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Details

Is it really almost September? Already, the white anemones in our front yard are in bloom, the last of our plants to flower before fall and winter come. Other than the heat wave we had recently, the summer has been pretty mild. Too mild, maybe, since our tomatoes plants are still only laden with green fruit.

This has been an unusual month for me. I guess something is out of whack with my system, and my body is letting me know it. Usually I feel fine. Hopefully it is nothing to be alarmed about, but the advice nurse at the clinic scheduled some tests and an appointment early next week. At this point, I’m happy to go.

I inspect the garden every day. Although we were sad to loose our backyard trees earlier this year, the garden is flourishing. I’m often surprised by even the day to day changes, and especially the details. Take a look:

Have a great weekend!


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Little Garden Visitors

Chloe and I play out in the back yard almost everyday. This year, early in the season, we bought several flats of fund-raiser plants from a neighbor. The growing color back there is wonderful! I’m also happy to report several mini-green tomatoes, zucchini, grapes and green beans peeking out from under their abundant foliage.

Yesterday, we saw an unusual amount of butterflies visiting our yard. Their drunken fluttering makes Chloe nervous, so she likes to have me close by. Unfortunately they were practically impossible to photograph. So we turned our attention to these little garden visitors instead…

Honey bee, back legs laden with pollen
Male “12-Spotted Skimmer” dragonfly, back view
Mason bee (I think)
Male “12-Spotted Skimmer” dragonfly, front view


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 1

Florence to Coos Bay

We drove from Portland to just north of Florence for our first visit to the Sea Lion Caves. They don’t tell you this on the web site, but be prepared for the biggest stink of your life. I was actually fine, but David had a stronger reaction. Kind of expensive, but worth seeing, as it is the world’s largest sea cave.

Heading south on hwy 101 to Florence we stopped briefly at the Darlingtonia Botanical Gardens, a preserve that protects a small area of naturally occurring cobra lilies Darlingtonia californica. I find these insectivorous pitcher plants fascinating!

We took a brief tour of Florence’s Old Town before continuing south through the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area and Coos Bay to Sunset Bay State Park. We chose to camp here for our first night, and I’m surprised now to find I hadn’t taken any photos. I can definitely see coming back here someday when Chloe is older. The little bay offers a charming sandy beach with calm water, a large expanse of grassy, wooded play and picnic area, and warm showers after you’re all done.


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United States Botanic Garden Conservatory

One of the highlights of our trip to Washington, DC (besides spending time with family) was the afternoon we spent at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory and the National Museum of the American Indian, right next door. Despite growing up here, there are still a lot of places like this that I have yet to explore. There is a cool feature on the Conservatory’s web site to take a virtual tour, but it is not the same as being there, of course. I took a ton of photos with my new camera, everything was just so beautiful. I think the orchids were my favorite, but I also found the spice (vanilla, cacao, allspice, nutmeg, etc) and other exotic plants fascinating.

Parking downtown is always tricky, but we were lucky to find a metered spot not too far away. I would highly recommend the metro, especially if you don’t have a car or want to be bothered with the traffic and parking. Like many of the memorials and monuments in DC, these two were free. I didn’t take many pictures of the American Indian Museum, but if you visit be sure to have a bite at the “Mitsitam” (meaning “Let’s eat!”) café to try the authentic Native foods of the Western Hemisphere. We tried the Tamales de Rajas with Red Chili Sauce, the Black Bean and Beef Paspusas, and Fresh Yucca Fries with Lime and Cilantro.

Click here to see more photos from the Garden Conservatory.


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This thing called Sun

Yesterday I woke up to honest-to-goodness sunlight streaming through the house. What a miracle! There has hardly been even a partial day of sun since our return from the holidays, mostly just cold, rain, grey, rain, freezing, grey, overcast, rain, cloudy, dreary, rain. I’m sure it has been affecting my mood. The sun makes me happy. I like a few days of rain, okay, but weeks of it? No can do. So why do I suffer through this lousy weather here in Portland? Because the summers are phenomenal. As is autumn, and spring, too.

I ran out of the house almost immediately to snap photos of the frosty ice crystals that formed overnight on the plants and then later the three of us dressed warm and spent the afternoon along the Wilson River. David fished, Barkley explored and marked his territory, and I took photographs and read (fingers were too cold to knit, although I did bring it along). It was so good to go for a drive in the country and get out of the house.


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Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster, Colorado

A few days before we left Colorado, Aundrea and Andrew suggested that we all stop into the Butterfly Pavilion. It’s a neat place, great for kids, where you can see all kinds of insects up close, hold a tarantula in your very own hands, gently pet a few objects of sea life like starfish and horseshoe crabs and see all kinds of butterflies. We were lucky to be on time to watch one of the two daily butterfly releases. A speaker comes out with a small cage of butterflies, picks them out individually (by their wings, which surprised me because I thought you were never to touch a butterfly’s wings), gives a short educational lecture and releases them to fly away freely in the tropical conservatory, which is like a plant-filled rainforest-like room.

It was neat to walk around slowly looking for butterflies hidden amid the foliage, or see them flutter by high above. Sadly, I saw several butterflies with torn wings, due careless children, despite the warnings of the speaker. David’s dad mentioned that the place was showing its age, which is true, but I still found it to be a worthwhile and unique experience.

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