a cleansing, relaxing post

August 22, 2016

I need a little bit of a break right now.  How about a garden in Cambridge, UK?

cabridge garden

Aaahhhh…….

 

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Nevis

July 27, 2016

A travel pic from a few .  years ago.

hamiltons birthplace

I know it totally doesn’t look like much.  But you see that grayish square building just left of center?  That’s Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, on the island of Nevis. Still can’t see it?  IT’S RIGHT THERE!

hamiltons birthplace - Copy

Hamilton is SO COOL RIGHT now, I just had to brag a little.

 

 

old trees

April 11, 2016

Another picture from Lake Quinalt:

sitka spruce

This is the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce tree.  Neat, huh?  So when I was hiking up the trail, I looked for a tall tree.  I mean a really tall tree.  One that towered over the forest around it.  But this, looking across the bridge, was my first view.  It didn’t really tower.  It’s not too much taller than the trees around it.

But it is bigger.  It’s heavy.  My favorite thing about it is how the branches droop.  They’re heavy, and gravity has been pulling at them for a thousand years.  This tree embodies the weight of the world.

It made me think of another famous tree:

Major Oak Dec 93

This is the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest. That Sherwood Forest.  Legend has it this is the tree Robin Hood and his men sheltered in during their exploits.  Except, as the guide pointed out, assuming a historical Robin Hood, this tree would have been just a slender new thing at the time.  Not this giant.  (I took this picture in December ’93, which is why it has no leaves.  Not dead, just sleeping.)  But one might assume there were huge ancient oaks in the forest during Robin Hood’s time.  Ones that had been saplings when the Romans occupied Britain.

This tree is also estimated to be 800 – 1000 years old — roughly the same age as the spruce.  Scaffolding has been propping it up for the last hundred.  Like the spruce, it’s not tall, but it is big.  Heavy.  Gravity has thickened it, twisted it.  I feel old just looking at it.

These trees are age and time made visible, tangible.  I love it.

 

Last month when I was at Lake Quinalt, I tried to go on this hike to the World’s Largest Western Red Cedar.  This was how far I got:

stairs

(I did, however, see the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce, on the other side of the lake.)

Lake Quinault WA

March 9, 2016

A small, small taste of the scenery I visited last weekend.

IMG_7001

I want to set a story here.  This must happen.

 

cool birding moment

March 7, 2016

I’ve just gotten back from a trip — I spent a few days at Lake Quinault in Washington at the Rainforest Writers Retreat.  I got quite a bit of writing done — 7500 words on the new novel.  Did not get quite as much hiking done as I wanted — it rained probably 80% of the time.  Which I expected, so ah well.  They don’t call it a rainforest for nothing.  But it just so happened the window of my room overlooked the lake and some of the water birds obligingly hung out nearby so I could get a good look at them.

One of these moments made me feel like I actually knew what I was doing as a birdwatcher.  It was kind of a birdwatching conundrum, if you will.  There was a small flock of four duck-like birds hanging out on the water.  Two of them had light bodies and dark heads, two of them were brown.  Two different species.  However, three of the birds were one species and one of them was a different species.  So what was going on?

Three of the birds were common mergansers, two female — the two brown birds — and one was male — light body, dark head.

The fourth bird, also with a light body and dark head, was a lesser scaup.

I realize this is a super high level of nerdiness, but I was just so pleased with myself for sorting out the flock and confidently ID-ing them all.

I’ll try to post pictures from the weekend later on.  The Olympic National Forest and Park really are magnificent.  I’d never been and I want to go back, and get out to the coast, which I didn’t do this time.

 

tales from the road

January 13, 2016

At long last, my long (2000 words!) review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is live at Lightspeed.  Scroll down past the movie poster for the spoiler-filled version.

Reading over it again, three weeks after writing it and after seeing the movie twice more (including once with my brother in Oregon, which was a real treat), I think it’s a pretty good review.  Emotional and fangirlish, with analysis that doesn’t have an ax to grind.  I think that’s the problem I’ve been having with a lot of commentary about the movie:  chips on shoulders and axes to grind.  Stunt nitpicking.  I’m finding I just want to bask in the glow.  Enjoy being a fangirl again.  (That said, apparently if I want to know more about Poe Dameron I should be reading a bunch of comics and the new Star Wars novels coming out, and I don’t have time for that! Argh!)

Related to this, some news:  Starting with this review, I’m going to have a regular movie review column over at Lightspeed.  That makes me a professional movie reviewer.  Isn’t that cool?

My niece came to my signing in Salem.  She and her mom had to leave early (bedtime!), and I was still talking when she came up to me and gave me a hug and a kiss before she left.  I totally stopped to hug her back.  Because dude.  So freaking adorable.

I did actually go to a wildlife refuge in Oregon.  The Ankeny refuge south of Salem.  Saw a flock of 40+ tundra swans, which was spectacular.  I also brought snacks, on principle.

And then I caught a wretched cold that I am still getting over.  Much sadness.  But, life is somehow getting back to normal, and I’m actually enjoying the post-holiday, post-travel normal.