Sunday/ a sunny week ahead

My Sunday afternoon started off with a nice game of doubles tennis, but on the way back I was involved a car accident (no injuries, thankfully), that resulted in major damage to my car. Ouch. It might be time to replace my 14-year old Camry, anyway.

The weather people are promising us sun all week, 65 °F (18 °C) by Wednesday, and 75 °F (24 °C) by Saturday.

White Hyacinth flowers (genus Hyacinthus) from my quick walk around the block tonight. These used to come in only pale blue or violet, but nowadays there are lilacs, pinks, white, cobalt blue, cream, apricot and even a blood red.
The name “hyacinth” can be traced back to remote antiquity. The flowers were mentioned by Homer, the great epic poet of Greece, in the Iliad. They are named after Hyacinth, the beautiful youth in Greek mythology. He was the mortal lover of Apollo, Greek god of the sun.


It’s Saturday/ Caturday. I like cats, especially the big wild ones.
(The term ‘Caturday’ started with the tradition of posting LOLcats to the message board 4chan on Saturdays).

A cougar with a tracking collar walks through Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Illustrating the problem of animals’ loss of habitat as cities expand, the photo sparked a movement to protect southern California’s last cougars and other wildlife in two large protected areas bisected by the Highway 101 north of LA. Set to be completed by 2022, it will be the world’s largest wildlife overpass. [Picture by Steve Winter/ Prints for Nature]
An artist’s rendering provided by the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains shows a planned wildlife crossing over U.S. Highway 101 in Agoura Hills, Calif. Hoping to fend off the extinction of mountain lions and other species that require room to roam, transportation officials and conservationists will build a mostly privately funded wildlife crossing over the freeway. [Clark Stevens, Architect/Raymond Garcia, Illustration/RCD of the Santa Monica Mountains via AP]

Wednesday/ a temperature shock

Lljubeljana, Slovenia, had its hottest March day (+25.3 °C/ 77.5 °F) on record, and now its coldest April night on record (-20.6 °C/ -5 °F).

There is going to be harsh frost damage to crops. Plants and insects (also fauna that thrive on both) would be hit incredibly hard, notes Scottish meteorologist Scott Duncan on Twitter.

This flaming orange tulip is from yesterday, when it was sunny.
It was ‘cold’ again today, 46 °F (8 °C), some 10 °F (5.5 °C) under the mean temperature for this time of year.

Sunday/ building a nest

Here’s a busy Mr Robin (or would that be Mrs Robin?), pausing for a moment on my garage roof this morning. There must be a nest under construction, nearby.

American robins (Turdus migratorius) are among the first birds in North America to begin laying eggs each spring. They normally have two or three sets of young (broods) in each breeding season.

Thursday/ magnolia blossoms

It was a treacherous day to scroll through Twitter, with all the April Fool’s Day tweets. Google introduced a ‘self-driving’ bicycle, King County Metro was launching an ‘Infinity Bus*’, the Tracks Suit from Sound Transit, and Prince Charles would soon announce that he would ‘pass’ on becoming King (deferring to Prince William instead).
*It offers arrivals and departures at all times, 24/7/365.

Alright .. enough of this, and time to go for a walk, I thought.

These white blossoms are from a Magnolia stellata, a Japanese species of magnolia. I found it by the entrance of the Thomas Street Gardens here on Capitol Hill.

Monday/ spring cleaning on SR20 to start

The spring cleaning of the snow on State Route 20 in the North Cascades will start next week. So it’s still going to be a number of weeks before SR20 can be opened to the public.

Tweet from WSDOT East: ‘The great SR 20/North Cascades spring clearing begins April 5! Our crew will clear the highway of snow, then make any necessary repairs prior to reopening, which usually takes 4 to 6 weeks’. (My note: there is some 8 feet of snow on the road surface here!). 
[Picture from WSDOT East @WSDOT_East on Twitter]
Top: I found the GPS coordinates of the snowy picture at the summit of Washington pass, elev. 5, 477 ft. Then I looked up the summer version of the scene on Google Streetview.
Bottom: The yellow pin on the Google Earth picture marks the spot. Driving north, one would have just left a hairpin bend on State Route 20. The town of Winthrop WA would be about 30 miles back on SR20, to the southeast.

Saturday/ spring blossoms

It was a lovely day (56 °F/ 13 °C), and I chased myself out of the house this afternoon, to go look at the tree blossoms & spring flowers outside.
Tomorrow will be stormy and rainy.

Top to bottom: cherry tree blossoms, wild primrose, asters, magnolia tree blossoms.  I hope I have it right! I’m not a flower expert.

Tuesday/ tea flowers, pink & white

The camellias* are starting to bloom here in the city. The pink one is mine, and the white one from a street nearby.

*Camellias are famous throughout East Asia; they are known as cháhuā (‘tea flower’) in Chinese, tsubaki in Japanese, dongbaek-kkot in Korean, and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese. [From Wikipedia]
The tea plant with its little tea leaves, is in fact, a camellia: Camellia sinensis.

Monday/ the many meanings of corona


From the Latin word corona, mid-16th century, meaning ‘wreath, crown’.
Architecture: a circular chandelier in a church, or a part of a cornice having a broad vertical face.
Astronomy: the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars.
Biology: the cup-shaped or trumpet-shaped outgrowth at the center of a daffodil or narcissus flower.
Medical: coronavirus is any of a family (Coronaviridae) of large single-stranded RNA viruses that have a lipid envelope studded with club-shaped spike proteins.
Physics: the glow around a conductor at high potential.
Smoking: a long, straight-sided cigar.

It was only 45 °F (7 °C) for my late-afternoon stroll around the block today, but hey, now there is an hour more of sunshine.

Daffodils (genus Narcissus) at the corner of 18th Avenue & Republican St. The cup-shaped structure at the center of the flower is called the corona. Yes, the term has come to have decidedly negative connotations, I guess. Maybe it’s best to just shrug it off. We even have apartment buildings in the city called Corona Apartments and Corona Lofts.

Saturday/ saving the daylight

We had sunny afternoons all week and the high touched 60 (15.5 °C) today.

Daylight Saving Time starts tonight in the United States. (‘Saving’ means shifting the day’s hour markers forward, so that the sun ‘rises’ an hour later, and ‘sets’ an hour later).
Pacific Daylight Time = Universal Time Coordinated (UTC) minus 7 hrs.

The bright sunlight (electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye) propels the vanes of the radiometer on my kitchen counter top.

Saturday/ Paradise visitor center update

Here is this morning’s picture of the Paradise visitor center on the slopes of Mt Rainier.  That’s a lot of snow, that had been cleared from the parking lot!

The center itself is still closed to visitors, so those vehicles must belong to sightseers or merrymakers looking to sled on the low slopes.
The elevation there is 5,400′ (1,646 m), and the Mt Rainier summit is at 14,411′ (4,392 m).

Wednesday/ more animals

I’m still adding animals to my collection.
These came with the poodle that I posted about on Friday.

The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the ant bear, is an insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It belongs to the same order as sloths, actually. [Schleich Anteater, Catalog No 14844, New for 2020]
The llama (Lama glama) is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures for more than five centuries. [Schleich Llama, Catalog No 13920, New for 2020]
The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small crepuscular (active primarily during the twilight period) fox, native to the Sahara Desert and the Sinai Peninsula. Its enormous ears serve to dissipate heat. [Schleich Desert Fox, Catalog No 14845, New for 2020]

Friday/ a poodle called Snowflake

One of the latest animal figures I had ordered from Schleich happens to be a poodle. I am naming the white pooch ‘Snowflake’ .. and no,  not because of the recent snow here in Seattle.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Cancun in Mexico on Wednesday night (to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, no less), leaving behind millions of his constituents in freezing homes with no electricity and no water.
That was bad enough, and Cruz returned the very next morning after a media firestorm erupted. It got even worse. It turned out that their family poodle, named Snowflake, was left behind in the freezing house.

Here is ‘Snowflake’. (Schleich® Poodle, part of their Farm World collection, Catalog Number 13917, new for 2020).
Snowflake got left behind in Houston in the Cruz’s freezing house. A security guard at the house assured the photographer that he is taking care of Snowflake.
[Photo Credit: Michael Hardy @mkerrhardy on Twitter]

Wednesday/ the last of the little bell flowers

There was a little sun this morning, before a blanket of clouds moved in. (There is going to be snow in the city on Thursday night and into Saturday, say the weather forecasters).

By now the hummingbirds have ‘consumed’ most of the little bell flowers on my mahonia, but there are still a few left.

Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna), a female. They beat their wings about 50 times per second.
I got a little too close with my camera. The little bird whipped up from the flowers, gave me a long, dirty, why-are-you-bothering-me? look, as I snapped this picture, and then buzzed off into the sky.

Wednesday/ robins & jays

There was a break in the rainy weather today, with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. For the first time in a long while, I saw robins and jays around my house.

The Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is advising homeowners to take down their bird feeders, though.  Outbreaks of salmonellosis (infection of the bacterium salmonella) are going around in the local bird populations.  There is enough natural food for them, and birds that crowd around feeders can infect one another.

So now our feathered friends need to keep their social distance for awhile as well? Oy vey.

This American robin (Turdus migratorius) was foraging for insects in the moss-covered roof in my neighbor’s yard. The crosshatch pattern in my yard’s fence is vignetting the picture.
A Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) with its black crest and striking blue wings & tail, was squawking up in a tree close by.

Monday/ tropical storm Eloise

I’ve been following tropical storm Eloise for a few days now. There has not been large loss of life (official death toll in Mozambique: 12), but some 5,000 homes in Mozambique were destroyed or badly flooded.

I believe the Kruger National Park, the national parks in Zimbabwe, and the Moremi Game Reserve on the eastern side of Botswana’s Okavango Delta* will be OK. Some areas are getting soaked with 5 or 6 inches of rain, and this summer’s corn harvest is going to be damaged badly.

*This is the time of year that the enormous and very shallow bowl of the Okavango Delta fills up with about 2.6 cubic miles (11 cubic km) of water, spread over as much as 5,800 square miles (15,000 km2).

Tropical storm Eloise brought heavy rains over the south of Mozambique, the little land-locked country Eswatini, and the north and east of South Africa. [Infographic by Theuns Kruger/ Grafika24 for Beeld newspaper]

Friday/ Volunteer Park’s ducks

We had a lot of sun today.
It’s January, though – the doldrums of winter – and the day’s highs only made it to 45 °F (7 °C).
These pictures are from Monday.

Here’s the Volunteer Park reservoir, here on Capitol Hill in the city. Its water is not considered usable for drinking water (the city has already covered several other reservoirs with lids, but not this one). The Cedar River’s water filled the 22 million-gallon reservoir for the first time in January 1901. The chlorophyll in the moss on the parapet (low wall) around the reservoir, is glowing neon green in the sunlight.
Here’s a female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), at one of the two duck ponds near the reservoir.
The male with its glossy green head, doing the duck thing, paddling in the water. Mallards are dabbling ducks: freshwater ducks that feed in shallow water by dabbling and upending as they look for food.
This species is the main ancestor of most breeds of domesticated ducks (the white ones that are kept for their meat, eggs and down). Mallard ducks were first domesticated in Southeast Asia, at least 4,000 years ago. [Source: Wikipedia]

Thursday/ time is fleeting

Art is long, and Time is fleeting ..
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from his poem ‘A Psalm of Life’ (1839)

iPhone home screen from Twitter, showing 21:21 on Jan 21.

I know that our Gregorian calendar and Arabic numerals, used for date & time notation, is a completely man-made construct.

Even so: the clock here on the Pacific coast is about to run into a cascade of 21s, the way it has all over the world today.

At 9.21:21 pm tonight it will be the ..
21st second into the
21st minute into the
21st hour into the
21st day into the
21st year into the
21st century.

In Earth’s geological timeframe of 4.6 billion years, humans find themselves in the Halocene epoch of the Quarternary Period.  The Halocene epoch started some 11,650 years ago. I love the pictures of the dinosaurs and animals. That must be a Neanderthal man, and hey, a space shuttle right at the end. Last space shuttle flight was in 2011, but that’s OK. That was just a moment ago. [Source: A blog called NaturPhilosophie, run out of Glasgow, Scotland]