Monday/ sunny and dry ☀️

There was cloud cover this morning, but it was gone by late morning.
Today was the 12th day in a row with a high 80°+ (27°C+) recorded at Sea-Tac.
(The record is 15 days in a row, and it will be broken).
There has also been no rain in July, and we have a real shot at reaching the end of July with no rain at all.
Normally, July ends with about 0.67″ of recorded rain.

What has been the driest July on record? I wondered.
Here is what the Office of the Washington State Climatologist says about July 1960:
‘All of the climate divisions of the state were exceedingly dry in July 1960 (ranging from 0.01” in the Puget Sound Lowlands to 0.05” in the East Slopes Cascades region).
Some stunningly low amounts of precipitation occurred in spots that normally get a fair amount of rain.
For example, in the coastal region of WA, Forks checked in with only 0.04” and Hoquiam got completely shut out with 0.00”.
The 1981-2010 climate normal for Forks and Hoquiam in July is 2.47 and 1.14”, respectively’.

These daisies here on Capitol Hill are looking good, in spite of the warm weather and lack of rain.

Thursday/ mail from China 🇨🇳

Stamps (from South Africa) that I had bought in March (on Ebay) from a seller in China, showed up in my mailbox today.

The sender used a greeting card envelope with a preprinted red stamp on (far right).
The cancellation mark shows that the envelope was sent on June 14 from the city Anqing (pop. 4 million) in Anhui province.
Anqing is some 250 mi due east of Shanghai.
My name and address were very neatly written in print style.
At the end, a nice reminder for me as to how to write ‘USA’ in Chinese: 美国 Měi guó (or ‘Beautiful country’, literally translated).
Let’s take a closer look at the stamps:
Insects (II)  
From a set of 4 stamps issued Aug. 23, 2023 by China Post in the People’s Republic of China
Perf. 13 with syncopated perf. left and right edge (one larger hole) |40 x 30 mm |Offset lithography printing
Colnect Code:CN 2023.08.23-01 |80 分 (fēn) |Multi-colored |Atlas moth (Attacus Atlas)
Special Greeting Card Stamp
Issued Aug. 8, 2013 by China Post in People’s Republic of China
Perf. Die Cut 13½ x 13 with syncopated perf. left and right edge (one larger hole) |30 x 30 mm |Photogravure printing
Cat.Code Mi:CN 4501 |3 ¥ (yuan) |Multi-colored |Bamboo plant

Saturday/ drive to Port Townsend 🏰

We drove up to Port Townsend from Hansville today— about an hour’s drive.

Port Townsend (pop. 10,148) is a city on the Quimper Peninsula (on the greater Olympic Peninsula) in Jefferson County. 
[From Wikipedia]
The view this morning from Hansville on the Kitsap Peninsula across Hood Canal at low tide. Across the canal is the Olympic Peninsula, with the Olympic mountains in the distance.
Crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge (constructed in 1961) to get to the Olympic Peninsula.
A quick stop at the Chimacum Corner farmstand, on the way to Port Townsend. These are Sunny Days Ruby Echinacea flowers from the nursery there.
We stopped by Saturday’s farmer’s market in Port Townsend.
This little marina is by Sea J’s Cafe just south of Port Townsend’s downtown.
This is the beach at Point Hudson, with Whidbey Island in the distance.
The pebble and stone beach at Point Hudson also features a few uprooted trees and driftwood.
For thousands of years before the settlers came to Port Townsend, the S’Klallam (“strong”) people lived in villages along the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula.
These little wildflowers by Point Hudson are mallows (Malva sylvestris).
The Mount Baker Building in downtown Port Townsend was built in 1889 and renovated in 1999. It was sold in 2020 for $6.8 million.
At the time of its construction, negotiations were underway for the railroad to link Port Townsend to the rest of the country. Real estate price skyrocketed, the population of the town doubled, and Port Townsend dubbed itself “The Inevitable New York.” The railroad never arrived and the boom went bust. As a result, Port Townsend was left with many spectacular buildings and residences, some of which were never finished.
The James & Hastings Building with its carved stone trimmings from the Victorian era was built in 1889, and restored in the 1990s and early 2002.  It is at the corner of Tyler Street and Water Street.
The ornate N.D. Hill Building (constructed 1889) at 635 Water Street was designed by noted Seattle architect Elmer H. Fisher.
It is principally Italianate in design, but also shows Grecian and Romanesque influences.
Here is the elegant four-story Hastings Building at 839 Water Street— built in the Victorian style, and completed in 1890.

Friday/ Mr Squirrel 🐿

Happy Friday.
I am on Kitsap Peninsula with my amigos.
Here’s a Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) that looked down at us from its perch in a western hemlock (fir tree). These little brown squirrels are different from the Western gray squirrels we have in the city. 

Later on it sat on a tree down on the embankment, and we could see it from above (thanks to Bryan for the picture).


Friday/ coming up roses 🌹

You’ll be swell! You’ll be great!
Gonna have the whole world on a plate!
Starting here, starting now,
honey, everything’s coming up roses!
– From Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics for Everything’s Coming Up Roses, written for the 1959 Broadway musical Gypsy.

Happy Friday.
It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US.
It’s been a while, but the little rose bush in my front yard has roses again.

Wednesday/ snack time

From today’s Seattle Times
Photographer: Robert Denney
Photo taken: March 30, 2024, at the Center for Urban Horticulture wetlands, near Husky Stadium.
Photographer’s description: “Herons are great. I came upon this heron at the Center for Urban Horticulture. He/she let me get pretty close, and we bonded. It fished while I photographed. In the span of about an hour, it got a pretty good meal of three or four little fish. The center is a lovely place to roam and see birdlife.”

Friday/ a zebra on the lam🦓

A zebra primer
Zebras are African equines with distinctive black-and-white striped coats.
There are three living species: Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), the plains zebra (Equus quagga), and the mountain zebra (Equus zebra).
Zebras share the genus Equus with horses and asses, the three groups being the only living members of the family Equidae.
[Source: Wikipedia]

Happy Friday.
We have a zebra (named Z, a mare) on the lam here in western Washington State. Hopefully Z is not too far from where she was last spotted in the North Bend area.
How did this happen?
Owner Kristine Keltgen recently bought Z and three other zebras and was transporting them from Lewis County to Montana, where she runs a petting zoo.
At about 2 p.m. last Sunday, the trailer driver hauling the four zebras stopped near Exit 32 & I-90 (in the North Bend area), to better secure the trailer doors at the back.
In the process the four animals got out of the trailer.
By Sunday night, three of the four had been recovered.

Update (late Friday night):
The last of four zebras that escaped from a trailer in North Bend, Wash., was safely corralled on Friday with the help of a former rodeo bullfighter, a lookout on a mountain bike and a package of white bread.
-Reported by Emmett Lindner for the New York Times

One of the four zebras* zebra that got loose Sunday when the driver stopped at the I-90 exit to North Bend to secure the trailer in which they were being carried.
*This is a mountain zebra. Plains zebras have thin brown stripes in between the black stripes, and Grévy’s zebra has a narrow striping pattern.
[Photo by Rick Johnson/Washington State Patrol via AP]

Tuesday/ stamps with tulips 🇧🇪

Hey, and the envelope with my latest order of stamps (from a seller in Belgium) has stamps with tulips on.

Booklet Stamps
Issued 2003 in booklet panes Perf. Die Cut 9¾ on 2 or sides
1991 A858 0.59€ Multi-colored Yellow Tulips

Issued 2002, Jul. 15
Perf. 11½ Photolithogr.
1925 A824 0.42€ Multi-colored Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Lombeek windmill, Azores
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1B]

Leffe Abbey
Issued 2002, Jun. 10
Perf. 11 ½ Photolithogr.
1917 A820 0.42€ Multi-colored Leffe Abbey, 850th Anniversary

Belgian Castles
Issued 2002, Jun. 10
Perf. 11 ½ Photolithogr. Mini-sheet of 10
1918a A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Ecaussinnes-Lalaing
1918c A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Corroy-le-Chateau
1918d A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Alden Biesen
1918e A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Modave
1918f A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Horst
1918j A821 0.42€ Multi-colored Wissekerke
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1B]

Issued 2005 (types of 1985 with Euro denominations)
Perf. 11 ½ Photolithogr.
2072 A524 0.05€ Multi-colored Bruant zizi (Belgium Cirl bunting bird)

Issued 2023, Jan.23
Perf. Die Cut 11½ Litho. Self-adhesive
Registered Mail   Multi-colored Red-Knot Sandpiper
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 1B]

Tuesday/ a warm summer predicted ☀️

It was a warm spring day topping out at 69 °F (21°C), but high temperatures will drop down to a more seasonal 58°F (14°C) tomorrow.

The National Weather Service is predicting a toasty last half of summer, due to an expected La Niña climate pattern.
We will get more upper-level ridges of high pressure (heat domes) than usual. These are common in summer but tend to be most persistent during La Niña.

The rhododendrons are out in full bloom. These are from 14th Avenue East here in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) is is a large-leaved species of Rhododendron native to the Pacific Coast of North America. It is the state flower of Washington State.

Monday/ Earth Day 🌎

Happy Earth Day.

There is reason for a little optimism that we can save our planet.
Experts say that global carbon dioxide emissions will probably peak next year and certainly by 2030, using a scenario based on current policy settings.
The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable.
The reason is that using renewable resources (such as solar, wind) are now the cheapest ways to capture or generate energy.

Sunday/ robins 🐦

Sometimes when I water my lawn, there is a robin nearby.
They must be looking for earthworms crawling out of the wet soil.

This stamp and the one below (from mail in my mailbox) were issued for Christmas, but we’ll ignore that. Winter is over and the robins are enjoying spring.

Christmas Robins
Iss. 1995, 30 Oct. Perf. 15×14 Two phosphor bands
1897 1222 25p Silver, greenish yellow, vermilion, orange vermilion, bistre & black
[Source: 2003 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Vol.3]

Robins in Bird Bath
Iss. 2001, 6 Nov. Die Cut Perf. 14½x14½ Self-adhesive Photo.
2004 A516 E Multi-coloured
*E means the stamp is valid for mail to anywhere in the European Union. At the time, the stamp was sold for 37p.
[Source: 2003 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Vol.3]

Monday/ the sky as a canvas 🖼

Check out this amazing picture taken last Monday during the solar eclipse (seen as a partial eclipse from Montreal).
Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin explains in the New York Times:
The plane passing over Montreal during the partial phase of the eclipse left a typical contrail in its wake. When this happens in full sunlight, the shadows cast by contrails on clouds are usually too diffuse to see. In this case, the sharpness of the shadows was explained by the eclipse.
Though the shadows of the contrails appeared to be on a layer of clouds above the aircraft, as though cast from reflected light from the Earth, this was an illusion. The shadows were made by the light of the sun, cast downward onto clouds below it.

Picture by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin on Mon. Apr. 8, and published in The New York Times’s Trilobites section.

Saturday/ blossoms 🌸

There are still blossoms on the trees here in the city.
Here’s one on a young magnolia tree.

Magnolia is a large genus of more than 250 flowering plant species.
Magnolias appeared before bees evolved (fossils dating back 95 million years have been found), and are theorized to have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles instead.
[Source: Wikipedia]

Thursday/ a brand-new lawn 🐛

There it is: the first time ever since I had lived in my ole house, that new topsoil and grass seed have been put in.
(Yes, yes- I know that lawns are anathema to some environmentalists, but mine is really small. And my lawn services company says we don’t have great solutions for the Seattle climate yet, for ground cover greenery as an alternative).

I have strict instructions (from the lawn services company that took out the moss and put down a top soil and grass seed mix) to keep the soil moist. Not dry, and not overly wet, either. That way the seeds will germinate and hopefully new green shoots will be visible in 14 days. A grand little exercise in botany, no?
The sprinkler works fine, but doesn’t quite cover all the spots. I used a watering wand tonight that gives me more control, and that will work a little better.

Monday/ a total eclipse ☀️⚫️☀️

Bailey’s Beads* are seen just before totality in Dallas, Texas on Monday, April 8, 2024.
A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the North American continent from Mexico’s Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of Central America and Europe.
*The Bailey’s Beads effect occurs when gaps in the Moon’s rugged terrain allows sunlight to pass through in some places just before the total phase of the eclipse.
[Photo Credit: NASA/Keegan Barber; shot with Nikon Z 9 | Lens: NIKKOR Z 400mm f/2.8 TC VR S | ƒ/11.0 | 560.0 mm | 1/8000 s | ISO 800 | Flash off, did not fire]

Monday/ here’s April 🌷

The tulips are out here in the city.
The bell shaped flower of tulips have three petals and three sepals.
Yes, you read that right.
The outside ones are called sepals— not an April Fools’ joke!