Monday, February 29, 2016

Just hummin' along

I did NOT get out birding or sketching this past weekend (cold!  rain!  wind!) and that's okay.  I got in a few neighborhood walks, and strolled Truman around, and went to Magnuson Park for a dog walk with Michelle and Winston.  Michelle and I also checked out the new Trader Joe's in Shoreline (good stuff!).  Otherwise I stayed home and thought about housecleaning, but didn't do any.

So all in all, it was a most relaxing, low-key weekend, which I needed, because retirement is tiring.  My body is taking its time adjusting to new demands -- you see, I'm no longer sitting at a desk eight hours a day, five days a week.  I'm simply moving a lot more, and I'm out and about a lot more.  I need to remember to take rest breaks!

Anyway, luckily I have lots of photos from last week to share.  Today's pics are from the Montlake Fill and they are all of one bird -- an Anna's Hummingbird that was being particularly photogenic.  Enjoy!

Showing off the iridescence:

One slight turn of the head, and most of the iridescence disappears:

And then it's back again:

Or not:

Then the bird stuck its tongue out:

And finally did a little neck stretching:

Coming tomorrow:  Truman time in the garden!

Friday, February 26, 2016

A sunny day at Richmond Beach Park

On Tuesday I went sketching with Nicole, and we returned to Richmond Beach Park in the hope that it would be sunnier and warmer than on our previous visit.  It was!  And the views were spectacular:

We found a nice spot near a pergola perched high above the beach, and stopped to sketch there.

I noticed these two crows posing ever so picturesquely and I wanted to draw this scene very much, but I had a feeling they wouldn't hang around long enough.  So I snapped a photo instead, and a good thing, too, as they flew off a second afterwards.

Nicole hiked down to the beach, while I paused on the path above to draw this view:

Then I trotted on down to the beach, where I quickly discovered that warm and sunny up top does not guarantee warm and sunny down below by the water.  It was breezy and chilly.  We declared the sketch outing to be over.

Yesterday was gloriously sunny and warm, and I chose to spend it in a favorite place -- my own back yard.  There I did bits of weeding in between long bouts of lounging.  It was fabulous.

The rains are scheduled to return this afternoon and continue off and on through the weekend.  Oh, well.  So it goes!

Happy Friday from the Happy Retiree:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Urban Sketcher Group Outing

Last Sunday the Seattle Urban Sketchers group met up at McMenamin's in Bothell -- this is a company that buys up old, interesting properties and restores them as hotel/restaurant resorts.  The one we went to was a junior high school from 1931, and it had multiple buildings with fun decor.

This is the hotel:

Hotel on left, gift shop on right:

Unfortunately, it was too cold (and later, too rainy) to sketch outside.  There was landscaping I wanted to draw, but it will have to wait for a sunnier day.

I checked out the hotel floors instead -- they seem very big on having lots of ceiling lights:

This was the entry to a snug coffee/tea spot:

Here's part of the lobby for one of the many restaurants on site:

They are also fond of wall decor:

The old gymnasium had been converted to a HUGE swimming pool with a bar/restaurant -- it had a Tiki/Hawaiian theme going.  Sadly, the pool area was closed for maintenance, so the one good sketch I managed to do was from the lobby:

Nicole and Tina and I agreed that this was a spot worth returning to on a warm sunny day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Winter Birds Still Hanging Around

I took Truman for a walk around Meadowbrook Pond last Saturday, where we saw a few Wintering-Over Waterfowl still hanging about.  Maybe it's not quite Spring yet, though I suspect we're getting closer.

The resident birds were also out and about in the afternoon sunshine, like this lovely Pied-billed Grebe:

This female Common Goldeneye is a winter visitor:

Goldeneyes are divers, and I don't believe I've ever seen one out of the water, so I was thrilled when this one hopped onto a submerged log to do a bit of preening:

Another Winter visitor is the Ring-necked Duck:

And here we have a resident female Mallard with a visiting coot:

This visiting Bufflehead is another diving bird that I've rarely seen out of the water:

Finally, a female Hooded Merganser.  I haven't seen any males in a long time.

Soon we should be seeing early Spring arrivals -- there are already sporadic reports of swallows turning up here and there.  I'm ready and waiting!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Flowers Galore

Last Saturday my friend Tina and I made an impromptu visit to the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show, where we saw all sorts of inspirational displays.

This one had the look I attempt to replicate in my yard -- lots of flowers and shrubs broken up by paths.  Somehow, this one seemed a tad neater than my garden for some reason.  Probably the hordes of minions they had on hand had a little to do with that!

This one was called something like "Mini Tetons" -- there is no way I will pay to have boulders hauled into my garden, but it was quite striking.

Now this appealed to me greatly -- a desert theme.  This would work splendidly in Richland, where I grew up -- Mom, don't you want to get rid of the lawn and stop paying for mowers?

This one was for all the golfers out there (not me!):

I've often thought it would be nice to have a summer house...

Another view of the first garden with all the flagstone paths...I had flagstones for a while but they tended to get very slippery in the rain (mostly because I didn't clean off the slime that accumulates on them in this neck'o'the woods....).  I replaced a lot of them with aggregate pavers instead.  Much better traction and no cleaning needed.

Another view of the desert garden, complete with camp site.  I don't think I'll start camping in the back yard any time soon, though I've occasionally considered it during those hot summer weeks when it is 90 or above for days on end.

This one had more rocks than garden.  Another low-maintenance plan:

My own garden, which I've been working on for 18 years now (!) is comprised of (mostly) native shrubs, flower beds, herbs, twelve roses, paths, lots of decorative statues, plus a fake woodland stream area and a fake "beach" scene.

Here are a few of the 30+ decorations (the blue fish was not a success -- it's gone now):

Here is the fake beach area:

And here is what the flower beds look like when they get out of control:

This year I should be able to keep them in better order, since I can get out there much more often.  That's the theory, at least!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Saturday Adventures (plus Truman!)

 Saturday turned out to be rather busy, not all of it planned.  In the morning I walked/strolled Truman to the library to drop off books, and then we drove to the pet store.  When I tried to get his stroller from the back, my key broke off in the lock.  Most vexing!  After securing pet food, I drove to Bulger Locksmith on Lake City Way (yes, I always keep a spare car key in my purse) where they expertly removed it and made a couple new ones for under $10.  They are the greatest.

I returned Truman to his beloved Spot By the Window at home, and then abandoned him for hours and hours.  I did leave him some plush toys for company:

His friends are Hermione, Max, Totoro, Rufus, and Milo.

Meanwhile, I was off to Capitol  Hill on a sketch outing thanks to Tina, who had an appointment there and gave me a lift.  During the hour and a half or so I had there, I settled down at Cal Anderson Park to sketch the reservoir building and to admire the gulls.  I rarely take photos of gulls, as I don't usually find them being terribly photogenic, but some fool was feeding them and I snapped off a few in-flight pics that pleased me.  These are Glaucous-winged Gulls:

Then I got down to sketching.  I had brought my camp stool, so I was able to park myself in a spot with a good view:

After finishing the drawing, I wandered over to Elliott Bay Books for a while, where I did not buy anything!  I did, however, meet a customer with a charming four-month-old pug named Lulu, and was pleased to know that dogs were welcome inside.  Another place to bring Truman!

When I met up with Tina after her appointment, we determined it was too chilly to continue sketching, so she suggested popping into the Northwest Flower and Garden show at the Convention Center.  We had a good time there -- I shall save those photos for tomorrow.

When I got home, Truman gave me a Look as if to imply that I had neglected him far longer than he deemed appropriate.  I appeased him with a short walk around Meadowbrook Pond Park, where we had some lovely waterfowl to admire.  I shall post those photos later on as well.  Stay tuned!