Thursday, September 29, 2011

Keeping pace on center stage


Our Farm Boy will definitely be turning in early tonight, after a couple of days with Ezra Jones, our 3-year-old grandson. Case was just no match.

It wouldn’t surprise us if he disappeared into his kennel, his precious refuge, and crashed hours before the grandparents.

Giving up center stage to Ezra is stressful enough, but adapting to “grandkid pace”, forget about it. There isn't a herding technique for this progeny age group that's workable.

But they'll be growing up together.
And it's early yet.

Casey rehabbing under the coffee table


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Even more relevant today

I just had to share this Facebook posting, one of the most important, courageous speeches in recorded history...and delivered by comedian Charlie Chaplin in his 1940 anti-war film The Great Dictator.  If you too are inspired by it, please share the wealth and pass it around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All the right moves?

How's this for a change of pace? During a break in the weather today, Casey thought the time had come to show off with a tennis ball. 

And when we say “show off” we’re using that term loosely because ball-catching has never been his thing…but every now and then he likes to try his hand, uh mouth, at it.

The "eye-mouth" coordination is always a thing of beauty when it comes to a Frisbee, so we just cut the boy some slack - and besides, he's a lot better at it than we are.

Monday, September 26, 2011

One glorious sunset - Sometimes there are simply no words

Minutes before sunset over Sehome Hill

Bluster on the bay

With the winds kicking up on the Bay like today, forecasting weather outlooks for the next few days is less a science and more just checking out the demeanor of our fair weather Border Collie. Casey was ready to get back home from the moment he stepped unto Taylor Dock with wind gusts pushing 50 knots.

And really, who could blame him?

Alaska ferry 2 hours from departure

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A few summer holdouts

Once again, the last holdouts of the summer are the blue and red asters, perennials that seem to edge out our hardy red fuchsias each year.

Before you know it the bees will finish having their way with them and the transition to autumn colors will be in full swing.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Epilogue: Preflight

Okay, our hummingbird moth really should get some kind of an award for staying power. He or she was still clinging to the storm door until we disturbed him (or her) by closing the sliding window over its safe haven on the screen.

But before this hybrid got tired of hanging around the house and left, we were able to get a pretty good perspective of size and wing action.

It’s too bad we didn’t capture a Sphingidae family hover demonstration, but he/she just seemed to be warming up and didn’t plan to stick around any longer than she/he had to.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall crop

Don’t know how it happened, but the autumnal equinox just never got our attention this year until we woke up to the first steady but gentle rain of the season this morning.

An almost life-affirming shower, the therapeutic rhythm of a breeze running a gauntlet of nearby poplars, and the faintest staccato of complaints of a young blue jay family across the cul du sac…you just had to be there.

It’s hard to tell from yesterday’s shots of our extensive pinot noir crop, but it’s definitely fall. And no complaints here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faux hummingbird

What an eye-opener to go along with a second cup of coffee this morning – a hummingbird moth – well, actually a sphinx moth. Casey and Stella were totally distracted, and this specimen could have cared less, hanging around or on the front screen door all day.

The Sphinx moths are good-sized moths, and resemble hummingbirds. They are frequently misidentified as hummingbirds at first glance, since they hover over flowers, uncoil, and inject their long sucking mouthparts into the nectaries of plants. Like hummingbirds, they take their share. They also beat there wings very rapidly and are seen as nothing more than a blur while hovering over the fuchias. There is really a serious resemblance. 

Moth in door's upper right corner
The most common one we have here in western Washington is the white-line sphinx – check out the wings - or the striped morning sphinx, Celerio lineate. Impressive, huh?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stick a fork in him...

After a run in the woods, a day full of chasing, catching, and tagging along, it looks like Mr. Excitement is done.

Take your pick

It’s been a couple of days since these photos were taken, because we had talked ourselves into believing that we had spotted an immature bald eagle orbiting the neighborhood. Pretty exciting stuff.

However, after two days of extensive research – OK, we looked in Audubon and Peterson Western Birds field guides and also availed ourselves of the Google – we arrived at the conclusion that our sighting might easily have been a red-tailed hawk, which isn’t nearly as cool as an eagle.

The under wing coloring doesn't seem mottled enough for a young eagle, the hawk's red-tail doesn’t quite show up in these photos like it always had before, and the osprey and Swainson’s hawks were ruled out because of their the pale undersides.

So take your pick, it just might be an eagle, but the odds, along with a big
grown-up reality check, say it’s a large
red-tailed hawk...maybe.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Twilight workout

There was no time to lose tonight with the first real rain in a long time moving in and nightfall approaching fast, so Casey and I aired out a few tosses in the wide-opened spaces of Civic Field.

It's amazing how well he does with almost no sunlight, this after almost losing his sight to pannus a year ago.

If someone were throwing me a baseball in this light I'd end up eating it.

I hadn’t used the Flip camera in a while so I apologize for the herky-jerky handheld action, but you get the idea. After about a half an hour the kid was spent, but he obviously appreciated the workout away from the front yard.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Just short of comatose

Is it even possible to find Stella napping and not feel like you have to stifle a yawn?

All of a sudden, fall

Geez, it seems like just yesterday when we were hanging around town in tee shirts and shorts. Wait a minute – it was yesterday. The sun was out, temperatures were hovering around 70, and we were working up a sweat in the yard and during a jog in the woods.

Today, fall came in with a vengeance with low clouds all day, early evening temps dipping down into the 40s, waterfowl hunkering down early and Northwest chic - the layered look - forcing most tattoos into early hibernation.

Luckily the sun did break out at days end and the display over the bay was almost worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Apology-free Dutch apple pie

As sit here watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, I’m posting a Dutch Apple Pie recipe. Of course everything in the ingredients are from whole foods, minimally processed etc etc, so this dessert is practically guilt-free and so tasty.

Not you Case. You're OK.

The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us – and the focus here is the big, fat American - can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.

In the meantime, this isn't rocket science. While an entirely plant-based diet might be still be debatable, moderation is probably the key. As Michael Pollan says, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

And besides, Vic's pie - with organic, local Mallard super vanilla - is guilt-free enough.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups water
3 cups peeled, diced tart apples
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the first four ingredients; set aside 1 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9-in. pie plate; set aside.
For the filling, combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in apples and vanilla. Pour into crust; top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Monday, September 12, 2011

He's ba-ack...

…at least for a quick bite. After all, the dynamic duo can only sit and watch for so long, and as soon as they flinch, or wag a tail, or shift, our clover munching bunny is long gone. Just like that. Luckily for Casey and Stella, he'll be back as long as the clover holds out...for a little while longer anyway. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunset sambas and the Bellwether Jazz Festival

Bellingham’s music scene got a boost today from the apparent success of its inaugural Bellwether Jazz Festival.

Sambatuque's Mikaela Romero  

World music, a seaside locale, a diverse selection of food vendors and perfect weather drew a lively crowd of aficionados to a late afternoon venue on the harbor.

A month from now summer will be long gone, but tonight, no northeasters, drizzle, scud, and most of all no talk of 9/11…just sambas coaxing another northwest sunset to take its sweet time. Already we're looking forward to next year.

  Until then, Sambatuque is sticking around for an encore.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Look into my eyes

Well I got that look this morning, when I'd only a page or two to go in the book I was reading, before I'd finished my first cup of coffee. It was the Border Collie stare down that comes with a mouth full of Frisbee, the kind that cannot be ignored once eye contact is established.

And like his Old Hemp ancestors before him, Casey was back in herding mode as I dutifully set down the book and followed him out the front door for a morning toss.

Admittedly sheep herding has never been Casey's forté, but I've got to believe he could have taught his ancestors from the British Isles a thing or two about a Wham-o.