Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Black Elk Speaks

I've been working through this book now for a couple of weeks, only getting to read a little at a time. It seems to have three major aspects. The cultural customs of a people, the history of a people, and the spiritual aspects. I have copied many quotes, things that make me think deeply and some that make me wonder at the connections between cultures and between the world's spiritual practices. The history has been fascinating and refreshing to read, to hear the other side of the story; it has also been gruesome and graphic. I am currently about half way through the book and have just finished the story of what most of us have known as Custer's Last Stand and the Battle at Little Big Horn. For this first post, though, I will share a quote from much earlier in the book and some of my reflections on it.

"Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry, for then the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds lived together like relatives, and there was plenty for them and for us. But the Wasichus came, and they have made little islands for us and other little islands for the four-leggeds, and always these islands are becoming smaller , for around them surges the gnawing flood of the Waishu; and it is dirty with lies and greed."

This quote grabbed me. It was so eloquently put. The before and after. The reality of two cultures clashing. The idea of a flood that is dirty with lies and greed could be applied to so many different events in our world's history. The effect mentioned here is not the first of its kind, nor the last. It continues on today in countries all over the world and in political, cultural and economic systems where one group pushes out another to feed their greed for more. It happens in the cut throat business world everyday; it happens in countries like Sudan; it happens in neighborhoods where big development comes in and tears down all the buildings that poorer people are living in and replaces them with half-million dollar condos and equivalent apartments those people that lived there before will never be able to afford, so they get pushed out over and over again. It is a wonder that the human race has never learned.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Finish

I finished After Lucy a couple days ago and have been pondering what I would write for the final post for this book. It didn't end the way I thought it might. It ended in a way that has everyone getting along (even if superficially) and moving forward as if not much had really happened - but maybe with a few less walls in the end. In a way I was irked about that, but I guess that's the way it usually is - people just stop fighting the battle because it wears them down after a while - it's so much easier to just shut up and deal. At least with inter-personal relations, but maybe not for your own inner person.

That is what this book was about more than anything I think - inner honesty. Being real with yourself and even if no one else knows it - because you keep up the facade , at least your not fooling yourself- as much. The main character came to a different conclusion than I would of - if I could get away with just being me that is - no editing what I am thinking or hiding what I am dong to keep others from reacting and either coming unglued or being so silent and tight-lipped that you just want to tell them to spit it out already - they've already thought it loud enough for everyone to hear anyway. This book was a good read for me because it opened up my personal journaling in even deeper ways. I have several entries where I let it all out - all the frustrations of interfering meddlesome people. People who think so highly of themselves and their ways that they elevate themselves as judge over you in all their interactions - either openly in the "name of love" or silently - glowering eyes and fake smiles. The author tackled some "taboo" subjects (I hate the idea of "taboo" subjects, by the way) in fairly blunt ways, especially with the main characters inner dialogue. Although the character rarely followed through in action what he was feeling and thinking - at least things were addressed that normally get swept under the rug. And the ending was, although not the way I would have ended it, decent enough - one possible outcome to a life with complex interactions and situations to be dealt with. And the kittens were a nice touch.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bookstore Confessions and More Thoughts on After Lucy

First the confessions. I bought three books yesterday. All used. All children's books. Obviously my Inner Child had snuck to the front. I went in thinking maybe I would find something in the writing or essays sections - but came out with A light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (I've always wanted my own copy!), Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (it's a New York Times Bestseller and has a dragon, a boy and a cat on the cover- it has to be good), and Earth Magic by Mallory Loehr ( the second of a series of books that involve kids, adventures and elemental magick). So now there are two more books on my list to read and a poetry book to dip into from time to time for a refreshing and ridiculous look at life. Maybe next time I'll find the Basho, Muir and Thoreou for my Higher Self.

Now continuing with After Lucy. I am about three quarters of the way through. There have been some twist and turns - unexpected plot building that leaves me really wondering how this book is going to turn out. The author has covered a lot of different issues so far and amazingly keeps adding more - cancer, death of a spouse, in-law relations, children coping, unusual social situations, counter culture, life choices and paths and more.
I like that. I like how occasionally you can feel where the author hit his inner nerves just right and the words flew out onto the pages expressing difficult things to express and in blatantly honest ways. It feels uncensored - like what life is like for real but so often gets touted as something else.

I'll end with a particular poignant quote from the book.

"Privately he'd fancied himself as the emerging Springsteen of the art world. God knows the painting world needed a Bruce Springsteen to cut through all the elitist crap and reveal what a pure struggle life was for most working people out there -- the meat-and-potatoes stuff artists used to care about but didn't seem to bother with anymore. No wonder the average person didn't give two shits about going to art galleries and museums. Nothing inside spoke to them. It all had to be explained, and even then the explanations wouldn't make any sense unless you'd studied cubism and feminism and postmodernism and read Kant and Freud and Kierkegaard and had memorized the complete history of all the world's religions."

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Pause and A Cheat

I've come to a rather serious section in the book with no wish to be serious at the moment - so I have stalled. It won't last long. The book is good, it is worth reading even if the cover did not accurately show the Gratetful Dead-esque, swirly paint job camper the main character ended up purchasing. A camper that proves to be an important part of the plot - almost another full blown character at this point.

Now for the 'cheat' part. Is it really cheating if it's a book about writing? A non-fiction book that you read a little of and then do the exercise? Isn't that more like reference or text books? Well, I don't think it counts. (And yes, I probably can validate anything if I try.)

Now that I've confessed, maybe I can get back to reading the 'A' book, because I'm being awfully slow about this and the list of books to read is just getting longer and longer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So Far So Good

This one book at a time thing is working fairly well. I have managed to only lightly browse other books and those have been more reference type books than full on literature. At the library this project leant it's restraining hand and I left several interesting books on the shelf - now I just have to recall the titles so I can put them on my list. (No, it wasn't easy - but I behaved). Oh and thankfully magazines don't count since I just recently got the new copy of National Geographic Traveler as well as Yoga Journal.

The book has been a good one so far. Interesting, straight forward, and bluntly honest. It has inspired quite a bit of personal relfection along the way. What follows is one of those reflections.

The first sting at the back of the eyes came on page nine for me, when it mentions his wife's light yet serious way of telling him what she wants at her funeral. It turns out to be a shrine of memorobelia from her life, the things that showed who she was, where her path took her and what was important to her. It reminded me of going through my mom's stuff after she died. How she wasn't there any more,so suddenly - so harshly not there, but everything that she interacted with on a daily basis was. Her kitchen and stained coffee mugs. The old round table she would sit hours at reading book after book and the piles of books as well. The huge collecion of cookbooks she just couldn't resist when she broused through her favorate thrift stores. All the teapots given to her over the years or picked up herself. The cats that she had been so happy to get from Mark and I after we had rescued them and nursed them back to health. They were sitting there looking up at me, wondering what was going on and obviously greatful someone they new and trusted was there with them, to comfort them after loud sirens and rushes of men in big boots and mom being carried out to an ambulence, never to return home. It was the oddest thing to have been surrounded by everything that reminded me of her and have it feel like she was going to walk into the room any minute and offer me a cup of coffee, sit down at the table and slide a pile of books towards me that she's saved because she just knew I would enjoy them and then give me a few spoilers just because she couldn't help herself, only to sit down at that very table,myself, petting one of those cats and realizng with a heaviness it would never happen again like that, never.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A is for After Lucy

I had not heard of After Lucy or its author, Daniel Jones, until this evening. I came across it while wandering through Third Place Books shortly after getting the idea to work through an alphabet of titles. Having a book fresh from the library that I eagerly await reading (the title starts with 'B'), I needed to find a book beginning with 'A', and quickly. So I begin at the begining like a good orderly woman. That in itself, when relating to my reading (or my writing) habits, is enough to send anyone who really knows me into a fit of laughter.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Abundance

With summer, comes abundance - especially of squash! This past weekend, Mark and I tried to make a dent in all the summer squash we have accumulated from our garden and from our CSA. We made Chocolate Zucchini Cake, Zucchini Bread, and a Crookneck Orzo Pasta Salad. The recipe for this dish was inspired by the Polka Dot Pasta Salad in Pure Flavor, a cookbook from the Pacific Northwest. Of course, being me, I tweaked it to work with what we had and it came out wonderfully and was pretty to boot.
Here's the recipe as I made it:

1 package orzo
6 T olive oil (I used an herb infused oil from some marinated mozzarella balls I had.)
1 1/2 t grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 small garlic cloves (from our garden)
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
ground cayenne pepper to taste
2 plum tomatoes, diced (CSA)
3 small yellow crookneck squash, seeded and diced (CSA)
3 red scallions, sliced (CSA)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (from our garden)
2 T chopped fresh basil (from my bedroom window herb garden)

Cook the orzo and rinse with cool water, let drain.
Combine all the other ingredients, add orzo, and toss well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cascade Farmer's Market

It was a 1.25 mile bike ride from our Belltown apartment to the new Cascade Farmer's Market in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Not to bad of a commute to a Farmer's Market even if the route could use more consistent bike lanes and the location more bike racks. Once I did find a place to lock up my bike my first purchase was a container of raspberries that I munched as I browsed the various vendors.

There were a few produce farmers set up and several fruit sellers. I saw my first market zucchini of the year and managed to keep myself from buying any, knowing I had an over abundance of other vegetables from our CSA and our p-patch. But it was hard. I really wanted that zucchini. For fruit there were flats of strawberries, raspberries, cherries and even a few apricots. I didn't see any favas and I know I couldn't have past them up if I had. Fresh favas have such a short season you just have to grab them when you find them. I hope I still have a chance. There were plenty of greens and carrots and other beautiful earth bounty.

What I was happiest to see was the Samish Bay Cheese people were there because I was all out of cheese at home. I had been hoping that a local cheese maker would be at this market. Next came the tough job of deciding which cheeses to get. I tasted a few and finally went with two very different varieties, the raw milk Port Madison and a fresh farm cheese that I can't recall the name of at the moment. I wonder if anyone has ever thought to create a cheese and dairy CSA - I'd be all over it! The same farm also sells humanely raised organic meats and they had their meat stand set up right next to the cheese.

A little ways down I came across a local pasta maker, La Pasta. They had a good selection of pastas including several different raviolis. Ravioli is something I have been craving for a while now and just haven't been able to take the time to make, so I couldn't resist. I got a package of the mixed mushroom ravioli. I think I will be making that for dinner soon with the mushrooms and garlic scapes from the latest Full Circle CSA box we got.

There were flower vendors, a roasted nut vendor and few others to round out the market. I don't know if there are plans to bring more vendors in as the summer progresses or if this will be the main group, but for the most part you can get most of what you need for a good meal among those already there.

The Cascade Farmer's Market will be every Thursday from 3-7pm through September 24th.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Low Tide Program at Discovery Park

Today was the first time I lead a program on my own at the park and the Sea Slugs showed up to help me celebrate! We came across at least 20 Opalescent Nudibranchs and many patches of their eggs. I have never seen that many of those at once before and it was a wonderful treat. They're one of my very favorite sea creatures.

Another surprise was one decent sized orange Sea Pen. That was a first for me at the park, if I recall correctly, and I know I had never seen them on the north beach. These had all but disappeared from the park for quite a while according to long time staff members, so the fact that they are starting to show up again is great news. Hopefully that is a sign of increasing health for the Discovery Park beaches.

Squirting clams were a thrill for everyone. "Talking" barnicles were worth listening to. The quarter sized sunflower star was amazing to see - several of the kids had seen the full sized ones at the aquarium and it was fun to compare. The Sunflower Sea Stars can get well over a foot across.

We had a Great Blue Heron stick around on the beach even with the groups of people milling around. Normally, they take off squawking the moment you get even slightly near them. And one of the big highlights for several people was the galloping River Otter that crossed the beach and took off into the water.

I had a fun group of five kids between kindergarten and fourth grade, two moms, and two college age girls visiting from different parts of the country. This group had great beach etiquette and lots of enthusiasm - which made being out there that much more of a pleasure.

Cascade Farmer's Market Opens Tomorrow

Seattle has a new Farmer's Market in the South Lake Union Neighborhood. Starting tomorrow from 3-7 pm every Thursday the Cascade Farmer's Market will be happening across from the Cascade Playground. Here is their website.

I can't wait to check it out!

Center City Parks

Seattle Parks and Recreation recently sent out a brochure titled Center City Parks and I'm really glad they did. It is loaded with information on local parks and events in the greater downtown area. From live music and dancing, outdoor movies, drop-in Tai Chi and Bocce, various festivals, concerts, farmer's markets, art in the park, and urban gardening classes put on by Seattle Tilth. There are so many things happening in and around my neighborhood it is nearly overwhelming to chose what to check out. Here is the link to the Center City Parks website where much of the information is available.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Centennial's Urban Agriculture Project Goes Live

The planters were set up, filled and planted today. Here are a few pictures to start with.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fremont Solstice Festival

This event is definitely a Seattle Classic, this being its 38th consecutive year and it is always worth showing up for at least the parade! So much creativity and let's not forget all the body painted nude cyclists - this year there were more than ever! We hadn't been to the festival in several years and were looking forward to attending again ever sense we moved back to Seattle. We got there an hour before the parade and had second row seats. It was nice to just chill with our new neighbors and wait in anticipation for the entertainment to begin. And entertaining it was...

Here is a video, all be it a wobbly one, of the famous Fremont Solstice Cyclists. And yes, I realize it was polo not cricket - can you blame me for being distracted?!

After the parade we wandered through all the booths and found some really talented artists scattered among them. One woman made the most beautiful and colorful feather masks I have ever seen. There were a couple jewelry makers that Mark picked up cards from after seeing me admire their work - just in case we ever have spending money again? There were also several amazing potters showing their wares. There were a good number of informational booths including a healthy living area that was holding free yoga "classes" on the spot.

Eventually we had our fill of looking through the booths and headed for Gasworks Park where there was supposed to be music and dancing. Unfortunately there was only one band and only a few people moving to the music. This was disappointing to us. In years past we always enjoyed the huge drumming and dancing circles that went into the night and were sad to see not a one or anything that lead us to believe it would be happening at all. Without a good beat to revive us, we took our aching feet back to the bus stop and headed home. Which is probably for the best since tomorrow is going to be a long day of Beach Naturalist duty and family gathering for Father's Day. Still, I'm sad that I'm not out there right now, moving my hips to a good drum beat with a bunch of fun-loving fellow dancers...

P-Patch Update

The other evening we picked over 2 pounds of peas in one picking, as well as four large heads of lettuce! There is so much lettuce we can't possibly eat it all before it bolts and I am hoping to get some of it to a local food bank before that happens. The zucchini's and tomatoes are blossoming and the parsley is going crazy. The beans are up and the cucumber transplants are settling in. Which reminds me - I need to plant dill! The potatoes are flowering and looking incredibly healthy and we nibble on a few strawberries each time we're there, of course the slugs are nibbling on them when we aren't there. Sadly we seem to have an infestation of club root disease and the brassicas have done very poorly. I am hoping it won't effect the mustards, because I can't imagine my winter without fresh mizuna trimmed from under a cold frame. The peppers are the saddest little things I have ever seen. Even in the cruddiest of summers I have managed to get a few peppers of my pepper plants - but these ones seem to have never recovered form mid-Mays cold nastiness. I don't know if they will ever turn around. I gave them a little organic fertilizer and I talk to them nicely each time I see them - but I think they would rather have a mini sauna to live in - unfortunately I don't have the resources to give them what they want. I only hope they turn around eventually.

The garden really is doing very well over all and I am looking forward to that first zucchini like you wouldn't believe!

Urban Agriculture Pilot Project

Of several buildings in the Belltown area, my apartment building was chosen for the initial stage of a roof-top gardening pilot project. The project will study the feasibility of roof-top gardening as part of an urban agriculture policy for Seattle. Four large planters will be set up in various locations in the complex and are scheduled to be installed next week. I and another tenant will be tending the plantings and keeping track of data, with the hope of getting more tenants involved in the future. I'm especially happy that we have arranged for the food from the plantings to be donated to a local food bank. It's exciting to be a part of this team and I look forward to seeing Seattle move ahead in coming up with a policy that increases our local food security. Perhaps someday we'll see food growing on every roof around the city and every free space in between!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snapshots Around the City

A woman dressed from head to toe in elegant bright purple evening-wear complete with a streak of matching purple dye along one side of her perfectly coiffed white hair.

A retail shop devoted entirely to the umbrella.

A homeless woman living out of a shopping cart had made a small flower bed in the upper section of the cart and filled it with bright yellow primroses.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Neighbor

I see a homeless woman setting up her night's camp in an only somewhat sheltered doorway. It's two blocks from my apartment building and I think - that could be me. What if it was me? What if it was you? She's intentionally keeping her back to those passing by, perhaps a way to protect herself. Her back like a wall similar to the one she's had to build around her heart to survive out there without breaking down completely, without giving up. She must want privacy. I would. I wouldn't want to sleep there, my bed open to all who might pass by through the night. My husband sees her in the mornngs as he walks to his bus stop. She's just stirring then. I wonder where she goes from there. Did she get any decent sleep? Will she get a decent breakfast? Are her days all the same? How did she get there? Can she see her way out? What if she can't? What if it was me? What if I couldn't? What if it was you?

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Tidepool Sculpin or Will I Survive as a "Cutesy Theme" Innept Naturalist

In class last night we were each handed a small note card. On the front of mine was a drawing of a Tidepool Sculpin and on the back was a variety of information about the Sculpin. Our assignment was to take our topical card - in my case the Tidepool Sculpin and create a theme based on some part of the information provided. Oh - did I mention your theme should be catchy? And there in was my problem. How would I ever come up with a catchy theme? I am not a catchy theme kind of person - trying to become one is like trying to climb a mountain on only my hands. All I could come up with was something to do with the Sculpin's place in the food chain - how it was both predator and pray. But that isn't catchy or the least bit creative. When I got home I shared my dilemma with my husband and immediately he tossed out a catchy, and yes, punny theme. "Tidepool dinners and diners" or something to that effect. I started to cry. Honestly, I did. I felt even more inadequate now. But there is a difference between my husband and I. He is always full of off hand silly puns which I spend a good deal of time rolling my eyes at or groaning over. For him - it comes naturally, for me…

However, I have had an experience concerning the Tidepool Sculpin that left a lasting impression on me. It was the summer of my sixth year and we were living in Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast. We had spent a day down on the beach, and I had been knee deep in the tide pools or leaning over reaching in as far as I could. This was the day I first recall really discovering the Tidepool Sculpin. (This is also the day I lost my purple jacket to the tide - but that's a different story.) At the time I didn't know that was what it was called. To me it was this incredibly interesting little fish that one moment wasn't there and then was revealed suddenly by its quick darting across the tide pools sandy bottom with the passing of a shadow over the pool or the sudden appearance of a six year olds foot in its home. As quickly as it appeared it again disappeared. And now it was a puzzle, a game. I was determined to find it again and even more determined to be able to see it even when it wasn't darting from one spot to the other. I wanted to uncover its secret. I am sure I spent any number of hours doing just that - completely unfazed by the freezing cold northern pacific ocean waters I was standing in. Towards the end of the day, I had become so fond of my new friend that I didn't care to part company. Since I was not likely to be allowed to live indefinitely in a tide pool on the beach, I got a cup from our picnic basket and somehow managed to catch my own little Tidepool Sculpin. It went home with me, and although I understood that it needed salt water - beyond that I had no knowledge of what this critter needed to survive. The result is probably obvious by now. My sculpin died. Somehow, even then, I knew that it had died because of me. That stuck with me. I no longer took tide pool creatures out of their homes, because I didn't want anymore to go the way of that sculpin.

Years later I learned much more about the Tidepool Sculpin's habitat. It needed the constant changing of waters that were provided by tide pools and with that change of water, a new supply of food. It would then be able to produce more sculpins, but only under the circumstances provided in the unique tide pool habitat. A cup - even of salt water - was no home for a sculpin or any other wild creature either. To live and thrive they needed to stay where they were or be provided a place of equal quality by those who had the means and training to do so - such as a well ran Aquarium.

I learned to just appreciate these and other creatures in their proper habitat. It is far more pleasant than having a new found friend die at your own hands. So, all though, I may not be able to come up with some cutesy theme to lead a program about the Tidepool Sculpin, I hope somehow I will still be an effective interpreter, to be able to communicate what I learned in a way that will successfully help others discover the wonders of the varied habitats around them and those creatures that call those habitats home. And to leave them there for others to enjoy in the future.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Swans of the Union Bay Natural Area

I first spotted the 11 swans on Lake Washington back in late January. I had been birding in the Washington Park Arboretum and was making my way across the Foster Island boardwalk when I noticed several large white birds across the water towards the Union Bay Natural Area, commonly known as "The Fill" among local birders. I was stopped in my tracks - never had I seen Trumpeter Swans on Lake Washington. This was a rare treat, or I thought it was. But this group of birds decided to stick around and I saw them again only a few days later. Whenever I was walking in the area over the next couple weeks, people would see my binoculars and ask me if I had seen the swans - even non-birders were taking notice - but how could they not? Trumpeter Swans are graceful, elegant, and huge. They are hard to ignore, even for people who don't usually take a second look at birds. Now people were pausing in their jogs and walks to stop and appreciate the new Lake Washington residents.

Some time passed, and I didn't get out towards the Fill for a few weeks or at least not long enough to bird. So when I treated myself to a walk there last week I was pleased to find that rare visitors had stuck around - and they weren't being camera shy! All 11 were up close to shore last Friday afternoon and many a photographer was taking advantage of the fact. I, unfortunately (or fortunately if I consider I would have to carry it), don't have a fancy digiscope or huge SLR to take pictures of birds. However, I have learned to take shots with my little digital camera through my binoculars. They don't always turn out that great, but every once in a while I get something that will pass. Here are a few of those.

Discovery Park Docent Naturalist Program - Class of 2009

This past week brought the start of the Docent Naturalist Training at Discovery Park. I am among the dozen plus members of the class of 2009. We are an interesting bunch, with much in common, yet with very diverse backgrounds. Getting to know my classmates proves as interesting as the Docent training. This last Saturday we spent a gloriously sunny day exploring Discovery Park - first by van and then later on a fast paced hike with points of interest stops along the way. Of course I think every place in Discovery Park is a "point of interest" and worthy of a stop. Yet some are used more regularly by the park during its various education programs of which I and my classmates will eventually be leading. We had some exciting moments during our tours, including the meeting of Otto or maybe it is spelled "Auto". Either way, this bird would be the same by any other name. He's a handsome pheasant who seems to think he's a Border Collie or other breed of herding canine. He boldly rushed our passenger van and then after being shooed out of the way by the brave Ginger, a current park docent, chased the van and the car our fearless leader, Kit, was driving ahead of us. The story is that Otto is well known among park staff and volunteers, as well as those who live in the historical Officer Housing within the park. Kit was once cornered by the bold bird while driving through the park and was eventually rescued by a local resident who shooed the pheasant out of the road. I guess Otto takes his job seriously. If ever there is need for a road closure within the park I would think he would be a good enforcer.
We learned much about the history of the park as well as the lay out. I have been frequenting this park for many years now and am amazed at the little corners I have yet to explore or the bits of history I have yet to learn. I am looking forward to more adventures to come.

Signs of Spring

We had our first picnic of the year (and since we moved back) at Parson's Gardens this last Friday. It was a sunny day, although the breeze from the west was chilly. We plopped down on a picnic blanket and had our picnic fare while listening to Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Flickers and Anna's Hummingbirds all voice their springtime thoughts. It does seem like spring is finally moving into our area. Later that same day, I stuck my nose in the first Daphne bloom of the season outside the Elizabeth C. Miller library at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Glorious. The following few days lent more signs of spring. Like the first blooming daffodil showing its sunny face amongst the gardens at Interbay P-Patch. There was the blooming and odoriferous skunk cabbage along the Wolf Tree Trail in Discovery Park. It was along that same trail that I spotted a single open salmon berry blossom - a sure sign of the coming spring and the coming Rufous Hummingbirds, now I'll be keeping my eyes out more closely. The stinging nettles are popping up along side the trails out at Discovery Park as well and the Osoberry or Indian Plum is bursting with green. I love this time of year. There is so much new growth, new hope, new energy. The birds begin to carry nest material and do their little dances to impress potential mates. The Anna's Hummingbirds sit at the top of the trees and chatter and skritch and if another male comes into the area you'll hear just how loud such a little bird can be as it goes diving after its rival. Ducks are paired up for the most part. I see the crows hanging out more in twos and threes lately. Gardeners are preparing their soil for potatoes and radishes and other early spring plantings. And I am eagerly awaiting the full blown spring, enjoying these little signs of winter's end while the rain pours once again outside my window.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Interbay P-Patch - Here I Come!

I am excited to announce that there will be some garden writing this year.

On Thursday we received a community garden plot assignment - something we were thinking would not happen for another year or two. What a pleasant surprise. Hm. That is not quite putting it right. If I am to be entirely honest I will have to mention that I was jumping up and down clapping my hands like a little kid, giggling and grinning, and exclaiming my joy. I was giddy. I am giddy.

After March 7th I'll get to start playing in my little patch of dirt at the Interbay P-Patch here in Seattle. The timing was great. The few precious flowers and herbs I dug up from my house in Olympia won't need to find a temporary home in my mother-in-laws yard (though she was kind enough to allow that).

For now I dream. I'll imagine all the wonderful things I can put into my plot. I'll look forward to making it mine. I'll look forward to the community I will make with those I'll be gardening along side of. Now my head is full of summer flowers and huge salads made from the bounty of my little patch of dirt here in Seattle.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sun Worship in Seattle

It was sunny again today. In Seattle. I walked downtown to the library this afternoon and then enjoyed a long walk along the waterfront. When I got to the Olympic Sculpture Park and I planted myself into one of those orange chairs facing the water, rolled up my sleeves and got a decent dose of vitamin D makings. I'm a junkie. When it came time to head home I wanted to transform into a little kid, sit down on the ground, throw a tantrum if neccesary - anything to keep from having to leave the park, the view, and that glorious sun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Tropical Vacation in Seattle

With the weather staying so cold I've been joking with my husband to take me somewhere tropical - he's unemployed right now so it really is a joke. We got inventive, however, and went to the Woodland Park Zoo. Upon arriving we headed straight for the Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. It has a tropical house with Ocelots, Toucans, and Green Tree Boas to name a few; and a tropical aviary with bright colored birds and warm humid tropical conditions. That did the trick. Who would have thought that right here in Seattle you could have your own mini tropical vacation.

The zoo isn't the only place to manage this luxury either. The Pacific Science Center has a tropical butterfly house with temperatures staying between 80 and 85 degrees and the always pleasant butterflies to keep you company. Further downtown there is the Seattle Aquarium where you can wander through the tropical section and take a very dry walk among the fish. Don't forget to say "hi" to Dory and Nemo while you're there. Haven't had quite enough of the tropics yet? Then head up to Capital Hill and take a stroll through the Volunteer Park Conservatory which houses a large number of tropical and other warm region plants including a beautiful selection of orchids. Sit on a little bench near the waterfall and soak it all in.

With a membership to the Zoo and Aquarium as well as the Science Center (the conservatory is free but welcomes donations) you can have this tropical vacation as often as needed for a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what it would cost to fly off to the tropics.

Check out the links to the right to learn more about the membership costs and operating hours of these wonderful places. Be sure to compare the memberships with the single entry fees. You'll quickly see what a great deal it is.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Change of Blogs

I had a long pause and in the mean time decided I wanted a different title. So I am now posting at: thisnorthwestlife.blogspot.com

I am not sure if I will work with The Local Life - The Good Life again - we'll see. In the mean time, if you haven't given up on me, you can find we at the above link.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Fibrous Fish

Today I watched a second year Glaucous-winged Gull treat a water-logged shred of cedar bark as if it was a prize fish. The gull picked it up from the edge of the surf, strutted about with it in his beak; then he sat it down and picked at it. When a first year Glaucous-winged moved in to see if he could have some too, the older gull snatched it back up, whipped his head away and strutted on down the beach. Was it a game? Was it practice? Was it wishful thinking? Whatever it was, it was certainly amusing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Walk with Otters

A half moon cove of
sand and pebbles,
and weeds of the sea.

From water like glass emerge
heads and whiskers,
curious critters following me.
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