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Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Spring is well underway here in Yakima, and the birds and bees are doing what comes naturally. So are all the flowers, which are popping up all over the place. Just walking around our front yard this past week, I was able to see quite a few beautiful blooms on display.
Most noticeable are the tulips that are around our driveway. Our bigger pink tulips have all bloomed out now, but the smaller ones that are a variety of colors are out in full force. I think my very favorite one is the red surrey with the fringe on top.
Another one of my favorites is the Purple Tulip that we have in front of the porch. These little guys are having a time fighting their way through our mass of Variegated Solomon Seal plants.
Not to be outdone is the two-toned Peaches & Cream Tulip. I don't know what the actual name of this one is because there are a bazillion different tulip variations, but that's what I like to call it. It is a beauty.
|"Peaches & Cream" Tulip|
The tulips aren't the only things blooming. Our Lilac bush is busting out with blooms all over, and they smell so sweet. We have seen several different kinds of lilac bushes in the neighborhood on our walks, and most of them are a much lighter color. Ours is a very deep purple, with each flower outlined in white. I found the name of this one online, it is the Sensation Lilac, and the white edging is very distinctive on this particular bush. I think it lives up to its name.
We have seen some bees around the yard already, but the plants that they really flock to, the Catmint and Salvia, are not blooming yet. One good note, though, is that at the end of the growing season last year, I found three new Peony plants coming up near the one I had. They have survived the winter and are now growing up. Here is a short video showing the baby peonies, with Mama peony at the end.
We've had some bird activity around the yard, too. The back bird feeder has been getting visits from the male Red-Winged Blackbirds a lot lately. They usually descend upon it in the evening in groups of three to five or six birds. We see the females a lot less often, but I did manage to catch a group of them a couple of days ago. Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch...
|Female Red-Winged Blackbirds|
Our favorite Quail couple is still visiting us almost every evening, and sometimes during the day. Mrs. Quail has even been seen up on the bird bath, drinking her fill of water. I love the way the male stays right at her side to protect her. I imagine that she is carrying his babies, or will be soon. When I started to take this video, I couldn't see the female at first because she was ensconced in a dirt hole. She looks so happy to be getting a dirt bath!
Linda spied our little Ruby-Crowned Kinglet yesterday, but I wasn't fast enough with my camera to get a picture of him. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled the next few days in hopes that he will put in another appearance. He is so cute, I hate to miss him when he passes through!
I think Summer Girl may be getting tired of us being around the house All. The. Time. She has gotten quite fussy when I interrupt her daydreaming to take her picture. If she keeps on, she will lose out her spot in the Parting Shot to one black labradoodle...just sayin'.
That's it for this week, my friends. Remember: stay home, stay safe, and wear a mask when you go out...oh, and wash your hands! See you back here next week.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
HAPPY EARTH DAY
Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! I vividly remember the first Earth Day back in 1970. It was a time of much activism and raising our awareness on many different things. It is amazing it took us until then to pick out a day to celebrate our Earth. I mean, it's the only planet we have (so far). I remember I got an Earth Day flag decal from somewhere and stuck it on my car. I was still a senior in high school so I guess that made me think I was cool! Anyway, it's good to think that Earth Day has survived this long, and that the Earth itself is still here. We are still here with it, although I am sure that our planet is enjoying this brief time of respite from all of our bad behavior as human beings. This past week we have had absolutely gorgeous weather here in Yakima. It has been warm and clear, with high temperatures reaching the mid-70's a couple of days. That means it is perfect weather for taking a walk, and although we are mostly just walking around the neighborhood now (because there are no crowds there), we still try to do it every day. Along the way we usually see some very pretty yards, and I have stopped to take a few pictures of flowers.
These "candy-stripe" tulips in a nearby yard were just begging to have their picture taken. When we stopped to do that, I also spotted something else up in a tree.
This yard had a pole with about 5 or 6 bird feeders right under the tree. I suppose the hawk was looking to find his breakfast there. After all, he's a bird...and they are called "bird feeders," so I guess he is entitled.
Tulips abound around Yakima this time of year. They are so pretty, and there are countless varieties of them. We saw this unusual looking tulip in a yard close to our house.
Right down the street from us there is a gorgeous tree that was in full bloom. It looked like a pom-pom tree. And the bees were all over it, flitting about from blossom to blossom. It always makes me happy when I see a plant or tree with bees on it because we desperately need to keep our bees alive.
Our allotment of birds in the yard seems to have increased lately. This past week I noticed that we had a large flock of White-Crowned Sparrows visiting both of our feeders. These are the little guys that we call "Biker-Helmet Sparrows" because they look like they are wearing bicycle helmets. You know, the old style of leather helmets from like the 1920's. You can see what one of those looks like by clicking on this link here. Then check out the video below and I'm sure you will agree. Also, we have had almost daily visits from our resident California Quail couple. When I was watching out the front window, I couldn't see the Mrs. at first because she was behind the big leaves of a tulip plant. I figured she was nearby because Mr. always keeps her close so he can protect her. She soon appeared, and it looks to me like she is getting pretty hefty, so either she has gained the Covid-15 (kind of like the Freshman-15) or else she is carrying some eggs. I am hoping for the latter.
MY MOTHER'S PEONY
Every year, my friend Mike back in North Carolina sends me a picture of this peony. It is one that he dug up from my parents' house in Lumberton when it was sold. He planted it at the house he and Scott lived in on Walnut Street, and I guess when they moved from there a few years ago he must have dug it up again and planted it at the house out in the country, where they live now. Anyway, it is absolutely gorgeous and I am so glad that someone that I know has my mother's peony in their yard. I remember when she planted it, she was so happy to finally have a peony among the many plants in her yard.
24th AVENUE WALL
There seems to have been a lot of activity at the painted wall along 24th Avenue here in Yakima. We walked past it a few days ago and it looked like there were lots of new offerings. I took pictures of a few of the ones that I think are new and made this slideshow below.
Summer Girl is still engaging in her favorite pastime...napping. I couldn't resist taking this picture of her last evening as she was stretched out on my lap, snoozing away.
At least there is someone else in the family who is more energetic...
That's all for this week, my friends. Join me again next week to find out what is happening here in the Pacific Northwest! Hang in there a little longer, better days are coming.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
IT'S BEEN A ROCKY TIME
This past week on one of our walks we happened upon several painted rocks along the way down to the cemetery. Fortunately, I had my phone with me so I took a picture of each one. The next day, we found even more rocks in the neighborhood around our house. I got pictures of all of them but we only picked up one because we hoped some kids might find them on Easter Sunday. Since then, a few of them have disappeared but there are still several in their original spots. It's nice to know that people are still doing that to bring a smile to others.
|This is the one Linda picked up, to go on her|
bookshelf with her Penguin Classic books
|Yum, grilled chicken and potatoes|
|These were the best buns!|
|Lovely day for a walk at the cemetery|
However, the Basket of Gold plants are putting on a spectacular show in the front yard.
|Basket of Gold|
A NEW FLAMINGO IN THE FAMILY
This past Christmas, Linda and I received a new flamingo wind spinner from my sister and her partner. We decided to wait and put it out when the weather got nicer so it wouldn't get messed up by all the snow we (didn't) have. So, a couple of weeks ago we got it out and after much cussing and fussing managed to get it put together. Now she sits proudly in our back planting area. Of course we had to give her a name, so we settled on Felicia. Here she is strutting her stuff.
We finished our fourth puzzle since we started with the lockdown almost 5 weeks ago. This was the ice cream one, and it always makes me want ice cream when we do it. Alas, we didn't have any so I had to go without.
Summer Girl made sure she got into her spot on the blog this week. She's not about to let any upstart black dog take her place!! "Parting Shot" is exclusively for Black Cat Ninjas (in her mind, anyway). Here she is doing important BCN things, like helping her mommies with the puzzle.
That's all for this week, my friends. I hope everyone is doing well and still trying to hang in there with this staying-at-home-all-the-time-till-you-want-to-scream. Join me again next week for more from the Southerner in the Northwest!
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
WHEN TIME STOOD STILL
I feel like we are all in a science-fiction movie (title above). You know, one like The Omega Man. This movie was an adaptation of the book "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson, and it starred Charleton Heston as one of the last persons on earth after a plague. Anyway, it is one of those apocalyptic films showing how things would be after almost everyone on the planet is wiped out. We are nowhere near that point now (and hopefully won't be), but it makes you feel a bit like that when you don't get to see any other human beings for weeks on end (except for Linda, of course). On April 13th, I am coming up on one solid month of not being out in public. Having been retired for a few years now, I am somewhat used to not being out and about very much, although I did get to go grocery shopping every week, and we did go out for a coffee date every now and then, and to run errands. My honey, being a much more social person than I am, is about to go stir crazy. I am sure a lot of you can identify with that. But what we are all collectively doing right now is all that we can do, and it seems like it might work.
So hang in there, everyone. Take a socially-distant walk if you can, just to clear your mind and get away from all the bad news that comes screaming at us off of our screens. Read, work a puzzle, write a diary, draw silly pictures, play with your pets, get out in the garden (if the weather is nice enough), wash your vehicle, do whatever comes to mind, just keep yourself positively occupied.
We have had some really nice daytime temperatures this week, with it getting up to 73 degrees just yesterday. Flowers are starting to pop up everywhere. The birds are chasing each other in the trees, looking to pair up for mating season. The one thing I am most happy about this time of year is all the color that reappears in the landscape. This past winter was especially drab because we only had one snow that lasted any period of time, so most of the winter was brown, brown, brown. Now when I see a nice colorful scene, I try to grab my camera and get a shot.
Linda and I still try most days to go on a long walk. Sometimes we skip it on house-cleaning day, and I usually don't go on my blog-writing day. But other than that, we have been keeping up with it pretty well. My favorite place to walk during this time is the cemetery. We usually don't see anyone else there, but if we do we have plenty of space to give them a very wide berth. On a recent walk at Tahoma Cemetery, we saw some of our Canada Geese friends. One guy was asserting himself from atop a gravestone. Perhaps he was singing an aria in Canada Geese language for the female on the ground.
We made a wide circle around the cemetery and wound up on one side where we don't usually walk, where we came upon an interesting sight. A goose was perched up in the crook of a large tree. We slowed walked closer and closer to see what was going on. I didn't want to get too close because I didn't want to spook the goose (that sounds like some new kind of game). She (I'm arbitrarily calling it a "she") started getting a little antsy so I decided to stop filming and continue our walk. Still, we wondered what she was doing up there.
When we got to the other side of the tree, I turned around to see if she was still there and was surprised to see this...
There were actually two of them up there. I'm not sure if geese nest in crooks of trees like that, but just in case that was their intention, we left them alone and continued our walk.
A NOXIOUS WEED
Back at home after our walk at the cemetery one day, I took off my tennis shoes and found no less than six Goatheads (link here) imbedded in the bottom of my shoes. I must have walked through a big patch of them. I had never heard of such a thing until we moved to Yakima. Back in North Carolina we had sandspurs all over the place, especially down at the beach, and I stepped on many of them when I was younger and would go barefoot a lot. Ouch! So I knew a little about that sort of thing. My first encounter with a goathead came not too long after we had moved here. I went to ride my bicycle and discovered I had a flat tire. I took my bike to the shop and the repair guy fixed it, and handed me a little thing that looked like this picture below.
That, my friends, is a goathead. Now, can you imagine stepping on that thing (or six of them)? Yikes! They are about the same size as sandspurs, but the spike is thicker and when dry they are very hard. An alternate name for this weed is Puncturevine, which is very apt. Despite trying to ride my bicycle only on the street, I've had two flat tires on my bike so far from goatheads. You know they are hard if they can puncture a bicycle tire. I am so glad we didn't have these things back in North Carolina. And as if their puncturing properties weren't enough, they are also toxic.
Last week was Linda's turn to pick a puzzle, and she picked one depicting a drawing by Charley Harper, "The Alpine Northwest". We have done this puzzle a couple of times before, but we just love illustrations by Mr. Harper, so it was a great choice. Although this puzzle is pretty hard, I do think it is a little bit easier than the Television one we just did. However, we are at that point in the puzzle that is the hardest, as evidenced by this picture below.
All of the pieces left are completely white. A puzzle with large areas of just one solid color is usually the most difficult. We tend to work on the areas that show a picture of something first, as I think the majority of puzzlers do. That leaves you with what we have now, but to me it seems like all-white pieces are harder than other colors. And all-black pieces are the hardest of all, especially when you consider we work on a table with a black top. But we will press on and hopefully finish it today or tomorrow. Here's a picture of what the finished puzzle will look like.
Summer Girl is doing fine with our quarantining and has been tolerating our constant presence well. When she gets tired of us she just asks to be let outside, and then she quarantines herself in her own little house. However, there have been very limited photo opportunities, so today we have a guest appearance by none other than Zorro, who seems to be a big lug of a goofball.
We have yet to meet this cutie in person, but one day, when we all get turned loose to socialize again, we will rectify that situation.
That's all for this week, folks. Join me again next week for more from the Southerner in the Northwest!
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS
During this time of quarantine, we are all learning how to appreciate the smallest of things. We have been trying to take a long walk every day during our lockdown, at a socially acceptable distance from others of course. We are grateful for these daily walks. I admit I have missed a day or two, but for the most part we have accomplished our goal. Last week on one of our walks we came upon a sidewalk in front of a house that had been decorated with chalk. It is amazing how seeing something like that can just lift your spirits for a few moments. I don't know who did this, but I am grateful to the artist for sharing their art with us.
We have been diligently working on jigsaw puzzles during this time. It makes the time past extremely fast, and for this we are most grateful. We will say, "Oh, I'm just going to look for one more piece," thinking that it will take only a minute or two. One hour later, when we still haven't found that piece and we look up at the clock, we have to just walk away and give it a rest. Still, it gives you a great sense of accomplishment when you do find that particular piece. Below is the latest puzzle that we have finished, and this one was so much fun! We were reminded of all these great TV shows from the past, but sometimes we were at a loss as to who some of these people were. Although it was a pretty hard puzzle, this one is a keeper for sure.
It seems that jigsaw puzzling has gained a lot of popularity since the lockdown. Lots of people are getting into the act and it is so enjoyable to see their completed puzzles. Although she isn't new to puzzling, Emily sent us a picture of one she is working on right now. It's of Disney World, of course!
One of our walks this past week was taken at the Yakima Arboretum. Although Spring has officially sprung, it is still quite chilly in Yakima. On the day we went to the Arboretum, we got an early start so as to make sure we wouldn't run into a crowd. There was only one other car in the parking lot when we arrived, so no worries about that. I took some pictures with my new phone, just to see how good the camera is on it. It did a good enough job, but is nowhere near as sharp as my Sony camcorder/camera. Here are some of the pictures I took while there.
|One of our Canada Geese friends|
on the Arboretum pond
|We still had to suit up|
for our walk
|An interesting tree|
|So many branches, it looks like an|
|The small pinecones from|
the tree above
|A type of Magnolia tree|
|The Magnolia tree's flowers|
Another little thing that we are grateful for during this time is the way some of our local merchants have stepped up and are offering free delivery of goods to your doorstep. We were both overjoyed to see that our favorite fruit stand, Johnsons Orchards, (website here), was offering this service. One of the things that we love most about living in Yakima is the fact that locally grown fruit is so available and is also very affordable. There is a lot of fruit grown in the Yakima Valley, and we always try to get it when it is in season. In addition, we like to support our local merchants, especially the ones that give back to the community. And so we took Johnsons up on their offer, and Monday morning we received our delivery of apples.
|Delicious Fuji apples|
RETURN OF THE QUAIL
Yesterday I stood up to go look out the window and remarked to Linda, "I wish the quail would show up." As soon as I looked out the window, I was stunned to see two quail under the feeder, foraging around. I got my wish! Of course, by the time I got my camera and got ready to take their picture, they were moving away. I did manage to get this shot of the male as he waddled across the front yard.
Summer Girl doesn't know what all the fuss is about with this "isolation" and "social distancing." She is a master at both because she practices them every day. To her way of thinking, she is being extremely social during this time by gracing us with her presence on our laps.
That's all for this week, my friends. Join me again next week for more from the Southerner in the Northwest. In the meantime, stay at home and wash your hands (and don't touch your face)!