Saturday, December 30, 2006

On Watch

Ever vigilant, Charlie watches over the frozen hillside. I was pleased to have a crisp, clear day as I planned to help a friend move. As often happens in the mornings, I wasn't putting together what I was seeing. See that ribbon of fog shining brightly in the valley? My friend lives out that direction. I spent the day in freezing fog, digging plants and moving bricks. Fog really is much prettier from above. Hopefully Charlie enjoyed the sun. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

White on White

The beauty never ends. I am, however, glad I'm on the ridge above the fog. It's much more beautiful from above than from inside.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dark Plume

Once again the beautiful sunrise compells me to share the images. Mt. St. Helens greeted the day with a huge dark plume.As the skies lightened, the plume was backlit and shone purple. The patterns of the clouds, the light limning the mountains, the plume rising apparently in slow motion all made for another magical morning.

Once the sun was up everything again became the still white and light blue of a winter's day, with no evidence of the mountain's morning exuberance.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

More December Skies

I can't help myself. When it isn't raining, snowing, or producing gale-force winds, the sunrises and occasional sunsets have been stunning. I'm filling up my blog with photos of the same piece of sky, but it has held my attention many mornings and a few evenings. I can't resist sharing these pictures.

This deep, firey red laced with gold is a December specialty.

These two are from Dec 8, when the clouds kept changing color and pattern.

More red, purple, and vibrant gold.

The two above are from the 16th. The sun is like living energy, barely contained by earth and clouds.

The beginning of sunset. The fog in the valley turned purple and then blue. And when I turned to the west...

Mount Rainier was glowing white and then pink against a rose and lavendar sky.


Events of the past week have shown there is indeed a weather Replay button. The one for "Northwest Wind and Rain" got stuck on for a few days.

The Northern Pacific coast of America was hit by a fierce storm that brought up to 100 mph winds and driving rain. It is reported that around a million people were without power Thursday night. I was one of them. My power went out Thursday at 5:00 PM and came back on Saturday around 8:30 PM.

I learned that I'm not as well prepared for emergencies as I should be. I have a well, so no power = no running water. The impressive amounts of rain filled the outside animals' water containers, and lots of buckets that I also used for water. No water for washing, flushing, or watering my inside birds though. And, of course, after a storm that put a million people out of power is not the time for buying water, lanterns, or any other emergency supplies.

It was cold, dark, and lonely without my computer or phones. I'm very glad to have power back, although I'm not thrilled with just how dependent on it I am. The land line phone was out much of the time, and my cell phone still doesn't work.

I will get better prepared for future emergencies, especially stockpiling more water, and setting my generator up to run lights and maybe some heat. It's so easy to put things off, to become complacent. There were trees and power lines down over the roads. While the roads were cleared quickly, that might not always be the case. Living remotely I need to be better prepared for survival without support.

Now lets see if we can disable that Storm Replay button...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sound and Fury

I open the door to sound, as the winds that recently brushed Hawai'i's shores rush past. Air moving past air makes a deep roar. When it gets caught up in fir trees they break it into flowing waves of sound, the string section, violins and cellos coming to mind. The bare limbs of hardwoods emit the higher tone of woodwinds and flutes, accented by rattling branches. The aerial symphony changes in volume and tone as I move up and down the hill, feeding birds and sheep.

I stand at the top of the hill, arms out, feeling the wind under my wings, wanting to join the ravens playing in the updrafts. The air down here is moving much faster than that pushing the clouds above. Perhaps that is what causes the roaring.

It is warm for a Washington winter day. The wind feels good against my body, but I can't fly off, I'm working from home today. I come inside and sit at the computer and notice that the wind has stilled, and the sound of rain on the roof fills the room. A tropical rainstorm visits briefly, and then moves on.

I think of my friends in Hawai'i, the daily rains watering their gardens, picturing the orchids, the pumice soil, feeling the heady humidity. I've been sent a non-electronic Christmas card, a morning greeting from the warm pacific isles. I wonder if there is a replay button.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Morning Magic

I was listening to a very depressing story about global warming on NPR this morning when I noticed a strange quality to the light. The next room was bathed in orange light that was pouring in through the windows. I grabbed the camera and went out on the porch, to stand under a stunningly red-orange sky. For a short while the human world went away and the natural world once again overwhelmed me. Slowly the responsibilities and realities of my everyday life settled back around me; I would be late to work again. A small price to pay for another magical morning.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Gift of Gold

December has begun with rainless glory. After a month of constant rain and cloud we are having some very lovely days. This morning the sun formed a positive image of Mt St Helens, drenching the sky in golden light.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Moon Over Mount Rainier

After the wettest month on record it is a delight to see blue skies, full moons and mountains.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

St Helens Steams

It's hard to see (I so need a better camera), but there's a steam plume in the center of St Helens, adding interest to the shades-of-gray winter's day.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snowy Sunrise

Monday, November 27, 2006

Why Working Dogs Have Double Coats

Ursa's lovely warm coat keeps all her body heat inside, not outside melting snow. The red lump on her jaw is a non-cancerous tumor. At 11 we weren't willing to put her through the surgery to remove it. She enjoys every day of her life, in spite of the tumor and serious arthritis. Posted by Picasa

Snow Dogs

What? There's work to be done. I need to check on the birds! Posted by Picasa

It's Snowing!

Let's go play!
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Winter Protection

The dog at the bottom of the picture is lying in a hole. His chin is resting on the surface, the rest of him is almost level with the ground. It is raining.

I'm not sure why a self-dug low spot out in the open is better protection in wind and rain than a covered shelter with a raised platform and a soft, warm blanket, but Tor obviously thinks it is.
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Doggie Dilema

Sometimes a dog just doesn't know what to do. I love watching dogs figure out how to solve problems; I just wish I always had a camera on hand.

Ursa, the 11 year old Caucasian Ovtcharka, loves to guard her food. She eats slowly so she'll have a plate full of food when everyone else has finished eating. She growls and snarls her superiority, protecting that food from all canine predators.

Until I put on my jacket to go outside. Now she has a problem. She's hungry, having barely eaten a kibble, she has a dish full of food, she wants to go outside, but there are dogs who will be left inside - with the full food dish. She looks at me - I'm obviously not going to wait for her to eat. She looks at the other dogs - they obviously can't wait for her to leave her food. She looks at her dish - and picks it up, not spilling a kibble, smiling hugely with her eyes, and joins me outside. She takes her dish down the stairs and to her favorite outside hole, sets it down gently - again not spilling anything - looks at me once more, lays down and eats. Problem solved.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Sound of Winter

Winter. Rain, wind, mud, cold. It's difficult to adjust to winter weather after the glories of summer. I find myself reluctant to leave the house, not wanting to face the rain and wind. Once I'm out I feel invigorated, alive - the reality is much better than the expectation.

After redigging a trench around my outbuilding, I decide I need a change in attitude. I walk to the top of the hill and stand overlooking the valley, looking for what is good and special about a stormy winter's day.

And sounds come to me. Amazingly loud, but so pervasive they can be ignored. The fir tree is a full-bodied baritone. The maples are tenors. Leaves clap and small tree trunks beat a syncopated percussion. The world sings the song of the wind, each element in its own voice. Ravens fly by, adding a deep, rough accent note. Higher in the sky hawks soar, effortlessly riding powerful currents. The clouds look like sand patterned by waves.

The wind rushing past my face has crossed an ocean, rustled palm trees in Hawaii, teased white caps off of Pacific waves. Where will it stop? Does this wind move tropical air up to the arctic? How long does the journey take? In another month or two it will march back south, bringing cold, crystal clear days and icy nights.

This world is a wondrous place. I turn my back to the wind and return to my warm house.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


The sun overwhelms the clouds, streaking down to earth. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Winged Migration

What a movie. I watched it with longing in my heart and tears on my face. I yearn to take off with my fellows and head north, to fly high above the land and sea, watching the world from on high. Flying in formation, aware of wind and wing. Floating on a river, bathing, searching for food. Flying, calling, feeling the pull of the north, watching the signs on the way. Following always the path. Again.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Morning Glory

Some mornings are so beautiful I just stand and watch them unfold, all thoughts of chores and work abandoned.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dogs at Play

I do so enjoy dogs.

Charlie comes in for breakfast and dinner. During truly awful, disgusting weather he will try to stay in all day, and if it is really, really bad all night. On normal days like the last few, he comes in to eat, lay down for a few minutes, and then is eager to be off outside again.

But he and Jesse like each other and love to play. It's the only time I realize how young Charlie is - not to say older dogs don't like to play, but in play Charlie actually seems his youthful age.
They are so fun to watch. Two fluffy white dogs, one 120 lbs, one 60 lbs. Jesse jumps up on Charlie's back, wraps his front legs as far as he can around the chest, and struggles to wrestle him to the floor. After a brief struggle Charlie rolls to the floor, all four legs in the air, huge smile on his face. They bury their teeth in each other's fur, surrounding legs, thighs, necks. Jesse will grasp Charlie in a hopeful neck hold.

Charlie escapes! He runs across the living room, turns, jumps forward over Jesse. Then they are at it again, wrestling each other to the floor. Actually, it is always Jesse who wrestles Charlie to the floor. LGDs are such wonderful playmates. Pyrs, at least, seem to enjoy the fight so much they will let their opponent win time after time to keep the game alive.

And then it is over. Jesse is soaked all down his front. Charlie dashes out the door, looking hopefully at the fence. Finding no predators lurking, he trots over to say high to the other dogs, already out in their day yard.

The sun is shining, the dogs are happy. Life is good.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Above the Clouds

Fall is fog time. Living on a ridge has some serious advantages this time of year, as I sit above the clouds looking down on a changing world. From here the clouds have presence and personality. Sometimes they sneak in around the hills to stealthily hide the lowest areas. At other times they boldly cover the valley, creating the illusion of fog on a lake. One morning it was as of a dry river was being flooded from rains in the hills.

The first waters cover the valley floor in the early morning.
As the sun rises, the clouds buffet the treetops and cover the lowlands.

The rush of water/clouds floods the valley, making waves in its haste.

And then they move on, as if called by the sea.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Harvest Moon

The weather has been perfect for viewing the spectacular harvest moon. It rises in the evening, huge and yellow, lights the earth all night, and still shines brightly in the morning. Usually we have skies full of clouds and rain this time of year; it is such a joy to have them full of moonlight.

When you don't have Henna...

try some red clay dampened by rain. Tor shows off his new 'do. Pyrs don't seem to notice water dropping from the sky; they ignore shelters and dig holes to curl up in. Berna, an Anatolian Shepard, prefers to maintain her pristine white and tan by hanging out under cover.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Morning Mist

The rains haven't settled in for good yet. The nights are cold, the mornings crisp and clear, and it's quite warm during the day. Clear mornings are so lovely, with ground mist in the valley and the mountains basking in the pink light. Posted by Picasa

A Basket Full of Berna

Trying to wash sheets is always a challenge. Berna (at nearly 100 lbs) not only decided to nap in the dog bed that neatly fits my 40 lb border collie, she pulled some sheets in for padding. I still can't believe she fit in the bed. And wanted to. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The End of Summer

I was 10 minutes from home when I drove onto wet pavement. The predicted rains had obviously started in east county. Soon the windshield was littered with mist, and then it began. Woosh! Rain pelted the car, bounced up from the road. A tropical downpour at 60 degrees in the temperate north. I could barely see the road. Then I turned into blackness on the narrow and deserted road that leads to the ridge. When I made the second turn onto the ridge road I was greeted with wisps of cloud. It was raining so hard the clouds had been forced to the ground and were bouncing along lightly, lit by my headlights, fleeing downhill. Visibility was, I must say, poor.

With relief I turned onto my narrow gravel drive and crunched up to my animal area. There I sat in the car, in my cotton sweater, slacks and sandals, trying to talk myself into leaving the warm dryness of the car for the large wetness of the outside. I was wet in seconds. I'd just made it to the safety of the building when I was nearly bowled over by a huge white dog headed in. Charlie looked at me accusingly, as if I should have been here when the rain started to let him in.

I did all the chores I could think of inside, and stood at the door with Charlie, watching the wall of water. "We'll wait a few minutes. Maybe it will slack off soon." It didn't. It got worse. The sky is trying to make up for a summer's worth of drought in a single night. Charlie couldn't believe I was forcing him back into that rain, but we had to get up to the house. By the time I got in I was soaked from head to toe, mostly from multiple wet dogs vying for the open door into summer.

Autumn has officially begun.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tor at Work

Tor continues to gain confidence and trust. He pretty much believes I will feed him daily, not ever punish him, and perhaps will even protect him. With his improved self-confidence he is less aggressive to the other dogs. He's terribly afraid of gunshots; target practicing or fireworks setting in the neighborhood still provokes him into climbing the fence.

Here Tor is in his second stint in the sheep pastures. He lasted 2 weeks the first time, then had to climb out. I'm hoping he'll last longer this time before he appears at the front porch.

 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Growing Up Feathered

Mom peahen and her three growing chicks looking for bugs in the garden. These three fly quite well now. They also have their topknots, although you can't see them in this pic. Posted by Picasa

Resting on their favorite stump after a busy morning hunting down food. Dad and Sis are sunbathing nearby.

Anybody Home?

I often get the feeling I'm being watched, and look up to see a peafowl looking in. This hen is last year's chick. She spends much of her time helping care for her mother's latest clutch. Posted by Picasa