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July 26, 2007

Pink Martini

Summer in Seattle and it is time again for Pink Martini. We saw them last year at Chateau St. Michelle and it was great. It was the first time we had been to St. Michelle for a concert and we had the perfect day. It was warm but we took a couple of umbrellas. We 'manger sur l'erbe' and a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc. The sun went day, the hot-air balloons floated in the distance and Mt Rainier turned pink in the setting sun.

This year they played at the Zoo. There is a series of concerts to raise money for the zoo every summer. The artists tend to be an eclectic group. It is not as good of venue as St. Michelle. The field is flat, no alcohol is allowed and children are admitted free. But it is a great place to spend a warm mid-week summer night.

I went up to Pasta & Company and got a selection of salads. The shrimp celeriac remoulade was excellent. I want to try to make it. The faro salad was also very nice - faro, chopped tomatoes and sweet onions in a light vinaigrette. A spicy ginger cookie and a nectarine for dessert.

We went early so we could find a parking place. It was very easy at the south side of the zoo. We got in line around 4:45pm at the south entrance. The doors open at 5pm although they didn't let us in until about 5:10pm. By time we got across the zoo and to the concert area, the field had pretty much filled in. I think next time we'll go to the North entrance which is closer to the concert area.

At 6PM, the opening act came on. It was a pretty forgettable duo of a base guitar and mandolin players. They played covers of songs you would not expect such as Paint it Black or Money.

Pink Martini came on just before 7pm and played for over an hour. It was a fun mix of hits from their three albums. Of course, the encore was Brasil. Here's a clip of one of my favorites of the night - "Sympathique" - title cut from their first album.

May 10, 2009

Edmonds Farmers Market

Edmonds Farmers Market

Saturday was such a lovely day. It was sunny, warm and you could see forever. Our local Farmers Market starts at the beginning of May. It doesn't get in full swing until later in June but you can still find interesting selection of food and goods.

Early in May, it is prime time for asparagus. Several of the stands had a good selection. There were also fresh leaks, young lettuce and radishes. The flower stalls were filled with tulips and doing a brisk business for Mothers Day.

I saw a couple of my favorite but I was intrigued with a new cheesemaker - Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese. Their specialty is blue and sheep cheese. They had a good selection of both fresh and aged cheese. I tried two fresh;the Willapa White and Fresh with Ewe. Both were excellent. The White was shaped similar to a chevre but had a little more tang. But it was the Fresh with Ewe that won me over. It is fresh sheep milk cheese with a blue rind. A lovely lovely cheese. The cheesemaker recommended keeping it for another week. If I can....

I also stopped at another vendor selling beautiful fresh Halibut. For dinner, I rubbed it with the Bengal Masala Rub with Love from Tom Douglas and pan fried it. Add a fresh green salad and my new favorite mashed sweet and regular potatoes. I did not have enough sweet potatoes to make these sweet potatoes and onions but it was still very good with a few regular potatoes thrown in.

The farmers market is located near the firestation and right downtown. Edmonds has a small downtown - with a seaside feel. You can see the sound in the distance and hear the ferry horn. Many of the buildings in the main downtown area are historic and house interesting stores. I stopped by HouseWares to pick up some kitchen cleaning items and admire the stunning designs.

Moving on, I stopped in the Edmonds Bookshop to see the latest best sellers. Nothing caught my fancy. I had two more stops, one at Gallery North to see the current Photography and at Sculptors Workshop pottery sale.

It was good to see everything busy. The weather helped as did Mothers Day weekend. I loved seeing the mothers out. My favorite was the little girl and her mother who came out of one of the day salons. "Mommy - that was so much fun. Can we do come again?". Delightful.

Edmonds Farmers Market

Edmonds Farmers Market

Samish Bay Cheese

May2009-004

Residential street just a block from the market

Edmonds

Traffic circle at the center of downtown

Edmonds

Worldwide headquarters of Rick Steves Europe

July 4, 2009

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Everybody loves a parade. It has been years since I've been to a parade. The last parade was the Fremont Solstice Parade which is totally different. G had to work this year so I decided to check out the local 4th of July parade in Edmonds.

The crowds had already started to gather around 11:30am. I joined in and followed several families down to where the parade was starting at 6th and Main. People were lined up with their chairs along the route. Today was pretty hot and most of places were in the sun. I walked a block or so and found a place under a large tree in the shade. Perfect.

It wasn't too crowded at all. Everyone right at the sidewalk edge had low chairs. I was talking with another woman and she said this was the 9th parade and it is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.

It had a little bit of everything - but mostly decorated cars and marching groups. It only lasted an hour but it was fun and different thing to do.

Happy 4th everyone!

Decorated vehicles and marching groups

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

Edmonds 4th of July Parade

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September 27, 2009

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Madrona Trees on Bluff above beach

Before we bought our current house in Edmonds, we used to live on the edge of Innis Arden. The history of Innis Arden neighborhood is very interesting. In 1925, William Boeing (yes, the plane builder) bought up much of the land along the Puget Sound north of Seattle, from what is Blue Ridge in Seattle to roughly the county line just south of Edmonds. Much of this area was logged and several communities were built such as Blue Ridge. In 1940, the area north of the Highlands and next to Richmond Beach was laid out as the community named Innis Arden and sold to affluent upper middle class buyers from $1000-$5000 per lot. The cleared land provided unrestricted views across the Sound to the Olympics. The Innis Arden community had strict covenants that prevented buildings and trees to block views. This area continues to have gorgeous unrestricted views and lovely homes built in the older Northwest style. We lived just over the ridge and did not have a view but I would often ride my bike down along the curvy streets and enjoyed the expansive views.

Just next to Innis Arden at the bottom of the hill and along the Sound is Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. It is one of our favorite parks. We feel like it is one of our neighborhood parks even though it is across the county line and in a different city. We used the stairs at the park when we were training for Mt. Whitney. I will often drive over and walk along the beach. I find it very peaceful and calming. Just before Christmas, the city of Shoreline sponsors a huge winter bonfire along with carols provided by the local Christmas Ship.

It has been a while since I visited the park. They were doing renovations last year and we did not visit for a while because of the construction. Friday was a glorious Fall day and I stopped by. Wow! Lots of nice changes.

They have built several new picnic areas, added many new benches and view points and are working to replace the invasive non-native plants with natives along the hillside. They have installed several signs describing the history of the park. It was a sand and gravel mine in the early 1900's which provided building materials for early buildings in Seattle. It also explains the steep terrain. It was sold to King County in 1959 by the Great North Railway. The Parent Map has a great page on the history and details of the park.

There is also a new art installation, Reflex Solaris. It is an interactive sundial. I figured out the sundial portion but totally missed the reflective portion of the artwork. I saw several mirror on the hillside above. At first, I thought they were some type of solar panel for generating electricity. There is one near the upper trail and I noticed that it was just a mirror. Hmmmm... I thought maybe it was for navigation purposes. From the blog post linked earlier, it is a set of mirror that reflect the different solstice and equinoxes. I'm going to have to go back and check out what is reflected along the hillsides. I also think they need something to explain the mirrors - I totally missed it!

I climbed the hill and walked along the upper path. The vistas were amazing in the clear Fall afternoon. Later, I walked down to the beach. Just as you reach the beach is a wonderful 10-foot bronze sculpture of a Salish Welcoming Figure carved by artists Steve Brown, Joe Gobin, and Andy Wilbur. I looked back and saw now how it all fits together - from a sand quarry at the turn of the 20th century to a wonderful public park today.

Here are some photos from my walk (click any picture to enlarge):

Picnic area at Richmond Beach
Picnic area on hillside at Richmond Beach Park
Reflex Solaris Reflex Solaris
Reflex Solaris
New Picnic area at Richmond Beach Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
New picnic area
Walkway at Richmond Beach Hill climb stairs at Richmond Beach
New plantings and stair climb
Beach at Saltwater Park Beach at Saltwater Park
Along the beach
Welcoming Figure Welcoming Figure
Welcoming Figure carved by artists Steve Brown, Joe Gobin, and Andy Wilbur
View from bluffs above Richmond Beach
Panorama View from the Bluffs

October 25, 2009

Kubota Gardens

Kubota Gardens

One of hidden gardens gems of Seattle is Kubota Gardens. Located on 20 acres in South Seattle, the garden is a testament to the endurance of Japanese immigrants and over 50 years of loving labor. The gardens were design by Fujitaro Kubota. He immigrated to the United States in 1907 and started his gardening business in 1923. He designed and planted Japanese style gardens for families here in the Seattle area. In 1927, he bought 5 acres of swamp land off in Rainier Valley and started his dream. Over the years he was able to expand the gardens to 20 acres by the time of his death in 1973. In 1981, the garden was declared a city landmark and in 1987 the city purchased the land. Today, the city continues to maintain and expand the park.

I don't know why we had never visited the gardens before. We knew of the gardens from our friends but never made the time to visit. It is easy to get to and well signed from the Marginal Way exit on I-5.

This year has been outstanding for fall color. The summer was hot enough for the leaves to store ample amount of glucose creating strong reds and yellow as the plants shut down for winter. The Fall is an excellent time to visit. We found a riot of colors throughout the garden.

For more on this history - Kubota Gardens from HistoryLink.org
Directions and information - Kubota Gardens website.


Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens
Kubota Gardens Kubota Gardens

Kubota Gardens

Seattle Things To Do

March 3, 2010

Pretty in Pink

Spring in the 'hood
Flowering Plum 'Thundercloud'

My neighborhood is pretty in pink - fluffy wispy clouds of pink blossoms! Spring is here.

The early spring has continued here in the Pacific Northwest benefits of El Nino. March came in like a lamb. I sure hope it doesn't go out like a lion. The flowering plums are in full bloom and without any rain, the pink clouds dot the hillsides and neighborhood. I feel like I'm walking in a forest of pink cotton candy.

I took my camera with me on my walk today and captured everything that was in pink. Check out what I found that was 'pretty in pink'.

Spring in the 'hood

Spring in the 'hood
Mediterranean Pink Heather

Spring in the 'hood
Flowering Quince

Spring in the 'hood

Azalea

Spring in the 'hood
Rhododendron

Spring in the 'hood
Camelia

Spring in the 'hood
Pieris japonica

Spring in the 'hood



And look what else I found! I couldn't believe it. Definitely pretty in pink.


Spring in the 'hood

Spring in the 'hood


March 30, 2010

Edmonds Waterfront

Edmonds Waterfront

I need a little reminder of the beautiful days we had last month. Here are a few pictures of the Edmonds waterfront area. There are several public art installations along the waterfront. This guy is crawling up the stairs from the sand. It is part of the work called "The Locals" by Georgia Gerber.

Farther along the waterfront is a fishing pier. It has a whimsical metal art work representing salmon swimming - "School of Fish" by Buster Simpson. Turning around - a great view of the marina and Olympic mountains in the distance. Art by mother nature.

More on the public art in Edmonds - Public Art Collection

Edmonds Waterfront
"School of Fish"

Edmonds Waterfront
View from fishing pier


April 12, 2010

Lakewold Garden

Lakewold Gardens

We did not have any special plans for Easter Sunday so we decided to spend it in a garden. One possibility was to go to the Tulip fields again since they were in bloom but it would have been terribly crowded on Sunday. Instead we decided to go South to Lakewold Garden in Lakewood just sound of Tacoma.

We typically visit in mid-March so this would be our first visit in early Spring. The day was overcast but the garden was lovely. And we had it almost to ourselves.

The gardens were started in 1910 as part of a summer home on Lake Gravely. The original design was influenced by the work of the Olmstead Brothers. The property was sold several times over the years until it was sold to George Corydon and Eulalie Wagner in 1938. Eulalie Wagner loved to garden. The landscape gardener, Thomas Church, first visited the garden in 1958 and returned to advice on the garden over the years. The garden opened to the public in 1989.

We love the location and the different rooms of the garden. As you arrive, you can walk along a long circular driveway lined with 20 feet Rhododendrons. This takes you to the door of the house which looks over the Flag Pole Lawn. There is a large Paulonia tree that we would love to see in bloom but we will need to return late in May or early June since it is late to bloom.

From the Flag lawn, you can enter into the small fern garden room. It is filled with interesting small shade and woodland plants. The triliums were in full bloom. Exiting the Fern room, you walk along the brick path lined with boxwood beds filled with tulips. The two majestic Mt. Fuji cherry trees were budded but not yet in bloom. The walkway leads to a lovely statue at the end of the path - but off to the side is a curious Quartrefoil pool. I love the pool and the symmetry but it is the hardest thing in the world to photograph.

Continuing down a side path, you can enter into several rooms lined with Japanese Maples and other beautiful trees such as Stewartia and Parrotia with beautiful bark. There are several trees of distinction in the garden. There are also several view points across the lake or up the lawns to the house. There is a new rock garden that is still getting established. Along several of the walkways were large naturalized swatches of fawn lilies (Erythronium). We have several native versions of this flower but I love the larger garden varieties.

Returning to the house, there is a large wisteria arbor over the outdoor eating area. Nearby is a knot garden, rose garden and perennial beds. Throughout the garden were several varieties of cherries in bloom. I loved the light yellow cherry blossoms of the Ukon cherry.

Before leaving, we made a stop at The Garden Shop to make a couple of plant purchases. We had to get a couple of blue poppies and a replacement Chilean Fire Bush (Embothrium coccineum).

Here are some photos of the garden:

Lakewold Gardens
Driveway to the house entry

Lakewold Gardens
Cherry Blossom

Lakewold Gardens
Brick walk

Lakewold Gardens
Garden bench

Lakewold Gardens
Quartrefoil Pool and flowering cherry

Lakewold Gardens
Closeup of statue at end of brick walk

Lakewold Gardens
Woodland room

Lakewold Gardens
Garden detail

Lakewold Gardens
House

Lakewold Gardens
Wisteria arbor

Lakewold Gardens
Knot garden

Lakewold Gardens
Fawn Lilies - Erythronium

Lakewold Gardens
Hunter statue along the Flag Pole Lawn

Related Posts: Lakewold Garden - May 2007

Tacoma Things To Do

May 10, 2010

South Puget Sound Prairies

Swale abloom with Camassia quamash

Prairie is not a place you imagine of when you think of Washington state or the Puget Sound area. But prairie grasslands were an intrinsic part of native American food sources. These rolling grasslands were scattered throughout the sound and can still be found south of Olympia. The grassy areas may originally have been created by the glaciers that covered the area and left open rocky meadows. Native Americans maintained these grasslands by burning them to restore the plants and keep the larger invasive plants at bay. The predominant plant they harvested was blue camas - Camassia quamash. These plants in the Agavaceae family have starchy bulbs that they harvested in the early fall, roasted and dried for food throughout the year. They also harvested other bulbs and berries that grew well in these savannah grasslands.

Today, the prairies are an endangered land. Only about 2% of the grasslands still survive. Much of it was used as farmland and later housing. Once a year, the Glacial Heritage Preserve is open to the public on Prairie Appreciation Day which was last Saturday. This prairie is managed by Thurston County Parks, the Washington department of Fish and Wildlife and restored by the Nature Conservancy of Washington and Friends of Puget Prairies. They have done a tremendous amount of work to clear the invasive non-native plants such as scotch broom from the fields.

Early May is prime time for the blooms. The roads in the area are lined with blue camas. Last Saturday was sunny with lots of fluffy white clouds. The blue blossoms created a blue haze over the grassland. I took the longer self-guided trail along the edge of the prairie and was amazed at the fields.

Near by is the more well known prairie - Mima Mounds. It is a lovely place to walk through these strange mounds that no one really understands. Was it a glacier? An earthquake? Gophers? May is a wonderful time to visit since the mounds are tinged in blue with camas and violets but anytime is a good time to visit and contemplate the mystery.

Glacial Heritage Preserve

Camas blue hills

Camassia and Lomatium
Camas and Lomatium

Camas - Camassia quamash

Glacial Heritage Preserve
Fritillaria affinis
Chocolate lily - Fritillaria affinis

Armeria maritima
Sea thrift - Armeria maritima

Camassia leichtlinii

Glacial Heritage Preserve

May 14, 2010

Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Garden
"Eagle" by Alexander Calder at the Olympic Sculpture Garden along the Seattle Waterfront

The Olympic Sculpture Park opened in the Winter of 2007. I was very excited when it opened. The area where it is located is one of my favorite vistas in Seattle. Located at the end of the waterfront near Pier 70 and at the beginning of Myrtle Edwards Park, it has always been an outstanding location for views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

I arrived in Seattle in the mid-70's and my first job was working in a pathology lab in the Denny Regrade area just up from where the garden is located today. Our building had stunning vistas out over Elliott Bay. Ferries seem to glide across the water. On blustery days, the wind would whip up white caps while we were secure in our offices. Myrtle Edwards Park was located just about 4 blocks down from work. Later, when I worked on Elliott Way, I would walk from the Magnolia Bridge to Pier 70. It was a contrast of the working soul from the grain elevators which shipped out the wheat from Eastern Washington to Asia to the sea of Japanese import cars waiting to be transported down the West Coast.

Several Microsoft and other software professionals had a vision. A sculpture garden to rival the view. They banded together and slowly created this extension of the Seattle Art Museum devoted to sculpture and native plants.

I had visited the garden right after it opened and loved the mixture of art and native plants. I made one more visit the following year. I had intended to return but through layoffs and changes, I never made it back.

I had a chance to return last Friday on a beautiful sunny May day. How it has grown! I parked nearby on Western Avenue and entered the garden through the Aspen Grove. The leaves were quivering in the gentle wind. The white bark provided a contrast to the stark black sculptures scattered through the grove.

I exited the grove and walked over the Seattle Cloud Cover Glass Bridge down to the waterfront. The bridge to the water passes by Schubert Sonata by Mark di Suvero and Love & Loss by Roy McMakin. I continued into Myrtle Edwards Park pathway. I sat among the daisies and let the air gently blow through my hair. The Olympics were in the distance, the PI globe turned behind me while joggers ran by.

I returned to the park and the Z path. The orange steel "Eagle" sculpture by Calder towered above the rail tracks and meadows. The path curved back to the skyline of Seattle. I took one of the side paths through the dogwoods covered with ivory colored blossoms to the rusty undulating steel sculptures of "Wake" by Richard Serra . I love walking through the steel canyons with the "Eagle" and Space Needle peeking above.

The park is free and open to the public. On the warm day, joggers, school children, sun lovers, mothers and senior all enjoyed the art, native plants and gorgeous sea views. Highly recommended.

Olympic Sculpture Garden
"Stinger" by Tony Smith

Olympic Sculpture Garden
"Typewriter Eraser" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden
Waterfront by park

Olympic Sculpture Garden
Myrtle Edwards Park

Olympic Sculpture Garden
Seattle Skyline and Olympic Sculpture Park Shoreline Park

Olympic Sculpture Garden
PI Globe from Myrtle Edwards Park

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden
"The Wake" by Richard Serra

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Seattle Things To Do

June 2, 2010

PowellsWood Garden

PowellsWood Garden

I finally had a chance to visit PowellsWood Garden in Federal Way. This is a relatively new garden. It has started to be open to the public more frequently than a few special days. There was a special open house on during the Federal Way's Buds & Bloom Festival on Mothers Day. It was warm and sunny so I headed south to take a look.

The garden is amazing. The Powells purchased the land in 1992 and started turning what was previously a dumping ground into a spectacular 2 acre urban garden. Much of the early years were spent restoring the soil polluted from the years of dumping. Once the soil was restored, the plantings began.

Today there are 8 different garden 'rooms'. You enter with the bright entry garden which has a tropical feel. Then you move to the entry overlooking the perennial borders. The stairway is absolutely stunning. I loved the large leafed petasites and hostas on one side and ferns and rhododendrons on the other. Meandering on, you come along a stream lined with ligularias and a pond. Next are the shade and woodland gardens which take advantage of the towering Douglas fir trees. Circling back, you move into the Spring garden lined with flowering cherries. These were finished blooming but I could image what a cloud of blossoms they were in the spring. The final room is the new House Garden which I loved. It used lots of interesting combination of dark foliage and hot yellow and orange flowers.

I really want to return and see how the beds progress through the summer. They are participating in the Garden Conservancy's "Open Days" Tour on June 12th. They are also open Tues - Saturday 10am - 3pm. For more information - see the PowellsWood website.

PowellsWood Garden

PowellsWood Garden
Petasites japonicus

PowellsWood Garden
Hosta

PowellsWood Garden
Stairway to Perennial Border Garden

PowellsWood Garden

PowellsWood Garden
Perennial Border area

PowellsWood Garden
Cherries leafing out in the Spring Garden

PowellsWood Garden
House Garden

PowellsWood Garden


August 27, 2010

Meadowdale Park

Meadowdale Park

I am back in training. We want to see the silversword in its native habitat so that means we have to hike down into the crater of Haleakala on Maui. I am not certain yet what hike we plan to do - Sliding Sands or Halemalu'u. Sliding Sands definitely looks to be an easier hike. Both start at the crater edge which is about 8,000 ft and descend about 1500 to 2000 feet into the crater.

I need to get in shape to be able to do the hike so I've started training. I'm starting out rather easy with a local hike - Meadowdale Park.

I normally use this park in the winter since it is a great place to go off season but since it is so close, I am using it as a training hike. It is a 2.2 mile round trip with a 450 elevation gain. It is good to trail to start.

I hiked the trail this week before the weather turned. I loved the filtered light from the alders and the babbling stream. It was a clear crisp day when I reached the beach. The Olympics were in full view. I was intrigued by the two fishermen along the shore where the stream emptied into the sound. The tide was low and the old fishing pier north of the beach was exposed so I walked along the beach. Several Asian women were harvesting seaweed along the rocks. Whidbey Island peaked through the pier blocks under the dock. It was a little spooky hearing the footsteps above.

I meandered back and climbed up along trail of Lund Gulch. It is such a great resource to have such a wonderful open space to explore. Hopefully it will do the trick and get me in shape for Haleakala. Here is a wonderful trip report of the Halemalu'u trail.

Haleakala from 14ers.com



Meadowdale Park
Just leaving the parking lot and starting the decent into Lunds Gulch

Meadowdale Park
Dappled summer sunlight along the trail

Meadowdale Park
Alders climb high above the trail

Meadowdale Park
Sword ferns shadow the trail

Meadowdale Park
Along the rocky beach

Meadowdale Park
Old fishing pier - now a beach camp

Meadowdale Park
Peaking under the pier toward Whidbey Island

Meadowdale Park
Trains rumble by on their way to Canada

Meadowdale Park
Late Summer day along the Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains in the distance

Meadowdale Park
End of Summer - the chill is in the air


October 27, 2010

Edmonds Walks

Edmonds Waterfront on a Fall Day

We are planning on hiking into the crater at Haleakala on Maui. This is not going to be easy. First off - the altitude. The trail starts at visitors center which is at 9774 ft. The hike down will take us to about 8400ft. Coming back up is going to be a gruel - both with the thin air but also the slippery sliding pumice. Also no shade.

I've been walking and hiking to get in shape. We've been able to do 3 hike2 (one a week) in October. These have been usually 5 miles with about 1500 ft gain - just about what we plan on doing.

I've also been walking around the Edmonds bowl. Usually I walk along the waterfront which is flat but I've switch to going up towards the top of the crest above Edmonds. I have been using MapMyWalk website to get ideas, plan my walk and measure my mileage. It has been a great tool. Today I did a four mile walk that I found from the suggested walks. It was a beautiful day. I started downtown - parked right across from Rick Steves and the walked over to Walnut and the up to Yost Park. Then turn south and then back to down to the sound on Pine. The view was gorgeous. The Olympics were all dusted with snow. We had an early storm and it brought snow to all the mountains. Mt Rainier where I hiked last week had 18 inches! How quickly it changes.

I walked all the way to the waterfront where I was greeted with the beautiful scene in the picture above. I walked along the marina and then back up to my car. It took me an hour and half. Not great but a good workout. And I got about 400 ft elevation workout on the way up.

October 29, 2010

Another great Fall walk

Fall Walk in Edmonds WA

Another break in the weather. The clouds cleared off and sun came out. I went for a walk again using the same route. It is an excellent workout with just the right amount of uphill, downhill and level. It continues to take me about 1 1/2 hours to do four miles. Not great but it will do.

Fall Walk in Edmonds WA
Heading downhill - I will walk all the way to the waterfront below the building in the center

Fall Walk in Edmonds WA
House all decorated for Halloween

Fall Walk in Edmonds WA
Olympic Beach - a different angle - I do like the previous shot better

Fall Walk in Edmonds WA
End of the Marina - The beautiful Puget Sound - time to head back to the car

November 21, 2010

Snow .... and a Blue Moon

First Snow of Winter 2010

November and December are always unpredictable. It always keeps G on edge. When will the first frost happen? How long will it freeze? Will it snow? How many days of rain? The weather forecasters predict a colder and wetter year than normal for the Pacific Northwest. It started today. Snow arrived around 10am but fortunately it did not stick around. It never got warmer than 36 degrees but that was fine. I spent the day cooking.

But tonight, the clouds have parted, the sky is clear and the thermometer is dropping. It is 30 degrees at 7pm. It will probably get down to the mid 20's. But the moon has come out. Tonight is a blue moon. I thought a blue moon is the second full moon in a month but there are actually two definitions. The second definition is the third full moon of a four moon season.


"The Old Farmer’s Almanac defined a Blue Moon as an extra full moon that occurred in a season. One season – winter, spring, fall, summer – typically has three full moons. If a season has four full moons, then the third full moon may be called a Blue Moon."
- What makes November full moon a blue moon?

I have never heard that before. I've only heard the more recent definition of the 2nd full moon in a month. No matter what the definition - it is beautiful.

November Blue Moon


Here's one of my favorite versions of the song "Blue Moon" - Cowboy Junkies


December 23, 2010

Christmas Lights at the Edmonds Yacht Club

It was a rain-free night so we decided to take the opportunity to check out the lights in Edmonds. Our main destination was the Edmonds Yacht Club and the public docks just next to Anthony's restaurant. The night was perfect for a walk and the lights were beautiful.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

January 1, 2011

New Years Day at the Edmonds Waterfront

Edmonds Ferry

It has been cold - very cold. But we bundled up to take a New Years Day walk. The temperature started at 19 degrees but by noon it was almost up to 32 degrees. Still cold enough for me to put on two layers of thermal underware and a thick sweater.

We headed down to the waterfront to do our usual walk along Sunset Avenue and then along the waterfront by the marina. We had noticed something was going on when we passed by Daphnes. There was quite a crowd several dressed in white robes.

We realized that there was a polar bear swim in Edmonds. We did not know if it had already happened or not. We parked and went on our walk.

The day was crisp and clear. The snow covered Olympics glistened in the distance. The grasses were dusted with white frost. We were returning and almost to the ferry dock when we heard a large cheer. It was 1pm. It must be the plunge.

We rushed to the beach near the ferry dock and it was mostly over. Everyone was milling along the shore and several people were toweling off. A few late comers plunged in screaming the whole way. We noticed several people in white robes with Edmonds Uplift Society embroidered on the back. The Society has been doing the plunge for the past four years and is headquartered at Daphnes - Edmonds Uplife Society. What a fun and crazy idea.

Mt Baker
Mt Baker in the distance

Edmonds Polar Bear Plunge
Taking the Plunge

Edmonds Polar Bear Plunge
Crowd at Brackett's Landing in Edmonds for the Polar Bear Plunge

May 19, 2011

May Minus Tides

Edmonds Marina Park at a May Minus Tide

I love the minus tides that happen every year in May and June. If I am lucky, they will happen on a day when I am off work and the weather is good. You never know - especially this year. But everything aligned and this week was warm and sunny. And it was minus tide time.

I happened to have to work late on Thursday. Part of my job is to cover Asia-Pacific. So when my co-worker in Sydney takes a day off, I work a late shift - 3:30pm to 12:00am. It can be tough especially switching between my normal 10-6pm shift and the late shift. I had to cover for him on Thursday so I decided to make the most of it.

First I headed to the Edmonds Marina to have lunch at Anthony's . I has seating outside along my walk path. I got there about 11:45 and got a nice table overlooking the Marina. It was a little cool but not bad. I had the Blue Plate special which was scampi and a nice cold Weise beer from Pike Brewery.

I decided to walk a bit after lunch and headed towards Marina Park. The Olympic Mountains were visible in the distance and still dappled in snow. As I crossed over the bridge to the park, I saw how far out the tide was and remembered it was Minus tide week. WooHooo.

I headed out to the tide flats. There is a dog off-leash area next to the park and all the dog owners were taking advantage of the extra beach area. The dogs were having so much fun running, splashing, sniffing and digging in the sand. There were also several groups of young children - probably part of a pre-school splashing through the tide pools in brightly covered rubber boots.

I walked and walked - slipping and sliding over the eel grass and ribbon seaweek. The sun was warm, the air salty - the day perfect! I still had to go to work but it was so much easier after having spent the day at the beach.

Minus Tide in Edmonds

Minus Tide in Edmonds

Minus Tide in Edmonds

Minus Tide in Edmonds

Minus Tide in Edmonds

Minus Tide in Edmonds
Moon Snail

Minus Tide in Edmonds
Starfish and seaweed

Minus Tide in Edmonds
A moon snail egg casing (looks like a tire) and seaweed

May 21, 2011

Bloedel Reserve - Part 1


I don't know why it took us so long to visit Bloedel Reserve. Maybe because it is on Bainbridge Island and a ferry ride away. Maybe we did not like you previously had to reserve a visit. We known of the garden for many years but just never made the time to visit.

We finally made a point to visit this year during their open garden and plant sale in late April. Of course, the day was cold and dark but it did not stop of from enjoying the garden. The garden is the estate of Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Prentice was the head of the Canadian timber company McMillan Bloedel. They were the British Columbia equivalent of Weyerhaeuser until they were bought out by Weyerhaeuser in 1999. Prentice retired in 1952 and moved to the property that they had purchased on Bainbridge Island where they spent over 30 years creating the reserve.

It is quite amazing. It is over 150 acres which are broken into several different section or gardens. One of the main gardens is the Japanese Garden which includes a lovely guest house, zen garden and pond. The Japanese garden was created by Fujitaro Kubota who also created Kubota Gardens. There is also a moss garden. Who knew moss could be so beautiful. It feels wild but controlled. The path through the moss garden leads to the lovely reflection pond. It was cold and dreary but you could imagine a summery garden party within the walls of yew. The paths intertwine and meander to the house or out to the wild bogs and ponds on the edge.

Here are some pictures of these sections of the garden. I will do another post showing the waterfall and birch gardens. We hope to enjoy it again in another season.

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Start of the moss garden

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Moss and stones and trees and snags give the garden a wild NW feel

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Skunk cabbage along the creek

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Reflecting Pool

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Entrance to Zen and Japanese Garden

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Zen Garden and Guest House

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Pool and garden below guest house

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Looking back to guest house

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
One of the magnificent pink Magnolia in bloom

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
The Estate House

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Boardwalk across the marsh

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Along the path lined with Skunk Cabbage to the bird watching area

Bloedel Reserve - Bainbridge Island
Edges of the reserve

May 23, 2011

Bloedel Reserve - Part 2

Bloedel Reserve

Continuing with photos of springtime at Bloedel Reserve. My favorite area was just off the main estate house. Following down the waterfall, the path leads us to the Birch Garden and Rhododendron glen. It was a wonderland of wood land plants. Later in the spring the Rhododendrons and hydrangea bloom with woodland orchids.

Bloedel Reserve
Himalayan Birch line the path

Bloedel Reserve
Birch Glen

Bloedel Reserve - Beesia deltophylla
Beesia deltophylla - I love these leaves

Bloedel Reserve - Podophyllum pleianthum
Podophyllum pleianthum - Mayapple

Bloedel Reserve - Erythronium revolutum
Local Pink fawn lily - Erthyronium revolutum

Bloedel Reserve - Trillium sessile
Not our west coast trillium - Trillium sissile from the east coast

January 10, 2012

Will it be an early spring?

January along the Edmonds Marina

This has been a very mild winter. Temperatures and rainfall have been average but we have not any major freezes and snow. Winter has really just gotten started but we usually have some significant freezes or long periods of cold but not so far this year.

We went for a walk this morning along the Edmonds waterfront and we were both surprised to see some signs of spring. Witch hazel and camellias were in bloom. I have been seeing camellias since Christmas. It is so different from last year and the witch hazel was not blooming until almost February. But looking back two years - we are right on schedule.

Let's hope it continues to be mild.

January along the Edmonds Marina
Witch Hazel

January along the Edmonds Marina
Camellia trained along the fence

January along the Edmonds Marina

Flag at half mast for Mt. Rainier ranger
Flag at half-mast in memory of the ranger who was killed at Mt. Rainier on New Years Day

January along the Edmonds Marina
USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier arriving in Puget Sound

January along the Edmonds Marina
Dock were the fire occured on Dec 30th

January 16, 2012

January Snow

First Snow in Edmonds WA

Okay... okay... I will take the blame. I should not have written about Spring in my previous post. Yes, I know... I was tempting the Fates and I jinked us. Snow arrived in the Puget Sound area on Saturday. The Arctic cold that had been shy and staying up in the Northern Territories and Alaska decided to spread out and finally swung down to the northern US.

It started on Saturday. We went out for our weekly errands and it started coming down fast and big flaked. Always a sign that it is not that cold. It was so funny at the store. It was suddenly empty - everyone was rushing to get checked out and home. The Civic was fine on the few hills home.

Sunday we had thought about going out to the movies and see "The Artist" but we decided to stay home and we were a couple of couch and internet potatoes. G watched the football games and later we watched the first episode of Downton Abbey. Dinner was a warming sweet potato enchilada casserole.

I have Monday off for Martin Luther King Day (gotta love union contracts). I decided to head out for a walk around the neighborhood. It was surprising quiet for a Monday. The temperature was just above freezing so the streets were slushy but still slick. I watched my balance. Not much going on a few snow ball fights and a couple of interesting snow people. The wind was slightly biting but refreshing.

Here are few pictures from my walk and a tune from Fleet Foxes which were perfect tune for a snowy walk.

First Snow in Edmonds WA
Around the corner - other people were also out for a walk

First Snow in Edmonds
A two headed snowman

First Snow in Edmonds WA
I loved the humor in this snow woman

First Snow in Edmonds WA
Chase Lake which is just behind our house

First Snow in Edmonds WA

First Snow in Edmonds WA
The lake is just barely hardening in a freeze and the ducks were walking on the frozen lake

First Snow in Edmonds WA
Another view of Chase Lake

Here is one of my favorite tunes while out for a walk

March 17, 2012

Spring Birding in the backyard

March Backyard Birdlife

I love the birds that visit our garden in the Spring. Today was one of those busy bird days. We had visits from everyone. The Robins have been coming through the yard in packs - cocking their head from side to side listening for worms. Their cousins the varied thrush has been kicking through the bird seed detritus looking for grubs and seeds. The suet cakes have been busy. Mr and Mrs Downy woodpecker have visited several times along with their cousins the Northern Flicker. I had to chase one off twiss yesterday. He kept drilling on the side of the house. We have been really happy to see Mr. and Mrs Mallard Duck fly in the past couple of days. She must be getting ready to lay her eggs. He is so attentive over her but I know once she is one the nest he will leave. And of course, the usual squirrel traffic.

Here's some pictures:

March Backyard Birdlife
Female Downy woodpecker

March Backyard Birdlife
Male Downy woodpecker with his brilliant red head patch

March Backyard Birdlife
Female Northern Flicker

March Backyard Birdlife
Varied Thrush

March Backyard Birdlife
Finches at the feeder

March Backyard Birdlife
Bushtits

March Backyard Birdlife
Male Mallard - on alert

March Backyard Birdlife
Every present Squirrels

Related Post: Spring Menagerie April 2009

April 27, 2012

Neighborhood walk and park

Neighborhood Park

I’ve started to try to walk regularly. I have several routes that I do in my neighborhood - typically going west from my house. A couple of weeks ago, I wanted a change so I went east. This leads to the busy state route and the houses are a little more run down but I wanted to explore a park that we are always driving by.

It was an elementary school when we first moved in the neighborhood about 25 years ago. It was closed sometime after that because they had found asbestos in the building. It was one of the low single storied schools built in the 60’s when the dangers of asbestos was not known. It stood abandoned for many years until they got the funding to tear it down and clean the site. A couple of years ago, they dug up the field to build an underground storm drainage system. Let’s just say the park hasn’t appealed to me.

But I got curious lately. It is a huge park, over a block. There are two play fields; one a baseball field and the other had been used for soccer. Off in one corner is a large acre or more stand of forest.

I set off to explore it and ended up loving it. I walk around the perimeter of the fields and through the woods. It is not heavily used but there usually is someone in the park. Many neighbors use it as a dog park. I love to watch the dogs chase balls and get their exercise. Other times, the a little league baseball team is practicing batting and fielding. Young high school lovers are smooching in the forest. I also enjoy standing in the middle and having a view over the neighborhood. It isn’t very scenic – the roof tops of a storage company or a church but I love to see the open sky and horizon.

I also discovered that if I add a couple more blocks on, I can do a little bit of hill climbing. We live towards the high point in the area and our water district has a large water tower at the top. I can actually do about 100ft elevation gain in the short mile and half. Combine that with a weekend walk from the waterfront up to get about 300ft gain and it can start to get me in shape.
By the way – I love the site Mapmywalk. It is perfect for charting my distance, showing me the elevation gain and keeping a calendar of my walks.

Here are a few pictures of the park.

Neighborhood Park

Neighborhood Park

Neighborhood Park

Neighborhood Park

Neighborhood Park

Neighborhood Park
Fallen blossoms of Kwanzan variety of cherries

Neighborhood Park


November 6, 2012

Birding at the Edmonds Marina

Edmonds Marina Birds

We have made walking part of our daily routine. G suggested it back in September because I was complaining how out of shape I felt. I have been walking off and on in the neighborhood but nothing consistent. G is off work for the winter and suggested that we start doing a short walk in the morning.

We have been mainly going to the Edmonds Marina waterfront. We start usually at Marina Park which is great beach and dog park and then walk up to the Ferry dock. It is about a 1 1/2 mile walk and it usually takes us about 30 minutes.

I love the vistas that you have across the sound, watching the ferry glide into dock and even the occasional train that passes by. The other great thing about the walk is the ability to learn and observe the bird life.

We enjoyed watching a clutch of seagulls in July. We first spotted them on the roof of the trailer for the dry dock boat lift. The parents had made a nest on one end and we spotted them just after July 4th. We watched them weekly for about 6 weeks until they fledged. They still stuck around the pier near the boat launch for a couple more weeks before we no longer saw them. Sometimes we'll see a squawking young seagull and wonder if it was the runt that stuck around.

We also often see blue herons in the shallow water on low tide. Today the tide was very high and he was actually up on the beach. I was able to get up kinda close and snap a picture with our pocket camera. Sometimes we also see them on the roofs.

We also love the distinctive cry of the Kingfisher. He darts from the tops of the sailboats around and down into the shallow water. He's fast and I haven't yet gotten his picture.

Now that it is fall, there are more different water birds that are passing through. We saw some grebes this morning along with some other interesting ducks. We're starting to take our binoculars along to do a little viewing along with the walk.

Edmonds Marina
Mom Seagull on the test early in July 2012

Edmonds Marina Birds
Just about 2 week old seagull chicks - July 2012

Edmonds Marina
Just about 1 month old - Aug 2012
The boat loaders put a plastic crate up to help protect the babies

Edmonds Marina
Strutting their stuff at about 1 month old

Edmonds Marina Birds

Edmonds Marina Birds

Edmonds Marina Birds

November 9, 2012

Favorite Winter Walks in the Seattle Area: Richmond Beach

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

In addition to the Edmonds Marina, we are walking at the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park. We have used this park for training, exercise, picnics and enjoying the outdoors for over10 years. It has a little bit of everything.

G climbed Mt. Rainier in July 2003. We started in January and we were hiking at least once a week. We also used the stairs at Richmond Beach to train. He would take his backpack and load it up with some weight - typically milk jugs filled with water and then climb the stairs in circuit training. He started doing 10 reps of the stairs and built up to almost 20. I usually went along and did 5 or so reps - without a pack of course. In 2003, the stairs were not well maintained. Half of the course up the hill was through sand and the stairs typically were covered with sand so that at times each rise was almost covered with sand. But much has changed in 10 years. The whole path up the hill is now a sidewalk and the stairs are well maintained. Last year, Shoreline encouraged citizens to get in shape on the hill. There is a sign at the bottom that says there are 188 to the top and a new stair counter similar to an abacus at the top to count your reps.

In addition to the stairs, there is a bluff walk that is about 1/2 mile long. The vistas across the wide open Puget Sound to Kitsap Penisula are a joy. I love walking this path especially in the winter when the days are clear and crisp but it is great all times of the year.

We climbed the stairs and walked the bluff today. It was a beautiful November day. We also stopped at the Reflex Solaris art work to check the time. You can be your own sundial!

Here are pictures of today's walk and links to two other posts on the park.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Richmond Beach Winter Bonfire

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
View from the Bluffs

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Lone Madrona tree at top the bluff

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Stair Counter

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Going Down... view from the top

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
188 stairs up from this point

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Let's check the time

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
In November - it looks to be almost 1:00 - that it is!

November 16, 2012

Fall Vistors to the Backyard

Fall vistors to the backyard
Flicker

The forecast has been for rain. Rain is always unusual in Seattle. Typically it is drizzle or showers. Rain in the forecast means it will be a constant heavy downpour. Sometimes the storm comes up from Hawaii and we call them a pineapple express. But this one is coming due west.

We went out to fill the birdfeeds earlier this afternoon. I think the birds knew something is coming. Suddenly we had flocks of different larger birds in the yard. First to arrive were the pine siskins. They swarmed the feeder and gathered below in a feeding frenzy from the dropped seed. We could see other larger flocks of birds and soon the thrushes arrive and started digging through the leaf litter. One or two blue jays flew in. The siskins flew off and were replaced with a red wing black bird - a first for our yard. The startlings in their winter coat also arrived and started for the suet until the Flickers chased them off.

Then the big guy arrived - the pileated woodpecker. All the other birds gave him room while he pounded the suet.

Soon it quieted as the afternoon darkened. The rain is here now. I hope they have stocked up for storm.

Fall vistors to the backyard
She's really waiting for the peanuts

Fall vistors to the backyard
Pine Siskins at the feeder

Fall vistors to the backyard
And gathered below

Fall vistors to the backyard
Blue Jay at the deck feeder

Fall vistors to the backyard
Thrush among the leaf litter

Fall vistors to the backyard
Red Wing Blackbird at the feeder.

Fall vistors to the backyard
Pileated Woodpecker working over the suet

Fall vistors to the backyard
The woodpecker can barely fit on the suet cage

November 17, 2012

September Harvest Moon

Full moon from Edmonds Pier - September 2011
Sunset at the Edmonds Pier

I have been going through my photos looking for items for our annual Christmas Card and Calendars. I'm a little uninspired this year. G and I have both been sick the past week. It is partially due to our schedule change with me working the evening but we do also traditionally get sick towards the end of October beginning of November. G got sick about a week and half ago and is just now starting to get better. I got sick just about a week ago. I thought I was going to be fine but I went out for a run one cold day and I think that stressed my immune system.

We have been home bound so I have been reviewing photos. I came across these neat photos of the harvest moon rise that I took in September 2011. Did you know that the harvest moon is the moon rise closest to the beginning of Fall or the autumn equinox. It is named Harvest Moon because it usually rises just about at sunset and allowed farmers who were working late in their fields to continue to work and bring in the harvest. It happens between the early part of September and into mid-October. Here is a great article on Harvest moon.

In 2011, the harvest moon occured in September. It was one of those wonderful warm and clear September nights in the Puget Sound region. We raced down to the Edmonds Fishing Pier and I was able to get a series of shots of the moon rising.

Full moon from Edmonds Pier - September 2011
Sunset reflected in the windows of the Ferry

Full moon from Edmonds Pier - September 2011
To the West - the sun is setting

Full moon from Edmonds Pier - September 2011
To the East - the moon is rising

Full moon from Edmonds Pier - September 2011

Full moon from Edmonds Pier - September 2011

November 27, 2012

Snowy Owl Returns

Snowy Owl

We are home and trying to get back into our routine of walking. We stopped for about two weeks while G and I have had colds. We did the Marina walk today. G has been bringing along the binoculars and camera just so we can check out the birds.

I had seen a posting from a local business of a snowy owl that was seen on a roof top in Edmonds. Last year was a snowy owl irruption. Every 4-5 years, young owls travel south for food. They typically eat lemmings and other small rodents. If their food supply dwindles the young owls travel farther than typical to look for food. There were many seen last year even within the city limits. We saw one on a roof top and also traveled to Nisqually delta. I did not expect them to return this year but they have been seen again at the usual spots and also in the city limits. When G and I started our walk - we jokingly said to each other - may be we'll see the owl.

We were heading back and I suggested walking out on the Edmonds Pier to check out the poster of season birds. We noticed that it was a little more crowded than usual and then I noticed several cameras set up. Hmmm... there must be an interesting bird. We thought at first it was a Kingfisher or maybe a seabird until I spotted the white lump on the jetty rocks. It was the snowy owl! We talked to some of the birders and they said he had been there the previous day also. My luck - I did not have the memory card in my camera so no photos. But I'll share a few of Nisqually Delta and the snowy we saw last year. We're hoping he'll be there again tomorrow.

Barns at Nisqually
Twin barns at Nisqually NWR

Pair of Eagles
Bald Eagles

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl watching out towards the water

February 15, 2013

Seattle's oldest bar

Jules Maes Bar in Seattle

Do you ever go to Costco and end up buying something that you had not planned? We did about a month ago. G had mentioned a while back that maybe it was time for a new TV. We bought our last TV - a 32" flat screen Sony back in 2006. It was pretty pricey back then but we've never really been totally happy with it. Recently the 32" just wasn't big enough - we'd drag one of the sofas closer so we could have a better experience while watching movies.

We went on our routine Costco run to pick up the usual, apples, peanuts, olive oil, fruit, shrimp. But it was a couple of weeks before Superbowl and I knew TVs were one sale so I decided to cruise the selection. We hadn't talked about it so I started looking at the 42" backlit LED which were pretty cheap. I really wanted a Sharp Aquos but I already knew that the smallest model that they made was like 60" - too large. But G surprised me and said he wanted something around 50". Whoa. Let's move up to the front were the bigger TVs were located.

One stood out - a 50" Samsung Plasma. I know... I know... Plasma is probably like betamax or 8 track - the better technology that will probably become obsolete soon. But we loved the way the blacks really stood out and it was on special just less than $700 with the discount.

So we went home and did some research. For a 'bargain' TV, it was really highly recommended. We were getting sold but now came the challenge of how to get it home in our Honda. G finally decided we could probably bungee down the trunk and carry it home because it wouldn't fit in the back seat.

We bought it and we love it! It has a much better picture (and larger). We had a little challenge setting it up but we got some advice at a different way to cable it and we were set.

This week G remarked... I wonder if there is a place to recycle the Styro foam that the TV was packed in. I went to work searching on Google and found Styro Recycle in Renton. Time for a trip to South Seattle. I wanted to make it worth while so we dug out all our old computer electronic boxes from the past 10 years that were in our crawl space and loaded up the back seat. We stuffed it full. We also had a very ancient Windows 3.11 computer that we bought back in 1996 that I had wiped clean recently. I found a place in Renton that recycled for free. It was our day to help the earth.

To reward ourselves, I also wanted to have lunch and a brew. My friend E mentioned that she enjoyed Jules Maes in Georgetown. Georgetown neighborhood is just north of Boeing Field and is one of the oldest areas in Seattle. For a long time, it has been run down, abandoned area where small businesses have been located. But recently, a lot of young people have been moving there attracted to the low costs and funky atmosphere. A lot of the neighborhoods that used to attract this alternative crowd have now gentrified.

It turns out that Jules Maes is the oldest bar in Seattle. It opened in 1888. There is even a rumor of a ghost or two. It has a good pub food menu and an excellent brew list from the local Georgetown breweries. G had a falafel burger with tater tots and I had a lamb burger. We really enjoyed the Lucille IPA from near by Georgetown Brewery.

I mapped out a route to the recycle stops, IKEA, the Macadam Winter Garden and Jules Maes. The route took us through several sections of South Seattle that we had not been in even after 35 years. Plus the day was gorgeous - Sunny - over 50 degrees. A local road trip, early spring cleaning and good beer.

Recycle Styrofoam
Back seat stuffed with styrofoam and packing peanuts

Recycle Styrofoam
V&G Styro Recycle

Georgetown - Seattle
Georgetown

Georgetown - Seattle

Jules Maes Bar in Seattle
The bar at Jules Maes

Jules Maes Bar in Seattle
Falafel burger with tater tots

Jules Maes Bar in Seattle
Lamb Burger
Jules Maes Bar in Seattle
Two Lucille IPA from Georgetown Brewery

February 18, 2013

Winter in the Aboretum

Witt Winter Garden

Winter is the time to slow down and savor your garden. Select plants can enhance and bring interest into the garden in winter time. One of the best places to see what you can do with your garden in the winter is to visit the Witt Winter Garden in the University of Washington Botanical Garden.

Deciduous trees will be leafless but the shape and bark are what are interesting in a Winter garden. Tress such as Stewartia, Birch, and Cherry have stunning bark. Twigs of the dogwood can brighten the garden with their fire or sunny yellow twigs. The bark of Stewartia provide an interesting contrast to small early blooming bulbs. Birches with their peeling paper bark or white can brighten a garden on a gray day. Also look for at the branches for interesting angles to bring structure. A walk around the garden will give you lots of ideas.

Evergreens bring a variety of shapes and even some color to the garden. The gray tassels of the Garrya give the garden a festive appeal. Spiky leaves of Sarcococca ruscifolia add contrast along with their sweet scent. The glossy leaves of camellias will contrast to their pink and white buds.

The early blooming trees and scrubs are the most charming. Their lovely sweet scent attracts the insects that brave the cold. The largest and showiest are the witch hazel. They come in many shapes from a low spreading branched shrub to a large tree. The spidery yellow or red blossoms create a cloud of transparent color in the garden. The scent can be intoxicating with tones of spice and perfume. Sarcococca with its tiny blossom can engulf the garden with scent especially when the sun peaks out between the clouds. Winter sweet is less known and has charming blooms. Other blooming scrubs are daphnes, camellias and viburnums

On the ground, cyclamen coum is the early bloomer with their cheery pink blossoms peaking above their heart shaped leaves. White and green Snowdrop bells are charmers. Hellebore bring a lot of interest to the garden with a wide range of chartreuse, tan and maroon shades along with their unusual shaped flowers, serrated leaves and interesting seed pods.

There is a lot to see and contemplate in a winter garden. Slow down and let its magic brighten your February.

Previous posts on Witt Winter Garden:

Winter 2010
Winter 2007

Sinewy Shrubs
Sinewy Shrubs
Birch trunk
Birch Trunk
Hamamelis - Witt Winter Garden
Hamamelis
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Ruby Glow'
Hamamelis x intermedia "Ruby Glow"
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida
Cornus stolonifera flaviramea
ornus stolonifera flaviramea
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’
Green pathway
Green Pathway
Davidia involucrata
Davidia involucrata
Prunus serrula
Prunus serrula
Acer davidii  - Snakebark maple
Acer davidii - Snakebark maple
Cyclamen coum below Stewartia
Cyclamen coum below Stewartia
Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet
Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet

February 19, 2013

Macadam Winter Garden

Macadam Winter Garden

Another garden designed specifically to highlight the Winter season is the Macadam Winter Garden in Tukwila. It is a relatively new garden planted in 2007. We have been visiting the past couple of years and it has really started to come of age. It is not large. The highlights are the shrubs and trees along with a small stream lined with large grasses. Don't miss the beautiful Amelanchier. witch hazels, the birches and grasses. It can be a little hard to find but don't miss it.


Macadam Winter Garden Macadam Winter Garden
Macadam Winter Garden Macadam Winter Garden
Macadam Winter Garden Macadam Winter Garden
Macadam Winter Garden Macadam Winter Garden

March 15, 2013

Annual Skagit Birding Trip

Skagit Birding

Every year we try to make one or two trips in the winter up to the Skagit Delta. It is an excellent area to bird in the winter. Fir Island is the prime spot for viewing Snow Geese while the Samish Flats are great for raptors and owls. You never know for certain what you will see. Some days it will be a bust with no bird. Other times it can be an amazing experience.

We headed up Sunday with our friend. We got a late start. It was cold and rain was threatening. The wind was biting no matter how well we bundled up. Our first stop was at the Hayden reserve just outside of Conway. We had only saw a group of herons and a juvenile eagle.

We decided to head on up to Samish Flats to see what else we could find when we saw a flock of snow geese off in the distance. We turned and headed towards the field. They were on both sides of Maupin road. We stopped and got out off the car. It was so amazing. More and more flocks were flying over head to join with the others feeding. There is something just magical hearing the honk and whosh of the wings over head.

Something spooked them and the whole flock took off in cacophony of sound. The initial rush of all the wings in motion was like the sound of gas lighting.

We headed back to the car to warm up and traveled north. I had heard that there were some rough legged hawks spotted on Sullivan Road and we found them. They were gorgeous to view on the fence posts. We even saw a meadow lark.

We headed for our final stop - West 90. The fields were too muddy and we could see now owls flying over the fields. We decided to call it a day and headed for a beer at Porterhouse in Mount Vernon.

Skagit Birding
Great Blue Heron on Fir Island

Skagit Birding
Snow Geese

Skagit Birding

Skagit Birding

Skagit Birding

Skagit Birding

Skagit Birding
Rough legged Hawk

Skagit Birding

Previous Posts

February 2012
January 2010
January 2008

March 16, 2013

Big Ditch - Skagit County

Big Ditch

I was in junior high school during the summer of love. I was just young enough to be intrigued by the events but yet old enough to know what was happening. My mother used to drive my school friends and I to San Francisco. We loved to shop around Union Square, have lunch at Ghirardelli Square and enjoy the times. We also did a drive up Haight Avenue to see the ‘hippies’.

I remember being wide-eyed at the long haired boys and women in long flowing dresses. People were coming up to our car and giving us newspapers; you could hear the drums from the park and probably smell the MJ as the car drove slowly through the traffic. We were not the only ones out to see the hippies.

We did not have hippies at my school since it was primarily a minority school. I listened to Motown and Philly soul instead of the psychedelic music of the time. It wasn’t until later in high school that I secretly started listening to folk sounds of the early ‘70s.

But an aspect of the hippy life style always had an appeal to me. It was the idea of going out and living off the land. A commune did not really appeal to me but the idea of moving out of the city, growing your own vegetables, canning, going without power – basically what is called now – living off the grid. Our family had several friends who had moved out into the country and had farms. G and I also visited a friend of a friend who had moved up into the mountains in Oregon to work an abandoned gold mine. We visited in the summer when all was great but they told us about how they basically were cut off from the world for 6 months when the snow came. They only had generators for power and had to put up supplies since they couldn’t go to a store nearby for several months.

Living off the grid has always appealed to me. I am to afraid to do it but the desire and old dreams still live on. I think that is why the hunting cabins on Big Ditch along the Skagit Delta have always intrigued me.

We made our first trip to Big Ditch ages ago. It is located between Stanwood and Conway where the Skagit river delta meets the Puget Sound. The ditch is a long levee which protects a couple of low farms. It is a popular area for bird hunting in the winter. There is a path along the top of the levee - one side are the reed marshes bordering on the sound, the other side is a water filled slough that runs for about a mile almost to the Skagit River.
We have visited the area the past couple of years but never really walked out about a mile along the dike to the cabins as we did on our first visit. We had a sunny day in February and decided to visit the Ditch for a hike.

The parking lot was empty. That was not surprising. It was Friday and hunting season had closed. The gray skies were just starting to break up. But there were no birds. The field east of the ditch was devoid of birds. No raptors in the trees along the bank. We could hear one or two marsh wrens in the reeds and berry bushes but nothing else.

The sun was out and starting to warm when we reached the cabins about a mile from the parking lot. They are mostly built on stilts out over the marsh. There is no electricity to the area so one or two had solar panels and one had a wind mill. But of course – they were not without TV – one cabin had a Dish satellite dish. Each one is hodge-podge of different building materials. There were a few boats moored up on the river side and a dog barked his warning from one of the cabins. No other signs other than the dog.

I could feel the stirrings and remembering of the hippie life viewing them in the faint winter sun. What would it be like to spend a week there with little power? Would there be a wood stove to cook on? Or would it just be regular modern propane BBQ? Probably a couple of decades ago – there would be no phones – no power – no heat other than wood. Now cell phones connect you to family and the internet. Gas generators provide power for a satellite TV. And McDonald’s is just a 20 minute drive away in Stanwood. Oh well… I can still dream.

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

Big Ditch

March 17, 2013

Springtime in Ballard

Ballard Farmers Market

You probably know by now that Ballard is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle. It used to be a neighborhood known for senior citizens and Scandinavian families. Many families from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland settled in this area in the early 1900's to work at boatyards or as fishermen. The neighborhood has changed dramatically the past 5-10 years. Many young families and professionals have moved into the area because of its close proximity to downtown. The main street- Market Street- is now lined with modern apartments.

The Ballard Farmers Market is one of the year round farmers markets in Seattle. March is still a bit early for produce but the market always has an interesting mixture of farmers, food vendors, cheese and other stands to make for an entertaining day. It happens on Sundays.

The day was bright but windy. The stalls were mostly filled with greens (kale, mustards) but I found a few things of interest - bunches of lovely spring leeks for $2, a crotin of goat cheese, and lots of tempting sweets.

We also checked out the restaurants. Bastille is always popular for breakfast but the menu at Volterra has us planning a return trip soon.

Next stop was the Ballard Locks. We wanted to check out the gardens and the birds. The gardens were not as impressive as in the past. We wondered if the federal cutbacks were always affecting the upkeep. One of the locks was closed and we watched them cleaning and painting the interior. Along the side were an entertaining flock of goldeneye ducks. They were swimming in formation and diving down to eat the algae along the sides. We walked to the south side to see the nesting herons and watched the cormorants perch on the tops of the branches.

We headed off for a walk at Greenlake stopping first at Sunset Hill overlook. Gorgeous views of Shilshole Marina and the shipping lanes of Puget Sound.

Ballard Market
Ballard Farmers Market Ballard Farmers MarketBallard Farmers Market

Ballard Locks
Ballard Locks
Ballard Locks Ballard Locks
Ballard Locks Ballard Locks



The Gardens

Spring in the Gardens at Ballard Locks
Spring in the Gardens at Ballard Locks








Spring in the Gardens at Ballard Locks Spring in the Gardens at Ballard Locks

Spring in the Gardens at Ballard Locks
Spring in the Gardens at Ballard Locks


View from Sunset Hill

Sunset Hill - Ballard - Seattle

March 18, 2013

Greenlake blossoms

Greenlake Seattle

After visiting the Ballard Market and the Locks, we headed to Greenlake. We have been trying to walk daily since I spend most of my time sitting at the computer. It has been hard to get back into a routine since I have switched back to working 10-6pm. It was fine the first week but daylight savings really disrupted us.

We usually walk at the Edmonds waterfront or Richmond Beach. It takes about 1 hour to drive to the Marina, walk the 1.5 miles and return home. I need a little time to eat before starting work so we usually are heading out around 7:45. It is dark again!

On the weekend, we'll try to do something longer. We decided to walk around Greenlake since we were already there. It is a great place for a 3 mile walk. We were checking out the plants along the way. There were several large plantings of daffodils under some of the trees that were in full bloom. But our favorite discovery was a spring garden planted next to the Bathhouse. We had never noticed it before. Large plantings of Hellebores but what really surprised us were the three paper bushes - Edgeworthia chrysantha. We used to have one but it never really did very well. The blossoms would usually die before opening due to a late freeze in mid Marsh. These were thriving and in full bloom. Such a nice surprise to find.

Daffodils at Greenlake Seattle


Garden near the Bathhouse - Corylopsis spicata

Greenlake Seattle

Greenlake Seattle

Corylopsis spicata


edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha


Hellebores

Greenlake Seattle

Greenlake Seattle


May 27, 2013

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
The Memorial Day forecast was dismal - cool and drizzle. It was a shame because this was the weekend of the low minus tides. It would have been a great time to explore the eel grass flats. We gave it a go on Sunday and it was interesting and tiring as usual but it just doesn't have the extreme joy of a sunny day at the beach.

I remembered the native plantings at the Olympic Sculpture Garden so G and I drove downtown Seattle. We wanted to visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory but it is now closed on Mondays. I also forgot that there is now an admission charge. This is good - the glass houses are in need of repair.

I remembered a hidden parking area next to the Amgen building. We just had to find it. It was actually pretty easy to find by following the signs off Elliott. There is bridge just before the Magnolia Bridge which takes you over to the west side of the railroad tracks. The parking is south of the building just before the grain elevators.

First we did a walk over the Amgen Helix Bridge which connects the corporate campus with Elliott Way. Then we headed south along the pathway. Along the way, the port has created a rose garden in the section of the path called Centennial Park. I loved the David Austin Roses that were planted. Farther along the way, you catch the sight of the Space Needle top peeking over the office buildings and next to the old Post Intelligencer Globe. The demise of the PI was one of the early warning of the upcoming print media crisis.

The bay was gray but it was warm. Steam rose from the wet paths but soon the drizzle turned to sprinkles as we climbed up to the Olympic Sculpture Garden.

We walked along the curving path in the Grove. The Typewriter Eraser peeked out between the Aspens and the stark black of the Wandering Rocks were softened by the wild irises growing among the Pacific Northwest natives. The native plant gardens are really beautiful now after several years of growth.

We crossed under the watchful eye of Calder's bright orange 'The Eagle'. My absolute favorite though were the plantings just up from the Valley. The path was densely lined by beautiful Pacific Coast irises. The Dogwood trees were planted as accents and under foot were growths of wild strawberries.

We continued through The Wave and then back to the shore of the Bay. We were getting cold and hungry so we headed for a beer at Elysian Brewery in Tangletown. We were glad we were not in a cold wet tent camping as we have on past Memorial Days.

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
Amgen Bridge

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
Seagull with a starfish prize

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
Runners and walkers along the path

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
The Grove

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
Typewriter Eraser

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
The Eagle

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
Wild Pacific Coast Irises

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle
The Wave

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle

Walk along Elliott Bay in Seattle

For a previous visit (in the sun!) - Olympic Sculpture Garden May 2010

October 6, 2013

Chuckanut Drive and Harvest in the Skagit

Chuckanut Drive Vista

September has been a very wet month. Normally the weather slowly drops off after Labor Day but this year we have had several significant downpours. Heavy rains are unusual for this area but we have had about 5 days inwhich we got heavy downpours. September ended up being the rainiest on record.

It is now October and temperature-wise, it definitely feels like Fall. The trees are still pretty green but the forecast was good weather this weekend so we headed north to the Skagit Valley and the scenic Chuckanut Drive along the Sound. It was also the Skagit Festival of Family Farms which made it a good time to visit the area.

Mt. Vernon is about an hour drive from our house. Our first stop was the Mt. Vernon Farmer's Market. Fall was in high swing. The stalls were filled with apples, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower. I picked up a bottle of tarragon vinegar and some bright purple cauliflower.

We headed through town to Avon-Allen Road and headed north to the junction with Chuckanut Drive. Chuckanut starts through the Skagit farms before winding along the shores of the Puget Sound.

Our first stop was the town of Edison. It is a small gathering of buildings on the Skagit Flats with a few art studios and several food destinations. I wanted to visit the Breadfarm. I can not describe how intoxicating it was walking thorugh the door. The aroma of fresh artisan bread. The chalk board was a great guide to what was available. We decided on a loaf of potato bread, a blueberry Danish and a pistachio cranberry shortbread cookie. After wolfing down the danish and cookie we walked around the main street taking in the store fronts and looking in the other cafes. I needed some eggs and from the postcard on the 'Bow Edison Food Trail', I found that there were some fresh eggs at Bow Hill Blueberries. We headed over and picked up a dozen along with some dried blueberries. We discussed the harvest with the owner. He grows four types of heirloom blueberries. G was familiar with several of the types - Ruble is one of the smaller sweet types that he grows.

We returned back to Chuckanut and headed north to Taylor Shellfish. This farmer has raises oysters, mussels and clams in beds throughout the Puget Sound. I used to buy their mussels and clams when they had a stand in the University Market and I was very interested in seeing the Bow operation. Little did we know it was one of the main farms on the tour.

We waited for them to direct us down the one-way road. We found a placed to park and walked across the railroad to the farm. They had educational games for children, beaches to roam, crab races, samples of steamed clams and fresh shucked oysters. We got a couple of pounds of mussels to go.

The drive continues to curve high above the shore with glimpses of the San Juans and Olympics. We pulled out at one of the turnouts to watch the large tankers float by. The road is lined with evergreen firs and big leaf maples. The maples had not yet turned, another week but the air was fragrant with the scent of cedar, the day was warm. Life is good.


Edison, WA
Edison Main street

Storefront  Edison, WA

Crochet Bomb at Edison, WA
Crochet Bomb in Edison, WA

Edison, WA

Storefront at Edison
Storefront

Breadfarm
Breadfarm

Breadfarm - Edison, WA
Wonderful selection of bread at Breadfarm

Breadfarm Potato Brea
Potato Bread

Chuckanut 010
Fall harvest of squash

Bow Edison Food Trail

Taylor Shellfish at Bow WA
Taylor Shellfish Farms at Bow, WA

Taylor Shellfish at Bow WA
Taylor Shellfish Farms at Bow, WA

Taylor Shellfish at Bow WA
Taylor Shellfish Farms at Bow, WA

Shucked Oysters at Taylor Shellfish
Fresh shucked oysters

Geoduck
Geoduck

Crab Races at Taylor Shellfish
Crab races

Chuckanut Drive
Farther along Chuckanut

Chuckanut Drive Vista
Vista along Chuckanut

Chuckanut Drive
Chuckanut Drive

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