Sunday/ Happy Father’s Day!

I am fondly remembering my dad today.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

This picture is a still frame from a film reel sequence, shot with an 8mm film camera, circa 1960.  The location is the beach flats at Hermanus in the Western Cape, in South Africa. The magnificent driving machine is a 1959 Ford Fairlane (V8 engine). My dad had just used it for doing several ‘doughnuts’ on the beach.  The ‘TV’ on the licence plate stands for Transvaal (province), Vereeniging (town).

Saturday/ weed or not a weed?

Whoah .. is this a giant weed? It looks like one, I thought, as I walked by it tonight.
I looked it up and it’s the great mullein or common mullein. Mullein itself derives from the French word for soft, and yes, it’s a weed – kind of.

The Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has giant, soft, hairy leaves and can grow to 6 ft tall.  It’s not so aggressive that it’s a problem in agriculture, but it can crowd out native grasses and herbs. It hosts a number of insects, some beneficial – but it can also host some fungal diseases. [Source: Wikipedia]
This one I know: it’s foxglove (genus: digitalis). Pretty, but don’t mess around with it, or chew on it! since the entire plant is poisonous from the roots up.

Friday/ Timothy hay, for the chinchilla

Hey, it’s Timothy hay! .. for pet rabbits, guinea pigs or chinchillas. $16 for 6 pounds of hay.

The stock market here in the States does not seem too freaked out yet by the Trump Administration’s tariff wars and threats of starting a real war in Iran, but we will have to see where we end up at the end of 2019.

Today an online pet food purveyor called Chewy, had its IPO, and ended the day 60% higher.

Just for fun, I wondered if would have food for say, a pet chinchilla that I might have. Well, it turns out 1. that they do, and 2. that chinchillas love Timothy hay. I did not know that! Washington State is known worldwide for the quality of its Timothy hay.

Here’s CNBC’s reporting of trading for the stock. The stock ended the day at $34.99, 59% above the initial offering price.

Thursday/ gold made early Seattle prosper

Johannesburg in South Africa is sometimes said to be the real ‘El Dorado’: the city that was built on the discovery of gold*. Seattle, for its part, was a pioneer outpost in the late 1800s, and was lifted out of an economic slump and prospered by 1900, due to the discovery of gold.

Here is a brief timeline of Seattle at the end of the 1800s:
1889 Seattle’s Great Fire reduces 50 blocks of downtown to rubble.
1893 The financial Panic of 1893 causes a national recession.
1897 On July 17, the Portland Steamer docks in Seattle, carrying half a ton of gold from the Klondike region in Canada.
Some 10,000 men and boys leave for the Alaskan and Canadian goldfields.
1898 Canada creates the Yukon territory.
1900 By the time the decade and the century ended, Seattle’s population had doubled to 81,000.

*The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was a gold rush in 1886 that led to the establishment of Johannesburg, South Africa. There was once a massive inland lake, and its silt and gold deposits from alluvial gold that had settled there, formed the gold-rich deposits that South Africa is famous for.

A retrospective (printed in 1996) of Seattle Times articles from the late 1800s, that I found in the Seattle Public Library.

Wednesday/ hello, Steller’s jay

Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri). This must be a juvenile bird, with the fluffy feathers on its chest.

Here is a Steller’s jay that sat for a few minutes on the fence here at my house.

My camera’s 200 mm-equivalent zoom lens is not quite up to the task to get a tack sharp picture, but that’s OK.  I’m not ready to splurge on a 500mm lens just yet.

Tuesday/ new rainbow paint

It’s nice to see that the City of Seattle has applied new paint on some of the rainbow pedestrian crossings here on Capitol Hill.
I guess it’s too bad we cannot stop pedestrians and traffic from dirtying them up all over again, right?

Here’s the corner of 11th Avenue and Pine Street on Capitol Hill with its freshly painted pedestrian crossing. The real rainbow has seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. On rainbow flags and gay symbols the indigo is left out. The green in this paintwork looks like teal to me, but hey, it’s all fine. I love the colors.

Monday/ warm weather on the way

We have warm weather on the way for the city: we will touch 90 (32 °C) on Wednesday.
Time to let cool air in at night and in the morning, and keep the shades on the windows down in the day! (I don’t have central air-conditioning in the house).

These beautiful red poppies are on the north end of 18th Ave here on Capitol Hill. They made me look up Monet’s famous painting with the poppies! See the next picture.
Claude Monet (1840-1926) | Poppies | 1873 | Oil on canvas
From the Musée d’Orsay website: When he returned from England in 1871, Monet settled in Argenteuil and lived there until 1878. These years were a time of fulfilment for him. Supported by his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, Monet found in the region around his home, the bright landscapes which enabled him to explore the potential of plein-air painting. He showed Poppy Field to the public at the first Impressionist exhibition held in the photographer Nadar’s disused studio in 1874. Now one of the world’s most famous paintings, it conjures up the vibrant atmosphere of a stroll through the fields on a summer’s day. Monet diluted the contours and constructed a colourful rhythm with blobs of paint starting from a sprinkling of poppies; the disproportionately large patches in the foreground indicate the primacy he put on visual impression. A step towards abstraction had been taken. In the landscape, a mother and child pair in the foreground and another in the background are merely a pretext for drawing the diagonal line that structures the painting. Two separate colour zones are established, one dominated by red, the other by a bluish green. The young woman with the sunshade and the child in the foreground are probably the artist’s wife, Camille, and their son Jean.

Sunday/ 2020 Democrats swamp Iowa

There was a carnival of politics in the state of Iowa today, with 19 of the Democratic 2020 presidential candidates taking the stage at the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2019 Hall of Fame event in Cedar Rapids.

Each candidate had only 5 minutes to speak, though. Sigh. I just hope that the Democrats will pull out all the stops, hit up all their rich donors, and deploy social media campaigns and whatever else they can, to get Trump out of the White House.

My breakfast this morning. On the left, on Friday’s TIME magazine cover, is Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (77) who was also in Iowa. I realized after I had taken the picture that I had quite a worldwide ensemble on the table: melamine tray from China, coffee mug from South Africa, with coffee from Colombia, bone china cereal bowl from Japan, oatmeal from Ireland, with blueberries from Canada, and walnuts from California.

Saturday/ no tariffs on Mexican goods (yay?)

Leave my Mexican avocados alone! I put them on my toast, almost every day.

If we are to believe Trump (I am not), his threat to slap a 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico, unless they do better at stopping migrants trying to reach the US border, had the desired effect.  (Trump tweeted Friday night that tariffs are now off the table, and that a last minute agreement with Mexico was reached).

Well, it turns out that much, or all of the terms of the ‘agreement’, were actually reached months ago between Mexican officials and the White House, says the New York Times (see below).

Friday/ rent control: yes or no

Should a city such as Seattle with really expensive housing costs, adopt rent control* measures? Maybe, but probably not.

It usually turns out that rent control creates a whole new set of problems. Renowned economist Paul Krugman writes that rent control inhibits construction of new housing, creates bitter tenant–landlord relations, and in markets with not all apartments under rent control, causes an increase in rents for uncontrolled units.
A better approach for city councils could be to provide housing subsidies or tax credits to renters.

*Rent control or rent regulation is a system of laws, administered by a court or a public authority, which aim to ensure the affordability of housing and tenancies on the rental market for dwellings. [Source: Wikipedia]

Could I sign her petition for rent control? asked the lady at the grocery store entrance today. ‘Hmm- I don’t know enough about it’, was my honest reply. So she gave me this brochure, but all it said was ‘We need rent control’. Well, in a free market and in order to be fair to everyone, even rich people – those that own entire apartment buildings – it’s just not that straightforward.

Thursday/ 75 years on: we shall never forget their sacrifice

Time marches on, and here we are, 75 years from the day in World War II, on which the Allied Forces had landed on the beaches in Normandy.

After sunset on June 5th, an enormous fleet of some 6,900 Allied vessels made their way to the French coastline. The first Allied soldiers set foot on the five beaches at about 6.30 am.  (The five beach-heads would only be connected by June 12th, much later than planned, though). An estimated 4,400 Allied soldiers died on D-day, and an equal number or more German soldiers.

By the end of June 1944, some one million Allied soldiers were on the ground on French soil. The casualties for both sides during Operation Overlord that lasted until Aug. 30, 1944, would come to some 450,000 dead.

D-Day: This is How the Invasion Went  The boxes at the top are the code names for the landing beaches. The orange shows the areas that the Allied forces occupied on the first day after the D-day landings. (Their goal was to reach the dotted lines). The port city of Caen (lower right), a key target, was only completely liberated by July 21. [Graphic by Theunis Kruger, Grafika24, from Die Burger newspaper].

Wednesday/ ditching the whitening

I read once that Americans have somewhat of an obsession with super white teeth – so that must be why so many toothpastes are ‘whitening’ or ‘extra whitening’.

Well, says my dentist:
1. if you are using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, whitening ingredients detract from the effect of the potassium nitrate (which helps with tooth sensitivity); and
2. the amount of whitening actually achieved with toothpaste is minimal.
So I’m ditching my Sensodyne Extra Whitening toothpaste, and will go with one that only has the potassium nitrate.

I got this toothpaste sample from my dentist, and I like it, but I have not been able to find it in a store yet. I guess I could order it online from You-Know-Who, but I will try another store or two first. The dentist says to smear a little toothpaste over the tooth and gums where the heat & cold sensitivity is, before brushing, to amplify the effect of the potassium nitrate.

Tuesday/ at the carwash

I learned not to park my car under the trees when I go play tennis at the Woodland Park tennis courts. Little spots of pine gum end up all over the car. Luckily, there is Uncle Ike’s Car Wash to take care of that.

The car wash used to be the ‘Brown Bear’ Car Wash, but it was bought out and taken over by Uncle Ike’s, the local marijuana products franchise.
Business must be booming for Uncle Ike’s!

My car wash routine is very simple. STEP 1: Rinse the car with the high-pressure rinser. STEP 2: Use the soapy broom with the soft bristles to go over the whole car & all windows. GO FOR IT and be THOROUGH but QUICK! You pay for every minute that you use the equipment! STEP 3: Final rinse with the high-pressure rinser (shown in picture), to get the soap off. All of this takes 5 or 6 minutes, and costs $6. And voila! you have a clean car.

Monday/ the rainbow flags are up

I stopped for a moment on the way to the dentist this morning, to take a picture of the colorful rainbow flag at the entrance of the new Hyatt Regency. (June is Gay Pride month).

The Hyatt Regency has been open for business since November. I’m not sure if they are already able to fill their enormous hotel to its full capacity, with guests. They may have to be patient and wait for the extensions to the nearby Washington State Convention Center, to be completed. That date is still more than 18 months away though, some time in early 2021.

Saturday/ a rabbit invasion?

I found this wabbit* right here on 17th Avenue on Capitol Hill tonight. He was not too skittish. In fact, he rolled around for a bit in the flower bed dirt after he had spotted me.
*It’s an eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).

I see on the message boards that long-time residents think there is a bit of a rabbit invasion going on – an influx into Capitol Hill from other large green spaces such as the one around Husky Stadium.

Says one commenter: ‘Rabbits are a pest and an invasive species’. I think that is correct; they are prolific breeders.
‘People are an invasive species’ retorted another. I think that is a true statement as well.

Friday/ a rose is a rose is a rose

A rose is a rose is a rose
– Gertrude Stein, from the 1913 poem ‘Sacred Emily’

[From Wikipedia] Among Stein’s most famous quotations, this line is often interpreted as meaning ‘things are what they are’, a statement of the law of identity, ‘A is A’. In Stein’s view, the sentence expresses the fact that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it.

I know I have posted pictures of roses from my front yard in the past! .. but here is one from right now (smile). The rose smells every bit as intoxicating as it looks.

Thursday/ three bears, breakfasting in style

Here’s a cute picture (taken in the late 1950s) of three black bears ‘having breakfast’ at Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, Canada.
The black bear is the North American continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species.

Picture from National Geographic Society’s ‘Wild Animals of North America’, published in 1960. I picked up the book at a second-hand bookstore in Port Townsend.

Wednesday/ ferry collides with a whale

A whale was struck on Tuesday night by the same ferry we had been on earlier in the day. Eyewitnesses said that the whale had breached right in front of the ferry, barely 3 minutes after the ferry had left Colman Dock in Seattle. There really was nothing that could be done to avoid the collision.

Adult humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh around 25–30 metric tons. [Source: Wikipedia]
It was a juvenile humpback whale that was struck, and the blow to the animal was likely fatal.  The ferry is so large and heavy that the impact was barely felt on the vessel. The US Coast Guard is now on the lookout for the wounded or dead whale. As of Wednesday night, no sighting of the whale had been reported.

From While the collision may have been a first in the records of Washington State Ferries, humpback whales are becoming more common in Puget Sound and the risk of future collisions with all manners of marine vessels is increasing. Since the late 1980s, humpback whale numbers have shown ‘a remarkable and strong recovery’, says research biologist and whale expert John Calambokidis at Olympia-based Cascadia Research. Their numbers increased more than four fold to approximately 3,000 along California, Oregon and Washington. Commercial whaling was outlawed in 1966.

I took this picture yesterday from the front of the ferry called Wenatchee (looking back at Bainbridge Island), shortly after we had left the ferry terminal there. This same ferry would later on Tuesday strike a whale, on the way back to Bainbridge Island from Seattle.

Tuesday/ birds, bugs and more

Here are my bird and bug pictures of the weekend, with pictures of Mr Squirrel as well.

This little fella was venturing out from under its rock on the beach, and it is all of an inch or so wide. It is a green shore crab (Hemigrapsus oregonensis), very common in Puget Sound.
Mr Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is eating his pine cone, while keeping me appraised. The little squirrels collect and hoard large numbers of pine cones in single or in multiple locations. The squirrels we have in the city are the bigger Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus).
Done eating, the squirrel dropped the pine cone core to the ground, and is still keeping an eye on me. (Nice little black whiskers).
Paul’s hummingbird feeder was buzzing with activity. This is a female Anna’s humming-bird (Calypte anna), a medium-sized hummingbird with bronze-green feathers above and gray below.
Here is the male Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna), with a beautiful iridescent red on its head and throat.
Here’s the male rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) in its browns with white on the chest.
The female rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus).
This is an orange-rumped bumble bee (Bombus melanopygus), sometimes called the black-tailed bumble bee. It is native to western North America from British Columbia to California, and as far east as Idaho.
This is a large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae). It has two black spots on top of each of its forewings but I could not get a picture that shows the spots. This is on the same bush that the bumble bee visited, near Point Hudson in the Port Townsend area.
Ladybugs belong to the insect family of Coccinellidae, a widespread family of small beetles ranging in size from 0.8 to 18 mm.  We call them liewenheersbesies in Afrikaans, which has a literal translation of ‘little bugs of the dear lord’.
A two-tailed swallowtail butterfly (Papilio multicaudata) on a rhododendron. This one, we spotted in Hansville. This is a big butterfly: their wingspan can reach reach 6.5 in. (16.5 cm).