Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tapestry Woven Out of Spider Silk - Insane!

My friend Anna Hosick posted about this NPR story on facebook. I didn't hear the story but read about it on-line. This is an insane story that I don't fully understand. But somehow over 4 years these guys orchestrated this project in Madagascar to harvest spider silk from wild spiders without hurting them and then weave this amazing golden tapestry. It is gonzo. These are big spiders that bite. No way, no how. Check it out. It cost these guys $500,000 of their own money. Who are they? why did they do it? If you know, tell me.

Here is the link to the story

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Day Another Jog

This is a photo of the portion of the trail I have been jogging on. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is to the left of the photo. One last run here tomorrow morning before I head to the airport.

This is the Olympic Discovery Trail and gives the feeling of where I've been jogging the past couple of days although I did not run along this exact stretch, nor does this show the superfund site.

After finishing up our weed awareness workshop and a quick drive up to Hurricane Ridge, I went for another jog today on the lovely seaside jogging trail just outside the Red Lion in Port Angeles, WA. This wonderfully flat trail runs for seventeen miles between PA and Sequim. Of course I only jogged about 1.25 miles away from the hotel and 1.25 miles back but they were lovely. It was another unusually sunny day here, although I did learn that PA is actually in the rainshadow of the Olympics and only gets about 20 inches of rain a year which is pretty similar to Davis (19 inches) and Los Angeles (15 inches). Apparently there are, however, a lot of cloudy days here.

My most alarming discovery of the day: the barren area that I jogged past that looks like a superfund site, is, in fact a state run superfund site - an old Rayonier pulp mill. And not only that, but the site is a state historic site because it used to be the site of an old Clallam village. That's great, from Native American village to superfund site, now that's what I call progress.

Tomorrow we leave the land of too many trees (yes, I love the Pacific Northwest, but all those trees do make a person feel a bit hemmed in) and fly in the metal beast back to LAX --> electric vehicle ----> congested route 405 ----> Thousand Oaks/Ford Focus ----> HOME!A close up of the superfund site, the area where fuel tank #2 was. Lots of nasties here, furan, arsenic, lead, fuel oils...

An aerial of the superfund site. The mill wasn't closed until 1997. Rayonnier claimed it was safe until the end... not so much it turns out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On the Olympic Peninsula

Today I drove to LAX in the park's electric RAV 4 and then flew to Seattle. From Seattle I drove a rental car through Tacoma and up to the Olympic Peninsula. I'm only here for a day and a half to give a workshop at Olympic National Park with my compatriot Jennifer Gibson. We'll be talking with park staff about how they can change their daily practices in order to prevent spreading weeds within the park. This will be the third of these workshops that I have presented. They are fun, interesting, and exhausting!

It is strange to be on the Olympic Peninsula again when I haven't been here in over ten years. I think the last time I was out here was in 1993 when I worked for the University of Washington as a summer field tech in Forks, WA. It is a bummer to come all this way and not get to spend any real time in the park or on the beautiful beaches of the Peninsula. I probably won't even have time to have lunch with my brother in Seattle or see friends in Seattle. This is going to be a very quick trip.

It is nice to at least see the Peninsula again. It is still beautiful with all the trees and the ocean and the mountains. It does seem quite economically depressed though and random strangers in the empty Indian restaurant that we ate at and in the grocery store commented to us on how hard things are around here right now.

It is always odd to travel without Mitch and the girls. While the odd adult freedoms are nice (yay - Indian food, yay running on the beach) and it is certainly easier to fly and travel without the little people, being away from them leaves me feeling anchorless. Very strange.

Well I should get to bed. It is a big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebrating JB's Birthday

Josie on her first birthday eating her first ever cupcake.

Josie one year later on her second birthday, enjoying her cupcake.

Did I mention that she liked her cupcake?

Cupcake number two of the birthday, at her park party.

Mmm, cupcakes!

She really loves one present at a time. Seen here carrying around her new doll while surrounded by her admiring friends.

Serenading baby Luca with her new harmonica.

Sharing her new coloring book and animal crayons with Lucy and Lara.

We celebrated Josie Bean's birthday twice last week. On Wednesday we celebrated her actual birthday by eating cupcakes that Lucy and I made and letting her open all of her family presents. She loved all of her birthday gifts. I think she would have been happy with just one present although Lucy loved "helping" to open all the gifts. Lucy also loved her big sister presents and spent the whole night lugging around her princess purse and singing into her Ariel microphone.

On Friday we had a great low key birthday party at our neighborhood park. We invited all of the little people friends and held the party at the time that everyone typically goes to the park anyway. We brought along another batch of cupcakes, plus fruit and cheese, pretzels and popcorn, plus the requisite juice boxes. A great time was had by all.

I've posted a few photos of the event so you can see the highlights. I can't believe she is two years old already! What will she look like and be like by age 3?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crazy Sarah in Italia

One of my best friends from undergrad, Sarah Cree, fell in love with Italy during her Art history doctoral research at Yale and has up and moved there. Sarah is now living a sort of original farmer european type lifestyle in the hills of Italy. I now know two phds who moved to Italy for love and now do nutty things like harvest their own olive oil and hunt for truffles. I have several close friends who are very into the local food movement (Tiff and Allie to name two) and I thought they might want to check out Sarah's current set-up. I'm not sure exactly what Sarah is up to since she doesn't post very often and never e-mails directly, but there are BEAUTIFUL photos of all of the amazing produce she is picking and cooking in Italy.

Check it out here

I also added her blog to my blog roll so we can all check up on her periodically. Maybe one day she will answer questions like, is she still doing art history research? Is she in Italy for good? And do they have chickens (if so I want to see pictures).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Labor Day Weekend Full of Labor

In this picture you can see some of the work that Tom and Mitch did this weekend - check out that beautiful woodwork on the front of the little house.

And in this picture you can see what handsome devils Allie and Tom are.

We had a great labor day weekend. Our friends Allie and Tom came north from San Diego for the weekend and were our first guests to grace the little house! Tom came up expressly to help Mitch continue working on the little house and he arrived with two bags full of tools. I was super glad to have Allie's company and spending the time with her transformed the weekend from another one of singlemomdom into a fun adventure.

The heat finally broke on Saturday which luckily coincided with Allie and Tom's arrival on the train. On Friday I set up the wading pool on the deck for the girls and they had a great time playing naked slip and slide on the deck and splashing water everywhere. Saturday we went to a birthday party for a three year old friend of ours at Marina Park (one of our two favorite beach playgrounds and the site of Lucy's third and fourth birthday parties). We took Allie and Tom along and then went home for quiet time.

Sunday Allie and I took the girls to the swimming pool and then for an afternoon visit to the park. Monday we snuck in a beach visit and some Mexican food before Allie and Tom had to head out on the train. It was great to see them and it was fantastic to have all their help with the little house and the girl wrangling. Their visit proves that while incomplete, the little house is now livable (it even has electricity via an extension cord).

I will post pictures soon of all the recent work but for now you will have to make do with words and this one picture since it is now dark outside. They put beautiful wood panels on the front of the house and put all the siding on the remaining two sides. So now all that is left on the outside is to paint and stain!

Relay for Life - A Big Success

Despite 107 degree heat, the Conejo Valley Relay for Life was a big success! I'm sorry it took me so long to write about it but the heat was really wearing me out. The relay was a week ago Saturday. I spent Friday night making costumes for me and the girls. Our team's theme was the flora and fauna of the Santa Monica Mountains. I dressed up as the native flora complete with a shirt with humboldt lilies, gilias, and coast sunflowers. Lucy wore a shirt that said native plants are for the birds, and bees, and butterflies with native flowers and pictures of birds and bees and butterflies. Josie wore a shirt that said "grown in the Santa Monica Mountains." and had native flowers on it.

It was crazy hot even when we went up to walk at 5:30 PM. I walked around the track for 45 minutes while the girls jumped in the jolly jumper. I can't believe how sweaty and hot they got jumping but still went back for more. The enthusiasm of youth.

The luminarias that we made for my dad, my mom, Mitch's Aunt Nancy, my neighbor, and my dog were all right up front. Maybe because they were so colorful and pretty.

It was a great event. I exceeded my $200 fund raising goal (without ringing a single doorbell or making a single phone call - thanks to you my friends!) and our team exceeded our $1000 fund raising goal.

I'm looking forward to next year.