Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Skagit Valley

On Monday we took advantage of the cold but clear weather to make a trip north to the Skagit Valley to see snow geese, trumpet swans, and eagles, all spending the winter in the agricultural valley.  

Right off the freeway, on Fir Island at the south end of the valley, we found fields of snow geese.
We drove into the reserve on Skagit Bay to see what we could see.
The Olympic Mountains are to the west.
A hawk was working the edges of the bay.
A Great Blue Heron was fishing in a backwater.
Sparrows worked the hedgerows.
A eagle supervised from its high perch.

Mt Baker and the North Cascades provided the views to the east.

The swans, in smaller flocks, were busy eating in the farmer's fields.

The valley is a treasure trove for lovers of barns.

Raptor's nests, this one probably an eagle nest, sit high in trees along the river.
I found this early spring bloomer in a church yard.  I have no idea what it is.

The white on the ground is snow geese, not snow.

Eagles and swans everywhere.

Of course we had to stop at one of our favorite nurseries, Christianson's, right out in the middle of the valley.

 I love this wonderful old trough.
 The water was glazed with ice.
 Nursery cat soaking up sun.
 Hellebore blossoms under a glass cloche.
 Inside the gift shop.
 And the greenhouse.
 My favorite color combination!
 A Bird of Paradise for our birding trip.
There's more to come.  We explored the north valley along Padilla Bay, and then drove down Whidbey Island for an overnight at the cabin.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Politics And Strange Bedfellows

This post has been brewing for quite a while.  But this week, the Republicans seem to have outdone themselves.

Rick Santorun has come out against public schools.  Now it is generally accepted that the public school system is the foundation of our democracy.  But this serious candidate for the presidency says there should be no government involvement in schools, federal or state.  He wants no "government run schools". 

I don't remember the government running my school.  We did a lot of hard work trying to do that ourselves.  We just tried to get help paying for it.

In Virginia the state legislature was ready to mandate that a woman must undergo an ultrasound to determine the age of the fetus before having an abortion.  Turns out that in order to do this it usually requires a vaginal probe.  No problem.  We'll just make women be probed.  Opposition called it "rape".  After creating a national uproar, and much fodder for late night comedy, the bill seems to finally be dead.  

So too the bill in the same legislature to declare "personhood" on a fertilized egg.  This would outlaw many types of contraception.  The governor was all for these bills until it seemed to be hurting his chances to be named a vice presidential candidate. It seems he was losing the women's vote?

Here in Washington State the legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill a week or so ago.  Good!  But before it can take effect it will most likely be subjected to a referendum calling for a vote of the people.  Then the  homophobe  Super PACs will be pouring money into the state in another ugly campaign to deny civil rights to some of our citizens.  

There is good news on the national level on same-sex marriage.  A second federal judge has ruled against DOMA - the Defence Of Marriage Act, stating that "government denial of all federal benefits to same-sex married couples is an irrational and unconstitutional act of discrimination".

In Indiana a state representative refused to support a proclamation honoring the Girl Scouts, and instead berated them as "radicalized to promote abortion and homosexuality".  He said the organization had been "subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values".

He went on to say their "role models are feminists, lesbians or communists"  and linked them to that most demonic of organizations, Planned Parenthood.

The Republican Speaker of the House, a man of some obvious intelligence, reacted by munching on thin mints and passing them out on the floor of the House.  

I'll be getting my delivery of cookies from Girl Scout granddaughter Irene this weekend, and I intend to savor them with added gusto.  I hope you all buy a box too.

Contraception seems to be the hot topic these days.  The audience booed when it was raised at the Republican debate this week, but the candidates jumped on it.  Gingrich explained how President Obama supported "infanticide".  No, I can't tell you how.  It was much too convoluted, as straying from the truth usually is.  Romney chimed in that the President was carrying out a full on "attack on religious freedom", stemming from the health care act that requires coverage of contraception.

Rick Santorun believes that contraception is "harmful to women".  He says "birth control enables sex outside of marriage."  That is "not healthy for our country".  Of course he didn't speak to the use of contraceptives inside of marriage, but I do believe more than a few folks find it helpful in managing the size of their families, sort of planned parenthood.

Title X, a federally funded family planning program that provides contraception service for low income women, was also debated in the Republicans campaigns.  Romney said he would eliminate funding for Title X.  He blasted Santorum for apparently voting for it before he would vote against it.  Ron Paul, who would just eliminate most government agencies, just shakes his head.

At least Ron Paul has sense enough to stay out of our sex lives.  Those other guys apparently want to be our bedfellows.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finishing Up

 When was that snow and ice storm?  I can't remember, but it was quite a while ago.

Before we could finish the clean up, we first had to wait for the ice to melt.  Then we picked up, and shredded for days.  Finally we were down to a pile of  'logs'.

Today we finally had a dry day and a clear agenda.  We got the logging done.

 Tom runs the chain saw while I hold the limbs.
Then it's time to pack and stack.

And so now the fireplace wood is ready for next winter's power outage.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tying Up Lose Ends.

I got some finishing up done the last few days.

We got Jill and Corey's truck load of stuff unloaded and moved into various places.  Most went to the storage unit, which had to be completely reorganized first.  We were fortunate that most of the rain held off yesterday morning, and we were able to protect stuff with tarps as we shuffled things around.

Some fragile things came home with us, along with some toys the kids can play with when they stay here.  We then left the reorganizing of their little rental house to them and came home.  Jill and the kids have today off from school, for their short mid-winter break.  They should be all settled by this evening.  

I also finished up the batch of doll clothes I was making, and tucked them away to await Irene's birthday in April.  Then I did some repairs on two giant soccer flags for Jake.  I mended some seams and put a new pole sleeve on one.

 Soccer season begins again the first week in March.  We've gotta' be ready!

This morning we returned to the ax account to sign our forms and pay the bill.  Because of my inheritance from my mother's estate, I will have to send the IRS a check this year.  I like it better when they send me a check.

I'll be setting the sewing aside now for a while and get back to trip planning, so we can get plane reservations made well ahead of time.

We are attending a family wedding near Boston June 2nd, and we are using that occasion to do some traveling in the area.  We're looking at western Massachusetts, Vermont, and upstate New York.  I've accumulated the necessary travel books and maps to plan our road trips.
The weather is cold, dark, damp, and dreary, the very definition of dismal.  Indoor projects are still in order.  It looks like I'll have to do my exercising indoors too.  This is the time of year when North-westerners begin to get weary of the weather, hoping for a fair day, but knowing the chances aren't good until we get through March.

Note:  I removed the word verification from the comments.  I hope this makes it easier to post.  I am getting some strange spam comments, mostly in broken English, from posts dated long ago.  Strange.  I hope I don't have to put the verification back on.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Corey and Tom have finished their cross country trek and have arrived in Seattle.

They arrived here about 5:20 this evening to end the two day 1500 mile journey.

Yesterday they drove on into the night to get through the mountains before the expected snow storm hit.  They spent the night in Pendleton,  Oregon, then came through the Columbia Gorge and up I-5 today.  They are road weary and happy to be home.

The van has been freed from it's trailer and Corey has gone on home.  Tomorrow will be unloading day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Trip to the Aquarium

Jill had a mountaineering class beginning early this morning.  Corey and Tom set out this morning from Fort Morgan, Colorado, bound for Seattle.  I got to have the kids.

Friday  Jill and kids met up with me at Kent Station to see the movie Big Miracle, a true story about whales trapped in the ice in Alaska. Then we went out to eat before the kids came home with me for an overnight stay.  

This morning, after a hearty breakfast, we bundled up Seattle style with layers of fleece and Gortex, and headed out into the storm.  Fortunately the worst of the rain was over by the time we got to the Link light rail.

We were headed for the Seattle Aquarium, where it was the beginning of Octopus Week, and there is a new baby sea otter.  Isaac loves sea otters, including his 'pet' Oliver, who got to come along.
 The cold wind blew light rain in our faces as we walked into it from Westlake Station down to The Market.
 Oh, name bracelets!  Do they have our names?  They did.  We picked them up later, on the way back home.
 It is the beginning of mid-winter break and there were a surprisingly large number of tourists in the city.  There was a long line to get into the aquarium.  Fortunately the rain had stopped.
 We joined a presentation showing live video action of the release of a previously captive giant octopus.  She has mated and is being released to lay her eggs in the wild, in the waters of Puget Sound.   

Then before the presentation was quite over, we raced to beat the crowd to the otter viewing area.  It paid off with wonderful viewing of the new baby and her mother.

 Oliver was introduced.

 Then we slowed down and went back through all of the exhibits, including the touch tanks.  What an amazing array of starfish!

 And of course we spent time with the two giant Pacific octopi.  

 The path took us back to the sea otters and a last look at mother and baby.  Baby was having a nap on her mother, while the mother was lovingly grooming her baby.
 We spent some time in the gift shop, of course, where we picked up a few more 'friends'.  By then it was about 1:30 and we headed for a nearby Red Robin for lunch.

It was still windy as we made our way back along the waterfront and back up the hill, but the rain had stopped.

 Up at the Market, Irene really wanted to make another deposit on The Gum Wall.
 We worked our way back through part of the market, bought the bracelets, and posed, as always, with the Market pig.
We were home by 4:10, but the kids HAD to have a bit more playing time at Grandma's house, so I finally delivered them back to their mother about 5:00.  

Jill had done well at her class in the morning, had time to come home for a hot shower and a nap and some down time.

Tom and Corey are making good progress on their trek.  We have kept in touch via texting and Facebook.

It was a very good day.