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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Worlds Cup Comes to Yelm

I had the unique opportunity to join the Nisqually Land Trust on Monday for some habitat restoration work.  Having a holiday week from work allowed me to do all sorts of things and getting in some volunteer time was on the list.  This opportunity came up at the last minute.

With a generous donation from Green Mountain Coffee  http://www.greenmountaincoffee.com/Our-Story   the Land Trust has received a huge supply of burlap coffee bags.  These bags tell a global story.

Burlap is made from jute.  The jute plant is ecologically easy to grow requiring little in the way of fertilizer or pest control.  It is second to cotton in the production of fibers for weaving.  The center of jute production is West Bengal and Bangladesh.  Many of our bags appear to have come from the region around Calcutta from the Howrah Jute Mills   http://www.mjindia.com/jute/howrahmill/html/index.html

The bags circle the globe and are used to package a wide variety of food products for shipping, including coffee.

Of course coffee producing nations are represented on the grounds of our field.  A warm welcome to players from India as well as


El Salvador







and Germany and Columbia

All are assembled and will go to work doing weed control in this meadow.  The area has been planted with native trees and shrubs.  Our coffee bags are lapped in pairs and snugged in around each planting tube as you can see in some of the pictures.  The seams and corners are fixed with long , non-anodized metal landscape fabric pins.  The jute will biodegrade over a short time, as will the metal pins.  During this time they will suppress weedy growth.  Thistle loves to invade these wet areas and this day the dead and rotting thistle of the season did a great job of getting through two layers of fabric and harshing the skin on my knees.

Also adding to the fun is the presence of  green coffee beans.  They tumble out of many bags.

There is no chance of a coffee plant sprouting, but I have to wonder if the meadows small critter population is going to get a little caffeine buzz if they try these.  Further away from the river near the woods, moles are doing a bang-up job of digging around.  If they get a caffeine buzz I hope we don't see them out both night and day.

This generous donation will go a long way in supporting the Land Trusts work.  They budget for weed control is depleted and these bags look like they will cover this large property.

These jute bags have come full circle ecologically.  They certainly tell part of a story of a global commodity.  I wonder if workers in these many areas know how far their work reaches.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Old Friends

We have been together at least 25 years, probably longer.  When I got them, they were a pretty big investment, for at the time money was pretty tight.

Since then they have been on all my vacations, for they are the best airplane shoes.  Well stretched out, they slip on and off easily.

They have been on almost all of my Land Trust work parties, for they fit inside my NEOS ( New England Over Shoes) boots perfectly.  They have been in the jungles of Peru, in varied B&B across England and took a wonderful bus ride down a mountainside in Madeira.  They went to countless Dressage horse shows. 

They are always in the car to greet me at the end of a hike.  They have driven 100,000 plus miles with me.

My Bass slip-ons.  Leather uppers, rubber soles.  They are my favorite driving shoes, my flying footwear and even go to work with me.

But no more.  They have finally broken down in the leather/rubber connection.  A little hole on the outside of the left shoe.  Years of this foot resting on its side while I drive or sit has taken its toll.  They are no longer fit for the rainy streets of Puget Sound Country.

They will retire to the car, ready to slip on and off when the need arises.  They will continue to serve on work projects with the Land Trust and at the beach where they can snuggle in my NEOS.

We had a nice weekend at the beach

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Movember Wraped Up

Picture day at work.  It was spur of the moment since some will not be in tomorrow.

And me, being such a natural light blonde, was left without my makeup to highlight a months growth.

But there is some light reflection so you can see just a wisp of it.

Thanks to those who gave their support. 

I am going to shave this baby off and head to the beach for Thanksgiving weekend.  Perhaps we will have an adventure or two.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

'room To Grow

I joined the Land trust for an Ivy Pull two weekends ago ( how time flies).  The property is a sliver of land near the Nisqually NWR.  It is set right against the freeway a place people likely do not see as they intently zoom downhill towards the Nisqually River bridge.

I worked this property twice before over the last few years.  Our fist time in involved pulling English Ivy off of the tree trunks.  English Ivy sets flowers and goes to seed once it is allowed to climb.  In this climbing they produce very thick stems which fuse and can choke a trees circulation.  Allowed to proliferate, the weight of the ivy can pull over a tree.  As the ivy runs along the ground it crowds out native species.

The way to the property is off the freeway on a ramp that does not have anything immediately near it but a golf course.  Through the golf course and down a road which has a few old houses next to it.  It is as though these little houses, long cut off by NWR, Joint Base Lewis McChord and the golf course have settled into a time warp.  It is hard to tell if anyone lives here or if the older houses are just being held as investments.  A few newer houses seem to enjoy the solitude.

I bet these apples would make good cider.

We arm ourselves with loppers and extra heavy duty bags.  The bags have been used over and over on projects, they are that tough.  The stewards taking the bags to the dump empty them by hand, even saving the zip-ties.

Out into the property we tromp.  Everyone settles in to their own patch and it is pretty quiet, save for cars zooming past on the freeway.  Eventually, even they disappear into the background and my attention is drawn by bird flocks.  Ahh the feeding flocks of winter are going strong.  Here Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees , Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby and Gold-crowned Kinglets mix together to form feeding guilds.  There will usually be a woodpecker as well.  Often the woodpecker is the giver of alarms.  Together with the different feeding styles, there is safety in numbers.

I selected a fine Cottonwood tree that had obviously been cleared before.  I could see new ivy growth to attack.  Here the old dead vines show well.  By cutting a 1.2 to 2 foot gap in the vines, you essentially kill everything above.

Pulling back the vines at the base sometime leads to pulling and chasing vines across the woodland floor.  It is almost like a game, you coil and loop up the vine as you go, striving for the longest rope possible. When it breaks you bundle into the bag and start again.  So evil this vine that even a leaf dropping off can re-root and start the game again.

Empty properties around the conservation area are seeding and we can only work on our own property.  New plants have been added to encourage the native growth.

I started in on my tree, picking off the new climbers.

On my hands an knees working my way through the litter of Big-leaf Maple leaves I found a ton of treasure.

Mushrooms of many descriptions.

Little magic communities identity unknown.  Sadly many get toppled and squished during our efforts.  Deep under this leaf litter there are communities of creatures who will gladly eat on mush of what is offered.  The trees themselves are supported by a nutrient highway underground, all based on a fungal network.

I found something I have never seen.  A wee green mushroom had been knocked loose from its soil.  I am sorry that the one photo shows a better pic of my fingerprints than the little 'shroom.  When I asked one of the stewards if he had ever seen a green mushroom he said yes.  His co-worker told him the name and that it is a very uncommon native mushroom.

A little bit of searching turns up a possible id of Hygrocybe psittacina; Parrot Toadstool or Parrot Waxcap.  I placed it carefully back on the soil so that perhaps next year more will return.

I worked three hours and tackled three different clumps of tree climbers.  The last one was highly satisfying as these newly invaded trees were easy to peel and their vines ran away from the trees.  It was like a game of follow the string when the vines went up down over around other trees, stump and shrubs.  Even through a patch of sword fern.

In the end I hauled out 2 bags of vines and called it a day.

Once the truck was packed it is taken to the dump and each bag emptied and saved for the next use.

SEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS of ivy in 3 hours.  Amazing what a small army of volunteers can do.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy MOvember

As the year slowly slides to the end it is time for volunteer activities.  The Nisqually Land Trust held its Ohop work party last weekend.  This property is taking off.  Salmon are spawning in Ohop Creek after being shut off for 100 years.  The trees and shrubs are growing up and hiding the pretty farm from the road.

We had a nice turnout this day and even pulled in the Zombie crowd.

Three hours of planting in the surprisingly water saturated ground.  Mud and muck = easy digging.

We got about half done.  There will be more work parties with school students in the weeks to come.

In two weeks there will be an Ivy Pull.  Happy planting one weekend, good "evil plant" killing the next.  The property is one right along the freeway at the Nisqually Delta.  Invasive English Ivy and choke down a native tree and suppresses the understory native plants.  It is not something to be cultivated or encouraged.

Speaking of cultivating and encouraging...


As part of a group at work I am participating in MOVEMBER ; fundraising to promote Awareness , Education and Research for men's health.  I am a member of the cancer research community and over and over we are made aware of the higher incidence of many cancers in male populations.  Education and awareness are still needed to promote healthy lifestyle and health awareness.

Along with my teammates on the MOnocolonal Antibodies I will be letting myself go this month and allowing my "little mustache problem"( Dorothy Michaels ; Tootsie ) to do her thing.

I missed Octobeard.

I could have participated in that, too

You can find out about MOVEMBER at


I would certainly appreciate a donation of support to me, or my group the  MOnoclonal Antibodies


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Number One; The Larch

Getting away from Puget Sound lowlands with only one thing on my mind

Sunny skies and Larch

Larch fever strikes those of us who like to see our Fall colors on a different type of tree.  For many dedicated hikers this means going out to some of the popular trails, like Ingalls Pass.  On the weekends this trail can be a freeway and the parking lot filled to overflowing.  Many hikers develop Larch Fever a particularly nasty 24 hour bug which usually means you have to take a work day off and find your medicine on a popular high altitude trail.

I have been feeling the wear and tear of walking the last month or so and am bothered by a sore joint in my foot which I will reluctantly take to a doctor for evaluation.  I am confining myself to easy walks wearing my athletic shoes rather than my hiking boots.  Today I wanted to escape the fogged in state of my home territory and get out and see some blue skies and larch trees.

I drove over to Blewett Pass, sure to have the clear skies.  The trees can be hit and miss.  If we get wind early, the needles fall.  This year many people feel the color is slow to come on.  Today I hit it well.  Driving up to the pass in dense fog, I hit the sign at Snoqualmie and it said it was 35 degrees out.  All we need is a rain pattern to set up and the ski season can get underway.

Breaking the crest also means the fog gives way to stunning blue skies.  The deciduous trees all along I-90 were a blaze of gold.  Willow, Alder, Cottonwood and Aspen.  Up some mountainsides your could tell where the roads were as gold trees lined the roads through the green conifer covered hillsides.

I selected a few Geocaches to attack and planned to get photos for two Flickr photo projects I am participating in; "Assignment Photowalk" and "10 Minute Photo Challenge"  Assignment Photowalk gives us a topic every month and we post photos from a walking trip that supports the subject.  You can take one walk or several walks.  This months theme topic is "weather".  Today I will try to capture sunshine.  For "10 Minute Photo Challenge" we capture photos ( limit 20 postings) all within a 10 minute period.  My goal is to either tell a story or capture a theme.

FS 7423 was my destination.  Just north of Blewett Pass, I had never been up this road before.  I was not far in when I came to a junction and the road got very narrow indeed.  A sign posted on a tree warned of a washout ahead.  I decide to park Pearly Mae and walk in to the geocaches, about 2 1/2 miles down the road.

Even though it is hunting season, I heard nothing and saw no one.  The sky was as blue as could be and the trees were close in around me.  I guess most of the birds were sleeping in as it was silent; not even a whisper of wind in this usually breezy place.

And the larch!  It was not magnificent forests of golden goodness but there were enough pretty trees to keep me happy.

I noted that this road was littered with mushrooms of many types.  One of the geocache descriptions mentions Morels in the Spring.  Red Top is not far from this place and I usually hike up in the Spring as I know Morels are good along that trail.  Next year I can put this place on my list.

Indeed this road has many of the same shrubs as the road to Red Top so I suspect this might be a good place to hunt for Mountain Ladyslipper orchids next spring.  There were abundant Pine Drop stalks too.

The road went down down down and I could hear Scotty Creek over the way.  Every so often I got a keyhole view of the Stewart range.  That is where Ingalls Pass is and I imagine there were hundreds of people climbing up to the early snow fields for glorious views.

Larch trees are a unique conifer.  They are deciduous, turning gold in the Fall and loosing their needles.  Here they grow at higher altitude and when mixed in with the green of the pines they make stunning contrast.  Add in a sunny day and you get the magic glow.

This walk was not the type that hikers rave over, a conventional FS road with few spectacular views.  It was a steady uphill returning to the car, other than that no bragging and discussing 1000:1 gains knarly footing or  missed trail junctions.


But when I find magic like this Witches Hair lichen I am content.

It was 65 degrees at Snoqualmie Pass at 3pm.
When I arrived home in Redmond, it was socked in grayness of fog and barely 50 degrees.
I think tomorrow I might have to go east again.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Welcome Fall

Monumental rain records being set with high winds 50 mph plus tonight.  The saturated ground brings promise of a lot of tree toss. 

I am recovering from a nasty cold and took a short walk this morning before the afternoon storms arrive.  In the woods plenty of evidence of broken limbs and leaves and mosses tossed about.

Fall is mushroom time and this is when hunters seek their bounty.  I saw some pretty awesome Lobster Mushrooms while at the beach and had chanterelles on toast for dinner one night.

Today the mushrooms in the woods are bursting forth.  Many look like the downpour of rain has done them in.  snapped off stalks and caps beaten apart.  The Douglas Squirrels will have a lot of work to hang and dry their foraged mushrooms.  That is if it dries up for a few more weeks.

This monster was and example of how big some of the mushrooms are getting.  I am not 100% sure but I think this is a white chanterelle

Not that impressed.  This is the same mushroom holding my phone.

All over small dainty brown umbrella type mushrooms mixed with Big Leaf Maple Leaves.  This log held an array of little mushrooms.  These are slightly soft to the touch and when they become mature a pore will open on the top.  After that they will puff out their spores when rain or falling leaves touch them.

This white gilled cap is being eaten by a Banana Slug.  Go Sluggy!

Little coral-like fingers push up.  I like the large corals that grow east of the mountain.  Those are tasty eating, though messy to clean.

have the spare batteries at the ready for any power outage that might strike.  Heaven forbid it strike when the series finale of Breaking Bad is on tonight.