Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Local Explorations

Last Saturday morning brought cool, overcast skies with light drizzle.  I decided it would be an indoor day.  However, by around noon a few blue holes appeared in the overcast sky.  Clearly it was time to take a chance on the weather  holding up long enough for a mini-adventure.

My neighbor had told me about a little park by the North Seattle Community College that she took her sons too many moons ago, a park she knew as Indian Springs from the healing waters used there by Native Americans.  I'd not heard that name, but thanks to Google, I turned up Licton Springs park, which seemed to fit the bill.

It is indeed just a few blocks west of the community college, and it's small though pleasant, with winding trails through woods and wooden bridges over the stream.

We wound around until we found the sign explaining the Native American healing history of the spot, and the source of the water.

Since it was Saturday, when there is free parking at the college, I opted to drive around the campus, with a view to seeing if it had sketching possibilities.  I hadn't brought my art supplies because it was too breezy, but it's always good to make note of places to return to later.

While checking things out, I spotted a sign with a map of a greenbelt.  I never knew it was there -- it is a long, narrow stretch of meadows and a pond lying between the parking lot and the freeway.  Truman and I got out to explore it.

A lovely spot, if a bit noisy from the freeway traffic.

Our last stop was at a community P-patch garden which is on 92nd between the park and the campus.

It was small and it didn't take us long to stroll up and down the paths.

We certainly found places worth returning to some day, with sketchbook in hand!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Another Visit to the Ospreys

Last week I paid another visit to the nesting Ospreys at the Montlake Fill.  I believe they must be on eggs, as one is always on the nest, hunkered down, while the other bird goes off in search of food.  Then they switch places.  Incubation time is 35-40 days, 2-4 eggs per brood, and eggs are laid as much as five days apart, so hatching is staggered.  End of June would probably be the earliest we might see signs of youngsters.

Here is one of the birds returning to the platform with a fish.

And a few more shots:

I also kept an eye out for other birds at the Fill, but the only one that came out in the open was this Savannah Sparrow:

I didn't stay very long, as I had dachshunds in tow who wanted to walk rather than stand around looking at birds.  Except when they found something smelly to roll in, that is.

Truman with his best bud, Winston

Coming tomorrow:  exploring the local parks

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Fine Art of Doing Nothing

Sometimes I think I should write a book titled:  Retirement:  The Fine Art of Doing Nothing, because I'm tired of reading AARP magazine articles and UW Retirement Association posts about people with "encore" careers or Truly Important Volunteer gigs or folks who become world-wide travelers and such -- can't retired people just, you know, relax?

Relaxing is what I've been doing all week and I've enjoyed it very much.  Yes, I made a couple of brief forays out of the house, but only to visit a neighborhood park and draw a little sketch and then sit there with Truman doing nothing for a while, and also to visit another park and stroll out on a pier to stare at Lake Washington with Truman while doing absolutely nothing.  

My proposed book chapter titles would run along these lines:

Chapter One:  The Grass Is Never Greener on the Other Side, So Just Stay Home

Chapter Two:  How to Use a Lawn Chair for Beginners

Chapter Three:  Exploring Your Own Neighborhood by Foot (with or without a dog)

Chapter Four:  Applying the Concept of "Dinking Around" to Daily Life

Chapter Five:  How to Use a Lawn Chair - Advanced Techniques and Props

And so on.  I'm sure there could be a chapter on How to Be a Lazy Gardener -- which is what I've been practicing lately.  Instead of meticulously pulling up weeds in one square foot of ground at a time, I've been whacking away at wide swaths with abandon, because it's faster and even if I take out a few nice plants along the way, they're usually small and plentiful and won't be missed much anyway.  

This allows for more time in the lawn chair, where I have mastered advanced techniques and props (side table for water, food, and book, comfy pillow, camera in case the Bewick's Wren turns up, one long-haired wiener dog).  Earlier this week, I had a different camera in hand -- I borrowed a souped-up point-and-shoot, the Panasonic Lumix, from Tina so I could test it out.  My own souped-up point-and-shoot, the Canon Powershot, is having some issues and I thought I'd see if I liked the Lumix better for when the time comes to buy a new camera.  

I did like it, quite a lot.  It still needs more field testing on the birds at the Fill, but the garden photos I took with it are very fine indeed.  The colors seemed crisper than the Canon, and the zoom was comparable, and it focuses more swiftly.  Here are my favorite practice shots with the Lumix.


Required lounging accessory


Master of advanced lounging

Pansy Violets (AKA Johnny Jump-Ups)

Foxglove and friend

How to Be A Retired Wiener Dog

Now I'm going to go practice the fine art of doing nothing for the rest of the day.  Sadly, the weekend is a tad fraught -- I'm hosting a party on Saturday, and going to a baseball game on Sunday.  What in the world was I thinking??  I'll need the whole following week to recover!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A sketch, two birds, and a lot of Truman

Earlier this week, Truman and I visited a small park in the Wedgwood neighborhood for no particular reason other than it was a nice day and I was tired of walking around Lake City.  I did a little sketch while there:

The next day I had a lovely Dark-eyed Junco in my front yard:

And then we tootled down to the Fill to check on the Ospreys, who seemed just fine:

And finally, yesterday we ventured north a ways, first to the Mud Bay pet supply store in Lake Forest Park, where Truman tried mind control on me -- surely he is sending strong thought waves in my direction, saying, "You will buy ALL the toys here"....

Afterwards we went a mile up the road to Log Boom Park in Kenmore, which we've not been to before -- a small park with a very long pier leading out to swimming platforms.

Otherwise we haven't done much this week, due to overcast, cooler weather.  Should improve next week!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Brief update: ducklings and a swallow (and Truman)

It has been cooler and cloudier and sometimes rainy of late and I haven't been out much, so have very little to report.  I did get to Magnuson Park yesterday (and hope to get back soon), where there were Mallard ducklings:

Also on view was a lovely Violet-green Swallow:

Truman and I got out for a neighborhood stroll as well --  here he is investigating Thornton Creek:

And here he is ignoring one of the little "free library" book cabinets that are dotted around the neighborhood:

I've been neglecting my sketching of late, and hope to rectify that sometime this week, if the weather cooperates!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mishmash: Garden update, a drawing, and Truman

It took me three days of intensive weeding to clear out all of the dying forget-me-nots from the garden.  I love these little blue flowers, but when they go to seed, they are horrid -- the seeds attach themselves to anything and everything, get all over one's clothing, and stick on the dog's hair.  They're a menace, yet a lovely one when in bloom.

Speaking of blooms, things are happening all over the place.  Here is the climbing rose in the front yard:

And here is a mix of poppies, foxglove, and roses:

The weigela is doing nicely:

And the peonies are opening:

A close-up of the oriental poppy:

This is the climber I planted last year -- it's about three feet tall now:

In this mix of annuals (left side) is a delicate perennial -- Monarda (right side):

That's it for the garden update.  More later as the rest of the roses start blooming.

Now for a random sketch -- I had no good post to put this in earlier, so am just popping it in randomly.  This is a sculpture at the Seattle Central Community College:

Lastly, one must have Truman pics!  Here he is on one of our morning strolls around the neighborhood, actually OUT OF THE STROLLER (because we were heading homeward):

Here he is a bit later, back in the stroller, helping me buy plants at the Fred Meyer garden center:

Finally, here he is on another neighborhood walk, being investigated by the wiener dogs who come past our house several times a day.  He barks ferociously at them from the safety of indoors, but when we encounter them away from home in the open, he has a more sedate attitude.

Happy Friday -- may all of the gainfully employed people out there enjoy the weekend!