Sunday, April 30, 2023


I took a short walk during a break in the rain ... and came across this gorgeous cascade of lichen over a stump.

It's quite beautiful, like water cascading over a near-vertical cliff face - the texture and colors are so varied in close-up!

I noticed a small red blob in one of my photos, so went back out to have a closer look, but try as I might, I couldn't find it on the stump. I pulled up the photo on my phone, and realized I was looking at a totally different stump from the one I'd originally photographed. Silly old me!

This is the bit I was looking for

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Overlooked Beauty

Simple beauty that speaks volumes - northern white violet makes an excellent groundcover, and is perfect for a meadow garden. Plus, it's deer resistant.

Friday, April 28, 2023


There's ALWAYS something fascinating and interesting to see when you step out the door.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Loopy about Lupines

I found out this week that my Wild Lupines (Lupinus perennis) have come up this spring. I AM BEYOND EXCITED! I've tried growing these in the past, unsuccessfully, but decided to give them another try at the end of last summer, this time planting them in a different location, and buying plants from a different source.

When the supplier sees you're hesitant to try again, and says you can get your money back if they don't survive, it tells you a lot. It definitely instilled me with confidence.

This is thrilling!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Through a Glass ...

 My bowl of snacks reflected in my wine glass:

A pear looking anemic and bulbous in a bottle:

Light being refracted:

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Dead Diva

My Elna Diva is 31 years old - sadly, it started giving me some trouble when I got down to some much-needed mending recently. 

This is the first error we've had from this exceptional machine in all this time. We bought it in Germany in 1992, and brought it across to the U.S. with us when we emigrated (all we had to do was get the power supply changed to 120V).

Dale cleaned out excess fluff and lint, but even after that it would shut down again after a few stitches. We took it in to the Elna dealer in Portland, but they think that it either needs a new motor or new circuit board, neither of which is still available. We had already got to that point ourselves based on the error message on the display. 

We've fetched it from the repair shop, at no cost, since they didn't really do anything besides tell us what the error message meant. Maybe more radical, nothing-to-lose tinkering at home, aka sewing machine open heart surgery, will yield results ... 

Maybe we'll get lucky, and revive the ailing workhorse, who knows?

Monday, April 24, 2023


I watched this interesting looking shadow come floating across a rock as I sat by the water's edge. 

The nearest thing to it that may have been causing the shadow was a straight looking hemlock needle, but it was the wrong shape to cast such a curvy shadow.

So I looked closely at my photo after the fact, and noticed the perturbations and swirls around the edge of the needle as it broke the surface tension - that caused the intriguing shadow - quite amazing!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Catkin Beauty

These catkins (cylindrical flower cluster) are so pretty in the afternoon light - they belong to speckled alder (Alnus incana) shrubs growing along the lake edge. They're natives, often used by beavers, and are great for streambank and shoreline protection.

This next one is beaked hazelnut before it was ripe (Corylus cornuta). It looks like a worm on a stick!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Create an ARK

April 22 is Earth day

Do you do something special to honor our home?

- Do you pick up litter in your neighborhood on this day?

- Do you plant a tree, or go on a hike?

- Do you remove invasives or re-seed a barren spot?

- Do you refrain from removing leaves and twigs in spring to support insect life?

Aiming to spread awareness and prevent the collapse of biodiversity, Mary Reynolds, who refers to herself as "a reformed landscape designer," began her Acts of Restorative Kindness (ARK) project in Ireland n 2019. The intention is to support life alongside us. She encourages the creation of supportive corridors for wildlife, something we can each do by setting aside half of what land we own for natives. If you can't do that much, assign SOME (it's always better than none). Natives are wonderfully low maintenance and provide ecosystem 'services' for all organisms.

It's an ACTIVE act of stewardship, of being kind to our home and helping restore ecosystem health. If you let some of your yard go "wild," Reynolds suggests making a friendly, informative sign that declares it to be an ARK, a piece of land with a purpose.

This will help neighbors understand that you are not negligent, but caring.


"Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack. Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back." (from the Lorax by Dr. Seuss)

Friday, April 21, 2023

Maple Dragon


The complex structure of red maple flowers reminds me of miniature Chinese dragons, with imaginary flames, claws, scales, and tails! And ... aaaaaa ... chooo ... tons of fine pollen!

Exquisitely beautiful as well!

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Jackal in the Tent

This is a still from a video shot in 1983 on my first vulture watching trip to Collywobbles in South Africa. It was an annual count of the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) colony on the cliffs of the Mbashe river. The Cape vulture is only found in southern Africa and its population is threatened by human activity such as land use change, as well as deliberate poisonings by farmers who believe these magnificent birds will kill their livestock. These spectacular scavengers are nature's clean-up crew - they pick already dead animal carcasses clean.

It was a thrilling and fascinating trip. The rest of the group had done this expedition many times before, but I had no clue how things worked, and was in continual learning mode. We pitched tents on the hilltop and brought our own water tank and food; there were no ablution facilities, no communication network and barely a road to speak of - it was wild, resourceful camping. On this, my maiden trip to the remote area, I found out I was a little 'on edge,' though in my youthful exuberance and bravado, I would not have admitted it at the time. 

When Dale and I were settling into our tent one night, he found a lump under his sleeping bag after a little while, and asked,

"What's this lump under my bed? ... Oh, it must be part of my jack ...."

I automatically and instantaneously finished the sentence in my head ... "Jackal ... I'd better get out of here," and started rushing around and around in the tent, trying to stay as far away from the jackal as possible. I was panicked!

I didn't stop to question HOW it might have got into the tent, nor how it had miraculously managed to stay hidden in the tent without us noticing until now. Dale was obviously perplexed and confused about my sudden frenetic movements, and eventually managed to calm me down, to explain that it was the hard plastic bobble on the pull string of his jackET that he'd noticed under his sleeping bag. 

My panicked reaction, though funny in hindsight, clearly showed how highly strung and nervous I must have been. My reaction clearly gave me away - my senses were super-piqued, ready to react at any sign of danger, even to the point of acting before the danger had been fully identified.

I don't know that I'll ever be able to live that one down, and we still laugh and giggle over this memory.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Sap Green

I heard of a paint color called sap green today, and it brought to mind the first greens of spring

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Diving Beetle

I spied this little creature trying to dart around and stay under branches and leaf cover in the shallows, making it hard to photograph - it's a predaceous diving beetle.

They have long hairs on their back legs like tassels to help with swimming, and are able to breathe underwater by using the oxygen from the air bubble trapped under their wing cases.


Monday, April 17, 2023

Slow Turtles

Sinister ovals 

like shadowy cockroaches

in sepia shallows

Turn out to be 

basking musk turtles,

still warming from their slumber.

Their winter brumation

gives algae a chance to grow

shaggily on their shells.

This is actually the common musk turtle, Sternotherus odoratus, and not the snapping turtle that I initially thought it was. Thanks to Lucy for guiding me to the right species.




Sunday, April 16, 2023

Easy Native

Goat'sbeard seed capsules
Hang down like crispy sleigh bells
Rasping in the wind

Also, a host plant
for larvae of butterfly
called dusky azure!

Saturday, April 15, 2023


I love how the angles of the shadows from our deck cables change over the day - and you need sunshine to see it! We have our very own sundial.





And then when the sun moves across the sky from east to west, the shadows appear on the other side of the posts.

At 4:40pm

Friday, April 14, 2023

Red Velvet

Not the cake. Not the girl group. Not the fabric.

It's a beautiful creature, the red velvet mite!

This 8 legged spring beauty stands out so well against the leaf litter. It is the adult form of the mite - their larvae have 6 legs and are often called chiggers.

This busy little creature didn't seem to want to stop moving, no matter what obstacle I put in its way to slow it down for a photo.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Blooming Time

It's about bloomin' time we saw some flowers around here! This is what I have so far ...

The large and alien-looking Skunk cabbage is now sporting a spadix housing a cluster of little greenish-white flowers. So unusual.

And the first miniscule Beaked hazelnut flowers with red tassels are appearing too. These flowers are teeny.

Here's one on a stem next to my thumbnail for scale, to show you how tiny these flowers are:

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Beloved Tree


Hole nester's haven

And insect eater's heaven

Useful till the end.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Twisted Twigs

Twisted-looking twigs

Like sculpted antelope horns

Greet me in the woods.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Junco Party

These little minxes won't let me get near enough to photograph their gatherings - they all take off in a fluster. So, unfortunately I had to resort to 'armchair photography' and only had one visitor come within range through the window.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

A Bunch o'Crock

Even though I leave my butter out of the fridge in winter, it is still not spreadable on bread. I looked around and read about how the French use water around their butter crocks or butter bells to keep the butter soft. It sounded like a reasonable workaround, except that I wasn't prepared to mess around with repackaging/scooping the butter into a bell-shaped dish and then placing it upside down into water. 

I found this one online that is effectively one dish that will take an ordinary shaped piece of butter, sitting over a larger crock that has water in it. I ordered it to give it a try ...

I thought it would work, in theory, if the French bell crock worked, but I was wrong. We couldn't detect any difference in spread-ability between this specially housed slab of butter and my regular butter dish without a watery base. 

Here are the 3 pieces of the set

Very disappointing.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Wait, What?

 I came across this very disturbing image in a Food magazine last week.

I don't know about you, but this looks rather risqué to me. Am I the only one with a one-track mind?

The text next to it claims it's a Copper Salt Mill - not a good look!