Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sea Star Wasting Disease: A West Coast Epidemic

Over the past couple of years, I have heard lots of talk about the Sea Star Wasting Disease that is affecting sea stars all along the western coast of North America. Some areas have lost 90% of their ochre sea star populations, and other types of sea stars have seen losses as well. The disease causes the sea stars to get lesions, lose limbs, and die... and often the whole process happens within just a few days. Scientists are not exactly sure what is causing this wasting disease. They know it is a virus, but aren't sure what has made it explode it recent years. The speculation is that it is a virus that has been present all along but warming oceans are stressing the sea stars and making them more succeptible.
Sea stars are a keystone species in the Pacific, playing an important role of predation. They eat mussels that would otherwise blanket the rocks and change the dynamics of the ecosystem.
We went tide pooling in Bandon, Oregon last week over spring break. It was my first time tidepooling in Oregon, and I was nervous that with the wasting disease, we may not even see any sea stars. But when we got there we saw a whole bunch, and I was happy.... I even started to think that maybe this wasting disease was not as big of a deal as I thought.... And then I did a web search for tidepools in Bandon and looked at images from a few years ago.... and the sea stars are everywhere! On top of one another, covering the rocks, everywhere. And that made the "lots" of seas stars we saw seem so inconsequential. And, of course, that made me sad.
Even the sea stars at the Hatfield Marine Center in Newport (who live in tanks inside) had contracted the disease and had to be given antibiotics in order to survive. Apparently the disease can be spread from starfish to starfish through human hands. Yikes.
Anyways, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we see a recovery soon. I can't imagine if my children have to grow up in a world without seas stars. I know that with a changing and warming planet, losses in species will be inevitable, but seeing the reality of it really hits home. Pin It Now!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break Post #2: Exploring Bandon

This year, we spent spring break in Bandon, Oregon. We arrived late afternoon on Monday in the midst of a terrible storm. The rain was pounding and the wind gusts were huge. The door to our rental home would not stay fully closed, and a small lake began to form in the kitchen. The screen from a window flew into the bathtub, and I spent most of Monday night not sleeping because the floor of the upstairs bedroom where we were sleeping was shaking. I am a bit of a weather wimp and I am generally not a fan of the wind.. I was so relieved to wake up Tuesday morning to calm.
Although the weather was not terrible again, we had mostly cool and overcast days. Not exactly the beach weather I had hoped for. Despite this, Phoebe still managed to get wet just about every time we went to the beach.
We spent a morning tidepooling, which in my opinion, was the best part of the trip. We also enjoyed beach combing, wandering the town and relaxing on the sand. We also visited the Washed Ashore art gallery. The gallery and art work is all about raising awareness about the mass amounts of plastic that ends up in our oceans and how it harms wildlife. There is some amazing art made from found plastic, and it is such a great organization.
I also made sure to go to the Bandon National Wildlife Refuge, as I had heard so much about it, but all we saw there were two geese. The trip was not without wildlife though. We saw elk on the drive down, some harbor seals, an otter, lots of water birds, and of course, all of the critters we found in the tide pools.
We drove up the coast on the way home and made a quick stop at the Oregon Dunes and another at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. I was impressed. As a donation-based facility, the had a lot of great displays. Well worth the visit!
We are all glad to be home again, settling in and finding our routine once again.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Break Post #1: Tidepooling Bandon

For years I have been wanting to tidepool on the Oregon coast, and for whatever reason I have just never made it happen. So when we decided that we were going to head to the Oregon coast for spring break, one of the first things I researched was the tide charts to see if there would be a good time to tidepool. The morning of our first full day here was our best chance, so I motivated the troops and we headed to Coquille Point, just a couple of miles from where we were staying. And we saw tons of animals! A guide to what we saw can be found here.
We all had a great time, especially Phoebe who loved gently touching the starfish and sea anemones (she is my fearless child). And, I can't wait to head back to the coast this summer for another chance to tidepool.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along .

We are on a little spring break road trip in Bandon, Oregon, which is on the southern coast. It is gorgeous here. We have only been here for a day and a half but I already have so many pictures to share (and a few good stories too!). That will have to wait another day or so though, as I haven't even had a chance to sort through them.

On the car ride down to Bandon I finished up the body of the new tiny tea leaves I am knitting for Phoebe. I am now working on the sleeves and it seems to be going quick. They are supposed to be 3/4 length, but I think I may knit them full... that way little Miss P can get more use out of the sweater. I think this is the quickest that I will have knit a sweater-- a 4.5 hour car ride certainly helps with that!

I am currently reading Extras, the last book in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield. It's easy reading, which is perfect for a spring break trip. I brought a small stack of books with so hoping I can sneak away for some reading this week.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy First Day of Spring!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for this week's Yarn Along .

The past week has been super busy. I finished up my teaching term yesterday and got my final grades submitted this morning. Which means that I am officially on spring break. Whoo-hoo! Now I just need to finish organizing next term....

We are taking a little road trip next week for spring break and I am hoping to have plenty of time for car knitting. I have 2 knitting projects and a stack of books all lined up. Although I always seem to be overly ambitious with these things. With two kids, I think I will still be pretty busy.

I finished up the baby sophisticate sweater for my husband's assistant last week. I love how it came out except I think I stink at wrapping and turning. You can tell where I did it along the collar as the stitches aren't even. Hmmm.... something to work on I guess.

I am now starting (another) tiny tea leaves for Phoebe. She has a blue one that is getting too small, and too warm for this time of year. This orange one is a lighter wool that should work nicely for the chilly nights of spring and summer.

I am still reading bits of  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but mainly reading Inferno by Dan Brown. It's the kind of book that leaves you hanging each chapter so that you want more!

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Monday, March 16, 2015

A Nature Blog Scavenger Hunt!


I am so honored to have been invited to participate in a Pacific Northwest nature blog scavenger hunt! Want to join in? Here's how to play:
First stop by Kelly's blog and read about the details and get the list of questions you will be finding the answers to. Then hop around to all the blogs, find the answers, and be eligible to win one of several prizes including a nature books, a Discover pass, or a bird pendant. 
Hope you can join in. Should be a lot of fun!

I have lived here in the Pacific Northwest for about seven and a half years now, which is plenty of time to fall in love with a place. Actually, I think I fell in love with it here the first time I ever came-- the vibrant greens, the huge trees, the herons and hawks that are quite common but still stop me in my tracks each time.

To some, it may seem like a forest is a forest, like they are all basically the same. But when you start to pay attention, to really notice the area you are walking through, you start to see defining features of the ecosystem. You start to notice the differences, the uniqueness, of each place that you go. And I love to watch how these places change over time.

To me, the seasons are a way to experience and celebrate the changes in our natural areas. The changes follow the rhythm of nature, one after another, and eventually return back to the beginning. Life starts over. Everything is refreshed. Here in the Portland, we are quickly shifting into spring. It has been a mild winter, without much precipitation, and we are all a bit worried about the summer. It almost seems as if climate change has arrived and smacked us all in the face.

Regardless, the arrival of spring is always a welcome sign. Life starts anew. Colorful blossoms abound. Birds are announcing their presence. Spring in Portland means trilliums, those fleeting flowers that are here one moment and gone the next. It means salamanders migrating from the forests into lakes. It means snails and slugs under every overturned log or garden pot. 

These signs ground me into the cycle of nature, the cycle of life. Without this shift from one season to the next, how would we mark the passage of time? I watch my children grow and change in accordance with the shift in the seasons, always flowing, one into the next.

Even though I have loved this place since the moment I laid eyes on it, over time, I have grown to love it deeply, like a child. I have started to claim it as my own, and to rely on its changes to guide me through my own life. This is where I come for solace, for reflection, for calm, and for connection.  I know that I am extremely lucky to live in a land of such abundance and beauty, and I try to never, ever, take it for granted.

Happy Scavenger Hunting!

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gratitude Sunday

This week I have felt grateful for my children. For the simple moments we share together, and for the lovely people they are becoming. For the way that their imaginations and curiosity inspire me. For their honesty, and their ability to say when they really need nothing more than a good snuggle. For the patience that they are instilling in me and for their joy, which they make apparent to the world.

What have you felt grateful for this week?

Playing along with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots.

P.S.- come and check back in here tomorrow... I will be participating in a Northwest nature blog scavenger hunt... and there will be prizes! 

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

More Than Honey: A Review

More Than Honey

I just finished up watching More Than Honey. There are quite a few recent movies out there about bees and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and this is the newest to top the list. Honestly, I wasn't super excited about watching this film, as I figured it would be more of the same. And while it did cover a lot of the same ideas as previous films, it gave things a nice new twist.
The cinematography is lovely and it includes some amazing close-up footage.  The film discusses the mating rituals and life cycles of bees, and emphasizes the fact that they work together as a super-organism, and not necessarily as individuals.
The film includes interviews with a variety of beekeepers, from pastoral to commercial, and the differences are astounding. Modern beekeeping has changed the process so much, treating these amazing creatures as if they were just another commodity to provide them with an income. We have lost respect for these insects that literally turn pollen into liquid gold.
One of my favorite parts of the film discussed the importance of bees to our entire agricultural system. They showed film from China, where many plants have to be pollinated by hand because there are no bees to pollinate for them. Seeing the workers standing on trees with a paintbrush of pollen, touching it to each blossom, was almost comical, yet also extremely sad. Humans are not efficient pollinators and our way of life is killing out the very backbone of our food base. Bees are literally the canary in the coal mine, announcing that our agricultural system in on the verge of collapse. And we seem to be doing very little to stop it.
The film also discusses CCD, but almost as a side note. The importance of bees to our food, and to our lives, is the forefront idea of the film. It stresses that CCD has been so mysterious because it is not one specific thing-- it's a combination of factors (pesticides, disease, stress) that is affecting the bees, and causing this incredible die-off that we are seeing.

Those of you who have read my blog in years past will know how much I love bees and love photographing them. I am not one to sit and be idle, ever really, yet I sometimes find myself sitting for 30 or 40 minutes at a time in my garden, simply staring at the bees. For me, it is a form of meditation, and I am looking forward to the coming days when bee-watching weather will be back. It's already just begun....

This film was lovely. I am going to show it to my class next term and I would love for you to watch it too. And then go watch some bees. It's a great way to soak it all in.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo- no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama.

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