Saturday, July 26, 2008

I was outside this morning doing yoga and meditating before the kids woke up- with the dogs because Jack likes to join me for a little downward dog and Sparrow is visiting for the weekend. The garden is simply amazing right now. We have had our first cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and the peas are still going strong. There are a ton of flowers out there as well. Eva's poppies really took hold (she used the old dump-the-seed-packet-on-the-ground method) and the carrots from last year are blooming white and purple carrot flowers (aka Queen Ann's Lace). The cardoons have their first blooms and the sweet peas, one of my new favorite flowers, are flourishing. I love it and can't get enough of it!

The tall yellow flowers in the background are fennel and the white flowers are sweet peas. Samuel's pansies are in the front, along with some wild daisies. The chamomile is stretching itself out longer this year but is nearly gone and is being replaced by another favorite of mine, the ubiquitous pansy. This is from a couple of days ago, so you can't see the cardoons blooming yet, but you can see that they are well over 8 feet high and a bee's paradise! On the other side of the garden, the purple cone flowers (echinacea) and hyssop are thriving along with the oregano, which is blooming, and the sage. Mint that I have planted in containers on the patio is blooming and I expect the huge patch of mint by the roses to start blooming soon as well. Out front the blueberries are darkening and the chickadees have started munching on them.

The other day when the kids and I returned home from somewhere, I went to let Jack outside and saw a thread waisted wasp (the one at the bottom is very much like the one on our patio) building a little nest in the runner of our sliding glass door. She was going to get mud and slowly building a tiny shelter for her eggs. I did quite a bit of reading about thread waisted wasps- I had never seen one before, only in my bug book, and they are quite something. They purportedly don't sting because they aren't attached to a hive, but they don't have to because they are kind of freaky looking enough to keep most "people" away. I decided to close the patio when she flew out for more mud and wash down the nest she was making. She kept trying to get into the patio for several hours after that. It must have been a good spot. I have been happy to see a couple more thread waisted wasps out in the garden eating insects and nectaring and gathering mud from the containers, so apparently she found another good spot!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

more camping

A few photos from our camping trip with friends at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park...

Cabins and view

Samuel really wanted to lead a tour. I don't know if the others knew they were on a tour but he enjoyed leading either way. Eva running ahead of the tour.

Checking out the closed trail and Eva scratching designs

Flowers and Francis on a walk

Sword fighting

Sword fighting and Eva making gravel angels and designs

Last photo (Eva closed her eyes on purpose by the way) and of course Chickie is there as well

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We are fresh back from camping with friends. This clip was the Astronomy Picture of the Day today and I found it very inspiring. More on camping later...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

There is a Red-tailed Hawk family living in our neighborhood and over the last several days, the two juveniles have become very vocal. At first I thought there was only one juvenile and I would see the mother flying overhead hunting or calling. You can clearly see her red tail. The juveniles do not have their red tails yet. Yesterday the kids and I watched the mother and one of the babies in a tree across the street. We got a good close-up with the binoculars and it was fun because you know how when you see something like a hawk in a tree and are trying to show someone else and you keep pointing or saying things like, "where the branch goes down like a slide" and it seems like they will never find the bird and at the same time you can't figure out why they don't see it? Well, this time BOTH kids actually saw the hawks! You can tell when they are faking it and when they actually see it. And Samuel was even able to find them with the binoculars, which was exceptionally satisfying! They are glorious- the kids and the birds. And the juvenile just calls and calls over and over and the mother looks at him/her and looks around. She watches the human below the tree photographing her, she watches her baby, she watches and approaching Scrub Jay.

This must be the time when they are branching out a bit and really sitting in a tree alone and really getting to the point where they can find food as well. She tends to them very well and they call and call. This morning I heard a lot of ruckus outside and went into the backyard and the Ravens, Crows and Jays were chasing around one of the juveniles. This is when I realized there were two of them because one called from the tall Locust trees on another block and one sat calling with mom in the OAK TREE in our front yard! How fun is that? I sat down and watched and listened for a while until they all flew off.

Here are some photos in Ridgfield of Red-tailed hawks. The kids and I went to their bird festival last year and saw some amazing birds, including Red-tailed Hawks perched on the ground.

Last summer we had a baby Raven who hung out in the Maple tree in the backyard, calling and calling much like the baby Red-tailed Hawks. They make such a to-do and I frequently find myself rushing out to make sure everything is ok. Magoo came out to watch the Hawks with me this morning. She seemed unperturbed, however she did look around quite a bit when the babies would call out over and over. I was wondering if the momma might imagine she could eat Magoo. She seems a little big but then I recently heard from an Great Horned Owl handler that they eat grown skunks. So maybe Magoo is not a stretch. Agnes, however, is completely safe. No raptor could pick her up, that is for sure. With both of them sitting there together I felt Magoo was pretty safe. Still, she doesn't see very well and I am thinking of keeping an extra eye no her while these babies make their way in the world. I am sure, though, that there must be plenty of little rodents and gophers about, what with the park nearby and all of these lawns. I wonder if Charlie can hear them calling and what he thinks?

Oh, this reminds me. The day before yesterday, the kids and I were out on Sauvie Island meeting some friends at the river there and I saw two Bald Eagles flying together. They are nesting there and I had hoped to see them at some point and was just thrilled to look out my window and catch them flying by. We were quite close to them and you could really see just how large they are and I could clearly see their white feathers. This time, though, the kids did not see them. When I said excitedly, "Bald Eagles! Hey, did you guys see those Bald Eagles, " both kids, looking out the opposite windows, said, "" Not exactly the level of thrill that I was looking for. Oh well, they see a lot of birds, that is for sure.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

ooo aaah berries

A picture is worth a thousand words... Or a thousand berries?

I called another u-pick I like for blackberries and their berries are not ready yet. Everything is a little bit later this year due to the "unusually cool" weather.

I made both strawberry and raspberry jams over the last couple of days and then I froze a bunch of both berries, ate some, and then last night I made this really amazing strawberry juice and then added some peach and some grapes and a little nectarine.

What are these little people doing? Watching Eva play a game on the computer, of course!

Eva and Agnes- Agnes is 15 now and still going strong. Here she is watching Charlie, our Rat.