Backyard Bandit

I hope this young raccoon is just passing through

Backyard Bandit

A couple of weeks ago, while finishing up dinner, I noticed this thing that looked like a cat up in the big Maple tree at the end of our fence. The eyes aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be so squinted a bit and found this guy getting comfortable. Cute eh?

So I grabbed up the camera with my longer lens and went out to shoot the critter. It (she/he) was not too pleased to see me and when Liddy finally noticed it — such an observant dog – not – if its not a squirrel or on the ground, seems she doesn’t see anything — the raccoon scampered much higher up the tree.

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Foiled Getaway

Liddy does have a loud voice and isn’t afraid to use it.

These guys are a worry for me. I’m sure Liddy could hold her own against one, but they have very sharp claws and I expect they have a bit more experience using them than does my 40 pound lap dog.

They also travel in packs. We spooked three of them up into a tree while on our evening walk last year. Good thing they understand that discretion is the better part of valor. Or he who fights and runs away gets to fight another day.

Oh well… just another suburban Northwest Moment. The are cute though.

Rainbows

April showers bring May flowers – but the rainbows bring color today

Rainbows

Yesterday I was extolling on the moments when the clouds part and the sun is able to put in an appearance here in the Northwest, and for more than a few milliseconds.

This double rainbow was captured in Fife as Liddy and I were on our way home from the office. Mt Rainier is somewhere in behind all of that rain, you might see it hiding behind that rainbow.

April has been a hectic month for us. June was off to a four day quilting retreat last weekend. It was also the Puyallup Spring Fair last weekend. After picking up June from her retreat, we worked the last shift at the Photo Competition Booth. The weekend before that we helped with the photo judging and preparing the prints for display.

This weekend we completed the Tacoma Photographic Society annual competition. I spent any of my free time this past week preparing all of the entries for judging. My thanks to all of my friends who helped with this. It feels good to have that behind us.

As I said it has been a hectic month. I took this shot the other day.
The Mountain
I thought it would be good to show that the mountain was just behind the rainbow.

So… A Rainbow on the way home earlier in the month. A good omen me thinks.

A Breath of Sun

There are some moments when the sun does shine here in the Northwest.

A Breath of Sun

Now I grant you it was two weeks ago when I captured this young lady walking her puppy down the path into Siverdale’s Clear Creek Natural Area, but I wanted to point out that we do get sunshine upon occasion.

It’s just that this year, spring has been… Well it’s been a bit more Pacific North Wet than usual.

So much so, that when the sun does come out, a lot more people take to the parks using the opportunity to bask in its warmth and generally enjoying it.

Aside from the young lady, I was attracted to the way the midday shadows lie across the foot path. Almost like a ladder or stairway.

Hey… the sun was shining… the moment went to my head.

Proctor Farmers Market

April might be a bit early to visit a street market in the Northwest, but you do get to visit with interesting people.


Last week (April 8th) Liddy and I wandered over to Tacoma’s Proctor District to see what was happening at the Proctor Farmers Market.

It was blustery. That would be chilly, blowing with the occasional light rain squall coming through. Not the best day to go down to a street market, or any market for that matter.

We did find a lot of people out however. Lots of other dog owners. Lots of kids. I really enjoyed the conversation I had with Ivan, owner of Honey Bear Farms in Olympia. We struck up a conversation around Liddy. He told me that he has a 1 year old Australian Shepard who is in need of some training. Apparently his previous companion decided to chase a deer across the road before looking for traffic.

Like me, Ivan, has some hearing issues. He was quite interested when I mentioned that Liddy alerts me to beepers and alarms in the kitchen. He recounted an occasion when he was working with his hives and felt the vibration through the ground. Turning about he found a black bear with a cub not 20 feet behind him. Fortunately the mother bear permitted him to put his truck between him and them. Ivan said it was this experience prompted him to get his new Aussie.

Ivan says they really enjoy the Proctor market. I enjoyed the moment I had with him. I hope Liddy and I will be able to visit with him next time we are there.


Pareto Rules

Gig Harbor is proof that exploring the world is about discovering and enjoying the little gems

Thanks to the few

According to Wikipedia, Vifredo Pareto had a moment of brilliance when he realized that 20% of his pea plants produced the majority of his crop. This was in 1896. Pareto was an economist. As an economist he found the observation remarkable enough to talk about. Thus the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule was born.

So what does this have to do with Northwest Moments?

Well it occurred to me (after my second cup of coffee this morning) that most of our travels are like this. We are searching to experience the gems of a place, not the place itself. It is the 20% that has us coming back again and again.

Take Gig Harbor, WA for example. It sprawls across a big part of the south end of the Kitsap Peninsula. A lot of Northwest rural/urban (ruban? – no, that’s a sandwich) development. Mostly scattered housing developments and the odd commercial strip here and there. To most of us, this is just like home. Why would we want to visit a place just like home?

I want to visit Gig Harbor to feast on the serenity of the harbor itself. I am willing to wait for a seat at the Tides Tavern because I can enjoy a glass while soaking up the sounds and sites of this enchanting little place that is absolutely a must visit when traveling Washington Highway 16. I enjoy taking many moments to stroll along the waterfront, visiting the small shops and eateries where I make my meager contribution to their economy.

It is the enjoyment these moments that make Northwest Travel so rewarding. It is this 20% of a place that completes the other 80%.

Ant Hills and Snake Balls

Last Tuesday was the first dry day we have had in a while. The sun brought out quite a few interesting critters.

First Garter Snake of the Year

(yes, there will be a new post shortly so this one moves quickly down the page)
Not the best portrait as there is a stalk of grass obscuring the nose of our friend here. But hey – I wasn’t about to get closer to move it out of the way. Probably would have lost the moment if I had.

Weaving Garter Snakes
Not ten feet away from my feature creature, was this group of snakes weaving higgly-piggly in front of a pile of rocks. I have never seen a snake ball before so this is a close first for me.
According to Wikipedia, Garter Snakes behave like this when they emerge from ‘brumation’. Wikipedia states that this is a mating thing and the males may be out first laying in wait for the females to emerge and … well you know.

Ants Move In
On the same day, beside the path was this big colony of wood ants. They are quite common here in the Pacific Northwest.
This is a new nest and it surprised me as it is right beside a water filled ditch.

Ants Move in Closer
I zoomed in closer to get a better view of the ants.

Between the snakes and the ants, they are so alien from us as mammals and absolutely fascinating. We always spend more than a moment when we come across these guys.

Spring on the Waterfront

On our way to work, Liddy and I usually stop by Silverdale’s Waterfront Park. Right now the cherry blossoms make a sweet frame around the public pier.

On our way to work, Liddy and I like to stop at the Silverdale Waterfront Park. The view is always nice, and the air off of Dyes Inlet is always refreshing. Towards the end of March we braved the rain to step out and enjoy our short walk. We were greeted by these cherry trees framing the inlet and the pier.

Concept Snapshot

Concept

I didn’t have my DSLR handy, so I snapped the moment on my phone camera and proceeded in to the office.

Thinking about how to take advantage of the scene, we were back the next day with DSLR, tripod and ideas. The weather, of course, decided to clear up for the moment. I had visualized a more moody shot with the fog in the background like we had the day before.

Oh well. I’m not dissatisfied with the result, and this is the Northwest. There will always be another foggy moment.