Author: lindsay (page 5 of 32)

A note about Badlands National Park

Several national park rangers have made it clear that they disapprove of the current political climate, especially with threats to keep the EPA hushed, sell off public lands, and keep citizens uninformed (misinformed?) about climate change. The park to start it all was Badlands, and it happens to be one of my very favorites. I figured I’d share some photos since lots of you probably haven’t been there.

It’s been several years since I’ve been to the Badlands. According to our friends at Flickr, I took this photo in 2006. I think I’ve only been there once since, in 2010. It’s situated about an hour southwest of Rapid City, SD, which is in the southwestern corner of the state. That’s also the same vicinity as Mount Rushmore, though the landscape looks entirely different. The mountains pretty much start just on the western edge of Rapid City, the very quickly end with some smaller hills extending into the flat prairie you see surrounding the Badlands.

Suddenly, that prairie cuts off, and it almost feels like you’ve teleported to the surface of the moon.

The National Park has a windy road that snakes through the canyons and around the higher edges with overlooks and interpretive signs. There’s also a small but impressive visitor center with a museum and a gift shop. Somehow, I’ve only been inside once.

The rest of the photos are ones I took the last time I was there, in 2010. I took these with an iPhone and used a filter in Lightroom. I wish I remembered what it was called because I still like how they turned out.

There’s fungus among us!

Last Sunday, Palmer and I went to Walter B. Jacobs Nature Park, one of my very favorite places in the general vicinity of Shreveport, for a presentation and hike called The Fungus Among Us. Turns out fungi are a lot more complex and diverse than I realized. While I can’t tell you much about the various types of mushrooms, I did learn that, for me, at least, going mushroom hunting for dinner is a very dangerous idea. I also got some reasonably good pictures.

Penny didn’t get to come along this time because it wasn’t exactly a pet-friendly topic and there’s no way she could have sat still for the presentation. That’s for the best, though, because it was a dreary, rainy day (which I guess is good for mushroom-viewing) and she would have tested every

single mud puddle.

Palmer was also taking photos. He got this pretty amusing one of me being all excited toward the end of our hike.

Palmer and I discovered the fungus among us this afternoon in the rain! 🍄

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He also made this pretty awesome video and posted it on Youtube:

When we got home, I wasn’t done with Happy Mushroom Time. I went over to Whole Foods and got groceries to make Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff, a recipe I found on Chowhound. It involved dried porcini mushrooms, which I don’t think I’d ever tasted.

There was also the half-pound of fresh baby bellas and a bunch of kale and various other yummy bits.

Excuse me a minute while I drool all over again. This recipe is going on my shortlist.

So is Walter B. Jacobs. Palmer and I are going back tomorrow for a Winter Tree ID Workshop. I’m really looking forward to it! I think the weather is supposed to be nice, so expect some sunny pictures!

Seedlings and projects and ethics, oh my!

Now that Christmas decorations have been stowed and the surprisingly calm (for me) Mardi Gras season has begun, things have calmed down, and we’ve been able to focus on more mundane, non-family-related projects.

As usual, Palmer did an excellent job decorating the mantle.


I’ve been up to my usual crafty shenanigans, at least for this time of year, crocheting things.


This is the beginning of a temperature afghan. Each line of single crochet represents a day. The color is chosen depending on ten-degree variations in temperature. You can see that January has been a little crazy. For instance, the temperature yesterday hit 76. In the middle of January! The wind was also raucous, though of course it refused to perform properly when I took out my camera.

In other project news, I’m attempting to grow herbs from seeds. I planted seven pots – five with basil, two with dill.


I put them in my kitchen where I’d see them often, and Palmer was kind enough to mount a grow light on the wall behind them. And surprise, surprise, I have a sprout!

One of my basil seeds has sprouted! 🌿

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Three, actually. I’ve forgotten how to use manual focus on my good camera (and am obviously too lazy to figure it out today), so you only get to see an Instagram photo from yesterday. Isn’t it glorious!

Palmer has also been up to his own projects, making diorama model scenes. A few amazing trees and ginormous spiders were involved.


There’s also Louise, who you see in the featured photo. She’s her own project. I promise she’s not always angry, though she is always angry if I’m trying to get anywhere near her.


Hopefully she’ll come around eventually.

omnivoreIn other news, I finished The Omnivore’s Dilemma, of which I was downright terrified. It had been on my TBR pile for well over a year, but I was under the impression that it would instantly turn me into a vegetarian, and I wasn’t sure that was the best idea. Turns out that’s not what it’s about at all, really. Yes, it details some of the terrible things that happen to industrialized farm animals, but it also explains that there are relatively humane options, say, from small local farms like Mahaffey. You can actually visit them – I have. The animals are in pastures and eating what they’re supposed to eat: there are no cows piled into disgusting feedlots being forced to eat corn and beef fat. Mahaffey’s cows eat grass. That’s what The Omnivore’s Dilemma is about: knowing where your food comes from so you can make informed, ethical decisions about where you’re willing to spend your money and what you’re willing to eat. The best option for those criteria seems to be places exactly like Mahaffey, as “industrial organic” has its own problems. Anyway, The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a book you should probably read, whatever side of the vegetarian/non-veg or organic/conventional arguments you fall on. It’s good to know what happens to your food before it reaches your plate.

And with that, I’m out. School has just started, and I’m taking three classes again, so we’ll see how much time I have to write blog posts. I’m already waffling on my 50-book reading commitment because I’ve made my massive school to-do lists, and there’s already too much reading on that end. Hopefully I’ll handle this semester a wee bit better than I did the last. Wish me luck!

Time to put up the Christmas decorations


Yep, it’s Twelfth Night, the proper day to put away your Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving this year. It’s also time to pull out the Mardi Gras decorations and eat every available piece of king cake. Shreveport’s Whole Foods, for one, is prepared. They’ve actually been prepared for a few days – I just wouldn’t let myself partake until the Proper Day, which happens to be today. Guess who’s going to Whole Foods.

Christmas this year was blissfully uneventful. You saw the beginning and Penny’s second-long tolerance of Santa. (Yes, she’ll be doing it again next year.) After that was a flurry of family-related activity that left everyone exhausted, as the holidays tend to do. At least I ate well.

Guess where I am. ❤️❤️❤️

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That, by the way, is arguably one of Shreveport’s greatest delicacies: the marinated crab claws at Ernest’s. Palmer’s parents took us there a couple days before Christmas. Yurrm.

Until just a few days ago, it still looked like Fall around here. I took this picture on December 22 while I was walking Penny:


The temperature was in the 70s on Christmas, so I didn’t even get to wear my ridiculous kitten sweater. Penny has taken advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures for some surrious backyard play time, though I’m sure she’d be willing to roll around and play fetch even in below-freezing blizzard conditions.

Really, she might prefer below-freezing blizzard conditions. Hopefully we’ll find out at some point during her lifetime.

In other happy(ish) pet news, Louise appears to have figured out how to play:

I turned on my webcam when I saw her play for the first time. She was especially angry for a few days after I took her to the vet for her shots, but she seems to have calmed down again.

Aaand I just realized that I only took a couple pictures on Christmas. I have to be better at pulling out my camera. Here’s the highlight:


Last year, I got a box of Christmas crackers and forgot about them, so this year Palmer and I opened all six at once. A good time was had by all.

In other household news, we tried unsuccessfully to complete a 1000-piece puzzle. We gave up after only a couple days of kitty helping.


For New Year’s, Charlotte visited from Portland, and we had a time unlike I’ve had since I was about 25. It was an…adventure.


She also finally got to meet Penny, which made everyone happy, especially Penny.


So, now that Christmas is over, what’s next (besides a hunk of king cake)? I’ve got a few projects. There’s the 50-book goal, school’s about to start again (UGH), and I started a Massive Craft Project that I’ll blog about in the near future because I think it’s pretty neat. I’d also like to carry my good camera around everywhere and Take All the Pictures, but as only one of the photos in this post were taken by said camera, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Happy Mardi Gras!

It’s 2017. In other news, I read a book.

Yeah, I’m a little bit late on this one. I’ve been a little bit late for a while. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with this blog and with my year in general because, you know, that’s what one does this time of year.

I only made one formal resolution: Read that damn pile of 50 books again.

If you’ve ever looked at this blog for more than two minutes, you probably know that I used to read a lot. I signed up to read 50 books for the Goodreads Challenge and completed it every year for several – I even hit 64 one year – and then I totally fell off the wagon. I’m not quite sure what happened, but it probably had something to do with starting round two of grad school. That and being bored with blogging and feeling like writing about every book had become a job.

Translation: I’m going to read fifty books this year, dammit, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to write about them.

Some of them, the particularly interesting ones, I might. Who knows, I might even get back into book blogging. (Really, though, that’s doubtful, as my final year of grad school – it better be ever – begins in about a week, and this lovely excess of time I’ve been enjoying for just under a month is about to end. Meh.

As for the blog, I’d like to post more. Note that I haven’t turned it into an Official Resolution, but I’ll call it a plan. (I also plan to spend less time in the Facebook Black Hole, but I’m already failing miserably at that one, soooo) I have some fun stories and photos from Christmas I’d like to share, but we’ll see if I get around to it. This post is a good start.

wildwoodOkay, I’ll talk about books for just one minute. I just finished my first book of the year last night, Wildwood by Colin Meloy. Yes, the Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, and no, until about three weeks ago, I had no idea he’d written a book or I would have read it a while ago. If you’re familiar with the Decemberists, this book is just about what you’d expect if the lead singer wrote a children’s book (that really fits better into YA but the main characters are 12 and no one asked me, etc). It’s dark, it’s fantasy, and there are beautiful illustrations throughout (by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis). (Carson  Ellis also did the illustrations for The Mysterious Benedict Society, a fairly popular kids’ book that I really didn’t like. The illustrations were lovely, though!) You don’t have to be a kid or a teenager to enjoy this book. And even better: it’s the first in a trilogy. I’ll be reading through those in short order, though I’m diverting to the much less fantastical The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which downright terrifies me.

Santa Claus is coming…to Penny’s nightmares!

Let’s all think about this for a minute:

This was certainly the case today with our favorite puppy, who decided she did NOT like Santa. At least the one at PetSmart, who didn’t seem to like her, especially, but who was remarkably patient as she tried to climb all over him to get away from him. At home, we call that game Pointy Feet – though she’s usually not desperate to claw herself away from us, I hope – but there, it was more like Crazy Dog and Crazy Dog Parents #156 Today. Poor guy. I hope they paid them well, though I imagine they didn’t.

It was a struggle! But, thanks to my good camera, not entirely unsuccessful. On PetSmart’s end, it was entirely unsuccessful: there was a poor young girl with an iPad trying to get a picture so she could add a snowy branded overlay, and Penny wouldn’t stay still for long enough for her to get a picture! Luckily, Palmer and I pulled out our camera and started snapping away. At the very least, I’m amused by the outcome. In the best picture of Penny (well, almost every picture of Penny), Santa appears to be sending us some kind of death stare. Penny kept trying to squiggle away! I don’t even know how Palmer got her up onto that bench, but I’ll call that a huge achievement for the day.

Here’s last year’s much calmer (and tinier!) Santa photo from Your Pet Butler in Bossier:


I really need to see if I can get a better scan of that. Penny had her picture taken at Pet Butler again this year, but I don’t think it involves Santa, and it won’t be ready to pick up until Wednesday. But soon enough!

Soooo what does one do with a feral kitten?


Now that I’m writing on ye olde blog again, I figure I should introduce our newest family member, Louise. If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you’re already intimately acquainted with her, but just in case you’re not:

What had happened was:

I was at work one day about a month ago, eating lunch outside, and minding my own business. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something pop up at the top of a trashcan nearby, then disappear back down into it. My first reaction, of course, was to investigate, and so I peered down into the trashcan and saw a tiny (okay, fairly large), terrified kitten. A coworker was eating outside, too, and I asked her to get our resident feral cat expert to help me in the retrieval process. I snapped the featured photo while I was waiting.

With the help of said feral kitten expert and another coworker, I somehow (very quickly) pulled her out of the trashcan and deposited her in a cardboard paper box. Somehow, in the middle of all this, I decided that I should take her to the vet and then adopt her immediately. Because that’s how my brain works when I’m freaking out, despite my best intentions.

But what else do you do when you find a kitten in a trashcan? Of course you retrieve her, get her medical care, and then adopt her!

After calling a couple local vets – first my other cats’ vet, then another one close by, both of whom said they couldn’t fit her in that day – I called Penny’s vet, who wouldn’t be there for a few hours, though the lovely receptionist said I could drop her off, cardboard box and all, immediately. Oh, how I love those people.

Anyway, luckily, I picked her up a few hours later with a clean bill of health, except for a healing wound: the vet said she had a huge fly larva embedded in her neck that he’d had to remove. Poor kitten! After all that trauma, I got her home:


After letting her rest for a few days, we tried to play with her and to get her to eat soft food and tuna from a spoon, but she wouldn’t. (She did, though, eat out of her bowl, drink enough, and use the litterbox after we got some special walnut-based kitten training litter by Blue and a fancy covered litterbox. Thank God.) So we decided to try what I called force-lovin’:

We hoped that some good ol’ fashioned pets would win her over, but it didn’t work, so lately, we’ve been doing our best to ignore her. I gotten her to play with me a few times and she’ll hang out close to me, which is progress, but she absolutely refuses to be petted. I’m convinced we’ll get there eventually. We’re certainly trying!

Transformation: Complete! I think.

No, not the dog, though GAH she got big! The blog! The blog! It looks totally different now (as does the dog…), and I think it’s a better fit for Things that Probably Aren’t Books, which is my best stab at a topic for the moment. I’m really happy with this theme, and I’m kind of surprised I found one I like so quickly. I was expecting frustration and settling. Luckily, I found this one fast and only had to change a couple tiny bits and pieces. It’s Activello from colorlib, and it’s free! Which is better than the $40 a year I’ve been paying. Anyway. This is it! And thanks sooooo much to Palmer for the most excellent logo. It’s perfect!

We’ll see what happens next. It’ll be soon and probably a lot because it’s been a while. For the moment, though, look at that dog!

But wait, there’s more!

Awwww what? A post? Gah, it’s been a long time. Yes, this does mean your Very Favorite Blog is coming back, and SOON!

I just need a minute to sort things out.

So this page is gonna look silly for a few days until I get everything looking and working like I want it (note the new title font!) – or until I load up the default WordPress theme and call it a day.

It won’t be the old book blog of yore. I’m on a break now, but I’m still in Round Two of grad school, and I have a year left and not enough time or motivation to read much of anything that isn’t boring library essays. It’ll be more like the latest posts – photos of the dog in various places and such. I want to use my good camera instead of my iPhone (there’s a HUGE difference in picture quality!), so most posts will be photo-heavy. The featured photo is a good example. Dog Doing Things, Taken with Good Camera.

I’m also seriously considering starting from scratch – from this post, probably. The old posts going back to 2010, or so, would go away. They’d still be accessible, but elsewhere, like somewhere on or so. I’m not sure about that one.

But! I’m coming back! We’ll see what this blog turns into. There will be dogs and photos and possibly, even some Minecraft. I’m keeping the subject open to help me get excited about it again. I might fall back into a theme – maybe even books – but we’ll see.

Keep an eye out for new posts! The’ll start soon!

Puddles in Pensacola

Before our weekend trip to Pensacola, Florida, Penny was already an interstate traveler, as she visited the Wildflower Trails Festival in Linden, Texas (at which there were no wildflowers or trails) in April. This, though, was a much longer trip – hours longer, even, than our trip to Mandeville earlier this year. We took the long way there, down I-49 to I-10 because there’s a dog park right off the interstate in Baton Rouge, and I wanted to give Penny a break.

We spent somewhere around 8 hours on the road, and by the time we made it to Pensacola, we were both exhausted. We were very glad to see Palmer, though, who was working for there for two weeks. It was around 6 o’clock by the time we got there, so we headed almost directly to dinner at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille, which welcomed us with excellent food, a lovely sunset, and a bowl of ice water for Penny.

The next morning, we headed to the beach, where Penny found her true love: big puddles of water. She was so excited and pulled so hard to get out into the surf that Palmer had to hold her because she was about to pull me in.

We couldn’t go to any beach in Pensacola, though. We had to go to the Dog Beach. It was really nice, though, because there were no fences and it was just a section of normal beach bounded with signs. The caveat was that dogs were supposed to stay on-leash. Not that half of them did. Penny, though, followed the rules.

After tiring ourselves out at the beach, we went to Shaggy’s for lunch. I ate a pile of super-fresh fish and had a local beer. I could get used to eating by the water.

26668270503_2e011f5d63_kAfter lunch, we took Penny to another dog park, this time inland, so we she’d really be exhausted. She had a great time and made a new friend! A couple brought their two dogs, one of which was a lab mix, and he and Penny ran around and around until it was time to head back to the hotel for a serious nap.

We had dinner at the Sunset Grille on Perdido Key. There were a few too many children for my taste, but the food was good and the sunset was amazing. They chose their name well. The sunset alone was worth the 45-minute trek from the hotel.

The next morning, Palmer had to do laundry, so Penny and I paid an early visit to the dog park. We played Ball, and she ran around with the other dogs like she was a regular.


Palmer and I decided that Penny needed more beach time. The first time we went, we weren’t wearing swimsuits, so Penny was limited to the shoreline. We had a really nice breakfast at George’s Artisan Bakery and Bistro, picked up some necessities, and headed back out to the dog beach. We had underestimated the ridiculous amount of traffic headed onto Pensacola Beach on a beautiful Sunday. There’s only one bridge over the bay, and it’s a huge bottleneck. It took us well over an hour to get there, so by the time we made it to the island it was time for lunch, and everywhere was crowded. Since our restaurant choices were severely limited because Penny was with us, we ended up back at Shaggy’s and had a good time.

Finally, we were off to the beach, this time with swimsuits, beach towels, and an umbrella. The trade-off to preparedness, though, was no camera and very limited phone use because Sand. Penny bounded into the water as soon as we got there. Palmer took her farther out in the surf, and I guess she got intimidated because she was almost instantly ready to go.


Luckily, though, she came to her senses and enjoyed herself after that. I, on the other hand, finally came to terms with my absolute hatred of sand. It gets everywhere and it’s hard to clean off. I think Penny will probably be limited to rocky seashores and lakeshores for most of her future, but I’m pretty sure just about any puddle of water will suffice.

After allll of that adventure, we were exhausted again. We’d planned to go to a restaurant/bar called The Oar House, but when we pulled into the parking lot, it was already crowded. Bad music was blaring, and it was full of sun-baked partiers, most of whom were over 50 and generally gross-looking. We decided instantly that it wasn’t the place for us and ended up back at Jaco’s. At least we knew the food was good and they like dogs.

I was so tired of seafood, so I ordered the filet mignon, and it came out in a pool of barbecue sauce? It was good enough, but it tasted more like the sauce than anything else, so I was disappointed. The server said the kitchen must have used the wrong bottle because it was supposed to be steak sauce. They also said the chef was new and was working out the menu, so I’m not sure which was the actual case. So I’ll call that meal adequate.

Penny, however, had an excellent time. She got all of the attention and tasted her first filet mignon! She liked it so much that she refused to eat her puppy food afterward. We watched the sun set, then crashed. I think Palmer and I were both Done for the weekend.

On Monday morning, we took the shorter route home through Mississippi. Penny was so good, but she really hates long car rides. She spent most of the time napping, but every time she’d hear an unusual noise, she’d jump up and look out the windows. Then she’s lean her head against the back seat and look pitiful for several minutes before lying back down. Just before we got to Vicksburg, I stopped in a green area next to a Tractor Supply parking lot to give her a break and let her eat her lunch in relative peace. I think she was grateful.

26668288923_32b3b1e03c_k (1)

When we finally made it home, we were both tired but glad not to be on the road anymore. Penny seemed to have a good time, but it’ll be a while before we take another field trip that involves driving 8 hours each way – maybe even until we make it to the Rocky Mountains, which will hopefully happen next summer.

I should also note that I took most of these photos with my sparkly new camera. It’s a Sony a6000, and I love it. I was planning on getting a new Nikon DSLR because mine is almost ten years old and is totally outdated, but then I stumbled on this new mirrorless trend. They’re smaller than DSLRs but have interchangeable lenses and take photos that I think are just as good. I don’t need a professional-level camera because I’m not a professional, but I wanted a nice mid-grade one. This Sony fits the bill. (A super-duper thank you to Palmer for choosing a most excellent birthday present!)

Here’s a link to the entire Flickr album in case you need to see even more photos.

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