Monday, April 29, 2019

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

One distinct difference between Seattle and Richland can be seen by driving around the neighborhoods and looking at flowers, or the lack thereof.  Many, many people in Seattle have gardens, and lots of stuff in bloom from early Spring to late Fall.  In Richland, there are a lot of lawns.

Sure, some people do plant other stuff here, but lush gardens are few and far between.  It's understandable -- Seattle has milder weather and plenty of rain.  The one thing that does do better here in the hot dry country is roses.  My new place came with a lot of lawn, a handful of shrubs, and quite a few roses.

There are a couple of barberry shrubs (the reddish one below), which I don't particularly like, as they have lots of sharp spikes.

I think this is a hosta.  We shall see.

The Hounds do enjoy the lawn a lot.  Here Pippin is pointed in the general direction of a reddish-purple shrub that has small flowers, of which I have two.

A gardening friend suggested they are Sand Cherry shrubs, and having looked at pics, I think she's right.

There are seven roses along the front walkway.  They look nice and healthy but no blooms yet.

There are several of these things, rather small.  No idea what they are.

And there are two lilacs -- this one is out front, the other is in the back.

There's a dogwood in the front, which is lovely, though my mother claims the falling petals will eventually become annoying.  We shall see.

While I do miss the tons'o'flowers I had in Seattle, I can't  honestly say that I miss the maintenance.  My huge garden there had become invaded by both buttercup and bindweed, two plants that are nearly impossible to eradicate and which are vigorous spreaders.  It was just too much to deal with, and I don't think I ever want another garden that big or complex.

I would like more flowers, though.  This past week I found three good-sized pots tucked behind the outbuilding, so I dashed down to Fred Meyer's to buy potting soil and annuals.

They now grace the patio.  Perhaps a few more containers will join them someday, or maybe even a larger raised bed or two.  Or three.  

We shall see.

On a non-gardening sort of day, I decided to visit Bateman Island, the best local birding spot.

Alas, the bird life was sparse.  I heard a lot more birds than I saw -- mostly blackbirds, doves, robins, and chickadees.  There were other birds flitting around here and there, in and out of the bushes, moving too quickly and silently to be identified.  Dang.

The only bird that came out to pose was a Song Sparrow.

I do like Song Sparrows, so that was a small consolation prize.

Of course, it's a lovely spot, and the walk was very nice just as a walk.

And finally, I even got a little sketching in last week, from the comfort of my lawn chair.  This is what I could see of the sycamore in my mother's back yard:

That's all from the lazy, low-key retired life in the Atomic City.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Spring Into Summer

Last week it felt as if we were already in Summer Mode --  70 degrees most days (it even reached 80 once!), which meant lots of lounging on the new patio chair.  And dog walks!

On hot days, I like to take the Hounds to the river so they can cool off.

They run right in, though they don't go any deeper than wading level.

Truman especially enjoys a good shake.

One day I decided to take the Hounds to the demonstration gardens in Kennewick.

This lovely spot is run by the Master Gardeners, a non-profit volunteer-run organization dedicated to helping folks learn all about plants and what to do with them.

There are sections showing different kinds of gardens -- herb, perennial, xeriscape, etc.

This is the Children's Garden:

And here is a small Japanese garden:

Early spring blooms!

Formal garden:

My house has lawn, and lots of it.  There are a few shrubs here and there, seven roses (which are leafing out nicely!), a lilac, and a dogwood.  Someday I may plant some flowers somewhere but for right now, I prefer lounging.

Finally, on another walk by the river, we spotted the first river boat of the season:

There are two river boats that cruise up and down the Columbia from now until October, and they are always fun to watch. 

That's it for the Retired Life for now!

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Middle of Nowhere

Last week the Hounds and I visited one of our favorite walking spots in the very far north end of Richland, a trail along the river which is very quiet and very out of the way of pretty much everything.

There's a big thicket where California Quail love to hide.  Every time the Hounds and I round a bend right before the thicket, we see them briefly foraging out in the open, and every time they spot us, they flutter and scurry madly to disappear inside the bushes.

If I wait long enough and stay very still, a quail will pop up to see if the coast is clear again.

The trail leads from a lot of research laboratory campuses to a more industrial spot, and eventually on to the Washington State University branch campus.  I stopped at a spot about halfway along and did a quick sketch.

Then I checked out a small flock of birds on the water, which turned out to be scaup:

I also got a bonus fly-over by an Osprey:

The skies were particularly fabulous that day, with amazing clouds.

I have a terrible time painting clouds, so I just took photos instead.

Perhaps I'll use these to practice at home.

The weather was pretty drizzly and cool and gray most of last week here, so that was my only sketch outing.  This coming week promises to be sunnier and warmer, so I hope to get out a bit more.

Finally, today is Truman's seventh birthday!!  He shares it with his buddy Winston.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TRU!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WINSTON!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Hanging at the Book Shop

There is a used book shop inside the public library here, entirely volunteer-run by the Friends of the Library.

It has a room full of fiction:

And another room for non-fiction:

And here is the section where the volunteers hang out:

I get to volunteer every Monday afternoon, and it is a fun gig.  I get to see all the donated books first, and snag the good stuff.  And I have a partner, Ann, who is entertaining and amusing.  The time flies by.

Whenever someone brings in a donation, I enjoy sorting through it to find the gems, such as this:

I don't get all of the good stuff, though -- things come in on the other days, and customers find them first.  I was most envious when a customer brought this up to the register:

Owls!  Who doesn't love owls?  I tried to talk her out of it, but it was a no-go.  Dang.

Another thing I like to do is flip through books to see if anything is tucked inside.  I found these inside a Greek travel book, and have no idea what they are:

Another score was this copy of Wintergreen, by one of my favorite naturalists, Robert Michael Pyle:

In addition to the Joker playing card, it turned out to be inscribed by the author.  It is now mine.

(To Karen with warmest wishes and hopes that these words from Willapa will lure you down our green way, and give pleasure & heart, from Bob.  Moonrise, June 17, 1989 Lincoln Park State Park)

Another cool find which is not mine (because it was a bit too worn) is this 1952 children's encylopedia, The Book of Knowedge:

It has the coolest endpapers:

In addition to articles on culture and history, each volume contains a section of Things to Make and Things to Do:

Endless entertainment!  Plus it has short stories poems, including this classic:

If it had been in better shape, it would have come home with me.  Oh, well. 

The best thing is that I don't go broke working there -- most books are just one dollar.  Score!

So that's my volunteer gig report.  I may do more reports whenever we get more fun stuff.

In the meantime, for the dachshund lovers out there, here is Pippin taking ownership of the new recliner.  As soon as it was delivered, he just hopped right up there and staked his claim.  Good boy!