Goldfinch Bird Visits Garden

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

A beautiful American Goldfinch yellow bird has been visiting in and around our garden this year. He seems to enjoy the flowers & berries in the garden. I have been unable to get a picture of him, because every time I would notice him I wouldn’t have my camera with me. Darn! That little phone camera is absolutely useless in getting a good enough shot of a faraway flying munchkin, only producing a blurry spec in the sky to see. More detail is needed to be able to identify what a new bird specie for me, but I had my trusty real camera Nikon with a decent lens when he showed up yesterday. I got this and used this picture to find him in our reference book and we do have beautiful birds here.

No Longer a Mystery Bird

Peter and I have, “A Field Guide to the BIRDS of North America” by Michael Vanner. This great reference, lets us discover what we are looking at. Following is the  info on page 252 quoted. Get this book if you like to look at birds.

American Goldfinch
(Cardulelis Tristis)

Common across most of North America with the exception of the far north, the American Goldfinch is a familiar visitor to bird feeders with its striking plumage. It is gregarious and will often mix with other birds in large feeding flocks. It breeds relatively late in the year, building a small tightly woven cup nest of grass and plant fibers high in a bush or tree. This holds 3-6 plain blue-white eggs which are incubated by the female for 2 weeks. The young can fend for themselves 12-17 days later and juvenile birds are brownish with dark wings and tail. It eats mainly seeds, but will also eat berries and insects. It shows a particular fondness for thistles, which it eats and uses to line its nest.

Thistle absolutely loves our place, and we are constantly at-war with those voracious thorns. I am never sure if we are just loosing a battle or if we have already lost the war. Weeds, weeds, weeds. Thistle is a never tiring foe. Now, I fully understand why he loves it here so much.

Photography Surprises

OCampo Wedding FOB 1 surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB 1

Surprises in  Photography

I love to find photography surprises when I am wearing my photographer hat! As I was swinging around to catch the “father of the groom” with “the stepmother” I got the first photograph shot and then stepped in for a better one…. and captured an unexpected wonderful surprise. Four members of the groom’s family instead of two.

OCampo Wedding FOB brothers surprises
OCampo Wedding FOB brothers

Right Place & Time

In the space of a second just between the two shots, the view changed to include two more who are the groom’s brothers walking behind their father. This would be impossible to orchestrate. Can you imagine trying to capture this shot right when the shutter opened. Take 1,000,000,000. It was simply one of those photography surprises. Lucky me!

New Equipment

I was not an official photographer for the wedding but fully enjoyed being able to use our new camera, a Nikon 7500 to capture the “non-pro” shots of the day. There is no better way for me to discover equipment capabilities than just jumping in and using a camera or lens to get familiar with it. The proof is in the pudding then, cause it either works or it doesn’t.

OCampo Wedding Photographer
OCampo Wedding Photographer

I was able to just relax and capture what was going on all around in the background. What a fully enjoyable day, I didn’t have to stress, because Pat and Kim Flanigan already had a wonderful lady doing a fantastic job in that department already. Sorry, I don’t know her name, but if you need a photographer you should get this one who is pictured above!

It is an honor to be able to attend our grand daughters wedding (alias Colleen Flanigan) this weekend. We are so lucky to have people who love us, and include us in their lives like our family does. There is now a proud couple in our family, Juan and Colleen OCampo! We love you!

Bravo!

Broccoli Treats

Garden Treats Are Here

broccoli spears in strainer
broccoli spears in strainer

Broccoli treats greet us from the garden daily now. I just can’t get over how much better home grown vegetables and fruit taste, you would not believe how sweet the flavor is. Now, store bought broccoli is a somewhat bitter second place loser to me. We planted one packet of seed and all of them came up, so our broccoli patch is surprisingly bigger than planned.

 

broccoli patch
broccoli patch

Broccoli treats are not the only vegetable we have. The first vegetable was the asparagus which peeked their heads out while the snow was still melting. It is a crop we started years ago and it finally is producing quite well. We love it and next year I am planning to figure out how it is pickle it. Though we appreciate the treat of asparagus spears, we actually got a little tired of them before it went into seed production.

asparagus going to seed
asparagus going to seed

Nature Treat Shows

Gardens are amazing nature shows. Our garden was planted 2-3 weeks late due to tractor mechanical issues. For awhile we were worried that we would not have much produce this year, but everything is growing real fast in the warm days we have had lately with temperatures of 80-90 degree daytimes with 40-50 nights. Again it seems like a wonderful carousel of delicious garden treats as everything matures at it’s own pace.

I weed and water for my daily (almost) meditation. This physical effort is well worth it, for healthy food that tastes so phenomenally good.

two pea pods
two pea pods

The peas seem ready to begin picking tomorrow, so we will be busy shucking pods while we watch tv at night. Beans and zucchini are almost ready and lets not forget the corn tasseling or grapes forming on the vines. The most candy-like treats are all the berries and fruits which are gearing up to be our next garden treat. There are many more items. Blackberry, blueberry, choke-cherry, raspberry, elderberry, cucumbers, tomatoes…. followed by apple, and pears later.

blackberry hedge, apples
blackberry hedge, apples

 

 

Snowshoe Peaceful Walk

snowshoe02We have had some usage of our snowshoes here in Elk WA and I am loving it. Max and I went for a snowshoe break after lunch and found some really beautiful views. I can’t believe how he loves to jump and run in the snow. Endless energy to say the least.

Compare a couple of weeks ago to today.

snowshoe08walk 01232019

The snow was up to my knees and Max’s belly, so with each step there was deepness and spillover on the shoes making it was a real workout. Beautiful and sparkly white blanket over the ground feeling like I was walking in a quiet winter wonderland. There were deer tracks but no others to mess up the views. Except we can really see where we were, maybe I should apologize for marking up the beautiful white blanket with snowshoe tracks and dog playing leap tracks all over the place.

No, I don’t think so.

snowshoe01I usually sit here and rest but I could not mess up this perfect layer of snow on this old log across our track. The MapMyWalk app says I only went 1.13 miles in an hour and 20 minutes. But, my legs feel like I have been marching with the Nazi army soldiers for miles. You know what I mean, lifting my legs up high for each step. Either that, or I was doing lunges repeatedly… wow.

 

 

icicles grown in Elk

Nature is so amazing….

It is cold here in rural Elk Washington, winter is definitely not over. Walked out on the deck this am and made a discovery, There is quite a crop of icicles hanging down from our roof. We have a steep slope metal roof so usually snow clears hard and heavy, but not so this past week.

It seems that just the right amount of snow and warming have prevailed. We have snow on the roof extending slowly over the side. The end result is lots of icicles hanging from a sheet of snow. A great specimen of what icicles look like.

At any moment a huge dump of snow will let loose.

It almost looks science fiction, kind of creepy crawly rows of fingers reaching over the edge of the roof.  These icicles are great reflectors of light, now I see where the inventor of those christmas icicle lights got their idea from. 

Snow White Christmas Wish Granted

Snowy Snowy Night

Go to sleep dreaming of a snow white Christmas and here is what a little bit of snow overnight action looks like at out house. Isn’t it a glorious transformation? It is a truly sparkly white winter wonderland? Amazing, to say the least. Dark green trees adorned in white crystals that pick up sunlight from everywhere. See more posts of snow here at home. Or better yet, check out the snow report at 49 Degrees North, things are looking good!

snow white house 1

snow white trees 3

Plowing Snow

This snow white winter change requires another set of skills to be performed by any home-owner deciding to live in a rural setting in the inland northwest hills. Luckily, we have family willing to let us buy machinery in payments because this machine has made the clearing of this snow so much easier on these old bones. Not only that, the man driving it smiles and is happy to go outside. Pete loves his Tonka toy.

snow removal 04 Max exhaust 1 04 Max exhaust 2 snow removal back blade down

Snow plowing does something strange to our playful Swiss Mountain Dog/Pitbull named Max. Mighty Max never says no to a walk or run and is in love with the outdoors. He loves snow! Or, is it the tractor that he is in love with? Hmmm.

snow Max back at  exhaust 1 Maxbackatexhaust1Mystery Solved

I had been wondering why this bundle of love muscle has a strange smell after going out and plowing snow with Pete, and this time I discovered what it is that he likes to do. Watching while Pete started up the Kubota, I noticed Max rushing over and getting right under it in the exhaust fumes and rolling in absolute delight in the snow.

You know how some animals roll in dead things they find, well, Max rolls wherever the Kubota spews exhaust. He gets out of the way quickly when Peter starts to plow with the blade, but as soon as he can, he goes right back to where he was rolling before to smell and roll in the snow. Diesel exhaust never impressed me as attractive enough to roll myself in but… It almost looks like he is saying, “What? Mom, it smells so good! I gotta roll in it.”

Maxbackatexhaust3

You can see how Pete clears the lower road where our garden is about the most weed-free it can be, with absolutely no effort on our part. No weeding in the winter, Yay! I digress, sorry. Peter is an expert snow plower with any machine!

snow plow 2 snow white plow 3

Road & Driveway Before

Pictures of the snow white scenery before Pete plows… Here is the road in front of our property, then our driveway before he plows. Next is the lower driveway cleared looking up to the house on the hill. Pete proceeds to get all of the driveway and the road in front of our property clear, so going to work in the morning will be a breeze.snow white roadway snow white driveway

snow lower driveway house

Walking back up the hill I take some shots of the house noticing the bright red metal roof and feeling so blessed to have put such a steep roof on the place. You can see that very little snow ever accumulates. snow white house 2 snow white house 1

We have had enough shoveling of the roof on the mobile home earlier in life. We are so fortunate to not have to shovel this roof in our old age.

Main character progressive…

illustration is done gradually… here are some progressive shots to show the process for black and white rendering with watercolors. Everyone has their own process’ this is just the way I like to do it. Now I await a reply from the author deciding whether he is wearing a helmet or not.

George step one George step two George step three George step four George step five George step six