Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: My Little Chickadee, plus Bonus Water Bird

Juanita Bay was one of the first parks I ever went to when I moved to Seattle, and remains among my favorites. It’s got some really bonza birding opportunities. We see something good almost every time we’re there.

Back in early July, we took a walk there near sunset, and came across a little chickadee having its dinner. I was amused by all the pollen it knocked loose – you can see it kicking up clouds in this video. Chickadee don’t care! [Read more…]

Mobbed by Adorable Baby Birdies!

So one of the things I’ll miss the most about living in Bothell is having baby duckies within walking distance. This spring was the best. There were lots and lots of babies, and most of them had absolutely no fear. When they saw a human with food, they were all over that. B and I got completely mobbed several times, and it was completely delightful.

Image shows me squatting down hand-feeding a crowd of brown baby ducks. They're eating right out of my hand.

Moi being mobbed by baby duckies.

The parents would keep an eye on us, but they weren’t really concerned. Apparently everybody who comes through there is fairly kind to the waterfowl. They don’t even mind the noise and chaos of the ballgame crowds. They’ll go right on up and beg from the spectators. [Read more…]

The Beauty of the Storm

I meant to have the next chapter of Escape done, my darlings, but I got busy cleaning and didn’t stop until it was time to meet up with Funny Diva. And once I got groceries, got home, and finished making the bed and packing book orders, my body decided it needed a hot soak before my muscles ganged up and murdered me. Then my computer was being an asshole. So what you’re going to get today are really pretty photos taken from the Burke-Gilman trail while storm clouds built. You are also going to get an awesome video with a bathing seagull, a seaplane, and a kayak.

Right, then. So you can actually walk from the Town Center in Lake Forest Park all the way down past Log Boom Park and over to Pagliacci Pizza, which is just what we did. It’s quite a haul for someone who’s been rather sedentary up until a furious cleaning spree, and it was raining intermittently, but it was worth it. Here’s a glimpse of Lake Washington from between trees as we got to Log Boom Park:

Image shows Lake Washington framed on the sides and bottom by dark trees. It is near sunset, but the sky is still very blue, except for some fluffy white and dark gray storm clouds piling up. The water is a lovely mottle of gray and blue.

Lake Washington and storm clouds.

When we reached the docks, we were extremely fortunate to get there just as a heron was flying past.

Image shows Lake Washington looking south. Storm clouds loom from onshore, reflected in the water. There is a gorgeous streak of blue down the center. A heron is flying to the right.

Heron on the wing over the water.

How fabulous is that, with all those subtle colors? I’m astonished the shot came out. I’d just started turning the camera on, and it wasn’t yet fully booted when I spotted the heron, aimed, and fired. It didn’t even have a real chance to focus. Yet it turned out wonderfully.

Here is a crop of the heron:

Image shows the heron winging low over the water, in the cloud shadow.

Heron on the wing.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing great blue herons.

As we reached the end of the dock, we spotted the rotting piles of the old pier. The colors were lovely.

In the distance, piles of an old pier stand out of the water in parallel lines. They seem to point at the storm clouds rising over the lake. The reflected clouds and the blend of dark and lighter blues in the water make it an almost brooding atmosphere.

As we walked past the industrial buildings, we spotted a cloud raining into the sky, but the rain evaporated before reaching the ground.

Image shows a white storm cloud in the background, and a small, dark-gray raincloud in the foreground. The small cloud has dark streaks of rain coming down from it, but they have faded out long before it could reach the ground.

Raining on high.

And then there was a crow that looked like it was trying to out-fly a roiling, boiling steam eruption, but it was actually just lazily flapping towards where it roosts for the night. There were a great many crows all doing the same.

Image shows a crow flying almost off-image to the left. Above and behind it is a huge thunder head looming towards it.

Fly for your lives!

(Speaking of crows, I spotted one playing lifeguard at Juanita Beach just a couple days ago. So adorbs!)

Image shows a crow perched on top of an empty lifeguard chair, staring off to the left as if looking for distressed swimmers. The lake is in the background, with dark storm clouds piled overhead.


Funny Diva and I crossed the road and had ourselves some pizza at Pagliacci before heading back. While we were inside, it poured rain. It had stopped by the time we got out. Our luck was very much in, and it was a delightful time, made even more delightful by this seaplane landing while we were at Log Boom Park. How often do you get a chance to film a seaplane, a kayak, and a bathing seagull all at once?

First time for me. Loved it. And I deliberately made the title sound like the set-up to a silly joke, so you lot can have at in the comments if you think of good jokes to tell. I’m going to go finish Chapter 4 of In the Path of Destruction and pass right out. Oy.

New at Rosetta Stones: Liveblogging In the Path of Destruction!

So the results are in, and you were all like, “Yeah, Dana, do whatever, JUST GET US YOUR MOUNT ST. HELENS BOOK!” I hear you! So what I’m doing is reading Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction because it’s rather necessary to see what he did so I can do something different. I’m really ADD at the moment, so I was sewing and my brain was popping off with, “LOL it sounded like this, you should write that down on Facebook!” And so I kind of started liveblogging it on Facebook anyway. And then I was like, “Hey, don’t Rosetta Stones readers deserve to be able to follow along, too?” So then I put everything I’ve got so far in a post, added some more, and published it for those of you who hate Facebook with a fiery passion, which used to be me before I became addicted to it.

It was really kinda fun…

Anyway, we’re up through Chapter Three, and I will continue doing this throughout the book. Hopefully by the end I’ll have figured out why the book image is ginormous instead of a sensible size like this.

Photo of my copy of Richard Waitt's In the Path of Destruction, which has a black and white photo of Mount St. Helens erupting.

I really sort of hate our new blogging platform over there, but it was necessary.

Anyway. Just to remind you:

Image is a slightly expanded crop of me with Mount St. Helens from May 2007. Caption reads, "Yes, I am indeed writing a Mount St. Helens book!"

For serious, folks, I am.

Even though I am also reviewing this one.

You Get to Shape the Future of this Blog!

Well, parts of it. Plus storm damage! And kitties!

So, last night, I really dug in to Richard Waitt’s new Mount St. Helens book:

Photo of my copy of Richard Waitt's In the Path of Destruction, which has a black and white photo of Mount St. Helens erupting.

This is like magic and I’m loving it so much! A geologist wrote about all the human drama, so my book can focus mostly on the geological drama, and I can point people to this book as a companion if they’re like, “But what about teh hoominz?!” It’s so incredibly nice to know I have a meticulously sourced, thoroughly researched, and well-written book penned by a USGS geologist who worked on Mount St. Helens during the 1980 eruptions. I’m only a few chapters in, and it’s already delish. I’ve learned things about the people involved I never knew before. The seismological drama is intense! And there’s a nice interweaving of the geological and human aspects.

So, here’s where you get to decide the future: [Read more…]

Seahurst with Silver Fox, Plus Cryptopod: Why Did the Green Bug Cross the Road?

It’s been a busy social week for this introvert! On Wednesday, I drove down to pick Silver Fox up from the airport and take her to Seahurst Park on her layover. Since I-5 has basically been a parking lot between my new place and downtown Seattle, I took Highway 99. This meant I had to go through the Viaduct. I always white-knuckle it through there, begging the Cascadia subduction zone not to rip right then, please. Then I took a wrong turn and ended up on I-5 anyway, which was okay because it was below the jam. Then I took a wrong turn out of the cell phone waiting lot at the airport and had to drive around trying to find a way back to the terminal. It was a comedy of errors, but I did at last manage to collect Silver Fox, and we found our way to Seahurst without incident.

It’s a lovely park with lots of beachfront. [Read more…]

Strategic Responses to Tract Thruster Tactics: Let Us Brainstorm Together!

This article at No Longer Quivering gives some insight onto the tactics and motivations of Tract Thrusters. You’ve probably encountered at least one of these annoyingly religious folks who make it their business to get up in your business and thrust their terrible tracts at you, then run off having convinced themselves they’ve done something heroic. Or you’ve dealt with a shiny doorknocking person who’s just convinced you’ll come right to Jesus once you’ve heard their Extra Special Message You’ve Only Heard 1000x Before, and obviously you’ll want to forego sleep, food, etc. to hear the Good News.

Image shows an orange and white kitty dressed as a Mormon missionary, being held sitting up on its owner's lap with a mini Book Of Mormon.  Caption says, "Have you heard the good word about Ceiling Cat, Brother?c

Oftentimes, we’re caught flat-footed. Especially in the case of Tract Thrusters who impose themselves upon us in public without warning, we may not be ready with an instant riposte. So let’s think of creative ways to respond if some zealot tries to force religious tracts upon us.

For instance: if I’m in a hurry, I’ll hand their tract back, saying, “That’s so thoughtful, but I’m overstocked on butt wipes from bigots. Have a nice day!” If I have time and inclination, I shall sit down with them and ask them to explain exactly what each bit means, asking them to define terms like “God” and explain to me how the more violent or gross verses and stories in the Bible (or Holy Book in question) apply to the tract in question. Intersperse with horribly embarrassing personal anecdotes about fictional uncouth religious family members. Repeat until they flee.

Of course, the most efficient response would be to reciprocate with tracts from the Satanic Temple. Alas, those only come in a swag bag, but for cheap comebacks to religious solicitation, perhaps these spiffy buttons will do. And maybe, as an ordained minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I should write a tract or two myself…

What’s your strategy? Have you already countered a Tract Thruster with a brilliant counter-ploy? Do tell!

Mystery Flora: Thus Spake The Night Blooming Flower

Hey, look! It’s a flower that is not from the Pacific Northwest! I’ll probably have some more lovely exotic flowers along the way, as I now live in a household with a gardener in it. Speaking of which, if you need someone to rehab your garden, please let me know and I will hook you up.

Anyway. Here’s our beauty:

Image shows a plant with long, almost rectangular green leaves and a white flower dangling from a twisty pink stem.

Mystery Flora I

This plant, I am told, is older than Misha. It’s only a couple of years younger than N, who just turned 30. It had a rough patch recently when it wasn’t living with S, so it’s smaller than it was and only had four buds this year. But you can see the thing is bloody huge and vigorous even so.

Here, you can have a cat for comparison.

Image shows Boo lying beside the pot. She is much smaller than the plant and, lying down, is only half as tall as its pot.

Mystery Flora II

So that’s the bud that bloomed first, a couple of nights ago. It was already partially blown. Here’s one of last night’s buds just as it was getting ready to go. These flowers only bloom for one night, so you want to watch the buds carefully to see when they’re about to bloom. When you see about this much white, you know it’s time.

Image shows a bud, which is turned horizontal to the ground. The pink bracts that enclose it are beginning to thin as the flower petals appear to swell beneath. Some of the bracts are curling at their tips.

Mystery Flora III

These buds are huge. They’re about four or five inches long, and pretty thick at the base. You’ll see why soon.

When a bud is ready to bloom, it begins opening very slowly in the late evening.

Image shows a single bud, which is about 5 inches long or so. It is just beginning to open, and the outer pink bracts are curling away.

Mystery Flora IV

See how the tips are curling outward a bit? Yep. The dozens of long, narrow petals just keep opening and curling over the course of a few hours, until they’ve achieved full magnificence.

Image shows two blooms, one facing right, the other left, one atop the other. They are almost fully open. They look like starbursts.

Mystery Flora V

It’s about now that they’re spreading their scent all over the patio, trying to entice their pollinators to come help them get it on. It’s a sweet and earthy, almost sharp, scent that’s rather hard to describe. It doesn’t smell like any other flower I’ve smelled. And the inside is pretty weird, too.

Image shows one of the flowers in full bloom from the front. You can see the anthers covered in yellow pollen within, and a really odd structure poking from the interior that looks almost like a white sea anenome.

Mystery Flora VI

Here’s a somewhat sharper image of another flower, showing the weird bit from the side.

Image shows one of the flowers from a three-quarter profile. The anenome-like structure is clearly visible, coming almost to the edge of the bloom.

Mystery Flora VII

If I’m still here around this time next year, I’ll try to get them a bit better. I normally don’t use the flash, and it was also dark as fuck outside, so I was shooting rather blindly. I’m happy my camera did as well as this. That little machine always surprises me.

Last night, we had three blooms at once. When they’re fully open like this, they’re astounding, and the scent permeates the entire deck. It was almost strong enough to overpower the woodsmoke from the bonfire in the grill.

Image shows three of the huge flowers extending from top right to bottom left, and progressively looking into the camera, in profile, and then from the back.

Mystery Flora VIII

Since these blooms only last the night, S clipped all three, just before they began to fade, and handed them out to us. There’s one sitting beside my bed in a wine bottle right now, and my whole room is delicately infused with its scent, which is a lot better than old cat odors.

Image shows my rectangular rice paper and cherry wood lamp with the night flower in a bottle in front of it. Image is looking up toward the ceiling, which is cast in a Caribbean blue light.

I love this combo of warm rice-paper lamp hue and blue ceiling I got with the white balance being all wonky, so I left it and called it art.

S says I should have really vivid dreams, as this plant has a neurostimulant effect of some sort. I’ll report back, but alas, there is a confounding factor in our experiment, as I just got my visit from Aunty Flow and am taking tons of ibuprofen. That stuff also gives me vivid dreams. But if they’re anything like the Chantix dreams, then I’ll be able to tell there’s been a turboboost.

You can see a more true-color version of the above photo, plus lots more pictures showing the blooms in their many phases, here at my Flickr page. I can’t wait for you guys to identify this one! I think it’ll blow a few minds. When you ID it, try to include what plant family it belongs to, what its natural habitat is, and what its pollinator is, because all three things are delightful. Happy questing!

Oh, and for those who like black metal, the post title refers to this.

Fun With Night Photography: Come Meet the Doggie!

Around here, it’s a B.F.D. when certain plants bloom. We actually throw parties for them. I’ll have the current bloomer up as our Mystery Flora later today, so ya’ll be ready for that. Right now, I wanted to share a few of my night photos, and introduce you to the doggie.

Have I posted a photo of Pipa yet? Doesn’t look like I have. Let’s remedy that right now.

Image shows Pipa, a small Miniature Pinscher, sitting impatiently in front of some strawberry plants. She's got ears like a gremlin and lovely black-and-tan markings.

Pipa with strawberry plants.

She pretty much always looks worried, so don’t mind that. She was extremely anxious for me to stop snapping photos and just walk her already. [Read more…]