Dog Days

6 06 2009
Dax on deck

Dax on deck

We had a great 3 days sailing and hiking around Sucia Island! Click on Dax for the rest of the photos on Flickr.

I’ve caught up with work and most of my sleep, had scintillating discussion at our monthly Saukrates Cafe, did most of the laundry, watered the garden, planted out some of the overgrown transplants, and generally played catch up around here. Blogging will resume shortly.

But first, the dog story.

We did not leave her lying in the middle of road, drown while attempting to rescue her from the river or any of the other crazy variations of the tale that flew around the Upriver grapevine! 🙂

Usually Maija stays with Dave & Julie when we can’t take her, but this time she had hurt herself launching after a bobcat scent trail and was pretty gimped up. Clancy’s a pretty energetic dog and Maija loves to play with him and the kids so we decided we’d try to enforce her taking it easy and leave her with Dave & Sharon. Chance & Louie are a bit more mellow and they’d be separated part of the day as they were inside and Maija was outside while Dave & Sharon were at work. After all, she never wanders and she was too sore to do so. We thought.

Apparently Maija took it upon herself to go two doors down and visit Shuksan, Billie and Sarah over at Rebecca & Andy’s. This didn’t actually involve proper socializing as Maija was shy and just laid in the road instead! Rebecca returned Maija over to Dave & Sharon’s, but then Maija came back the next day since Dave & Sharon were unaware of her daytime wanderings, but this time she wouldn’t move! Poor Rebecca spent her time trying to get Maija out of the road, calling around to find out where we were, and finally Julie came over and Maija hopped right in to her car. At least she was now out of the road, but where the heck were we?

Maija had no collar (she’d been swimming), was limping (although this is fairly normal), and no one was answering any of the phones! Keith’s cell phone display is broken and his battery was dead so that was turned off while we were out on the boat. Mine was off too. No one answered at home, of course. Luckily we called Dave as we were rounding Point Whitehorn. We gave the iron genny a bit more juice since the wind had died and started home as quickly as we could. 4 hours later we picked up Maija and heard all about it.

We’re still hearing about it. 😉

The great thing about this fiasco is that it truly highlights why it’s so nice to live in a small community like this one. Everyone only had parts of the story, but they all came together to help us out. Maija was cared for and now everyone has a story to tell. At least Jason assures me that it won’t be in the next issue of the paper.

Maija the instigator

Maija the instigator

Meanwhile I have a batch of “thank you” dog cookies to bake and distribute with bottles of wine. I can’t wait to hear what else has been happening while we were gone.


Yay or nay? Vacation …

29 05 2009

Last year’s buzzword was “staycation”, is this years “naycation“?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly going camping and sailboat camping this year as usual. We still want to go to Yellowstone, the Badlands and way up north into BC, but we’re sticking closer to home. This year we have chickens, but we’ve often taken month-long camping trips when our own personal economies have been in the doldrums. Of course, gas was cheaper then too.

Still we’re going to pick up a Northwest Forest Pass and take advantage of living on the edge of the North Cascades National Park and the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. With that $30 investment into our daytrips, we still need to get some good camping in too. We have beautiful state parks here, but we’re not interested in investing $20 per night or making reservations just to listen to someone’s generator drone on while they watch DVD’s. Luckily not all the state parks are like that, but it seems there’s nothing but huge RV’s everywhere! So the trick is to go where they’re not …

Camping in the Okanagon National Forest for $8/night

Camping in the Okanagon National Forest for $8/night

There are deals to be had too. A great book to have on hand when you’re out and about without an itinerary is Ray’s Guide to Free Campgrounds in Washington State. Oregon and Idaho have their own volumes and it can save you searching for a site in the dark or from sleeping in a parking lot by the Columbia River (in 24F degree weather no less, but that’s another story). Also we have public lands such as those administered by the BLM and various other resources.

If you’re lucky enough to be boating, you can find plenty of moorage in our marine parks system. Let’s not forget the Gulf Islands either! When boating, a mooring buoy is usually less than $10 per night and anchoring out is free. If you’re sailing like we do and anchoring out, you can usually have several weeks of vacation for the cost of much less than 5 gallons of gas. That’s not including the cost of the hole in the water, of course. 😉

Sailboat camping $0/night (NIC boat)

Sailboat camping $0/night (NIC boat)

So I say YAY for an inexpensive vacation!

Okanogan County (Twisp & Winthrop)

30 01 2008

Ever since the North Cascades Highway opened in 1972, my family has made the drive almost every year. Usually it’s just a weekend jaunt, but we’ve been known to spend more time “east of the mountains” as well. If the road is open, we certainly use it as our preferred means for crossing over. While there are plenty of the familiar and favorites to revisit every year, it seems that new discoveries are to be made every time.

Local 98856 Sign

This year, one such discovery was Local 98856. Sound a bit like a union? It is, of sorts. A group got together and set up a commercial kitchen cooperative – a union of community. Farmstand, coffee shop or a quick place to pick up dinner, it’s many things, but most importantly it is a celebration of local foods in Okanogan County. The apples might have come from an orchard 8 miles away and the beer just a few blocks. The story in PDF

Glover Street Market in Twisp

Although we knew of it, we hadn’t visited Glover Street Market before. Often we’re just getting started on a camping trip so we’re already provisioned when we pass through the area or we’re enjoying the local restaurants during a short weekend visit. This time we planned a stop since I knew they carried Bluebird Grain Farms’ emmer in bulk. I picked up 5 lbs. of emmer and a few other things at this natural foods grocery.

I was a little disappointed at the dearth of some local ingredients (eggs, meat), but it was well-stocked for a small shop. If I was shopping, I’d visit the Local first and then finish off my grocery list at this store. A nice surprise, however, was a cute little mushroom bag which are made locally. Pretty good groceries, as they say.

Cinnamon Twisp

Besides, that sort of order of things would allow me to stock up on fresh-baked breads and other goodies at Cinnamon Twisp!

Tappi Restaurant, Twisp

Just down the block and across the street is another new find! Tappi is a welcoming and delicious place to have dinner before heading back across the pass. Since it’s just a 2 hour drive for us, we had planned on making it an occasional Monday night tradition as long as their special (free Margherita pizza with a bottle of wine) held out, but
unfortunately the pass got nasty. We look forward to the opening of the highway and our next visit to Tappi. Yelp review

Lost River Winery Community Red

We didn’t choose this wine for our pizzas, but we did have it earlier at our dinner at the Mazama Country Inn. We always buy Lost River wines while in the area and my mother buys it by the case delivered to Anacortes. It’s also available by the bottle at Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp, Winthrop Red Apple Market and, of course, at many of the local restaurants and shops.

Sweet River Bakery, Pateros, apple fritter

A somewhat accidental find was the Sweet River Bakery in Pateros. In the 36 (yipe!) years of visiting Okanogan County, we’ve never gone to Pateros that I recall. We’ll be going to Pateros now! We picked up pastries, custard, a hot cup of coffee, a couple loaves of bread and our email. What more could we ask for? More room in the car, I think. 😉

Some other places to go:

Twisp River Pub/Methow Brewing

Rocking Horse Bakery in Winthrop

Winthrop Brewing

Local 99586 jam

Wherever you are in Winthrop or Twisp, ask for Blue Star Coffee and enjoy what Okanogan County and the Methow Valley have to offer. Keep your eyes open, you might discover something new in an old favorite!

Sweet River Bakery almond claw

Before you go:

Methow Valley’s Buy Local Page

Sustainable Methow & Sustinere magazine

WSDOT Mountain Passes

Cleaning up well

14 11 2007

Of course we’re all vacuuming and shoving life’s detritus under the bed to get the house ready for the big Local Thanksgiving 2007, but that’s not today’s topic. Besides all the baking and menu planning, this time of year brings more parties and night’s out. Some of us actually have to get out of the house clothes and look decent. 😉

Many years ago, I more or less stopped wearing makeup, but every once in a while it’s fun to put on a nice dress and a little color on the cheeks. For me, this usually means buying new mascara since the old one is … well … old and sometimes dried up. As it happens as I was picking up some items at Super Supplements, a small Washington retail chain, I noticed an attractive wooden makeup display. Pots and tubes of testers allowed me to examine everything thoroughly and there were also ingredients lists
on all the items. Moreover, I could recognize and pronounce those ingredients!

Gabriel Cosmetics mascara

I also recognized Bellevue! Gabriel Cosmetics, Inc. has apparently pulled it off. Makeup without bizarre, sometimes toxic, ingredients that actually works. Well, at least the mascara does. I’ll have to buy some of the other products to be sure, but mascara is the clincher product for me.

While I was there, I picked up some Uncle Harry’s tooth powder and some jasmine essential oil (used instead of perfume). Apparently health and beauty products are also being produced in Redmond. After I get my teeth cleaned in mid-December, I’ll report back on the success or failure of the tooth powder. I have a problem area back where my wisdom teeth were removed so, after reading many testimonials, I thought I could give the product a try. I’m using my usual fluoridated Tom’s of Maine toothpaste at night because the tooth powder doesn’t contain that useful ingredient (that I want in my toothpaste and not my water).

Anyway, I’d been meaning to post about these products and possibly others soon, but what prompted me to get on it was listening to Weekday’s show on KUOW yesterday Toys Aren’t the Only Thing That’s Toxic. Follow the other links at the bottom of Weekday’s page, but definitely visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. You can check to see which companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

Another item that I picked up (at the co-op) recently is Suncoat Product’s All Natural Hairspray. Since it’s made in Ontario, it’s hardly a local product, but so far I haven’t been able to find anything locally made. I’ve used it once and it seemed to work well.

So that’s it for today’s testimonials. Hopefully, it helps make for a safer holiday season in all aspects!

I spy … cows

9 11 2007

Google Earth is a fun little application. It’s also a great time-sucker especially now when there are user images attached with Panoramio. It’s possible to while away a whole morning virtually traveling the planet. The good news is that it’s less expensive and less carbon intensive than doing it in person. And it’s free.

So anyway, I spent some of my morning spying on cows. 🙂

Fresh Breeze Dairy, Whatcom

So there’s Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy up in Whatcom County. You can even see the cows in the pasture!

I’ve mentioned that I’ve stopped buying Aurora organic butter (although I’m still working through my stash in the freezer) until they shape up. What’s the problem? A class action suit and their general lack of adherence to organic standards. Unsure that this isn’t just an activist kerfuffle? Have a look for yourself!

Aurora Dairy, Dublin, TX

Because the dairy is so large, the satellite image is from a higher elevation, but you can see that the “pastures” that the cows have access to are small and consist of dirt (or more likely poo).

Now it might not be fair to compare a small 100 cow operation with a large 2,800 cow factory dairy, but since they’re both USDA-certified organic, one would assume they would look similar in concept if not in scale.

While I was at it, I flew over Greeley, Colorado where ConAgra’s and Monfort’s feedlots are located. This is not a dairy, this is where most cows end up to be fattened before being processed at the rate of several hundred per hour in a meat packing plant.

Greeley CAFO

This one is zoomed out even farther so I included a little bit of measurement. This is a CAFO and it is 1.75 miles across. That’s a lot of cows!

Greeley Feed Lot Detail

I zoomed in a little bit. The square is about 1.5 acres in size and I can’t count how many cows there are. It’s cozy to say the least.  Looks a bit like E. coli on a Petri dish, doesn’t it? Some time ago, I found a disturbing US government document online that described the allowable amounts of various types of garbage, chicken litter, blood, etc. that could be fed to feedlot cattle. Once I find it again, I will post a link, but meanwhile here’s a little blurb about some of the goings on and also from the UCS.

Hmm … I guess that wasn’t so much fun after all. Let’s be thankful that we have choices here in the Skagit Valley.