ODDS AND SODS

I still haven’t been able to get my iMovie program open on my computer, so I don’t have any videos to share with you this week. Hopefully I will be able to figure out how to get it fixed soon. In the meantime, I still have some recent photographs I can show you.

We encountered something strange on our walk at the Arboretum the other week. As soon as we got out of the parking lot and onto the Arboretum grounds, we came upon this sight below.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but there are lots of round, bright green objects on the ground. We were both puzzled as to what these things were. I had never seen anything like it before, and neither had Linda.

We found one that had been broken open and we could tell that it was some kind of seed pod.

I posted a picture of it on a local Facebook group and several people replied that it was an Osage Orange, sometimes called a Hedge Apple. Although it is not poisonous, it is not eaten by humans or livestock because of its woody pulp and latex-like secretions when cut. However, squirrels will get the seeds out and eat those. We did see a few squirrels running around, so hopefully they feasted on some of the seeds.

I found this picture below of the beautiful chrysanthemum that I posted a closeup of last week. It’s very strange, but it doesn’t look the same color as the flowers do in the closeup. Maybe it has something to do with the angle that the light was hitting it. It looks orange from a distance, but the individual flowers look pinkish!

BEAUTIFUL CHRYSANTHEMUM AT THE ARBORETUM

CLOSEUP OF SAME MUM AS IN PICTURE ABOVE

HUMMINGBIRD UPDATE

I wish I had a video I could share, but right now that isn’t possible. I do have a pretty good picture of a hummer at the new feeder. I was watching them closely this morning and I believe there are three hummers going to the feeder. There are two smaller ones that only have a few colored feathers on their chins. I have seen both of these fellows at the feeder at the same time, sitting there for about 20 seconds before one of them starts the chase. Then this morning, while one of the little guys was at the feeder, a somewhat larger hummer came up and his entire head was a lovely fuchsia color. It was beautiful! Of course, they both immediately left on a chase, but I did see the bigger guy later a couple of times and he definitely has more feathers with color on his entire neck area. I am hoping I can at least get a picture of him for next week’s blog.

ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD ON THE NEW HEATED FEEDER

THE LAST OF THE GARDEN

I finally got around to making some hot sauce with the last of the jalapeños and the one habanero from my garden. I added in some yellow bell peppers to the hot sauce just so it wouldn’t be too hot and also to keep the color I wanted. It turned out pretty tasty. I also am still getting a few red tomatoes every now and then from the green ones I have sitting on top of my bar. They aren’t as tasty as they would be if they had ripened out in the garden, but they are still way tastier than the ones you get at the grocery store.

YUMMY HOT SAUCE

PARTING SHOT

Even though today is National Black Cat Day, Summer Girl has agreed to relinquish her spot this week to her two cousins in Florida. On a very sad note, my sister Manners and her partner Susan had to say goodbye to their little chihuahua, Mimi, this past week. We are all devastated as she was truly a little sweetheart, and Linda and I are both so glad we got to meet her when we visited in 2019. Manners and Susan are totally at a loss and don’t know what to do with themselves without her. After twelve years of her constant companionship, there is a big empty space where Mimi used to be. They are going to be missing her forever, but are glad of all the years she was in their lives. Rest in peace, sweet little girl!

SWEET LITTLE MIMI

The week before the sudden loss of Mimi, their black kitty Indigo fell and broke his leg. Both of these events happened within days of each other. I’m glad to report that Indigo is doing well but has several weeks of recovery ahead of him. I am sure he is wondering where his buddy Mimi is.

POOR LITTLE INDIGO (INDY)

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ARBORETUM WALK

We finally managed to get a walk at the Arboretum this past Sunday. It was a bit overcast and quite chilly, but we wanted to go so we could check out the Bird Blind. On the way to the blind we passed some beautiful flowers and trees, so I was able to get several pictures showing the beautiful fall colors.

This bush below had leaves that were absolutely glowing.

We don’t know what this flower is in the picture below, but it sure does look like spiders, so it’s perfect for this time of year.

This gorgeous chrysanthemum below greeted us as we started our walk to the Bird Blind. The morning dew can still be seen on the petals.

I couldn’t pass up taking a closeup of this purple flower.

A group of bamboo plants have been planted along the path on the Greenway adjacent to the Arboretum. The greens and yellows of the leaves provide a nice contrast.

A pile of leaves is always good for providing nice fall colors.

The trees at the Arboretum still have some green leaves that haven’t changed color yet.

These berries gave a nice splash of color to the backdrop of fading leaves.

Once we got to the Bird Blind, Linda spread some seeds out around the perimeter of the feeding area. We immediately saw a Golden-Crowned Sparrow with bands around his leg. He was kicking around, uncovering the seeds.

We saw another Golden-Crowned Sparrow, this one without bands.

We also saw a lot of Mature White-Crowned Sparrows, and also another bird that had brown stripes on its head where the White-Crowned Sparrow has the white stripes. I posted a picture of this bird on the local BirdYak website, and our resident bird expert, Jeff Kozma, confirmed that this was an Immature White-Crowned Sparrow. Someone else mentioned that they thought it was a Chipping Sparrow. I looked up both of these birds on the Cornell Bird Identification website and they are almost identical. But I am pretty sure that Jeff is correct because there are subtle differences, and the bird in my video looks like the picture of the Immature White-Crowned Sparrow on the Cornell website.

We also saw some Oregon Juncos. This is a form of the Dark-Eyed Junco that is found in Western North America. This bird, when mature, has a dark hood, brown on its back, and buff-colored sides. The contrast on immature birds is more muted. I believe this one in the video below is an immature.

It was too chilly to stand around at the Bird Blind for very long, so we decided to take a little stroll along the Greenway. This view of the Yakima River surrounded by fall colors appeared as we stepped onto the path.

Most of the trees along the Greenway path were in the process of turning color.

We walked along the pathway down to Buchanan Lake, which provided us with a nice scenic view of the lake surrounded by fall color.

Back at the house I found some fall color just outside our front door where our Solomon Seal plants are located.

My butterfly bush still has a few blossoms on it and I have seen the hummingbirds go to them on occasion. This blossom had a white feather caught on it.

Not only do our pyracantha bushes provide fall color, they also have ample berries for the birds to enjoy. I saw a group of Cedar Waxwings going to these berries a couple of weeks ago. They are such beautiful birds. I was busy grilling at the time so I didn’t get any pictures of the birds.

Our sunflowers in the front yard still have a lot of pretty flowers on them. I cut off a few and put them in a vase in our living room. They brightened up the room for several days.

This past Friday I got my heated hummingbird feeder set up. It was quite a logistical problem to get the cord plugged in to our outside electrical outlet, but with the help of a couple of extension cords, Linda and I managed to get the job done. I left the old feeder up as well so the hummingbirds would be more comfortable with the new feeder. At first they just looked at it, but slowly they started going to it. The glow of the feeder against the dark of the morning makes it look like a Christmas tree ornament.

I got a very brief video of a hummer at the new heated feeder. They have gradually gotten used to it and now both of our resident hummingbirds are going to it and fighting over it.

I took a longer video this morning while it was still somewhat dark so that the feeder was lit up. However, I was unable to download it onto the computer because a recent update to iMovie for my Mac has messed up the program and it will not open. I am hoping that a subsequent update will correct this problem, and then I can post my video in next week’s blog.

PARTING SHOT

Even though “her” garden has been gone for a couple of weeks, Summer Girl still likes to go out there and wallow around in the straw.

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A LITTLE OF THIS, A LITTLE OF THAT

FIERY FALL COLORS

We took a walk at Tahoma Cemetery on Sunday, October 3rd. The leaves were starting to turn on the trees so it was nice to have a bit of color to accompany our walk.

We ran across a Black-Billed Magpie who was hopping around, pecking at pine cones to find a few stray seeds for his breakfast.

A little further along we saw a flock of Canada Geese. They were split into two groups, one larger containing about a dozen geese, and a smaller group that looked like a family unit. There were four adult geese and one smaller goose. He was the only small goose we saw among the two groups. I don’t know if he was the only youngster there, or if he was just smaller than the rest of them. At any rate, they were all foraging around in the grass for insects or grass seed, and whatever else they could find to eat.

Whenever we walk at the cemetery, we always take the time look around at the tombstones. Ever so often we will come across one that has objects on top of it placed there by someone. Sometimes the objects are in tribute to the deceased person’s life, but often they are placed there for reasons we will never know.

AN ODD TRIBUTE

Back at home on the bird front, we continue to see at least two Anna’s Hummingbirds. They come just about every 15 minutes or so, usually alternating between the two of them. Every now and then they will chase each other, so I know we still have at least two. In the video below, I have slowed the first part of the video down to 30% of normal speed. You can see flashes of color on this little fellow’s neck. The second part of the video is at normal speed. I think both parts of this video show the same hummingbird because this one has darker feathers under his chin than the other little guy.

KEEPING AN EYE OUT FOR THE OTHER HUMMER

I love when the hummers spot me at the window and look directly at me, as if to say, “What’s that big thing you’re holding and pointing at me?

HUMMER LOOKING AT ME

We’ve also been seeing a lot of the Scrub Jays in our yard. Sometimes we have three of them at one time, all hopping around and chasing all the other birds away. But not to worry, the sparrows certainly get their share of time at the feeder (or under it). I always notice the Scrub Jays out of the corner of my eye when they land in the front yard. Their bright blue feathers are very striking against the drab brown colors of the dirt. One thing I will say about the Jays, they sure know how to pack in the seeds!

WISE WORDS FROM A BOOK

Linda just recently finished reading the book A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, and she really liked it. She takes time out of her reading on occasion to read me a passage or two that she thinks I might like. Following is a passage from this book that she read me the other day:

“The captain pointed discreetly down the bar to where a bushy-eyebrowed apparatchi (def: a member of the Communist party) was chatting with a young brunette. Both of them were holding drinks in a striking shade of magenta.

1st Gentleman: ’I gather from Audrius (the bartender) that that concoction contains ten different ingredients. In addition to vodka, rum, brandy, and grenadine, it boasts an extraction of rose, a dash of bitters, and a melted lollipop. But a cocktail is not meant to be a mélange. It is not a potpourri or an Easter parade. At its best, a cocktail should be crisp, elegant, sincere—and limited to two ingredients.’

2nd Gentleman: ‘Just two?’

1st Gentleman: ‘Yes. But they must be two ingredients that complement each other; that laugh at each other’s jokes and make allowances for each other’s faults; and that never shout over each other in conversation. Like gin and tonic.’ he said, pointing to his drink.”

So, there you have it, my friends…literary proof that a gin and tonic is the ultimate cocktail!

PARTING SHOT

I knew it was bound to happen one day. Summer Girl’s sordid past has finally caught up with her and she wound up in the hoosegow.

SUCH A DEJECTED EXPRESSION!

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BUSY WEEK

This past week has been a busy one for us. Being that we are both retired, our days are usually not all that eventful. However, we did have to go out of town for a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, which threw our entire schedule off. Thus the reason why this week’s blog is a day late.

There are a lot of beautiful snapdragons blooming in our yard right now. The fuchsia-colored one in the picture above is right out by the street. We have never planted any snapdragons but a nearby house has a lot of them, so these are probably offspring of those plants. Always nice to get free plants in your yard! We never know where they are going to show up, either, but most of them are in our front yard. Here are some more of the colors that are blooming right now. I think these are the prettiest ones we have ever had!

I think the last one, the pink one, is my favorite because I like the way the background is blurred out. It is nice to have flowers blooming this time of year, when everything else is starting to go dormant in preparation for winter. Of course, we know winter is right around the corner because I saw our first Oregon Junco of the season a couple of days ago. I wasn’t able to get a picture because he flew away and I haven’t seen him since. But when you see one, you know more are on the way and that is our harbinger of Winter.

Since we are now on the subject of birds, we have had a couple of uncommon visitors to our yard this past week. The first one I saw on Sunday. I was sitting in my chair in the living room and out of the corner of my eye I saw this big bird land on our bird feeder hook. I looked up expecting to see a Eurasian Collared Dove, but instead I saw this…

A very large Cooper’s Hawk was just sitting there, looking around. Fortunately for the sparrows, they spotted him before he landed and they flew to safety. Poor Coop didn’t get any lunch that day!

We weren’t the only ones busy this week. The little hummers have been zipping about, going to the feeder on the regular. There are still at least two hummers visiting because they are constantly chasing each other away.

I can’t really tell one from the other except that one of them seems to be a bit fatter than the other one. I have named that one Chunky Monkey. Here’s a picture of the little rascal, just look at that belly!

CHUNKY MONKEY WITH SWEET FEET

It rained here (well, sprinkled, actually) all day this past Monday. You can see the raindrops falling on the videos. The rain doesn’t seem to slow the hummers down one bit, though.

One of the things I like most about these little guys is their tiny feet. They just have the sweetest little feeties on them. Hummers do not walk, so they don’t need long legs and big feet. They can only shuffle sideways on a perch, but you will never see one actually walking because their legs aren’t made for that.

YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?

One of them in the video below kept visiting the feeder and then leaving, coming back, and then leaving again, like he couldn’t decide what to do. He even perched on the bird feeder hook at one point. This little fellow has some colorful neck feathers that you can get a glimpse of every now and then.

I received my heated hummingbird feeder the other day and I’m quite excited about getting to have them visit me all winter. Be prepared for hummingbird videos for the next several months!

The same day I was videoing all the hummers (Monday), I also spotted a bright yellow bird up in the plum tree. I managed to get a short video of him before he disappeared. It’s the little Wilson’s Warbler, a migrant that we have seen before this time of year.

WILSON’S WARBLER

PARTING SHOT

I was out in the garden one day and Summer Girl followed me out there, as usual. She has been enjoying her time lounging around in the straw because she knows it isn’t going to last much longer. She also likes to roll around in the dirt, mainly because she is part pig.

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

TRANSITION

THE MARY ROSE

Sorry the blog was late this week but we have been busier than usual, which is to say that we actually had things to do this week!

Not much has been happening around here, basically we’ve just been starting to make the transition from Summer to Fall. After our brief period of Fall for about two weeks, we will go into what I consider to be Winter…’round about mid-October. Oh yeah, the electric blanket has been on the big bed for about the past month. Yes, I am very cold-natured!

Since I was absent for a good part of the summer, I still have a few pictures and video to share with you. I wasn’t lollygagging all of that time, I did still manage to use my camera!

BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE

ANOTHER EXPERIMENT USING THE COLOR FILTER ON MY CAMERA

One big announcement I’d like to make…Linda has finally made the transition into the 21st Century! She made the big leap from her little Luddite phone (which she’s had for 9 years) to a Smartphone. Nevermind the fact that she was forced to do this, as our carrier was going to cease service to her phone after the first of the year. We made the decision to switch carriers as well, and we are very happy with our new service, so far.

OLD PHONE ON LEFT, NEW PHONE ON RIGHT

There is definitely going to be a learning curve on this new phone. I’ve been trying to set it up for her and some of it is just baffling to me. It has been almost two years since I had an Android phone, and they have certainly advanced a lot from the model I used back then. Give me a good ole iPhone any day, much easier to use. She had to take a picture with it as soon as I got it set up, and here is the result below.

AT MY FAVORITE PLACE, THE KITCHEN!

Of course I have some more hummingbird video to share with you. I just do not tire of watching these little guys. They are still visiting my feeder on a regular basis every day. I saw in one of my Facebook nature groups that the Rufous Hummingbirds have already left Yakima on their migration south, but the Anna’s Hummingbirds are the ones we are seeing now because they stay here year-round. Quite often when I watch the hummingbirds it reminds me of my mother. She did love those little birds so much. I remember when we both got interested in watching hummingbirds. It was back in the 1980’s, right after we had watched a nature program on PBS called Marty Stouffer’s Wild America, which was part of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. There was an episode about hummingbirds entitled “Featured Jewels,” which I thought was a very appropriate title. My mother and I were both captivated by the beautiful photography of these tiny little birds that we had never seen in person. Shortly after that, we got a hummingbird feeder and before we knew it, we had hummingbirds! I am sure they were around before that, we just had never noticed them. From that point on, my mother was interested in anything that concerned hummingbirds. I still have one of her hummingbird figurines on my bookshelf. The first video below is quite long, but there are some interesting things to look for: the first hummer has a cute little strand of feather sticking up near his beak (he’s the one I nicknamed Alfalfa); the hummer at time marker 2:38 has a strand of spiderweb stuck to his beak; at time marker 3:39 this hummer keeps opening wide his beak (I’m not sure about this behavior, perhaps he was warning off another hummer that is out-of-frame? If anyone has any idea, please let me know in the comments).

Since I have found out that the Anna’s Hummingbirds stay in Yakima all winter, I have a heated feeder on order. That way my little babies can have some warm nectar during the cold winter months!

PARTING SHOT

Summer Girl is still enjoying her time outside before it turns cold. She sometimes stays out in the garden almost all day, only coming in at lunchtime briefly to eat a few bites, and then again in late afternoon for her treats (if she’s been a good girl).

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

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