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Treehouse Masters

I’ve discovered a little gem of a DIY television show, Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters.

Now in its second season, Treehouse Masters is hosted by building visionary and “tree whisperer” Pete Nelson, a really likable everyman with a passion for trees. Pete comes from neighboring Washington state, where he and his wife, Judy, and daughter, Emily, own and operate Treehouse Point, a bed-and-breakfast near Seattle that boasts six guest-room treehouses. (You can also visit the property by taking a 1 1/2-hour guided tour of all the non-occupied treehouses on the property for just $18.)

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Pete Nelson has been building treehouses for 20 years, starting with the one his dad helped him build when he was just 5 years old. Pete’s company, Nelson Treehouse & Supply, has now built over 200 treehouses in 6 countries. Treehouse Masters follows Pete and his lovable crew, including his twin 20-something sons, as they create “private escapes for those with a passion to reconnect with nature and awaken their inner child.” But if you think Pete’s treehouses are just for kids, think again. Some of Pete’s creations are self-contained living spaces including bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. If you can dream it, Pete can build it. He’s even built a working recording studio high up in the trees.

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One recent episode had Pete visiting his former apprentice, Takashi Kobayashi (Taka), in Japan. Taka is now a treehouse master himself, recently creating the “Tree Dragon” treehouse, built for the child survivors of the 2011 Japanese tsunami. Taka wanted to create a space where the children could conquer the fear of nature the tsunami had brought to them and get back in touch with the beauties of the natural world. Through Pete’s conversation with Taka, some of it through an interpreter, we find that, regardless of the architectural antiquities that abound in Japan, there have never been treehouses built there—the word doesn’t even exist in the Japanese language. Because of Pete, the Japanese now have a word for these creative spaces … treehouse!

Pete also has a handful of books about treehouses, including this year’s Be in a Treehouse: Design/Construction/Inspiration. If you love the thought of living (or playing) in the trees, check out Treehouse Masters, Friday nights on Animal Planet.

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Garden Treasures

When hubby Nick and I were rototilling a patch in the garden recently, we nearly rolled over this precious cache …

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A killdeer “nest” … smack dab in the middle of the garden path.

Why “killdeer”? It’s an onomatopoetic name (“the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it,” according to Merriam-Webster). The killdeer has a high, excited call that says kill-deer, kill-deer. And they say it so often, they’re also known as Chattering Plovers or Noisy Plovers.

Killdeer, Albert Head Lagoon, Metchosin, Near Victoria, British Columbia

Photo by Alan D. Wilson via Wikimedia Commons

The killdeer is an excitable bird altogether—it sprints erratically across the ground, stopping abruptly every few seconds to see if it’s missed any insects in its path. And the practice of laying its eggs in open areas in a nearly non-existent nest doesn’t help matters—when danger appears, Mama Killdeer acts like she has a broken wing, hopping away from the nest to draw attention to herself and away from the eggs. For animals that she doesn’t see as dangerous, like cows and horses, she uses a different tactic: she fluffs up her feathers, puffs her tail up over her head, and runs at the animals, trying to scare them off.

Hasn’t anyone told the poor little killdeer that it would be much easier to build a real nest out of harm’s way for its pretty little eggs?

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Idaho

Road tripping through my favorite state!

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The canola fields are the perfect place to stop and giggle.

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We don’t have an ocean, but the beaches are beaches just the same to me and my sister.

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There’s something about the sand in your toes, no matter where you are. My sis and I love our Idaho.

 

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Bird Song

Last summer, I shared a little tweet (literally) from my morning windowsill …

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Photo by Geoff Clarke via Wikimedia Commons

The “tweet” I’m talking about was the song of a Yellow Warbler who was frequenting the trees around my farm.

I recognize the songs of the warblers and several other species that sing the praises of the daily sunrise, but there are feathered farm friends whose voices I don’t know, so I was excited to discover Bird Song Hero.

Want to know what it is?

You may be surprised to learn that Bird Song Hero is an online game (you never thought of me as a “gamer,” did you?).

Granted, I’m not one to linger on the computer, but this game is really more of a fun tool, and it doesn’t take long to play. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology created Bird Song Hero to help bird watchers learn 50 common bird songs using a technique employed by the pros.

“Bird Song Hero trains you to interpret spectrograms, the sound visualizations scientists use to help them understand sound patterns,” explains the Cornell crew. “Spectrograms are used in the matching game to enlist your visual brain in identifying bird songs.”

Here’s the video that introduces Bird Song Hero and prepares you to play. It might take a moment to load, but it’s well worth it. When you get to the song of the black-capped chickadee, you’ll love the way I’ve always remembered its song: “Who did it?” “Who did it?” “Who did it?”

Visit Bird Song Hero to try the full chirping challenge.

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