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  • Archive for August, 2012

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    It’s been awhile since the boys have shown up on the blog. July and early August was hectic with both of them as they battled some kind of intestinal infection for several weeks. Samson, who at his chunkiest was 14-15lbs got down to 7lbs and I could feel the bones in his tail. It was not good.. Needless to say I fed him whatever he wanted to eat and now he’s in love with as much tuna as I can give him. And would you believe he’s picky about what kind of tuna it is, too? Cats! (FYI if you are going to give tuna to cats look to give tuna in water, not the tuna in oil.)

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    Leo was pretty sick for awhile as well, but didn’t lose the weight Samson did. I felt like all I did for two weeks was to follow the cats around to make sure they ate, to see what their bowel movements looked like and to see if any vomit was on the floor. When we left for Washington I was very nervous about leaving them and ended up meeting my mom halfway between Fort Worth and where I live in order to pass the cats off to her to watch for a week. They were right at home being back at their Mimi and PawPaw’s house, a place they lived for a long time while Chris and I were hiking and doing field work.

    I’m just glad they are mostly back to normal! Let’s keep it that way.

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    The brood outside has begun to fluctuate in numbers. I believe most of this has to do with being gone for a week. I’d left food with our neighbors to feed them but I think some of them decided to find other houses to get some grub. Which is good, but I kind of miss having them all around. It seems that right now five to six still stay nearby and look for their twice daily ration of food. However some days I have 10 or more around. This gal above got spayed this weekend along with her sister who you will see in a minute. She is a talker! Meow this, meow that! Very sweet! I think that’s her dad in the background.

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    Here’s her sister, another sweet kitty. I learned she is a called a dilute tortoiseshell from the woman who has let us borrow traps to get the colony TNRed. Likely her momma was the tortoiseshell that was hit by a car awhile back. I miss her.

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    The rest of the ones hanging around are all male adults. This male was one of the first neutered and he is pretty friendly. He needs a name—they all need names.

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    The girls looking sweet.

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    Two of the other males head butting…they have all been doing this lately, something I hadn’t seen them do before. Either they are more comfortable around us or they like each other. Good thing everyone except for two are fixed. There’s a black cat that I just identified as male and a calico kitten that I really need to get. As calicos are generally female, I really need to get her. (this link will go into genetic detail—fascinating stuff…and I didn’t know calicos were a version of torties!)

    The ferals are very sweet and will generally let you get pretty close to them, though some are more suspcious than others. I do notice that they will congregate near our front door and lounge as if they are waiting for us. And in the mornings they all runnnnnnn over to the front door as soon as I open it and get all antsy for food.

    Definitely an entertaining bunch!

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    As we approached the outer reaches of Olympic National Park we suddenly saw a sign for the worlds largest sitka spruce tree. Being big/ancient tree lovers, we made a quick detour down a side road to find the worlds largest spruce tree. This was a very short walk from the car, I believe around a quarter mile one way.

    We quickly learned that there are many giants on the Olympic peninsula, however we didn’t have the time to devote to visiting all of them. Having seen several large and old trees it is hard not to pass them up, particularly because you never know when they will be gone.

    What I like to imagine about these trees that have centuries on Earth, is the peace and calm of the natural world around it without human interference. I wonder what it might have been like—what the view was before the campground that is visible from the tree was there? Did the local tribes visit the tree? (There are many tribes on the Olympic peninsula currently) What animal curled up at the base of the trunk to seek shelter from a storm, from snow or rain? Maybe a deer cozied up for an afternoon nap in the dappled shade.

    I wonder what large trees were around it when it first came into being, when its first leaves emerged? Did the habitat look the same? I wonder at how it was never logged.

    “The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    +Going to Pike Place Market was on my list of things to do in Seattle. I had no idea that the flagship Starbucks was located right there at the market—but I should have known, Pike Place Roast! We did not go in the store as the line was long and I’d already had coffee at the hotel that morning.

    +Honestly, the market itself was a tad disappointing. It felt more like a spiced up flea market than what I was envisioning and the farmers/craft market on San Juan Island a week later was much better. We came there expecting a bit more art than was exhibited, hoping to purchase something for the house but I only walked away with some earrings for a friend.

    +Watching the fish mongers toss the fish was fun, but again, not the hyped up version I was expecting. In all, I expected more fish, more farmers market items and more art—instead we found a lot of kitschy items, which I do expect in a touristy area, but the quality was lacking.

    +The flowers were very nice though and really well priced!

    +Chris did love seeing the fish displayed and I did too; provided a set of interesting photography subjects.

    +It was crowded and for someone who isn’t fond of crowds I was definitely ready to leave as time wore on.

    +I think we paid for two hours in the parking lot but left before our time was up.

    Next stop: The Olympic Peninsula. Giant trees, sea stars, sealions, rainforests, and vampires…

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    +Our stomachs were still on Central Standard Time when we finished with REI and checking into our hotel. Intially we thought about heading to a Mexican restaurant a few blocks away but instead I spotted Bahn Thai caddy-corner from the hotel. We headed in and were asked if we had a reservation—no—but were seated relatively quickly due to an open table in a corner. We sat down and I noticed quickly that there was only one other person in jeans in the restaurant. Apparently people in the city get dressed up for Saturday evening dinners. Even in Texas I think that is rare except for the restaurants with a dress code. We’d come to the restaurant in what we’d worn through the hours of flying and transitioning from travel to hotel.

    +Afterwards we wandered around what I came to find out was the Seattle Center. If you listen to NPR at all you might have heard the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on an advertisement. Not far from our hotel was the actual building the foundation is in. Strange to see something I’ve only heard about become instantly real.

    +The area was abuzz with activity. We we first saw the Space Needle (in the first photo) I didn’t realize we were going to be closer to it later on. And here we were, walking very close to the Space Needle. I must admit I was thinking about Frasier and wondering where exactly Frasier Crane had lived.

    +A ballet was going on and I thought, I really want to go a ballet sometime. I may have watched Centerstage a few too many times.

    +I really wish we’d had more time to discover Seattle itself but our other adventures overshadowed this beautiful city.

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    Our first stop in Seattle was to the flagship REI store. As we could not fly with our stove fuel, lighter or matches we needed to purchase those items as well as food for the week. Of course we could use some new clothes too, that’s always a good excuse to go to REI. The store is huge, with multi-level parking garage and the store itself is multiple levels as well. While they did have a broad range of items, I really thought it would be a little more diverse than their other stores (I’ve been to the two in Dallas, the two in Houston, one in Austin, one on the north side of D.C. and one in Sacramento) but I didn’t really find it that way. Sure there was probably a lot more bicycling gear and rock climbing gear but as a whole it wasn’t as different as I was expecting.

    Before I left I couldn’t find the REI hiking shirt I like to hike in so I thought I’d just get another one when I got there. The closest thing I could find was this one but I did not like the style. There were no others in that similar fabric that was not form fitting, so I ended up opting for a North Face t-shirt instead (which I ended up loving). It was frustrating because I wanted something simple and everything was frilly for women or tank tops, nothing simple. I went over to the men’s section and they had a wider variety in brands and styles which really disappointed me. Not only that I couldn’t find any of the long REI or Columbia hiking shorts that I’ve seen in the past…not even a pair of zip-off pants (which I didn’t need because I’d brought a pair of my own). I did end up buying another brand but I’m really picky about my shorts because while I love some of the styles that are out there, the shorter shorts ride up my legs and I find myself pulling them down constantly. The longer styles don’t do that and don’t piss me off while hiking.

    I’ve already expressed my dismay to the lack of variety in their apparel to them via Twitter (and maybe I shouldn’t complain too much because it is turning to a colder season up there whereas we have several months of summer still down here) but still—-is it too much to ask to supply the women’s section with an equal amount of product diversity that the men’s section gets? Maybe I’m asking too much—maybe a lot of the women who shop at REI come in looking for the nicer clothing (which I do like too) and not the tech clothing—is there just not as many women doing outdoor activities that I think there are?

    Other than that, the store was great, the personnel were friendly and assisting when asked and I thought it even neat that the U.S. Forest Service had a ‘branch’ inside the store with trail updates and other information. Outside the store was a beautiful garden/forested area that we quickly walked through. The store itself was super busy, particularly the areas with the backpacks and the shoes.

    I’m sure we spent around 2 hours and well, I won’t say how much we spent—but it was a worthwhile trip to one of our favorite stores!

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    I went back and forth for a few days about cutting my hair. I’d just ooogled at my long hair photos from hiking and thought about growing it out long again. But then I didn’t. I felt the urge for a good hair cut, someone to play with my hair. I don’t know about you, but having a wash, cut and style is just about as cathartic as a massage. If I didn’t have to stay awake for the stylist to tell me to dip my chin or turn my head I would totally fall asleep.

    I went in asking for a bob, something short and cute. It didn’t end up how I thought, and she just kept cutting and cutting! The part about the hair falling on my neck being the shortest part must have eluded her, I was thinking that would be the under part with longer layers on top. Oh well. At least I’m happy with it! The front is longer than the back, which I like because I can keep tucking the hair behind my ears in my usual fashion.

    When I got home it felt freeing, a little bit bouncy to walk around, like having some weight lifted off my shoulders, even if it was only hair.

    Have you been to Sprout Dispatch lately? If not or if you’ve never heard of it why don’t you hop on over today and take a peek at what Curt, Chel and I have been writing and talking about this summer in regards to our gardens. I think all three of us have had it with summer and are ready for the respite of Fall—you see, we all garden in the south and Chel gardens in the sub-tropics of SW Florida.

    We love questions and comments so if you see something that you would like more information about, please ask away!

    Here’s a sampling of what has been going on lately (photos taken by each writer):


    This week Curt wrote about saving sunflower seeds, further enticing me to grow a whole patch next year! The salt he puts on it has me salivating!


    Chel writes from SW Florida where tropical plants flourish, particularly during the wet summer months. She writes that gardening is always a work in progress and from one season to another there is always something to be done!


    Continuing in the vein of harvesting, Curt has also been saving seeds and preserving his harvest this summer. He started preserving his harvest several years before Chris and I thought about even doing so and has done quite well for himself!


    All of Chel’s posts are always reminding me of the tropicals I grew in Florida, such as her succulents and shrimp plants. There always seems to be a flourish of color in her garden!

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    As for my garden and yard, Chris and I (ok, Chris…!) planted a water tupelo near our pond earlier in the summer. We’d taken down a plethora of exotic Chinese tallow trees and wanted to replace some of the vegetation with natives.

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    And since moving into our house at the very end of June I’ve learned what happens when you leave things too long on the vine.

    I hope you stop by and say hello! If you love what you see, spread the love with a button. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too! We update three times a week (might be four soon!).

    berries
    Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. None of Nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild. – Our National Parks, (1901) – John Muir

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    The Shins’ Port of Morrow album cover painted on the side of a record shop north of the Seattle Center. I think it was Silver Platters. I have to thank my brother for introducing me to The Shins several years ago, back when I found out about Rilo Kiley. The shop reminded me a little of Empire Records, but I never went in to see what it was truly like. I miss the days of going into a music store, putting on the puffy head phones and absorbing the music as it came into my ears….remember those days? Like in Radiohead’s Creep?


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    A happy accident. I was photographing a stream in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park and jostled my camera, resulting in this image. I was going to delete it but once I reviewed it in the camera I decided to keep it to see how it really looked on a screen. I love it! It’s what I get for not carrying a tripod and using my knee instead. Exif data for those interested: F/20, 0.5 sec exposure, ISO 400, 18mm.

    Fall is coming. Ironically summer still felt alive and well while in NW Washington, but here in Texas, I see the changes. The beautyberry’s are fruiting, their pearled fruits turning deep lavender, and the sun is different. I spent much of this morning catching up on being gone from work for a week but as I listened to the radio (Pandora station: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, then later Kxt.org) I noticed how I had to edge my head to the side to keep the morning sun from glaring through and hitting me square in the face. Before long the sun will be on the south side of the window instead of the north side and I’ll be tilting my head another way to keep the glare out.

    I’m looking forward to fall, getting my crochet out, spending dark evenings in my art studio, and catching up on the select few t.v. shows I watch. I mean, who doesn’t want to find out who the mother is?

    Once things are a little more manageable around the house I want to delve into cheesemaking and read about brewing my own kombucha. I finally bought a bottle at Whole Foods to try while in Seattle and I loved it! It convinced me to try to brew my own. At least it will be an interesting experiment…and if it is anything exciting like making sauerkraut, then I’m going to find it fascinating at least!

    A long week ahead of me as I catch up around here. I’ll be working on little snippets of NW Washington so stay tuned!

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