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  • Archive for February, 2013

    fred
    Fred is the resident cat who does not wander very far from the house. Every now and then I find him far down the driveway but usually he’s cuddled up in a spot on the south side of the man cave. Or on my truck.

    isis
    Isis has been enjoying some freedom by jumping fences lately.

    ruby2
    Ruby inches above Mr. Stripey in the competition for noisiest cat. She’s easy to figure out when you can’t see her but only hear her.

    cats
    The sunshine is a great place to take a bath.

    ruby
    Or scratch your head.

    momma2
    Momma comes and joins the party.

    momma
    And parties a little more hearty by hanging out on Chris’ truck.

    The ferals are a silly bunch of cats but very entertaining and I love ’em anyway.

    This week we’re going to jump ahead to north-central Virginia and just go for a nice walk in the woods. We’d just left Paul C. Wolfe shelter after holing up there for the afternoon and evening the day before while it rained. We’d come nearly 16 miles from the Maupin Field shelter that morning and had made good time, arriving mid-afternoon to the Wolfe shelter. Had it not been raining I think we’d have gone straight into Waynesboro that evening instead. However, the next morning dawned clear and bright, and we booked it for Rockfish Gap where we called for a shuttle into Waynesboro. Our destination—and what I know I was thinking about in that video—was Weasie’s Kitchen. After filling up on food (and finding out a very generous trail angel bought our meal) we got a hotel for the night, did laundry, and milled about town for the day.

    Just a walk in the woods…

    turtle3
    Sunday was a gorgeous day and I spent some time wandering our yard looking at the flora and fauna in it. The turtles started gathering at their usual spot for a morning sunbath.

    rubus
    I noticed a Rubus trailing down by the pond.

    sesbania
    The rattlebox (Sesbania) mesmerized me for a few minutes…

    sesbania2
    so much so I took two different photos.

    sweetgum2
    The sky was the color I always wish I could just roll in, a stunning blue that puts a smile on my face.

    loblolly

    turtle2
    I tried to get closer to the turtle but it saw me move and dashed under the water never to return.

    resurrection
    Some resurrection fern was rehydrated, others were still crinkled up and waiting for a good rain.

    sweetgum
    I noticed the sweetgums are getting ready to flower. I was curious what their flowers looked like: check it out!

    bluebird2
    A lot of bluebirds have been hanging about lately, and this one was checking out a screech owl box we installed.

    bluebird
    I stalked him around the yard until he got too tired of me following him and flew away.

    wren
    Not sure which bird this is—anyone know?—but it was snacking on something near our peach tree.

    pinewarbler2
    A couple of pine warbler were chilling out in the afternoon bringing a bit of color to the still unfoliated treescape.

    pinewarbler

    titmouse
    I think this is a titmouse (?).

    titmouse2
    Hmmm, what’s in the leaf litter??

    cardinal
    And late in the evening the pair of cardinals that hang out near our potting bench flew by. I only managed to get two shots of the female before they both flew away. The males are a brilliant red right now!

    turtles
    It’s getting crowded!

    I wanted to get a few shots of the wading birds that have been hanging out in the pond (and osprey!) but they weren’t around at the time. There’s a rookery about a half mile as the crow flies from the house. Need to get over there sometime soon and get a few photos too.

    I love our yard!

    eggplants_map

    If there is one thing about eggplant, it is that you can easily have too many! We grew all of these varieties last year, actually another one that keeled over before harvest, but I concluded one or two plants will suffice next year. I saved seeds from I think most of them, either that or we had some leftover, but nonetheless eggplants in moderation.

    whitestarhybrid_1
    White Star Hybrid
    These were pretty neat in that you could really tell that they were ripe/overripe as they turned yellow or dark orange, in addition to becoming rock hard. Not an edible stage!

    rosita2_1
    Rosita
    This size eggplant worked great for eggplant parm sandwiches.

    listadadigandia_1
    Listada di Gandia

    fondmay_1
    Fond May

    aswad_1
    Aswad
    The Baker Creek catalog shows just how big these can get!

    antigua_1
    And finally Antigua.

    I know, I know, I haven’t finished writing about our trip to Washington State. My excuses are a: laziness, b: a crappy computer that has on several occasions shut down when I’ve had photos open in Photoshop thus leading to loss of interest in processing photos, and c: other interesting things that have been going on. But, I’m hoping to remedy this soon and finish the photos and writing about the trip.

    When I last left off, I was talking about goats. The goats were still prevalent for the rest of the trip and were definitely a source of entertainment!

    On our second morning of being in the Enchantments we slept in a bit as it was still chilly out (though it warmed up pretty quickly), ate a leisurely breakfast and broke camp. We eased our way down the trail not sure how far we would go, knowing we would just stop and take photos and go where we pleased.

    enchantments26
    We came to the southwest side of Inspiration Lake first and of course, met a goat.

    enchantments25

    enchantments24
    If it had been the middle of the day I bet the water would have felt wonderful. Washington was experiencing a warm spell while we were there and down in Leavenworth it was over 100*. While it wasn’t that hot up in the alpine areas, it was still rather warm in the high sun hours.

    enchantments23
    Of course with our aerial view came a descent down a potentially slick slope.

    enchantments22
    Chris went first, attempting to stay in the well-worn areas already tread down by hikers in the season. The last thing he wanted was me to be right behind him and to slip, running into him and both of us glissading down the hill.

    enchantments20
    Of course we made it safely down to the rocky path below, following cairns along the way.

    enchantments19
    Chris photographing Inspiration Lake with Prussik Peak in the distance.

    enchantments18

    enchantments17
    A small section of land separates Inspiration and Perfection Lake and we deviated from the trail in this area in order to explore a bit and look for good areas to take photos. I believe this is McClellan Peak here in the photo at the south end of Perfection Lake.

    enchantments16
    Another view of Prussik Peak with Perfection Lake in the foreground. At this point in the day we still had not come across anyone along the trail. People doing an end-to-end of the trail wouldn’t have made it up this far yet and those who had camped anywhere in the Enchantments were likely still lingering at camp. I’m still trying to grasp the leisurely hiking bit…the type of hiking that doesn’t include making a particular amount of miles for a day.

    enchantments15
    Western mountains are so imposing, scary almost. I remember when I saw Roan Mountain for the first time in the distance. The Appalachian Trail in the area of Roan does this weird loop, in which it seems like you will bypass it only to circle back around and head straight for it. Any time you would catch a view of it the mountain appeared tall and dark, daunting. But then you see taller, steeper, western mountains and change your tune just a bit!

    enchantments14
    Gotta sneak in a self portrait. I took to wearing the bandanna around my ears to keep the wind out. Too hot for a beanie but my ears still needed a wind break.

    enchantments13

    enchantments12
    While we were poking around on the banks of Perfection Lake we heard a loud crashing noise. Turns out a piece of the ice on the side of the mountain overhanging the stream cracked and fell off into the water. The chunk itself wasn’t all that large but it produced a hefty sound that echoed throughout the area.

    enchantments11

    Next up…you’ll have to prod me into processing more photos…will be alpine macros, more goats!, and a few more lakes…and so much more!

    This is the first shelter into North Carolina (going north) on the Appalachian Trail. We’d left Hiawasee that morning with sunny skies, however by evening it had started clouding over. I remember thinking it was pretty hard to leave town as it was our first town stop along the way. The next morning it started snowing and we walked up a snow covered Standing Indian Mountain. It was a long day but eventually we made it to Carter Gap Shelter for the night.

    I need a few nights in a tent soon.

    These days I’m…

    Reading:
    Flower Confidential. I’ve known about this book for several years but finally picked it up at a used book store several weeks ago. I’m really loving it so far and it has me rethinking buying cut flowers, but not only that it delves into this crazy world of hybridization and growing plants. I’m about halfway through and will likely do a full review at Sprout Dispatch when I am done.

    Barnheart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own. This I picked up on a whim one day when I went to the library to pay a fine. At first glance I thought I would really like it but the more I read the more I’m disappointed with it. I’d briefly read the author’s blog in the past, so I was vaguely familiar with her and knew she was somewhat popular in the homesteading world so I expected much more from the book. I really hate giving negative reviews, and while I’m not going to put the book down (about halfway through), the author could have written something much more deep and defining than she did. Sometimes she jumps from the time frame she’s writing in to another time period within a sentence or two all without giving any backstory, expecting the reader to know who she is or about her blog. Scratch most of that…. I couldn’t finish it. I really wanted to but the book had no plot, no substance and so I returned it to the library. It is rare I don’t finish a book, usually I’ll just take forever to read it, but this one I just couldn’t finish.

    Listening:
    Edible Education 103: “Farming as Dance, The Choreography of Polyculture”, by Joel Salatin. This one is more of a watching thing and I watched over the course of a few nights. Joel Salatin is really dynamic and fun to listen to. A few things I disagreed with him on, mostly from a natural/environmental aspect that I’ll have to read up on further.

    Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture Podcasts. I’ve only recently been introduced to Wheaton and his style is definitely educational with a heavy dousing of opinions. Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed were: Farmageddon, Joel Salatin Part 1 and there’s a Part 2 as well.

    Sustainable World Radio. In particular All Good Things Organic Seeds which lead me buy three packets of seeds from them. I’m looking forward to making some roselle tea sometime in the future!

    Growing a Greener World. I’ve liked The Truth About Organic Gardening which brought up some items that some organic methods of fertilizing and pesticides are not necessarily sustainable themselves (re: fish oil, green sand, phosphates) because they are mined or in the case of fish oil—fished. I also liked the interview with Maria Rodale.

    A Way To Garden. I’d heard about this blog before but it really isn’t big on my radar, however Gayla at You Grow Girl recently did a podcast with her regarding tomatillos which I listened to, and then I listened to a few more of her podcasts. It was nice but definitely region specific (New England) so some items you have to take for what it is worth and make it adapted for you.

    Garden Confidential. This one is from Fine Gardening and I really liked it but it was definitely not long enough, or often enough. Once a month!

    Gestalt Gardener. This one is broadcast in Mississippi Public Radio by Felder Rushing who is the author of Slow Gardening. I like his attitude and he is definitely interesting and offers a southern approach to gardening.

    Cultivate Simple. I love this podcast and it is probably my favorite, mostly because I really love Susy’s blog.

    There was another podcast I listened to that also took place in New England but I can’t find it at the moment, however they had really good interviews. There are a couple others that I found that were in Texas but they are on weekends with a more call-in format as they are on the radio. I’ve also found a couple other podcasts but they are in the survivalist/doomsday prepper vein and are frankly a little over the edge with me.

    Anything you want to share that you are reading or listening to?

    Sorry about the cut off at the end, I was mostly done anyway but I didn’t have enough space on my card…oops!

    In case you missed the first studio tour: go here.

    Chinese Mosaic Beans

    Chinese Mosaic Beans

    I think we got these seeds from Baker Creek last year and they preformed very well for us. The best part is that you can easily make more out of handful of beans by cutting them in half. We will definitely be growing them again next year.

    Blue Mountain Shelter was a fairly nice shelter, but I mostly remember it being pretty busy that night and morning. Yes, that is a dog in the sleeping bag. The girl leaning up against the shelter was its owner, and she was doing a short section, I think just Georgia. I remember her most that she picked up a slightly bruised if not half eaten banana from the parking area from the gap below and ate it. The mother and son there making breakfast over their stove were from Germany. I believe they ended up getting off trail because of her father’s ill health. I never heard anything more after North Carolina about them.

    I think I’m eating peanut butter crackers too….mmm, healthy breakfast!

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