Sunday/ a little sunflower 🌻

It was a hazy, sunny Sunday (81°F / 27 °C), warm for this late in the year.
Our 10-day forecast still does not show any rain.

Sometimes called the ‘little sunflower’, genus powerlessly Helianthella, catches the last rays of the day at the T.T. Minor Playground off Union Street today. Helianthella is a genus of North American plants in the family Asteraceae.

Saturday 🕸

There was a little rain on the ground this morning.
It’s Labor Day weekend, which means that summer is over— unofficially.
Hopefully there are still enough bugs buzzing about for Mr. Spider to catch in his web.

Tuesday/ creatures of the night 🌒

My uncle sent me these images of nocturnal animals.
They were captured by a LtlAcorn® camera trap he had set up in 2009 at the Shalimpo camp in Botswana.

Shalimpo is located at the very east-most point in Botswana (at the right edge in the picture), in the wildlife preserve called the Tuli Block, at the confluence of the Shasi and Limpopo rivers. Bush pig (Potamochoerus larvatus), perhaps not quite as well-known as the other wild African hog, the warthog.
Rusty-spotted genet (Genetta maculata). Genets are viverrids (a family of small to medium-sized cat-like mammals). They are omnivorous: catching small prey, but also subsisting on fruit and insects.
The unmistakable form of a Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Hyenas were made even more infamous (unfortunately) by Disney’s The Lion King (1994). There are four species, and this one is also known as the laughing hyena. Hyenas are unique and vital components of most African ecosystems.
Cape porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis) showing its black-and-white quills. These are amongst the largest living rodents in the world. The capybara and some beavers might weigh a little more.
Leopard (Panthera pardus). ‘The Leopard Hunts in Darkness’ (1984) is a novel by Wilbur Smith set in the early days of Zimbabwe’s independence and is the fourth in Wilbur Smith’s series about the Ballantyne family of Rhodesia. When it was released it was banned by the Zimbabwe government.

Sunday/ Torrey Pines State Park

Today my brothers and I did a short hike up to the buff in Torrey Pines State Park, and then made our way down to the beach and back to the parking lot.

We parked below at the Torrey Pines State Park South Beach, and walked along the road to the top.
The Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) is a rare pine species in California, United States. It is a critically endangered species growing only in coastal San Diego County, and on Santa Rosa Island, offshore from Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara County.
Prickly pear or pear cactus are around the trail to be seen as well.
Looking north from a viewpoint on the trail, along Camino Del Mar Road, and the parking lot for Torrey Pines State Beach. The greenery with waters at the top and to the right of the road are those of Los Penasquitos Lagoon. 
Now making our way along the sandy trail between the sandstone outcroppings to the beach.
One of us is holding the iPhone at arm’s length, another is pushing the picture button, and we are all trying not to fall down the cliff behind us.
Down on the beach, an hour or two after low tide. There are signs on the trail that warn there is no beach access at high tide (the sea sloshes against the sandy cliffs).

Saturday/ Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre historic and urban, cultural park in San Diego.
The park was originally called ‘City Park’, but was renamed after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, held in the park that year.

The architecture of the buildings in Balboa Park are a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival style.

My brother and I have been to the San Diego Zoo (next to Balboa Park) many, many times, and we decided it was time to take a look inside the Natural History Museum instead. This is the main entrance.
The original ‘Jaws’ .. a megalodon model on display in the main exhibition hall. The model is very accurate, and shows the electroreceptors on the shark’s nose between the nostrils. These receptors are filled with a jelly-like substance which help the shark to pick up electrical fields in the surrounding water. They can detect even the slightest of electrical pulses from the muscle movement of potential prey. Megalodons lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago, and are relatives of today’s great white sharks.
Another view of the main exhibition hall, with a Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) top left. These slow-moving sea creatures grew to 9 m (30 ft) and 8-10 tons and had relatively few predators, but were easy prey for humans. Within 27 years of its discovery by Europeans in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia, the slow-moving and easily-caught mammal was hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide. The year was 1768.
The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture and the largest North American land bird. They became extinct in the wild in 1987, at which point only 22 birds in captivity remained. Breeding programs at San Diego Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo were launched, and as of December 2020 there were 504 California condors living wild or in captivity.
The Balboa Park Botanical Building. Built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition, along with the adjacent Lily Pond and Lagoon, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world.
The beautiful façade at the entrance of the San Diego Museum of Art has detailed full-body sculptures of artists Velázquez, Murillo, and Zurbarán.
The nearly 200-foot-tall Tower and Dome of the California Building are covered with intricate carvings, colorful tile, and glass beads.


[Picture from Instagram: wildcatcentre]
Here is Kato the caracal from the Wild Cat Conservation Centre in Wilber, New South Wales, Australia.

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat (weight is 30-40 lbs) native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and arid areas of Pakistan and northwestern India.

Friday/ a white poppy

Here’s a Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) that I had found on Kitsap Peninsula yesterday.

The Matilija poppy is native to southern California and Baja California. It has large, showy flowers, each with six crinkly white petals. At the center of the flower is a cluster of many yellow stamens.

Friday/ still steamy 😓

Our stretch of warm weather continues, with a high of 95 °F (35 °C) today.
The meteorologists assure us we will have much cooler weather on Monday⁠— something civilized like 79°F (26 °C).

My lawn is yellowed out (I don’t water it in summer), but the aster shrub in the flower bed is in bloom. I love the golden button and the color of the petals: a pinkish, purplish, lilac.
Greek mythology has it that the aster was created by the tears of the Greek goddess Astraea.


These beautiful daisies are from Thomas Street Gardens here on Capitol Hill.

Wednesday/ a rose🌹

My little rosebush has produced its first bloom for the summer.
Is there any flower more famous than a rose?

Roses were probably cultivated in Asia first, some 5,000 years ago.
The Chinese philosopher Confucius wrote of growing roses in the Imperial Gardens about 500 BCE and mentioned that the emperor’s library contained hundreds of books on the subject of roses.

Friday/ in the twilight zone 🌃

A diagram that shows civil, nautical and astronomical twilight. Only when the sun has sunk 18° below the horizon at night, is it completely dark.



The days are long here in the north, and the twilight lingers.
It takes until midnight before the sky is completely dark.

Looking west to the Space Needle from 14th Avenue on Capitol Hill at 9.58 pm last night, during nautical twilight (see below).
Civil Twilight is from 9:10 pm to 9:50 pm
Nautical Twilight is from 9:50 pm to 10:46 pm
Astronomical Twilight is from 10:46 pm to 12:00 am

Thursday/ time for a dust bath 🛀

The pair of woodpeckers that I see around here in summer, were at my house late afternoon (they are Northern flickers).
One of them was rolling around in the dirt, taking a dust bath.

Dust baths are part of a bird’s preening and plumage maintenance routine.
The dust that is worked into the bird’s feathers, absorb excess oil, which can then be shed so that the feathers don’t become too greasy or matted.
The dust can also bring relief from lice, feather mites or parasites.

The picture quality is not great⁠— I had to use the digital zoom on my iPhone.

Friday/ a candle larkspur

We’ve had gray skies all day, so it was nice to run into this beautiful blue candle larkspur by Miller Community Center on 19th Avenue.

The ‘Lookup- Plant’ function on my iPhone found for me the name of the flower, from the picture that I had taken. Very helpful.

Larkspur (genus Delphinium) come in red, blue, yellow, and pink. They date back several millennia, where they were used to decorate ancient Egyptian mummies.

Thursday/ a pig’s ear

I found this arum lily (genus: Zantedeschia) on 16th Ave, at twilight (time stamp on the photo is 9.16 pm).

These lilies are native to southern Africa and South Africa. We call them varkore in Afrikaans (Eng. pig’s ears). The flower comes in pink hues as well, but all the ones I had ever seen in South Africa were white, like this one.

Thursday/ there’s the wabbit 🐰

Come late afternoon, there was a little rain.
The neighborhood rabbit* was out front just then, munching on the soft new grass from my lawn.
He has good timing: the mowers will come by tomorrow.

*Eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Tuesday/ summer starts (unofficially)

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer here in the US. The week’s warm weather arrived a little late for this past weekend here in the city of Seattle, but we made it to 70°F / 21°C today, and it will be 75°F/ 24°C on Wednesday and Thursday.

It is bound to be a rough summer for domestic travelers and airline employees (the airlines do not have enough capacity for the demand).
As for wedding celebrations, wedding planners are in short supply too.
The Wall Street Journal says some 2.5 million couples in the US plan to celebrate their wedding this year, some 250,000 more than in recent pre-COVID years.
Many of these weddings have been postponed more than once.

The rhododendrons of late spring are still in full bloom— in their whites, pinks, carmine reds, lavenders, purples and even blues. This one is from 18th Ave here on Capitol Hill.

Sunday/ catch the wind 🍃

When rain has hung the leaves with tears
I want you near, to kill my fears
To help me to leave all my blues behind

For standing in your heart
Is where I want to be and long to be
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
– From Catch the Wind (1965), a song by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan

It rained all day, steady at times. The raindrops like to stick to the leaves of my Solomon’s-seals (genus Polygonatum) in little blobs before they roll off onto the ground.
The round speckled scar from the point of stem attachment is where these plants get their name.
[Picture credit: Joey Williamson, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson Extension]

Monday/ the blue jays say hello

A pair of Steller’s jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) came to visit this morning.
We sometimes call these ‘blue jay’ in the Pacific Northwest, but the species is distinct from the blue jay (C. cristata) of eastern North America.