Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Almost Famous

The photos of the Ctenucha rubroscapus on the Butterflies and Moths of North America website are mine! I'm almost famous!

Monday, August 29, 2011


aren't these awesome?

is this as tall as an elephant's eye?

our hopscotch relo from port townsend to grass valley, via arcata and santa cruz, meant that we missed 3 years of gardening. we have a grand garden this year and we are relearning several things. like; don't plant too close, how many tomatoes can we eat and freeze or dry, how many basil plants can we use, and again… how much room does a pepper plant need?

not to complain tho. we have chard, kale, string beans, zucchini, tomatoes of several sorts, onions, lotsa basil, carrots, yellow summer squash, delicata squash, butternut squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatillos, beets, potatoes, corn, peas, chives, and something i've forgotten for sure. (it was the red peppers)

we do have the usual difficulty with wanting to eat everything our plants give us. there is no way to grow just enough. that's what the compost pile is for.

and next year....... chickens!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Day In The High Country

It's hard to imagine it's been almost ten years (to the day) that Roger and I hiked in the high country of the Sierra. But it's true. Ten years ago on September 11, 2001 (yes that very day) we started what we thought would be our week-long summer vacation in the Lakes Basin area on the western slope of the Sierra. We woke that Tuesday morning to the sound of the phone ringing in our rented cabin, and my sister telling us to turn on the news. And so we did. The towers were still burning. How were we to enjoy our vacation hiking happily through the lakes and valleys, the mountains and forests, while the rest of the country was in mourning? We tried a few hikes but couldn't find it in our hearts to continue. We came home and had not been back since.

Interestingly, we now live only 45 miles from a remarkably similar set of lakes along the western slope of the northern Sierra. On Thursday, we took a ride. The last four miles of the road to get here, in Tahoe National Forest, is enough to set your teeth rattling and throw your back out of whack. A rock-strewn, rutted dirt road that makes four miles seem like four million. But we persevered, a small price to pay for a place on earth this beautiful to place a Vibram sole. This is just one of the hikes we could take from this trailhead, and there are so many other trailheads just a few miles north or south of this spot. The promise of many future hikes await us, this we know.
We chose the Round Lake trail to respark our enthusiasm for day hikes in the high country. We were in a state of continuous elation from the sight of the very first lake -- and then hiking some 2.5 miles (600 ft rise to 7000 ft) -- to where we finally picnicked at Long Lake. There were stunning vistas from every bend in the trail, and lakes around every turn. We were surprised and delighted by the fields of late-blooming wildflowers and a zillion different species of butterflies.
Everywhere, everywhere we looked, we fell in love with the moment. The happiness of breathing in the quiet mountain air, the tea and toast at this nameless lakelet, the fish jumping, the cat paws of wind on water, the granite rocks jutting out and over everything.
It was the hike we started ten years ago, from a slightly different place, in a completely different moment.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where Have Those Bums Been?

No updates. No word. It's as if we simply disappeared off the face of the earth. I wish I could say we've been out doing very cool and exotic stuff, but the truth of the matter is we've been here working in the garden, taking our local hikes, baking bread, installing a new water heater, eating homegrown cherry tomatoes and basil, and goofing off.
I haven't had a recurrence of that seriously horrible headache (YAY!), but my neck is still an ongoing pain, which keeps me from doing any birdwatching or looking up at anything. Check out that crazy x-ray. I swear I curve the wrong way, and my vertebrae are getting mighty close together. That explains a lot, doesn't it? Oh well, it's a really good thing that very cool critters stay close to the ground.
Like this tree frog that was hanging out on a butternut squash leaf. A pretty good camouflage from a distance.
And this skipper that was hanging out on the potato flowers. Macro photography is so good for seeing things my eyes never catch. A lovely shiny golden antenna on this butterfly.
The California Sister butterflies have made a very robust emergence this year. We're seeing them everywhere. Always nice when they land even if it's just for a minute.
Okay, so it's not such a great thing to have this tomato hornworm eating our plants and fruit. Still it is quite an impressively large creature. I actually like the details, like little false eyes dotting its body. Destructive, yes, but interesting too.
We are planning a day hike up in the high country this coming week (the above photo is a satellite image of where we're headed!). Hope to see these beautiful lakes and granite peaks that the Sierra mountains are known for. Packing a lunch and taking the camera. Wish us luck! And thank you for stopping by and staying in touch.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Week Later

Okay, so I haven't been to a neurologist yet, despite my doctor's referral. It took three days for contact, and I had to initiate it. They said, "Our first opening is October 12th." Well okay, I sure hope I don't die before then. The person on the other end of the line said, "I hear that often."

The emergency of pain is over. My head stopped pulsating and throbbing like a twitching atom bomb about to ignite. That's the good part. The neck x-rays showed "serious and significant" changes in C5-C6-C7. My doctor said, "I can't rule out cord involvement." Holy shit, said I. My neck has been bothering me for 40 years, since a car accident and whiplash in 1971. We tend to dismiss this stuff, and here it is all these years later kicking some serious ass. My doctor referred me for rehabilitation (I could use that on so many levels. LOL!). She said, "They can do everything short of surgery." I was very happy when they called. Their first opening is September 12th. Well, okay then, sure hope I don't have a repeat headache that feels like the back of my head is going to open and a movie monster pops out before then. Well, really, I didn't say that, but I thought it.
In the meantime, I'm really feeling okay. My neck is funky, but I'm back to living my life the way I always do. You know... we go out for our long walks along the irrigation ditch. Just the other day we saw a bird splashing in the water, quite a distance away. I wondered, "What is that bird? A female mallard? A water bird I haven't seen before?" So I took a few photos, as it clambered up on the bank.
Turned out to be a juvenile Cooper's Hawk that had just been taking a bath. Oh hello!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday's Whine: Why I Don't Like Hospitals

Roger took me to the ER at 4:00 AM Saturday morning. I had a horrific sudden onset headache that would not quit. It lasted for several hours, finally compelling me to seek assistance and answers. There was no one in the waiting room, so we were taken in right away. The nurse immediately attempted to put in an IV. You can see her handy work in the above photo. I didn't mind, and I actually didn't feel a thing. I hadn't taken any of the pain meds they offered, so I was completely sidetracked by the relentless and intense pain in the back of my head. What did this fumbling around with my arm matter to me? It didn't. They wheeled me down an empty corridor for a CT scan because I presented with symptoms that could have been an aneurysm. The scan found nothing and is 90% reliable. They wanted to do a spinal tap, which I refused. I still don't know what caused this major painful event in my brain, but I am waiting for an appointment with a neurologist, to whom I was referred by my GP on Monday.

Health matters are a very bizarre detour from the routines of regular life. I don't really like them. And look what they did to my arm!!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Froggy Froggy Birthday

Today, August 3rd is Roger's 69th birthday. That's right, after today, we can say he's"pushing 70." And in Roger's case, "pushing" is an active verb. He's still as wild and crazy as he's always been. Maybe a bit slowed down given the year he's had, but even with all of that, he's practically unstoppable. We haven't even shown you the photos of the woodshed he and a wonderful guy named "Guy" built last week. We needed that woodshed so we'd have a place where we could threaten to take each other for the whopping we both need on a very regular basis. Roger is going to do a post on that woodshed and the garden, or he's going to woodshed. Those are his choices! That's a promise.

But in the meantime, here's a photo of the little froggy I found in the greenhouse Tuesday morning. I went out early to water the last few tomatoes and basil we still have in six-packs, when something very froggy moved away from the water. It's been hanging out in the six--pack all day. If it stays one more day, we'll have to name him!

Happy birthday, Roger.