Saturday, December 15, 2012

A different Cherry Picker experience!

Some days ago now, we had another experience of a person in a cherry picker reaching out with a very long stick!. This had a lot more personal consequences, than the man painting the silo with a long stick, in a previous post. We were expecting 16 people for dinner, followed by a presentation from a young friend who has just spent two weeks in Afganistan with the organization Mountain2Mountain.
The weather around here had been very wintry with torrential rains and wind roaring through the area. Several quite serious effects ... sliding houses, mud slides closing train lines, local flooding etc had occurred.
Just after 2pm, on that day, a violent wind storm with pounding, torrential rain blew through: it last maybe 4 minutes. In the midst of this blast there was a moderate "boom", coming from the power pole across the street from our home, and our lights went out. A call to Tacoma Power ascertained that no one else on the street had called, but they would have someone out here as soon as possible.
We lit every candle we could find in our pantry, which created a lovely warm glow in our living room. Dinner was stove top cooked on our gas stove and our gas fireplace warmed the living room at least.
Without detailing all the steps to re-establish power it was more than five hours before our power was reconnected ... following some major work on the pole outside our home ... in torrential rain and wind off an on. The workers who came to fix the problem couldn't have been more helpful. I always feel for the people who are responsible for getting power up and on again following power outages and I know from a friend (whose husband works for a NW power company) about how badly harassed power companies often are, following power outages, by people frustrated by living without power.
We simply want to say Kudos to Tacoma Power for their professionalism and hard work on our behalf.  At the moment our guest was about to give up on the idea of showing her pictures of her time in Afganistan  ... the lights came on.  Anna's stories were so interesting and images fascinating!
Tacoma Power crew arrives to diagnose the problem

The technician reaches with a long stick ... followed by another boom!

Removing all the "bad" non functioning equipment in the rain and wind.

Anna, by candle light, arranging the Afgani dinner before speaking about her experiences
                               Check out for images of our friend's time in Afganistan.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Far from the end of my garden ... storage tanks appeared!

 Not really visible from my garden, but for the past few weeks I have watched, fascinated, the construction of a group of  enormous storage tanks on Port of Tacoma tideflats land. I see them as I drive from my home into the city of Tacoma.  It seems as though they appeared overnight! I am sure it was just that the construction of lower parts of the tanks were hidden behind other buildings ... but one day there they were! Giant grey cylinders!
Following the completion of the construction the painting began. That was the interesting part for me! Two men, perched on the end of a huge cherry picker, with very long handled paint rollers seemed to have nearly completed the task.  Today as I drove home (see the last photo) I watched fascinated as the man with the very long handle ... at the end of the cherry picker ... extended as far as it seemed it might go ... closed up the remaining grey spot!  Others remain to be painted but the one closest to the road gleams beautifully white ... the painter's work on display!  Good job guys!
Several of the storage tanks nearing completion
Two painters working feverishly when the sun shines!
Turning the last little grey space to white!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Two mornings ... different views!

Looking east from my garden each morning, across Commencement Bay at our end of Puget Sound, is a never the same experience. The two images taken at about the same time on two different mornings this past week are graphic examples. Watching the patterns of light across the water when the air is almost still is equally as mesmerizing as watching that same body of water changed by wind shifts which alter the light and the patterns created. Every minute is different. Every minute an "oh would you look at it now!" moment.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How does one choose?


Proctor District, Tacoma, tree

Closer view of the above tree

Schuster Parkway, Tacoma, moment

Sun lighting the leaves a few minutes later

Approaching storm maybe downed all the leaves

I always carry a camera in whatever bag I am carrying: sometimes I think it would be better left at home as I wouldn't be driven to capture so many images!  This autumn has been, or so it seems to me, particularly brilliantly colorful. No doubt  our prolonged summer and lack of cold has something chemical to do with the sugar in the leaves and the color.  As I recall those three things are what direct the leaves autumnal color. The rapidity with which leaves fall was illustrated graphically when I returned, the next day,  to take more photos of the leaves with amazing veins. Not a one on the tree!
But when you have all these images the choice then becomes which ones do you wish to share?  After much sorting and resorting ... these are the ones I chose. I offer the beauty of these leaves as a possible balm for the divided sentiments roiling around in the country the day after the re-election of President Obama.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn leaves ... Compost.

Driving to the pool to exercise early this morning I passed this overflowing can of maple leaves heading for the compost pile in our city's yard waste site.  I actually stopped my car, turned around and went back to take a photo. Not sure just what it was that I found so comical about the overflowing can - but I was amused. Walking up the road to take the photo I glanced across the street and exactly opposite there were a whole lot more leaves, of beautiful autumnal hues, probably destined for the next yard waste collection in two weeks. But for today those leaves were still holding on for the perfect climatic moment to drop.  It's always encouraging to realize that those leaves will become "food" for future new  leaves in another spring time burst ... of green.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On a morning like this ...

On a morning like this ... not a cloud in the sky

As the sun rises, the air becomes a little hazy and suddenly across the bay the sun hits the windows of a building in downtown Tacoma creating blindingly bright patterns in the bay.

So still is the water even the steam from the St. Regis pulp mill is reflected in the bay.

And as suddenly at the building is illuminated and the reflections spread ... they start to fade as the sun moves higher in the sky.

              Another morning of amazing pageantry played out across Commencement Bay ...
              at the end of my garden.

Monday, September 10, 2012

At the end of my garden this morning

A very different view awaited us, at the end of my garden, this morning.  Rain had been predicted to fall last night. Rumor had it that Northwesterners were counting the number of days we have not had any rain fall! It was to cap at 49: however there was no rain last night ! Maybe a 1950s record of 50 straight days without rain will be broken after all. Fifteen minutes after I took the last of the 3 mountain photos ... no mountain showing at all ... just heavy clouds.
Early morning clouds above and below Mt. Rainier
Clouds coming up from the foothills, clouds coming down from above
Weather coming down on the NW side of the mountain.

Meanwhile a lone robin looks for water and maybe company?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Surprise at sunrise

I won this bell in a raffle 30 years ago! I belonged to the "I never win anything" group until that moment and whenever I feel a "I never win anything" moment coming on I look at this amazing sculpture, created by Tom Torrens, of cedar posts, metal arch and a "bell" made from a former oxygen tank (Tom was recycling long before it was broadly practiced ) and remember this really big win!  It has graced our patio since that time.  You may have seen images of Mt. Rainier through the circle of metal suspending the bell from the arch?
A few mornings ago, with the brand new smell, and noticeable chill , of autumn in the air, we wakened to dewy windows and with a blind down to protect our eyes from the blinding sunshine of sunrise, a ghostly bell made its impression on our blind! One of those surprise images that you probably couldn't create if you tried a thousand ways!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Who do YOU see in the clouds overhead?

Do you ever look upwards at a sky filled with amazing clouds and find yourself speechless with delight at the show Mother Nature is putting on ... just for you? Well maybe not just for you, but there's no harm in pretending it's just for your enjoyment, that show of extraordinary colors and shapes, as you watch entranced. And of course you also realize that it can change in a second with a playful wind blowing the clouds, or a rain storm spilling out of a cloud. Such was the case last week one evening when clouds transformed the late afternoon sky. But it was the final frame, before dark, that set my imagination on fire - once again.  Look, I said to my granddaughter, can you see the lady with the long hair swimming her way across the sky with her hair trailing behind her?  Not really Nanna, she replied thoughtfully,  I hope we will have lots more opportunities to find more fanciful figures among the clouds.

Do you see the woman, swimming across the sky, with her hair streaming behind her?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Between the tomatoes and the bird bath!

In my garden today

Living in the Evergreen state, Washington, on the coastal side of the state, we always hope there will be sufficient sunshine for us to ripen the tomatoes in our gardens.  Our wishes are not always granted and many people turn mounds of green tomato in chutney and other tempting delicacies in an effort to not waste that which has taken so much of their time and attention.  For unknown reasons, this year, we have 3 cherry tomato vines, and only one full sized tomato vine ... on which all of the fruit is yet very green. Hands down, the orange colored cherry tomatoes are the sweetest.
Left of the tomato plants is a birth bath.  We never tire of watching our local avian population coming for a brief morning drink, a full on bath or a group of birds arguing over who is going to get the bath next! It's easy to stand motionless and get lost in the simple wonder of watching our visitors. We planted the small tree visible behind the bird bath to enable the smallest of birds to seek cover when the large raptors in our area are threatening.
Picking tomatoes in my garden late this afternoon I was transfixed to see Mt. Rainier framed by the tomato plants and the frame used to hold them vertical.  There between the tomatoes and the bird bath ... another view of "the mountain".  I always say that no matter where you go in this area ... if there is a view of the mountain, it will look different than the one you saw from a different vantage point ... even a few minutes ago.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

At the end of my garden on Wednesdays in Summer

Jockeying for the best position
At the end of my garden each Wednesday evening, beginning late in the Spring, sailboats begin to gather. If the wind is up and it looks like a good evening for sailing, the boats begin to gather early and play with the wind until around 6.45pm.  It's then that jockeying for the best position begins and by 6.55pm the stragglers are in place too. Buoy markers show the sailors the race course for the day and promptly at 7pm the sounding of the starting gun echoes across the bay. It's a little like a moving tapestry as the boats vie for the best place in the wind, try to block each others wind, see if they can get a good lead before rounding the first buoy ... and it's all played against the backdrop of this stunning body of water that is Puget Sound with Mt. Rainier (often, but certainly not always) overlooking all.  On a recent evening the fickle wind refused to blow and instead it was "a float": lots of limp and flapping sails with reflections of the boats showing clearly in the water.   Another Wednesday in the life of the Corinthian Yacht Club's Wednesday race.
Corinthian Yacht Club's Wednesday night race

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Nature Amazes one more time!

What kind of moth could this be?

Indian Paintbrush flowers at Paradise, Mt. Rainier

Bear Grass at Mt. Rainier

Not one, or two, or even ten,  but a field of Avalanche lilies
Living, as I do, in the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, being overwhelmed by yet another astounding display by Mother Nature is not a rare occurence.  The mountain at the end of my garden provides almost daily opportunities for "Would you look at THAT!" experiences ... that is except when it isn't visible at all.
Late one evening a week ago there was a great fluttering in my kitchen and when it stopped the amazing moth, in the first image, was resting on the terra cotta colored wall. The blue "eyes" on it's wings one almost expected to blink ... so eye-like were they.  My grandchildren were here for overnight so we captured the creature in a container and released it the next morning for them to see, and for them watch it fly away.  But not before we had captured its photo.  I'm sure someone knows what kind of moth it is ... but I haven't found anyone who knows - yet!
Then last week on a three day stay at the lodge at Paradise, in the Mt. Rainier National Park we experienced the wonder of wildflowers that magically appear as the snows melt ... but this year it was carpets of wildflowers. Never before had I seen more than a few Avalanche lilies in one place. But this year just above the lodge on the way to Myrtle Falls I came across a huge field of them ... it was heartstoppingly beautiful. 
I'm always amazed when the throngs of people who come to "see" the areas around Mt. Rainier ... seem dogged in their pursuit of getting to the end of a trail, or to a certain peak, or to see it all ... totally miss the small things at their feet ... like a field of lilies or the perfume of the lupine carpeting a hillside.
I probably took enough photos for all the people who just trotted on by .... and Nature left me amazed one more time. Little did I know that when I took the photo below of the single avalanche lily, amazing in it's isolation and perfect beauty, there was a whole field waiting for just up the path.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The summer of amazing clouds

As a child I spent hours lying on the ground watching the clouds overhead.
It's a past time I have continued to find enormously satisfying my whole life.
This summer we have had more amazing clouds than usual.  And now I find
myself drawn to capturing the fanciful formations on my camera.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Watching you, watching me!

We seem to have a new eagle duo in our neighborhood, one of whom takes up the viewing post at the end of my garden, on a regular basis. Recently this beautiful creature sat through a couple of hours of crow "bombing" without moving. I had never seen one sit for so long, ducking crows. In the image below it appears one crow is on lookout in the upper branch, while the other continues its harassment of the eagle.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fanciful clouds

Mount Rainier lies to the east of my garden and sometimes the view west is just as dramatic. A few evenings ago the skies, to the west, were mindful of the paintings of a local artist named Victoria Adams. Victoria paints landscapes that are mostly about the skies overhead.  The clouds were amazing and the sunset "gobsmackingly" ( an Australianism) beautiful. It was an evening to remember.