Let me start by saying I know how this looks. It looks like I’m either a crazy dog person (I kind of am), a hippie (a little of that too), or a 6 year old playing dress up with my dog (jokes on you, I’m 28). Sometimes I get these ideas in my brain like “It’s Sunday, I’m going to make a collar for Jack out of wildflowers…because he will LOVE that.” Ideas that a normal person would think for ~5 seconds, dismiss, and go about their day.. but I actually execute because I’m that girl, whatever that means.
I took a woven leather belt I had laying around and stuck some pink bougainvilleas, periwinkles, and red carnations through the spaces, then wrapped it loosely around Jack. Jack is the king of wearing things around his neck. When you take his bandana out of the drawer, he prances over all excitedly. We joke that we’re knighting him every time we put it on him because of the way he sits with his chest out and head held high like he’s honored you’ve chosen him to wear it. Bow ties also, for special occasions. So yeah…if you were wondering what flowers + dog look like…here it is. You’re welcome.
Optional: discovering your wildflower plan is foiled and getting yelled at for picking flowers in the grocery store parking lot. Oh well, like Alanis says.. you live, you learn.
Our list of things to do when we got to Florida looked something like this:
1. find a roof to put over our heads
2. swim with manatees
Florida is the best place in the world to see endangered West Indian manatees in large herds. During the winter months the coastal waters get too cold for them so they retreat into the warm waters of rivers and springs, much like the one we visited on this day.
My lab mate spends half her time researching manatees (traitor) and gave us the insider info on where and when to go see them. We took her advice and headed out early in the season to find them. We came across a small group feeding along a canal that consisted of a few adults and a calf. The calf was curious and started hanging out underneath our canoe, so I took a dip in to get a closer look at him. You really can see why they are most closely related to elephants by their leathery skin and finger nails (finger nails!). The moniker “sea cow” they’ve acquired from centuries of grazing on sea grass can be somewhat misleading. Most individuals are know by their scars and wounds (typically from boat propellers) and this little one was no exception, although luckily the mark on his head was just a surface scratch etched in the algae on its skin.
Jim Gaffigan the comedian has this bit where he calls manatees the ‘retired football players of the sea’ because they are so large and slow moving. It’s pretty funny, and true. Even though they are hefty, they have very little body fat (which contributes to their susceptibility to cold water). A few minutes later the calf swam back to its mom and I hopped back into the canoe and we parted ways. Oh I almost forgot….I learned that manatee females have two nipples, one under each arm pit… presumably so mom can continue grazing on sea grass on the bottom while nursing. Can you imagine? Arm pit nipples. So now you know.
Salads have been my go-to lately. Trey’s been in San Francisco for the past week and it has taken every ounce of willpower inside of me not to eat oatmeal for dinner every night.
The thing with salad is that it has to be interesting for me to want to eat it. Otherwise, it feels like I’m a horse chewing cud. My favorite types of salad are generally the ones where fruit is involved, and summer is the best time to capitalize on that with all the best fruits being in season. You’ve got your blueberries and peaches, and your strawberries and watermelons and even mangos and papayas…the possibilities are endless! (she says with crazy eyes)…
This is a salad I’ve really come to enjoy. Little buddy was looking cute so he helped too. Hope you like!
SPINACH + STRAWBERRY SUMMER SALAD
What you’ll need:
1 carton of strawberries, washed
1 package plain goat cheese (crumbles are better than the super soft kind)
1 bag spinach (or more depending on how many mouths you’re feeding)
salt & pepper
balsamic vinaigrette (Annies Naturals is really yummy)
You can also add grilled chicken or slice up an avocado to put on top if you’re feeling rebellious. Let cool in the fridge, serve and EAT!
We’ve been spending a lot of time indoors lately (audible sigh from Jack) since it’s basically Africa outside. So, I thought I would share some photos from inside our home, starting with the bedroom.
Ohh sleeping spaces. In college I shared the hull of a boat with a friend, and later a twin-sized bed with Trey. Our last “bedroom” in San Francisco was in a closet (‘closet-bed’ as it came to be known as). Add an over-friendly dog and cat into the mix and you could say we definitely had become accustom to sleeping on top of each other. Even though we were used to tiny space living, and in someways even preferred it, we knew the first order of business when we got here was to get a bigger bed. And oh is it glorious (picture Trey sprawled star-fish on the bed. Or not, don’t do that).
Since we’re renting and knew we would only be here for a year, we didn’t make any major changes to the space. Our headboard is made from a shipping pallet, and the dresser is a craigslist find that we added some brass knobs to. Most of the items laying around are things we’ve picked up while traveling. The woven wall tapestry is a favorite of ours that we found while rummaging through a street market in Costa Rica. This space gets a lot of light and I find it really peaceful. It makes sleeping in on Sunday mornings really nice…that is, until someone gets hungry and we all have to get out of bed. I’m hoping to share more details of our home in the coming weeks since it won’t be long before we’ll be packing it all in boxes in preparation for our move back to California.
This weekend we experimented with shibori, the art of shaped resist dyeing to create our own indigo beach sheet. The process involved folding, binding and compressing a bed sheet, then dipping it into a vat of indigo dye. On Sunday we went to Venice beach to collect shark teeth and our new sheet served as the perfect place for us to rest in between trips to the ocean.
We’re big space nerds here, so when the opportunity to photograph a supermoon comes along on a warm summer night, you know we’ll most likely be in our backyard staring up at the sky. We brought chairs out and spent a good while just staring at the moon’s intricacies through our telephoto camera lens. Then we thought to film it moving across the night sky (above).
Trey’s grandfather (his namesake) was an engineer for NASA and Boeing Air. The technical documents he wrote for the Apollo 11 moon landing mission are in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC. Hearing his grandfather tell his stories during the holidays is always a fun time. It was great to see the moon so big and bright last night. The next supermoon is coming up in August…I’m thinking supermoon cocktails….
During our trip to the Pacific northwest a few weeks ago, I was able to work with the Center for Whale Research (CWR) documenting the Southern Resident killer whales, or orcas, returning to their summer feeding grounds around the inland waters of Washington state and southern British Columbia. It was nice to get away from the lab in Florida and spend some time off the Pacific coast.
The Southern Resident orcas are alarge extended family, made up of three pods:J, K, and L pods. Each spring they begin showing up in the calm inshore waters surrounding the San Juan Islands to feed on the runs of Chinook (King) salmon from the local rivers. With news of their return, biologists with the CWR and I headed out to photograph and film their arrival to account for any new (calves) or missing (presumed dead) members of the pod. Photographs and video are very helpful in showing us whether individuals have signs of emaciation (sickness or starvation), and can even allow us to note possible pregnancies.
There are currently less than 90 Southern Resident orcas left in the wild. The population was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act due to low population numbers in 2005 (and Canada in 2001). In the early 1980s marine parks captures devastated the population by taking more than 1/3 of the animals for entertainment purposes (the popular documentary Blackfish goes more in depth about this). Recovery of the Southern Residents has been slow ever since, making the CWR’s work even more critical than before.
We had a great time at the CWR. Having first studied this population when I was an undergrad, seeing the resident orcas again is like visiting old friends.
*all photos and video were taken by me or staff at the CWR under a federal research permit.
We celebrated our nation’s independence the same way a lot of Americans do…with copious amount of light domestic beer, sun-filled trips to the beach with family, and shooting mortars out of make-shift exhaust pipe launchers in the middle of the street. Let freedom ring (in your ears, it was loud).
I spent some time in the Pacific Northwest for work recently and decided to visit home while I was on the west coast. It was great to get out of Florida and be back in San Francisco for a few days. Karl the fog took the day off, allowing the city to be filled with sunshine and warmth. I met up with Trey who was already in town (he travels back every month for work), and together we spent the weekend walking around some of our favorite neighborhoods, soaking up the unseasonably sunny weather at Dolores Park, feasting on Vietnamese food at Sunflower (the best little hole in the wall restaurant ever, I’m convinced), and cheering on the Giants.
I then headed up to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state to work while Trey stayed behind to finish up his work in the city. I came to this island when I was nineteen. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life so I applied on a whim to a small research program through the University of Washington that allowed six students the opportunity to study a resident population of killer whales and, much to my surprise, got in. I’ve returned a few times since then to work for the Center for Whale Research, a small research lab that focuses on killer whale population biology. The island is pretty remote, with the only access being by ferry or sea plane. It’s one of those places where your cell phone immediately loses signal and you couldn’t find a Starbucks latte even if you wanted one. Every summer around 80 killer whales show up around the the San Juans to feed on the salmon runs from local rivers. After suffering a loss of over a third of their population from marine park captures in the 1980s, they have been listed as endangered and are now studied extensively. I had the cool job of photographing and filming the whales up close as they returned this year to document any new babies, pregnancies, or missing (deceased) members of the population. I’m thinking of putting together some of the footage and sharing it here soon.
Trey came up and met me on the island a few days later and went out on the boat with us. Later, we explored the island, had dinner down by the harbor, and caught a ferry over to Victoria, British Columbia. On our last day, since we were catching red eye flights back to Florida that didn’t leave until the evening, we spent the day walking around Seattle. I love this city. It was 80 degrees without a rain cloud in sight. We made our way through Pike Place Market, walked along the waterfront, and then popped into a pub to catch the USA play Portugal in the World Cup (those last 20 seconds tho!). We had an awesome time and are excited to return.