Friday, February 27, 2009

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

After keeping the windows shut all winter, I’ve been trying to air out the house. Although it snowed yesterday and was pretty darn cold, I opened our bedroom window for a few minutes anyway. The window I opened swings out so there isn’t a screen on it and as I was standing there a hummingbird flew not two feet directly in front of me! I stood in stunned awe as the hummer hovered for a moment with a curious look then as quick as it appeared- it was gone. I was half expecting it to come in for a cup of tea.

Well, this morning I decided to open the kitchen window and was serenaded by a beautiful bird while the sun rose. Oh, if anyone can id any of the birds in the background of the raccoon clip I would greatly appreciate it. (I can identify the robin!)

While I was in the office looking for jobs on the internet, I heard an eerie rasping sound coming through the open kitchen window. I’ve come to recognize this sound as one of the resident raccoons and went to investigate. Yep, there he was sauntering around the yard. I went out to get a closer look (but not too close) and discovered two other raccoons he was going to meet in one of their favored trees. After I observed them for a while from inside the house, two of them moved to a neighboring plum tree while the other remained in the crook of the first tree.

Hopefully my neighbors didn't see me running around looking like a right wally in my pajamas outside. (Oh yeah- they're all at work!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Red tails and blue skies

It was a gorgeous day in the Puget Sound. After the fog lifted we enjoyed plenty of blue skies. I missed the orcas off Alki Point (although I did see them a couple of months ago from Lincoln Park in the shipping lane) but was lucky to have had 2 different red-tailed hawks sightings. I don't know if it was the same guy, but both sightings were about 2 hours apart and right above my house. All I had to do was run from the front of my house to the back yard. I love watching these big birds soar.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Me Cuppa

Ever since I married an Irish man, I discovered the joy of drinking tea. One of my favorite things to do is have tea & a biscuit. Normally, under working conditions, I wouldn’t have caffeine after 2:00 pm because it would sometimes effect my sleeping and when you get up at 5:30 am, you want to have a good night sleep. Since I have been laid off, I’ve been enjoying this mundane activity not just on weekends.

After being introduced to a good cup of tea with milk (and my preference sugar) the next step was for me to learn the proper way to make a good cup of Irish tea. My first lesson was that tea is a serious event and not to be taken lightly. I would be judged by Irish friends and relatives by my cup of tea. Gee, I thought it was easy- boil water and drop a tea bag in each mug. Some might frown upon that approach.

My tea-making lesson was like the movie Tampopo with the drill sergeant-like udon master chef calling out orders and making the noodle-student do pushups and such for her training.
“Boil the water! No a hard boil!” No gentle rolling of the water will do... “Fill the base of the pot with hot water and immediately dump it out. Now make sure the water is still boiling- are you sure it is boiling? and quickly add the tea- and don’t forget one (spoonful) for the pot. Now, cover the pot (with a tea-cosy) and wait. (After a few moments) stir the pot. Then when the tea has steeped (which you learn over a period of time) you are ready to serve.“

A couple of weeks ago, we had some Irish friends over for dinner and of course the eventual after dinner cup of tea. I started to get nervous, I haven’t really ever been tested- immediate family didn’t count (although they would give a hard slaggin’ if it was poor). I think our guests were beginning to question my methods when I covered the teapot with a big kitchen towel since I never found a tea-cosy that I liked enough to buy. Did they notice? And surely if they did- they would never be so bold as to comment. However, to my surprise, the conversation quickly turned to me acquiring a tea-cosy. I think I began to sweat then and I spoke of my fear hoping they would take pity…We all had a good laugh and they told me afterwards not to worry- I had passed the test.

(At some point I will have to talk about Japanese and green tea.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A little too late...

Over the long weekend I have been stalking a juvenile bald eagle at Lincoln Park. I first spied the elusive eaglet on late Saturday afternoon. I was surprised to see him (?) because he was about 200 feet away, perched in low branches along the walking path just north of Colman Pool. It was about 3:30pm and rather crowded with lots of walkers, joggers and sun-seekers. Since my eyes have deceived me before, I wanted to take a closer look at the large, shadowy figure through my binoculars to be sure it was a bird at all before making any sort of declaration to my husband, Brian. After all, it seemed unusual for a raptor to be that close to the ground and I have been laughed at before mistaking a leaf for something much grander. Yes! It was something- something large! I struggled to get my camera without dropping my binoculars and did this while watching the bird start to move. My camera was inside my jacket and while I retrieved it in about 5 seconds- the raptor had come directly toward me and swooped over head. I was only able to get a silhouette of him flying away.

It was only after I replayed the event in my mind that I realized the bird of prey was going after a tiny little chihuahua that was walking ahead of me. I recall the owner quickly scooping the dog in to her arms as the bird made a swift descent.

We stood there stunned and I was a bit upset that I missed a chance at such great photos. An older gentleman on his bicycle had witnessed the spectacular fly-by and told me and Brian it was a juvenile bald eagle. Yes, that would explain the dark mottled color- I was having a hard time identifying the bird because I am a novice and there weren't any white spots developing on the eaglet yet.

We went back to the park on Monday and immediately saw the young eagle on the tree top along the bluff above the pool. We decided to take the path up the slope to get a closer look but of course got disoriented amongst the trees. When we returned to the lower part of the park we saw the eagle fly to the tree top again but was soon chased away by a group of seagulls. We waited several minutes, but saw no sign of him. Just as we started walking away, a man walking toward us exclaimed to his girlfriend, "look a bald eagle!"

We were rewarded with seeing the young eagle soaring with an adult, which reinforced the notion that I need a telephoto lens. Arghh!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Call of the wild

Usually I hear the coyotes hunting in a pack out in the woods really late at night or early in the morning, but last night I just heard one. I'm pretty sure this is the same guy that woke me up last Saturday morning going on a good 30 minutes which I thought was odd since it was daylight (albeit a foggy morning).

This is the first time I got out of bed and tried to record the coyote. There is no image on the video since it was night time- just black and a tiny flashing light off in the distance. Please excuse the background noise due to the freeway and port? It's not as exciting as the pack hunting in a group, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the garden...

Our neighbor's cat is a real hunter. I don't mind him catching voles or mice- it's the birds I have a hard time with...This is an illustration I did of him yesterday.

I thought about doing a blog about dead things I have found in my garden...We have found lots of dead voles thanks to our neighbor cat, but once I found a dead mole (actually it wasn't quite dead). I noticed the mole up by my mailbox because a crow was tormenting it. I don't know why it was out during the day- it didn't look like anything was wrong with it...perhaps it was poisoned that could explain why it wasn't trying to get away from the pecking crow. Anyways, I told my husband about it and he went up to the mailbox with a shovel and killed it. "Monchichi!" I exclaimed in horror. I guess the viking blood does still course through my husband's veins ...he just thought it was better than letting the crow slowly peck it to death.

Then there was the garden snake that lived up by my mailbox. I first discovered it when I would plant flowers or weed beside the mailbox. The snake would slither by and scare the bejesus out of me. This happened a few times until I realized the snake lived under a rock by the post.

Last summer the top of an old cotton wood snapped and fell on to the power line- I thought we were being attacked by terrorists (I guess after 8 years of Bush- the scare tactics work). I peeked out of our window and realized what happened when I saw the treetop still bouncing and sparking on the line. Part of West Seattle was out of power due to this incident (luckily not the part I was in).

Within minutes the fire department appeared along with a bunch of cowboy contractors from the utility company who proceeded to drive their huge truck down to the scene not on the road, but on our neighbor's lawn (because the trees weren't trimmed by the city and they didn't want to damage their truck) and our lawn. After a few moments, the cowboys assessed that they couldn't do anything and decided to leave. They had to reverse out because the road is so narrow and almost hit a fireman in the process due to their recklessness. They didn't hit the fireman, but they did manage to run over our mailbox. One of the fireman was kind enough to set it back upright by pounding the post in to place with a rock.

The next day I went to collect the mail and discovered the snake- flattened near the rock and drying in the sun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How do you stop illegal dumping?

Illegal dumping sucks. We often get dumpings in our neighborhood (we are surrounded by greenbelts and parks) and I would guess they are repeat offenders. It seems I report a dump about once every 3 weeks. I wish I could catch them in the act! What bothers me about the dumpings are that a lot of the items could be recycled. Not to mention that I have seen fox and coyote not 50 feet from this dump site.

This is an illustration by me after we got dumped on right across from my house!
It was awful- there were mattresses, clothes, bleach bottles, disgusting garbage...and I had to stare at it for 3 days until the city came and cleaned everything up. I must admit the city does do a good job responding to reported dumpings, but maybe they should try to prevent it through public service announcements and education? Oh yeah- the image is just a representation from my imagination, I did not see a blue truck or the event taking place- I can't believe I slept through it all!

Don't forget to look up. On my way to check out the dump site,
I looked up and saw 2 bald eagles soaring overhead.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a photo of the pair.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Here we snow again...

Snow is falling in West Seattle again for the 2nd day in a row,
although it is not supposed to stick.
I had to take my hummingbird feeder in at night so the food doesn't freeze.
Also, I moved the feeder so it is now sheltered from the snow.

Yesterday evening cloud formation.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nesting Osprey

Wow! I wish I could say I took this photo, but I didn' sis did. Check out her new blog-
all about our national parks. I am envious- she has been on so many great escapades!
Don't miss the slideshow for more great photos.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Masks & Dragons

Aren't these masks cool? This lovely collection belongs to pal Debbie.
I love the display- her apartment is so cute!

Yesterday in the ID.
Couldn't pass up a photo of this fab mural.

I also couldn't pass up my first eyebrow wax down in Uwajimaya Village...Yow!
Actually it didn't hurt- Harumi from Savvy Cosmetics did an awesome job.
Thanks to Laura for talking me in to it and documenting what she hoped
to be torture- it was kind of fun.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sweet Finds

I picked up some new (to me) plates yesterday. Aren't they sweet?
Better yet- they were half off which made them a deal...

I also picked up this gorgeous Redwing teapot.
I feel kind of bad because I broke up the immaculate full serving/dinner set,
but it was way overpriced. Surprisingly the teapot was the best priced.
There are 5 teapots in the house now- does that mean I have a collection?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Morning Sunrise

For the late night owls who may have missed this morning's sunrise (you know who you are) or those poor unfortunate souls who were already at work.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My daily walk.

I love skyscapes- especially when I can imagine them as paintings.

I found some shells & lichen and put them in my pocket.

frail and pretty