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TheRagens Newsletter
May 1, 2003

Current Thoughts

Spring has sprung, baseball (Go Mariners!) season has started, the tulips have come and gone, and the bees have come back. We have a healthy crop of bumblebees in our backyard this year -- no one stung yet, fortunately. I've been driving hard to get our backyard 'vineyard' ready for the grapevines that we expect to plant in early May. That ought to be an interesting day. I've been focused on improving the soil a bit through the addition of a little topsoil and compost and on building the trellis structure -- just the poles and the first wire or two is all that I need to put up for now. The vines won't grow enough to need anything more this year. And, I've been adding a little drip irrigation system for the new vines which will need a lot of water until they establish a deep root system.


In This Issue

bulletNew Wildlife Photos
bulletBookmarks - Booklists
bulletWine Tasting
bulletSites worth visiting


New Wildlife Photos

With spring, we're starting to get some new pictures from the San Juan Islands. The eagles are back -- in fact, on our last visit, at one time right in front of our house, we saw no fewer than eight eagles soaring in the spring storm winds as they look for food to get tossed up on the rocks. Our orca friends haven't returned yet but they should come back within the next month. Our new pictures over the last couple of months are:

bullet Juvenile bald eagle
bulletBald eagle over water
bullet Cormorants waiting for dinner

Interesting, in the last week, I received a note from Orca Relief Citizen's Alliance who was wondering if our orca pictures were taken from shore rather than from boats. She was pleased to hear that all of our orca whale pictures are taken from shore and asked to reference them on their website in order to show tourists that there are real, whale-safe alternatives to getting a ride on one of the 30-40 whale watching boats (on the weekends) that trail after the whales. The premise that the Orca Relief folks are working under is that the noise from the boats confuses the whales enough that they are unable to feed effectively during the day which causes them to draw down their fat reserves. Ultimately, this has put reduced the local whale population by almost 25% over the last ten years. They've put some research into this and there's probably some merit to it.



I've started to read more about rock climbing recently. If there is anything like a hierarchy in climbing, or at least in climbing authors, it would look something like:

bulletExpedition climbers (think Everest and K2 with multi-month climbs) are the marathon runners marked with endurance and stoic acceptance of waiting out storms.
bulletAlpine climbers (think the Eiger or other 1-3 day climbs) are the milers showing more speed and power yet enough sustained difficulty
bulletRock climbers are more like 100 meter sprinters; even though some climbs are multi-day, there is speed and elegance in these climbs.
bulletBoulderers are like long-jumpers; explosive and powerful.

I'm currently reading Sherman Exposed: Slightly Censored Climbing Stories by John Sherman. Sherman clearly lays out the proposition for bouldering -- it's pure and with minimal protection. From his perspective, it's also filled with characters that are slightly insane. Makes for interesting reading; I'll add my own comments to my climbing book reviews page sometime over the next month or two.

coverFeatured Book

Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King
Although I read this last fall before we visited Firenze, I thought that I'd finally put some notes together on this book. This book is based on the actual historical documents from the construction of the Duomo in Florence (Firenze). The author did a marvelous job of researching a 500 year-old construction job and putting together the pieces in a readable format. The engineering of a dome of this size was based on revolutionary and, to some degree, on untested construction methods.


Wine Tasting

The Washington State red wine tasting was a great success! We tasted a total of eleven different wines; all but one or two of the wines scored well very well using our informal survey after the tasting. Our two consensus favorites were from Betz Family Cellars and Cayuse. I've listed our highlight notes below together with some of our other favorite wines we tasted over the last two months.

bulletBetz Family Cellars, 2000 Pere de Familie. This cabernet/merlot was the consensus favorite as best of tasting. This wine had good balance, long finish. It opened up and got more complex with time.
bulletCayuse, 1999 Walla Walla Syrah. Lots of berries and fruit in this wine with a little bit of pepper and spice. Long finish. We were happy to bring this wine as it came in second.
bulletHeitz Cellars, 1995 Trailside Vineyard cabernet sauvignon. We had friends visiting from New York and uncorked this beauty.
bulletWoodward Canyon, 1999 Artist Series cabernet sauvignon. Friends brought this wine over. I think it started off a bit closed but it opened up over the next 15-30 minutes.
bulletOwen Roe, 2001 Pinot Gris. We love Pinot Gris because the wines are so crisp and clean and not heavily oaked. This one was filled with fruit flavor.


Websites Worth Visiting

Oregon Vineyard Supply. Great source of vineyard supplies. I bought trellising materials and other items to help get our backyard vineyard established.

Bottled Poetry and Other Thoughts. I've established our own blog. This gives me a way to more quickly post ad hoc notes from wine tastings and other occasional points of interest and websites that we've found to be interesting.

Ray's Web - Wildlife of the Rocky Mountains. Beautiful pictures from a conservation-minded Canadian.


2003 Index Newsletter Index
bulletJanuary 2003
bulletMarch 2003
bulletMay 2003
bulletJuly 2003
bulletSeptember 2003
bulletNovember 2003


About TheRagens is a family website that highlights our family history in addition to wildlife and nature photos, wine tasting notes, book lists (with a focus on mountain climbing) and other interests of ours. We are happy to share our interests with you and you may pass on this newsletter to friends as long as you make no changes to the content. If you are receiving this newsletter from a friend, you may sign up to receive it by visiting our registration page. If you wish to be removed from the distribution list, simply reply to this message and replace the words in the subject line with REMOVE. We keep an index of our back issues on our site.

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