Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day 4

Banana leaf rises

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Day 3

Banana leaf advances

Note: The planet earth gallery of photos will be here again on Saturday. Please feel free to send us pictures of the beautiful things you have seen. We're happy to post them here. Our email address is newdharmabums at

BTW-- I love not having to write anything here. It is absolutely liberating. Thanks for indulging me these banana leaf photos. I'm having fun.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 2

Banana leaf emerging

Monday, August 28, 2006

Slowing Down Day 1

Banana leaf beginning

Saturday, August 26, 2006

pictures, we get pictures

we are once again honored to share pictues sent to us by our readers. we are endlessly fascinated by the images people offer to share. that's not a "royal we." it means robin and me. thanks to the contributors.

the pictures are ordered in whatever random sequence that blogger uploaded them. i told you i am a slacker.

normal narrative or direct quotes are in regular black text. my goofy comments are in blue text.

Dawn sent us this photo of a vulture taken in Newport, Oregon August 2006.

wow. that's a difficult shot to get.

Robin's sister in law (SIL, mine too, by marriage and love) sent the rose and the snake.

Jeanne (formerly known Soccer Mom) sent us the beautiful photo of Spiderwort, taken in the hills of Virginia

love the name...spiderwort.

Whisker, who comments here often, is a world-traveler and sent us this photo of a tasmanian devil that he took while in Tasmania.

i gotta say....tasmanian devil!!!!!!

Taradharma sent this contemplative look at drops of water on a nasturtium leaf

i have seen her photography. she's an artist, she don't look back.

RDJehn sent us this photo of the frog with this note:
This is a pic I took in Shelton in the Summer of 2004. I nearly ran over the little fellow with the electric mower, so I suppose he was frightened. I was grateful that he stayed put while I went into the house for the camera. It is a Kodak EasyShare 4530 and I used the close-up setting to take this.

lucky frog!

Laurel sent the wonderful mantis photo

looks healthy. must be a good food spot.

Robin's sister in law (SIL, mine too, by marriage and love) sent the rose and the snake.

a rose by any other name.......

Sigrid Jardin of The Secret Garden sent us the goat photo

though i always had white goats, the picture does remind me of the charm of goats. and the uh, non-charm.

Pam of Tuscon sent this beautiful prickly pear blossom

wow. just wow!

Suley 78757 sent us the dinosaur print with this note:
here's one of our recent favorites... we found a dinosaur (theropod) print while camping alongside a river in central texas. that's my wife's size 10 next to it...

i just love the size comparison. a coin wouldn't work. who carries a ruler?

From Yankee Transferred: Horseshoe Lake June, 2006

this is in arkansas. what a lovely place, and a great picture.


don't we all live in a beautiful place? as the song goes...."good planets are hard to find."

Friday, August 25, 2006

suffer me a gripe....

.....and i'll give you a recipe.

we like our house. big southern exposure. our bedroom faces east so we get the dawn. nice layout. the structure is sound and well insulated. the plumbing works. the electrical system works. the windows open and close properly. actually, the interior seems well done. but the exterior...oy vey! the siding, horizontal manufactured wood planks, is ok and appears to be installed properly, but the edges and intersections aren't done well, he said tactfully. the corner and window trim don't overlap the siding, there is no flashing above the window trim, and it all depends on caulk for watertightness. the sun just eats up caulk. and paint. the caulk was cracking and the trim was getting to need paint, and then soon the siding.

so we decided to replace the siding with cedar shingles and to replace all the trim with unpainted cedar. imagine my surprise as i was removing siding and discovered that it had been installed before the three porch/step entries were cast in concrete..........right up against the siding. so i had to cut the siding with a chisel where it ran behind the steps and porches.

this is the side of the tallest porch. it is under a large overhang and very well protected from the weather, so we will just run shingles right up against the concrete. maybe we'll install some copper flashing for a nice appearance. and balance. the other side of this porch does get weather and will need flashing.

i didn't take a picture of the steps as i chiseled the siding to match them. imagine the fun, especially under each step. there was, of course, no flashing and lots of caulk. i made copper flashing and, yes, caulked it to the 'crete. this is the end product.

now here's your recipe.

mango risotto (cha cha cha)

i am sure i heard a reference to mango risotto on foodtv. so i googled same. i found several links to recipes. they all turned out to be the same! the mango was pickled and added after the risotto was cooked, and the result was a sidedish to go with roast duck. so i invented my own recipe.

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 peeled and chopped mango
1/8 tsp cayenne powder (we have very potent cayenne)
lime juice (i used the half lime on hand. a whole lime would be better)
1 cup arborio rice, or other risotto rice
1/4 cup sliced ginger (maybe i used a bit less)
some raw, peeled shrimp
olive oil
6 cups boiling water

put the ginger in the water. keep the water just below a boil.
saute the onion and pepper in a generous dollop of oil. add the cayenne.
when the onion is almost cooked, add the rice.
stir until it all starts to stick.
add a quarter cup dry vermouth
add a half cup or so of the water
add the lime juice
add the mango

risotto is cooked at a boil by adding hot water a bit at a time and stirring constantly. taste the liquid as you go along, adding salt as needed. maybe more cayenne to balance the sweetness of the mango. when the rice is close to done the liquid will start to thicken. the shrimp cooks quickly and is not so good if over done, so add it when the liquid is getting thick and creamy, and turn down the heat. you might want a bit more oil. don't put the ginger in the risotto, the flavor comes through in the water, and it's kinda tough and intense to eat. i served mine with a generous sprinkling of fresh, chopped basil on top.

the only ingredient i actually measured when i cooked this was the rice, so the amounts are all a guess. ok, the mango was whole. chopped jalapeno would provide the heat instead of cayenne and add a festive touch of green.

bon appetit!

robin is reveling in her newfound freedom from the tyranny of posting. i'm taking up the slack, but i am a slacker.


we will still be sharing pictures on saturday. send us your fave.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


A bee covered in pollen from an artichoke flower shines in the afternoon sun

I'm taking a hiatus from blogging. I like the word lacuna, it's a very cool synonym for hiatus, and so much more. I seem to have run out of things to say. There are spaces where there should be inspiration. So, I'm turning the light out on my side of the blog.
A wheelbarrow full of early dropped apples, probably a response to drought

Roger will continue in his sporadic and erratic fashion, and post when the spirit moves him. I hope to be back when the political season is heating up to a boiling point. In the mean time, I'm just going to enjoy the transition of summer into fall, quietly. We'll be hiking, walking, shingling, talking, photographing, gardening, birdwatching, dancing, and dreaming. I plan to continue to read and comment on blogs, so I won't be disappearing completely from these internets.

Roger will be here on Friday. We're still planning to showcase photographs on Saturday from people who read our blog. We have some to post already, but we'd love to have more. Please email your favorite beauties to newdharmabums at yahoo dot com.

Bye for now.

Life in the Country

Sunset Monday night, the kind that turns the air golden and makes you grateful for eyes that perceive color. The sky stayed lit until it had turned nearly every color of the rainbow and then dimmed into starlit darkness.

Tuesday morning's visitor stayed quite a while. The Cooper's Hawk was having a meal of something just outside our dining room window. We had tea and watched her eat. When we went outside, after she had flown off, we looked for the remains of her meal. We hoped there wouldn't be any feathers. And fortunately there were none. In fact there was not a single thing left.
But a hawk made me want to eat my own words on Saturday morning. My poetic bravado on Friday extolled the hawk's place in our yard, having as much a place as the dove's, I said. Before sunrise on Saturday, while I prepared tea, I noticed the silhouette of two mourning doves as they sat on our fence. I thought to photograph them but didn't. I told Roger about them. How sweetly they fluttered and trilled while they flew down to the yard.
We had our tea in bed, as we always do, and then went out into the yard to water the garden. There next to the flower bed was a large gray feather blowing in the morning breeze, and next to it a pile of feathers of one of those mourning doves. When I looked around I could see where it had been hit, and then carried off and eaten. I remembered my words and for a moment regretted my glib observations about the inherent struggles of life and death in the natural world.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Flash Back and Forward

Who knows what will trigger a flood of memories? We expect to be awakened by the wafting fragrances of something, even by hearing a song, but by patching the butt end of an old pair of jeans? Hardly. Yet, there I was, holding my old Levi's with a failed ironed-on patch I'd tried a year or two ago. The patch had started to pull away from the worn tear the first time I washed them, so I just folded the pants and put them away. For some reason, I picked them up on Monday to sew the blue patch down. I threaded the needle, and held the fabric taut while I pulled the needle through the pants and down into the patch.

When I was a hippie teenager in the late 60s I wore patched jeans and embroidered everything I could get my hands on. I had wooden embroidery hoops in various sizes. The hoops held the fabric in place while I stitched with thread the design I had drawn on to the cloth. I embroidered suns, redwood trees, flowers, peace signs. While I sewed the patch on Monday, I thought about how I had embroidered what I might have committed to my skin with a tattoo, and how glad I am that I hadn't. I remembered patching my boyfriend's pants, and using embroidery thread to make a design at the borders. I remembered embroidering the most beautiful redwood tree on the sleeve of his light blue denim work shirt. I drew the redwood from a photograph that we had taken together in Yosemite. Those were heady days of love and the absolute significance of little details.

Maybe it's just that it's August, and the 37th anniversary of Woodstock just passed, but I was reminded of that fragrant air and the dreams of 1969. How we ended a war. I once thought that my memory was rose-colored, but I don't anymore. I see now how this present administration is still afraid of that generation. It makes me happy, and it makes me laugh. Even the trash talk about Ned Lamont's campaign and victory resorted to code-talk comparisons to freedom-loving hippies of the 60s. Just the other night Roger and I were wondering what the heck they're so afraid of. What do you think? What is so scary about the 60s Woodstock generation that it's raised like a frightening specter? What did we want? What universal human rights did we ask for-- food, shelter, education, health care, and political representation. Or that every form of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability be perceived as a violation of basic human rights.

Is that so scary? Why recoil from equality and human dignity?

I may have to patch more often.

Monday, August 21, 2006

the great outdoors

we went on one of our favorite walks on sunday. we began on the shore of the strait of juan de fuca, facing west toward victoria, bc, strolled north along about a mile of the beach at a moderately low tide, rounded point wilson lighthouse, walked along a nicely protected beach, full today (by local standards, meaning sparsely in big population center terms) of people enjoying the mildly hot weather, climbed up through fort worden state park and returned along the top of sandstone bluffs in the forest to our starting point. near the end of our circle we came out of the woods into a large meadow. there were three other hikers a short way ahead. they rounded a stand of tall grass and scotch broom and we noticed that they had stopped and only two were visible. as we came up to them we saw that the third was down on his knees photographing something on the ground of the newly mowed meadow. we, of course stopped to look. there was a paper wasp nest on the ground. the other hikers were surmising that it was a beehive, mainly i suppose because there were clearly visible hexagonal cells. they wondered if a bear had dragged it out of the forest. drawing on the priceless education we have gotten from bev and wayne and glenn and fc, we explained that it was a wasp nest, and that the cells contained wasp eggs and/or larva, which would feed on the larva of other insects placed there by the egg-laying wasp. i crouched down to take a picture. i pulled the white cap off one of the cells and found, to my great surprise, a clearly identifiable wasp larva. then i noticed an adult wasp crawling around the paper shreds. we told them that mud dauber wasps put paralyzed spiders in with their eggs for their larva to feed on; that we had seen pictures of such. it was a grand moment of five people thoroughly entranced by the natural world, sharing a fascination for the varied wonders of life.

point wilson lighthouse, mount baker in the distance

the view from the bluffs-- we didn't get close enough to the edge to look straight down to the beach we had just walked on

did i doom this baby wasp by exposing it? would it have survived and matured in its exposed nest, open to other who knows what eats wasp larva?

the parent?


bonus picture from an earlier walk in fort townsend state park. the legacy of late nineteenth century militancy hereabouts does have its perks in wonderful parks.

we had never before seen a dome-shaped web. the forest was full of them, each with its spider, waiting just below the dome, upside down.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

saturday share-a-pic

yesterday we included this invitation on our post.
We're thinking about doing a post on Saturday and sharing photos that our friends without blogs have emailed to us. If you would like to send us a digital photo to be part of this post, please send it to newdharmabums at yahoo dot com. We know there are so many wonderful photographers out there who see things we will never see, so please send us your favorites. We also know this is short notice, but what the heck, we're spontaneous sometimes.
we got some e-mailed photos.

first, here is one of the pictures we had already received that prompted us to consider saturday share-a-pic.
this is from our friend of many years saren, who is editor of Wildlife Australia magazine.
taken from the back door today – with a bit of zoom, but when the grevilleas are in bloom, the rainbow lorikeets don’t mind hanging around and letting you get a bit closer.

here is another unsolicited picture, from our sister-in-law kim, wife to robin's twin brother.
These are the last pictures I took of the dove chick & parent before he/she fledged (a bit dramatically) from the nest. It was only 11 days old when it flew which is why I was so worried. Hopefully it's OK.

now here are pix sent in response to our invitation

this is from my brother in hawaii, on kauai. i'm sure this flower is in a pond in his yard.

this is from friend and commenter c corax.
This critter and one just like her (but smaller) live in the campus pond during the summer.
It's a Great Egret, which is a large white heron. Not to be confused with the white color morph of the Great Blue Heron. The G.E has yellow bill, black legs, black feet. The white GBH has a yellow bill, yellow legs & feet. Then there's the Snowy Egret which has a black bill, black legs and yellow feet.

this is from commenter rcwbiologist.
I took it while doing research at a Carolina Bay in South Carolina. If you don’t know what a Carolina Bay is google it, they are amazing unique formations that occur mostly in the Carolinas. I was the Resource Manager at Woods Bay State Natural Area doing baseline research on the flora and fauna there from 1999 to 2004. To me it looks like the carpenter frog is meditating on the fragrant water-lily. This habitat is a cypress-tupelo swamp. It was a fascinating place to work with lots of snakes and critters.

this last is from a reader who wishes to be identified as annie.

thanks to our contributors. we are enriched by your pictures and enjoy passing them on.

we'd be happy to do this again. e-mail your pictures.

Friday, August 18, 2006

When Hawks Dream

ain't no war monger
give me my good name and due
i seek only food
i live the hard work
sun up sun down hunger
hunting every meal
I bear no malice
never take more than I need
just enough to live

Reality notes: I photoshopped in these finches from one of Roger's photos. I was delighted with virtually providing this juvenile Cooper's Hawk a dream of abundance. It is too bad we must use the hawk as a metaphor for those among us who make war. These fierce raptors get a bad rap. They have a place in our yard as surely as the dove. The finch photo was taken Wednesday afternoon. Hawk photos were taken Thursday morning. (Click to enlarge.)

We're thinking about doing a post on Saturday and sharing photos that our friends without blogs have emailed to us. If you would like to send us a digital photo to be part of this post, please send it to newdharmabums at yahoo dot com. We know there are so many wonderful photographers out there who see things we will never see, so please send us your favorites. We also know this is short notice, but what the heck, we're spontaneous sometimes.

UPDATE: The kind of photos we're looking for are the ones that moved you-- they can be birds, flowers, landscapes, insects. Anything beautiful that you'd like to share.

If our Saturday post doesn't happen, we'll just wish you a fine weekend now. Peace.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

for the birds

we have a plethora of goldfinches in our yard every morning. they are native to this area and are the washington state bird. they nest well into summer when thistles flower. they eat thistle seed and use the fluff for nest building. i have been trying to get a picture that shows the numbers of them, but they are small and won't hold still in a demonstrative bunch. they are flighty things and will take off in large, swirling flocks at some signal we can't perceive. sometimes a flock will zoom off erratically to the alders at the edge of our yard.

they like to bathe.

only a fraction of the goldfinches in the yard can eat at the same time. good thing some are bathing.

they also eat seed from the ground that has spilled out of the feeder, and peck around in the gravel for weed seeds.

they seem to like sunflower seeds too. au natural.

i watch the birds while i do my morning reading from one or the other of the internets. i check my favorite blogs, leaving comments sometimes. i read the san francisco chronicle, a fifty year plus habit (damn, i am a geezer), starting with my small list of favorite comics. i read the santa cruz sentinel because i used to live there and like reading a small town paper. i read the two big seattle dailies and the weekly port townsend leader. i check the editorials, though i don't read them all, and i usually read the letters. lately i have been avoiding the big international stories in the papers because it's mostly old news to me, since the political blogs are timely to the latest minute. the news is also rather depressing, all the way from politics and war to the dead zone in the pacific ocean off the oregon coast and melting glaciers worldwide. the birds in the yard don't know the news, good or bad.

posted by roger, who hasn't yet worked out this name change thingie.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Roger has started volunteering at the local Habitat for Humanity. He's doing their books. It's fairly complicated stuff-- they have a large second hand furniture store, and they carry the mortgages on the houses they've built here. And there are all those non-profit rules on record keeping. So, he's been concentrating on that. I'm sure he'll do a post on it eventually. He was planning on doing some kind of post for today, but he's been busy with spreadsheets and Quickbooks. I am filling in. I don't have much to say. So, I'm just going to post a poem I found a while back that I was very moved by. The first time I read it out loud to Roger I found I couldn't read it all the way through without crying.
North Island Laughing Owl

The Animals Are Leaving
by Charles Harper Webb

One by one, like guests at a late party,
They shake our hands and step into the dark:
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

One by one, like grade school friends,
They move away and fade out of our memory:
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.

One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,
And keep marching, though teachers cry, "Come back!"
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;
Eastern harbor seal; Ceylon elephant; Great Indian rhinoceros.

One by one, like actors after a play that ran for years
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow
Before the curtain falls.

We just learned that the Black Rhinoceros may have gone extinct. Quite recently. The report was in July National Geographic. We say their names out loud and wave good bye. Good bye.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Self Conscious

(Great Blue Heron, click to enlarge)
Roger and I are the only people who walk our little road to the mailboxes. Everyone else either gets into their cars for the at-most half mile to retrieve it, or stops while driving to or from town. I tell you this because our walking makes us very visible. People begin to feel like they know us because they recognize us, but we are at a distinct disadvantage. We don't know them, and we don't recognize their cars. A woman stopped me the other day. She was driving up the road, I was on my way down to get the mail. She said, "Hey, I almost ran into you at Walmart this morning." I said, "That's impossible, I've never been in a Walmart store." She said, "Oh, I could have sworn it was you." Interesting. I would have sworn I'd never seen this woman before in my life. Yet, she recognizes me and imagines seeing me at Walmart.

One day, while we were walking along one of our favorite trails, we ran into an older couple. The woman said so warmly to us, "Hello." I smiled and said hello. She said, "We're your neighbors." I looked at her and thought she looked vaguely familiar, her husband more so. She said, "We see you walking to the mailboxes. I'd recognize your hair anywhere." Oh maybe that's it, my hair. I have long gray hair. Most older women don't do that. It's very witchy.

On Monday, a woman stopped her SUV on the road to talk to me. She smiled and said, "Hi, did I tell you we're building a house." I looked at her. She seemed a pleasant middle-aged woman. Her arms were still full of the mail she had just picked up. On the seat next to her were a receipt from the local hardware store and a half-dozen peach colored gladiolas. The flowers matched the color of her blouse, which had the smallest barely perceptible white polka dots. I looked at her and wondered if I had ever seen her before. I thought I must have. But then I immediately wondered why she was telling me about building a house. Is she new to the neighborhood? So I asked all the neighborly questions and learned that she is building a house nearby for her 24-year-old son who is still living at home. She laughs and says, "It's the only way to get him out of the house." I laugh too. We're having a neighborly conversation in the middle of the gravel road by our house. I have no idea who she is.

Roger and I often feel anonymous out here in the country, but our neighbors remind us that we have become familiar fixtures. I suspect we're like this heron, one among many, yet recognizable for the downy feather in our teeth.

Monday, August 14, 2006

grape expectations

we first saw what was to become our new home in march, 2004. among the attractive outdoor amenities was a line of four grape vines supported by wires between steel fence posts, in a standard sort of arrangement. the vines looked vigorous, but the owners told us that the deer always ate most of the grapes. we moved here at the end of june, 2004. the deer ate not only all the grapes, but all the foliage as well. we fenced the yard in the early spring of 2005. we let the vines grow however they wanted that year. no pruning. they grew a lot of foliage but hardly any grapes. we pruned early this year, trying to tame the unruly mass of vines. we kept the large vines and left two buds on each spur.
this year's growth looks great. the row is a bit over twenty feet long. there are four plants with multiple vines growing out of each. we noticed early that there were lots of grapes forming.
here is one of the four growing bases. the vines are quite sturdy.

amazing grapes. grapes of joy!

grapes are in the family vitaceae. we don't know what sort of grapes we have. we think they are green when ripe, as we got one (1) or two (2) grapes to eat last year, and they were green and seemed ripe. wikipedia lists 24 species. science may be saying that red wine is a positive health ingredient. well, we knew that! more science. most grapes grown are used to produce wine, which figures in politics. and then of course there is the famous latin adage "in vino veritas" which translates roughly as "in wine, truth," or, inebriated humans tend to blurt out their secret inner thoughts (think mel gibson as a recent example). i found out years ago that i am a maudlin drunk, professing love for everyone. it has been years since my vino has evoked that much veritas.