Monday, October 31, 2016

Sketching at Swanson's Nursery

The Seattle Urban Sketchers had an outing last Friday at Swanson's Nursery in the Crown Hill neighborhood, and after learning the place was dog friendly, I decided to bring Truman along.

There were harvest displays, of course.

And there was this fine topiary creature, which I'm sure would look grand in our yard.

There were Nigerian dwarf goats!

For my first drawing, I chose a tractor and scarecrow display.

Next, I decided to do a series of small views on one page.

Then we did the group sharing of sketches.

Lots of talented folks, as always.  They all showed good taste by admiring Truman, too!

After making Truman put up with the sketch outing (where people kept coming over to pet him!), I rewarded him with a visit to nearby Golden Gardens Park.  There we met a fellow walking two lovely ladies--Gracie and Lucy (yes, the fellow was of an age where the dogs were indeed named after Gracie Allen and Lucille Ball).  They tried to make friends with Truman, who resisted their attentions as best he could.

Someday I'd like to get a longhair red dachshund, whether Truman approves or not!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Travels with Truman on Tuesday

On Tuesday we had some lovely sunny weather and temperatures around 60, so Truman and I headed off to two of our favorite places:  the Montlake Fill and Golden Gardens Park.

As soon as we arrived at the Fill, Truman wanted to know when we were going home.

I didn't blame him, for the Montlake Fill doesn't look like the Fill at the moment.  I have no idea what the eventual plan is for the restoration work, but right now the contractors have hacked down all of the meadows to stubble, and covered much of the space with thick bark mulch (against a return of the blackberries, which of course, is impossible).

This means there are hardly any songbirds about, as these meadows used to host a lot of sparrows and wrens.

We did see some waterfowl on the lake and the ponds, including this pair of Hooded Mergansers.

The new wetlands under construction did look promising -- recent rains had filled in the new pond.

Next we headed over to Golden Gardens park on the Sound.  As soon as I parked, a gull hopped onto the hood to demand food.

The bird flew off when Truman barked at it.

We had a lovely stroll on a very uncrowded beach.

And we enjoyed the marsh ponds at the end of the trail.

The wintering-over wigeons were back in force.

When I stopped to sit on a bench and admire the view, Truman naturally became concerned.  When are we going home?

So we headed back.  It was quite breezy, though so warm that it didn't bother us a bit.

Windblown Truman

Yawning Truman

Happy Truman!

A lovely day all round, and I'm glad we got out and about as the rain returned with a vengeance on Wednesday.  Back to indoor projects for now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Another book for the shelf

I have a special spot on top of a bookcase where I keep the books that I've either written (2), illustrated (1), or contributed to in some way (3, with art work and photos).  On Monday I added a new book to the shelf, and now there are seven of them!  And this is a very special book indeed:

The Seattle Audubon Society  has had a huge influence on my life over the past eight years, and I was incredibly honored to have a part in the production of their centennial book.   The editor, Connie, did an amazing amount of work to put this together --  hundreds of hours of research, interviews, writing, editing, layout, production -- she pretty much disappeared from the outside world for over a year to get this done on time.  My small part in helping her out involved research in the society archives that probably amounted to only 40 hours or so.

Here I am at the Seattle Audubon Nature Shop picking up my free contributor copy:

I was also able to contribute two photos to the book -- here's one of a Marsh Wren.  It was part of a story about adult education classes -- one of which, on beginning birding, got me started on this passion.  The fellow who taught it, Jack Stephens, mentioned me in the story.

Here's my second photo, perfectly illustrating the rear of the book!

The research I did all went into the appendices -- one was a timeline:

I read through all of the society's extant board minutes from 1924 to the present, and also looked through newsletters and correspondence to put together this information as well as the list in this appendix (for which I wrote the intro):

This appendix lists all of the natural areas that Seattle Audubon lent their assistance to in one way or another, both within the state and without, and I diligently sought confirmation that the Board actually did something (not just talked about it) before adding anything to this list, and also checked up on the history of each place to ensure it was still a natural area.  I probably spent an additional forty hours or so just on this one page, and it was all worth it when I got this email from Connie:

Dear Alex, you were essential to the book! I truly do not know how it could have happened without you, not just for the proofreading, but all the research you did regarding...all the open spaces SAS affected. By the way, the list of all the parks, wildlife refuges, etc. that SAS helped has made a *tremendous* impresson on everyone and is being heavily promoted by SAS to donors and potential members. I think the staff use it every day for some purpose or other. I'm sure it will continue to be important whenever SAS weighs in on an open space that is newly threatened.

Wow.  I am so proud and pleased to have actually done something worthwhile for this organization that has helped me so much over the years.  Live long and prosper, Seattle Audubon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

At Green Lake with the Urban Sketchers

The monthly Seattle Urban Sketchers meeting was held last Sunday in the Green Lake neighborhood.  We met up in a small commercial district a couple of blocks from the park with the idea that if it rained or was too cold, there were indoor locations to draw in.

Luckily, this didn't happen.  The sun came out, the day warmed up, and it was perfect sketching weather outdoors.  We broke up to go our separate ways, and I headed over to the park.

The first view that caught my eye was from just inside Green Lake Park looking back towards the commercial district.

It was such a nice day that I decided to walk around the lake.  The sketching sessions last two-and-a-half hours, so I figured if it took me an hour to walk the 2.8 miles around the lake, I'd still have plenty of drawing time left over.

I didn't get very far before spotting this arch, and I just had to do a quick study of it.

Then I headed out in earnest for a stroll around Green Lake, where I admired the ducks (still mostly Mallards, though a few Common Mergansers have turned up), and a fair number of coots.

It wound up taking 50 minutes to get around the lake, and when I got back to my starting point, I found this lovely view.

But I had only ten minutes left before I needed to head back to the meeting spot (having spent a lot of time on that first drawing, and also stopping to eat my lunch), so I just did a very quick sketch.

The sketchers spread out their work in a handy plaza, and we checked out what other people drew and chatted a bit -- there are quite a few regulars I've gotten to know, and it is a very congenial group.

There are a lot of talented folks in the group!

A fun outing all round!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dog, Art, Birds, Dog, Nature

The post title is just a summary of several days last week during which my enjoyment of the retired life continued apace.  The basic retirement routine is:  1) sleep in until it's light enough outside to see what the weather is doing, 2) if it's nice, find somewhere to go outside for a bit and if it's not, haul out the indoor arts & craft projects, 3) make sure Truman is suitably entertained, and 4) watch baseball.  Sweet!

So here are photos from several days of strenuous retirement living.

Truman waits to be entertained.

I decided to add a few silhouette birds to the leafy wall decor area.

At Magnuson Park one fine sunny day, there were both Western Grebes (first two pics) and a Horned Grebe -- the Wintering-Over Waterfowl are returning!

Truman ignored the water this time -- possibly it was a bit too cold.

But he was a happy, suitably entertained dog.

Finally, here are some views from a walk around Green Lake Park.

Another winter visitor -- Common Merganser.

A plein air painter working in oils.

Green Lake was where the Seattle Urban Sketch group met for their monthly outing this past Sunday.  I'll post about that tomorrow.