On the library stool in March

Not much reading got done this month, which wasn't a bad thing. For the first time ever, I didn't take a book on vacation, and I didn't miss it at all. When we got home, my free time was spent writing, journaling, and editing photos. That wasn't a bad thing, either.

I did finish one novel from the library, Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells (and reserved her second book), and a Lee Child that my sister found for me: A Wanted Man.

Mostly I browsed through a stack of photography technique books; they'll be in my April book list.

I did a second read through Gordon & Cathie Sullivan's Photographing Washington; thinking about a Washington road trip this year

Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, a veggie cookbook recommended by my friend, Cathy. Yum.

The Big Island Revealed, research for vacation (Great book, btw)


Lone trees...

We drove out north of town yesterday for a yard sale, where Dave helped the owner get his new lawn tractor started, and shared a source of inexpensive parts with the guy who bought the old mower.

During all the guy talk, I hung on the fence and enjoyed the cold spring morning, then spotted this tree. I've been looking for lone trees, those that grow out by themselves, to make perfect specimens of their type.

There are a lot of willow trees in the Kittitas Valley, and this one was beautiful against the blue sky of a spring morning.


Farm eagle...

There's something special about eagles, especially when you're lucky enough to have them claim your property for their own territory. It's not so good for the other critters who live on the farm... the possums and racoons, the bunny rabbits and smaller birds. But it's the cycle of life, isn't it? And the chance to witness it is something I would never turn down.



Love/hate relationships... computers are the worst.

Although to be fair, we don't think it's technically the computer, but rather some mysterious problem with the network.

So until we figure this out, E|J will be on vacation.


Resident eagle...

So, recovered from computer problems, finally. I won't try and write about my life the last week of April, except for this story about the eagle that's moved onto the property.

I first spotted him (her?) on the afternoon of the 20th, when I glanced out the bedroom windows (which overlook the front pasture) to see the eagle flying past. Just a few feet off the ground. Amazing.

He landed in the old walnut tree, where he sat for an hour or so, and tolerated my taking photographs of him from about 50 feet away. He didn't seem real concerned, but whenever he looked down into the pasture, I was glad it wasn't me he was scoping out for dinner.

Later in the morning, Davey showed me the eagle's new place in the pasture: near the private road,
having his dinner. When the neighbor drove up the road it spooked him away from his possum meal, and up into the cottonwood above the pond. And there he sat for hours, as the sun dropped in the sky, and the evening light shone.

My favorite place to photograph the front pasture is from the upstairs windows in our old farmhouse. Pulling down the top windows makes a perfect rest for the camera, and the view is a panorama of the pasture and little valley we live in.

I was there, photographing the eagle, when a hummingbird flew into the birch tree about 30 feet from me. It's the first one I've seen this year, and by framing carefully, I was able to get both birds in one picture.

This is a good example of the compressed field of view that a telephoto lens provides. Here are two birds, at either end of the size spectrum. The birch tree that the hummingbird is sitting in is directly in front of me, about 40 feet away. 

The eagle is sitting in a huge cottonwood tree that's more like 200 feet away from me, down a small hill toward the pond. But the trees look like they're the same distance from the lens.

The eagle hunted on the farm for five days in a row, which makes me hopeful that he (or she) has a nest nearby, and that we'll see eagles often.


Welcome spring (TT)

I always love the change of seasons... even when the weather doesn't turn out exactly as expected. Today looks much like yesterday, a bit grey and dark. But the promise of warmer days is in the air.

This week's photograph for Texture Tuesday is from a small fruit stand on the SW coast of the Big Island of Hawai'i. I love the contrast between the rough texture of the galvanized bucket, and the frilly bold shape and color of the flowers.


No animals allowed...

Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time, looking in just the right direction. This trio of obviously related felines wasn't at all deterred by the sign... maybe they think of themselves as "service animals?"


Still beautiful...

The red roses I dried a few weeks ago are still so beautiful...



It was 35 degrees at 7:30 this morning, and already 45 degrees just an hour later. Wild temperature swings, thankfully not mirrored with wild mood swings. I'm happy, content, easy in my own skin. Loving my life. I almost feel guilty.

This morning my body resisted being forced into jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, and absolutely refused socks and shoes. After nearly two weeks of shorts and sandals, I'm not ready for cold mornings! But we're on the cusp of spring, so acclimating shouldn't be too hard.

We came home late last night to find the forsythia, daffodils, hellebores, and lily of the valley shrub in full bloom. The rhubarb is coming up, and so are the hostas. And most of the perennials are well above ground already. It's time to dig in the dirt... just as soon as I get my journal and EJ updated.

I am so ready for a new season!


Last day...

The best sunset of our vacation was last night, which seems appropriate. Today is our last day on the Big Island. Time to pack our bags, turn in the rental car, and hop our flight for home. Spring is finally just around the corner, and I can hardly wait.


Snorkeling junkie | Puako Beach

I wish we'd found this place sooner... it was the best snorkeling experience so far.

The beach, actually a long reef that stretches from shore out toward the surf, was amazing. They say the best snorkeling is between the breakers and the outer edge of the reef, but the waves were a bit rough today, which made us nervous. So we swam back inside the reef.

We were here early, and had the place to ourselves for an hour or more. Which was good for us, beginners as we are. About the time we'd gotten comfortable swimming in shallow water, over rocks (and sea urchins), and figured out how to get from pool to pool, others arrived to share the waters. And that actually made the snorkeling better. As swimmers moved from pool to pool, the fish got more active. So we saw many more types of fish, even floated with a huge school of orange-striped silver fish for a while.

We split up and swam separately, and each of us had the thrill of swimming around a rock to come face to face with a turtle. We kept our distance, backed off when a turtle approached, and it was the experience of a lifetime. When we came in for a break, we were amazed to find we'd been in the water for three hours.

Later in the day, after our friends played golf, we brought them back here to snorkel. They weren't as comfortable snorkeling in shallow water, but when I showed them my favorite pool, and there was a turtle there, it made up for it.

The water wasn't as clear this afternoon, and the fish weren't as abundant, but seeing so many turtles napping on the rocks more than made up for it. Dave counted 14 in all, with 7 on this one rock.

We were also treated to a show put on by the humpback whales near the end of the afternoon. There were so many whales close to shore this afternoon, and we saw multiple whales breach. I've never seen a whale come completely out of the water before, slamming down and sending twin walls of water into the air. It was amazing to see, and I wish I had photographs.

I also wish we had time to come back once more, before we leave.


Places grown wild...

It's our third day on the Hilo coast, and we're walking the path to Akaka Falls. I've decided I much prefer this wetter, greener side of the Big Island. Maybe it's because of where I was born and raised...  probably exactly because of that. It is warmer here, and the rain is warm. So I didn't at all mind going walking in the rain. And the lush green is just like spring at home.


Sunrise and surf...

Our little Hilo cottage is just a few steps from the beach, a rocky point with sandy crescents on both sides. The waves pound hard here, and the deep water just offshore is home to Humpback whales. Best of all, there's a wide shallow lagoon that's protected from the surf, and reflects the sky.

The beach is made from bits of black lava rock ground into sand, and a billion (or two) bits of shell. The water is warm, and the sun is filtered by trees. It is perfectly perfect.

We came early this morning to watch the sun rise, but found only the deep blue and grey of early morning, and wild surf. It was a rush, standing at the edge of the ocean as it turned from night to day.

We came back later in the afternoon, to steal another hour at this secluded place. The sea was a bit calmer, and the lagoon was still and quiet, only a few inches deep.

I waded in the lagoon, collected a few tiny shells to bring home, and explored the tide pools.

I could have spent the whole day here. Next trip, I will.

A sea gone wild...

Somewhere today we heard that there was a high surf advisory for the west side of the island, and since we were driving up the coast, figured we'd be able to see exactly what that looks like.

A historical marker caught our eye, and we stopped at the overlook to take a look over the edge at the coast. The marker told about a tsunami that hit the Big Island in 1946, and the school on the rocky point below us that was hard hit.

Laupahoehoe Point was popular with wave watchers today, for good reason. The shore was being absolutely pounded.

We stayed more than an hour, blown away (no pun intended) by the wild surf, the towering walls of water being thrown up against the cliffs, all up and down the coastline. Most of all, we were amazed by the color of the water. A rich, glossy, intense turquoise blue I've never seen before. When we finally pulled ourselves away, I'd taken more than a hundred photographs.


Hawaii in bloom

Before leaving the east side, we spent a couple of hours exploring the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. Even if you're not a gardener, you'll love this place. The gardens were created along a stream that tumbles downhill, all the way to the sea. It's peaceful and beautiful, and full of amazing plants. I especially loved the giant ferns that brushed the sky, the many types of wild ginger (like the beehive ginger below), the massive mango trees, orchids in every color, and much, much more.


Buckets and blooms

Flowers are one of the best things about coming to a tropical place in winter.