Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Maybee - that's the name that stuck with my son's new puppy. I'll let him tell the story of how she ended up with that name, but I just loved this picture he sent and had to share.
Out doing some stealth kayak fishing, looks like Maybee has found her place.
Meanwhile, back on THIS side of the mountains, I'm still picking raspberries at my Happy Valley Garden.

And all looks good there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blueberries and Rhubarb

What once was filled with squash in my Happy Valley Community Garden now grows blueberries and rhubarb. I had not given much thought about what to do with that space since pulling out the squash plants, but suddenly a plan came together. The daughter of a friend of a friend was taking out the garden in their newly purchased home in Bow and I had been invited to dig what I wanted. The first day of fall and such beautiful weather, it was the perfect day for a drive through rural Skagit County as I headed to Bow. I couldn't help but notice how the sky was so much more blue than this barn. I dug a variety of perrenial flowers to transplant into my cutting garden at the Happy Valley Gardens, then saw the rhubarb and instantly began to think about all those crisps, pies and cobblers I could make if I took some rhubarb starts too.
When I spotted the two blueberry bushes, I knew they would be great additions to my garden. They were still small plants, but their tags indicated they would grow to be 5 to 6 feet high and quite round. I immediately thought about that space where I had just removed all those squash plants and decided that would be the perfect space for them. They were each a different variety of blueberry, but I didn't think that would make any difference (at least I hoped it wouldn't). The tag on one said they were bigger and rounder and juicier than most, and the other indicated it would be a big producer. Blueberries are one of my favorite summer fruits. It will be so cool to pick blueberries that I have grown myself.
Once I determined where my new plants should be placed in my garden and had finished planting them, I gave them all a good watering. Then, picking raspberries and a few peas from my garden for my dinner, I reflected on my afternoon of gardening efforts, knowing that I was already looking forwad to the next season.
Reminded that it really was the first day of fall, a big pile of pumpkins greated me as I stopped at my favorite vegetable stand, Joe's, to pick up some tomatoes on my way home. More pics from my drive through rural Skagit County to get my new plants and my Happy Valley Garden.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Edmonds Seal Sitters

Check this article out from the Everett Herald! Like our local Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network (WMMSN), seal sitters near Edmonds, Washington watch over a stranded harbor seal pup.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald - Susan Morrow, founder of Edmonds Seal Sitters, takes a picture of a 2- to 3-month-old seal who climbed onto the beach next to the Edmonds fishing pier on Tuesday. Morrow and fellow volunteer Joy Lynch created a perimeter to keep people away from the pup.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald - A young harbor seal lies on the beach near the Edmonds fishing pier Tuesday afternoon. Volunteers with the Edmonds Seal Sitters erected a perimeter around the pup while it relaxed, using signs and caution tape to keep people from bothering it.
Good job, Edmonds Seal Sitters!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Perfect Peach Pie

It's a toss up as to which is easier to make - the perfect apple pie or the perfect peach pie. I guess it simply depends on which fruit happens to be the most available. Right now as we're waiting for that fall crop of apples to arrive, our markets are filled with plump, juicy peaches from Eastern Washington.They are perfect peaches - juicy and sweet. I love eating them fresh right over the sink, but they really are easier to share baked in a pie.Starting with that same perfect flaky pie crust that I use when I make the Perfect Apple Pie, this crust is filled with my version of the perfect peach pie.
Perfect Peach Pie
6 Large Peaches
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Egg Yoke
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon Sugar
Wash, dip in boiling water, peel, pit and slice the fresh peaches into a large bowl. Fold in the flour, cinnamon and sugar, stirring until evenly blended and the mixture turns juicy. Pour into prepared pie crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, seal the edges and cut a few vents into the top crust. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake in an oven preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and crust is browned. Remove from oven and cool on a rack before serving.
Here's how I do it.

Now the apartment is hot because I've been baking peach pie. While I was in the kitchen working, Torrie took a break.
Maybe we'll head out to the canals for a run through the meadow grasses, maybe even get in a dog fetch-and-swim, taking the pie with us to share.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Web Mastery

Meet the new webmaster for the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network (WMMSN) - that would be me, Really Rose. WMMSN is an organization of volunteers operating under an authority granted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We are dedicated to the care of stranded, distressed or deceased marine mammals.There is always a progression to things it seems, but it all started with the WSU watershed master/beach watcher classes that I took. Our classes were amazingly fun as we got to go behind the scenes, where the general public could not. Follow this link - WSU Watershed Master/Beach Watcher Class Blog Entries - to see highlights from some of our class field trips.
Since completing those courses, I have had lots of opportunites to do some pretty cool stuff. I have helped to teach Whatcom County sixth graders about the many different bugs found in and around our forest streams during their annual forest conservation tour. Check out Forest Conservation Tour for more information on that.I have helped staff the Rain Garden booth at local events and am part of the team promoting the benefits and how-to's of rain gardens. Check out Pay Back Time.
With the beach monitoring group, I have helped monitor beaches in Whatcom County. Check out Beach Monitoring at Semiahmoo to learn more about that. The beach we surveyed that particular morning is at Birch Bay (Semiahmoo) in Blaine, Washington.Then, as a member of the WMMSN response team, and a blogger, I was asked to blog about some of our group's activities. Here's a link to a blog about what we do when we receive a call about a stranded seal pup - Seal Pup Sitting, and a blog about one of the seal pups that we rescued this summer - Wolf Hollow.
And now, I've been asked to be their new webmaster. Yes, of course I will!
So here's the link to our current website - WMMSN Website. Watch for updates - more news, more pics, more info, more stuff - oh, and, of course, a real WMMSN blog. We'll be adding information about some of the great training opportunities we have coming up - a class on performing necropsies and a training session on seal pup tagging. (The tagging class will be in Friday Harbor and I'll be going to that.) As a non-profit organization without grant funding, the WMMSN organization is always strapped for monies and supplies, so we need to add a "donations" button to our website. We also have wonderful T-shirts with colorful WMMSN logos available. Surely we could sell a few more T-shirts if we offered online sales. What else? What would you like to see? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Composting Cucurbits

My friends Ken and Gwen told me once that they call the newly sprouted squash and cucumber types of plants that volunteer in their garden each year cucurbits. They pull them all. Cucurbits, any of a variety of the climbing or trailing plants in the family Cucurbitaceae, include squash, pumpkins, gourds, watermelons and cantaloupes. A clever enough sounding name, and because of the potential for cross pollination, pulling them seems a most appropriate choice. Except for the cucumbers, I gleaned the last harvest from my exhausted looking, over-produced, molding and beginning to die down cucurbit patch in my garden spot at the Happy Valley Community Gardens. I found acorn squash, spaghetti squash and one butternut squash hiding under the leaves.Cutting a few fresh flowers for my coffee table and harvesting a handful of green beans and peas, I also found a bunch more patty pan squash to bring home.Pulling the vines out after my harvest, they now fill the compost bin. Ken and Gwen were on my mind as I worked and I secretly thanked them for allowing me access to the cucumber patch in their backyard garden while they were on a recent RV trip up into lower British Columbia. How fun it always feels to tiptoe in and pick something from another's garden.
Except for a little patch of Swiss Chard, a few weeds and way too many horsetails, the spot where my squash patch was looks oddly empty now. I know I could have worked there a bit longer and done a more thorough job of cleaning out that garden bed, but I decided to stop and ponder my options first.
Should I pick up a bail of straw at the corner farm supply store to use as a winter cover for the beds as I clear them out? Or, is this a good time to plant those hollyhock seeds in anticipation of lovely blooms mid-summer next year? Maybe I could even plant a few of the cole crops that seem to do reasonably well here in the winter - kales, chards, maybe a winter lettuce.
More pics from the Happy Valley Community Gardens.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

September in the Garden

You would think that I'd already be very busy with fall garden clean up chores at my Happy Valley Community Garden spot by now. But with sunny skies and temps still trying to push into the low 80s, not yet, not quite.
I still have peas to pick.
My giant sunflower plants are still trying to stretch their budding faces high up into the sky.
The bees are still very busy working the borage blossoms that fill one corner of my herb garden.And my garden still has surprise! These plants, found sitting next to green cabbages at the nursery, came with a label that said they were red cabbages. I watched these plants with such disappointment earlier in the season as they refused to form their tight little round heads. I finally gave up on them and stopped giving them my attention. Imagine my delight when I finally took another look at them and discovered that they were really cauliflower and not cabbage at all. Even better, purple cauliflower at that! I'd never tried purple cauliflower before and roasted their colorful florets. Very tasty!
Here are more September garden photos.

Every day as I visit my garden now, I can tell that it is September (almost the middle actually!). I can see those chores staring up at me, just around the corner. The plants grew so large this summer - almost too large - and so fast. They produced so many wonderful vegetables and their exhaustion is starting to show. Even after a few cooler days and some rain last week, they're looking weary. Some of the sunflowers plants were toppled over by the strong winds that came with that rain - just one more reminder that it's nearing time to put my little garden jungle corner of the world away for the season. And now, warmer temperatures following those days of cool moisture have brought out a mildew in the squash patch. They're finished and soon to be pulled and added to the big compost heap.
They certainly had a good run, there was plenty to eat and what a great season it's been.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Time Again

Today was the day. Time to join Weight Watchers - again. Noticing their ad on TV, "join now and get a free month," I guess this was the offer I'd been waiting for. Going online, I signed up for what they called their best value - a FREE month, FREE registration and FREE internet tools. I chose their Monthly Pass so I can attend local meetings and use their online tools.
My next step was to find a local meeting, and attend. As it turned out, the Weight Watchers meetings are held very near where I live. How convenient can that be? Attending my first meeting this evening, I was impressed. Their system is computerized now and their check-in process is very private. Gone are the days where you stepped up on the scales right smack dab in the middle of a room filled with the eyes of hundreds of other people. (That's exactly how it was back in 1976 that time Gary and I joined!)
I didn't find their meeting to be too bad. Well, maybe a bit on the boring side. It started with a generic discussion about some of the obvious issues dieters can encounter when eating out. Then they progressed to announcements (followed by group applause) about two members who had accomplished milestones - one, a 35 pound loss and the other, 40 pounds down. That was encouraging! Four of us were new to their program during that meeting, so we had to stay after the regular meeting for an orientation meeting.
There are regular meetings on other days with other leaders. I'll check those out to see if any of them might offer a little more pizzazz and enthusiasm. All in all, walking out with a bundle of introductory materials in hand, I did feel supported, well prepared and committed to following the Weight Watchers program - again.With their online tools, I had already logged the "points" I'd consumed for breakfast, lunch and snacks during the day, but still had dinner to go. With 4.5 points of my 24 daily point allowance remaining, dinner consisted of a small yellow zucchini (fresh picked from my garden just this morning by the way) for zero (yes zero!) points with a pork chop (for 4 points). The only thing that I did differently now that I was a member of Weight Watchers was to trim the pork chop very well before grilling. Notice the huge pile of fat left behind on the cutting board that I trimmed off just one pork chop. Wow! Grilled on my George Foreman grill without any added oil, the squash and pork chop were both absolutely delicious.Also added to my dinner plate was half of a very juicy tomato that my neighbor Mike had given me fresh from his mother's garden. That half of tomato, also zero points! To finish off the rest of my points, I sliced half of a fresh peach for half of a point and called it dessert. It was a wonderful meal!
Weight Watchers seems to encourage a healthy lifestyle, and their system allows for the tracking of daily exercise too. By logging my 50 minute workout on the stationary bike and the 20 minute workout with weights that I did in the morning, I gained an extra 4 points for the day. It seems that these extra exercise points can be swapped for food points if needed, just in case one consumes more than their daily point allotment. Not needing any extra points today though, it does feel good to have options. There's even a chart that's created online at the click of a button after everything has been logged that summarizes the points used each day and week.
With a quick look at the summary for my firt day, I could easily see that I was on the right track.