My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!



Wishing everyone a wonderful 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Catalog Choice



Are you inundated with catalogs you don't want, especially during the holiday selling frenzy? Do you detest this? Yeah, me too. Do you throw them away? Don't!

Bring them home! Then register for free with
Catalog Choice, tell them which catalogs you don't want anymore, and they'll take care of the rest!

Why bother to do this? According to the
Environmental Defense paper calculator, the environmental impact of the nearly 20 billion catalogs mailed to American consumers each year (over 98% of which are immediately thrown away) is...

* 53 million trees used
* 3.6 million tons of paper used
* 38 trillion BTUs of energy used, enough to power 1.2 million homes per year
* 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted, equal to the annual emissions of two million cars
* 53 billion gallons of water used, enough to fill 81,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools


That's appalling!

Also appalling - many companies are ignoring Catalog Choice and their members' requests, and the industry as a whole is spooked by the huge (and growing) number of requests they're receiving to "opt out" of their catalogs. Which is pretty ridiculous from a business standpoint, since printing and mailing catalogs to someone who has made clear they don't want them is a waste of money and resources, and very bad P.R.!

We first joined Catalog Choice about six weeks ago, after watching an
interview with Dan Katz (one of Catalog Choice's creators) on an episode of Bill Moyer's Journal. I do as Dan suggested - rip the back page off the catalog (you'll need the exact name and address used, as well as your customer number if it's provided), and throw the rest of the catalog in the recycling bin at my post office.

So join your own voice to the swelling chorus and help put pressure on mail order companies to stop being wasteful, destructive, polluting and annoying, and start the New Year by reducing the clutter in your mailbox!


Catalog Choice mailbox logo

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!


merry christmas chickadee
I'm so sorry I haven't posted in over a month, but I've been just so dreadfully busy trimming the tree!

tree trimming

Yeah, okay. I can tell you're not buying it, despite my actual film footage. ;-) I admit, when it comes to blogging, I'm definitely on Santa's Naughty List. But rather than make this a blog of excuses and reasons why I so seldom to any actual blogging, along with posting another pathetic promise to do better, I'll just take this opportunity to wish everyone a very peaceful, beautiful and happy holiday season!

fox in Santa hatgarlandpeace on earthgarlandWoodland Santa & friendsgarlandnature scenegarlandwhite santa

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving wishes


It's been a difficult and busy week so I'm late with my intended Thanksgiving post, but I've been wanting to share this beautiful, touching and thoughtful essay...

Another View on "Turkey Day" by DeLisa Delineo

and to wish you all the blessings of a peaceful, gentle, grateful & very

Happy Thanksgiving maple leaf

(I just love maple leaves!!)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What happened to October?!


I know, I know... I've been a bad blogger! A thousand pardons. Where DID October go? Well, I spent part of it in California, attending the McDougall Clinic's 10 Day Live-In Program in Santa Rosa (a most awesome experience, so more on that later!), and the rest of it was spent doing the usual - dealing with the fire aftermath and Fall Cleaning, both of which continue (though much has been accomplished fire-wise, and it's slowed down for now as we merely await the contractors who will tear down the old shop, prep the new pad and erect the new building! Yeaaa!)

We also brought Mocha home the day after I returned from CA, though we had to spend a lot more time cleaning up all the fire debris in his big pasture. But that's all done, and he's once again enjoying the run of the place and we're so happy to have him home again! We again send huge thanks to our friends Sue and Morris who took such good care of him while he was an evacuee, and Mocha sends a big shout-out (whinny-out?) to his dear friend Bugs! :-)

All the other critters are doing well, and I'll try to do better about blogging! For now I'll leave you with some photos taken at the
Luther Burbank Home & Gardens in Santa Rosa, CA, one of our fun McDougall Program field trips. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with him, Luther Burbank (1849 - 1926) was a horticulturist who introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants including over 200 varieties of fruits, many vegetables, nuts and grains, and hundreds of ornamental flowers (including the Burbank "Idaho" Potato, the Shasta Daisy and the California Poppy.)

The Luther Burbank home...

L.B. Housefern spacerIn the gardens: Susan from Colorado, Perry from Australia, me, David from Sacramento...

Burbank Bunchfern spacerOne of Luther's beautiful roses...

yellow rosefern spacerThe Gingko Biloba tree...

Gingko Biloba treefern spacerAnd finally, Yours Truly, dwarfed by Luther's huge prickle-less prickly pear! (We ate a piece of the fruit for dessert that night!)...

La_cactus

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hot Enough For Ya?


I really should be doing other things (oh, and I will be!
*sigh*), but felt compelled to share this fire souvenir first.

All the lush plant growth in the ravine behind our house burned, leaving nothing but charred stumps and ankle-deep ash... and revealing several years' worth of trash that some slob (I'm being charitable) who used to live here tossed there from the deck, shooting much of it during its trajectory - cretin that he was. So I've spent several hours cleaning up all the beer bottles, beer and soda cans, shards of clay pigeons, shotgun shell casings, etc, finally finishing that infuriating chore on Wednesday. The fire burned so hot down there that most of the intact glass bottles were as thin and fragile as eggshells, crumbling as I picked them up, and rocks were actually split in two by the heat. But I think this melted beer bottle illustrates it best...

And let me conclude with the righteously indignant observation that people who throw trash in Mother Earth's face should have hot tar poured in their nostrils.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Butterfly Baywatch" (lol)


My blogging hiatus continues, due less to a slump or lack of things to blog about than to available time or energy. (Same old post-fire crap, mostly.) But a new post is way overdue, so here's a bloggable story and accompanying photos...

I was doing chores in the back yard this afternoon when I happened to notice a beautiful butterfly dog-paddling her little heart out in the dogs' water bucket. I suppose she fell in while trying to get a drink (note to butterflies: the shallow birdbath is a better idea!), and I had no idea how long she'd been struggling, but I scooped her out pronto. Poor thing was too wet, bedraggled and weary to fly, so I placed her in the sunshine on the Russian Sage, figuring she could dry out and enjoy a snack while she recuperated. :-) She was content to stay where I'd put her and I enjoyed getting to observe a butterfly close-up and sitting still for once! I was so enthralled with watching her furl and unfurl her proboscis and wave her little antennae about that it took a while before I thought to grab my camera, and I only got these two photos before my batteries died! The butterfly was dry and rested enough to fly away after about 15 minutes. She'll have quite a story to tell and I've got quite the photos to share, so all in all it was a pretty good trade, I'd say!

(And how do I know this butterfly is a female? I don't.) ;-)

Click on them to see larger, more detailed versions...

recuperating butterfly on Russian Sage
butterfly closeup

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blogging Slump


I cannot believe it's almost September already! Mea culpa for not blogging in a while. When I've had driblets of time, I've lacked either the energy or inspiration, or both. Not much to blog about, really... my days have been filled with post-fire cleanup and paperwork crap, trying to chase down and meet with contractor-type people (think "herding cats"), and getting MRIs for my annual neurology appointment. Boring, yukky stuff and dismal blogging fodder.

Since I was starting to feel badly about neglecting my blog, this afternoon I took a photo of our first red tomatoes from the garden. Always an exciting event (and though we always get the earliest-ripening varieties and plant them as soon as we can - given that we get blizzards in freaking JUNE - you can see how late in the season it is before we can enjoy a few garden-ripened tomatoes!) Anyway, so confident was I in my camera and photography skills that I ate half of the tomatoes for lunch on a vegan BLT* and for dinner on a super-deluxe salad before I downloaded the photo. Big mistake, since it turned out blurry! Re-photographing the remaining three tomatoes seemed a bit silly, so here, for what it's worth, is the blurry original...

And why didn't BW get to share in our garden bounty today, you may wonder? Because he's working till 9 pm. (UPS sucks!)

Mocha is still at our friends' and Sue reported that he'd found an old broom she keeps by one of the outbuildings and was having a jolly time with it, grabbing it in his mouth and shaking it back and forth with great vigor. What a monkey he is! I visit him as much as I can, and we hope to have our new fence done and Mocha back home by mid-October. Meanwhile, he's very happy at Sue's, getting spoiled with carrots and apples, playing with his broom, and standing hock-deep in grass. Here he'd just be sucking dirt, since his pastures both burned up (though we see green sprigs popping up here and there already!)

I'll blog more when my general funk has lifted and I've crossed more pressing stuff off my to-do list (last MRI tomorrow, last contractor out on Saturday to do an estimate, yippee!) Meanwhile, for your enjoyment, here's my BLT "recipe" and a Dan Piraro
Bizarro cartoon I found quite amusing. :-)

*Yummy Vegan BLT

Two slices
Ezekiel Organic 7-Sprouted Grains bread, toasted
Two slices LightLife's organic tempeh
Fakin' Bacon, fried
Organic tomato slices from the garden
Organic "Red Sail" lettuce from the garden
Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise (vegan mayo)


Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Pretties...


I'm so tired of looking at blackened earth, smoky skies and burned stumps, it's time to have some beauty to gaze at again! So here are three photos I took during my visit to my mom's in Havre, MT.

A pretty dragonfly basking on a Bachelor Button...

dragonfly on bachelor buttons

Beautiful Willow admires the geraniums on Mom's deck...

Willow with geraniums

One of Mom's three lovely deck fountains...

birdhouse fountain

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fire aftermath


A few more photos of the fire's aftermath, along with some "before & after" pics (click on them for larger versions)...

I took this one on June 18 from our deck. That's fog (not smoke!) above our neighbor's house...

gustafsons_before
And this one I took yesterday. You can see the same neighbor's house and where the fire stopped. Fortunately, it stopped short of a huge, beautiful aspen grove (out of the photo's frame to the right) and all of Soda Hill...

gustafson_after
This pre-fire picture shows Spahn's B&B and some of our buck & rail pasture fence (so much time, money and effort we spent to build that!)...

pasture_spahn_before
And this one shows the same area, post-fire...

pasture_spahn_after
This is what our fence looks like now. The cross bucks burned completely; they're just X-shaped ash with tidy piles of spikes in the center of them. (Spahn's house in the background)...

fence
Our burnt shop building. You can see one of the melted fiberglass skylights, the burn damage to the metal roof, the scorch marks on the exterior walls, the busted out window (which BW has covered with some sheet metal), and the warped metal walk-through door with a bootmark on it where a firefighter kicked it open...

shop
The interior of our shop building...

shop_inside
Some Colorado firefighters perform mop-up in the ravine behind our house...

mop up
A helicopter flying low over our neighborhood, looking for hot spots on Friday, a week after the fire started...

heli

Friday, August 17, 2007

Little Goose Fire


Well, never thought I'd have something quite this dramatic (or even this mehitable!) to write about, at least not so soon after starting to blog! The photos tell the story better than words can, but here's some background...

This fire was started by lightning in a remote area of a canyon a few miles south of our place last Thursday night (Aug 9), but wasn't spotted till Friday morning about a half hour after I left with Willow to visit my mother in northern Montana for the weekend. So I didn't have a clue what calamity I was leaving behind in my rear view mirror, or what I'd be coming home to!

The fire got bad on Friday - BW could see the smoke from his route and thought he'd have to go home, and neighbors started packing up to evacuate. But then it cooled off, the winds calmed, that night there was a little rain, and skies were clear that evening and all day Saturday.

Sunday morning, however, the wind picked up and shifted so that it not only fanned the fire into an inferno, but blew it straight up and out of the canyon and over "Stumpy Ridge" right toward our subdivision. (Does it bear mentioning that the wind NEVER blows from that direction?!) BW called me that afternoon to tell me that there was a huge fireball visible from our kitchen window and the neighborhood had been ordered to evacuate immediately. He'd loaded Mocha in the trailer and the dogs and everything of value that he could think of and/or fit in the pickup truck, and drove to our friends Sue and Morris' house about six miles away, where he spent the next two nights. He boarded Josie and Tess at our vet's on Monday, the day I was supposed to have returned. Needless to say, I got almost no sleep that night and was in no shape to make the seven hour drive home the next day. So on Tuesday BW checked into a Sheridan motel and Willow and I met him there when we got back to town.

We were allowed to return home briefly that evening to gather a few more things and assess the damage. We had a mixed reaction of "It could have been worse" and "OMG." It was very surreal and disorienting, with so many trees gone, fence gone, the smoke and the charred landscape and the helicopters constantly flying overhead. There were some amazing heroics, especially by the local volunteer fire fighters - despite 40 mph winds and flames 15 feet high at our house on Sunday night! We lost almost all of our fence, a lot of landscaping and vegetation, and about half of our shop building (luckily not the half we recently stacked our hay in!), but don't seem to have any damage to the house. And though cabins and outbuildings burned, not a single home in our neighborhood was lost.

It was too smoky to stay here so we've been in the motel till this morning, when we checked out and I got Josie and Tess out of hock and came home. :-) (It's still smoky, so we'll see if we can stand to sleep here this weekend.) Jane Doe & Co. have yet to make an appearance at the house, but we've seen lots of does and fawns in the neighborhood areas untouched by fire (too far away to identify, though), and someone has been eating the food and drinking the water we've left out for them each night. Lots of birds, bunnies and chipmunks running around our place, so we're confident our wily wildlife came through this ordeal unscathed. (But I'll sure be glad to see Jane and her babies sauntering up our driveway again!)

9:07 p.m. update: Jane and her 3-year old daughter Sugar showed up for cookies a little while ago! They looked and acted no worse for the wear... just hungry (as always!) :-) Hope to see their babies soon!

Mocha's still happily (and indefinitely) ensconced at Sue and Morris' and we're still waiting for the claims adjuster and trying to round up contractors and cleaning people. Less than 24 hours after we were first allowed to go check out the destruction, BW was ordered back to work lest he be fired - no pun intended. >:-(

Anyway, here are some photos. Click on them to enlarge. (The ones of the fire were taken by various people from various perspectives and most were forwarded to me by friends, so I don't always know who the photographer was)...


fire cresting Stumpy Ridge
Below is our neighbor's place, Spahn's Bed & Breakfast, just up the hill to the southwest of us. The house, an outbuilding and a few trees were saved but they lost the guest cabins and a couple of garages along with most of the surrounding forest.

Spahn's Bed & Breakfast
(Photo by David Withrow)

(Photo by David Withrow)


A before & after:
Our house on July 11, 2007...

our house on 7/11/07
And on Aug 15, 2007...

our house on 8/15/07
I'll post some more "aftermath" photos as soon as I can.

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"