In Plain Sight

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Winter’s Hollow

Birding above Brewster and Bridgeport, WA is a lonely proposition in the winter, even with short snowfall. What kind of folk and birds survive here generation after generation? Centennial farms from the 1880s and Arctic birds such as common redpoll, rough-legged hawks, and northern shrikes.

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Wells Wildlife Area
http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wells/Central%20Ferry%20Canyon/

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Glacial erratics or haystacks stand lonely against the winter sky.

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Bird list: 100s of redpolls, several rough-legged hawks, a large unidentified falcon, a few kestrels, red tails, a northern shrike, an adult male harrier, and on the Columbia River, 1000s of coots with a good mixture of ducks and loons and many well-fed bald eagles. We saw quite a few mule deer, including a nice buck with his harem. On the way home on the ice on the Methow River was a dead fawn with 5 bald eagles of various ages feasting on the carcass.

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April birding in the Okanogan highlands

My favorite place to see Sandhill cranes is the desolate highlands above Brewster and Okanogan. There’s no need to fight the crowds at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival when you can have the cranes all to your self near Duley Lake. The plateau between Brewster and Okanogan is a combination of shrub-steppe, pothole lakes, and dry-land wheat farms. The pothole lakes on the Cameron Lake Rd and around to Soap Lake have an amazing diversity of migrating and resident birds.

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And the meadowlarks-1000s. It was an aural overload walking out into the sagebrush and being surrounded by meadowlark song. Even around the old homestead there were several male meadowlarks singing and displaying.

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We saw several juvenile red-tailed hawks-not very common to see so many in one place. The 2 adults did not chase off one by this basalt cliff. The lichens on the basalt were stunning.

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I guess there is safety in numbers. On all the lakes we saw this one Redhead male hanging out with the Ring-necked ducks.

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We’re not crazed “listers”, we just go along and see what we see. Here’s our list for 4/2/13 (plus 2 coyotes).

Vesper sparrow (1)
Loggerhead shrike (1)
Horned lark
Western meadowlark
Western bluebird
Black-billed magpie
Spotted towhee
Dark-eyed junco
Say’s phoebe
Violet-green swallow
Rock pigeon (2 in middle of nowhere near a cliff)
Northern flicker
Turkey vulture
Bald eagle (1 adult Okanogan River)
American kestrel
Northern harrier (2)
Red-tailed hawk (including 5 first-year birds)
Sandhill crane (100+)
Canada goose
Mallard
Ring-necked duck
Redhead (1 male with ring-necks)
Ruddy duck
Bufflehead
Green-winged teal
Greater yellowlegs (1)
Common raven
Red-winged blackbird
Common loon (mouth of Methow River)
Double-crested cormorant (mouth of Okanogan River )
Western grebe (mouth of Methow River)

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Pot o’ Gold & Lamb Goulash

My mom gave me her enameled cast iron pot after I graduated from college. I’m not sure why, maybe it was something not needed after divorcing my dad or maybe she just thought I could use a good pot. It’s one of a few handful of items I’ve kept through the years (and I’m not the sentimental type!). But I know a good thing such as this must not be parted with.

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It has a crack in the lid and some enamel loss, but for being 50-60 years old, it cooks up some amazing meals! Kinda like me! But of course, I am so much younger!!

I decided to braise the lamb shoulder from the lamb we butchered (first taste since the deed) and make goulash. I was inspired by the wonderful goulash we had in Austria in September.

Browning of the shoulder.

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Sweating lots of onions.

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After braising for 4 hours in tomatoes, garlic, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and (I can’t help myself, my secret ingredient, New Mexico Nambe chile).

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Straining the sauce, removing the meat from the bone, final stewing.

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Wow! The lamb was silky, the sauce perfect, and mom’s pot o’ gold didn’t disappoint.

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Delicious braised celery too!

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Scary Church Scenes-Happy Halloween !

The Salzburg Cathedral is one of the finer Baroque churches in Austria, if not Europe. It was built in 14 years (1614-1628) on ruins of previous churches.

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The dome by the alter is stunning. I thought the paintings were so vibrant and fresh. I learned the dome was bombed during WWII and was reconstructed, explaining the freshness. There were 4 pipe organs around the dome and another huge one near the entrance. Mozart played the organs in this church for 2 years. I think I could have gone to church for that!!

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Mozart was also baptized here, whether from this font or not, I don’t know. This is from 1320.

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The paintings and stucco in the church are exceptional. However, when I saw a stairway leading under the church, I could not resist.

There were tombs, 2 private chapels with modern glass and metal sculptures that made me think twice about lingering instead of just being a tourist. They were so calming and I’m not Catholic (to say the least!). But I couldn’t resist a dark corner that had the old foundations of the church or from earlier churches.

In a corner was some decidedly non-religious art. I was so delighted to see this in a cathedral that instead of just passing through, I couldn’t draw myself away given the symbolism in such a place.

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If you can’t see the video in the blog of the scary night rider, click here.

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Fall Lamb Harvest

What a great idea! Let’s butcher a lamb ourselves, we said!
The local butcher was back logged, and with hunting season starting next week, he could probably not get it done until winter. Oh, we can do it ourselves, right? It will be like butchering a deer and how hard is that? Cutting up a deer is straight forward. A lamb is a different story!

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We bought the lamb from our neighbors Ed and Vicki. We did the deed and hauled it home. Like a deer, we strung it up in the garage and proceeded to skin it. Note to selves: a lamb is not a deer! With a deer, it’s easy to just pull the hide off. Not so with a lamb pelt. It had to be cut off, with knife sharpening every few minutes. What a tough skin! This took FOREVER!! And there seemed to be more weight in hide/head/guts than meat. Good thing we didn’t pay “hanging weight”!

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Supervising crew-

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The cutting part was nothing compared to removing the hide. But isn’t that how it always is-the prep work takes longer than it seems it should. Man, this was one fat lamb, but the fat was only on the outside of the meat with very little to no marbling.

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We didn’t try to save every scrap, but we ended up with 45 pounds cut and wrapped for the freezer. The coyotes and the birds got all the fat and spine.

And someone dreamed of fresh meat!

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Homes

Homes for emperors and empresses

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Homes for parliamentarians

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Home of the Vienna opera

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A home for butterflies

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Homes for the Viennese

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City home for the Lipizzaner horses

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Home away from home (modern building on the left across from St Stephan church)

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