Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lucy and Vasco

Vasco cuddling up to Lucy on the couch.

Initially Vasco was afraid of the dogs and made this known by hissing and swiping with his claws. Of course, this meant that the dogs were then terrified of Vasco. Now that he wants to be friends, they are a little wary. Lucy had this look on her face like, 'Okay, if I don't move maybe the scray kitty won't notice me and won't attack me.' She's definitely a little scared still. Very amusing!

update-- more snuggling!

Vasco was actually licking Lucy's face!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Vasco the kitten

Our kitten Vasco, named after Vasco da Gama 'cos he's such a little explorer, came home with us last week. He is super cute and loves to play and cuddle equally. At night when we are reading in bed he loves to be demon kitty and attacks our feet, hands, whatever and jumps skyward and leaps about, rushing from one end of the bed to the other, with frequent breaks to drink water from the big dog water bowl. When he gets tired he will often climb up onto someone's chest and snuggle...too cute. He also has a penchant for all things computer- loves to sit / lie on keyboards and play with and chew on computer cords (bad that). Here are some photos, all taken in his quieter moments- we still have to get some of him in action....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Happy GLBT Pride 2007!

From us and ours to you and yours!

Eric and I are marching in the GLBT Pride/Twin Cities Parade (for Barack Obama, Eric's been doing some volunteer work for him).

This will be the second parade we've marched in since moving to the Twin Cities- most odd, no? Soon we'll just be parade groupies or junkies or something...

Update-- It was hot out there. The parade route was not very long at all but there were lots of people there and they seemed jazzed about Obama. The mayor of Minneapolis, RT Ryback, a big Obama supporter, marched with us, after having already marched the parade as mayor, pretty cool. Here are some photos from the parade!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Life along an urban flyway

I've been thinking recently about the amazing quantity of birds we've seen since moving to St. Paul-- and by birds, I don't mean backyard songbirds. Those, we've had relatively few of. Though I think the local birds have recently discovered our feeder and are showing up a bit more often. But it appears that the frequent presence in our yard of a certain large white dog might be keeping some birds away....

I'm talking about what I consider to be relatively rare birds: bald eagles, herons, and egrets. I can say for certain that I've seen more bald eagles here in our urban neighborhood in the past 5 months than I had seen, combined, in my 34 years of life. One day, when Daniela's mom was visiting, we took a walk to the nearby park where I had seen several eagles on dog walks. We hoped that we might see one with her.

Instead, we saw many. Many, many, many. Like as many as 8 or 10 in the sky at the same time. Incredible.

I'd say that over our time here, we've seen a bald eagle at least every 2 or 3 days.

Then there are the herons.

Along our usual route home, between the interstate highway and our house, we almost always see a Great Blue Heron flying overhead. If not a heron, then an egret.

We're not that good at telling the difference between Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets (can't always see the color of the feet!), but it's certainly not for lack of practice.

I don't know if I've lived in the wrong places before this, or if the Twin Cities are unusual, but to me, it's nothing short of incredible to see bald eagles and various herons on a more or less daily basis. In the CITY, for pete's sake.

(all pics from Google)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Garden growing

Both the vegetable and flower gardens are flourishing! And so it's time for a photographic update.

In the vegetable garden behind our house I planted tomatoes, basil, squash, zucchini, lettuce and spinach, and chili peppers. Almost all the seeds came from Seeds of Change, a seed company that provides organic, open-pollinated, and heirloom seeds.

Yesterday I found our first small green tomatoes- very exciting. The tomato pictured on the left is about the size of a quarter. I can't wait for fresh from the garden tomatoes!!!! Really, is there anything better? We've got Genovese, Roma, Chadwick Cherry, and Caro Rich (these last are orange). The tomatoes pictured are Genovese, but we've also got some tiny Chadwick Cherrys.

And the squash & zucchini plants are mongo huge. Soon we are going to have more squash than we know what to do with, I think. Even the chili pepper plants, which grow very s l o o o o w l y are getting big. We have lots of basil too, (3 kinds: fino verde, sweet chen, and purple-leafed). But someone really likes to eat the sweet chen basil leaves, must look into some natural pest control ideas.

Last night we had a mixed green salad that was 100% from our garden. There are a whole mix of lettuces, and some funky greens: Mizuna, Komastuna, Osaka Purple Mustard, Green Wave Mustard, Arugula, and Persian Garden Cress. It was very spicy (which was as advertised, these came in the Spicy Mesclun mix) and yummy! Doesn't it look lovely? I was very proud that we grew our own salad.

We also ate hamburgers - from a local Minnesota ranch - and I mixed in finely chopped green onions from last week's CSA box. At least for that meal we were a bit closer to a 100-mile diet.

The boulevard flower garden is doing well too. We have Dwarf Jerusalem sunflowers in flower and some bachelor buttons as well. So much fun watching it grow and develop! Just before we left I staked the Evening Sun sunflowers, after losing a couple to strong winds. When we got home Saturday night, I could see the sunflowers glowing out at me through the dark. They are really quite dwarf, even more than I thought they would be, they are only about 12 inches off the ground!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'm a white belt!

This means that I can teach Nia now. All's I have to do is... learn routines, find a place to teach, get people to come to class...yeah. No problem! But really, hopefully it shouldn't be too hard.

Nia is a mind-body-spirit fitness practice that totally rocks. It's really fun- the whole point of Nia is to find JOY through movement. Nia does NOT subscribe to the "no pain no gain" perception of many fitness practices. And yet it is one hell of a workout. I tell you, I've never sweated so much and had so much fun at the same time! It is ever-changing- you can't get bored, even if you do the same routine over and over and over- because there are different focuses that you can bring to the practice, and different intensity levels you can do. Nia is truly for everyone, for every fitness level, for every age, for every mindset. I am so excited to start teaching!

Here is a photo of my fellow white belts from the recent white belt intensive in Portland, OR. The co-founders of Nia, Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas, are also in the photo- to the right, the bald woman and long-haired man. (Thanks to Deb and Barry Schlouch for the photo). We had people from all over the country (California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Washington, Minnesota, Alaska, Massachusetts) and even the world (Canada, Japan, Australia)...they were all great people, I had a lot of fun with them!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Portland, Oregon

We're in Portland for the week-- Daniela is completing White Belt training for NIA, while I am undertaking a whirlwind beer tour of the city sometimes known as Beervana.

But one can only start drinking beer so early. I'm not sure how early, but I don't want to push the envelope too far-- like the folks outside a bar on my regular dogwalking route back in Minnesota, whom I have observed drinking as early as 10am on a Sunday.

So I've also done some exploring of the Rose City, as it's known. A very easy city to explore, having as it does an extensive and fairly easy-to-use public transit system-- light rail, streetcar, and bus routes galore.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went to Washington Park, a very large public park and the home of the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Gardens, and the Vietnam Veterans Living Memorial. I also walked around the Hoyt Arboretum for a bit.

Here are a few pictures, the first couple random shots on the street in Portland, then one of the Vietnam memorial (where I spent some time thinking about stupid immoral unnecessary wasteful wars), then some of the Rose Garden. All taken with my phone, so the quality is not great....

And there are lots of skaters...

where one has to go if one starts drinking too early, I suppose...

The Vietnam Memorial from the top-- you enter in the circular garden, then walk up a spiralling path around it, viewing several marble slabs (one just visible at the top center) with info and names of those killed in several time intervals.

One small part of the Rose Garden. There were lots of flowers.

And then lots more. A bit overwhelming...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007 the middle of the city!

We got our canoe (that lots of people gave us for the wedding) last week and we went out on it today on the Minneapolis 'chain of lakes.' These are a series of connected lakes - Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake - right in the middle of the city of Minneapolis. They are part of the parks in the twin cities. Mostly sailboats, windsurfers, canoes, and kayaks use the lakes, and lots of fishing going on. It was a lovely afternoon to be out - not too hot, some clouds and not a lot of boat traffic. The only thing that marred the outing was that we didn't know we needed to have the canoe licensed and registered and we got a ticket! The park police (or whoever they are) were out in force, checking fishing licenses, etc. So we got nailed! Oh well, now we know! Anyhow, we had a really lovely time- even saw some wildlife: a turtle, lots of sunfish (and probably some bass too but not being fishermen, we don't really know how to tell one fish from another), Canadian geese, mallards, and two - TWO!- great blue herons. Very cool. We tried to get photos of the herons but they are a bit camera shy- we need more telephoto zoom capacity! Mamita lives near Lake of the Isles and so walked out to meet us and took some photos of us in our canoe! (canoe needs a name....any ideas?)

Us on Lake of the Isles,

Here is downtown Minneapolis from Lake of the Isles:

Lake of the Isles has islands on it (surprising, no?), which are wildlife refuges.

passage from Lake Calhoun into Lake of the Isles,

Passage from Lake of the Isles to Cedar Lake,

The canoe looks quite funny atop Madame X, our small Honda!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pugs on Parade!

Today was 'Grand Old Day' - a big street festival on Grand Ave here in St Paul. There was a parade and the pug club we are in was invited to be in the parade for Coldwell Banker Burnet, a local real estate agent. So we brought Lucy and my mom brought her two pugs, Rudy and Clare. There were about 50 other pugs- it was really funny. Some dogs rode in carts or strollers and several had various costumes. Rudy and Lucy walked the whole 2.5 miles and Clare walked about half (she's only 3 months old!). All were tired afterwards! Here are some photos...