ll let you know how they turn out in a few weeks!

    Got a pickle recipe to share?

    pennscave2

    flower

    pennscave

    entrance

    cave8

    cave7

    cave6

    cave5

    cave4

    cave3

    cave2

    caveexit

    chris

    cave

    pond

    cave1

    chipmunk

    We’d just left Leonard Harris State Park and had lunch when we saw the sign for Penn’s Cave. The sign was a vintage appearing sign, white background with green and red lettering, something you’d of seen in the 50s or 60s while traveling. No address. We had to pull out the GPS and search for it to figure out it was 2.5 hours south of where we were at. We’d already driven 1.5 hours north of Williamsport that morning. Deciding a cave was worth it and that we were being tourists we went for it.

    We took back roads for the most part, winding and weaving through the mountains, past creeks and tiny towns that made me wonder where on earth they drove to get gas for their cars. We barely saw any gas stations on the road we took. Further south we found ourselves entering Amish country, complete with buggies and beards. It was pretty exciting! I kept trying to guess which houses might possibly be theirs, looking for the homes without cars, and buggies pulled into barns and sheds.

    It was definitely an interesting cave tour, but I am spoiled by Longhorn Cavern State Park here in Texas. The difference in tours was that one is privately run (Penn’s) and the other is state run, which I felt could be seen in the tour guides. The state run one was better in my opinion. But, the highlight was that the cave tour at Penn’s Cave was on the water and something worth seeing if in the State College/Williamsport area of Pennsylvania.

    pumpkin
    I’ll start off with a major symbol of autumn and Halloween, the pumpkin. This one is the ripest of the bunch, there are a few more that are still green. I wonder when you really know to pick them?

    squash
    Squash are producing prolifically.

    goldzuc
    Chris had hand pollinated a lot of the zucchini so I have been picking quite a lot of them.

    bigzuch
    This monster was waiting for me when I got back from PA. It ended up in a butternut squash soup I made.

    zuch

    harvest

    mezuc
    So you could see the size of the zucchini fruits. As an aside, that t-shirt is one of my favorites. I played softball but not for Stanford and not in college, but the shirt is so comfortable. My friend Rosemarie sent it to me right after college when she moved to California. One day it will be really holey and I don’t know if I could throw it out, it is that comfortable.

    crowpoison
    The crow poison, aka: false garlic, is blooming prolifically in the grass and medians everywhere right now.

    carrots
    Our carrot seedlings are slowly growing…

    turnips
    And I just thinned out the turnip greens.

    radish
    Love seeing the ruby roots of the radishes.

    kale
    More greens. I can’t remember which this is, the kale or something else.

    suyolong
    And finally the suyo long cucumber just about ready to harvest! Gigantic isn’t it?

    FourMileRun copy
    Since Chris and I hadn’t seen each other for two weeks we were able to get a day off together this last weekend in Pennsylvania. I was being sent home and he was going to be there for a few more weeks. We took off to sight-see around Pennsylvania and ended up at the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. We snaked our way down the trail to see several water falls and then finally to Pine Creek itself.

    The photo above is just a teaser to the rest I am going to process later this week. I had a bit of fun with this one, it was my first HDR image. I only merged two instead of the normal three, but I have some others I am going to try. I didn’t rely on a tripod, just holding my breath and resting the camera on rocks or railings to keep it in the same spot. I am not the biggest fan of HDR, some folks are really great at it while others can make it look cartoony and fake. I’m not sure if I completely like this one or not but it’s pretty good for my first time. I tried a few months ago but could never get it to look how I wanted it to look so I gave up. I suppose not all photos are supposed to be ‘the one’.

    296022_10150333411592901_513922900_8036141_1648673025_n
    Chris’ tripod took this one for us. 🙂

    Hope I can share some more waterfall photos soon!

    misti1
    This was taken on my last day working in PA. The colleague with me wanted to get her picture taken on the log and after I shot a few of her I thought that perhaps I should go. I was leery at first because Chris will tell you that I am accident prone. It runs in my immediate family; we drop things, fall, slip, trip all the time. I just saw myself getting on this log and sliding right off and into the creek and subsequently being soaking wet for the hike back to the car.

    So since this is the year of possible for me and now that I’ve kind of added a tag-line to the blog of “Live Adventurously”, I went for it. The log was wet and a little slick but I sat down and scooted slowly towards the middle. Had it been summer this would have been a perfect place to jump down into the water after.

    I had a chance this summer to swim across the Neches River in the Big Thicket and I didn’t take it. I really should have, it was hot and the tannin rich, muddied water was perfect for cooling off. After seeing this log I thought of that moment, of not taking the time to do something a little out of my comfort zone, and decided to go for it. Of course I took all electronic equipment off of me just in case the whole thing went south, but it didn’t.

    Now that we’re nearing down to the last two months of 2011 I was wondering what I have done that is Possible for my word this year. The Florida Trail. Some interesting trekking situations in the Big Thicket. Choosing a job and moving. I probably haven’t utilized this word to its full potential, sometimes I refer back to adventure instead.

    In the next two months I will see about making several things possible. Actually doing Nanowrimo on something I’ve already started writing and need to make significant progress on. Actively working on updating our photography site and getting better at trying to find potential portrait clients. This is something I’ve said before but it seems I kept being thrown curveballs and was unable to really make that a possible situation. I need to make possible some better communication with friends and keeping in contact with many of them. Of course that is a two way street, there’s only so much I can do. In this age of social media everyone seems much more disconnected.

    So, we’ll see how possible works out for the rest of the year and will ruminate on next years word.

    Speaking of next year, how is it nearly 2012? Chris and I were just talking about a geocaching event The Florida Finders Fest, and we won the first one with our friends team FootTrax. That was six years ago. That was the very same weekend that we drove back from North-Central Florida down to our place in Broward county, boarded up our windows and bunkered down for Hurricane Wilma. Earlier in the weekend they weren’t sure where it was going and only that morning we drove back did we know for sure it was going to come across Florida at Chokoloskee and sweep across Florida to Broward county.

    DSC04494
    See, here’s a retro photo of us and our friends Chris and Sarah. Digging that face paint! Flickr tells me that was taken on our old digital camera that used to take a mini-cd to store the photos. Classic! Thought I couldn’t find any Wilma shots but went to my old Photobucket account and got these.

    Photobucket

    Photobucket

    Photobucket
    I’m not sure why I drove to work the next day but I did. A few other souls did too. Lots of trees in the roadway.

    And because now this post has turned into a trip down memory lane:
    Photobucket
    When we started getting into orchids at our apartment in Miami. That vanda was my first one and I got it for my…24th birthday. It died within 6 months. We finally figured out how to keep orchids and then our collection grew. This is also the skinny-runner girl version of me. I kinda like my haircut—think I need to get it chopped off again. Ok, now that I went back and looked at that vanda, this is another vanda we got for $60 at an orchid show, a steal for this sized vanda. It ended up being like 8′ tall from roots to top of the plant by the time we sold it when we left Florida. It was monstrous!

    Thanks for the memory lane tour—now I’m off to make some things Possible!

    hoagland3
    Morning of 10/17/2011

    hoagland2
    Afternoon of 10/17/2011

    hoagland1
    Afternoon of 10/21/2011

    +The overcast definitely makes for more brilliant colors, I think.
    +I walked on top of the ridge directly across from here. Enjoyed a nice slide down the east side of one the mountains in the rain. Had some incredibly sore legs the following morning.
    +I will miss views like this the most.
    +I will not miss the cold weather or this seemingly consistent rain.
    +Heading back to TX today.
    +Will probably wish for rain when I return and want cooler weather, too.
    +HAH!

    fernglade

    +Heading back to Texas this week. Chris is switching with me, taking my place here while I go home to our cats. Looking forward to being home again and seeing my cats and the garden.

    +I will miss the hills and beauty of the area. I won’t miss the cold, dreary weather we’ve been having here in PA. It definitely reminded me why I enjoyed Florida winters so much.

    +Back in April I read on My Topography, Christina wrote about contributing to The 3six5 a blog collaboration. I was interested so I signed up for it. My day was yesterday. Go check it out! It was fun to remember signing up for this and not knowing where I would be. I remember choosing a weekend day so that I might actually be able to write it up—and here I was working in the field today anyway.

    +Reserved a few books at the library Super Natural Every Day, Thrive and a few books from the FoxFire series. I can’t wait until they get in. Of course I am still reading Paddling the Wild Neches and An Everglade’s Providence. The latter is my lunch reading at work…it may be several more months before I finish it.

    +Itching to do some crocheting. Finished one baby blanket and need to start another but am dying to get to work on some clothing pieces and also thinking about Christmas gifts, too.

    +Deal & Steadee are bouncing through Georgia on their way to Springer. Should be done on Monday sometime! Exciting! I can imagine how they feel—excited, ready to be done but feeling bittersweet about the whole ordeal.

    +If you like books, Elizabeth is doing a read a thon. I’m sure she will have some great reviews!

    +That’s about it! Have a lot on my agenda when I get home.

    What’s going on with you?

    saguarotree

    I really think this tree is trying hard to be a saguaro cactus. Sometimes snag trees will have character, but this tree was very much alive and a character of its own. No evidence of a break in the crease so I’m not sure how this tree ended up like this!

    Want to see it? Hike the Old Loggers Path.

    Right now the forest here in PA seems magical. It is in the autumn transition of losing leaves and going dormant. Recent rains have everything glistening and dewy. Perhaps I could venture to say soggy! I know my boots are soggy each day I get done.

    fallleaves
    So many different colors and every day it seems less and less leaves are on the trees. The wind sends so many tumbling down to the ground.

    spagmoss
    Beautiful sphagnum moss

    pond
    A ridge top pond we found. These are more common than I expected.

    ridgetop
    I learned that a lot of these trees on top of the ridges are cherries. They were quizzical little meadows that left me wondering what trees they might be.

    view
    When we do get a view out across the landscape it always makes me wish I had a cabin and a mug of coffee with a good book to go with the view.

    muellein
    One of my coworkers identified this as a type of mullein.

    raindrops
    It reminds me of the common garden plant, lambs ear.

    seedpod
    A few flowers do linger but most everything has gone to seed, including this strange seed pod.

    self
    Hey, it’s me! Yes, I have to wear a hard hat in the woods. The client we are working for requires it. It’s a bummer. The only good thing is that it does keep the rain off your head really well and does come in handy with some branches. Just realized we totally look like foresters.

    creek2
    Streams are very common and though we have a map delineating known streams we are finding a lot of ‘unknown’ streams.

    slug
    A cute little slug

    creek3

    creek4

    creek5

    flooddamage
    This is a good reason not to build near a river! This was an old hunting camp that was removed from its foundation and turned around. Lots of destruction from the recent flooding up here.

    downtocreek

    creek

    water

    view2

    There’s a lot of forest magic going on up here!

    bearprint
    Last Friday was a good animal encounter day. My coworker Ann and I had just set off down a dirt road towards the area we were supposed to cover for the day when around the bend of the road I spotted something brown. It took about half a second for me to recognize that it was a bear. I said “Bear” to Ann who quickly looked up and we stopped. The bear looked at us for a few seconds, hesitating, and then turned to take off from us. Having seen 20 bears on the A.T. I was not afraid, definitely cautious and was planning on the whole waving hands and yelling thing if needed, but I was happy to know that I was going to overreact. Of course our cameras weren’t out. At that point I hadn’t been carrying mine in my work vest and it was safe in my backpack. We got them cameras out anyway just in case we spotted the bear again as we eased down the road. At the point I thought the bear was I started looking for prints and found one! No bear though.

    A little while later on the same road it was Ann that spotted the porcupine. Now, I’ve been wanting to see one for awhile now as I never saw one on the A.T. We heard all about them licking salt off boots at shelters but never actually saw one. This one crossed the road about 20′ in front of us and didn’t even pause to look at us. Just ambled across like nothing was going on. Again, no camera. I’d already replaced mine back to my backpack.

    Lesson is: Keep camera in work vest!

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