Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Return to Discovery Park

To determine whether I want to spend some time outdoors, I look at the weather wishing for three things:  Not Raining, Temperature At 50 or Higher, and at least Some Sign of Blue in the Sky.

Well, it's been such a gloomy November that I'd never get out at all if I stuck with all three requirements, so yesterday I decided to settle on "Not Raining" and call it good.

I took Truman to Discovery Park for his trip ever to the beach there.  Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but they are allowed on the trail alongside it.

We lucked out, because it was gray when we started out but by the time we got there, while not exactly sunny, the sky did manage to turn blue-gray instead of total gray.

And there were birds!

One of our winter visitors, a Lincoln's Sparrow:

A juvenile White-crowned Sparrow:

Heermann's Gull:

We also saw grebes and cormorants and several Rhinoceros Auklets way out on the water who refused to swim in close enough for photos.

But we did get a lone American Wigeon hanging with the Mallards at a small pond.

I think Truman enjoyed his first-ever trip to the beach at Discovery Park!

Monday, November 28, 2016

One Sunny Day

In the midst of the gray and the gloom and the rain which has plagued Seattle for the past what -- week?  two weeks?  three? -- there appeared one lone glorious sunny day.  Ironically, it was "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving when crazy people line up at midnight to batter each other senseless in order to buy a bigger, better TV at the Lowest Price This Year.

No, thank you.

Luckily, the Seattle Urban Sketch group met up that day to draw at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, so Tina and I headed over that way to embrace Sunny Blue Friday instead.

The conservatory was decked out with holiday displays, including this Christmas village with train:

The plants, as always, were gorgeous:

I staked out my sketching spot in the succulent room, which is my favorite.

While they are certainly complex plants, I find them easier to draw them ones with tons of little leaves.

It must have been around eighty degrees inside, and after an hour that was a bit too much for me, plus families with shouting children arrived to see the train, which was also a bit too much for me.  So I headed outside to the park, where I found a sunny spot to draw.

This "donut" sculpture, with its view of downtown Seattle, is one I've wanted to sketch for a long time and it was nice to get a chance to do so on a day when there weren't a ton of people climbing all around it as they usually do.  I guess they were all out shopping.

The next day we returned to the gray and the gloom and the rain.  If you don't see many updates here for a while, you'll know why!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Birds and Dogs

It has rained a lot here lately, but I did get to watch the birds at the feeder, and I did manage a short walk at Meadowbrook Pond park where there were a few birds hanging around on the water.  

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch 

Dark-eyed Junco

 Pied-billed Grebe

Hooded Merganser

On Thanksgiving, we were lucky to have Truman's best friends, Winston and Chloe for a long visit.

Truman tried to get Chloe to play with him but she just wanted to nap.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sketching a mansion

The Seattle Urban Sketchers arranged to have the Stimson-Green mansion on First Hill (built 1901) all to themselves on Sunday.  About 25 or so folks turned up to drawn inside this fine home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Northend Sketchers (Tina, Nicole and I) arrived quite early to snag a prime parking spot.  It was raining, so we tried drawing from inside the car -- here is what I could see of the front porch:

The interior was full of fabulous views and decor -- here you can see some sketchers staking out their spots.

I headed upstairs, where I found the master bedroom -- it was better lit than the rest of the home, and hardly anyone was in there, so I sat down on a window seat to sketch a small section of it.

Then I roamed around exploring the rest of the home, looking for another spot where I could find both something to draw, and a place to sit where I wouldn't be in anyone else's way. 

I found a spot on one side of the main hallway, looking back through it into the main living area, where Tina sat drawing the fireplace.

It was a very complex scene and took me the rest of the time we had there.  A fine outing at a truly beautiful location.

Here is a report from one of the group leaders over on the urban sketcher blog--you can spot me in the last photo on the stairs at the bottom with the lamp light glowing on my face:

Friday, November 18, 2016

What I Do When There's Nothing To Do

As you know, most of what I post here involves getting outside -- birds, sketching, gardening, dog walks.  Well, it's cold out there now, and often gray and rainy and just downright uninviting.  To top it off, my favorite birding patch, the Montlake Fill, is a mess from the construction/restoration project and I don't find it enticing.  So, what to do?

This past week I've mostly been dealing with home maintenance issues (don't ask).  That's not been much fun but things are improving bit by bit.  Of course, it's not conducive to fun photos for posting here.  Otherwise, I've been taking short walks with Truman, reading, doing needlepoint, and spying on the new neighbors (two guys who can't be more than 25 just bought the half-million dollar home next door!).

I've also been watching the birds in my front yard, and yesterday I got photos -- yay!  Nothing exciting, but hey, it's something to post here.   I put the feeder up for the fall/winter season, mostly for my and Truman's entertainment.

Here's a goldfinch:

The juncos mostly scrounge around below the feeder or study it from the fence.  They're not terribly adept at actually landing on it.

The chickadees zip in and out so fast it's hard to get a photo.

I also had a Bewick's Wren visit the feeder but didn't have the camera handy.  Dang.

You may have noticed that I wrote about doing needlepoint, and perhaps you said, "She does needlepoint?"  Or maybe you didn't.  But hey, I do needlepoint!

At least, I used to do it, many decades ago.  Here is a picture I did way back in the 1980s, using an old chart that my mother saved after she did her needlepoint picture of it.  It's 18" x  24" and contains over 44,000 stitches.  It's been sitting in a closet all these years, needing to be blocked and framed (or turned into a pillow) and really, I do have that on my List of Things to Spend Money On When I Have Extra On Hand.

After decades of not doing needlepoint, I decided after retirement to take it up again, as something I could do during the gloomy fall/winter months.  So I've been working away on a lighthouse needlepoint -- it's a bit smaller at 16" x 20".  After one month of maybe 1-2 hours a day, I'm about halfway through.

Stitch detail:

It's not challenging, as it's just one simple stitch.  I do find it to be a relaxing way to while away the evening, and I enjoy seeing the progress made.  I've got a few more lined up when this one is done (and framed! or turned into a pillow....maybe 10 or 20 years from now).

So that's what I've been doing in the gray gloomy days of Fall.  All I can say is, it sure beats working!

And Truman agrees.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Still Raining

The weather has not been conducive to my usual activities so I have little to report here.  The only thing of interest I did this past week, other than battle home infestations (odorous house ants and drain flies all over the house plus rats in the crawl space), was to make two small additions to the recent wall decor in the living room.

You may recall this project from the last time I posted about it:

One of my attentive readers, Molly, thought it seemed to be missing something, and I decided perhaps it was indeed missing something, so I added a trunk/branches beside the door to tie in the leaves better, and a few little wildflowers below the window.

I believe Truman approves!