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While picking my earliest raspberries for the market on Saturday, I considered the company I keep.

The thorns, the berries, the bees and Amadeus, my little gelding, pestering me at his corral fence for a handout.

And that’s not all.  I was surprise by a number of insects, no doubt pests, and this  –

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lovely California Tree Frog, about the size of a thumb.  🙂  What beautiful camouflage!

Jammin’

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Life is tough in far Northwest Coastal California. 

We like to take it easy.

We like to take it easy.

Another day at the (prehistoric) beach

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Breaking from chores, we went to the beach a few days ago to breath the clean, moist sea air.  As we walked a short distance ahead, I was attracted by color –  a dark yellow and brick red and somewhat circular form on the sand.  I approached, witnessed movement and gathered the creature into my hands.

The creature closed into a more rounded shape.  You can see that the outside edges of this creature are ruffled.  It was heavy, dense and about the size of my two fists, combined.2014-01-18 10.20.51

I know, it appears to be smiling…

I wanted to look inside again, but the creature was uncooperative, and this was as far as I could open it using my own strength. Once I let go with my right hand, the creature slowly closed up again.  No hurry.

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It’s one mass of muscle!

When our dog wasn’t looking, my husband threw it back into the ocean.

Here we have a Giant Gumboot Chiton, or, Great Pacific Chiton.  I didn’t see any of the typical plates on it’s back, but then, I may not have noticed.

What’s most fascinating is that this creature hasn’t changed for 50 million years!  A chance happening with a prehistoric creature – thrilling!

No images have been harmed in the making of this post

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Carrying our binoculars  on Saturday, we hoped to catch a glimpse of migrating whales.  Stand at street level on the bluff,  or walk down the steep cement stairs to sea level.

view from the top of the bluff, street level

View from the top of the bluff, street level, Pebble Beach Drive

beautiful sea

beautiful sea, Castle Rock Island

Castle Rock is a 14 acre National Wildlife Refuge and is a half mile off shore.

For more information on Castle Rock NWR, click here

http://www.fws.gov/humboldtbay/castlerock.html

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Run, Run!!  Here comes another wave!!

Black Turnstone.

The birds are rarely far from sea spray.

In flight, they carry a bold and striking wing pattern!

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black_Turnstone/id

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It's morning.

It’s morning.

Aleutian Geese pair, roosting.

Aleutian Geese pair, roosting.

Rocky Coastline

Rocky Coastline

How about us?  Can you see us roosting?

How about us? Can you see us roosting?

We didn’t see any migratory whales this time, but we’ll keep looking.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Time to make the donuts and other (not so) goodies!

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I wake up naturally at 7-7:15 am – I’m ready to make the donuts, so to speak.  Here it is, 365 days of the year.

I throw on warm clothes, cut up some carrots for eight rabbits and one guinea pig and hand them out.  As soon as they hear me, they start dancing and swirling around, waiting for the start to their days.  Making the rounds, I visit four rabbit stalls (two in each) and QueeQuee, who’s already squealing.

They live inside with us, four ‘stalls’ and one  cage.  They take up quite a bit of  room in our tiny house.  Rabbits can’t be left outside – we have fox and other predators and they are sensitive and easily frightened.  I heard one of my rabbits scream once and I hope to NEVER hear that sound again.

Amalie & Didier in their living space, remodeled recently.

I grab a coat, hat and mud boots, go outside to my hay barn, collect the morning meal for my horses, who are watching my every move.  We had quite a storm recently, and attempting to keep the horses from sliding and even falling in the slick mud requires dedication, caring and plenty of physical exertion.

Amalie & Brandy, socializing, in the outdoor areas, several months earlier.

Dipsy waits by the front door now.  Since my daughter brought a kitten in, Dipsy rarely comes in the house.  She’s mad.  I’ve been coaxing her in, and she’s lying on a footstool next to me. The footstool has a name – The Stump.  Guess why!

Dipsy, before she got mad at us.

I feed her on the porch, as requested.  She won’t eat inside anymore.   After she’s done eating, I force her inside, to keep her from stalking and killing any of the Oregon Junco who visit each morning during this time of year.

Oregon Junco, here for the winter.

I wash some green vegetables or herbs for the rabbits.  Every rabbit requires 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh greens daily.  It gets expensive, and some days I gather dandelion, plantain and other edible greens.  Sometimes, they eat better than we do!  I may offer dried pumpkin or squash seeds that I’ve collected and dehydrated,  a fresh apple twig or top off their hay boxes with fresh hay.  Am I done yet?

Maybe.

I think so.  Now, it’s time for a cup of coffee.  I’m ready to do some research, write or crochet – nothing taxing.

But wait!  A few days ago, I wanted to go to the beach!  Point St. George, here we come!  Armed with a big plastic bag, two grabbers or pickers for beach trash, we went, after getting dressed, of course!

Tide was low, and the ocean beautiful as usual.  Anemone plentiful, and though we picked up a bit of trash, we didn’t get much that day.  The trash bin was full, so I hung my nearly empty trash bag in front.  Think anyone will take a hint?

I didn’t bring my camera.

Hey! How did you two get in here?

On the way to the beach, I noticed a woman with a small canvas sack walking in the grass, in front of the conifers along the roadway. Just ahead, a blaze of color!  She was gathering the fungi,  the classic Amanita muscaria, or Fly Amanita!

I decided to continue on to the beach, and look at the roadside on the way back, to see if she’d harvested the fungi.  She had, but there were some left, so we stopped and I pulled a few for study.

Stock pic of Amanita Muscaria, very well recognized classic mushroom

For three days, I couldn’t find my reference guide.  I kept the ‘shrooms in the fridge until I did.  Once identified, I put them next to the can for compost, on the floor.

I did see one yellow Amanita with the crowd. Looked just like this one.

Eating this fungi is not recommended, and since I don’t trip, I won’t be eating them.  According to David Arora, in All That the Rain Promises and More…, Fly, Panther and other Amanita  have intoxicating properties, known for centuries.  This group has potentially dangerous and unpredictable side effects.  They are, however, deliberately eaten by some people for the consciousness-altering effects.

As my mushrooms sat in a bag, they deteriorated quickly, and a brown puddle formed before I realized it.  They’re much larger than you may think they are.

That’s my hand and a mid sized Amanita.

After  I tossed them away, my left palm tingled for a few hours, even though I washed my hands immediately.  Ingest this ‘shroom?  I think not…

Salad plate sized Amanita

After tossing them, I did some research and found a website which offered about a pound of these, NOT FOR CONSUMPTION, at $255.00.  I’m aware that mind-altering ‘shrooms grow readily here in the Pacific Northwest, but no amount of money will drive me to collect for sale.  Further, it’s illegal in California to sell a magic mushroom.

I can’t do it.  I sure could use the money!  My family and animals need me, more than  I need the risk. Peligro!!

I’m looking forward to taking the Mycology class in January at the local Community College this year.

Sadie & Yoshi, my retirees & my first pair of rabbits, who desperately needed a home together. Tight is right!

Peligro! Risque! Danger!

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For a good time, there’s no better place than home.

Recently, Mark went out crab fishing.  He’s one of the good guys – won’t keep the females or undersized crab.  Unfortunately, most other folks do,

and this will have serious consequences for the future of the Dungeness Crab.

We’re in agreement.  The commercial crab fishing season pushed forward

to December 15th, and this is the second push forward.

I wish there were someone on the docks here,

to put a stop to the short-sighted harvesting methods.

Mark brought home a two-pound crab.

My daughter, Mark and I stood at the counter and ate it together.

Watch out, coming through!!

How do we cook such a monster?

We think it inhumane to drop a living creature into a pot of boiling water.  Sure, crab are a bundle of nerves.  Do they feel pain? Some say yes, some no.  Regardless, we choose not to boil them alive.

An instant death by cracking the back over a counter edge works for us.  This crab went limp instantly when he smacked it one time against the side of his workbench.  Before that, the crab was a menace, threatening at every chance to make contact with one of those pincers!

Smile for the camera!

When Mark pulled the crab up from the Pacific, it had already torn one of the pincers off of another, smaller crab.  The competitor was thrown back, sans one pincer.

As a teen, I enjoyed taking the bus to my favorite Deli and buying a crab submarine sandwich.  Those days, crab was really crab and de-licious!  I’d missed it over the years and never dreamed I’d taste crab as fresh and fine as that.

Our fresh crab was no more than two hours from the Pacific Ocean to our mouths.  The taste was exceptionally delicate, buttery and beyond comparison.  I look forward to more of the same, if only the folks would not think of  one meal, but many meals.

Do you like me now?

To get a good idea of just how big the crab is, Mark is 6’4″ and weighs 230 pounds.

Tomorrow, more dangers in the Pacific Northwest!

A Day at the Beach – Part One

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Heading down the bluff at one of the Point St. George Inlets.

After feeding the horses yesterday afternoon, I had a sudden urge to go to the beach.

  There are beaches nearby, some sandy, some rocky.

I chose an inlet of Point St. George, to gather a bit of mint for my garden.

I had seen mint growing in this area earlier in the year.

  It’s great for tea and in cooking, and the rabbits like it.

  It was low tide.  So clear from every angle, we could see St. George Reef Lighthouse

about 8 miles or less from where we stood.

Enhanced the photo – she was almost unnoticed.

The bluffs still held succulents and dried grasses.

Here’s a look, a bit closer.

pretty world

 Closer still.

Beauty fit for an impressionist’s paint and canvas.

While climbing across the rocks, I noticed a fragmented black rock.

Both one, and many.

This rock, broken into smaller rocks, reminded me of my genealogical research.  I’ve got ancestors on my mind.

I connected with a distant cousin, through my DNA test results.

Another view, as we get closer to the ocean’s edge.

I took this photo, thinking of Jody and Greg, who visited us here in Crescent City.

We met here on WordPress!  Show yourself, friends!!  😀

As two folks who love the beach and coastline as they do, I wish they were here…

Rock On!

Lot’s of sea star, waiting for the tides to turn.  We saw only orange and purple.

Wearing purple!

And I’M wearing orange!

We saw fewer anemone here than at other areas along our coast.

The rocks were very slippery in spots and I wasn’t interested in falling.

Cluster of small anemone, also waiting for the tide to turn.

HELLO THERE!!

BIG anemone, about 5″ in diameter, dressed so sweetly in colorful stones!

The bulk of rock and stone here, is black.  When there’s color, it pops!

Opposites?

I had a difficult time deciding which to bring back home.

 I probably would have learned more from the one I didn’t choose.

And speaking of rocks!

Little one? Hardly!!

The ‘rock’ above measured about 18 or so inches across and longer still.

My photo does nothing to show its true color.

It’s the largest piece of petrified wood I’ve seen!

Wish I could carry it home…

Beautiful.

There’s so much to see.  It was warm (about 60 degrees) and the views in every direction, stunning.

Water table was high, and as we were leaving,

I took a few photos, as the landscape circled me with its purity.

I felt deeply touched by it.

We took our time leaving, lingering at the top of the bluffs, and were well rewarded.

East.

I never did get the mint.

Stay tuned for A Day at the Beach Part Two,

and some surprises!

It’s apple pickin’ time, and I’m not the only one who knows it!

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Last week I gathered dropped apples and put them in a plastic tub for the deer and bees,

or brought them inside to make applesauce.

We have four old trees and have planted five more varieties, though the new ones are not producing yet.

Looking down the row of old apple trees along the driveway.

I like to keep the dropped apples picked up, especially before the rains come.  The rotting fruits will attract all kinds of creatures, especially rodents.  Dipsy is still good at catching them, though, and brought a present home recently.

The old girl’s about 13 or so, doing pretty well.

For her most recent catch, we three adults all went outside to praise her, and she demonstrated her delight by tossing the little rodent about four feet into the air, right  on my daughter’s back.

We encouraged her by dangling it by the tail in front of her.  She was happy to give us further entertainment.

Some of the applesauce I made a few weeks ago, with dropped apples.

The apples I used were dinged, dented, split, bruised, spotted and generally, not perfect. You won’t find these apples in any market! I cut the unsuitable parts off, and this is what I came up with!  Eight jars and a bit left over.  The bit got heated on the stove and had butter pecan ice cream on top. Delicious!

Today, I went out to gather from the trees.  We’re expecting rain tonight, so I wanted to get what I could, without feeling overwhelmed by picking too many.  Too many means it’ll never get done and a wee bit too big a job for one person.  This amount of apples is a two or three-day job.

My hay wagon filled with apples.

The sweetest ones are the ugly spotted ones.  Next season, we’ll work further on nurturing the trees.

Every year, they are a bit better and healthier.

The ugliest ones with the spots, taste the very best.

And I’m not the only one who thinks these apples are worth eating.

Of course, you’ve seen this guy in an earlier post.

When the horses see me picking berries or apples, they holler at me.  They’re not stupid.

  When it’s time to go inside, I bring one in for my rabbits for their ‘nigh nights treat.’

Amalie, just chilling’ in her stall, inside the house. She’s a chubby Harlequin.

 I got over to the trees –  I had a surprise!

Bear scat.

I wonder why we call animal ‘stuff’ scat, and ours is, well, all sorts of things…

The tub of apples I didn’t want.  I set it there and noticed no activity for a week.

Today, it was tipped over, and nearly empty. I righted it and brought more apples over.

Notice the present in front of the large tub.

My feeding station worked!

I think it’s the best way.  I don’t mind sharing with them, as long as we get some.

We leave this out by the apple tree near the street, for any animals who need it during the dry season.

It does get used, we see birds and cats drinking from it. One morning it was empty and completely toppled over.

I wonder who did that??

This is the reason I like to leave apples on the ground. These are old wounds from bears climbing on the sweet apple tree.

The claw marks below look newer than the ones above.

Skilled labor.

 

And here’s proof that bears have climbed these trees for many years.

Yikes!

While I was out there picking, a Western Flicker was busy complaining about my presence.  Lots of birds peck at the apples, especially where I can’t reach them.  I’ve tried to talking with them, and asked them to finish the apple they start with, but no, they take a few pecks, and go to the next apple.  Puzzling.

Can you see him, way at the top?

This is the place that the flickers raised their young this past season.

See the hole? Nobody’s getting in there!

Here’s a complete view.  Cool, eh?

A good place to raise a flicker family. Crows and other birds of prey, not allowed.

Oh, oh, someone’s coming…

Some of the people who live on this one lane shared road, think it’s a racetrack.

Maybe I need to pass out some mirrors, so they can see what’s wrong with the world.

Apple trees behind me to the right, flicker to the left.

Mark determined that it was a female bear who came to visit.  The size and diameter of the scat told the story.

I left plenty more apples for her.

Thoughtful Thursday – June Gems

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We went to a favorite area of Point St. George today, carrying a big plastic bag and a grabber or picker.  Mark and I occasionally go pick trash off of our beaches.  Not a big haul today, but we did see zillions of anemone and some gigantic ones.   Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me.

So, I’ll share some photos taken in June of this year, of one entry to Point St. George.  This area is rarely visited, as there’s little sand and mostly black rock to walk on. It can get to your feet after a while.   There are pathways down to the sea and cliffs and bluffs to enjoy and photograph.

Walking down the pathway to sea level.

June splendor along the pathway

One of the bluffs next to the sea, on the way down.  Lots of plant in bloom.

Closer look at the color on the bluffs.

From a distance, another bluff at ocean’s edge, in bloom.

Beautiful coastline

Looking over the bluffs

Mark’s there, I’m dawdling, as usual.

It always amazes me when we’re the only people around. Look at that!

How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when it is quite clearly Ocean.”

Arthur C. Clarke

Thoughtful Thursday – Myrtle Creek Trail Part I

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We’ve hiked Myrtle Creek Trail several times.  It’s an interpretive trail on Highway 199 in Gasquet, California.

For today, miscellaneous photos that I took along the trail in June 2012.

Slug in camo gear.

Fungi, noticed on the return trip along the trail.

Woodpecker or Flicker home, effective at keeping out crows and other predatory birds and mammals.

Solitary wildflower.

Do you see me?

Green, the color of life.

A little slice of life along the trail.

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