Friday, July 31, 2015

Stop Me Before I Visit This Park Again

Once or twice a  year I think, "Why don't I go to Discovery Park more often?"  It has lovely views of the Sound, plenty of varied bird habitat, historic buildings, a beach and lighthouse that I can't go to when I have Truman with me, but it also has a bluff-top sand pit where he can pretend he's on the beach.

So, remembering only the nice things about Discovery Park, I hop in the car and head out...and thirty minutes or more later, as I'm sitting in traffic in Ballard, I remember precisely why I don't go more often.  Gah, what a lengthy, convoluted, annoying drive it is!  Pooh.  Next time I say anything about going there, please call or email to remind me of the horrible drive -- thank you.

The idea was to sketch some of the historic buildings (old military housing), and Truman came along to help, of course.

I wasn't terribly excited by the results.

So I gave up on sketching in favor of a long walk through the meadow.

We went as far as the sand pit, which we had all to ourselves.

The views were splendid, though still not worth the annoying drive.

Next time, I'll just go to Golden Gardens instead.

Finally, here is the obligatory "Truman sitting on my lap" photo:

He, at least, seemed to enjoy himself, but then, he's a dog.  He doesn't have to drive.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


I haven't posted many photos of birds here lately, mainly because I haven't taken a lot of photos of birds lately.  Why?  Because either there aren't many birds out and about this time of year and/or the ones that are out and about are ones I've already taken a gazillion photos of before and why would I need another one?

This is what happens when you've been birding the same region for seven years and have seen and repeatedly photographed the regularly occurring species over and over.  If I want to see new birds, I have to travel far and wide, which I don't particularly want to do.  Luckily, once in a while I get to see one of the regular birds doing something photogenic -- as happened yesterday at Discovery Park.  This juvenile Cedar Waxwing was hanging out there, and wasn't doing anything interesting, but I started taking photos anyway, just in case.

Usually I just go home, look at these sorts of photos, and then delete them because they aren't that interesting -- but this time I was rewarded by a sudden spurt of activity.  The bird got excited by something, and stretched its neck up:

Then it engaged in what looked to me very much like Cedar Waxwing Semaphore -- tail feathers fanned out one direction, and then to the other side:

Followed by a scrunching together of the wings:

I wonder what this means in waxwing lingo?  "Hello, female waxwing on the next tree down, look at my fabulous tail feathers!"   Or maybe, "Hey, you crow there!  Back off, this is my perch!"

I love the way the light shines through the tail feathers.  I guess I'll just keep aiming my camera at the regulars, and see what happens.

Coming tomorrow:  Truman at Discovery Park.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Staycation Outings

On Monday Truman and I ventured over to Gas Works Park, where I don't think I've been since the late 1980s.  I ought to go more often, for it is a lovely spot with terrific panoramic views of the city.  And of course, it also hosts the old gas works, which make for wonderful sketching opportunities.

Truman did do some actual walking at the park, but it was easier to put him in the stroller for picturesque poses.

Note to Mom:  I counted eleven construction cranes downtown from this vantage point!

I found a shady spot from which to draw the old gas works:

The park is only 1-1/2 miles from my office, so I'm thinking a long lunch now and then to walk over there might be fun.

On Tuesday we went to the Fill, where there were mostly lots of little birds flitting about -- goldfinches, House Finches, sparrows, chickadees, wrens, and hummingbirds.  Quick, how many goldfinches are in this photo:

I'm not actually sure myself!  I know there are at least eight, and there might be a ninth one hidden behind the stems above the one with wings spread in the lower left side.

After our walk around the Loop Trail, I found another shady spot over at the Center for Urban Horticulture building courtyard from which to do another sketch.  Truman, as usual, waited ever so patiently for me to finish and do something more interesting (like take him home).

Today's plan is to sketch at Discovery Park.  It's supposed to get to 86 today, so we may not be out there very long, though!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Staycation continues with art and a dog

I have another week of not working and not traveling anywhere and I'm quite happy about that, as it is supposed to be sunny and warm all week long.  Birding, sketching, and hanging with Truman shall be the order of the day!

First up:  Rosyln art.  I wasn't able to sketch while visiting historic downtown Roslyn, as it was extremely windy, so I snapped a few photos to draw from later in the comfort of my wind-free home.  Here is the Roslyn Cafe in ink:

I truly lucked out on the only vehicle parked by the building being that old truck -- perfect for the old-time feeling of the place.

And here is the Roslyn Cafe in ink and watercolor:

Today's plans include a little birding at the Fill with Truman, and a sketch outing to Gas Works Park with Truman.  He figures prominently in all of my Staycation plans.  Here are some photos from a week or more ago from our regular weekend visit to the Fill:

Bullfrog on the path!

Bunny on the path!

Truman ignored the bunny completely (not sure he even noticed it), and as for the bullfrog, he just went up and sniffed it and decided it was Not Edible and Not a Threat and therefore Not Interesting.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 24, 2015

The One-Day Vacation

Well, actually, I am currently enjoying a two-week Staycation, but this past Wednesday I managed to get out of town for a day.  You see, in order to visit Seattle without having to drive on I-5 or in Seattle traffic, my mother drove to Ronald, WA to meet up with me so I could then drive her and my brother into the Big City for their 3-day stay.  Of course, then we had to reverse the process.

Ronald is a one-horse town a few miles up the road from Roslyn (which is a two-horse town), which is a few miles up the road from Cle Elum (a three-horse town).  The reason this was our meet-up spot was because Michelle and Steve have a lovely vacation home in Ronald where I could leave my car.  And on the return car-exchange Wednesday, I opted to stay there for just one night.  It was most relaxing.

After seeing my mother and brother off back home to Richland, Truman and I tootled on down to the Cle Elum Fish Hatchery road.

There we spied dozens of Bank Swallows flitting about, and occasionally taking a brief break from flitting about.

Back in Ronald, Tru and I explored the trails in the woods behind the house.

Birding in the woods is extremely frustrating.  I could hear birds all over the place, but could not see them due to the dense foliage.  I've had this trouble every time I've been birding in the woods, and have reached the conclusion that what I really like is birding by bodies of water, or in arid regions.  Forest birding is just too annoying to be truly enjoyable.  I heard Steller's Jays, and robins, and crows, and finches, and chickadees, and several calls I couldn't identify because my birding-by-ear skills are woefully inadequate.  After walking for some time, Truman was anxious to return to the house, but I informed him that we were not returning until I had actually seen a bird.  He looked displeased.

Luckily, within a minute or so this Western Wood-Pewee flew in to a branch and posed for us.

I was happy, Truman was ecstatic, and we hightailed it back to the vacation home.

After lunch Truman and I headed into Roslyn for a lovely stroll around the main streets which are full of historic buildings.  It was far too windy to sit and sketch, so I contented myself with taking photos from which to do drawings later.

We also wandered up into the residential area a bit, where I spotted these statues:

It was a most relaxing day (and night) away from home.  And now we are happy to be back at Dog End for another week or so of Staycation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

At the Zoo

On Tuesday I entertained my visitors by taking my niece and my brother to the Woodland Park Zoo, where all of my photos came out overexposed.  I had just changed the memory card (to an old one) because the one I had been using developed glitches.  I hope that's the problem and not my camera.

Anyway, here a just a few pics that aren't too awful.

Blue-bellied Roller from the African exhibit:

Kitty cat:

Matt the Grizzly (or possibly Steve the Grizzly -- there are two, and they're twins):

How many monkeys are in this picture?

I take a photo of Crystal taking a photo:

Feed me!

We walked a LOT and saw every exhibit area there except the petting farm, insect house, and duck pond.

Later that same day, I took my brother and mother to "my" art gallery, where Mom bought one of my framed original paintings, and another painting had just sold to a tourist from Texas, so I got a nice little check from the gallery owner.

On Wednesday I got to drive my company to Ronald, WA, where we had met up so that Mom didn't have to drive all the way to Seattle.  I saw them off back to their home in Richland, while Truman and I got to spent the rest of the day and night at Michelle and Steve's lovely vacation home.

In Ronald we did some birding in the woods, and then had a long walk around nearby Roslyn, which is full of historic buildings that make for excellent sketching opportunities.  I contemplated going to Lavender Lake, which Michelle recommended for swimming, but it never got above 72 and was very windy, so the urge to swim never really developed.

At 2:00am today, Tru decided he needed to go outside to do his business, which initially annoyed me until I stepped onto the back yard deck and looked up at the stars.  Oh my.  In Seattle, on a clear night, I can see maybe six stars from my back porch.  In Ronald, I could see practically the entire Milky Way.  It was so stunning that I almost didn't want to go back inside.

I'll try to post a few pics from Ronald and Roslyn tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Unexpected Boat Ride

 I hosted my mother and brother at Dog End for the past three days (they are now on their way home).  One thing they wanted to do was see my niece Crystal, which we did on Monday.  She is the manager for the Seattle Electric Boat Company on Lake Union, where people can rent small, easy to handle boats.  She said she'd be happy to show us where she worked -- and when I asked Mom earlier if that meant going on a boat, she said no, just going to look at the place.

However, it turned out that we were going on the water -- Crystal had checked out a boat for us for an hour, and she was going to tootle us around the lake.  She wanted it to be a surprise, and what a lovely surprise it turned out to be -- especially as it was sunny and warm.

Here are the wee boats:

And here are my mother and brother aboard our boat:

Captain Crystal:

We went past lots and lots and LOTS of houseboats.

We went past Gas Works Park.

Several seaplanes came in for landings.

This was my favorite houseboat:

There were excellent views of the Space Needle, and mom counted nine construction cranes on the downtown skyline,

Here we are going underneath the freeway bridge.  We went into Portage Bay, where I waved to my office building though I rather doubt anyone there noticed.

We passed quite a few Duck boats (the amphibious tour buses that go from land to sea).

And here we are returning to the dock, ever so slowly, so as not to upset the kayakers.

Crystal handled the boat with great proficiency, always turning it deftly to meet any wakes head on for minimal rocking (though mom and Robin did get a few splashes).  Quite a lovely adventure!