Monday, May 9, 2011

Stimpson Family Preserve

I've been wanting to hike the Stimpson Family Preserve for years, but because dogs are not allowed on the trails there, I just have never gotten around it. Now, since Torrie is still recovering from surgery for an aurel hematoma and not up to walking trails, this was the perfect time for me join friends and hike the Stimpson Preserve.
Tree hugger friend Andy puts his arms around one of the many old growth fir trees we pass by along the trail.
The forest is thick with moss.
Janel and Andy try to count the rings to determine the age of this fallen tree.
The trail takes us around Geneva Pond.
After the hike, we got together for a light dinner with some of my home made black bean hummus with crackers and assorted vegetables.

Every Seven Years

I think it's a scam! The State of Washington requires us to purchase new license plates every seven years. It's not an option, it's a requirement. Except for the fact that mine had seven neatly stacked annual stickers on it, there was nothing wrong with my old license plate. It was perfectly fine, showed no sign of being worn out and would have held up for several more years I am sure. I feel it's nothing more than a money maker for the State. Who made that law and how can we get rid of it?
Was that a bottle of chocolate wine found rolling around on the floor of the back seat of my car?
Well we may be ripped off by $20 every seven years by being forced to purchase those new license plates, but at least we turned the exercise of putting that new plate on into fun. 

Harvest Monday - May 09, 2011

The highlight of this week's harvest was having friends visit me in the garden to help. Andy dug some green garlic and leeks.
Curious about what a Community Garden was all about, I took my friends on the grand tour. They seemed a bit surprised by the amount of space I have there. Here they are, in my Garden Nbr. 01 at Happy Valley.
More forget-me-knots were picked for a bouquet.
 My friends caught me watering the irises.
I made a giant omelette stuffed with sauted leeks and green garlic, assorted grated cheeses and fat free four cream with some of this week's harvest.
More yum!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Black Bean Hummus

Often making up batches of traditional hummus using garbanzo beans, this time I soaked and cooked up four cups of black beans to use as the main ingredient.
Once the beans were cooked, I drained them, added 1/2 cup of sesame tahini, the juice of one fresh lime, 1/2 cup of olive oil, several cloves of fresh garlic and 1/2 cup of water.
After all the ingredients had been pureed together, I tasted the black bean hummus and decided to add a little more garlic and a few dashes of sea salt.
On the way out for a hike and dinner party after with friends, I topped one container of black bean hummus with an olive tapenade spread and the other with a drizzle of olive oil and few kalamata olives.
Absolutely delicious!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Procession of the Species

The Procession of the Species is one of those events that keeps me coming back year after year after year. A parade to celebrate our community, creativity and connection with nature, there are three simple rules: 1 - no live animals, 2 - no motorized vehicles and 3 - no words written or spoken. The costumes are colorful and fun.
 Participants really get into the fun of this parade.
 This was one of my favorite costumes this year. Very clever!
Certainly a clever use of a foam matress pad, and definitely a delicacy here in the Pacific Northwest, I loved this Goeduck complete with the clam diggers running along behind.
Each year the parade begans in front of City Hall and ends with a party at Maritime Heritage Park. I enjoy walking through the staging area to admire the clever costumes as the parade participants line up. Then I position myself somewhere in the middle of the parade route so as to have a great view of the parade. As the parade comes to a close, I rush down to the Maritime Heritage Park and join in the fun at the end-of-parade party. Here's the gathering at the Maritime Heritage Park.

Follow this link - - to see photos of past Procession of the Species parades.


Like with all the dancing, dog walking, hiking, working out and gardening that I do, I really needed more exercise. A new zumba class starts, and I'm so there.
This group photo was taken after our workout at the kick-off zumba class party. It was lots of fun and high energy, but what impressed me the most was the fact that my five friends taking this class and I - all 50 plus year olds (truth be told, several of us are closer to 60 than 50) - were able to keep up with the rest of the 20- to 30-some year olds in the class. Yay us! I guess all that other exercise we've been getting in really does make a difference.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Along Came Andrew

We had set out for a trail walk - like any other day. This time, we started at the end of State State Street near downtown Bellingham in order to walk the South Bay Trail to Boulevard Park and Talyor Dock. Planning to continue our walk on to Fairhaven and then to Marine Park, the round trip would have been well over four miles. Walking along the waterfront with a view of the islands on a sunny day hardly even feels like exercise because it is so beautiful. Our walk went as planned - until, that is, that we reached the end of Taylor Dock. As if waiting for us, that's where we met up with Andrew.
He joined us for the remainder of our walk, suggested we stop at the legendary Colophon Cafe in downtown Fairhaven for refreshments, and walked with us back to where we had parked. What fun we all had together as we stopped for photographs along our way, talking and laughing as we all enjoyed our afternoon together.
We paused at the old fishing dock at the south end of Boulevard Park. Cordoned off several years ago for eventual structural repairs, only the local birds now enjoy that part of the park.
We paused along the way many times just to enjoy the view. Here I am, sitting at the dock of the bay.
This song comes to mind - Otis Redding, (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
A very fun afternoon in the sun along the waterfront!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Harvest Monday - May 02, 2011

It rained most of the today - poured actually, and April went down in our record books as the coldest April in the history of that sort of recordkeeping. They say, they've been keeping those sorts of records since the late 1800's. Believe me, that's not one of those records a gardener likes to hear.

April is over now, and as it turns out, it's true, April showers do bring May flowers! This Harvest Monday marks the official first bouquet of the season from my gardens. They're pretty - one bright red, ruffly edged tulip surrounded by stems of delicate little blue flowers (which, by the way, I simply call "little blue flowers" because I do not recall if I ever knew their real name).
Wet, wet, wet was how it was in the garden today as it drizzled. It really was more than a drizzle. It could more accurately have been called a heavy rain, and I got absolutely soaked in the short time it took for me to gather this small harvest. One leek, the little bouquet of flowers, a handful of assorted herbs and a few photos was as long as I dared to stay in the garden without a serious rain coat. My camera doesn't seem to capture rain very well, but you can at least get the idea of how wet it was.
Here's Garden Nbr. 01 in today's rain. With it's soggy walkway, without the straw it would not have been possible to walk in there today. Garden Nbr. 01 is growing - slowly.
And here is Garden Nbr. 02 in today's rain. Again, without the straw, it would not have been possible to walk between those raised beds. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the two largest beds in the front of this picture, on the right hand side, have leeks and onions and garlics growing in them. They are all very small, not quite as big as the straw I sip my mocha with each morning, but because they do so well in our cooler climates, should yield me a pretty good crop this year. Well, as long as they don't rot away from all the rain first. Unfortunately, it's all too obvious in this photo just how well the weeds have adapted to our record cold temperatures - and above average rains.
Back in Garden Nbr. 01, these chives are full of buds. I was hoping last week that some of their buds would have opened and been ready to harvest by now, but, nope, not yet. Guess it's been too cold, and wet. Sigh. In front of the chives are the Chinese stirfry mix on one side with spinach on the other. Both have tiny sets of second leaves, and both do well in our cooler climates. Maybe (maybe!) soon I'll be harvesting those.
The raspberries seem to be absolutely thriving in the rain though and are full of little buds. I love the spring green color that their tender new leaves take on this time of year.
As if that one sunny day we had over the weekend was enough to claim responsibility, the strawberries are full of blossoms in today's rain. The soil in this bed, absolutely soupy from the rain though. Horsetails, loving a swamp, shot up so fast in just a few days that now they threaten to dwarf and choke out my strawberry plants. I've had a problem with horsetails in this spot of my garden before. They are stubborn and so very hard to get rid of. Each year, I dig them out, yet each year they return. Give me one day very soon, a day when the sun is shining - and when I'm not out hiking, and I'll do my best to tackle this problem. Again.
The fava beans I planted a few weeks ago have finally sprouted. Fava beans do very well in the cooler climates too, so lucky me, I love fava beans.
I have several other types of beans yet to plant, other raised beds yet to fill, and all that's needed is for it to warm up a bit more. Our average last frost date is May 4th or 5th. That date is coming up real soon. While I know that's just an average date, and our last frost this year could in reality turn out to be May 14th or 15th, I really am trying hard to be patient. Another sigh. Bigger this time.

Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions set up Harvest Monday as a way for garden bloggers to show off their harvests. It sounded fun, and a great way to challenge myself to be more creative with my harvests - especially this early in the spring. She's got a great garden going herself this year. Check out her blog to see what's growing there, and read about what's being harvested.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Dog's Ear

Diagnosed with an aural hematoma, Torrie is on the road to recovery. It all started with an inner ear infection, so, of course, he is still on meds.
It seemed to happen so fast. He seemed just fine when he jumped up into the back of my car. Yet when I came out of the grocery store (really, I was only in there for twenty minutes at the most!), I could tell something was seriously wrong. As I carried my bag of groceries up to the car, I noticed that he was sitting up in the back (rather than laying down like usual), and he was holding his head in an odd position. His ear didn't look right - it was swollen, puffy and looked like it hurt.
Good thing we live in a small town, because it only took a few minutes to drive home. Once home, I was immediately on the computer researching what was wrong, and pulling up the number for our vet on my telephone.

We have this absolutely wonderful vet that has treated Torrie before. His rates are low, he is loving and gentle with our dog and he makes house calls. We're sure the main reason why our vet has such reasonable rates is that he's not supporting an entire office. He has even performed surgeries on Torrie - in our own home - with us assisting. Well, I'm on the squeemish side, so my job was basically that of comforting the dog while he was under sedation, and maybe I'm still a bit traumatized from the blood splatters I saw on David's ankle when the vet removed that large tumor from Torrie's back last summer. But I really like that vet's entire attitude, and when it was time for those sutures to come out, the vet did it out in the yard, in the sunshine, and our rather timmid dog seemed completely comfortable with the whole ordeal.

Obviously, that vet was the first number I called, and by the time he returned my call, thanks to Google (I had typed in "swollen ear golden retriever"), I knew exactly what to tell the vet. He concurred, Torrie had an aurel hematoma, but because of the nature of the surgery that could be required to treat this condition, he referred us to our local veterinary hospital.

Fortunately, the Whatcom Veterinary Hospital was able to get Torrie in right away for an apointment. That same afternoon, they performed the surgery and Torrie spent one night in the hospital. It was amazing how oddly empty a home can feel when the eleven year old dog is not there laying on the floor, always somewhere just about under your feet.

Torrie was still pretty groggy that first day back at home, and it was pretty obvious that his ear wasn't feeling so good.
Torrie's been back home now for four days, and we can tell he's feeling much better. His ear isn't so swollen or weepy and his personality is much closer to normal. It looks like he's healing very well.
Unfortunately though, Torrie needs to continue to wear that goofy collar - at least until the sutures come out (two more weeks!). Torrie has a pleasantly sweet personality, rarely ever barks or even complains, so is not putting up too much of a fuss about having to wear that collar. I do believe he's letting out a lot more sighs than usual though, and maybe trying to tell us something like, "Look at me! I'm wearing this stupid plastic collar that is bigger than any lampshade in this entire house. Don't you see it too?  Maybe you can un-snap it for me. I just want to scratch my ear a little and this stupid lamp shade thing is in my way. Can't you please help me out a little?"

I'll certainly be glad when Torrie has completely recovered.