Category Archives: outside

Odes to Autumn

Before October ends, I had to get these photos of our local Bainbridge fall colors out. I’m so glad I took these shots because we had strong winds blow a lot of these leaves off just a day later. I hope you enjoy them!
fall colors on Bainbridge Island
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
― Albert Camus
fall colors pond
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
― Henry David Thoreau
pumpkin patch
“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
― John Donne
fall color tree
“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”
― P.D. James
fall colors
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne

How to Go Ziplining (for anxious, whiny babies)

Are you like me?

Have you become a parent, settled down into home life and couch-dom and gained weight accumulated more and more anxieties? While at the same time drinking wine and enviously watching others soar through life on tv, confronting gravity and their fears?

That plus the ease of regretful emails is why my friends and I went ziplining when we recently met up in Utah.

Yes, I sent the email…but I didn’t think any of them would say yes. We’re all 40-mumblemumble-year-old moms with young lives relying on us. But once the ball got rolling, it apparently couldn’t stop. I couldn’t bail when it was my idea, right?

To help us acclimate, we started with a short, lower zipline. Continue reading

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival – Come see!

It may be after Labor Day and you may not be wearing your white shoes anymore come on, people!, but Mother Nature’s still squeaking out some glorious warm days in the Pacific Northwest.

We took advantage and headed to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival (an easy, 1 1/2 hour drive from Bainbridge Island) on one of those days.port townsend, waThe place was packed, three boats thick, on the docks.

You may not know this cuz no one listens to me around here! but the Hubs used to be a liveaboard on his own 65′ wooden boat (motorized) in Alaska, so it was with great trepidation I made this outing with him.
wooden boatAnything could happen, right?

He could get smitten with another bloodsucking, bank-draining, time-hoarding, soul-crushing wooden boat. He could talk so long with boat owners I’d need IV fluids and a stretcher. He could get fascinated with the tool demonstrations of metal cutting wood and then cutting it over again, and again. and probably again and we’d never leave!

While the Hubs talked to the boat people, the Kid and I went aboard boats. Some had the living situation all figured out.wooden boat master suiteWe saw several built-in bathtubs this ALMOST changes everything.wooden boat bathtubMood lighting, anyone?

We did eat pretty well.paella manAnd took in some fantastic views.bow view wooden boatEvery boat should have a hammock, don’t you think?wooden boat hammockAre you, or have you ever been, a boat person?PT wooden boat festival

Top 5 Tips for Blackberry Picking

blackberry pickingWe’ve had a sunny summer on Bainbridge Island (sunsunsunsun! we shall now call it “sunner!” instead of “summer”) and the blackberries are already bursting all over the place.

That means all over the island people are picking berries and whining and getting pricked by those spiky tendrils.

I grew up in Dallas but I’ve lived here over a decade time, where do you go? and have whined a LOT learned a few things in regard to this delicious and evil (a winning combination!) fruit.

1. Use protection. Never fails, every year, I forget to wear enough protective gear at first. I cannot overemphasize this probably, I could! Blackberry bushes are Satan. They don’t just prick you *ouch!* but they deposit some lingering, fizzy evilness, just like stinging nettles do. To get nettles like Langdon Cook taught us, I wear gloves and use scissors, but you cannot do the delicate act of berry picking this way. The most I can do is layer up, long sleeves, long pants (extra thick, sturdy old jeans are great, not the stretchy, thin stuff of fashion departments!), closed-neck shirt, maybe even a hat, or at least pull back long hair. I have not found gloves that protect me and still allow me to pick gently. So I just send my hands in there carefully, like a game of Operation.

2. Deploy child labor. Not only will this lower your odds of being injured (although living with a suffering child is a whole other kind of pain…), but the picking will go faster and you’ll get more berries unless your child labor has become like mine–a lazy whiner quitter girl. Tell them “it’s fun!” and that’ll buy you a few seasons.

3. Bigger is not necessarily better. I know you want to haul out your biggest buckets for this project, but with fragile berries, don’t do it! Unless your planned use for them is a berry compote, you’ll want a wide, flat container so you’re not making a berry high-rise and smushing all the goodness. Don’t smush the goodness, people!

4. Look down. We’ve discussed clothing, but I personally have marched off dressed appropriately except for my feet. Guess what, the bastard branches twisted around my feet and up under my pant leg! Do you want sizzling stinging sensations on your toes? your ankles? I think not. Wear solid shoes and socks.

5. Timing is everything.
Don’t get all excited and head out right after a rainy night. It sounds silly with these sunny days, but wait ’til fall is almost here and you see little black fruits still dangling! Take a breath. The berries hold that moisture and more times than not, get mushy. Let them dry a bit before picking. Also, make sure those little “pockets” as the Kid calls them, are large enough. That’s where the juicy, sweet goodness is. I, too, hate patient, but you’ll be glad later. Who needs an unplanned pucker-fest of unripe berries in their mouth?

So far, we’ve eaten some berries, frozen some and I believe have many, many more to harvest. Here’s to pain-free berry picking!

Do you have any tricks for picking? Favorite berry recipes?


On-Deck Action: Birds and Stuff

Who’s been on your deck lately, Wendy? you ask in my imagination.

Well, thanks for asking, friendless blogger who makes up conversations in her head and is always looking for an excuse to take a break from writing.

I recently trimmed the Kid’s hair and she suggested we put the trimmings out for my selfish blogging purposes bird nest-making ingredients.

I thought we were too late in the season and nests had been made, but yet again! I was wrong.chickadeeYou cannot tell me the corners of your mouth are not heading up.chickadee with hairWe had another visitor the dog was much more interested in. We don’t get these guys on the deck all that often (if the dog has anything to say about it).Douglas squirrelLast but not least, this baby pine siskinHe sat for so long I wondered if he knew how to use those wings, but he did.pine siskin at feederNeener, neener, lady with the camera.

I think the moral of the story is….always write by a window with a camera nearby. Of course, when I lived in a city, those shots may have weighed heavier on oddballs and garbage, but anything to distract from your writing duties, eh?

What do you see out your window?