Monday, March 29, 2010

Quick Trip to the Desert

Drew and I spent a few days in Phoenix last week to watch some Mariners spring training and dry out after the wet Northwest winter.  Highlights of the first leg were the Desert Botanical Garden, our lovely Seattle Mariners, and of course, the warm and dry weather.  From there we drove north to Flagstaff and the glorious Grand Canyon, where there was still plenty of snow on the ground but clear and sunny skies.  I got all fired up about making plans to hike rim to rim through the canyon next year, but after getting home and researching it I was a little dismayed by all the gruesome ways hikers have died there.  Breaking a leg and then drowning in a flash flood!  Drinking tea brewed from poisonous flowers!  Heat stroke! Dehydration!  Hypothermia!  Lightning!  I would need a companion, (Drew already says hell no), and some experience with desert hiking.  Maybe it will be a 2011 adventure. For now, I'm just relaxed and happy after a week of sunshine, baseball, and gorgeous scenery.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Taking Inventory

It's a beautiful day in Kitsap County.  I wandered outside this morning and snapped these pictures of  pear blossoms and the anemones that are are inter-planted with the strawberries. The snow peas are up and looking strong.  The lettuce and spinach are just getting going, and the daikon radishes are growing briskly on the topside, but Lord knows what is going on underground.   Likewise with the garlic and shallots.  I still have three kale plants from last year, and the rhubarb is growing briskly.

The fruit trees all seem happy, and I have tons of flowers blooming throughout the property.  It really seems like spring now.

Inside the house, even the cat (Cloud Bai-Yun, who shares the house with us and his sister/lover Ginger Root Six Nipples), was gardening his little patch of oat grass this morning.  Cherry and regular tomatoes are sharing my master bath with fish peppers.  I've potted on the tomatoes so they are taking up a lot of space, but the peppers are still in their peat pots, growing slow as dirt.  The room has a lot of glass, which is odd for a bathroom, but it makes for a nice little greenhouse, especially with a space heater cranked up a couple of hours a day.  And yes, I have other bathrooms, so I'll still be showering over the next couple of months as the seedlings grow.  In case anyone was concerned.  In a cooler spot I have some broccoli and napa cabbage humming along, and I'm growing cilantro inside this year, hoping for better results than I've had with it outdoors.  So far, so good.

We still have some cleanup from a nasty windstorm that came through earlier this week, but generally I feel like things are in pretty good shape and that all is well here in Zhutopia.

Happy weekend to all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Must be Here?

We've had freezing temperatures, wind, rain, and a bit of snow this past week; but also some signs of spring.  My rhubarb plants are rearing their wrinkled heads, and of course the daffodils have been going for a few weeks, and the crocuses are mostly gone already. I keep early spring flowers in the rhubarb patch for a little color early in the year before the rhubarb wakes up.  By the time the rhubarb is full-sized the flowers will have died back, and the rhubarb leaves will cover the dead foliage.  It is all very clever of me.

I love rhubarb raw with salt, cooked in a crumble, stewed and served over vanilla ice-cream, and any number of other ways.  And bless it for being a perennial, not to mention high in fiber and vitamin K.

Flo's Boiled Cookies

My Granny used to make these cookies for the grandchildren all the time.  They're not much to look at, but are so...very...tasty.  I'm chomping one now, as my nephew Max would say.  Granny got the recipe from her neighbor Flo, and even when she passed a hand-written copy along to me she was careful to give Flo credit.

The beauty of this recipe is that you don't need to preheat an oven, dirty a bowl, or even use a cooling rack.  The ingredients are mixed in a pan, boiled on a stove, and dropped onto tin foil or wax paper.  They take about five minutes to make and ten minutes to cool.   If there is a faster way to make cookies, I'd love to know about it.


•       1 C white sugar
•       1 C brown sugar
•       4 T cocoa
•       ¼ C butter or margarine
•       ½ C milk
•       2 t vanilla
•       ½ C peanut butter
•       3 C quick oatmeal
•       coconut if desired

1.      Combine sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk in saucepan
2.      Bring to full boil, keep at rolling boil for one minute, while stirring.  The key to getting the right consistency is to keep boiling for a minute AFTER the butter has melted and the mixture is at a full boil.
3.      Remove from heat.
4.      Add vanilla, peanut butter, and oats
5.      Stir until it starts to thicken
6.      Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper or tin foil and allow to cool.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Heritage Park

North Kitsap recently gained another park, Heritage Park,  and the main entrance is just two miles from our house.   Just after it opened in January, Drew and I hiked a few miles into it and along the way saw this old car.  I'd love to know how it got all the way in there.  I went back in February with my cousin Liz and took this very Western Washington-y shot of mushrooms and moss on a tree. 

This is a nice addition to our park system, and I'm pleased to have more trails to run on.


I'll get back to garden stuff any day now.  However, I've just committed to running in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon in June, and I'm so excited I may fall out of my chair.  I've never run in an event longer than 5k, so this is a big step up, but I begin running regularly last year, and in spite of a ridiculous assortment of injuries, none of which were running-related, I've stretched my mileage out quite a bit.  I ran from my house up to Twin Spits in Hansville last Friday, which is eleven miles with a lot of hills, and I felt great the next day.  I'm up to about fifteen miles on flatter terrain, so I think this is doable, especially if I start to focus now.  So I probably shouldn't be having wine and a cheese stick for dinner, but oh well.  Tomorrow I'll begin living a more wholesome life.

Hopefully in three months I'll glide across the finish line, looking just as fresh and cheerful as the girl in the picture!  And doing that cool hula thing with my hands.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

From Whence I Came IV

This is one of the first photographs I ever took, circa 1980, on the Idaho farm I grew up on.  Those good dogs are Blue and Biscuit, and that's my grandfather's truck.  Drew and I have been without a dog for a year and a half now, and seeing this picture makes me sorely miss having one around.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chinese Workers

Just a few more pictures from China and I'll get back to the garden.  I got some shots of workers along the way, doing tough jobs without much in the way of worker protections or pay.  The fellow in the yellow is a park worker in Huangshan talking on his mobile during a break, sitting on a granite outcrop overlooking a drop of several hundred feet.

The next guy is a porter delivering goods to the hotels in those same mountains. 

Last but not least is the utility worker in Shanghai.

Now I feel like a pansy.