The Snag and the Owl

Among the evergreen trees surrounding our home is a Western Hemlock that appeared to be dying.  We asked an arborist to come and remove it and he was willing to take it down, but encouraged us to leave a ‘snag’ for wildlife. If we didn’t like the look of it he’d come back and remove it later.

According to  Conservation Northwest  “Standing dead trees, called snags, provide birds and mammals with shelter to raise young and raptors with unobstructed vantage points. Large downed trees also provide important habitat for wildlife. Hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish benefit from snags for food, nesting or shelter! ”

We have plenty of other trees in our yard and weren’t sure a snag was necessary but decided to take his advice and leave it standing. It would be nice to have a woodpecker take up residence there.

It looked kind of funny and we wondered if we’d made the right decision.

And then last week after dark I saw the form of an owl perched on one of the limbs. Though I’ve heard their calls in the night,  I’d never seen one in the wild – outside of a zoo or other wildlife sanctuary.

I stood (with my umbrella in the rain) and watched him as he stared at the ground below. He took no notice of me while I stood beneath taking pictures of him.  Why should he? He owned the night.

Honestly I was thrilled – and a bit unsettled too.

It’s a bird of prey.

And while I’m happy if he takes the rodents making mole hills in our yard, I’m also concerned about creatures larger than that.

I will need to remain vigilant.

~ Susanne

Somebody’s Ready for Monday

“C’mon Sue! Let’s play!”

“Oh Benji, it’s Monday. And it’s too early besides. Why don’t you go outside to play.”

“Please, Sue. It’s too cold out there.”

“Okay Benji. But just a few minutes.”

“Okay, I’m ready! Go!”

“Faster Sue. Faster!”

‘You’re a wildcat Benji!  Now if you don’t mind, I’ll get back to my coffee.”

Happy Monday from Susanne and Benji

Winter Walk at Nolte and the Green River Gorge

After many rainy days we had a wonderful interlude of clear skies and record breaking temperatures and decided to spend it at Nolte State Park.

The property was first granted to Frederick Nolte by then President Harrison in the late 1800’s and stayed in the Nolte family until willed to the state in 1972.  The main feature of the park is beautiful Deep Lake which is surrounded by lush evergreen forest. The 1.4 mile trail around the lake is perfect for walking anytime of year and we often make the 45 minute drive to get our fix of fresh air and forest.

This time we noticed a freshly fallen tree and went to inspect it where it lay.

It will eventually be swallowed by fungus, moss and ferns as many stumps and roots are, creating mysterious life forms;

no I don’t mean Bob.

Fortunately there are still plenty of living trees like this giant Douglas Fir, the largest in the park.

After our walk we headed to the Green River Gorge where we were greeted by the roar of the river and mist rising above.

We finished up at Black Diamond Bakery with the best doughnuts in town.

It was a great way to take advantage of the mild temperatures. Cold and rain is sure to follow.

~ Susanne

Yahoo for Oahu!

Okay so maybe I’m too excited after booking a trip to Hawaii but I don’t think so. Hawaii is to me, one of those places that lives up to the hype. Ocean beaches. Glorious sunsets. Warm, fragrant breezes. What’s not to like about that?

It’s been a while since our last trip and I’d been pondering another for the past year.

But to which island?

My first choice was the Big Island but we’ve already spent more time there than any of the others. And the husband was not enthused about going there again.  I need him to be enthused.

And no not Maui he said. It’s not at all his favorite – unlike everyone else we know.

Kauai?  Too rainy.  Indeed, Mount Waialeale is one of the wettest spots on earth, receiving around 500 inches of rain each year. Honestly we get enough of that here.

So that leaves the most visited Hawaiian Island – the one with the most iconic views – of Waikiki and Diamond Head  –  made famous by Jack Lord and his gang when I was still a kid, back when I never thought I’d see such a marvelous place – Oahu!

Yes, we’ve been there before but always with a trip to another island, never for its own sake.

So this time we’ll give it more time – and we’ll do the things we both love. Bob will visit Pearl Harbor and soak up the military history of the island. I will relish the beach time including some days on the North Shore, one of the top surfing destinations in the world. No we don’t surf (no surprise there) but wouldn’t it be fun to see some of those monster waves?

And we’ll both be on the lookout for the whales, those beautiful Humpbacks who migrate thousands of miles here to bear their young.

So there. It’s booked and I’m counting the days till I have one of these in my hand.

That should get me through the winter!

~ Susanne

Over Seattle

You didn’t really think I could stay away till 2020 did you?

Me neither.

After a wonderful week in Southern California we headed back to Seattle yesterday. Mt. Adams and Mt Rainier were beautiful on approach but I was most impressed by the aerial tour of the city, the best I have ever seen. I think we were too early to land so the pilot headed north quite a ways before turning back around to the airport, giving us views of the city and surroundings from all angles.

So here you go!

After passing Mt Rainier we continued north and Seattle came fully into view.  Here we are looking east with Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains in the background.

Past downtown, we got a good look at the Ballard Locks, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to be more specific, the busiest in the nation.  The locks and ship canal were constructed over a hundred years ago, connecting Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Here’s the view from the other side after we turned south, looking west with Puget Sound in the background.

The Space Needle was up next. Can you find it?

Afterwards we soared over the City’s business district and I waved to my old coworkers in the Seattle Municipal Tower, the building with the green slanted top, bottom center.

Views of the West Seattle Bridge and Alki Point followed.  The Bridge crosses over the Duwamish River and Harbor Island, another historic structure from Seattle’s past. At the time it was built over a hundred years ago, it was the largest artificial island in the world.

The views of the city were terrific but it wasn’t long before we were landing at Sea-Tac Airport and I have to say –

It’s good to be home.  🙂

~ Susanne

As the Sun Sets on 2019

Hello all you wonderful people in the blogosphere!

As the sun begins to set on the Year 2019, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for visiting my blog.  I understand that we all only have so much time in our day, year, and life for that matter, and I appreciate whatever time you have chosen to spend with Me and Tiger and Benji at Cats and Trails and Garden Tales.

And I also wanted to let you know I’ll be taking the rest of the year off, but look forward to seeing you in 2020.

2020??  Can you believe it?

Neither can I.

Happy New Year!

Susanne, Tiger and Benji

A Rainy Last Day of Fall, Two Cats and Clam Lights!

After a mostly dry fall in the Pacific NW it seems that all the pent up rain has finally been loosed in a fury making today the rainiest Dec 20th on record, with many more like it to come.  How quickly we forget!

Benji is distraught and asks me why I don’t turn it off so he can go outside.

I have no answer and he finally settles down to sleep the day away.

Tiger makes the same wise decision.

As for me, I decide to brave a walk at Coulon Park where I have the trail to myself.

Except for the ducks who are happy to find water, water everywhere.

Their webbed feet serve them well. I on the other hand find out quickly that my own shoes are not waterproof, nor are the jeans that end up soaked to the knees.

I pass by Ivar’s Clam Lights, a festive holiday display that will light up the evenings – for those who brave the elements.

The clams are still and silent waiting for the evening show;  but I did manage to catch them strutting their stuff a few years ago.

Happy Holidays to you all from the soggy Northwest!  🙂

~ Susanne, Tiger and Benji

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