Ooh, Shiny! Look at that cool bird! (Edit: see below for addition I just couldn’t resist)

I love bird-watching, and when I’m outdoors I try to find them.  But sometimes, when I’m doing something else, one will catch my eye.

This guy was on the roof of an accessory dwelling in the back yard of a friend in Colorado.  What a place for a feeder!

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Scrub Jay

We were surprised when a family of quail skittered across our path, down at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  I wasn’t looking for birds, just cactus.  And they have such great camouflage, you have to be attentive to movement!

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Quail foraging under the agave at Desert Botanical Garden

We were just walking the trail along the Sammamish Slough in Bellevue, Washington near where we live, when the sound of this little marsh wren attracted us.

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…SQUIRREL!!

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Photo Challenge…Elemental…Water

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we live nearly surrounded by water.  In Western Washington, anyway, you are rarely more than a mile from some body of water or other. Lake Washington, Puget Sound, the Green River, the Snoqualmie River, and Silver Lake are minutes away.  No two bodies of water or rivers are exactly the same from minute to minute, or season to season.  All those bodies of water moderate our weather here, and we rarely get extremes of heat or cold (recently we have been in a very unusual pattern of high temperatures and no rain at all for nearly two months).  Water gives the Earth and all its creatures life, and sustains us all.  Herewith, some examples of the beautiful water that surrounds me.

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This is the Yakima River, just east of the Cascades in Kittitas County. It is wide and shallow, and a great place for fly-fishing.

Ferry Wake

The wake of a Washington State Ferry, leaving from Edmonds across Puget Sound to the Kitsap Peninsula town of Kingston.

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Sky over Puget Sound in Seattle.

Note how the color of the water is a reflection of the gray clouds overhead.

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The Deschutes River at Tumwater Falls.

This is video I took of one of my favorite places, the Wenatchee River near Leavenworth.

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Fall Colors on the Wenatchee River, west of Leavenworth, WA

Hard to believe that this flat, reflective surface becomes a raging torrent not too far away from this spot.

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Glacial-fed Diablo Lake on the Skagit River.  I am always amazed by the blue-green color of the water.

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Calm waters of North Puget Sound, off the Port Townsend peninsula.  We saw many kayakers that day, sticking close to shore.

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Last, but not least, a rarity.  Frozen water in the bird-bath in our back yard.  Both ice and snow are present, and beautiful.

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Photo Challenge…Textures

It seems counter-intuitive for a plant to be both soft and prickly at the same time.  This Arizona cactus, at progressively-closer views shows two entirely different textures.  Seen from relatively far-away, it looks soft, with rounded curves.

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Seen closer-up, the big spines look pretty dangerous, and the plant looks like you wouldn’t want to get too close.

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But when you get really close, you want to jump back.  Those spines can hurt!

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If you feel the plant carefully, between the spines, it is actually very soft.

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Satisfaction…Human Ingenuity

I am always impressed with the products of human ingenuity, many of which were designed and built thousands of years ago, and still remain for us to marvel at.  Every time I drive down a mountain road, I can’t help thinking of all the engineering and labor that went into that road.  When I look at a tall building, or a huge containership, my mind says “human ingenuity”.  Some may think that other animals are as smart as we humans are, but when did any animal build something like these?

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VietNam Memorial

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BC Ferry, making its way through the Gulf Islands
Curtis Organ
Pipe Organ in recital hall at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

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Photo Challenge~~~Unusual

Varied Thrushes and Robins are ground-feeding birds.  They are carnivores, and everyone has seen or heard of robins rooting around on the ground for worms.  I caught this Varied Thrush on the fence in my back yard.  He looks indignant, and I think this photo cries out for a caption.  Can my readers supply one?

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Photo Challenge, Collage. One Natural, One Man-Made

I love living in the Pacific Northwest, where the abundant rain contributes to a profusion of plant life.  Here in the temperate rain forest ecosystem, life grows in many layers.  Green growing things have other growing things on top of them.  Take this tree, for instance, at Rockport State Park, in the foothills of the North Cascades.

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It’s a tall Douglas Fir, with moss growing on its bark, and other broadleaf plants growing up through the moss.  And if you look really closely, you can see insects which live in the moss, and in the bark of the tree.  Layers upon layers of life!

On the other hand, here’s a collage I made of the holiday cards we received from our many Ricochet friends last Christmas (and a Chanukah card from my family).  It definitely brightens up the decor, and I intend to keep it up until this Christmas as a reminder of how lucky we are to have so many Ricochet Friends.

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Photo Challenge..Is it a Table…Or a Bridge?

This particular dinner table is….wait for it…Both!  The people at this table journeyed from miles away to meet with the Honored Guest, a remarkable young man from Romania.  This Gentleman (capitalized because he is the epitome of Gentleman) is known to all of us online, and the friends at this table, along with dozens of other American friends, paid for his airfare to come to America, and see the country which we love so much.  All last summer, he flew, and bused, and was driven, from the East to the West Coast, staying with friends, and seeing America.

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The guest of honor is at the end of the table, with the goatee and red cravat.  He regaled us with stories of his voyage across America, and bridged the gap for us all.  At the end of the evening, when no one really wanted to leave, we had all gained knowledge, and the immense pleasure of his company.  This table is a bridge, across oceans, mountains, prairies, lakes, rivers, and people.

Oh, and I just couldn’t resist this, for Cherie Lucas Rowlands:

Bridges in Cambridge, England, the opposite number of Oxford.

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A peaceful River Cam bridge, behind Trinity Hall.
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Two bridges over the River Cam, Cambridge (seen from a punt)

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