Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blogger Sucks

I was going to do a Halloween post. I tried to load pretty pictures of our first frost. I had a picture of a leaf falling, and let me tell you, that's a hard thing to try to capture. I've been trying for days. It's like knowing where to look on the ocean surface for a whale to breach. The photograph wasn't great, but it was definitely a leaf falling. I was going to tell you a story about how my father carved pumpkins for us when my siblings and I were little. He carved elaborate pumpkins with carrots for the nose, radishes (or cucumber slices) for eyes, peppers for ears. He carved three each year, one each for his three youngest and brought them to our classrooms. There's sweet nostalgia in fall.

But blogger won't let me post. It sucks. I'm sick of it, and I've stopped trying.

Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Diversion Part 2

We are still in diversion mode. No politics. No talking heads. So we've been working in the garden. Harvested the last of the string beans, blanched them and froze five good-sized bags. Roger transplanted the datil peppers into pots for the winter (thanks to FloridaCracker for that great idea). We're still hoping for a good crop next year. We brought our potted tomatoes and basil inside, all lined up in front of our south-facing windows. We've got a good winter crop in the outside garden as well.
We've been taking good long walks. It's been an amazing year for fall foliage. The colors are richer than I remember from our previous two falls here. It's as pretty as the autumns of my youth. We've been seeing birds that we have not seen before. There's a Northern Harrier that seems to have taken up residence on our Larry Scott Memorial Trail. It hunts differently from the other raptors we've seen. It flies low to the ground over the grasses and bushes looking for its prey. We also saw our first Pileated Woodpecker (I submitted the photo to Pam at Tortoise Trail for her Good Planets next Saturday), and we think we saw a Peregrine Falcon Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon we had a nice little downpour. The wind kicked up and we even had some hail. The sky changed so quickly all afternoon, it was hard not to run outside with the camera every five minutes to catch the clouds, the light, the shifting shadows.

The hawk paid us a visit after the rain. He likes to dry his feathers while he stands on the birdfeeder. I remembered to video him as he hopped from one perch to another, drying and hunting.

If you'd like to watch the hawk fly, here's a link to a Windows Media Player file and one to a Quicktime file. They're both compressed, but I still think you get an idea of this bird's elegance.

Okay, even though we really are avoiding politics, we thought maybe some of you are strong enough to take up the fight. We received an email from moveon.org asking if we would run this ad. Of course we'll run it. If just one person reading this takes up the charge and makes these calls, we can begin to change the world.

Call For Change

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Good Planets 10/28

Here's what our beautiful planet looks like, as seen by the good people who sent us these photos.

Rowan saw the sunrise in South Africa.
and of this countryside she wrote:
Photographed a month or so ago on a beautiful September day. It's a small farm tucked into a fold of the hills with the typical patchwork effect of the English countryside. Not majestic or breathtaking but timeless - if I had passed that way 200 years ago it would have looked pretty much the same.

Kirsten saw this banana tree in SW Tanzania, she wrote:
these are special bananas in SW Tanzania - this species is Semelparous (reproduces then dies)...so these bananas still have seeds!

Kim J saw these stunning views at the Pinnacles in California

TaraDharma saw this view from the Santa Cruz hills looking down to the foggy coast-

and the ubiquitous "pride of Madera"

Delia saw the sun peeking through in Spring Hills, PA

Evan saw a delicate orchid in Virginia

and Tree saw this lovely orchid in Ohio.
Carolyn saw this first frost in Lewisberry Pennsylvania

Kim T saw the red rock country in Arches National Park, Utah.

and the Big Sur coast in California

Paul saw Agua Caliente Park in Arizona

Kirsten also saw these Red Fronted Macaws, she wrote:
...this photo was taken in Bolivia near Toro toro. This species is endangered (only ~200 left), and my student and I were working with local farmers to encourage conservation of this species.

Tree saw this magnificent butterfly
Delia saw the sun shine on the bunny's ears in Spring Hills, PA
Dawn saw this egret in flight in Newport, Oregon
Dawn also watched this gray whale breach the Pacific off the Oregon coast
Susannah saw this lone sparrow on a branch

and a heron hunting

This Snowy Owl saw Dave smiling and enjoyed it very much!

We'd like to thank all of the contributors who have helped us make Good Planets so much fun to do. This is our last weekend hosting for a while. Pam of Tortoise Trail will be doing Good Planets on Saturdays in November (please send your photos to her tortoisetrail at gmail dot com), and Divajood of Journeys with Jood will take it up in December. I hope you will all continue to photograph the beautiful earth and send pics to these Good Planets hosts.

Our friend Tara sent us this Lord Byron quote that we think is an appropriate way to sign of for now--

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture in the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and the music is its roar.
I love not man the less, but nature more.

Thanks everyone!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cats and Birds

Our cat brought this bird home Thursday evening at sundown. He rarely does this. He has neurological problems, often trips over his own feet when he runs. He tries to hunt, but is unsuccessful 99% of the time. This poor bird happen to fall to that 1% chance. I knew the bird wouldn't make it. They never do, no matter how much we want them to. I held the poor thing and felt its heart beating against the palm of my hands. There are few times in my life when I have wished I had secret powers. This was one of them. Oh to heal the injured...

Sometimes I really don't like cats very much.

The bird didn't survive.

If you have a photo that depicts the beauty of our planet, please send it for Saturday's Good Planets post. Send photos to newdharmabums at yahoo dot com. Next week, and for the month of November Pam at Tortoise Trail will be hosting Good Planets on Saturdays. All of your beautiful photos should be sent to tortoisetrail at gmail dot com.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I did it. I turned off talk radio. I couldn't listen anymore to how much money the Republicans have, how they're going to buy the election, how they're playing the talk-show circuit for free advertising to peddle their lies. I cast my vote on a paper ballot on Tuesday. I did what I could do, and I'm done. I stopped listening to political talk radio. Enough.
So, I heard this song the other day while Roger was streaming his beloved KPIG. I walked outside and out of his old powerbook came the soft sounds of Kate Wolf's sweet voice singing the last few notes of the song The Red Tail Hawk "...the golden rolling hills of California." Oh that song-- I have always loved it. It sent me back to when Roger and I first met. He had tape after tape of melodic, new-agey folk music. Sounds that were meant to be listened to while calming your heart, slowing your mind, opening your chakras. Great soothing music, albeit sometimes repetitive like any mantra, but not at all saccharine. It was all rather lovely and full of devotion to the earth. Nice. Roger had been dating a woman who was a musician and singer, and a lot of the music he was listening to when I met him were her favorite musicians, like Kate Wolf. That song, in fact was on one of her tapes.
I like when music transports me instantly to a particular time. It is one of my favorite inner journeys. I can recall everything about a certain moment, how it felt to be falling in love with Roger, how our little two-room garret at the beach house looked--how it didn't seem so small overlooking the entire expanse of the Monterey Bay. I especially liked remembering how Roger and I seemed to gravitate to each other instantly when we met. After our first date, we literally never stopped being together. When his ex-girlfriend came by to pick up her things, including that Kate Wolf tape, she asked, "So, is this an ongoing thing, you and Robin?" That was almost 18 years ago.

That little snip of Kate Wolf I heard on KPIG started a perfectly satisfying diversionary odyssey. I wanted to download an mp3 of The Red Tail Hawk. Easy enough, I thought, I'll just go to iTunes and buy it. Nope, not available. I checked all the legitimate music download sites I know, and Kate Wolf's Back Roads album is not listed. I did find two albums available at amazon.com, but they cost $25 each. Seems fairly steep for one song. So, Roger went into the garage and retrieved the box with all his old tapes. I found our old Sony tape and cd player, dusted it off, and listened to old new-age songs from the 80s all afternoon, hoping it might actually be among his tapes. No Kate Wolf, but plenty of Lisa Thiel and Alice diMicele. All that love and hope resonating in the house. Music full of chanting, meditation bells, and the ache of wanting to love and be one with everything.
The 2006 election slipped further and further away.

But no Kate Wolf. My last ditch effort was to email a former colleague at my old university who is the broadcast adviser at the student-run radio station. I told him of my plight. He is a music junkie, and he's burned many a CD for me. He's a good friend. I know he'll understand. I'm waiting to hear back.

Until then, I go outside with the camera and photograph the spider webs on the eucalyptus tree in all the changing light of day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

fall garden

we have a mixed sort of garden report. we I learned not to start corn so late, nor butternut squash. both grew vegetation, but no ripe, usable fruit. on the other hand our winter plantings of potatoes, carrots, beets, kale, and collard greens are doing well. we still have a few string beans. we robin just harvested a bunch more basil and made 6 more half cup containers of pesto to freeze.

buying seeds last spring, i forgot which squash we liked so much and got hubbard squash seeds instead of butternut squash. the late start mentioned above was from seeds saved from last year's butternut squash. so we have two (2) huge hubbard squash, one 14 pounds and one 24, from two huge squash hills. not a good sort of harvest, and what would we do with more humungous squash anyway.

the tomatoes in the greenhouse still have a few fruits ripening. red bell peppers (still green on the plants), started way late also, are forming fruit. two datil pepper plants, from seeds from florida, also started way late, are starting to flower. alas, they will not produce this year. i have more seeds and will try again next year. i was wary, in spring this year, to let the greenhouse temp get above 90, opening the door and window during sunny days. this fall i have let the temp soar to over 100 and everything in there loved it. so next spring will be a hot time in the old greenhouse.
this pepper has a very small chance of ripening into a mature red bell.
volunteer peas, onions, carrots, and beets. these will feed us this winter. there is an earlier planted patch much like this but having more mature plants
alas, far from it's southern home and minorcan backround, started late, still a fine looking datil pepper plant. next year!!!
i ate this. well, the ripe kernels anyway. right out there in nature without cooking it. delicious! that's it. the only corn for this year.
aren't those fine looking stands of corn? too bad this is the middle of october and the ears aren't even close to maturity.

garden update---i can't resist the letter about hubbard squash. here is a picture too. it was taken september second. the squash did not get any larger. from:

"Of the origin of the Hubbard squash we have no certain knowledge. The facts relative to its cultivation in Marblehead are simply these. Upwards of twenty years ago, a single specimen was brought into town, the seed from which was planted in the garden of a lady, now deceased; a specimen form this yield was given to Captain Knott Martin, of this town, who raised it for family use for a few years, when it was brought to our notice in the year 1842 or '43. We were first informed of its good qualities by Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbard, a very worthy lady, through whom we obtained seed from Capt. Martin. as the squash up to this time had no specific name to designate it from other varieties, my father termed it the 'Hubbard Squash.'"
Letter by James J.H.Gregory written in December, 1857 for The Magazine of Horticulture


closing in on the last saturday for the bums to host good planets photo share for a while. send us those pics. the link is above, below the earth. after that send 'em to pam in tucson at tortoise trail , who has most graciously volunteered to host "good planets photos" for november.


i'm sure you all know that we have a very important election coming up. actually, as the county in which we live conducts all elections by mail-in ballot, we have received and completed ours and i deposited them at the county building yesterday a.m. after i got my teeth cleaned. seemed appropriate somehow. clean teeth=voting.

you may suspect our voting preferences from our occasional political rants. i will say that in my opinion our government works best with an empowered loyal opposition. beyond that, i firmly believe that our country works better when more people vote. so, whatever your bent, exercise your franchise.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

15 Minutes

What if the shades had been drawn (5:53 pm)
Or we were deep in conversation about something,
and did not think to look (6:04 pm)
Or we looked but our hearts were closed,
so we did not see (6:07 pm)
This fire raging at the end of day's light (6:08 pm)

Monday, October 23, 2006

big leaf maple

there are maple trees all around us here in northwest washington state, among the firs and alders and whatnot. marveling at the huge leaves we see, we remembered that we had not seen such large leaves before. robin's east coast childhood provided a memory of maples with much smaller leaves. my own childhood in mid-coastal california didn't seem to have any maples, probably due to my unconsciousness. imagine our surprise, he said, using a cliche, to find out that big leaf maples, Acer macrophyllum, grow only on the west coast of north america from british columbia down to southern california; maybe a bit in idaho. even more surprising, to us anyway, is that sap from big leaf maples contains about the same concentration of sugar as does the sap from sugar maples, Acer saccharum. the taste may be different. read a bit more about big leaf maples here.

more info

picture porteait of the artist as a young tree. that's a mighty big leaf.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Good Planets Are Hard to Find 10/21

It is a pleasure to look at these photographs and see for a moment what others have seen through their viewfinder. From the quiet buffalo in Yellowstone to a tiny Paper Kite perched on an orchid; from still-blooming roses to changing leaf color; water everywhere and buildings outlined against a perfect sky. The planet is ever changing and always, always beautiful.

Kara's Yellowstone

CCorax's Yellow-rumped warbler on the ground
and perched on a branch

Dawn's Turkey Vulture

Pam's Paper Kite

Tara's Rose

Sonia's Rain of Gold

Pam's Orchid

Kerrdelune's Sumac

and Oak Leaves

Kathy A's Palm at night

Nio's Old Hill

Paul's Grand Tetons

Dawn's McCalister Creek at Nisqually

Yankee Transferred's Courtyard in spring

and winter

Divajood's Big Bear

mandt's Bennington, Vt

Steve's Taos, NM
Can you believe the views we've just seen! We thank every one of the contributors to this week's Good Planets. What they have shared reminds us what a stunning planet we live on. Each week's peek is a view we have not seen before, and we are grateful for that view.

We are hosting Good Planets next weekend, and then Pam of Tortoise Trail has graciously agreed to host Good Planets for four weekends in November. If you'd like to host Good Planets on Saturdays in December on your blog, please let us know. Thanks to everyone for loving the planet as much as we do.