Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Still Walking

With pedometer mounted to my belt, I still walk and log my miles every day.

September day-by-day log.

My average daily mileage for the month of September, 5.12 miles. That's a fair amount of miles every day and great motivation for me to continue!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blackberry Scones

An old tractor with its seat full of blackberry brambles was spotted in this cool old barn today at one of the farms we drove through while checking on some of the many fields of corn that the farmers will soon be chopping.Seeing how the blackberries overgrew this tractor today reminded me that late summer and early fall is blackberry season here in Northwest Washington. I love to go out and pick at least enough blackberries to make a batch of fresh blackberry scones. Here is my favorite blackberry scone recipe.

Blackberry Scones

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 cup blackberries

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles crumbs. In a separate bowl, stir together the milk and eggs. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the milk and egg mixture. Mix with a fork until the dry ingredients are moistened - being careful not to over stir. Gently fold in the blackberries.

Divide the dough in half and scoop each half of the scone mixture onto a lightly greased baking sheet, shaping each into a circle. Sprinkle each circle lightly with a little extra sugar. Cut each of the circles into six pie-shaped wedges. With a spatula, carefully separate each wedge slightly to allow a little baking space between each scone. Bake at 425-F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden. Serve warm with butter. Makes one dozen scones.


Pausing a moment to look back at me as I admired them, these cows seemed to be enjoying this afternoon's bright fall sun upon their faces as we drove by.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great Backyard Bird Count

Remember the Great Backyard Bird Count from last February? We did it then and it's time to start thinking about counting those birds once again. The press release is out! Get your very own 2009 Great Backyard Bird Count Form here. Provide your zipcode and get a printable tally sheet specific to your neighborhood here.

2009 GBBC News Release
Count for Fun, Count for the Future


New York, NY and Ithaca, NY—Bird and nature fans throughout North America are invited to join tens of thousands of everyday bird watchers for the 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 13-16, 2009.
A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, this free event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation. Participants count birds and report their sightings online at http://www.birdcount.org./
“The Great Backyard Bird Count benefits both birds and people. It’s a great example of citizen science: Anyone who can identify even a few species can contribute to the body of knowledge that is used to inform conservation efforts to protect birds and biodiversity,” said Audubon Education VP, Judy Braus. “Families, teachers, children and all those who take part in GBBC get a chance to improve their observation skills, enjoy nature, and have a great time counting for fun, counting for the future.”
Anyone can take part, from novice bird watchers to experts, by counting birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and reporting their sightings online at http://www.birdcount.org./. Participants can also explore what birds others are finding in their backyards—whether in their own neighborhood or thousands of miles away. Additional online resources include tips to help identify birds, a photo gallery, and special materials for educators.
The data these “citizen scientists” collect helps researchers understand bird population trends, information that is critical for effective conservation. Their efforts enable everyone to see what would otherwise be impossible: a comprehensive picture of where birds are in late winter and how their numbers and distribution compare with previous years. In 2008, participants submitted more than 85,000 checklists.
“The GBBC has become a vital link in the arsenal of continent-wide bird-monitoring projects,” said Cornell Lab of Ornithology director, John Fitzpatrick. “With more than a decade of data now in hand, the GBBC has documented the fine-grained details of late-winter bird distributions better than any project in history, including some truly striking changes just over the past decade.”
Each year, in addition to entering their tallies, participants submit thousands of digital images for the GBBC photo contest. Many are featured in the popular online gallery. Participants in the 2009 count are also invited to upload their bird videos to YouTube; some will also be featured on the GBBC web site. Visit http://www.birdcount.org./ to learn more.
Businesses, schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at 800-843-2473 (outside the U.S., call 607-254-2473), or Audubon at citizenscience@audubon.org, or 215-355-9588, Ext 16.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by support from Wild Birds Unlimited.
Keep on Counting!
If the Great Backyard Bird Count has ignited your passion for watching and counting birds, it doesn't have to end on February 18! Tally your birds and report what you see all winter long through Project FeederWatch.
  • FeederWatchers are people of all skill levels and backgrounds, including children and families.
  • FeederWatchers count the highest numbers of each species seen at their feeders over two consecutive days from November through early April. (You can join at any time!)
  • FeederWatchers report their bird counts to scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, on the web site or on paper data forms.
  • New FeederWatchers receive a kit that includes an identification poster, calendar, handbook, and complete instructions. A small annual fee supports the project and pays for materials.
  • FeederWatchers learn more about winter birds and contribute to the study and conservation of North American feeder birds.


Learn more about Project FeederWatch

Sign up now!

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of Cornell Lab of Orinthology and Bird Studies Canada.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Their Wedding

They did it! Christy and Keith got married, and we joined in for a joyous celebration.
Here I pose with Christy, the bride.
Christy and Kriss smile for the camera.
Keith and Christy, the bride and groom, must have felt a little like the paparazzi had been after them all evening.
Keith and Christy pose with her daughter, Daniela. By the way, where ever did Zack go?
Fred dances with Kriss.
Wayne and I pose for the camera before making our way out to the dance floor.Keith and Christy pose with our friend, Jon, owner, DJ and MC of Go Jonny Go Mobile DJ Service. Jon provided the dance music for the evening's wedding celebration.

Congratulations, Christy and Keith!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bringing in the Barley

Another fun day in the fields! This time, riding along while combining barley.
The front tines on the combine rake.
Wayne checks something on one of his combines.
Barley filled the combine hopper.
Transferring the barley to one of the trucks.
More photos from the barley field.

As the sun went down over the fields and the guys drove the harvest equipment and trucks full of harvested barley home to stow away for the night, Torrie enjoyed a roll in the clipped barley stalks and talked with the moon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spinach Seed

How absolutely fun it was for me to get to ride along, up and down the rows, for acre after acre as the combine raked up the harvest.I never really thought much about the origin of the seeds in those thousands of seed packets available in the garden centers each spring, or where the farmers got the seeds in order to plant their crops each year, but now I see an entirely new world, hear a new language out there in the fields, where row after row of crops are raised soley for their seed harvest. From my homeland here in the Pacific Northwest, through Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado and the many rich-soiled farming areas of America, even as far away as Africa where I once trekked through many pineapple, sugar cane and manioc fields, farming abounds. Agriculture has always been one of my treasured backdrops, right next to our mountains, forests, beaches, lakes, oceans and islands. This time I had front-row seating, watching as tiny spinach seeds were harvested.It's a respectfully long, dusty day for the farmers out there in the fields.When one field is finished, which seemed to be just in time to see the setting sun, that day's work is not even done as the equipment is yet to be driven home and stowed away for the night, and still the next day's work planned out.
More Photos from the spinach seed harvest.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Campgrounds and Birthdays

Friends, food and fun, that's how we like to celebrate birthdays! Add in a beautiful day and a campground, and make this celebration for Jesse!
Jesse and his new pedometer. He will be amazed at how many miles he walks in just one day!
Torrie celebrates Jesse's birthday.

Jesse and Daniela in the pool.


Next, we pick our paddle boats. It's Kriss and I in one, and Daniela and Jesse in the other.
That's me paddling. That was the easy part. The steering, not quite so easy!
Did Daniela and Jesse not see that island?
With the harvest moonrise our backdrop, Jesse and Daniela inquire as to whether it's a game of miniature golf or a campfire and s'mores next.
More pics from our campground celebrations.



Open year round, the Lynden/Bellingham KOA campground is located at 8717 Line Road, Lynden, Washington. There are ponds lined with weeping willow trees, paddle boats, a sand volly ball court, a swiming pool, a miniature golf course and a children's play area. With cabins available for rent and plenty of camping and RV sites, more information is available on their website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sunny Days Along the North Fork

Don't you just love sunny days in September?
In the middle of dicing potatoes and leeks to make a pot of soup when I received the call asking if I wanted to join her for a picnic up by Mount Baker, I told her I would bring my soup to share and grab my camera on my way out the door.
A day-use area at the Douglas Fir Campground along the north fork of the Nooksack River was a beautiful location for our picnic.
After we ate, Sally worked on a writing project. What a cool place to work!And I set off to explore. Here I am, getting just a little bit muddy along the river bank.
The sunny view along the north fork of the Nooksack.Sally took a break from writing to explore along the river bank too.Sun filtered through the trees and cast a beautiful color onto the water as it flowed down the river.
Indicating that she often is drawn to this campground because of the roar of the river, she paused in the sun to enjoy the sound along the river today.
Near the junction of the north and south forks of the Nooksack River, our next stop along the highway today was Nooksack Falls.
Here it is, Nooksack Falls on a sunny September afternoon!
More photos from today's adventure.

My recipe follows:
Creamy Potato and Leek Soup
5 or 6 Medium Red Potatoes
1 Large Leek, or 2 Small
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic
4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Lemon Pepper
Peel and dice the potatoes. Chop the leek into small pieces. Peel, smash and chop the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic, leek and potatoes to the oil and cook, stirring regularly, until tender. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about thirty minutes, or until the soup has reduced down a bit and thickened slightly. Season with a little freshly ground lemon pepper just before removing from the stove to serve.
While I used organic potatoes, leeks and garlic that I received in my weekly harvest basket through the Growing Whatcom Community Supported Agriculture Project, along with an organic vegetable broth and lemon pepper corns that were purchased at Trader Joe's to make this soup, I suspect that this soup would be equally as tasty even when made with non-organic ingredients - but perhaps not quite as healthy.