Sunday, June 29

the year of the bird

I don't know what year it is, in terms of the Chinese year, but for me it is the year of the bird. There are few reasons for this.
  1. Since moving to Whidbey Island I have been initially surprised, but more recently just plain grateful for the myriad of Bald Eagles that pass overhead everyday. Where I grew up, in Indiana, we never saw Bald Eagles. I know there are lots of eagles and they live all over the country, but for me, it is still a daily blessing to see these majestic birds soar through the air over water or land.

  2. I am interested enough in identifying unknown birds to have a bird book next to the rocking chair by the window. With that said, I am slowly morphing into my bird-loving parents. Smiles.

  3. Bailey, my canine boarder, has eaten two birds in the past month. The first, being the bird I was attempting to save. The second, a baby quail hiding in the lavender field. Frowns.

  4. And lastly, strangely, I've had two birds fly into the house over the past two weeks. The weather has been warm enough that I keep both my doors open for a cross breeze. For some reason birds are feeling quite welcome. I had to rescue the first, a barn swallow, who repeatedly flew against one of the windows, futilely trying to escape. I caught and released it. The second, a hummingbird, flew in the kitchen door, through the dining room where I was seated, and out the living room door. Smart little bugger. I think he just found a shortcut to get from the front to the back of the house.

Now you see why I think it is the year of the bird. Not to mention the owl that I spotted last week, and the red tailed hawk that rides the thermals over the bluff, the crows that harass the hawk, the hawk that nabbed a rabbit in my yard right before my eyes, the hummingbird wars, the robins that love the juicy worms in my garden, the loons that dive for fish in the It is indeed the year of the bird.

Saturday, June 28

a guest in the house

A little over a week ago my friend and fellow IWU alumni, Riccara, flew in for a brief visit to Whidbey Island. We fit quite a few things in the four days that she visited. A trip to the thrift store, numerous walks on the beach, a ferry ride to Port Townsend for dinner and shopping, a tour of Fort Casey and the lighthouse, sidewalk shopping at Pikes Market in Seattle, and a behind the scenes tour of Lavender Wind Farm (with warm chocolate chip lavender scones, to boot). The only thing we didn't fit in to your weekend was a trip to the dump. I am in love the the dumps on Whidbey Island. More on that later.

Bailey loved having Riccara as a guest as well. Riccara has a soft spot in her heart for Golden Retrievers, she has a 100 lb retriever at home in Colorado Springs. Whew, that's a big dog.
My favorite part of Riccara's visit was the morning we walked down to the beach and found the tide farther out than I had ever seen it. We found all sorts of tidal pools full of anemone colonies, various colored starfish (maroon, dark blue, red), as well as bright orange sea cucumbers. It was like a treasure hunt, full of shrieks and pointing at every new discovery. If you look closely at the above picture you will find a light green sea anemone beside the large piece of seaweed.

It was fun having a visitor to share the unique wonders of Whidbey Island. Calli is coming to visit in July and I can't wait to enjoy the island with her as well.

Wednesday, June 18

a rare sighting

I spotted an owl perched on a mailbox on my way to work this morning. I drove right passed it and then realized what it was, turned the car around and was delighted I had stashed my camera in my bag before heading out the door today. The owl was mostly ignoring me. Instead it was intent on something in the ditch below it's perch. I did catch a few curious glances in the midst of it's morning hunt.

After getting to work, Stacy and I grabbed the bird book and identified the owl as a Barred Owl.

I see Bald Eagles, Red Tail Hawks, and Harriers (small hawks) all the time, but an owl spotting is rare indeed.

Tuesday, June 17

the news

News Worthy: My little sister called to tell me she is engaged. To be married in September, no less.

Also News Worthy: I've been asked to be a bridesmaid. Super cool.

Not News Worthy But Kind a Fun: When I worked with middle and high school youth I used to have an arsenal of games on hand to play in the unexpected and inconvenient down time that always seemed to surface. One of my favorites is called "two truths and a lie". The point is to say three statements about yourself, two of them true and one a lie. The other participants must guess which statement is the lie. It is a great way to learn quirky things about others. Below are two truths and one lie . Can you figure out which of the following statements is the lie?

  1. I've been pooped on by a tiger.

  2. I've been a bridesmaid eight times.

  3. My favorite place that I've traveled, so far, is Italy.

Tuesday, June 10

what summer?

I'm trying to be patient and mature about the whole thing. The whole temperature thing. I keep checking the calendar, and I have verified that it is June. In fact it is ten days into the sixth month of this year. Then why? Tell me why it feels like March?

High 54 today. 52 yesterday. 55 tomorrow.

The worst, is that I keep getting weather updates from friends and family members in the Midwest and the southern US. "It is hot out here". That is all I'm hearing. I'd like at least one day where I can say, "it's hot out here".
The only consolation I have is that it isn't actually summer yet. June 21st is still over a week away. I will, then, limit my meteorological outbursts until the change of the seasons.

Per Slugs:
  1. Disturbing Discovery: 6 inch long slug
  2. Disturbing Discovery # 2: slugs love Tah Tsai, Spinach and Mustard Greens
  3. Removal Strategy: Beer (they are lured to a saucer of beer, where they drink to their hearts content and then find they can't escape)
  4. Question: Have you ever shared a beer with a slug?
  5. Toast: To the health of my garden and to the health of all slugs outside of my garden's perimeter.

I thought it was Bailey poop at first, but no. It is the most ginormous slug ever! And to the top left of the slug, there is another slug (dark brown). Under normal circumstances, I would have thought that second slug was huge, however, it looks like a pipsqueak next to "dino-slug".

Friday, June 6

living an adventure

These little helpers have been vacationing here for a few weeks. Life is an adventure and children are perfect reminders to live it out.
A related quote by Rachel Carson:
"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder...he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

Tuesday, June 3

the battleground

As stable as my life is, I do realize that around the country and world as a whole, there are numerous battles being formulated, fought and eventually finished. Winners and losers are being determined day and night.

With that in mind, the battle closest to me, regionally, is being fought in and around my back stoop. There are no weapons dealers, no government funded military, no deaths that I know of...yet. However, the warriors are tenacious, they are stubborn, and strong. Each fighter weighs in at only a few grams, they fly by their own means, and their weapons are their own beaks. The battle is being waged between a horde of hummingbirds. And the spoils of the victor is in the form of sugar water.

Like tiny fencing champs, these hummingbirds use their beaks and strike at each other while hovering acrobatically in the air. I've been mesmerized for whole quarters of an hour watching the battles play out. Today the winners are the females, while the losing males stay on the fringes, restricted to finding natural nectar in the flowering shrubs all around. I noticed one fat, little female sitting on the climbing rose bush near the feeder, just waiting for another bird to fly in for a snack. Then as soon as one comes in the "zone", she chases it off with the tip of her pointed beak. What a bully!