31 December 2008

Adieu 2008

Russian Aleutian Sunset 2006

Two thousand eight was an interesting year for me. As the year began my funding for my research (and therefore job) had ended, I was living in a Town-Named-After-Purchaser-of-State, Alaska, a small town at the very end of the road where mountains meet the ocean. As beautiful of a place as it was, it was exceedingly cold, dark, and isolated feeling when without a job. (Did I mention I was also tired of being evacuated for tsunami warnings, volcanic ash fall, and flooding and having only road getting blocked off by avalanches for months on end?) So I decided to go south to spend time with my family in Confluence-of-Two-Gold-Medal-Fishing-Rivers, Colorado. I flew with the Disreputable Dog & Cat in tow and a cooler full of frozen salmon. Everything else I left in Los Anchorage in the garage of friends who were also formerly neighbors.

Winter River, Colorado 2008

Initially I was a bit overwhelmed being back in Colorado – not having really been back for more then a few days since before I went on exchange in high school. It was an adjustment for both my parents and I to live in the same house again. I was anxious having left my career abruptly and not knowing when I would resume work on it. Not knowing exactly if I wanted to. Two thousand six and seven had landed me in some hard emotional places in the work place – I had experienced some deep trauma and it made me unsure if I wanted to continue. So two thousand eight became a year for me to reflect and heal. It turned out to be a great year.

The Bookstore where I worked 2008

I temped for a time at a Green Building Company until I bored enough to prompt me to apply at the local independent bookstore as a bookseller. The bookstore was a good place to pursue other hobbies – I had great co-workers who were all very invested in the store and proud of it. I got to spend some very valuable time with my family. I was there for my parents when my mom had eye surgery that did not go well. I was able to brew with my dad, garden, go hiking with my sister, take my niece and nephew mushroom hunting and play at the pool with them. I had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, spend time hiking and eating good food together and get reacquainted with many people with whom I had lost touch with over the years – sometimes deeply, sometimes just casually. Initially I was not comfortable with where I was or running into all of these people – invariably everyone comes through the bookstore – but after my summer drive down the Alcan Highway from Alaska to Colorado I found resolution and grew to enjoy these encounters. I re-connected with the town where I was raised and I healed and realized that I did want to continue with my career as an –ologist, that my passion for it was worth pursuing, that I was not yet done with Alaska.

Oh! And I had my first ever blogger meet up – Silver Fox made her way over from Nevada and we had a lovely time getting acquainted (that's us in the picture!). Thanks Silver Fox for getting in touch and stopping by!

30 November 2008

Not Abandonded

Hello dear bloggy friends,

Contrary to popular belief I have not abandoned my blog. Thanks so much for asking and for your concern! Things have been rather hectic lately (and in addition I have broken my camera and am waiting for it's repair). Many of the things that are making things hectic in my life at the moment I am not currently able to blog about for various reasons. I do hope however, to resume normal blogging behavior (week day posts) in the beginning of the new year if not before then. I do miss our conversations and I miss visiting you all as well. Sadly, my computer and email connections are infrequent, tenuous, and slow which means even though I occasionally manage to sneak a visit I often am unable to comment. Again, hopefully there will be changes in the new year! And yes, if you are planning on coming my way (Colorado) at any time in the near future do email me! I would love to meet and visit with any of you in person. Meanwhile, I will wish you all a warm, loving, and thankful holiday season and a light on the winter solstice (or, if you will be experiencing a summer solstice and winter seems far away - a lovely day enjoy the best things summer can offer). I hope to see you all in the new year - keep an eye on your blog readers.

the best to you all, Wayfarer scientista

13 October 2008

Ode de Skunk

For the second time in the middle of the night I got up to let the Disreputable Dog (DDog) out because his tummy was bothering him and he needed to throw up. He's very civilized about these things and will determinedly keep after you until you get up and let him outside for he does not like mussing up his house. I stumbled to the door and then back in to bed, meaning to lie there just a few minutes for warmth and then to let him back in, but I must have fallen into a deeper sleep. Goodness knows I was tired having down 5 ten hour shifts on my feet at the bookstore in a row. A few hours later I was awoken by an acrid smell. I worried immediately that there was an electrical fire, goodness knows they wouldn't be tarring the streets at this hour of the night. So I crept from room to room trying to locate the source of the smell to no avail hardly noticing in my half awake sleep that the open window was not helping. At some point in my search I noticed the Disreputable Cat (DCat) lying in front of the door starring out in the darkness and remembered that the DDog was still out there. The cat always waits by the door for her dog. I let him in and went back to sleep, trying for the life of me to ignore the smell, the comforter pulled up over my head and telling myself that if it was a fire surely the smoke alarm would have rung.

The next morning I awoke very groggily having had relatively little sleep and, encountering my dad who was returning from walking the dogs, asked him if he knew the source of the smell. "Skunk" was his reply along with "don't bother to take a shower yet because you'll have to take your dog". It turns out that while I had forgotten the poor DDog outside he had met up with his first ever skunk, no there are no skunks in Alaska, and while he was probably going up to say hello to what he thought was a cat it sprayed him, right under my bedroom window. Since I haven't been around skunks for awhile myself and since I smelled it before I let him in my half slumbering brain did not make the connection. The front of his ruff and chest were yellow with skunk spray and he had come in and laid down on my bedroom carpet and tried to rub the offensive odor off. My mother, whose 60th birthday had been the day before, shouted at me "Happy birthday!" and I broke into peels of laughter. There was simply nothing else left to do.

Having done that I went about collecting the ingredients to chemically neutralize skunk spray. A former organic chemistry professor of mine (Dr William Wood) had analyzed the various chemical components of skunk spray and then continued on to figure out what denatured it. Of course I only had half the ingredients necessary but they would have to do. So the DDog and I stepped into the shower and I lathered him with my special mixture and waited five minutes before rinsing it out and shampooing him at which point he was banned to the sunny deck to dry out. After showering myself and removing the bedsheets and the rugs and bleaching down the tiled entry way I made a run to the store for more ingredients. Between spraying my carpet and room down with the Anti-spray solution (which is really meant to be rinsed out) and alternately flinging all the windows open and running a fan and closing them all up and turning up the heat (to vaporize it) we managed to decrease the smell immensely. Today, I will steam clean the carpet and hopefully that will remove any other residue although to be honest with you I've reached olfactory exhaustion so I'm not sure I can tell if it smells or not any more. I'll have to recruit some independent noses for a test.

Anti-Skunk Spray Recipe (Note: It may bleach things a bit!!)
by Dr William Wood
2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide (16 fl oz.)
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tsp. liquid detergent
Mix it all up and use immediately. Do not store!

06 October 2008

Still searching

Photo from a river trip, Alaska 2004

Cross your fingers for me...I'm all excited about a position or two that have opened up that seem like they could be just what I'm looking for. I'm trying not to get my hopes up but it's hard not to sometimes. I know that eventually my persistence will pay off even though it's often hard when you can't see the next step in front of you.

04 October 2008

First Snow

It's here - the first snows above 8,000ft in elevation. We even had storm warnings this weekend. I hear from my friends in Fairbanks that there is already enough snow on the ski trails to make them usable.

03 October 2008

VP Debate

I just have to say this...that accent she's got? I never heard that accent from her as governor before.

01 October 2008

Happy October

This young of the year cow was practically posing for me - I had stopped to look because some people with New Jersey plates had told me there was a moose up ahead. Moose are rare in Colorado but can be found. I rather think though that the tourists mistook the longhorns that were in the pasture for the moose as there was none in sight.

29 September 2008

Autumn Glory

I've been out enjoying the fall colors this "weekend" (my weekend being Sun/Mon this week). This weekend is probably the peak for fall colors up in the high country. Today I went for an over-the-continental-divide drive with my parents to enjoy the views. My dad and I really wanted to get my mom out to see the color but it was touch and go as to whether we could because she had another set-back with her eyes and was extremely light sensitive. Luckily she was able to go - fortified with heavy black glasses and a big hat. She loves the colors as much as I do and I think it cheered her immensely. The dogs enjoyed it immensely as well - nothing better then going on old dirt road with your head out the window and occasionally stopping for little meanders and walks.

28 September 2008

Blodgett Lake

Today was a good day for a 14mile round trip hike with two friends up to Blodgett Lake. On our way we passed several other lakes some of which, like the unnamed one pictured, reminded me of Newfoundland. It was a pretty steep return and as a result my knees ache.

27 September 2008

Ephemeral Glory

After too many 10 hour work days on my feet it's glorious to take my break out on my bike and see this.

25 September 2008

Fall Colors

There are some mighty fine displays of color going on right now. I love fall, love kicking my feet through fallen leaves and the raspy sounds they make as they fly by. I love the intensity of color and watch it as if I will never see color again. I love the winds that rastle by in gusts - more fickle and tempermental then other times of year. I love the harvest the preparations for the winter, the first dustings of snow, the crispness of the air, and the slowing down of activities after the frenetic pace of summer.

23 September 2008

Family Wedding

I've been away for a long weekend to North Carolina for a family wedding. Out of all of my many cousins the last eligible one got married this weekend. I am smack dab in the middle of them age wise and the only non-married one among them so I got lots of introductions to single men and questions about timing of my nuptials. They were implacable. But as I had been expecting it I had my little tool chest of responses at the ready which resulted in much laughter.

It was a wonderful time though - good to be together again for a positive reason - and there's nothing quite so fun as rooming with your sister and your grandmother. My 82 year old Grandmother is the life of every party and can drink every one of her offspring and theirs under the table. Talking to her when she's been drinking is the best way to get any juicy family gossip out of her. One night she was complaining how everybody treats as if she were old and how she's healthier then the lot of 'em - of course they weren't treating her as if she was old but rather as if she were drunk which she was. Roundly.

Ah, a fabulous weekend with family, catching up, hanging out, a little bit of celebration and even a bit of mourning...it had been too long.


Like our apricots they're rather small in comparison to what you'd find at the market - but they have the richest flavor and I wouldn't trade them for anything. At what point in time did humans decide that looks were more important in fruit then taste?

22 September 2008


And now the later fruits of summer begin...the pears & plums and the first of the apples.

21 September 2008

Cat Under the Quilt

The Poor Disreputable Cat was under the weather for a few days following her annual shots - she didn't come out from under this quilt for 2 whole days. But she's back to her Disreputable self - playing the piano at night and attacking dog tails when they're napping.

20 September 2008


Today was a long morning at work. I took my lunch break several hours too late and went for a much needed bicycle ride. At first I was pedaling furiously, lost in the thunder clouds in my own mind, taking no notice of the lovely autumn day, the wind, and the colors on the hillside when I went around a bend and there, just a few feet off the road sat a beautiful black bear munching on service berries. Suddenly everything was restored in the world and the rest of my ride I could feel the thunder clouds in my head slipping away even as they gathered on the horizon of the land.

19 September 2008

Drying Herbs

Summer savory drying.

18 September 2008


Next on the list for canning/ freezing: salsa!

17 September 2008

Eggplants & Hungarian Hot Peppers

Purple Harvest: a basket of freshly harvested eggplant & Hungarian hot peppers. You can tell I've been eating pretty well lately :)

16 September 2008

Morning Glories

A beautiful morning glory and nasturtium still resist the cold weather nights for a morning
*edited to add: yes, of course it's a nasturtium...sorry, I was busy waxing eloquent about a clematis outside my workplace when I posted this to my mum and I must have typed it in by accident. Thanks for noticing :)

15 September 2008

First Frost & Canning

This weekend's canning projects: tomatoes, peaches, and bread & butter pickles.

We've had our first frost and it's been getting rather cool at night so we've had to cover up the precious vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash) with old sheets. We're a little early for Halloween but they make fantastic ghosts under the full moon.

14 September 2008

More on VP nominee

I've been thinking about your requests to share my knowledge of Palin. Despite my inclination to stay away from politics on this blog, I am strongly tempted, but I also feel like much of what I could say is being said better elsewhere. If you haven't found it already you should definitely visit the Mudflats: Tip toeing Through the Muck of Alaskan Politics which is posted by the AKMuckraker. It's one of those blogs that once would have primarily interested Alaskans - but now one of our small fish has jumped into the big frying pan. I am heartened to see the turnout of the "Alaskan Women Reject Palin" rally and was absolutely mortified the other day when, showing my Alaskan ID in Colorado for a purchase, the woman behind the counter exclaimed "You would look just like Sarah Palin if you put your hair up!". I was tempted to explain that just because we're from the same state doesn't mean we are related.

I will say this: I do not agree with Palin's politics and I do not believe she is qualified for the position of vice-president of the United States. Quite frankly, her politics scare me. This is true of most Alaskan politicians but luckily their power has been limited to the state of Alaska. It dismays me that this political race seems to have become Obama vs. Palin. Isn't it McCain who is supposed to be running against Obama?

That said I am seriously considering your request to post my experience with Palin as governor of Alaska. I'm just trying to figure out how to do so without attracting total furor and in a way that is most beneficial. So I'm thinking on it...please post any specific questions you might have in the comment section and I will try to address them!

11 September 2008

Home Grown Tomatoes

The juiciest batch ever - like eating candy!

10 September 2008

Jungle Cat

The Disreputable Cat watching us make cider from the safety of an ornamental grass in the garden. Don't tell her that you can see her harness peeking through ever so slightly.

09 September 2008

Wild Harvest

There's a lot of "fun" to be had in finding edible fungi. I've even had the opportunity to write an official book review for the local paper of the book pictured.

08 September 2008

Squirrel Food

Lots of mushroom hunting lately - even the squirrels have been busy. Did you know that they will pick and dry mushrooms for the winter? Well they do. One year a dear friend and I went out to a cabin he had built (in Alaska) and had been away from for a year due to hip surgery. We went in spring and when we went to check out the outhouse we found it piled three feet high with dried mushrooms!

07 September 2008

06 September 2008

Continental Divide

We've had lots of visitors lately - my mother's cousins from the former East Germany on their first trip to the United States for 2 weeks and my 4,000 mile away romantic interest for a week. And for some reason Labor Day brought about several meetings with people I haven't seen in over 15 years - there have been a lot of those this year.

Apricot Cider

What do you call apricot cider? I dunno, but it sure is a pretty color....and I hope it tastes as good! This is the first batch in our experiment.

05 September 2008

Tricycle Parking

My niece & nephew were up for a visit and we went for a tour by bike.

04 September 2008

Surprise Quilt

I'm trying a little experiment of posting a picture and a short blurb for the days that I can't get to a real post - let me know what you think! (And don't worry - I still will post full length real posts - I just seem to have less time for it lately then I would like.)

My mom was given this quilt as a surprise by her sewing group as a get well present for her eyes. She's given away many quilts in her life but I think this was the first one she ever received - she was incredibly touched as was I.

03 September 2008

The AK Governor

Okay...erm, I can hardly stand this...I just listened to her speech. She's the Governor of my state but I didn't vote for her (rather for her opposition). And now she's the VP candidate? I half expected my blog to be over-run by the rest of you by now asking the questions I have gotten in person such as "What is competitive snowmachining?" I've had to walk a fine line at the bookstore cloaking my politics under the multi-interpretable response "I'm still in shock" and I am, it's no lie.

02 September 2008

Awards: Arte y Pico & Brillante Weblog

In my absence several of my dear bloggy friends have kindly awarded me some awards. It is obvious that I have been absentee for some time as they have sort of accumulated and I have not had the chance to pass them on. I am terribly grateful to all of my readers and to the bloggers I read - and for the community they offer even though I have only been able to visit less often then usual this summer (without the usual excuse of being away doing fieldwork in some place without internet connections). Thanks to all of you.


Parlance & Penny, Step-wise Girl , and SciencGirl at Curiosity Killed the Cat have awarded my blog the Arte y Pico Award because, she says my blog" shows her love of the nature that surrounds us". Thank you Parlance! This award was created by Esey from Uruguy to celebrate blogs that are art and commentary. She (Esey) translates the saying "Arte y Pico" as

"Wow. The Best Art. Over the top."

So - I'm supposed to pass this on to five blogs (oh, the decisions!!!). An they are:
1. Silver Fox over at Looking for Detachment
3. Hypoglycemia Girl at 366
4. Vincent at A Wayfarer's Notes
5. Jen at
Bove's Boots

Brigindo over at Dirt and Rocks, Dancing Fish over at Underwater Knitting, and the Bean-Mom have been kind enough to pass along this other bloggy honor: The Brillante Weblog Premio-2008.

Thank you! So nice to think of me! (Ack, 5 more blogs + 2 for a late penalty! How to choose?)

1. EcoGeoFemme at the
Happy Scientist
2. Jen at One Plus Two
3. Chuck at Lounge of the Lab Lemming
4. Chas at Southern Rockies Nature Blog
5. Andrea over at Fine as Frogs Hair
6. CAE at VWXYNot?
7. QT at Can We Kick the Bar Here?

Rules for the Arte y Pico award as follows:
1. Pick five blogs that you consider deserve this award for creativity, design, and interesting material and also contribute to the blogger community regardless of language.
2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited.
3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given him/her the award itself.
4. Award winners and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of the Arte-y-Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of the award.
5) In compliance with said rules, the award winner must show these rules.

Rules for Brilliante Weblog award:
First the usual rules
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

20 August 2008

Everything that Rain Promises

I must admit the last month or so has been full of some not so happy surprises. I complained once to a friend that I wanted a "boring life" for once - the kind of boring where you just don't have anything to say to people about what is going on in your life because everything is the same and everything is good. My friend said he couldn't imagine me living a boring life and that since I seem to be one of those people who things always happen to, I would probably get tired of it quite soon. However, since I have been through many life phases where it seems like every time the telephone rings there's more bad news I am adept at taking the little things in life and appreciating them for all they are worth. So here are some of the things I am enjoying this summer despite it's challenges (just in case you thought I was getting whiny):

Lyle & Mormon Lakes - a hike taken in the rain with both my sister & Life Long Friend

- being back in Colorado means the opportunity to go hiking and reconnect regularly with old friends & my sister
- being able to spend time with my sister all alone for the first time since she had kids (since 2002 in fact)
- getting to spend more then holiday time with my niece & nephew...which includes lots of wandering in the woods with baskets in search of anything edible or otherwise collectible.
- getting re-acquainted with old friends
- super sweet blogger friends who not only keep stopping by to visit but also give me generous awards even though I have clearly been absentee this summer (they will be passed on soon!!)

the first mushroom harvest of the season, from top left: a fabulous bright pink fungus growing on a wild gooseberry (not edible), golden chantrelles & coral fungus, mysterious white fungus (who is leading me to make all sorts of acquaintances) & more chantrelles, puffballs & boletes (otherwise known as leccinium)

- taking my niece, nephew, sister, and friends mushrooming in Colorado! How exciting is it to find orange chantrelles when the most common ones in Alaska are dark purple (commonly known as pig's ears)
- getting to eat fresh picked mushrooms
- fresh fruit! oh peaches! Oh apricots! oh plums! (I survived the lack of fruit in Alaska due to TreeThings, bless their hearts, who brought fresh fruits by the crate load up from California just for us fruit deprived Alaskans. There was also the abundance of wild berries which helped immensely but nothing beats buying fresh fruit from the orchard roadside stand.)
- getting to make hard cider (yes, that's with alcohol) & wine with said fruit with my dad
- lovely fresh garden produce .... homemade pizza (mine) with only the crust made of ingredients not grown or harvested by ourselves
- nightly entertainment by the Disreputable Cat who makes sure that everyone has their dose of cheer even if it means she has to swat them on the nose (most often this has to be applied to the Parental Dog who takes things quite seriously)
- having the Disreputable Dog at work as an official bookstore greeter

Here are the Parental & Disreputable Dogs being cute together.
*Note: the name of this post was liberated from the name David Arora's mushroom book Everything that Rain Promises and more... which is a good book for the beginner mushroomer and highly entertaining to boot

16 August 2008


Thank you all for your kind words on my "Fatigued" post. Here's the update: there is good news and bad news.

My mother's eyesight is increasingly better. Her brain is increasingly coordinating her eyeballs. For those of you who don't know she has had cataract surgery on both eyes and then had to have emergency surgery subsequently as both retinas detached. All in all she has had 11 surgeries on her eyes so far in quite a short time span. She still has quite a bit of pain although it is slowly getting better. She is now able to get out into her garden - which is the best therapy there is for her - and she is able to resume writing her garden column for the local paper. Unfortunately, the two other things she loves, sewing & reading, are still beyond her reach despite 5 different pairs of glasses. Unfortunately, she keeps having set backs.

The Disreputable Dog seems lately much improved. The tests were inconclusive - yes, there was abnormal growth in his left front shoulder but not enough to tell definitively if any of it was cancer. But in the last few weeks he has his spirit back and the rest of the household menagerie no longer does periodic nose checks with him to see if he is okay. His limp has decreased markedly and we have been able to go back to our regular length walks. I'm not yet taking him hiking and he's still rather slow and going down stairs seems very difficult but at the moment we're taking a hiatus from veterinary visits and tests.

As for the bad news the Original Marlboro Man is doing very poorly. Twice now we've all rushed to his side only to have him recover. He is grimly determined to hang on despite being increasingly miserable. In addition, the bookstore has been broken into and robbed twice in the last week. This is particularly upsetting as it seems to be someone who is or has worked here in the past - it is discomfiting to be suspicious of our co-workers and to know that they must be suspicious of me.

Due to all the goings on, I have fallen behind in absolutely everything in my life so please don't be hurt if I haven't visited lately! I'm even missing the wedding of two very dear, long term friends of mine this weekend - I hope they are having fabulous weather and a fabulous time! My best wishes to you both! Here's to wishing you a long and peaceful marriage.

Summer Fairs

Things I love about summer fairs:

- children drawing with chalk on closed off streets
- live bands even when they aren't good
- pancake breakfasts
- crafts booths
- library booksales
- children running around in car free zones
- waving to people in the parade
- a sense of community

my 5 year old niece & 3 year old nephew at the fair

Things I'm not so fond of in regards to summer fairs:

- cheap stuff that is either "free" or for which children whine for
- parents buying other people's children cheap stuff which perpetuates it (because then you have to buy their kids stuff or rush up and buy your kids it before it gets bought for you)
- sugar crashes once the parade candy wears off

13 August 2008

Endangered Species Act Endangered

There's been a lot of rather distressing news flying under the radar as Olympic Games play on. This is just one of them - a move by the United States President to weaken the Endangered Species Act - and it has escaped the notice of most. And since I think it's pretty damn important - and perhaps more in the realm of something I can do something about - I'm reporting it here just in case any of you missed it. Please, if this is an issue you care about and you are a US citizen, write your politicians.

By DINA CAPPIELLO Mon Aug 11, 7:22 PM ET
(AP and Yahoo News) - also reported elsewhere

Parts of the Endangered Species Act may soon be extinct. The Bush administration wants federal agencies to decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants.

New regulations, which don't require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews government scientists have been performing for 35 years, according to a draft first obtained by The Associated Press.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said late Monday the changes were needed to ensure that the Endangered Species Act would not be used as a "back door" to regulate the gases blamed for global warming. In May, the polar bear became the first species declared as threatened because of climate change. Warming temperatures are expected to melt the sea ice the bear depends on for survival.

The draft rules would bar federal agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats.

"We need to focus our efforts where they will do the most good," Kempthorne said in a news conference organized quickly after AP reported details of the proposal. "It is important to use our time and resources to protect the most vulnerable species. It is not possible to draw a link between greenhouse gas emissions and distant observations of impacts on species."

If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of endangered species regulations since 1986. They would accomplish through rules what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Interior Department, said he was "deeply troubled" by the changes.

"This proposed rule ... gives federal agencies an unacceptable degree of discretion to decide whether or not to comply with the Endangered Species Act," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. "Eleventh-hour rulemakings rarely if ever lead to good government."

The new regulations follow a pattern by the Bush administration not to seek input from its scientists. The regulations were drafted by attorneys at both the Interior and Commerce Departments. Scientists with both agencies were first briefed on the proposal last week during a conference call, according to an official who asked not to be identified.

Last month, in similar fashion, the Environmental Protection Agency surprised its scientific experts when it decided it did not want to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The rule changes unveiled Monday would apply to any project a federal agency would fund, build or authorize that the agency itself determines is unlikely to harm endangered wildlife and their habitat. Government wildlife experts currently participate in tens of thousands of such reviews each year.

The revisions also would limit which effects can be considered harmful and set a 60-day deadline for wildlife experts to evaluate a project when they are asked to become involved. If no decision is made within 60 days, the project can move ahead.

"If adopted, these changes would seriously weaken the safety net of habitat protections that we have relied upon to protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years," said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming initiative.

Under current law, federal agencies must consult with experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether a project is likely to jeopardize any endangered species or to damage habitat, even if no harm seems likely. This initial review usually results in accommodations that better protect the 1,353 animals and plants in the U.S. listed as threatened or endangered and determines whether a more formal analysis is warranted.

The Interior Department said such consultations are no longer necessary because federal agencies have developed expertise to review their own construction and development projects, according to the 30-page draft obtained by the AP.

"We believe federal action agencies will err on the side of caution in making these determinations," the proposal said.

The director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dale Hall, said the changes would help focus expertise on "where we know we don't have a negative effect on the species but where the agency is vulnerable if we don't complete a consultation."

Responding to questions about the process, Hall said, "We will not do anything that leaves the public out of this process."

The new rules were expected to be formally proposed immediately, officials said. They would be subject to a 30-day public comment period before being finalized by the Interior Department. That would give the administration enough time to impose the rules before November's presidential election. A new administration could freeze any pending regulations or reverse them, a process that could take months. Congress could also overturn the rules through legislation, but that could take even longer.

The proposal was drafted largely by attorneys in the general counsel's offices of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Interior Department, according to an official with the National Marine Fisheries Service, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan hadn't yet been circulated publicly. The two agencies' experts were not consulted until last week, the official said.

Between 1998 and 2002, the Fish and Wildlife Service conducted 300,000 consultations. The National Marine Fisheries Service, which evaluates projects affecting marine species, conducts about 1,300 reviews each year.

The reviews have helped safeguard protected species such as bald eagles, Florida panthers and whooping cranes. A federal government handbook from 1998 described the consultations as "some of the most valuable and powerful tools to conserve listed species."

In recent years, however, some federal agencies and private developers have complained that the process results in delays and increased construction costs.

"We have always had concerns with respect to the need for streamlining and making it a more efficient process," said Joe Nelson, a lawyer for the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition, a trade group for home builders and the paper and farming industry.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, called the proposed changes illegal.

"This proposed regulation is another in a continuing stream of proposals to repeal our landmark environmental laws through the back door," she said. "If this proposed regulation had been in place, it would have undermined our ability to protect the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the gray whale."

The Bush administration and Congress have attempted with mixed success to change the law.

In 2003, the administration imposed similar rules that would have allowed agencies to approve new pesticides and projects to reduce wildfire risks without asking the opinion of government scientists about whether threatened or endangered species and habitats might be affected. The pesticide rule was later overturned in court. The Interior Department, along with the Forest Service, is currently being sued over the rule governing wildfire prevention.

In 2005, the House passed a bill that would have made similar changes to the Endangered Species Act, but the bill died in the Senate.

The sponsor of that bill, then-House Natural Resources chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif., told the AP Monday that allowing agencies to judge for themselves the effects of a project will not harm species or habitat.

"There is no way they can rubber stamp everything because they will end up in court for every decision," he said.

But internal reviews by the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that about half the unilateral evaluations by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that determined wildfire prevention projects were unlikely to harm protected species were not legally or scientifically valid.

Those had been permitted under the 2003 rule changes.

"This is the fox guarding the hen house. The interests of agencies will outweigh species protection interests," said Eric Glitzenstein, the attorney representing environmental groups in the lawsuit over the wildfire prevention regulations. "What they are talking about doing is eviscerating the Endangered Species Act."

On the Net:

Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/endangered

National Marine Fisheries Service: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/esa/

National Wildlife Federation: http://www.nwf.org/news

30 July 2008


It's been a heck of a week and a half. I wanted to write last night but I was exhausted beyond reckoning and actually went to bed at 7pm. Here it is roughly, in sequence and bulleted.

*The day before the lightning hike I took the Disreputable Dog to an veterinary orthopedist. Over the past few weeks he has been limping so badly in favor of his front left shoulder that he can no longer walk around the block without having to stop for a rest. The orthopedist ruled out any of the usual suspects and concluded with the thoughts that there is a strong possibility of either bone or nerve cancer. Neither of which are good. He recommended us to a osteology research clinic/ school ~250miles (~400km) to the north of Town At The Confluence Of Two Gold Medal Trout Streams (where I live) in Town Known For It's Veterinary College.

*Lightning Hike - a good break from reality - see previous post.

*Lucky for us we didn't overnight because the retina in my mother's other eye ripped that night. An early morning drive to Oil Drilling Town (~110mile/ ~180km to the west of Town At The Confluence Of Two Gold Medal Trout Streams) for more surgery.

*Next day a 5 hour drive to Town Known For It's Veterinary College. First we manage to arrange for Life Long Friend to take the Parental Dog for the day, and for Life Long Neighbor to come check in on my mom while my father and I get up at 4am for the drive. We get to the college and they take a bunch more x-rays, convinced that the orthopedist may have missed some views (can I say at this point - thank goodness I signed up for veterinary insurance for my dog while in grad school as I didn't want to ever have to choose between rent/food and my dog. If you don't have pet insurance, and you are in North America, I recommend VPI - it's better then human health insurance in the US).

*Good news: there is nothing in his lungs or soft tissue so if he does have cancer it hasn't spread there. Bad news, they still don't know what it is so we will be back for bone scans (for bone cancer) and MRI's (for nerve cancer).

*We leave Town Known For It's Veterinary College the same day, I have to get back to work, and unfortunately I'm late due to road construction (which is hard to plan for when you are driving 10 hours) an so a series of complicated phone calls ensue. Luckily my co-workers are most understanding.The Dalai Lama came to Famous Intellectual Ski Town and the bookstore had put together a bookstore for it which means that everybody is working this week and there really wasn't anybody to call but a few people who are willing to extend their hours (thank you!)

Lama who is in town the day after trip one to Town Known For It's *Because we have the bookstore we also have free lawn tickets to the actual talk by the DalaiVeterinary College. I take the bus up with my sister's step sister and my bike and we find a nice place among the aspen trees to listen. It's an interesting talk although he's a bit difficult to understand. He has a childish giggle that we understand more clearly then anything else. But forget zen (I'm kidding!), I have 1.5 hours to bike ~30miles (~50km) from Famous Intellectual Ski Town to Town At The Confluence Of Two Gold Medal Trout Streams before I have to be at work. I'm desperate to fit some exercise in here - usually I bike/ run/ hike at least once a day but with all this driving there hasn't been any. So I pedal like a mad woman and get to work with 5 minutes to spare.

*Next day is my day off. I go briefly to a summer festival then there's more news. Brother-in-Law's mother is ill with heart problems so he rushes off to Kansas. Sister's mother is in town to work on more permanent care for step father (original Marlboro man) and as they come west over the Continental Divide I go east to Mile High City where the Disreputable Dog and I spend the night at sister's step-sister's house (how's that for confusing?) alone and get up bright and early to make a 730am appointment at the veterinary college which is still a bit north. The Disreputable Dog spends the whole day getting a bone scan - they use the radio active element technetium to scan for unusual growth in the bones - and waiting until he is no longer "hot" and is safe to be picked up. And then it's back home again with another late arrival.

*Despite tiredness I cannot help but notice how beautiful the mountains are on our way back. There has been a rain and the mists are rising up the treeless hillsides. The small town we stop in for a walk is spotlighted in evening sunlight with a rainbow arching over it.

*Get up super early because a) the vet has called with results at 6am - the results are inconclusive. There seems to be unusual turnover in the left shoulder but not enough to determine whether it is cancer, and b) because my parents are back off to Oil Drilling City for another eye appointment. I'm off to work early and I'm so tired I feel like I'm hallucinating. And despite the fact that I have several telephone calls to return, some bills to pay, and a blog to catch up on I ignore it all and go to bed at the soonest possible moment.

22 July 2008

Carter Lake Hike

A flash of lightning dances along the mountain ridge. One one-thousand, Two one-thou-KABOOM! The thunder was so loud that I involuntarily sat down as did the Parental Dog (PDog). The problem was though, that we were at approximately 11,000 feet above sea level (~3,400m) and slightly above treeline - a bad place to be when the lightning is so close which is was. The rule of thumb is that if you can count to 15 after seeing the lightning before you hear the thunder then the lightning is 5 miles away, anything less then that is considered dangerous as lightning not infrequently travels 5 miles between strikes. We started to run, crouched low like crabs against the ground, going from krumholz (the twisted stunted trees at treeline) clump to krumholz clump.

My dad and his dog (PDog)

My father and the PDog were out for an over nighter, I was out for a day hike. We had reached their campsite earlier and had dropped his pack (with his rain jacket) at the site he had selected and then had hiked up beyond the lake to the pass. Hail and rain were coming down hard and the lightning zapped around us the thunder cracking so loudly in the air it was hard not jump. I stopped briefly under a clump of krumholz to dig out a wool shirt and my rain jacket. The PDog stops with me, relieved we are taking shelter, as my father dashes across a boulder field. As soon as I have my jacket on I am urging the PDog across the boulder field as my dad yells "stay low" at us - crabbing as quickly and lowly as possible across wet rock while trying not to do something stupid that might injure me. We quickly descend into the forest where we take refuge under a stand of spruce in a relatively dry space. My father is drenched. We wait no less then 20 minutes before the electric show slows down enough for us to resume hiking. And then we wait one more minute just to be sure. While there we snack, I put my long johns on, my dad puts on my wool hat, we count the distance between each strike and the thunder.

Owl's Clover

Finally we resume hiking and the ground is covered with hail that crunches under our feet. We still move rather fast and we reach the campsite to find everything drenched and my father decides to hike out with me. The final deciding point is that the PDog is absolutely drenched, wetter then I have ever seen her (despite her water-dog roots she does not like to get wet above the ankles) and would have to share a very tight space under a tarp. It turns out to be a very good decision as the roads are all washed out on our way back and there are mudslides turning the river red with silt. I am glad for the immediacy of the storm, it has pushed out of my mind all of the contemplations and worries about the Disreputable Dog's health, my mother's health, and jobs and put me square in the here and now - delighting even in the torrents of water pouring onto the trail, over my boots, and onto the road below.

18 July 2008

Tibetan Poetry

Yesterday we had a reading of Tibetan Poets at the bookstore, read by 4 actors. I wanted to share this one with you.

MADE IN CHINA by Tsoltim N Shakabpa
made in china
by unpaid prisoners
made in china
by starving prisoners
made in china
by brainwashed prisoners
made in china
by tortured prisoners
made in china
by dying prisoners
made in china
from dead prisoners
would you buy anything
made in china?

17 July 2008

Auto Insurance

Conversation with my auto insurance customer representative (CR) regarding the hole in my windshield which desperately needs to be fixed (see post: Mile 1,380/ Km 2,221 (Yukon Territory & British Columbia) .

CR: What make is your vehicle?
WS: '96 Toyota Tacoma
CR: Where did the chip happen?
WS: When I was driving through the Yukon on my way to Colorado from Alaska.
CR: No, where did the chip happen?
WS: The Yukon Territory.
CR: No, not the make of the car, where?
WS: Um...the Yukon Territory is a Province of Canada - it's kind of like a state in the US.
CR: I thought you meant you were driving your Yukon car when it happened. So the Yukon is a state?
WS: Um, my vehicle is a Tacoma. The Yukon is a territory of Canada, it is similar to a state.
CR: Why were you driving in Canada?
WS: You have to drive through Canada to get to Colorado from Alaska.
CR: Are you sure?
WS: Quite.
CR: So what date did this happen??

16 July 2008

Fame & Fortune

Two women came into the bookstore, one looked mildly familiar but it wasn't until Colleague-Who-Sometimes-Terrifies-the-Customers turned on a brilliant smile and charming manner that I was sure. They wore tattered unkempt clothes the way the famous do when they don't want to be recognized. I did not recognize the woman from her fame, although I'm mildly aware of it, but because she is the mother of sommeone I went to school with. Said daughter is now quite famous herself and her face has appeared, to my astonishment, on the tabloids lining the grocery store aisles. I have never been one for knowing who is famous - I've never lived in a house with a television, I didn't see my first movie until I was eleven, and living in remote places for extended periods of time means that I only see them in blocks and spurts (I do enjoy a good movie - don't get me wrong) - and although I seem capable of remembering the latin names for all 6 sub-species of wild turkey in North America I never seem to remember the names of the famous, not the singers who's songs I like, not movie stars, not sports heroes. It's something that comes in handy in this town which lies down valley of a playground of the rich and famous who like to pretend that they aren't.

I was not entirely sure whether I should say anything but if it was the mother of any of my other classmates I would ask because I'm always curious what people I once knew are up to. So when she bought her book I asked "You are So-and-So's mother, aren't you?". She was a bit surprised, surprised perhaps, that I didn't ask her to confirm herself to be her own famous self. I explained that I had gone to school together with her daughter and her face lit up. When I asked how her daughter was doing she said "well, she's arrived, she's made it". Well, what else did I expect? She probably would expect me to sell any real information to the paparazzi. How was she to know that I would never do such a thing? That it wouldn't cross my mind (I mean, I wouldn't even reveal her identity to you all)? Then she relented and said, "you know, thank you for asking, because just because she's famous doesn't mean it's been easy". We then talked about her sons one of whom is also famous and another who seems to be going somewhere with rugby. But what surprised me was that the one child she seemed the proudest of was the one pursuing his PhD in a difficult Asian language. She said she would pass on my greetings to her daughter and I wonder if she will remember me? I rather tend to think not since she has probably met thousands of people since being famous, but then how do you forget your classmates out of a class size of 12?

It's funny, because what I most remember about her was her ferocious temper. I wonder if she still has that temper? All of the super market tabloids that she has graced show her beautiful and smiling. She was lucky at first that they treated her well, but in the past years she has gotten rougher treatment and I hope that she does not see them although I'm sure she stands in super market aisles occasionally herself and cannot avoid them all together. I cannot imagine living life in that spotlight and would not want to but I hope she goes well.

14 July 2008

Mixed messages

So today I got turned down for a job I interviewed for and I got asked out on a date.

A very hardy primrose growing out of a concrete block

(PS - the answers are up on my music meme if you are curious)

13 July 2008

Hiking & Swimming

Another weekend hike, this time with Life-Time Friend and two of her girlfriends. This time the hike was another short 8miles because I wanted to get back to take my nephew, H, swimming, and because one of the girlfriends was leaving dad at home with the new baby for the first time and didn't want to be gone too long. It was another glorious day and it got warm enough to initiate the first skinny dipping of the season. The first is always the hardest - throwing your warm body into streams or lakes full of fresh snow or ice melt - but once you've done the first one you pretty much have to do it every hike that the weather is nice. In comparison the local municipal pool was a hot tub.

The only bad thing about the hike was that the Disreputable Dog (DDog)was not allowed to go. He has some sort of severe shoulder injury and is on restricted activity and will be seeing a doggy orthopedist next week. It nearly broke my heart (and likely his) to leave him behind. The Parental Dog (PDog) was more then happy to be spoiled for all that she is always nervous hiking about the unseen wildebeests that might be lurking out there and just waiting to pounce on her. The PDog has very poor eyesight and a very active imagination. My favorite story about her is of my dad taking her backpacking for the first time. He was sitting on a log eating his super with her sitting in front of him when an owl hooted off to the front of them. She promptly got up and went and sat behind my father! Brave she is not and as such she is usually glad to have the DDog there to have her back. Although Summit was there (the dog of Life-Long Friend) we were dog poor - I cannot remember the last time I went on an outdoor outing (discounting fieldwork) with other people where the dogs were not at least equal in number to humans if not exceeding them.

On my return H and I had a lovely time at the local pool where he showed me how he knows to blow out the air underwater by saying "artichoke" (which is a rather difficult word for him) and where we generally bounced and splashed around until his teeth were chattering and we had to lay on the hot concrete to warm up - him with his butt in the air. On our way home we stopped to look at his grandfather's current project which is to get the pool to be entirely dependent on solar energy.

11 July 2008

Of Children & Art

My just-3 year old nephew, H, has come for a week long visit (without his sister) with his grandparents and aunt. It's a bit tough with my mother's eyes, but my dad and I manage to tag team most of it even with my odd working schedule. H is a cuddle bug and has inherited his grandfather's sweet tooth. You know how some people have cognac before bed? Well, my father has a glass of maple syrup. Yep, that's right. When we were little my sister and I always had to hide any candy we had from his insatiable sweet tooth - not that he doesn't share, he's very generous but you have to get to it before he does. Tonight he had made homemade strawberry shortcake and my nephew was so excited he flapped his arms in the air and said "thank goodness the food is here!"
H experiments with the dog head cone as toy/ clothing

We've had a few bears through our yard this spring, mostly a mama black bear and her cub, and H has heard stories about them. For some reason he was talking about them and saying how if the bears come by at night he'll just punch them in the mouth. We mentioned that this would probably not work and he'd best let Disreputable Dog take care of it since he knows all about bears and what to do, when H raced inside and closed the door behind him to "keep the bears out before we go to bed".

The Disreputable Cat also enjoys the dog collar

Before joining H for dinner I went off to an art gallery opening called "We will be rich for the rest of our lives" of a childhood friend of mine, Gabe Liston - it was fabulous. He does these wonderful things called Blue Book tiles where he actually uses old books as canvases. He also does wonderful things with light in his paintings. Check out some of his work over at Lastwater and click on paintings or Blue Tiles for artwork. His subject is mostly children and he has a great knack for catching those emotional childhood moments.

09 July 2008

Weekend Hike

I worked the US holiday on the 4th of July and the weekend but had Monday and Tuesday off. Luckily, Atmospheric Chemist friend can take any day off he chooses in the summer since he works at a teaching college. He came up from Oil Drilling city with his dog and we had a lovely 8mile- 2,000 foot elevation gain - hike up to a pretty mountain lake. There was still some snow at the last bit but the lake was beautiful and we had it to ourselves.

Atmospheric Chemist friend and I met in Alaska where I was attending grad school and he doing a post-doc. It's one of the serendipitous things in life that finds us in the same state. He's altogether glad to come west to cooler elevations this time of year as I was happy to join him in the desert regions in early spring.

I came home to good news - my mother's latest eye appointment went well and she did not need additional surgery! She has now had 4 surgeries on her right eye and one on her left (and will need additional surgery on the left once the right completely heals). And blessedly she no longer has to lay still with her head at a 75 degree angle below her shoulders! Her vision is recovering, albeit slowly, and the spectre of blindness fades from our thoughts. It turns out that a childhood illness - ricketts - which the doctor did not believe she had (it has been an uncommon thing in North America for some time as it caused by malnutrition) made her more susceptible to retinal detachment. Who knew?

08 July 2008

Six Word Memoir Meme

Tagged by was tagged by Doris Rose of MacBean's Adventures & Silver Fox for this meme to write my own six word memoir. I apologize for the long delay it took before I did it!! So here are three possible six word memoirs for me... (except mine only have 5!).

"Always takes the scenic route"
"Pays attention to the details"


06 July 2008

Music Shuffle Meme

edited on 7/14 to add: Okay already, I guess nobody wanted to guess so here are the answers ! I wish you could hear how totally different this music sounds played next to each other.

Tagged by CAE at VWXYnot? I'm not tagging because I suspect that this has already made it's rounds while I was on my blog-break. But if you didn't do it and you want to - have at! - just leave a comment saying so. So the rules are that I am supposed to post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song, and then you all are supposed to guess the artist and song that the line comes from. Erm, just looking at my list there are some really esoteric songs there but okay (and you can probably tell by my list why I'm no good at guess on other people's lists). The other rule is that I am supposed to cross out the line when someone gets it right (and when someone does I'll put it in orange) ...anyone want to enlighten me as to how to do that? Help! 'Cause I haven't' figured that whole text crossing out thing yet. And then I'll post the answers in a week or so.

So here goes nothing!

1/"When I was a child, nobody smiled..." is Nobody Knows Me At All by the Weepies
2/"Something is calling me into the mountains..." is Into the Mountains sung by Lisa Dancing Light (remember this one from the school musicals???)
3/"Es kamm Mamhad Mustafeh aus der Turkei..." is Bruder by Rainhard Fendrich
4/erm, this song has lots of saxophone in it...no words...solo jazz saxophonist is Serenity by Clarence Clemons
5/On the Road Again by Willie Nelson "On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again..."
6/"Trying just to be, and I'm trying hard just to breathe..." is Soul Swimming by Beecake
7/"Well I was sitting, waiting, wishing...." is Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Jack Johnson
8/"Well it's been a long time, I knew we'd be together another time, another place..." is I'm Alright by Jo Dee Messina
9/"She's beating full of steel and holds a hardy, hardy crew, and there's lots of work to do..." is The Salty Sea by Alaska's Hobo Jim
10/Love Song by Sara Bareilles "Head under water, and they tell me to breathe easy for awhile..."
11/Non je ne regrette rien by Edith Piaf "Non je ne regrette rien..."
12/"I've got you under my skin, I have got you under my skin..." is I've got you under my skin sung by Diana Krall (Propter Doc & ScienceGirl had the right song)
13/"He drove her heart just like he used to..." is What you didn't say by Mary Chapin Carpenter
14/"Ein kalter shower jagt, mir durch die Haut..." is Noch ein Leben by PUR
15/"The years grow shorter not longer..." is Wonder why we ever go home by Jimmy Buffett
16/Superman (It's not easy) by Five for Fighting "I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive..."
17/"It doesn't get any lonelier than this..." is Lonlier than this by Steve Earle
18/"Stone blind, alibi...." is Alibi by David Gray
19/"Are you breathing when I'm breathing?" is The Consequences of Falling by k.d. lang
20/"Auf dem weg zu mir, habe ich mich oft verlaufen..." is Auf dem Weg Zu Mir by Steppenwolf
21/"Llego la banda q toca todo el dia..." is Esta Borracha by Los Borgi
22/"Home is behind the world ahead..." is The Steward of Gondor from the Two Towers/ Lord of the Rings Soundtrack
23/...this one I'm going to post the title and if you can guess the artist, fabulous. The language is Twi and, to be honest, although I sign along to it I would probably totally butcher the spelling. It's called Wo ho kyere by Daddy Lumba.
24/"I wake up, looking around my room, all my dreams crystalline clear..." is Winter Dreams by Jan Garrett
25/""si, ya es hora de esconder..." is Te Dejo Madrid by Sharira

Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.Step 4: Strike through when someone gets them right. Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is cheating.