Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Scavenger Hunt

Time for Sunday Scavenger Hunt - let's go

1. In a Row 
2. Salty 
 A Cormorant drying off on a foggy morning, after a salty swim.

3. Sweet 
 Cupcake pincushion

4. Sitting Down
Our grandson Donnie, learning to listen politely.  I don't know who the lady in the background is.  (but she seems to already know how to listen politely)

5.Just Because

 A heron in the ponds near our house.

Trumpeter Swans and Snow Geese

Two weeks ago the Snow Geese were back - and now the Trumpeter Swans are here, and in bigger numbers than we've ever seen them before.
These photos were taken in a field just outside Sedro Woolley - the Snow Geese are the smaller one in the back of the field, with Trumpeter Swans in the front.  We've rarely seen both kinds of birds in the same field like this.  The sound was fabulous - the loud honking of the swans with the higher, jabbering sound of the Snow Geese.
 Snow Geese on frozen water in the harvested corn field
 Swans landing in the corn field.  The wing span is 6 feet 1 inch to 8 feet 2inches (185 to 250 cm) and they can weight up to 38 pounds (17.2 kg) .
 My new camera - Nikon Coolpix P600 has a shutter lag of only 0.3 seconds - which is fabulous. It lets me get the action picture while it is still happening rather than the longer lag of other cameras which often give you the picture after the action is over.  I got some great wing flapping photos.
 With the sun behind the Swans I had fabulous lighting on the wings.

 In another corn field there was a lot of ice and it held the weight of the swans.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Weekly Top Shot

Belted Kingfisher - on Orcas Island

Kingfishers rarely sit for more than just a moment - this one stayed for about 10 minutes

Friday, November 14, 2014

Six Words Friday - Halloween and Thanksgiving

 Have a Halloween Cookie - or candy
 Who can be cross with cookies?
 Even the Scarecrow has a smile
 Will the elf eat the cookies?
Thanksgiving is coming - are you ready?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Would You LIke To Make Apple Butter?

I'm a huge fan of apple butter - not from the store - but homemade apple butter.  I used to make it in the oven - stirring it often to keep it from burning - and having the oven on at least all day.  Then along came crock pots.  Now apple butter is simple.
Gather your apples, some of these I bought - some were given to me - all were wonderfully delicious.
 Cut an apple or two in half horizontally to see the star in the apple
Get in close - see the dots and lines radiating out from the seeds - I love the center of the apple - it is like the center of the universe.
 Peel the rest of the apples with the handy-dandy apple peeler/corer.  My mom gave me this peeler/corer in the 70s.  It is very similar to the original model, mostly because it works so well that no changes were needed.
 The apples come off in spiral slices - ready for the crock pot.  I use organic apples and they turn a little brown before I get the crock pot filled.
 Put all the sliced and peeled apples in the crock pot with 1/2 can of frozen apple juice - do not dilute it.  Twelve pounds of apples filled the crock pot so full I couldn't get the lid on tight
 After two hours the lid fit better
 Cook all day on high - stir now and then - and I added 5 more pounds of apples, once there was room in the crock pot, after the first apples had cooked down a bit
 When the apples are mostly mush (you can help them along by mashing with the potato masher) add in the sugar and spices.  This really is according to taste - I start with 2 cups of raw sugar, 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon and 4 Tablespoons of cloves.  I love the taste of cloves so usually end up adding a couple more Tablespoons of cloves - it all depends on how you want it to taste.
 Cook overnight on low - then in the morning turn it up to high until it boils.  This is how much it cooked down - 17 pounds of apples filled the crock pot about 3/4 full of apple butter
Can with your favorite method - and then I let it sit for a week if I can bear to wait, before opening.  Sometimes I have to eat it right away if I'm out of apple butter from the last batch.  (I already opened one jar before I took this photo).  Home made bread, toasted, with apple butter and a cup of hot tea - now that is heaven!!!

One really nice thing about making apple butter is that you don't have to wait for apples to come into season - in NW Washington we can often find locally grown apples at year round farm stands - as well as the grocery stores.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Rain Forest in the Pacific Northwest

Some areas of the NW Washington have climates with high rainfall each year - these are called the PNW Rain Forests  One such micro climate is surrounding Silver Lake.  That area gets over 80 inches (2065mm) of rain, compared to the highest in the state, Forks, WA (yes THAT Forks, WA) which gets just under 119 inches  (3055 mm). 

With all that rain, the forests around Silver Lake are home to many mosses, lichen and fungi  Now that our rainy season has started - it is the perfect time for getting photos of the mosses, lichen and fungi.
 After a Cedar tree is cut down - or falls - new trees will begin to grow atop the old stump  -  and their roots will reach down the outside of the stump to get to the ground.  The roots of the new tree, covered in moss on the left of the stump, looks like a lizard trying to climb up the stump.
 Many of the trees are covered in mosses - softening their branches.
Getting closer  and closer, the moss looks almost like cedar branchelets
I'm not sure what this is - a mushroom that is past its prime - or another form of mushroom I've not seen before - any help?
Fallen logs are a good growing source for mushrooms

 The end of the same log
 A large fungus on a tree - almost looks like a frog opening its mouth
This was one of my favorites - faces everywhere - the bottom right looks like a smirking ghost to me 

 More faces in the forest
 My favorite face - with a cedar branchelet.  Be careful about singing in the forest - you never know what might fall into your mouth.
 A long hairy moss
It was a good day.  If anyone can identify any of these I appreciate it.