30 November 2008

Sunday on West Snoqualmie River Road

It's been a while since I've gone out looking for a photographic moment, so when the weather (and my time) cooperated, I was out the door.

My route for today was from Aldarra (Fall City) to Novelty Hill Road (Redmond/Duvall) and back, mostly along West Snoqualmie River Road.

Headed out on Redmond-Fall City Road, my windscreen was brushed by a large hawk that I don't believe was a Red-tail (no obvious dark markings on the leading edge, no obvious red tail feathers) as it dove into a hillside not far from Duthie Hill Road. Traveling at speed in traffic meant the hawk itself would go unidentified, but it was a treat (if a bit scary) to have something that large cross traffic almost over the front end of my vehicle.

The first safe stop was just north of Aldarra, where hundreds of very-noisy-in-flight starlings and more than a few Dark-Eyed Slate Juncos were feeding. I was surprised at how much noise the starlings made with their wings, even from about 100 metres away. Setting the trend for the day was a second hawk, this time a light-morph juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a successful hunt. It was on the ground for no more than 5 seconds before it winged its way back into the trees with its meal.

A few minutes further north, my third RTHA, this time an adult. It was also a successful hunter just north of Tall Chief Golf Course.

Near Chinook Bend Natural Area, a fourth RTHA, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Northern Harrier were seen.

One snag near Jubilee Farms had three Great Blue Herons in it. When the river could be seen, there were Bufflehead, Mallard, a few Northern Shovelers and what could have been Ring-necked Ducks here and there, with American Coots the most plentiful (100-200) also near Chinook Bend Natural Area.

Back at Carnation Marsh for the second time, I found Grace and Ollie Oliver looking for the Swamp Sparrow. While I was there, we saw Mourning Dove, a Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrows, and more than a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but no Swamp.

With the exception of an overflight of Canada Geese, Remlinger Farms was almost completely bird-free, and no swans were seen.

Depending on where I was, the fog went from pea-soup to just-about-burned-off, with an average visibility of about 150 metres at best through most of the valley.

29 November 2008

28 November 2008

Americans, Take Notice

Concerned about too many carbs and calories in your diet?

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all conflicting medical studies:

1 The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
2 The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
3 The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
4 The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
5 The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Being American is apparently what kills you

27 November 2008

Ribs, 'Taters, Squash, Pie...

stolen from a website that borrowed it from another website that... :)

Happy US Thanksgiving!

22 November 2008

2012 Iowa

Some of you were thinking I was on drugs when I postulated there was a likelihood of four-year-long election cycles in our future.

For myself, I honestly didn't believe it would happen THIS year, but of course I was wrong: NPR is already reporting Republicans are stumping for the next presidential election in their interview with a local Iowa farmer...


About the only plus I can think of regarding this: I don't live in Iowa.


wasn't it yesterday that little mermaids and tiny goblins were haunting our work hallways and side streets, looking for THE sugar rush that parents dread? isn't NEXT week thanksgiving?

so, and i ask this with all sarcastic flair: why the hell have seven homes in a three-mile stretch of "my drive home from work" already hung LIT holiday lights? none of these homes are small, and one is locally-famous for the over-the-top displays... at the same time, a local radio station (106.9) is already 24-hour holiday music... i'm guessing you can bet it's a station i won't listen to for another five weeks...

am i the only sane person left who believes that presidential elections should be six weeks MAX, that holiday celebrations and marketing should be limited to the week or two before the event?

it probably won't be so far into the future that we see four-year-long election cycles, and holiday marketing that never ends. it's not difficult to find some large box retailers with holiday reminders in july, though who they think they are marketing to i have no idea.

so, in the spirit of the holidays, follow me:

if you should know of other cartoons and photographs with the same sentiments, please feel free to share them with everyone. i will endeavour to post as many as i can.

Year-long holidays must stop.

17 November 2008


old family week, apparently: 47 years ago tomorrow (tuesday), my sister lisa came into this world. the things i remember from those years:
  • when she came home from the hospital for the first time, at least part of the trip home was in my arms in the back of a recently-purchased renault (an unusual car for the US at the time). given that i was seven years of age at the time, given she was somewhere less than seven DAYS old, my turn holding her was unusual and (as you've noticed) unforgettable
  • both of my sisters, but especially lisa, had a thing for water sports √† la buff. both, to the best of my knowledge, lost that "thing" sometime before the age 4
  • she has a penchant for larger vehicles, some of which require(d) thick phone books so she could see over the dash
  • she's the one that physically looks most like mom, if a slightly-smaller version
  • she was probably still being carded during liquor purchases until her late 30s. her joyous laugh would not help others to understand she was older than they were. by this time, she had several daughters taller than herself
  • of all of us, she's the one filled with the most love, the most compassion, the most of your beaver cleaver "mom" attributes, minus the housekeeping in high heels and that string of pearls. i hesitate to point out she also had the most practice (grin)
lisa, as you can see, i remember more than you probably want me to broadcast, so i'll finish with a quote from a recording i saved of you from about 45 years ago:
hatty boothdee to oooo!

much love on your day, my favourite little one...

16 November 2008


seven years ago, the US economy was trying its damndest to go into the dumper, mostly as the tech bubble exploded. terrorism had struck the US only two months previous, and fear was in the air. given the job market at the time, i was in the middle of selling a house and moving to the UK as preface to what i thought would be an early retirement.

among the major positives during my short life in europe was a welcome and fanatic return to a love i'd had thirty years before, one i could not afford at the time: photography.

among the many landscapes that became backdrops for the lens were also a few portraits. my favourite subject was a precocious little girl, my goddaughter, born to an american mother and a scottish father not long before i arrived. the camera loved her as much as i did, and it was a profound gift to have documented a bit of her first few years. her sister reid is who you see every time you come to my blog page; she's the header photo of a sleeping child in a dark room, wrapped quietly in her mother's arms in a trying time.

this particular photo, however, is one year into my visit, a difficult-for-me-to-believe seven years ago this week. riley was visiting my friend and i in a sussex coastal town when she became ill, face deeply-flushed, and had just been put down for a quick nap in the living room. seconds later, the camera allows me to relive the moment.

07 November 2008

a rarity just passing through...

almost four years ago to the day, a rough-legged hawk visited the redmond willows neighbourhood for approximately one week. this particular photograph was taken on a very overcast day, just west of the (then new) 124th street bridge over the sammamish river. i'm on the bridge itself, attempting to look like a tiny bump over one of the berms. s/he was skittish, not allowing me closer than about 40 metres, resulting in the following photo:

the white you see directly below the bird is what you think it is, whitewashing the pole mere seconds before the shot.

the bird was, apparently, unconcerned. :)

04 November 2008

Impromptu Celebration

this very moment, heartbeats before the first midnight of the first day of the obama nation, there are thousands of people in several groups walking and dancing and stopping large swaths of traffic on the streets of downtown seattle. they aren't throwing rocks, flipping the bird to police, or angry.

for the first time in decades, a spontaneous demonstration is happening that looks like mardi gras or new year's eve. music, laughter, cheering, smiling, happy people.

who'da thunk something like this would have happened even a few hours ago? vive la difference!

Yes, We Can

One historic night, two historic speeches, two solemn individuals:
  • John McCain: the man, not as he has been portrayed the last few months, but as I remember him eight years ago, with as humble, gracious and honourable a concession as seems possible...
  • Barack Obama: the man who appears equal parts Martin Luther King Jr and John Kennedy, his intense vision filled with eloquent notes reminiscent of King's "I Have a Dream" and Kennedy's inauguration speech, notable for "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You" sentiment...
Given the divisiveness of the past eight years, Senator McCain said sincerely "... [Barack Obama] is now my President," and asked America to join him in serving the American ideal to defeat the many problems we face today.

Minutes later, Senator Obama stepped up, thanked Senator McCain and, with references to the past, asked all of America to join him in taking responsibility for the future.

In the last hour, both of these men have taken the first step in restoring in me hope the United States can recover what it has so dearly lost. Time will tell if the hope is justified.

03 November 2008

"Vote for the Kennedy of Your Choice"

Well, OK, if you recognized the title of this entry, you probably remember the line from listening (if you were like me, 100s of times) to the early 1960s album "The First Family", starring Vaughn Meader. It was a smash hit, mostly because Mr Meader was a comic impersonator who had Jack Kennedy down cold, with all nuances possible.

Unfortunately for Mr Meader (and Mr Kennedy), the album was an incredible hit just before Mr Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and not so much afterwards.

Anyway, this is my segue into telling you (if you live in the United States / les √Čtats Unis) to VOTE tomorrow, if you haven't already. If you need a push one way or another on the following items of interest, feel free to utilise my endorsements here:
  • If you are eligible to vote in California, please defeat Proposition 8
  • If you are eligible to vote in Washington, please vote to pass Proposition 1 (Sound Transit) and Proposition 1000 (Death with Dignity)
Whomever you vote for, however you vote, please make your voice heard.

01 November 2008

The Giant Behemoth

Ah, yes, to be transported back into time, maybe as far as 1959. Pick any weekend afternoon when for some reason you aren't outside playing, doing chores or homework. Maybe it is raining outside, or you have the measles.

On channels around the world, sponsored by manufacturers of products so shoddy in nature the only advertising on TV they could afford was usually either very late-night or weekend Bad-B-Movie-Time.

One of the movies you probably would have seen: The Giant Behemoth.

As a kid, I was utterly intrigued by the likes of these monsters; Gamera, the Beast from 20k Fathoms, Them, Godzilla, and a whole host of others. Most of these movies would have displays of atomic blasts in the first 10-15 minutes, if only to underscore the dangers of radiation. Kids would recount on the school playgrounds how many times Tokyo was obliterated, complete with sound effects and movie quotes.

Much as I'd like to say this one isn't that bad, I can't. It's worse. The "special effects" appear to be (and probably are) a bath tub, some inanimate puppets, and in one scene, plastic cars on a plastic toy ferry that tips over in the bath tub. The acting runs the gamut between pretty good and incredibly bad.

Even so, it was my choice for a different weekend of rain. As I was leaving the library last Sunday, the DVD cover caught my eye, transporting me. As bad as it was, it was fun to watch and be taken back to less-sullied days, when (to a kid's eye, anyway) the world was a much simpler place...

2008.11 Desktop Calendar

Wood Duck, Aix sponsa, is one of my favourite winter ducks. The male is so gaudy, I wonder if he knows he's an obvious target for raptors and other predators with such an incredible plumage.

This photo was taken at Juanita Bay Park a few years ago. The park holds a special place in my heart for a lot of reasons, among them the ability to get in close to numerous types of wildlife.

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.

I hope you enjoy :)