IS IT EVER GOING TO GET WARM HERE?

I know, people say “be careful what you wish for” and I know that is very much true when wishing for warmer weather here in Yakima. We all know it is definitely going to get warmer, and then hot as blue blazes, but I am wanting to know “when“. Right now, as I write this on 06/15 at 10:00am, it is only 62 degrees. So far in June, we have only had a few nights over 55 degrees, and most of the nights have been in the mid-to-upper 40’s. We have had one or two days where Linda and I had to shed our hoodies in the afternoon, but those days have been few and far between. I am still using an electric blanket on my bed at night! For someone coming from the South, this is not how late-Spring, early-Summer should be. We should be sweating by now. You would think that I’d be used to it since we have lived here in the PNW for 15 years, but I can assure you that the mindset of 55 years living in a very different climate is not easy to overcome.

Along with the cooler temperatures has come an abundance of moisture in the form of rain. I say that because just about any substantial rain here in Yakima is an “abundance“. As a result of all that extra moisture, our plants have been going wild.

SALVIA, CATMINT AND YELLOW YARROW

In the front yard out by the road we have a huge bed of Salvia and Catmint plants. The bees have been going crazy on these plants because they apparently love the nectar they produce. You can just see the mother Peony plant (which has 3 blooms this year) peeking out from behind our Spruce tree.

Here is a picture of what the Peonies looked like on June 10th. One was almost open, one was just starting to open, and one was still pretty much closed.

MOTHER PEONY PLANT

The next day, the one almost open decided to go ahead and open up. It was displaying the pretty yellow center of the flower much more prominently than the Peony I transplanted over to the driveway last fall.

ONE OF THE BLOOMS HAS OPENED UP!

This morning I took a picture of all three of the flowers since they have all now opened. They are so beautiful and I am so glad that this plant is doing well in the shady spot it is in. The wind has blown hard for the last four days and I am so surprised that these flower petals aren’t in the next county, but they have hung in there. The flower on the plant beside the driveway has not faired as well…it lost its petals a few days after it opened. There is one more baby Peony plant near the mother plant that we are going to move over near the one by the driveway. The mother plant is quite large and I am afraid it would not do well if we tried to move it, so it will likely stay where it is.

ALL THREE PEONY FLOWER PROUDLY OPEN

Here is a shot below of the front garden from the road.

Linda has been busy moving some of the Salvia plants from the front yard back to the flower bed at the back of the house. When they all bloom it is going to be a mass of flowers out there. I will take pictures of it once everything gets settled in and starts blooming. It is going to be a real English garden!

VEGGIE GARDEN REPORT

The rain and cooler temperatures have also helped the seeds that I planted in the side yard. Also, several volunteer tomatoes have come up, which I always enjoy. We never know what kind of tomato we will get when they are volunteers. Usually they are the cherry-type tomatoes, which is fine by me because they are so good in salads.

VOLUNTEER TOMATO

The lettuce bed is doing very well, with the only problem being the plants are all on top of each other. When I went out there to scatter the seed, it all came out of the envelope in one spot, and since lettuce seeds are so tiny, I just had to leave them where they fell. Here is how it looks, I am sure I will have to thin it out quite a bit.

LETTUCE PLANTS

The same thing happened when I was spreading out the beet and Swiss chard seeds. And I didn’t label anything, so I don’t know which plants are beets and which are chard. It will be a pleasant surprise, whichever they turn out to be.

BEETS OR SWISS CHARD…MAYBE BOTH

I also planted a bunch of zucchini seeds over beside my two tomatoes out in the garden proper (AKA “the back 40”). They have come up with a vengeance. I will be thinning those, too, once they are bigger.

ZUCCHINI

A week or so after I planted the zucchini seeds I found some yellow squash seeds, so I decided to put those in the ground as well. They have finally started coming up.

YELLOW SQUASH

Here’s the latest picture of my tomato plants and my Jalapeño plant that are out in the back 40. The Jalapeño actually has a tiny pepper on it already. The tomato blossoms keep falling off because the nighttime temps are not above 55 degrees yet. Hopefully that will come soon.

L TO R: JALAPENO PEPPER, SUN SUGAR TOMATO, BLACK KRIM TOMATO

Our roses across from the lettuce bed are all covered with buds and a few of them have started to open up. Here is a picture of one of the buds from the Mary Rose.

THE MARY ROSE, ONE OF MY MOTHER’S

PARTING SHOT

Linda and I were doing some trimming of our Thundercloud Plum tree the other day, and Summer Girl graciously came out to help us.

SUMMER GIRL “HELPING”

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WHERE DID THEY GO?

I have been desperately watching my hummingbird feeder for the past couple of weeks and it seems that they have gone somewhere. I haven’t seen any for the past week or so, and when that happens I begin to go into Bird Withdrawal. It’s a real condition that us birders get quite often when our favorite species does not show up.

I got some good video (below) on May 21st of a male Rufous Hummingbird at my feeder, and then later I happened to see two female Anna’s going to our Salvia plant that is right beside the seed feeder. I think this is the first time I have seen two hummers at the same plant at the same time. Of course, it didn’t last long because they started chasing each other off. They definitely do not like to share! I think they visited every single blossom on the Salvia plant.

We’ve had a lot of visits lately from our resident Scrub Jays. We have been seeing three of them, and I believe it is Mom, Dad, and the Kid. One has a much shorter tail and beak, so I’m guessing that is the youngster. I was doing some yard work the other day and I spotted him inside our golden currant hedge. I whipped out my phone and started taking some video (below), trying my best to locate him within the hedge. All of a sudden I heard a noise right in front of me and I looked down to see the baby right there, about three feet away. I kept videoing and tried my best to be still, but he kept looking at me, probably wondering what that big thing was. Later, Mom showed up and sat atop the fence while Junior was perched on top of our neighbor’s roof.

BABY SCRUB JAY LOOKING ASKANCE AT ME

One morning I threw a bunch of my old garden seeds out underneath the feeder in hopes that something would eat them. Included was a bag of corn seeds, and since the birds eat the cracked corn we buy, I thought they might eat those seeds. Well, no…and it may be because these corn seeds were not cracked…but also because they are red. They look like bits of candy in this video below, and the Jay gives them some quizzical looks. He wasn’t too sure about those red things!

MAMA JAY GIVING ME THE SIDE EYE

WHAT’S BLOOMING

Last year I transplanted a couple of small peony plants from beside the mother plant over next to the driveway so they would get more sun. The mother plant is still mostly in the shade beside our Thundercloud Plum tree. Well, this year one of the transplants had a blossom and it is open right now. What a difference some sunlight makes! This bloom is absolutely gorgeous. It has probably helped that we have had a lot of rain (for this area) this year. I took a few shots of the peony over the last few days of it opening up. The mother plant has three blooms on it but they are several days away from opening.

MY LOVELY PEONY

Speaking of the rain we’ve had this spring, we actually had a thunderstorm the other night and it poured. Everything was wet the next morning and I took some pictures of the rain drops on our Solomon Seal plants.

Our volunteer Snapdragons and Violas that come up every year have been especially beautiful this year. I am glad we are getting some benefit from the wet and cool spring because in other areas it has been a drawback. The cherry season this year is going to be later than usual, and our friends at Johnson’s Fruit Stand are telling us that it is not going to be as good as in years past. This makes me sad because our local cherries are one of my favorite things.

SNAPDRAGON (TOP), VIOLA (BOTTOM LEFT), AND SOLOMON SEAL (BOTTOM RIGHT)

PARTING SHOT

The other day while I was sitting on the front porch, Summer Girl decided to join me. Right after we got settled in, up came Mr. Scrub Jay. He was not too happy about Summer Girl being there, but she was not bothered by him at all. Although he voiced his opinion very loudly, she was unfazed.

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VISITORS

Usually when I post something about us having visitors, it means we’ve had the pleasure of seeing a new, unusual bird. This time, however, it means that we have had actual HUMAN visitors! Linda and I both were beyond delighted when our very best friends from North Carolina, Mike and Scott, came here to Yakima for a visit last week!

Our friends are almost at the mid-point of a long trek across the United States with their travel trailer. They are visiting some of the many National Parks that our country has to offer. During their visit to Mount Rainier National Park they took a little side trip for a few days and came over here to Yakima. We had only seen them one time since we moved out here 15 years ago (briefly on our Back East Road Trip in 2019), so when we heard they were coming our way, we were overjoyed.

GOOD TIMES WITH GREAT FRIENDS…THERE IS NOTHING BETTER!

We got to see them for several days, and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Their visit to our house coincided with Mike’s birthday, so we of course had a little celebration.

MIKE’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

WE HAVE SO MISSED GETTING TO CELEBRATE OUR BIRTHDAYS TOGETHER!

As you can imagine with friends who haven’t seen each other for an extended period of time, there was a lot of talking…and talking…and talking. This was, as Martha Stewart would say, a Good Thing.

THESE THREE WOULD BE RENDERED SPEECHLESS IF THEY COULDN’T USE THEIR HANDS

Sometimes it helped to raise your hand to be able to get a word in edgewise between Mike and Linda.

UH, I WANT TO COMMENT…PLEASE!”

All in all, we had an absolutely wonderful time with them, not doing a whole lot of anything except taking a short walk one day, having drinkiepoo, eating and…oh yeah, talking.

It was sad to see them go, but we knew they needed to get back on the road. How I envy their getting to see all those beautiful sights while traveling across this country!

THE GANG WAS BACK TOGETHER FOR A SHORT TIME

THE GARDEN FOR 2022

It finally got warm enough for me to get outside and plant my garden for this year. The garden is kind of sad if you compare it with years past, but at this point in my life it is just about all I can do. For the past three years my garden was slowly declining anyway due to the overgrowth of trees around the “back 40” area. This year’s garden in the back consists of two tomato plants (Black Krim and Sun Sugar) and one pepper plant (Jalapeño, of course). I also planted a few zucchini seeds, but I haven’t seen any sign of them coming up so far, so I am not sure if the seeds were too old or what.

I also planted a few peppers in the front yard in a spot that gets the most sun. That area has three Shishito pepper plants and one Banana pepper plant.

Along the side yard, in my usual spot, I sprinkled out all of the seeds that I had left, which consisted of various lettuces, beets, kale, and dill. Some of them are already coming up.

LETTUCE SEED ARE SPROUTING

AND THE BEET SEEDS ARE SPROUTING

Also along this side area there are a lot of volunteer parsley plants, as well as quite a few tomato plants. I am leaving them to see how they do.

VOLUNTEER PARSLEY AND TOMATO PLANTS

It will be interesting to see what comes up, what survives the inevitable onslaught of bugs, and what produces. I will be posting updates to Garden 2022 as things go.

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl does not enjoy company, so she spent all of the time that our friends were visiting out in the back 40. At least she is able to wallow in the dirt and entertain herself.

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THE WAY OF MAY

Spring is always an interesting time here in the Pacific Northwest. It is so different from North Carolina. Back there, a lot of the trees, bushes, and flowers will have already been in bloom for quite some time. Out here, we are just now getting some of them to bloom and a lot still have not bloomed. Our Catalpa tree just started getting leaf buds this past week. The lilac bush has a few buds on it but none of them are open yet. I think this year that bush is going to have far fewer blossoms than it has in the past because it got burnt by the 115 degree heat we had last summer.

The temperatures fluctuate so much around here in the Spring. One day it will be in the mid-70’s, and the next day it will be in the high 50’s, and then the next day it will go back up to 75. It is hard to know how to dress in the morning because by mid-afternoon you will be peeling off layers. At least the sun is coming out more and more each day, and soon I hope the temps settle down to the nice, warm 70’s or 80’s, at least for a month or so.

On May 7th, I took some pictures and video of the birds in our front yard. We have been seeing California Quail almost every day, pecking around underneath the feeder. We have anywhere from one to three couples come up, sometimes all of them at the same time. I love how there is always one male Quail who is the designated lookout (DL). He usually perches himself somewhere high up and keeps watch over the others while they eat. The DL in the picture above stood on top of a large rock that is near the feeder and kept a watchful eye.

The American Goldfinches seem to be especially beautiful this year. They look like little flying balls of yarn out there. You can’t tell from the pictures or video, but they are much smaller than the other finches and sparrows that we have. The same day that we had the Quail and Goldfinches, we also had a visit from four male Golden Crowned Sparrows. We have never had that many come to visit at one time, the most I have seen before was two. Their golden crowns were very bright so I guess they were cruising the neighborhood feeders, looking to attract mates.

At the tail end of this video below is some footage I took on May 13th of my latest hummingbird visitor. I have been seeing a couple of Rufous Hummingbirds for the past several weeks, off and on. In the video, I have inserted a freeze frame for a couple of seconds so you can check out the rusty underside of the hummingbird. This is what tells me she is a Rufous.

This past Sunday as I was watching the hummingbird feeder, I noticed some very strange behavior from the little female that has been coming around. She would quickly fly back and forth from the feeder to the tree, repeatedly. She didn’t perch or eat anything, she just flew back and forth, back and forth. The next day, I saw another somewhat smaller hummer, with a very small dark spot on the throat, go to the feeder and sip the nectar but it did not perch. I saw it come a couple of times. I think that was the Mama hummer I saw on Sunday showing the baby where to go to get food, and I think the next day it was the baby coming to the feeder. I didn’t see any hummers at all on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t show up. This morning (Wednesday) I saw one twice at the feeder, sitting on it. Not sure if it was the possible baby. And that may be a totally wrong assessment of the behavior, but it would be so nice if it were true.

A SURPRISE PRESENT

A friend of mine back in North Carolina sent me an email a couple of weeks ago and asked me what my favorite color is. I told her “Carolina Blue“, which is a light blue, what we used to call Baby Blue. Most people in North Carolina call this particular color Carolina Blue because that is the color of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Anyway, yesterday I received a package from my friend and it was the most beautiful crocheted throw that I have ever seen! Below is a picture of it on the big bed. I do think that the lighter grayish-looking color in the picture is a pretty close match in person to Carolina Blue. I can’t imagine how long it takes to make something like this because I have never done it myself, but I am very envious of those who possess this particular talent. I am very grateful to my friend for such a beautiful gift!

In case anyone is wondering, the spread on top of the bed is a quilt that was made by Linda’s grandmother on Dad’s side, and the Peanut Gallery on the pillows were sent to me by my sister and her partner.

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl has been enjoying being outside more, and I can’t tell you how much we’ve been enjoying having her out there instead of inside whining at us.

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WAYBACK WEDNESDAY

It’s time for another edition of Wayback Wednesday! This is when I post some pictures from my past and tell the story behind them. I’ve been thinking about this subject for a while now, so I thought this would be a good time to post it. The subject of today’s post is Chimney Rock State Park (website here). If you visit the website, there is a lot of interesting information on the “About Us – History” tab. The Park got its name from a natural rock feature, the main attraction, that is named Chimney Rock because it looks like a chimney.

I have been to this park many times over the years. It’s located in Rutherford County, in the western part of North Carolina. I can remember going there as a little kid, and it was always a lot of fun. The picture below was taken by my Daddy, I’m guessing probably around 1960, and it shows my sister (standing) and me (sitting) on top of the “chimney“.

BRAVE YOUNGSTERS ON THE ROCK

In 2006, Linda and I decided to visit a few places in North and South Carolina before we made the move out West. One such trip was to Asheville to visit Chimney Rock. I wanted to show her this wonderful place that I used to visit when I was young. The following pictures were taken on that trip.

You can see in the picture below why Chimney Rock is so named, it really does look like a chimney.

SEE THAT STAIRWAY? NOT GOOD FOR SOMEONE WITH A FEAR OF HEIGHTS

The park has many hiking trails to explore, and as I recall we took one such hike called the Skyline Trail. I remember this went along the top of the area but was quite a walk. In various places along the trails you will come to stairs to climb, just because the trail goes along the side of a mountain and there is nowhere to walk. I remember some of these stairs were rather precarious. Lookout points were positioned along the way so you could rest and enjoy the view. This cute traveler was taking a break to catch her breath from the climb.

TAKING A BREAK

We really looked like tourists with our backpack, cameras, binoculars, etc. I remember I bought a hiking stick in the gift shop, and there were several places along the Skyline Trail that I was glad I had that stick!

INTREPID HIKERS

One lookout that we stopped at is called Vista Rock. This gives you a fantastic view of the surrounding area and Lake Lure.

BEAUTIFUL VIEW

LAKE LURE, WHERE PART OF THE MOVIE “DIRTY DANCING” WAS FILMED

As you go along the trail you get different views of the Chimney. As we grew ever closer I took some pictures from various angles.

Along the way to the top we passed by Falls Creek, which was making its way to Hickory Nut Falls. Signs along the way point out places that were used in making the movie The Last of the Mohicans.

There are plenty of rocks around where you can stop and rest for a few minutes. The scenery is always beautiful. Believe me, this trail was quite the challenge.

Almost to the Chimney, I stopped and took a shot showing the people on top of it. Apparently I was much more brave and adventurous when I was young because I went over to the top of the Chimney back then. This time, there was no way I was going to go on that little tiny stairway that spanned over absolutely nothing. I think Linda braved it, but I just could not bring myself to do it.

BRAVE SOULS WHO DARED TO CROSS THE TINY STAIRWAY

After we went back down from the top of the Skyline Trail (I think we took a stairway down, which was a shortcut), we decided to take the walk to see Hickory Nut Falls (one of the tallest waterfalls East of the Mississippi at 404 feet tall). This trail was much shorter and easier, but after having taken that long hike, we were about pooped. We made it, though, and the view of the Falls was worth it.

HICKORY NUT FALLS

If you are ever in North Carolina and would like a nice place to visit in the mountains, check out Chimney Rock State Park and nearby Lake Lure. And while you are at it, be sure to go to the city of Asheville. This is one of our favorite cities that we have visited. I plan to do a blog about this city in a future Wayback Wednesday post, so stay tuned.

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl was unimpressed with all the pictures of Chimney Rock. She was content just to sit outside on a beautiful day here in Yakima and contemplate the universe.

MY SWEET SUMMIE

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