Sunday, February 21, 2016

If you don't like the weather in Seattle . . .

On Golden Puget Sound
It was several years ago that a young man at the Sylvia Beach Hotel knowingly told some strangers at the shared breakfast table, "If you don't like the weather in Seattle, just wait ten minutes." He was young, of course, and maybe didn't realize that sometimes it seems like it does nothing but rain for weeks on end. Rain was predicted for this weekend which made yesterday's gorgeous, sunny imitation of Spring all the nicer, perhaps. I pruned the grapes while Scott did some much needed cutting back to the bush/shrub thing I can never remember the name of and also a couple of camellias. It feels late to be doing the camellias since they started blooming right around Christmas but, well, so it goes. It may have been a little late for the grape as well; I don't remember there being sap when I've pruned them in the past. Damned unpredictable climate change/weather patterns.
One of a pair of geese wandering about Lincoln Park

But all that work was done before noon in part because I had uncharacteristically leapt out of bed when I saw there was blue sky around 8:00 a.m. This meant that when we decided on an impromptu bike ride in the early afternoon, the laundry I'd hung out (in February! I love you, crazy early Spring-like day!) was pretty much dry and could be taken down because, of course, we didn't entirely trust the lovely weather to continue.
But it did! It was the first outing for my new Bandbox LLC bike helmet and I must say I do adore it.

 The bike ride was what seems to be becoming the usual just-over fourteen mile loop to Jack Block Park (no herons),

Many cormorants, both pelagic and double-crested, sitting on the docks of Elliott Bay
then onto Alki (no donuts),

Full house of surfbirds and turnstones. I think.
along to Constellation Park (no selkies) and then Beach Drive (same broken-up asphalt)

A watchful bald eagle looks out over the Sound
to Lincoln Park (harlequin ducks!)

Left holding the bikes at Lincoln Park
 across the park to Fauntleroy and onward to to the Junction (Bakery Nouveau) and home (whiskey sours and ibuprofen). While there were no herons to be seen and no pit stop at Top Pot, we saw a mass of surfbirds and turnstones, as well as a dock or two of cormorants, the aforementioned harlequin ducks, any number of grebes and goldeneyes, a couple of bald eagles, and oh! so much more I'm sure. It made for a swell Saturday afternoon.

Assorted Barrow's goldeneyes
Today, predictably, the rains returned though I see just now it's all blue sky again. Too late for a bike ride, but not for a little yard work.
In a shameful attempt to engage readers, three weiner dogs and a puppy

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day Expedition Report

Being tormented by the sound but not sight of birds at Bloedel
After having planned to go to Nisqually for Valentine's Day, we changed our minds and opted for a ferry ride and a first visit to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge instead. There were fewer birds than I might have liked but it was still a lovely spot, and I'm hoping we'll get back there again soon (because, yes, I figured I might as well commit to a year's membership). Happily, their website suggests that it's accessible by public transit so it shouldn't require a car for the day. I love a ferry ride, but not having to mess with getting a car would make it just that much sweeter an outing.
A ferry ride on an atmospheric night
 Fairly early in the walk we encountered a sweet little wren that I'm calling a marsh wren though I swear it was smaller and more orange than most marsh wrens I've seen. It was also some distance from any water though, it being western Washington in winter, everything was a bit wet. There are no photos; it was too flighty and, frankly, I didn't get any decent bird photos on the expedition.

The first pond features some ducks and their allies
The grounds were lovely, and the fleeting glimpses of birds were encouraging. Maybe on a less rushed, less crowded day we'd see more. That's my thinking, anyway. It seems ideal habitat for a northern saw-whet owl, though I have no real reason to believe there are any who live or visit there. We heard, but did not see, a ton of frogs. (In truth, my suspicious nature has me wondering if they have speakers broadcasting very loud frogs all around the place.)
The view from the tea house
 The ferry trip was a bit windy but quite photogenic, at least on the return. It's a lovely city in which we live, and I was particularly charmed by all the people lined up on the car deck, eager to take photos of the skyline. There were similar crowds on the decks above. I hope some of their photos were more in focus than mine turned out to be.
Something old
Something new
Something (hella)bor(rowed) from the backyard
 Assuredly, however, no one had a sweeter valentine.
Something blue

Saturday, February 13, 2016

What you can do to help Malheur (and other refuges): A cut-and-paste post

Thanks for your concern and support for our beloved Malheur!
With the armed hostage-taking of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, our nation's wildlife refuges have been thrust into the spotlight. This illegal seizure has stripped us of our rights as American citizens to make memories at this wildlife refuge. Such threats to our federal lands need to stop. National wildlife refuges belong to ALL Americans and we want Malheur back. It's apparent that few are aware of the incredible benefits wildlife refuges provide to communities and the local economy.
For every $1 Congress appropriates to run the Refuge System, nearly $5 is returned to local economies in jobs, sales, income and tax revenue. And that's on average. In many areas, wildlife refuges provide an even greater boost to the economy. Malheur is one such economic engine, returning over $7 for every $1 appropriated by Congress. Ironically, in spite of their economic value, our refuges are tragically underfunded and understaffed because of actions by actions of our elected representatives.
National wildlife refuges are special places. These lands consist of the rivers where veterans fly fish to assist in the healing process from PTSD, marshes where a parent takes their child hunting for the first time, open grasslands that become a child's first memory of an outdoor classroom and the lands where ranchers teach their children about the history of responsible land stewardship.
This incident has tragically kept refuge employees from doing their jobs, done damage to refuge grounds and facilities, insulted and distressed the Wadatika Burns Paiute Tribe, caused much emotional stress in the local and national community, and threatened Malheur’s ability to meet the Fish and Wildlife Services mission for Refuges: “working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”
Because of this threat to Malheur, we have had many people wanting to help through donations and membership, as well as hundreds of people offering to volunteer to help get Malheur back to normal. Please stand with Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to show your solidarity with Malheur Refuge and the National Wildlife System.
Here are some options to show your support and help keep refuges free and healthy. Please consider as many as you are willing:
1. Join and or contribute to Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Our members receive regular eNews updates about refuge events, news, and volunteer opportunities.
2. Join and or contribute to the National Wildlife Refuge Association the national nonprofit focused on promoting and protecting the National Wildlife Refuge System:
3. Join or contribute to your local Refuge Friends Groups, where they occur. The Refuge Association has links to Friends Affiliates at:…/friends-groups/… ; you can also contact your local refuge’s to ask how you can help. You can find your local refuges here:
4. Write your senators and congressmen and urge them to support increased funding and staffing for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Sign up with the National Wildlife Refuge Association for Action Alerts: Ask your legislators at all levels to support keeping public lands public for all Americans to enjoy.
5. Volunteer: Check out page for scheduled volunteer work parties and other opportunities. If you can’t come to Malheur, please offer to help at a local refuge.
6. Take your family, your children and grandchildren, your friends and neighbors and their children, to a refuge so they can learn and enjoy the great outdoors. Work to get kids outdoors, out in nature, so they connect and learn to build a future generation of supporters of nature and wild places.
Thanks to all of you for your support of National Wildlife Refuges!
Gary Ivey, President
Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Malheur and cycling bonnets

I could, of course, write about Malheur which, happily enough, is now free of its malcontents. Goodness knows I have a lot of thoughts about it. Mostly, perhaps, a feeling of relief that things did not end more violently or destructively than they did. Though more than that, I think, it makes me both angry and sad that people like David Fry are not better educated. I've hated him, it's true, but now I mostly feel sorry for him--and for all those like him, in this country and elsewhere, who are  such prey for whatever lunacy comes along. The final quotes I saw from him, about how he had a "legit job" and shouldn't have to pay taxes to fund abortions and "I declare war against the federal government as a citizen of the constitution" were just so disjointed and bizarre; it seemed like he was a malfunctioning robot spitting out random catchphrases. Had he finally given himself up singing, "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do . . . ," I don't know that I'd have been entirely surprised. Scott suggests that the rote-learning of "no child left behind" education is at least partially responsible for Fry seemingly being so incapable of critical thought. Me, I just find it sad and sick and wrong. And I really hope that nothing explodes at Malheur. Or elsewhere.

The Fargo, tovarisch!
 But, I insist, that's not what I'm writing about here because that's just a downer of a subject, man, and critical thinking is overrated. No, I am pleased to announce that my replacement bandbox llc helmet arrived today and, by gum, with some expert fitting by Monsieur Bailey, I think it's going to be a functional piece of safety equipment. (Helpful tip: the website might suggest that if your head is 21.75" in circumference you could be either a small or a medium, but you're really a small.)

Sadly, I feel like it might be too late for the Fargo (to which I've added a Soviet badge for a bit of je ne sais quoi) this year; while I really wanted earflaps a few weeks ago, now they seem like overkill and I ask myself, "Why didn't I get the Bostonian?" Odds are it's too early for the Cape May but I am eagerly awaiting the next spring-like day.
The  Cape May, aka the cycling bonnet