July 31, 2006


Seems like we have "adopted" a member of the Cat Mafia. We call him Droopy-Eye Cat because his right eye lid droops. He's been coming around for a couple of months. He would hang out in the alley or sit on my car and eat whatever treats had been provided. Or just sit there and stare. But recently he has taken to coming into the yard. He's pretty vocal and very affectionate. Yes, I've made the mistake of feeding him catnip and other treats and even cat food. He's fixed. Perhaps someone simply abandoned him or maybe he has a perfectly good home and just knows a sucker when he sees one. Perhaps he likes the extra attention and the other cat company. But Henry isn't exactly pleased by his appearance. And Idgie loathes him. He wants to come in the house and I shoe him away with noises and gestures. But Idgie simply sits on the other side of the cat door (which is actually just a cat hole because she refused to push the flap with her face so we removed it) and hisses and growls. That keeps him out. And just this weekend he got very friendly with S. He jumped down from the fence, walked over to where S and I were sitting on the bench and jumped onto her lap, did his turning in cirlces and settled in for a nap. Looks like he is here to stay. We don't really mind. I'll feed him (in the alley) and we'll give him attention and he can hang out in the yard as long as he behaves. I did have to chase him out the other day for giving Henry a swat. I'd like it if Henry would swat back to let Droopy-Eye know who's boss. Anyway, we'll see how long he hangs around. Could be gone tomorrow, could be here for good.

July 23, 2006


Blueberry picking is easy if you don’t mind hanging out inside a shrub. The heat, however, was already melting us at 9:30 a.m. And don’t forget that bug spray! We won’t make that mistake again. The heat and the mosquitoes drove us out after collecting only 2 lbs. We’ll be back once the heat wave breaks (today was the third day in a row at or above 95 degrees). The blueberry farm is only a 15 minute drive from our house. The berries we did harvest were very delicious and a steal at $1.50/lb.

Somewhere in this blueberry bush, mosquitoes are feasting on J.

July 18, 2006

There Were No Birthdays In Sicily!

While my mom was in town she treated me and J to a birthday dinner at La Medusa, a Sicilian eatery in Columbia City. J’s birthday was Wednesday and it just so happens that every Wednesday from May through October La Medusa offers a Market Menu. This menu brings together fresh ingredients purchased that day from the Columbia City Farmer’s Market (also every Wednesday). It’s a 3-4 course prix-fixe affair for $25. Such a deal, really. Everything is fresh and original.

Our meal began with caesar salad with authentic caesar salad dressing – including an egg and anchovies – and crumble of bread crumbs on top with a shaving of caciocavallo cheese. I was reading later about this cheese and it’s interesting to note that it’s from southern Italy and the name means “cheese on horseback.” One story indicates that it is believed by some to have originally been made from mare’s milk. “Caciocavallo is one of the pasta filata types of cheeses (like
PROVOLONE and MOZZARELLA CHEESE ), which means it has been stretched and shaped by hand.” Man, oh, man, I’ve got to find this cheese.

SIDENOTE: At the Grocery Outlet (affectionately known as “The G.O.”) I found an English Cheddar made with goat’s milk and it’s amazing!. Not to mention, the price was almost criminal. The block I bought was less than $3. Check the G.O. for cheese, my friends. Just mind the dates, like you would on any cheese from any store.

The entrée was one large ravioli gently stuffed with mascarpone cheese, diced beets and slices of Walla Walla Sweets. On top was a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts and just the juices from the beets and onions and a drizzle of olive oil. For dessert they brought out champagne flutes filled with a Callebaut chocolate mousse topped with cream and few raspberries. The flute was dusted with powdered sugar. Pretty decadent.

While we were finishing the bottle of Bucaro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2003 (organic to boot) and having coffee, J and I were each presented with a birthday cannolo, each stuck with a lit candle. My mom is very clever. Though we were full of food and wine, we ate those cannoli, every last crumb. Cannoli are something we never buy so it was a real treat.

July 17, 2006

Surf and Turf

Saturday through Tuesday we tooled around the Olympic Penninsula looking for hiking trails, wildlife, tide pools and wine. Found all of it.

We camped at the Salt Creek Recreation Area County Park on a bluff right above the tide pools of Tongue Point. In the mornings we mucked about the tide pools. In the afternoons we hiked in the woods. At night we huddled around the fire to capture the heat. The bluffs are a chilly place to camp.

The first morning we got up to discover that the blustery bluff was a thing of the night. Mornings were always calm and temperate. This giant bald eagle sat in this far off tree for a very long time. It was huge. We were to see more bald eagles around this tree and others when we hit the tide pools. They hung out in a group of trees on the beach and a few people told us that a nest was definitely in a tree up on the bluff.

In the afternoons we explored three different areas on foot. The ride up to Hurrican Ridge takes about 45 minutes so we never invested the time to go up there. Besides, part of the reason to go up is the view. Well, with the exception of the first day there (which wasn't a hiking day at all), the mountains weren't visible. If I look up and don't see the Olympics, there won't be much of a view looking down from the ridge. We've been there in the past so at least we know what it's like at the top.

We bought a new National Parks Pass at the Olympic Pennisula Visitor Center. We had our lunch in the shade as we discussed our trail options.

Heart o' The Hills Forest Trail began in the Heart o' The Hills Campground. The place was practically deserted. It was Monday, after all. We liked the way the campground was laid out and would like to camp there in the future. No showers but we can be dirty for a couple of days. The trailhead sign indicated it was 2 miles to the trail's end. Well, that never happened. The trails doesn't end and there is no indication that you have gone to the "end" of anything. We timed ourselves and walked 1.25 hours out then turned around. That's more than 2 miles one way. At the turning point, J had gone ahead to see what the trail would do. When she began to head back in the direction we came but on the opposite side of a creek we crossed, she figured we were done with this trail. It was a nice way to get the blood pumping but it wasn't terribly exciting visually. And there was little wildlife to be seen or heard besides this moth.

However, on the other two trails we explored we did meet a young male deer up close and personal. At one point we were just a few feet apart. I was waiting for my photo op when something startled him and he made a charge at me. But the second he realized I was there, in his way, he stopped cold. We stared at each other, both of our hearts beating like mad. I was sure he was going to trample me. Deer can be dangerous, especially when frightened. I hadn't frightened him, I was literally just standing there watching him. It's a rush I won't soon forget and don't wish to repeat. I got a good shot of his butt but the shots I took of him after the startling were blurry. Was it from my shaking hands or his shaking head?

We also spotted what appeared to be a ptarmigan or grouse and her little ones.

Since 1989 Tongue Point has been a county marine sanctuary. Sea life is everywhere. At high tide you would barely realize anything existed beyond the bluff. But once that tide rolls out it's a whole new world. We specifically picked July 9, 10, and 11 for the negative low tides. This gave us a chance to explore Zone V for the first time. Tongue Point is the easternmost Pacific Coast-style tide pool in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This means that you get to see coastal tide-pool life even though you are near the eastern end of the Strait, just around the bend of Puget Sound. As a result, we got to see for the first time the following: Pacific Blood Star, sea cucumber, red sea urchin, tons of purple urchins, green sea urchin (which is more of a striped appearance, not solid green like the red and purple are solid plus the color that was apparent wasn't green), sea cucumbers (the ones we saw were bright orange),

For much of the area, you can comfortably walk on top of a carpet of mussels and various types of claims. They attach themselves to the rocks with iron-rich byssal threads. These threads incredibly strong and elastic. They "can stretch out to 160% of their length while still retaining 5 times the strength of our Achille’s tendon."

Then again, the tide pools can be slippery. Before Sunday, I had never fallen at a tide pool. However, the spill I took will not soon be forgotten and I'm contemplating a full suit of Carharts for my next tide pool adventure. You can see some of the wounds suffered here. Bruises too. I went down fast and hard but made not one peep. There were people nearby and they had kids with them. So I decided not to cry or swear but I almost fainted from the pain. Deep breathing, deep breathing, deep breathing and mentally escaping to a far-off place with dry sticky surfaces for walking.

The injuries didn’t stop me from hiking that afternoon and the following two days but the next morning at the tide pools I has a trekking pole with me and I moved like someone’s grandmother. The memory of the fall was was still fresh. At one point, to reach a place J claimed held the elusive Pacific octopus (it didn’t) I just sat my ass down on the floor of mussels and gently scooted my way down the side of this trench. Sure, I was wet and it looked as if I shat myself, but I wasn’t bruised or bleeding. I don’t mind at all getting filthy to have fun but I don’t like getting hurt.


Honest. There are stories and photos of our camping trip. Things are soooooooo busy right now. Be patient.

July 08, 2006


Friday we took Concetta to Tutta Bella in Columbia City for real Neopolitan pizza. Here is a shot of the one with roasted eggplant. Man does this place make good pizza. Excellent salads too.

The first Friday of the month some merchants in Columbia City offer live music for only $5. Pay your money and get your hand stamped at any participating venue and then you are free to roam in and out of the others at The Columbia City Beat Walk. Hear a little modern jazz at the book store, tap your toes to 30's style three part harmony at the art gallery, and relax under the mood lighting to easy on the ear ballads.

July 07, 2006


There is always something growing in the garden. Now that summer is finally here (I think), the greenery has really taken off. The strawbale bed is a perfect home to the tomatoes. I've watered only once or twice. The nasturtiums are suitable companions. And the basil that was struggling in the pots on the deck has sprung back to life in the strawbale bed. Now, will the plants set enough fruit and will that fruit have a chance to ripen is another story. But the strawbale is making the plants big and lush and green. In this shot you can see tomatoes, nasturtiums and some basil in the foreground.
Along the side of the house some of the beans finally took hold and are climbing up the wooden trellis. What a bad start for the beans. Sowed them at least three times in some spots. Even planted starts I began in the house. Damn snails and slugs got fat on all of it. The kale in the foreground of this shot won't stop growing. We keep cutting from these two plants and it keeps coming back. One more cutting and then we will move on to the other, younger kale plants and put something new in the old kale spots. And you can spot tons of lettucestoward the end of this bed. We are still trying to eat it all. Yes, that is straw in my wheelbarrow! J went out to run errands once day. I yelled that she was obligated to bring me a treat. She returned with two bales of straw! The perfect gift. I've been mulching like a crazy woman. I also turned the compost pile and layered the contents with straw strata, as it were. The green cone veggie composter is happier too now that it has also been layered with straw.

The nasturtiums grow like crazy and need little attention.
They are doing the job of distracting the aphids from the tomatoes and they look very pretty.

In this view from the deck you can see peas, carrots, kale, chard and green onions growing in the green bed. In the yellow bed we have two kinds of onions, carrots, beets, shallots, several types of greens and I've recently added more of those struggling basil seedlings. Along the fence running in the background we have more peas, kales, endive, chard, onions, cilantro, rosemary, chives, sage, sunflowers and parsely, to name a few.