Friday, May 31, 2013

The first sighting

First redtail at sunset May 22, 2012
 Suddenly, last year, 2012, on May 22, there were redtails sitting on top of the tall pine trees in front of the house. Two of them. These pictures were taken at about 7:30 the first evening, while the last light was on the treetops. They were both up there at the same time, though not in the same camera view.

Always before, when I heard them occasionally up on top of the trees, they had been on the ones right over the house, which I can't see the top of.
Second redtail at sunset May 22, 2012
The second one seems a little darker than the first.

The next day or so, as I walked down the hill, once there were 3 adult redtails circling, soaring, riding the thermal.

Between the 22nd and the 28th, I saw them several times sitting up there on the tall trees.

May 31, 2013 This year, although I've seen and heard them at the other end of the trail to campus, they don't seem to be coming back to here. I hope they didn't try to go to the neighbors' place, that once cut down trees in nesting season, and the redtails that were here then vanished. There weren't redtails nearby here for years. Just yesterday that neighbor started some new construction project.

I am going to miss seeing 'my' redtails, but maybe I can get last year's photos sorted at last.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beat it Buster, your flashmob didn't show

Redtail Hawk Screams at Jay, June 2012
Last year at this time, there were redtails sitting on top of the tall pines in front of the house and down the hill a little, about a hundred feet away.

This is the top of an over 100 ft pine tree. They are sitting on this year's growth candles. The larger needles in the foreground are the mature size.

This scrub-jay has been buzzing the redtail hawk for some time, over and over, with rests between flights. This rest he is a little closer to the hawk than usual...

All the time he has been trying to call his mob. Nobody showed.

It’s hard to be a mob all by yourself.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

It wasn't supposed to snow this month… (5/17/11)

Broken oak
This oak tree lost its main upright top in the previous unseasonal storm, when the leaves were still on the trees, in November. The little bit of snow in this picture highlights the break and the giant branch on the ground. The branch that would have someday sheltered the house from late-afternoon, late-summer sun...

It snowed more than this though.

photo from May 15, 2011
Or I guess I could call this post "Iris squashed each spring". 

But not every spring...

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Friday, May 17, 2013

It wasn't supposed to snow this month. . . . Friday the 13th at work? (from May15 2011)

Photo May 15, 2011
It hasn't yet this year, but that year it did.

It was Sunday morning, May 15th, that it snowed. This picture is from Monday morning, with patches of snow still, including this South side balcony, and the irises down below it.

But it never pays to count ones irises (before they're hatched). I didn't have a chance to make it to the quilt show either. Or to Empire Mine park to see the irises....

I have a superstition about that, honestly come by. Grandpa used to say "God willing and the creek don't rise."

For many years I have caught the bus to the nearby grocery store, and had 20 minutes to run in, get groceries, and back out to the bus stop before it comes back. (Although with the cutbacks in bus services the last several years, I now have a 15 minute walk uphill with the groceries, instead of  a level walk past 2 houses and down the driveway.)

And I usually say "With luck, I'll catch you on your way back" to let the driver know to look for me. But every time I have said instead "I'll catch you on your way back" I have missed the bus. Every time!

So I try not to assume anything will work out, just hope.

Here's the clouds from Friday the 13th, 2 days before the snow. They mean a storm is on the way in about 2 days, I think.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pollen Season

Large pollen cones on Ponderosa pine May 3, 2011
Pollen season seems to be over for the year. There were a bunch of small pollen cones in the driveway, only half an inch long, unlike the complex pattern on the roof last year of fallen 2 inch pollen cones, and these even larger ones from 2 years ago. Like everything else here, they vary a lot from year to year.

Light rain again today, after several warm days after the last rains.

Several years ago, on an early warm night, I had opened the doors onto the partially screened porch downstairs, and a few screenless windows, to let a bat out, (which after swooping through hall and computer room, had headed down the stairs).

And when I went back downstairs with a flashlight, after hearing a bang, I heard a skittering and a scrabbling out on that porch. And the loose screen across the doorway was down. Critters had been in the house!

In the morning, footprints in the thick layer of pine pollen on the porch.  Five toes, so not cats (or dogs). Raccoons. A couple of sizes. Not really clear back foot prints.

But something funny. Among the footprints were some large poofy-puffy, roundish-ovalish marks. Tail prints!

I already knew that muddy prints on the car were different than the ones in soft dirt shown in the animal-tracks books. Tracks in the layer of loose pollen dust are different still.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summertime, and the living is easy

New sailboat, summer 1969
Summertime, and the living is easy......and the cotton is high.

It's easy to guess that the person who wrote those lyrics had never picked cotton.

Neither have I, but my first job was as summer field labor in an experimental barley field. That was in the pre-sunscreen era, and it took only one day for me to figure out that someone as pale-skinned as I needed long sleeves and a hat.
(Why  it took me that long I don't know, I always burned badly.) And summertime work out in a hot sunny field is not easy at all.

The year I was a freshman in college, the woman who graduated as  the valedictorian that year had earned her way through college picking fruit in the Wenatchee Valley. I was very impressed.

The little sailboat is from a few years later. That's me, and our dad behind the mast, and a brother. And one year an article had been published about PABA (para-amino-benzoic acid). So Dad mixed up some in alcohol, and my sister and I tried it while sailing across the lake. We were amazed that we didn't sunburn at all.

And around here, the living is not so easy in summertime.

True it's not between 42 degrees F and 52 on the main floor (I used a refrigerator thermometer to check that, since the thermometer on the non-functional thermostat only goes down to 52.) Sometimes 52 degrees is a lot colder than other times…

And not between 50 and 60 degrees on the top floor. The higher temperatures are after several sunny days, or when there's been a fire in the woodstove.

And I'm not wading through a foot of snow to carry firewood from the garage to the house and upstairs after several days of the power being out, like a couple of years ago. (Normally I try to carry firewood up between storms.)

Yes, it only takes 5 minutes to dress in one layer of clothes, but more baths/showers and more laundry.

But the main thing is that it takes half an hour to go around morning and evening closing/opening curtains and/or windows, and turning on and off fans and sprinklers. And when it's hot, it's hot.

When the living is really easy here is right now, spring and fall, in the weeks when the temperature is fine and the windows can be left open to screens all day and all night. Between rain or snow storms. Before the weather gets too hot. With fresh spring vegetables or fall harvest at the grower's market.

Except it's pollen season now, or just finished. Drifts of yellow everywhere. Can't leave the windows open to let that blow in. Can't leave them open again until I've cleaned and vacuumed window-sills, porches, low roofs. Then I will be able to see if it's really over. The recent rains might have finished it, but the pollen cones haven't fallen off the pines yet.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It looks so peaceful here on campus this morning May 14, 2013

Koi pond, morning May 14, 2013 8:30 am
But a mountain lion was seen here early this morning, and they have closed the trails. Including the one I walked to school yesterday morning.

I have heard that the half-grown ones disperse looking for new territories, and at night, following greenbelts and wooded areas and watercourses, all of which are here, they can get a long way into populated areas before dawn. Surprising everyone.

I can just imagine a mountain lion sitting on that big rock. . . 

Update May 20, 2013: 

The paper said it was a large mountain lion.

The bus driver said he hadn't seen the usual several groups of early-morning deer for 2 weeks.

But I heard that someone on campus early that morning had seen a larger herd of deer running down the hill very fast — much faster than usual. "As fast as they could go."

No kidding.

I'd love to see a mountain lion in the wild, but not quite that close.

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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rain on the roses

Wild roses April-May 2012
Not in this picture, which was taken last year. (I turned it in for the Digital Photography class. There's a tiny spider…) But the last few days have been some of the very few "precipitation events" we have had this year since the beginning of January. At least it helped to contain several early fires.

This week the air has been very soft and moist, with full clouds and intermittent rain. Warmish down in the valley, coolish here in the foothills. And rain on these naturalized old-fashioned roses, which bloom earlier than the modern types, the end of April usually, I think, and part of May.*

This year it did snow and close down campus one day. And it took the prof an hour to get out of the parking lot! I had walked home by then. It's only a 50-minute walk.

That's compared to a couple of years ago, when we lost several Thursdays of classes to snow, and the kittens and I were enjoying fires in the wood-stove in the first week of June.
Raindrops on dogwood May 7, 2013
 The regular dogwoods, the eastern one, had already finished blooming for quite some time before these started. I think these little trees may be fairly new - I don't remember seeing them blooming before.

 *I don't know what variety the roses are. They get no water and reliably bloom each year. Don't seem susceptible to powdery mildew, like the similar naturalized one up the hill by the house, that has climbed a small tree and taken it over.

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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Looking In October 25, 2010

Sugar Mouse out on porch, Oct. 25, 2010 9am
What is he looking at?

The kittens have escaped! They knocked over their kitten gate.
(shown in The Kitten Gate

I came down into this dining room, next to their pantry, and 3 kittens were exploring this room. As I looked for Little Kitten (Rex), one by one they started exploring through the glass door into the living room on the wall to the right. Spot was climbing the pile of firewood, and had to be grabbed before she started an avalanche.

And still no Rex.

Finally, I went into the living room, which was the room I fed him in. And in the chair all the way across the room, by the window, was the blanket we usually curled up in.

And in the blanket...

That little kitten, half the size of the others, had gone twice as far, to where he knew was a warm comfortable blanket, and climbed up the blanket into the chair!

And wriggled in under the blanket, making himself a warm nest.

Rex in blanket Oct 25, 2010 10am
That's my Rex-kitten.

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