IN A CLOSEUP MOOD

THE SOUND OF SUMMER

This week I am sharing a video from a couple years ago when Linda and I made our trip Back East to visit relatives and friends. Ever since we moved to Yakima, I have missed out on one thing that was ever-present during the summer in North Carolina. I am talking about the “Sound of Summer“. Yes, my friends, I miss the sound of cicadas singing. Fortunately, I was able to get a good video of one singing while we were visiting my sister in Jacksonville.

A lot of people really hate that sound because in the South during the height of summer, it is almost deafening. But I always liked it because it signified that summer was indeed here…and I always liked summertime the best of any time of the year. I hope you enjoyed the video (or not).

IMPORTANT DATE

Yesterday marked eleven years since Linda’s mother passed away. I know I don’t mention her as often in the blog as I do Linda’s dad, but that’s only because I didn’t get to know her as well. She was a wonderful lady, somewhat reserved at times but we can attribute that to the fact that she was British. She had a great sense of humor and was always fun to be around. We all miss her very much. She and Dad came to visit us during the summer here in Yakima a couple of times. I remember during one of those visits, coming home from work one day and coming in the back door. She was right there in the den, arms outstretched for a hug. And on the bar there were large bottles of gin lined up…my birthday present. I remember writing in my journal that night that it was nice to have parents again. We always had a good time when they visited. So in remembrance of Linda’s mom, Margaret Ballard, I am posting a picture taken at her home in California, of her most beautiful rose.

GORGEOUS LAVENDER ROSE

Below is a picture of Linda and her mother, taken at Wendy’s house in Tacoma, when we were all visiting over there for the annual birthday celebration. We love you, Mom, and miss you every day!

LINDA AND MOM

AROUND THE YARD

We have had some truly hellacious temperatures for the past week or so. The temperature here has been above 95 degrees ever since June 20th, and that day it was 89. Last Tuesday, when we had an actual temperature of 115 degrees, is the hottest I believe I have ever seen in my lifetime. Of course I’ve seen the “humiture or heat index” go above that back in North Carolina and Florida, but never have I been anywhere the actual temperature was that high. And let me tell you, it was hot as blue blazes.

Due to the extreme heat and the typical dry conditions (that seem to be even worse this year), some of our plants are suffering. Linda cut our Spirea plant down to the ground a couple of days ago because it appeared to be mostly dead. I have a little Japanese Barberry bush in the front yard that has half of it fried to a crisp. I am hoping the rest of it survives the summer. We do still have some pretty flowers in the yard, though. Our Stargazer Lily has several buds on it, more than last year, I think. One of them is open now, so I got a closeup of the flower.

STARGAZER LILY

I love how those brown things on the end of the filament (they are called “anthers”) look like fuzzy slippers. Together the filament and anther make up the stamen. Now, don’t ever say my blog isn’t educational.

Our perennial Sunflowers are wilting every day when the hot sun is on them. They usually perk back up after they get back in shade. I got a closeup of one this morning before it wilted.

PERENNIAL SUNFLOWER

My Buddleia (butterfly bush) has really been pretty this year. This spring when the flowers just started coming out they were such a deep purple color. Now the color is not as intense, so I guess the heat and sun has done that. Some of the flowers were very long this year, also. I think it’s because I didn’t cut it back last fall. I haven’t decided yet whether I will cut it back this year. I may do that since the consensus on all the gardening sites I have looked at recommend cutting them back.

Linda snapped a nice picture of our Coneflowers in the front yard this afternoon. She used it for her daily Instagram post, and then checked her archive, only to find out that she had taken almost the exact same picture two years ago today and posted it!

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl is glad that the triple digit bonanza is over (fingers…or paws…crossed) and now she can get down to some serious lolling about.

SUMMER GIRL, IN B&W

ANNOUNCEMENT: The blog is going to take a short break for a couple of weeks for so, but will be back in August, hopefully with lots of pictures of vegetable harvests! See you then!

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

“…GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN”


This past week it’s all been about two things: the heat, and my birthday!


The Pacific Northwest is in the middle of what is called a “heat dome”. I found an article on the Washington Post website (click here to read the whole article) that states a “heat dome” can form “when the summer sun warms air above the ground or ocean, that air can then rush up into the atmosphere to form a mountain — or dome — of slow-moving hot air under higher pressure that blocks new weather systems from moving in.” High temperature records are being broken on a daily basis in the Pacific Northwest. Here in Yakima the kind of temperature highs we’ve been seeing are earlier than usual for us, and have tended to be several degrees higher than what we normally see. But over on the Westside of the Cascade Mountain Range, it is a very different story. Most people over there do not have any kind of air conditioning because it is very rarely needed. However, the kind of heat they are experiencing now is very uncomfortable (debilitating, even), and also dangerous. Thank goodness Emily (Linda’s daughter) has a portable A/C unit that she can move around from room to room. Still, her A/C wasn’t able to keep up with the high temperatures on Monday despite being in the bedroom, which is much smaller than the living room area where it’s usually deployed. She told me that she was going to get another unit when the stores get restocked. Home Depot and Lowe’s in Seattle had lines of people outside the door on Sunday waiting to get inside, and the A/C units sold out in ten minutes. Over there, the high on Monday reached 105°, which I am pretty sure was a record for Seattle. Meanwhile, in Yakima, the high on Tuesday was 114°, which soundly beat the previous record high of 102° for that day. To tell you the truth, once temperatures get well into the triple digits, I can’t tell one degree from the other. But one difference may be that nighttime temperatures do not go down as low. Last night (Tuesday night) I noticed that the temperature outside at 9:00pm was 90°, which is unheard of around here. The lowest temperature overnight was 80°, while the normal low for that night in June is 51°. Quite a difference.


Below is a screenshot from Weather.com of the temperatures for the last few days in Yakima, and what is predicted in the coming weeks. At least, as they say, it’s a dry heat!

Forecast on Weather.com for Yakima, end of June and into July

Enough about the weather, it’s making me hot just thinking about it.

Let’s move on to something a bit more cheerful. Despite the heat, my potted plants are doing great! The marigolds in a pot are really pretty and have quite a few blooms on them. Sadly, both of the marigolds that I planted out in the garden were completely consumed by some kind of bug.

My lobelias are doing well. The blue one seems to be doing better than the pink one, but both of them always make me smile.

CRYSTAL PALACE LOBELIA

RIVIERA ROSE LOBELIA

LOBELIA FLOWERS JUST LOOK SO CHEERFUL!

The new penstemon that I planted is doing great, but I found that I needed to give it shade from the intense afternoon sun, so I may be moving it. However, it already has some flowers on it!

PIKE’S PEAK PURPLE PENSTEMON

The basil plants that I potted have gotten so big! I have already harvested a lot of leaves off them to use in making my Green Goddess salad dressing.

GORGEOUS BASIL LEAVES

Speaking of salads, my lettuce bed is doing great! I do need to get out there and pull some weeds, but it has been way too hot and also my back has been acting up. I managed to harvest a bunch of leaves today, so I washed and spun them, and put them in a container for future salads.

FUTURE SALADS

Out in the vegetable garden, the tomatoes are slowly producing fruit, and some of the pepper plants already have some small peppers on them. The squash and cucumbers are lagging behind everything else.

UPDATE ON RANDALL PARK

You may remember in a previous blog I had pictures of our visit to Randall Park showing the algae that was growing all in the pond there. I emailed the Yakima Parks & Recreation Department and actually got a response. A very nice gentleman with the Department sent me this reply:

Thank you for the email. We had a beaver dam upstream restricting the water and that has been removed. We have an inlet from irrigation water shares and we will increase the time we add water. We believe this will help. I do not think we can treat the water with chemicals because it feeds into Wide Hollow Creek which is highly regulated by the Department of Ecology.”

I thanked him for his reply. We haven’t had time to get back out there to check it out, but it is good to know that the city is aware of the situation and is doing all they can.

PARTING SHOT

During all this heat, Summer Girl has been reluctant to come into the house. That’s probably due to the fact that Wendy was over here visiting for my birthday, and Summer Girl never does well when we have company. She’s okay with being around people outside, but inside the house it’s a no-go. Summer still came in during the early morning when Linda got up, but after she ate her breakfast she wanted back outside. The heat doesn’t seem to bother her, though, most likely because she’s been out in it every year for the past 12 years. Her favorite spot to chill out in the morning is a little nest she has made amongst the chives.

SUMMER GIRL CHILLING AMONGST THE CHIVES

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

HEAT IS HERE

As predicted, the weather has really warmed up now and it is HOT! But it’s going to get even hotter. Next Sunday is my birthday and it is going to be a doozy. I remember my Daddy telling me that the summer I was born was the hottest they had seen in a long time. He searched all over the stores nearby and finally found a window air-conditioning unit in Fayetteville (the city where I was born). This was in the early days of Air-Conditioning. He installed it in my mother’s hospital room and she said she never had to worry about having a nurse come in because they all liked to hang out in her room! I looked it up in The Old Farmer’s Almanac website (link here) and the high temperature on June 27th of that year was 104.4 degrees. It doesn’t say what the humidity level was, but I imagine for North Carolina at that time of year, it was pretty high. Needless to say, I came into this world experiencing the heat of the South! Below is a screenshot of our forecast here in Yakima for the next couple of weeks.

SCREENSHOT OF FORECAST FOR YAKIMA THIS COMING WEEK FROM WEATHER.COM

As hot as it’s going to be here in Yakima, we are prepared for it as we usually have very hot weather in the summer. Seattle, on the other hand, usually has very mild summers. They are not prepared for 98 and 97 degree weather, which is what’s forecast for them on this coming Sunday and Monday. A lot of homes in Seattle do not have any air conditioning, or have only a window unit. When it turns hot over there, they really suffer. They have my sympathies.

Out in our yard and the garden things seem to be at a standstill. Some of the flowers have had their first blush of blooms and are now working on getting a second blooming going. I have seen a few hummingbirds briefly this past week. Their favorite flower in the yard, the pink Penstemon, still has blooms so that’s where I have been seeing them. I have seen a couple go to the feeder on the front porch, and I caught a brief video of one.

Pink Penstemon

I went on a quest this week to find another Penstemon plant, since that seems to be the hummingbird favorite. I had to go to several places before I found one. When I went to Lowe’s and asked if they had any Penstemons, the lady did not know what plant that was. As soon as she Googled it and saw that it was also called a Beard Tongue, she knew immediately what it was. I finally found several at our one and only local nursery, Roots (link here). I got the one plant that was best for part-sun, part-shade, named Pike’s Peak Purple. As the name implies, it has purple flowers, although the one I got is small and doesn’t have any flowers yet. Here is a picture of it below. The small fence is around it to keep Summer Girl (and me) from stepping on it.

Pike’s Peak Purple Penstemon (say that fast three times)

Our variegated agave plant bloomed last week and I managed to get a pretty good shot of it. We bought this plant over in Tacoma and weren’t sure it would do well in Yakima, since our climate is so different from Tacoma’s. But it has done very well and has put out a bloom for the past few years.

Agave Plant

My butterfly bush looks very pretty this year. I usually cut it back to knee-high in the fall, but last year I decided not to do that. This year it came out much earlier than it used to, and it has a ton of blooms on it. I have seen several Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies on it recently.

The video below does not have a thumbnail picture on it because I got tired of waiting for the HD version of it to process on YouTube. Have any of my fellow bloggers noticed that uploading YouTube videos takes way longer than it recently used to? Or is it just me…

+

The past couple of weeks have probably been the best as far as the looks of our flowers. When the really hot weather hits them, they usually look droopy or brown around the edges. We’ve had some lovely flowers on our Peeber Rose, and they smell so sweet ( just like she was).

The Peeber Rose (named after Precious Baby, aka Peeber, our kitty who is no longer with us)

One of the Dad Roses, the white one, has really been busy putting out the flowers for us to enjoy. This rose sits right outside our Living Room window. Sometimes I think I need to wear shades because it is so bright with all those white blooms.

The Dad Rose, white edition

On the bird front (other than hummers), we still have the usual suspects. The colorful Goldfinches and Scrub Jays still frequent the feeder in front. The male House Finches are sporting unusually vivid red colors, which I suppose is their breeding outfit.

We are still getting Quail under our feeders, but I still haven’t seen any babies. I don’t know if they haven’t had them yet, or if they just don’t bring them to our yard anymore. At least we are still having the occasional adult couple come to visit.

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl spends most of her time outside right now, although she does occasionally come inside to sprawl out on the cool floor. She has no aversion to sprawling out on the dirt, though. Thus her nickname “Pigpen”.

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

AROUND AND ABOUT

I have been wanting to go to Randall Park to check it out and see if there are any baby ducks or geese there yet. So on Sunday, we rode over there. Upon arriving at the pond viewing area, we were met with a pond almost covered in some kind of pollen or scum. It looked awful, and the birds did not seem too happy about it either. It was so thick in places that small birds could easier walk on it. I did not see any sign of any nests, no babies swimming around, and no juveniles present, so I guess the birds there are not nesting yet. Maybe it hasn’t gotten warm enough for a long enough period of time. We’ve had a warm day here and there, but for the month of June so far, it has been very chilly. It is predicted to finally warm up for good here in a few days. We will schedule another trip to the park in a few weeks to see what’s happening then. Until then, please enjoy the videos below.

While at Randall Park I wandered around looking for something of interest to photograph, since all the birds in the pond area seemed to be napping or preening. I found a tree with some sap running down the side, and it reminded me of the mosquito caught in ancient amber in the movie Jurassic Park, which we just recently watched. I wonder if the worm in the picture below will one day in the future be cloned as an example of animal life from the Quaternary Period. Here is a link (<—) to a very interesting website concerning the Geologic Time Scale. I find this quotation from the website to be very sobering: “Humans have been around for a miniscule portion of earth history.” We need to be reminded of this from time to time when we get to feeling superior to animals.

Back home things were the same as usual. I have finally gotten the straw down in my garden, and now it looks much better. I had my first harvest last Saturday when I picked four cherry-sized tomatoes off of the Sun Gold plant. They went into my lunch salad and were very tasty.

I also got the Swiss Chard plants in the ground and they have been doing well so far. I still need to plant my parsley plants in pots, but I am waiting on a nice warm day which seems to be slow coming.

It was sufficiently warm for me to sit out in the back yard a couple of days ago, if only for a short while until the wind came up. I was able to get a few pictures to share with you of our beautiful plants back there…all thanks to Linda and her green thumb. The picture below is a vertical panorama that I took with my phone.

This picture below is a horizontal panorama.

These two hostas below are the exact same plant, the smaller one was a piece taken from the larger one. To me, they don’t look exactly the same but that may be because one is younger than the other. At any rate, I think they are just gorgeous.

Summer Girl seems to find a new “favorite” spot in the garden every year. This year her new spot is near Fanti and Mingo. Maybe after this past year of isolation, she feels like she needs the company.

At least it has been warm enough for me to grill a lot lately. Grilling is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I have been grilling a lot of asparagus, but this past week we said goodbye to Asparagus Season here in Yakima. I was sad to see it go because I could literally eat my weight in asparagus (especially if it is grilled). But now we are into Cherry Season, and that is almost as good. Our favorite fruit stand, Johnson Orchard, got in some cherries last week and I got a three-pound clamshell full of those luscious little orbs. The other night I pitted a few and threw them on the grill after I had cooked supper. They made for a very delicious little dessert…I only wish I could have had them on top of some vanilla ice cream.

I’ve seen hummingbirds visit our feeder a couple of times this past week, and on Monday while taking a break from housecleaning (that means me constantly staring out the window instead of cleaning), I saw one go to our Penstemon plant in the back yard. He stayed there long enough for me to get my camera and catch a quick video. I am not sure what kind of hummer he is, but he definitely looks like a juvenile because he isn’t sporting his colors yet.

Linda saw the little guy again this morning, so they are starting to come back around. Hopefully I will be getting more video to share in the days and weeks to come.

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl prided herself on being socially distant even before it was a thing. She is, after all, a cat. Although restrictions have been relaxed here in Yakima, she is still practicing safe distancing. I just hope she doesn’t show up at the back door one day wearing a mask!

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

NOT IN THE PLAN

A PRETTY LITTLE GOLDFINCH SITTING ATOP THE “DAD ROSE”

We’ve still been having cooler than normal temperatures this past week. After that one day of 100°+ heat, it’s been quite chilly at night and in the mornings. Wouldn’t you know it, I had just taken my electric blanket off the bed, so now I have to make do with piling extra covers on. I’m considering wearing socks at night because my feet seem to be the coldest. You would think after living in the Northwest for almost 14 years, that I would have it figured out. But, no.

I had another sighting of a hummingbird just yesterday, but it was a quick visit and I wasn’t able to get a picture. I’m just patiently waiting for them to come back on a regular basis. The BIG sighting to report came last Thursday. I was finishing my breakfast and just happened to look out the front window and saw a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak standing on our feeder pole! I was stunned because although I know they are around here periodically, I had not seen one since we moved from North Carolina. I took a long, hard look to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and yes, it was indeed a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I ran to get my camera, which always seems to be in the other room at critical times, but he was gone by the time I got back. He must have been passing through. The Grosbeaks, both male and female, were regular spring visitors to our feeders in NC. I am so glad I got to see one again. I have included a picture below that I took of a male Grosbeak on our feeder in NC. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s a strange looking feeder“. I had to add some metal pieces around the sides in an effort to keep one little aggravating squirrel from emptying our feeder. I was somewhat successful, but it was a never-ending battle between him and me.

MALE ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK IN NORTH CAROLINA

I noticed today that the only sparrows I have been seeing around the feeders now are the House Sparrows. Gone are the White-crowned Sparrows, the Golden-crowned Sparrows, the Song Sparrows, and the Fox Sparrows. In exchange, we have the beautiful, colorful Goldfinches and the Red-winged Blackbird. We have been seeing quail in our yard more often now, so that’s an added plus.

GARDEN UPDATE

Every time I go to the Country Farm & Garden Center I seem to come home with more plants. This time I bought even more Parsley plants because the ones I just planted a few days ago got mostly eaten up over night. So these ones I just bought are going into pots on the patio. I also got some Swiss Chard plants since only about four of the seeds came up, and I had planted several rows. The same thing happened with my Kale seeds, so I don’t know what the deal is this year. At least most of the Lettuce seeds came up! Below are a couple of pictures of the destruction of the parsley. I’m guessing it was slugs, even though I had scattered around some organic slug bait.

CURLY-LEAF PARSLEY PLANT EATEN DOWN TO THE STEMS

ITALIAN PARSLEY LEAVES MUNCHED ON

The Marigolds that Linda planted in front are totally eaten up, there are ZERO leaves on them. One of mine out in the garden has just part of one leaf left. The other Marigold plant looks to be untouched, so far. I go through this every year, and since I refuse to use any poisonous chemicals in my garden, that’s the way it has to be. I do try natural ways of discouraging pests, but they are always “iffy” as to their effectiveness.

MARIGOLD CHEWED UP OUT IN THE GARDEN

STILL WHOLE (SO FAR) MARIGOLD IN THE GARDEN

Yesterday while walking the garden I noticed that one tomato plant has a few small yellow-orange orbs on it, which means I will have some cherry-type tomatoes to go in my salad soon. But there is a problem with that. That particular plant is supposed to be a Big Rainbow tomato, which is a large slicing-type tomato. I’ve grown that one in the past and it did well for me. But this plant is definitely not a Big Rainbow, it looks more like a Sun Sugar or Sun Gold. Someone put the wrong tag on it, and I didn’t notice at the time that the flower stems were the cherry-type. So now my garden consists of three cherry-type tomato plants (Sweet Million, Sweet 100, and Sun Sugar) and three slicing-type tomato plants (Black Krim, Early Girl, and Roma). The Black Krim plant isn’t looking very healthy, so fingers crossed for that one.

DEFINITELY NOT A BIG RAINBOW TOMATO

This picture below (from 2018) shows what the Big Rainbow tomato looks like. Oh man, it’s making me want a tomato sandwich right now…with fresh white bread, lots of mayonnaise, and salt & pepper. A Southern delicacy. YUM!!

A TRUE BIG RAINBOW TOMATO

One of my squash plants has an actual squash on it that looks like it might make it to maturity. I hope so, but we will have to wait and see. I think that’s the hardest part of having a garden, the waiting. It is usually two months at least from the time I plant the garden until I get a decent first harvest. I am especially anxious to start enjoying my home-grown vegetables with the current prices for fresh produce being so high at the grocery store now. Everything seems to cost significantly more these days, when you are lucky enough for it to even be in the store. I have never seen so many empty shelves in the stores before. I hope that things get back to normal soon.

MY FIRST SQUASH!

One thing I immediately saw when I walked the garden this morning was that one of my plants was missing. One of the last cucumbers I planted was not where it was supposed to be. I walked over and moved the soaker hose over and half of the plant was bent over under the hose, but still intact. The other half of the plant was on the ground, completely detached from its stem. Further inspection of the garden proved that something was definitely messing around last night. The end of the hose at the pepper bed had been moved, and a water shield that I had made from an aluminum can was also moved about a foot away. Looking closer, I could see a lot of white and brown fur scattered around, which looked to me like raccoon fur. So I guess they visited my garden last night and wreaked havoc. I am afraid when my garden starts producing that they will begin to eat up all my harvest, certainly not what I planned for when I planted my garden. If that does happen, I will definitely NOT be a happy gardener! Although we have seen raccoons on our property before, we have never had them visit our yard so much as they have this year. Thankfully, none of the other plants were suffering ruination, and I was even happy to see my first pepper, a Sweet Banana Pepper.

SWEET BANANA PEPPER

PARTING SHOT

I can usually tell when Summer Girl has had a bad night, most likely due to visitors like the wandering raccoons or one of the many cats that come to our yard. Lately she has been plopping herself down and stretching out whenever she comes into the house. Sometimes it’s just too cute for words.

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started