Saturday, March 11, 2023

All its knowledge of sunlight and dpeth

Back to my usual form of posting something that I want to save without much/anything in the way of explanation, a sentence from my nice new Persephone Books publication:

The afternoon was grey and dull, a sky hiding under its neutral grey all its knowledge of sunlight and depth of wild scurrying clouds and white clouds that drifted across the blue as peacefully as a dream; a sky content to be a lid across the world.
--from page 64 of There Were No Windows by Norah Hoult

The book is about an eighty-ish-old-woman who has dementia, though her mind seems to be fairly decent, she just doesn't remember anything she is told and behaves a bit childishly much of the time. Her bedclothes and nightgown are something quite shocking, according to her one remaining servant. I like this line about the sky because it seems quite descriptive of the Seattle sky that I've found so oppressive this winter.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Mid-February Adventures in West Seattle (Yes, Bessie stars)

 Two posts in two days? What the hell?!

Scott coerced me into going for a bike ride today though I was feeling particularly lazy and cranky--or maybe because I was a bit cranky. We started out into a heavy mist and I was cold and the world seemed even blearier and grayer than it was because my glasses were rapidly covered in droplets. I said we'd go towards Alki because that would get us a few miles and we'd have the option of throwing the bikes on a bus if it was too miserable by then.

  And it stayed pretty gray, but I warmed up a bit and there were birds on the water. Before we reached Alki I'd stopped for the first photo op of the day: cormorants on pilings against the gray that seemed so thick that it blotted out the downtown skyline. That turns out not to be absolutely true now that I look at the photo: it's just that my glasses were so damned covered in water themselves. 

There's a ferry as well as faint skyline in the background.

I started thinking about Sunfish on Alki soon after the cormorants for some of my crankiness likely came from being hungry and I like to eat a lot of fish in the run-up to Lent. Happily, Scott was agreeable and they were open so we stopped for some quite excellent fish and chips. While we were gorging, the clouds broke up a little and there were tiny hints of sun by the time we emerged. We continued the great circle route, pausing along Constellation Park to admire what I assume were one male and three female  harlequin ducks. I suggested it might be called Harem Island, but Scott thought it was three sisters and their younger brother. Not a great photo, but I so seldom see harlequins this close.

Possibly Anne, Emily, Charlotte, and Branwell

The next pause was at the northern end of the approach to Lincoln Park's beach. It's our normal route, but I've never noticed this fine garage door before so I think it may be fairly recent. Or I may just be unobservant; I didn't recognize the selkie immediately and Scott had to point out the gull above the owl. 

There were still a number of birds out on the water, but the path is a bit tricky with a lot of gravel so I was mostly watching where Bessie and I were going along the beach. Once we got up into the forestesque park above I was able to coast a bit more, listening to birdsong but seeing only a few juncos and, eventually, a robin. I paused to pose Bessie by a few of the quite enchanting trees.

The north side of the tree was indeed, quite mossy. So were all the other sides; that's the way of Seattle trees.

This madrone has certainly seen better days but it was quite gobsmacking nonetheless.

I've felt a particular fondness for Pacific Madrones since working on Cascadia Field Guide, in part because I so love Elizabeth Bradfield's poem, "Succession."

Here and below, the Pacific Madrone pages of Cascadia Field Guide, looking a bit wavy because that's what happens when you try to prop open a 400-page book with a glass candlestick.

So, a close-up of that tree's fine bark:

While at Sunfish, I asked the owner (who had been on vacation the last couple of months) somewhat wistfully if he'd been any place warm during his break because this year Seattle's winter has felt particularly dispiriting. But, truly, I would not live anywhere else.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Flower and Garden Show, Home Edition

 This week is the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle. For five days, the downtown convention center gets turned into a fantasy land of gobsmacking display gardens, complete with charming pathways and garden features and piles upon piles of blooming flowers. Primroses by the hundreds, stands of daffodils, tulips, hellebore, budding trees, mosses: it's pretty amazing the first time you go. I was utterly enchanted on my initial visit many many years ago. I've been a few times since and, sadly, you never get that full "Oh my god, I'm in Oz" experience again--or at least I never have. But it's a good place to buy stuff, too: I love what I call my Idaho tool that I bought at the show several years ago--alas, I can't find the name of the vendor now or I'd share. [[UPDATED because of course I can find the name by looking at the beloved tool; it's HoeDag.]] I think Noel came from the flower & garden show, as have any number of other fine things.

The Idaho Tool after several years of use and abuse
  But I'm not going to the show this year. As I say, it becomes less striking after you've been a few times, and spending time in a packed convention center just doesn't hold a lot of appeal these days. Instead, before I started working this morning, I took a few minutes to wander around here to be amazed, gobsmacked, and entranced by the local show in the backyard. Photos were taken. Photos are shared, in no particular order:

The green hellebore that was here when we moved in; it has since spread to cracks in the patio, though this is the original, mother plant.

The abstract entry of the photos: an old birdhouse that has been slowly deconstucting over the years.

Extra large, because it features Noel and the snowdrops leading to Gradka's step

The Lenten roses we planted a few years ago: they're the first to bloom each year and are thriving.

Sadly, the metal arches over this bench completely disappear in this shot, but I assure you that it is quite charming and will be all the more amazing once the clematis and honeysuckle get going.*  

And, cheating a little by adding in a photo from a few days ago, when the ground was covered in the previous night's hail:

The icy morning birdbath

*absolutely no idea why the captions formatting is so weird or what to do about it.

Friday, January 27, 2023

HA!HA!HA!HA! stolen comic strips

 I've just been tidying up my computer desktop because, by god, that's what some of us do on Friday nights these days. Hidden amongst the many, many screenshots of receipts for cat food I found several comic strips that I'd cut and pasted (mostly out of the Seattle Times) over the last little while. I'm sticking them up here for posterity because, by gum, some of them are quite droll.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Assorted Short Videos for Posterity

Atmospheric River, Christmas Eve walk:

Puget Sound off Constellation Point, West Seattle (with harlequin duck cameo):

Grace Christmas morning:

Saturday, December 31, 2022

It's been fun, 2022, but it's time for you to go home

 For whatever reason, I feel like I should post before the month and the year end. Just why I should think that, I can't say though there are a few weird little acts of kindness that I feel I should mark. In truth, I meant to post one of these weeks ago but, well, life intervened in its not very interesting but still time-consuming way.

 Some weeks ago I'd had A Day at work and Scott wasn't feeling particularly lively either so I ordered pizza because, by god, sometimes that's just what you have to do. It's relatively rare for me to actually order--or pay for--the pizza, but this was one of those occasions. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to find that Pagliacci's decided I deserved to get my pizza for free:

It was a damned fine pizza, too, though oddly heavy on the garlic.

Fast forward a few weeks and I walked up the hill in the snow (though not the ice--that day I stayed home like a sensible person) to mail some packages and stock up on bird seed. I had a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase at Junction True Value and, given the current price of bird seed, it seemed an ideal time to use it. Sadly, my ability with math seems to have slipped a bit with age, and it turned out my total purchase was just under $50. The clerk, without missing a beat, quickly invented a $.02 item in my basket to get me to the $50 threshold, thus saving me $9.98. Which just struck me as darned nice of her.

And sure, these two little incidents are very slight and don't do a damned thing to redress the ills of the world, but I call them islands of niceness and I'm taking them. I truly despise and hate the expression "pay it forward," but I will keep these in mind when I'm feeling particularly cranky with my fellow Seattleites because sometimes people are nice for no damned reason and that's a good thing and worth remembering.

 Also nice:

the varied thrush that chose to hang out in our yard in the aftermath of the ice storm:

 this year's cookie box:

 Scott working on his latest so-excellent novel:

and, of course, Grace, once more posing under the tree:

Happy New Year, you old Building and Loan!

Monday, December 19, 2022