Sunday/ a hollyhock

The city of Seattle had 83 °F (28 °C) today.
It’s been steady as it goes temperature-wise, with no rain. (A smidge of rain fell early Tuesday morning).
We might see 90 °F (32 °C) on Friday, say the forecasters.

These beautiful hollyhock flowers are from 18th Avenue here on Capitol Hill.

Hollyhock flowers (genus: Alcea). The genus of about 60 species of flowering plants in the mallow family Malvaceae, are native to Asia and Europe. The single species of hollyhock from the Americas, the streambank wild hollyhock, belongs to a different genus. [Source: Wikipedia]

Saturday/ it’s a damselfly

Damselflies (Afr. waterjuffer) are similar to dragonflies (Afr. naaldekoker), but they are smaller and have slimmer bodies.
Most species fold the wings along the body when at rest, unlike dragonflies which hold the wings flat and away from the body (for that ‘airplane’ look).

Look! a little dragonfly, I thought, as I watered my flowerbed today. It’s actually a damselfly (1 ½in. long): a female white-legged damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes). They are predators, like dragonflies, and eat other insects. 
Damselflies and dragonflies belong to an ancient insect group called Odonata. Their prototypes are the giant dragonflies from the Carboniferous Period, some 325 million years ago.

Wednesday/ blue sky, white clouds

The woodpeckers were back this morning. Only a few of the mahonia’s berries remain.
There was a beautiful blue sky and white clouds overhead at 5 this afternoon.
We’ve been lucky thus far this summer here in Seattle: no smoky air from the wildfires.

The northern flicker (Colaptes auratus).

Tuesday/ the apocalypse is now

Every year that summer that rolls by here in the Northern hemisphere now, I think: just let it be over (summer). When is it over (summer)? Of course: then next summer comes.

There’s the mega- forest fires, burning out of control under an extreme drought here on the west of the United States. Flooding in Germany, Belgium & The Netherlands, and now in China. Videos on Twitter tonight of dozens of cars washing away in Zhengzhou; a subway entrance collapsing; people trapped inside a subway train car, the water chest-high (12 people dead in the subway, reports Aljazeera).


Sunday/ the year’s first rose

It has been a tough summer for gardens here in the city, with that heat wave at the end of June.
The leaves on the long shoots of my little rose bush got scorched, but a beautiful red rose has bloomed on the lower one, in the shade.

Saturday/ the woodpeckers are here

The pair of northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) that I sometimes see here around my house, came by late this afternoon.

The woodpeckers were looking for insects in the bark of the Douglas fir for a while ..
.. and then settled for some of the bluish-black berries on the mahonia at the base of the tree. Humans can eat these berries as well, but I will leave them for the birds.

Friday/ dinosaur chit-chat

I found this display of two chatty dinosaurs on a rock by the sidewalk close to 18th Ave.

The friendly and chatty little orange guy on the right looks like a parasaurolophus (say ‘para-saw-rolo-fuss’). They lived some 76 to 73 million years ago. They could rear up on their large back legs to reach higher for leaves and tree fruit (they were herbivores). Parasaurolophus should watch out for the grumpy (stuffy?) deinosuchus— a dinosaur relative of today’s alligators, that lived 82 to 73 million years ago. They were capable of killing and eating dinosaurs much larger than themselves.

Monday/ and now it’s summer

It was the first full day of the astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
We are just shy of 16 hours of daylight here in Seattle (sunset at 9.11 pm).
It was warm today (89 °F/ 32 °C), but there will be a little respite tomorrow & Wednesday, before the day temperatures go up again.

Daisies that I found on 12th Ave, here on Capitol Hill.

Saturday/ daisies & their little look-alikes

There was a half inch of rain yesterday in the city, and there will be a little more rain tonight.  The flowers are from my walk after dinner last night.

White daisies (genus is Bellis or Chrysanthemum) with their yellow centers, a spiral matrix of stamens.
The daisy flower does not just bud, blossom, and die like most other flowers. Rather it performs a daily routine of “sleeping” at night by closing and “waking” in the morning by opening up again. Because of this unusual trait and the whorled appearance of the flower, the daisy was given the Old English name ‘dægeseage’, meaning literally “day’s eye.” [From Merriam-Webster dictionary].
Some of these pretty little flowers look like daisies, but they are not: they are chamomile. Chamomile is a herb plant with relaxing benefits and a pleasant scent, used to make chamomile tea which can promote relaxation and help with getting a sound night’s sleep.

Saturday/ poppies

It was a very pleasant 67 °F (19 °C) when I went out for a walk today.

These beautiful corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are soaking up the sun. I found them on the corner of 20th Avenue and Republican Street.

Sunday/ ‘red’ irises are not red

Just as efforts to create a blue rose have stymied growers and plant geneticists, so have efforts to create a red iris. The flower has almost no red pigment naturally.
– Barbara Whitaker in a report called ‘The Hunt Continues for the Holy Grail: A Red Iris’ in the NYT, in 2006

Irises come in every color of the rainbow, but not in a true red. I found these ‘red’ ones here in my neighborhood.

It felt like summer today (76 °F/ 24 °C), but we will drop back to cooler weather tomorrow.

Beautiful bearded irises here on 17th Avenue. What color are these? My phone camera makes them look a little redder than they do in real life. ‘Red’ irises are invariably shades of wine, brick or reddish brown.

Wednesday/ a flower named for the physician of the gods

The shrubby peony plant has long been cultivated for its large showy flowers, and it’s easy to see why. This one comes out of my friends’ garden.

The peony (or paeony) is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia. The word peony comes from the Old English peonie, and originally from the Greek paiōnia, referring to Paiōn, the physician of the gods in Greek mythology.

Sunday/ flowers of the heath

an area of open uncultivated land, especially in Britain, with characteristic vegetation of heather, gorse, and coarse grasses.

It’s the month of May, so the rhododendron flowers are blooming here on Capitol Hill. These plants belong to Ericaceae, a family of flowering plants, commonly known as the heath or heather family.

Sunday/ more rain

There was more rain today, bringing the April total to 0.95 in (24 mm). This is still far below the average for April (2.71 in / 69 mm).

I played a little tennis indoors this morning, mask on. My friend from tennis volunteers at the big vaccination clinic at the Lumen Field football stadium here in the city. He says they give 8,000 people a jab in the arm there every day, but could take it up to 22,000 if they could get more doses of vaccine.

My Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) has sprouted its new leaves for the season. The red leaves contain anthocyanin that gives them their characteristic color. The leaves do contain chlorophyll (green) for photosynthesis, but the anthocyanin levels are much greater.

Saturday/ the snail mail is here

There was light rain outside and cold weather, all day long (49 °F/ 9 °C).

Mister Snail on my porch step, had evidently escaped the boot of the mailman. I put him back in the soil.
I believe it’s a brown-lipped snail (Cepaea nemoralis). It is one of the most common species of land snail in Europe, and has been introduced to North America. The ‘brown lip’ refers to the lip of the shell opening. There is considerable variety in the color shades and striping of the shells, determined by the dominant and recessive genes in the snail’s DNA.

I hesitate to say ‘Happy Earth Day’.
Of course we should celebrate Earth, but earthlings— our governments and corporations, that is— have to enact and execute aggressive policies to reduce green house gas emissions, and plastics production.

At least the Biden-Harris Administration is a force for good.
President Biden recently announced a new US goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 52 percent of 2005 levels, by the year 2035. In a virtual summit with more than three dozen countries, he urged other nations to do the same.
Every little bit will help.

Wednesday/ July weather, in April

From the National Weather Service Seattle @NWSSeattle on Twitter:
Average high temp. in Seattle, April 15-21, 2021: 75.7 °F (24.3 °C)
Normal average high temp in Seattle, July 11-17: 75.7 °F (24.3 °C)

Our little Indian summer has come to a close today (temperatures will drop back to the 60s tomorrow), which is a good thing.
It’s way too early on the calendar to have mid-70s highs.
Firefighters from the Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources have responded to 91 wildfires this last week.

These red tulips seem to like the warm weather. Red tulips are given when love or romance is involved, much like red roses are. I found them on 17th Ave. here on Capitol Hill.

Friday/ the jays, dropping by

Here’s Mr & Mrs Jay*, dropping by for a bit on my front lawn.
It looks like one of them indulged in a little sunning (bottom picture below, lying on the ground, wings spread out, to catch more of the warming rays of the sun).  It was morning and still not very warm, when I took the picture.

Meanwhile, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that backyard bird feeders can be put back up (the number of reports of sick or dead birds across Washington due to the outbreak of salmonellosis, has dropped).

*Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri); Cyanocitta from the Greek words kuanos (‘dark blue’) and kitta (‘jay’).

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]