Monday, December 30, 2013

Polly Leaf Person Land's on top a Bicylist Helmeted Head

  There comes a day in every leaf person's life when they fall from the safety of their branch. Sometimes they watch for days or weeks while all the other leaves around them are blown free. It is a time in a leaf's life that is full of anxiety but also excitement. Polly leaf person still remembers vividly the day she fell of her branch.

   It was a breezy day and below her Polly saw here leaf friends dancing around in the wind and scuttling across the cracked sidewalk. She thought wistfully that one day she would see what the world was like outside of a tree. And that is when it happened! A big gust of wind surged toward her from the cloudy sky and blew here off her branch. Down she went, swirling away from her tree. But instead of landing on a pile with her other leaf friends, she landed on a bicyclist! Polly landed right on top of the bicyclists helmet while he peddled down the road. 'Oh My!' Polly thought. 'How exhilarating!" It was quite the thrill for adventurous Polly. She got to see parts of the world she never knew existed. She had never seen a bridge before! or a river!  She had never seen a stop sign! She had never seen a house made of bricks, because all the houses near her tree were made of wood. She had never smelled coffee before. But when the bicyclist zoomed past a coffee shop, she inhaled the rich scent and decided it was her favorite smell in the world. That is, until two blocks later they rode past a bakery and Polly smelled freshly baked bread for the first time. 'Wow!' Polly thought, 'I want to spend the rest of my life on this bike helmet!' 
  When the bicyclist was nearly home, he was almost swiped by a ditzy driver. "Watch it!' the bicyclist yelled. After the driver sped away like a scoundrel, the bicyclist felt his heart beating rapidly in his chest. The bicyclist knew he just nearly missed death! When the bicyclist got home, he took off his helmet and saw Polly. 'My good luck charm!' he declared. And after that, he made sure that Polly was on his helmet for every bike ride. Polly sometimes missed her life in the tree. That is, until the next bike ride where she got to see amazing sights everyday! 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Most Beautiful Forest

   While in Vashon, David and I wondered through the most beautiful forest in the world! This forest has both coniferous and deciduous trees, making for quite a spectacular blend during mid-Fall. There was the lovely orange and yellow fall leaves but still plenty of thick greenery. Fog lingered in the forest, but sometimes bright sunlight would slip through the clouds. I love the smell of forests too! Moist soil, decaying leaves and pine. In the Pacific Northwest, our forests are very mossy. There is moss growing on everything and it makes the forest seem so soft and welcoming while still remaining cloaked with an air of mystery and magic. I love the small details in forests too, like the mushrooms or the banana slugs.
   Originally, we were going to go on a hike at a different location, but when we got there we had to turn around because the forest was closed for everyone except hunters. We certainly did not want to accidentally get shot while trying to enjoy the forest. But I was glad it was closed, because the trail we ended up at was so pretty.
   I find it very difficult to accurately capture the beauty of the forest in photographs. Of course, a picture of trees will be pretty because trees are pretty. But none of the photo's I took captured a fraction of what the actual experience of this forest was. So while viewing these pictures, imagine a forest kind of like what you see except five-hundred times more amazing!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wandering through an Undersea Wonderland

   I love going to the aquarium on rainy, windy days. It's so comfy to step in from the cold to the warm buzz of the aquarium. But there is also something nice about going back into the cold after spending a couple of hours wandering the aquarium. A stormy day spent at the aquarium really distinguishes how odd and other worldly the landscape and animals of the sea are. It is like spending a couple of hours in a daydream. When I go out into the rain, it just makes the daydream all that much sweeter.
   The day that Ces and I went to the aquarium, there was a thunderstorm raging above us by the time we stepped outside again. All the people around us dashed toward awnings and other dry spots. But Ces and I are seasoned Seattlites by now and we nonchalantly continued on our way as the rain plopped around us.
   I went to the Seattle Aquarium probably only a week or so after going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was a dangerous thing to do. With both aquariums so fresh in my mind, it would be impossible not to compare the two aquariums. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world renowned, so most other aquariums are going to seem shabby in comparison. I knew this when I decided to go to my local aquarium, but I was eager to see more sea animals. I knew I might be disappointed because a similar circumstance happened several years ago when David and I were in D.C. We went to the National Mall and wandered around all of the amazing, free museums. It was so much fun! The Natural History Museum was one of my favorites. I especially love the prehistoric mammals! It is fun to try and imagine what it would be like if some of these animals still existed in modern days. Instead of going to the forest with the hope of seeing a bear (from a safe distance) I would go to the forest in hopes of seeing a bear AND a giant sloth! Or instead of reading about dire wolves in 'Game of Thrones', people might actually have real pet dire wolves. After visiting the museum, I was in a Natural History mood so David and I went to our local Natural History Museum when we got back to Seattle. Boy, was it a disappointment! Not to rag on our museum, it is a very good museum, but it is hard to beat the Natural History Museum in D.C.
   So, with all this in mind, I went to the Seattle Aquarium, trying not to get my hopes too high. But, the opposite happened. I was pleasantly surprised about how good the Seattle Aquarium is and how it really holds it's own even when being compared to the Monterey Bay aquarium. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a much better jellyfish exhibit, and their 1,200,000 gallon tank is outstanding but the Seattle Aquarium surpassed Monterey in a couple of areas. First of all, the otters! Seattle has sea and river otters! Otters are pretty much the most adorable animals in the world, so it is hard to get to much of them. Also, the seals! I didn't even see a seal exhibit in Monterey. Our seal exhibit is full of adorable harbor seals! The seals have cute names too. One of the seals name is Barney. Barney the Seal! Some one needs to write a children's adventure book about him! Also, our octopus exhibit. The octopus exhibit in Monterey was really dark so it is hard to really appreciate the octopus. Other then that, Monterey probably would win. But my recent visit made me re-appreciate the aquarium in my own city.
   I also learned something interesting. All the otters around Seattle, whether seen in fresh or salt water are river otters. I thought if I saw an otter in the sound that it was a sea otter since the sound connects with the sea. But they are actually river otters!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joyous Boxing Day

  The only reason I know anything about Boxing Day is from reading British books or watching British movies. I quite like the idea of having another lesser holiday the day after Christmas. There is something melancholy about the day after Christmas. We just spent all this time, money, and energy preparing for this one, glorious day, and now it is over. Boxing Day seems like a good way to ease back into the normal rhythm of life. And then you get one last blast of holiday cheer on New Years before things are really normal again. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

  In Seattle, it did not snow on Christmas, but it did snow the Friday before Christmas!

  At the local plant nursery, I saw two reindeer and a camel. I was amazed by how large the camel was! I always imagined camels to be similar in size to a horse. The reindeer on the other hand were much tinier than I expected. I think I imagined reindeer also to be around the size of a horse.

  I love Christmas tree's. They are such an odd and wonderful tradition. I wish there were more excuses to bring tree's in to the home.

 Another thing I love about Christmas are cookies! Every year my mom and dad make pfeffernusses. These are German Christmas cookies flavored with an array of delicious spices. I make cookies around Christmas too, but I always make sugar cookies that I decorate and eat!

  Christmas dinner this year was fake meatloaf, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and veggie gravy and stuffing. A friend of mine informed me of an awesome vegetarian trick. The Stove Top brand 'for pork' type of stuffing is vegetarian!

And the most important part of the holiday... presents! Only joking, but of course I do love presents.

A. Windowsill herb garden kit!
B. Pallet box that keeps acrylic paint fresh for up to three weeks!
C. Awesome feathery owls!
D. A solar phone charger!
E. Narcisse bulbs!
F. Paint brushes!
G. Container Gardening Book!
H. A really amazing Science/Art books full of beautiful art and answers to intriguing questions. It is called 'The Where, The Why and The How.'
I. Paint Brush cleaner!
J. New wallet with an octopus!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holly Escapes the Leaf Pile

Here is Holly, another leaf person.

  Holly has always lived in the forest, ever since she was a tiny green leaf uncoiling on a tree branch and feeling the warm sun for the first time. She heard many stories of the city though, mostly from the crows and pigeons who visited the woods when they grew tired of city life. The city sounded like a marvelous place! With some blackberries she'd collected, she bribed a crow to take her on a trip to the city. The crow gripped onto Holly with is black talons and flew toward the city. When they arrived, Holly saw the tall buildings, the thousands of people, and all the roads. The surreal landscape was amazing. Holly was just about to tell her crow transporter about what a delightful and odd place the city was when the crow dropped her! It was not out of malice, the crow was just the sort prone to distraction. As soon as his eyes saw an abandoned lunch on a balcony, he forgot all about his responsibilities. Holly went swirling toward the sidewalk where she landed next to another leaf. "Hello!" Holly said to the city leaf. The city leaf however, was not keen on new friendships so he ignored Holly and continued looking up at the sky. Before Holly could make any further attempts toward pleasantries, she felt a forceful gust of wind. She realized that the wind she was feeling was not from the sky, but from an odd machine that a a man was pointing toward her! Holly, along with the rude city leaf were blown into a pile on the sidewalk corner. All the other city leaves in the pile muttered under their breath and sighed with annoyance at finding themselves in the undignified pile. Holly thought that perhaps she had misjudged the joy of the city. She missed the peace and friendliness of the forest. In the forest, there was no such thing as leaf piles. Leaves were allowed to scatter and land where every their heart desired without fear of redirection by a seemingly crazed man with a machine."And now," she thought, "I will never see my forest again." Thinking all hope was lost, she began to sob. But the scatterbrained and now full crow heard her gentle sobs and swooped down toward the leaf pile. "Crow!" Holly shouted in joy. "Holly!" the crow said, "Hop on my back and I'll take you back to the woods." As Holly flew home on her heroic crow's back, she thought "The city is an interesting place indeed. But I am grateful to live in a place where the leaves are free."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Amazing Mushrooms

   Why did everyone want to be best friends with the mushroom? Because he was a fun-guy! Hahaha! This joke has cracked me up since I was a kid! I know a lot of people grimace when they hear puns, but I love them! So that one is for my fellow pun appreciators.
  Every Fall, Seattle has a mushroom festival. I've eyed the poster advertisements for this event with curiosity for a couple of Falls now, but this Fall I was going to actually go to the festival! Unfortunately, it was on the same day that David and I had made plans to go to Vashon. But while wandering though a beautiful forest on Vashon, we saw so many mushrooms, it felt like our own little mushroom festival in the middle of the woods. I took many pictures of all the odd and interesting mushrooms I saw. Here they are:

  Here are some interesting facts about mushrooms and fungi that I collected from the internet.

  • Mushrooms are genetically more related to humans than plants! Since they grow from the earth and do not have internal organs, I think of mushrooms as plants even though I know they are technically a fungus. But mushrooms also do not have important indicators of plants. For example, mushrooms lack chlorophyll just as humans do. Also, the proteins within fungus is closer to human and other animal proteins then  it is to plant proteins. What if things had gone differently for fungus back in the day and they had evolved to have brains just like animals. That would be pretty neat. Imagine forests full of mushroom people. Although, this would be a blow for vegetarians. Mushrooms are such a great meat substite! (More info here at i09)
  • One of the largest living organisms in the world is a colony of honey mushrooms. This honey mushroom colony is in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and spans 2,200 acres. I love the name honey mushrooms! They sound like something that would be in a fairy tale. In the story, a kindly witch living in a house with a moss roof would have a honey mushroom garden. She would pick the mushrooms and put them in her tea, where the mushrooms would melt like marshmallows in the hot liquid. However, if anyone who is not a witch eats a honey mushroom, they will turn into a toad or a spider! Don't try this though, in a vain attempt to turn into a toad because according to wikipedia (Where I found this info) they are mildly poisonous! 
  • There are such things as glow-in-the-dark mushrooms!!! Remember in the nineties when glow-in-the-dark everything was all the rage? Glow in the dark stars for your ceiling, glow in the dark puffy-paint, glow in the dark Gak. I even had a troll with a glow in the dark face (as if the little creature wasn't creepy enough without the glow-in-the-dark face). Glow-in-the-dark was everywhere! But where were the glow-in-the-dark mushrooms? They were in Brazil! Or at least one type of bioluminescent mushroom was found in Brazil. There are around 70 species of bioluminescent mushrooms and most of them are found in temperate and tropical climates. The glowing mushroom of Brazil is known as flor-de-coco (awesome band name!). The flor-de-coco is especially amazing because it glows much brighter than the average glowing mushroom. I want a garden full of glowing mushrooms. Although, glowing mushrooms are also poisonous, so my glowing mushroom garden will be appreciated purely for it's aesthetic value. (Info found at Mother Earth Network and Wikipedia (again!))