As of late…

Things have been a bit busy, crazy, hectic, ridiculous…

I have been home for only 22 days since the 10th of April…and I’ve taken 7 different trips…most for work, 1 to Salt Lake to see Liam and Rory’s new restaurant, and 1 to Savannah, GA for a wedding.  It has been hectic, but also very good.  I’m really loving my job, teaching Wilderness Medicine Courses.  The locations have been fun, the people I work with have been great and the work is constantly challenging and the students are inspiring!  My travel is not done yet…in fact, tomorrow I’m headed for the Bay area to teach a re-certification course, and then lead a backpacking trip for Big City Mountaineers in Yosemite!

Here are some moments from the last couple months!

I worked a 10 day course in San Francisco.

It’s hard to complain when this is what your office looks like!

While I’m gone, Woody texts me photos of our ridiculous dog! (Who sleeps like this!?!)

I had an extra day and drove around exploring…Golden Gate Park, Sutro Baths, China Beach, and Ocean Beach!

I had some beautiful weather!

Cleo found a peacock in our neighbor’s yard.

I taught two courses in Portland…

Some rain, some sun, very pretty!

Super fun to see Avery & Eloise and spend some time with Ciaran and Kate!  Looking forward to my next course in the area!

Judy and Laura came for a visit…we packed in quite a bit into two days!  LACMA!

Woody’s favorite piece of art…

We took a quick weekend trip to Salt Lake City to see for ourselves, Liam, Rory and Andrew’s new venture, Avenues Proper.  I am so proud of my brothers!  From an inkling of an idea a ways back…to an open and functioning restaurant and brewery – amazing!

Looking forward to my next trip!

We managed to make it up to Heber to see the horses!

And of course, we watched as much Game of Thrones as we possibly could and played a lot of Excite Truck – a special request of Liam!

Neither of us had seen Utah’s new Museum of Natural History.

Call me impressed!

The views are gorgeous!

A trip to Salt Lake would not be complete without a stop here…

and of course the Mole Sampler!

Back to southern California…and I headed to Lake Cachuma to teach a weekend course.  It’s halfway between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos!

I squeezed in a pre-birthday dinner with this lady!  Love her…and love me some chicken and waffles (Liam – your version is better!).

Next, we were off to Savannah, GA for the wedding of our friends Jon & Sara.

Saw some thunderhead’s building up over the middle of the country.

Explored the moss-covered trees and parks in the historic district!

Spotted a mode of transportation that NEEDS to be in my future.  I’ll be driving the scooter and Woody will ride shotgun!

Lots of fun catching up with friends from Harvard!

And ogling the crazy super-yachts and sailboats docked on the river!

These two are so cute and so in love…and they share the same birthday…Valentine’s Day.  I think I just threw up in my mouth.  Just kidding…I love ’em!

The ceremony was perfect and the basil gimlets were delightful!

On our flight home, Woody sat across the aisle from Ernie Hudson – one of the original Ghostbusters!  This is my stealthy photo!

Flying back from Savannah was the start of too much time in airports…which included Savannah, Houston, LAX, Burbank, SFO and Chico…all within 24 hours.  SFO is where I spent 13 unplanned hours…after multiple flight delays and a cancelation…I finally arrived at my hotel in Chico at 3:15 am.

Don’t worry I managed to get almost 3 hours of sleep before I was up again and getting ready to teach 30 students for 10 days straight!

My co-instructor and I made a point to go on the Brewery tour at Sierra Nevada.

They have an impressive facility, which they’ve built over the years!

They have (one of?) the largest privately owned solar arrays in the country…and plenty of sun!

The tour ended with a tasting, many of the beers I had not tried before!

Then there was more teaching.  We employ very creative teaching techniques…here, my co-instructor Liam is acting out a patient with cardiac issues as I run through a patient assessment!

Also…it was hot!  (did I mention this?)  It was REALLY hot!

Also, really beautiful!

I arrived home…for 5 hours…and found some presents waiting for me!!!

Love the clutch!  Thanks Giselle!

And then I opened the clutch to find this…

“For those of you wondering where my beard went: fret not it is still around, just not on my face. Liz has it.”

-Mark Fischer via Facebook

Home for a couple hours…and then I was off to drive north of Malibu, where I taught a weekend WFA course at a camp near Leo Carillo State Beach.  I was making a phone call and turned around to see this little guy.  Actually, he wasn’t so little!

More teaching!

I got back Sunday…cumpled into bed exhausted and spent Monday putting my life back together as my time at home is short once again.  Monday night we put my latest birthday present from Woody, a baking steel (kind of like a pizza stone but made of pure steel) to the test and had two delicious pizzas!

Tuesday was a blur…and this morning, WOody and I were up before 5 am to get him to the airport with his Watermaster raft and all his fishing gear for a week of fishing near the Henry’s fork of the Snake river.

I returned home after a stop for some coffee and took Cleo for her morning walk.

June Gloom has set in full force…but who can complain when your trees shower the sidewalks with purple flowers!

Back on the road tomorrow…home at the end of June with hopefully some more photos and an adventure or two to share!

Happy Summer!

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5 Things to Make You Happy!

1.  I want to snuggle them and hide them all over the house!

{find more here}

2.  This is why kids are the coolest!

3.  Bears in LA!

{find the story here and more photos here}

4.  A little science for your Friday (courtesy of Woody!)

Mass Extinction Linked to Climate Change

5.  Another one of the bear…(I can’t resist)!

What would you think…?  You live in LA, there is a giant freeway in between you and any mountains, and one morning there is a 500 lb. black bear walking the streets of your neighborhood.  You must see this short clip of someone almost walking right into the bear.

Happy Friday!

Critters of Oakdale

Almost good enough to be a title of a new young adult novel series…but seriously…

We’ve been getting some visitors lately.  First there were these guys…

Behind our garage, there is a little piece of concrete and I went back there to explore one day when Cleo refused to come when I called…I’m glad she didn’t try to eat them!

I’m thinking males fighting over prime territory!

Surprisingly vicious, writhing, twisting and biting each other.

Then, just last week, Woody had just arrived home from Indonesia (story for another time), and Cleo was on the back porch.  We keep the gate closed with a bungy cord as the metal is bent and the latch doesn’t work anymore – anyway, Cleo managed to jump the gate or push through it somehow and fling the bungy to run after something.  Woody heard her barking – which she never does…ran outside with a flashlight to find her behind the garage in full pointing mode staring into the darkness at this creepy critter…

Don’t immediately recognize it…it’s a possum, and a large one at that!  Woody would like me to point out the drool drips underneath the possum’s chin.  Once again, very pleased that Cleo didn’t consider this an evening snack and was most likely upset that she did such a good job pointing, and yet Woody didn’t do any shooting!  (isn’t that how this whole thing works…?)

Just yesterday morning, I walked out the back door into a spider web…I hate this feeling.  Knowing that you have strands of web around you, and you can’t seem them, and who knows where exactly the spider who these strands belongs to is located at that very moment.  Upon coming home from work, as I unlocked the door, I glanced at the light fixture and realized that right inside it was a young black widow spider.  Here we go again.

This is our back door.

This is the light next to our back door…and that little spot in the upper left panel is an unwelcome house guest!

My breadth of experience with Black Widows is broadening by the month…and I now know enough to identify this as a fairly young female black widow.  The bodies of black widows darken as they mature, which is why her legs appear almost striped and her abdomen is not jet black yet.  I sprayed a completely natural insecticide that works using concentrated essential oils from cinnamon, rosemary and clove.  Once I sprayed it (can indicates that it is very effective on ants, roaches, silverfish, etc.), the entire patio smelled like bad potpourri on steroids.  In fact, it was so strong, my eyes were burning and nostrils were stinging.  I think this stuff could work as a substitute for bear spray!

It wasn’t Oakdale…but our neighbors only a few blocks away had a bit of a family problem…

A racoon family problem!  Mom is up there with at least 3 offspring.  They look pretty cute…but their scratching, pitter-patter in the attic and across the roof was not.

I do like that little striped tail though!

Holy Heat Wave Batman! (with a side of HOT!)

It is 113° F in LA today – Pasadena is always hotter than LA.  I don’t even want to know.

All I can think of this…

“Hey, can you tell me what’s your name? “My name is Roosevelt E. Roosevelt.” Roosevelt, what town are you stationed in? “I’m stationed in Poontang.” Well, thank you, Roosevelt. What’s the weather like out there? “It’s hot! Damn hot! Real hot! Hottest things is my shorts. I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking.” Well, tell me what it feels like. “Fool, it’s hot! I told you again! Were you born on the sun? It’s damn hot! It’s so damn hot, I saw little guys, their orange robes burst into flames. It’s that hot! Do you know what I’m talking about?” What do you think it’s going to be like tonight? “It’s gonna be hot and wet! That’s nice if you’re with a lady, but ain’t no good if you’re in the jungle!” Thank you, Roosevelt.”

C’mon…guess the movie!

Also, this…

Who is it that everybody listens to but nobody believes?
The weatherman.

And, this…

You can read about this crazy late summer heat wave here, and here, and here.  I’m not even exaggerating.  It is really hot…like an oven.  Here’s to popsicles and ice cream, and air conditioning, and fabric seats in the car, and fans, and swimming pools and dark rooms, cool washcloths.  For all of you out there who might be just a touch sad that summer’s over…yeah, I don’t feel bad for you at all.  It’s 113°!  That is too hot.  I don’t even have words for how hot it is.

Not okay…sidewalk-spanning spiders!

Time:  6:41 am this morning

Scene:  1/2 block away from home, taking Cleo on her morning walk…barely awake…until this!!!!

YIKES! YOWZERS!  HOLY $#%&@* SPIDER BATMAN!

Needless to say, I was quite awake after *barely* avoiding walking right into this thing.  I should add that it was between shoulder and eye level (read…I probably would have screamed, gasped, nearly choked, and appeared to be having a seizure as I flailed to try to get one said giant orange spider off of me).  I’m pretty sure the only reason I even saw this…6 inches before walking into it…was that Cleo had walked underneath the web but disturbed one of the web anchors…and so the spider moved.  I literally shudder to think what would have happened had I entangled myself in this spider’s web…and later discovered a humongous orange spider in the collar of my jacket…or crawling up me.  I know he was hoping for a big catch…but I’m not it!

Hope your day started out much better than mine!

Just for emphasis…here’s a second picture…

Peacocks in Pasadena

Woody came across a new friend the other day on the morning walk with Cleo.  I was barely waking up…and I hear “Where’s your camera?  I need it right now.  I made friends with a peacock in our front yard.”  Woody then dashed out the door and came back 10 minutes later.

They walked down the sidewalk together.  Chatted a bit about the weather.  Considered the lack of snails at this time of year, and went along their merry way.

Spring in full swing

I know most of the world is just getting tiny glimpses of the joys of spring time right about now…we’ve had spring’ish weather since…well, since mid-January, actually.  Every so often, it’s interrupted by a coastal winter storm that drops a few inches of rain in a day and results in panic of residents living near the Station Fire burn area, crossing their fingers that a mudslide doesn’t take their house away.  But in general…very pleasant weather.  I’m just thrilled we’re not in the mid-80’s yet – that’s when you know there is no turning back…summer’s a comin’.

These are located in our front yard.  I’m unsure what exactly they are, (thought…?) but they amaze me as they grown right up through a small hedge seemingly out of nowhere.

On the weekends, Cleo’s favorite activity is to become a ‘solar dog’ as we call it.  As soon as there is sunshine on the patio, she can be found lounging, flopped against the tile and stucco.  Warmer days require that she rotate between the living room – cool and soft, and the deck.  She gets very warm, especially her brown patch and comes in smelling very doggy.

Big yawn.

From this look, you might assume that we never feed her, and that she has no friends, and never gets to play outside, go for walks and chase squirrels.  But I assure you, this is not the case.  This pathetic  and guilt-inducing look happens on cloudy/rainy weekend days, when becoming a solar dog is just not an option.

And I know, Easter was almost a month ago…but due to circumstances beyond my control (home internet finicky, lost camera cord and misplaced SD card reader)…I just barely imported a whole month of photos from my camera.  We dyed eggs.  I wanted really vibrant colors.  I may or may not have used almost half a bottle of food coloring + a dye tablet.  I think they turned out nicely.  Woody was not thrilled – something about blue and pink-tinged deviled eggs just doesn’t seem right.  Next time, I think I’ll focus on 2 or 3 colors and play around with different shades.

Hope you’re enjoying spring in your neck of the woods!