The bark mulch


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…seems to have turned into a compost heap. Well, it is almost two years old. But really, I got quite a shock when I walked by and saw what it was growing.

mushrooms on bark mulch

These are really odd mushrooms: they don’t seem to have a top over their gills.

mushrooms on bark mulch

I think it must have rotted away as they aged, but I’m not sure.

mushrooms on bark mulch

At any rate, they’re roughly 2 inches in diameter, and there’s LOTS of them.

mushrooms on bark mulch

Still pretty, though they’re certainly past their “best by” date.

mushrooms on bark mulch

This appears to be what they look like before they unfurl.

mushrooms on bark mulch

And maybe this as well?

mushrooms on bark mulch

But these are definitely not related. It’s a convivial mulch pile, evidently.

mushrooms on bark mulch

Today’s walk


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…was rather nice, considering it rained for some of the time.

We found mushrooms. (This one was about 8 or 9 inches in diameter.)

mushroom in ferns

We found a strange white fungus on a tree trunk, oozing liquid.

white fungus

We found autumn leaves, of course.

maple leaves

We found the edge between sandstone and cedar.

cedar growing on big rock

We found apples!


We found one of the most beautiful nurse logs I’ve ever seen.

nurse log

We found the vegetation at the edge of the marsh, all in layers.

edge of the marsh

We found autumn leaves in the cleft of a rock.

maple leaves in cleft in rock

We found a very good time with friends.

That drought thing


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Well, I seem to have dropped off the face of the earth when it comes to posting, but I’m hoping to start up again. So in the spirit of This Is What I’ve Been Doing:

dry pond

This is our pond. You will note that it has no water in it. It hasn’t had water in it since spring. It’s gone down to mud before, but this is beyond mud: this is solid earth that can be walked across, with grass and weeds. (Well, that was true two days ago, there’s been a little rain since then and it’s gotten softer in places, as I inadvertently discovered. But even after the rain, this is what it looks like.)

feet on solid ground

Just to reinforce the idea, these are my feet in the lowest part of the pond.

bottom of pond, dug up

And this is the pond again, after I started digging out the dirt from the bottom of it. The 5-gallon bucket houses the pond pump, which I’ve set up in place, ever hopeful. I figure it’s likely great dirt, so I’m slowly moving what I can to more useful places—starting with the berm with the rhodos. It’s not that they need wonderful soil, but they drain so fast it’s hard to keep them alive in a drought, and I’m figuring if I can build an earthen moat around each one it’ll help slow the drainage when I need to water them in future.

It’s all actually quite worrisome. I’m told that the swamp behind us has gone dry. I didn’t see any froglets at all this year—I suspect the pond dried before the tadpoles could grow legs and make it out of the water. I don’t think anyone has seen anything like this before. I’m afraid it’s a sign of things to come.

The good news


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I’m not sure whether it’s even safe to post something like this, as it might bring down the wrath of the gods. But…

well head

This is our well. The one that works. The one that feeds the house stopped working seven years ago; this one feeds the garden standpipes. It’s the only thing standing between us and everything-in-the-yard-and-garden-will-die.

On Thursday when I came back from The City and went out to water the garden, it wasn’t working. This was… depressing. Everyone’s wells are going dry here, so we figured that was true of ours too—and that would be the end of the garden. We can manually collect grey water when we have a shower, but there’s only so far that can go.

But luckily the weather changed over the weekend and there was enough rain to keep things going. And today the guys came to take the cap off and dig up the outlet and see what was up. And lo and behold, it was just that a hose had come unattached (red arrow) at the well head.

So it’s a relatively easy and cheap fix.

And what’s even better? When we looked into the pipe, there was water in it. Up to about a foot below ground level. As the well is supposed to be 400 feet deep, that’s actually a lot of water, and a very good sign as to the health of that well. Phew. *wipes brow*

Oh look, turkeys!


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dog staring at turkeys in the yard

So the other morning I pushed back the office door curtain and… the feral turkeys. Seven of them, two adults and five poults. Our Dog was already out, and eventually responded to all the warning clucking that ensued when I opened the curtain and they noticed me.

He’s a good dog. He didn’t show the slightest interest in chasing them, though he did eventually trot over to investigate more closely, but what he really wanted to do was just sniff the ground where they’d been, while they all went “Cluck!” and ran off toward the bushes. And then they decided discretion was the better part of valour and flew over the fence; I’m not sure he even noticed that they were gone. Nice to know they were never in danger from him.

This is what a drought looks like in our yard.



It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’m going to try to get back into it. As a starter, a rather depressing post…

Our yard is not a happy place.

dying cedar

I think we’ll lose at least 3 cedars this year; we’re talking trees about 50 to 60 feet tall.


The fir trees are doing a bit better but are starting to look pretty stressed. The little sequoia (only about 20 feet tall) isn’t happy at all.


The sword ferns, which normally stand at least 5 feet tall, have all gone flat. (This makes walking in the forest… strange.)


I can’t get terribly exercised about the periwinkle wilting, given how aggressively it spreads and persists, but the salmonberries sure aren’t happy.


And I’ve never seen the catalpa stressed before.


Sigh. I wonder how much will still be alive when the rain finally does come again?

Hazards of the trail


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garter snake on trail

I’ve been taking Our Dog out for early runs with my bike because he’s ten now and doesn’t do so well in the heat. But this is one of the hazards of doing so: garter snakes that have stretched themselves out across the trail and just lie there, still sluggish with cold. I do NOT want to ride over a snake and kill it, so I’ve come to screeching stops for them several times this year. I generally encourage them to vacate the space (I don’t pick them up to move them as often as I used to because they always seem to pee on me if I do.)

close up of garter snake

This one was particularly sluggish; Our Dog trotted right across it and it didn’t so much as twitch. (Luckily no big golden retriever feet came down on it.) So I was able to stop and take some pictures.

garter snake leaving

Though it did eventually decide that discretion was the better part of valour and do the “I’m outta here” thing.

golden retriever snoozing with daisies

Oh, and bonus golden retriever pic.

From the world pool: June 19, 2015




Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. DePayne Middleton Doctor. Cynthia Hurd. Susie Jackson. Ethel Lance. Clementa C. Pinckney. Tywanza Sanders. Daniel Simmons. Myra Thompson. 

Natalie Luhrs has a comprehensive set of links up, but I want to add a few more. First of all, this Foz Meadows post from Tumblr. I am white and I identify as a feminist, and I agree with everything said by feministbatwoman and Foz: not in my name. The whole idea of justifying the murder of black people by saying it is to protect white female purity is abhorrent bullshit. White women do not need to be protected from black men. Every white feminist, every white woman, should reinforce this message.

Also: mental health issues may cause someone to be violent, but it is the existence of systemic, institutionalized oppressions such as racism that tell them where to point the gun. The Charleston shootings were clearly racist, and it appals me that they might be considered anything else.

Empathy does not preclude accountability”: Jay Smooth on Rachel Dolezal.

Chris Bourg: “seems like a good week to recommend y’all add Racism Review to your blog feed.” Not a bad idea.

John Ross Bowie: “a gentle reminder: The confederate flag is about ‘states rights’ the way the swastika is about ‘fixing the German economy.'”  (via @eilatan)


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