Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It Takes A Village To Raise A Gaggle of Goslings

  Today the most wonderful thing happened! I was at Lake Union when I saw a woman looking at the water. I thought she was just taking in the view of lake. But no, she was looking at something far more fabulous. As I got closer, I saw it! A gaggle of goslings with their moms and dads. They were floating in big group together.... long necked feathered creatures followed by a bunch of fuzzy darlings. My heart was melting!

I tried to be as non-threatening as possible as I followed/chased them along the lake while they floated. The way the adults would move their necks, it looked as if they were directing the young. Like traffic directors except with authoritative, pointing necks instead of arms. It looked as if three goose families combined to form one, large goose family. There were six grown geese and seventeen tiny geese! It takes a village to raise a brood of little geese.

 Floating along with the geese, but maybe ten or so feet removed, was a quacking mallard. I thought of him as the hired muscle, there to protect the little geese from eagles or crows. Or at least in his own duck mind that was what he was doing.Or maybe he was unsuccessful with mating attempts this year. When he saw all these baby geese and thought, "Hey, I'll just join that family!"

   I thought I had seen the last of the giant goose family. But then, an hour or so later, I found them on a grassy patch. They were all sleeping or finding insect snacks between blades of grass. Right across the grassy patch was a park bench. Between the bench and the grassy patch was only a sidewalk. I slowly crept to the bench and sat down. Luckily, none of the parent geese seemed perturbed by my presence or proximity. I know from past goose interactions how to tell when a goose is angry. They start by wiggling their head and neck around with mad abandon! Sometimes they hiss and honk, but usually only if you did not get the hint during the head wiggling.

 I sat on that bench with six geese and seventeen goslings practically surrounding me. The closest one must have been five feet away! It was really very amazing. I felt so lucky to be surrounded by so many baby geese at once. I just sat there and watched them for a while. They did all sorts of cute things. My favorite was when a baby goose would stand up from sleeping and run to join another section of the goose family. First, the baby would stand up. Then, he would stretch his tiny wings. The wings are sooo small. They look like little nubs. So with his outstretched nubs and neck reaching toward the sky, the baby goose would merrily trot across the grass.

There was one baby goose who would sleep in a particularly hilarious fashion. One of his legs would be tucked under his soft body, the other would be stretched out behind him. At one point, I also saw a gosling fight break out. Three baby geese all started bumping into each other in a manner that looked both aggressive and playful.

Surrounded by all these geese, I felt like the goose version of Jane Goodall. Soon, the geese woulds start seeing me as one of them. I'd be invited to float around the lake. Or to join them for an evening fly. It is a disguise that would be hard to maintain since I lack so many common place goose skills. But I needn't worry about the geese catching on, since they were never fooled. After about twenty minutes, the geese got up and walked away, and I, the obvious goose impostor, was left behind. But before they left, a man walked by and said, "Wow, this is pretty amazing, isn't it." And I heartily agreed!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Into Beach Day Fun!

   My friend and I are on a mission to visit all the beaches in Seattle. We call it... The Great Seattle Beach Tour. Or at least that is what I have been calling it. We started last Summer with two successful beach trips: Golden Gardens and Alki. We have continued our beach tour again this Spring with a visit to Madison Beach. The other two beaches were on Puget Sound, but Madison Beach is on Lake Washington. It was a pretty beach to be at in the Spring, full of flower blooms and growing leaves. My friend and I found a sunny spot and read by the water. It is raining right now as I write this, but a couple of weeks ago when I went on the beach trip, it was quite nice! Sunshine, come back!

  I recently listened to a 'This American Life Episode' where it was stated that toast is the new cupcakes. I've heard this before with a different food. A couple of years ago pie was the new cupcakes, but it never fully caught on, at least not in Seattle. There are a couple of pie shops in Seattle, but the enthusiasm for pies has not yet matched that for cupcakes. I do think cupcakes are more delicious than pies but pies are more romantic than cupcakes. The type of people who eat pie are people with secrets eating at a diner late at night. Or wanderlust hobos who purposely abandoned their lives of wealth to embrace the freedom of a rattling train. Or a plucky, 1940's girl detective enjoying a piece of pie after solving a big case. Although toast is good, I don't see it surpassing the popularity of cupcakes or pie. I've never had toast as delicious as a cupcake.Excluding the This American Life toast story, toast does not lend itself as easily to romantic back stories the way pie does. But of course, taste is all a matter of opinion, and I've only had home toasted toast, never artisinal toast. 
   I don't have my finger on the pulse of popular trends, but I do have my finger on the pulse of what I think should be the next popular artisanal food trend: Fruit Salads! What is more delicious than a fruit salad? Every Spring, when I see the fruit slowly appear back in the grocery stores at ever reducing prices, I start looking forward to fruit salads! I have many strong opinions on fruit salads. For example, apples should not be in fruit salads. Most fruit is mushy and soft. But not apples, or at least not good apples. They are crisp and hard. It is jarring to be munching on a bunch of juicy and soft fruit and suddenly bite into a fruit piece that is such a noticeably different consistency. Another more obvious fruit salad rule is that fruit salad should be made only with fresh fruit! I could go on an on about my fruit salad opinions, but I suspect that this is a subject that is more interesting to me than it is to other people. 
   But if fruit salads became a trend, people with actual food expertise could carefully craft the perfect combination of fruits to make various different and delightful fruit salads. I would love to go to a restaurant and see that on the menu were five different fruit salads to choose from. Or, if there was a restaurant with a fruit salad bar. The only difficulty with this plan is that fruit salads are best when the fruit is freshly cut. The owner of the fruit salad bar would have to be very vigilante about only cutting small portions of fruit at a time for the salad bar. Hopefully, by this time next year the artisinal fruit salad trend will have begun and I will be on my blog raving about my favorite fruit salad restaurant. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lucy Finally Meets the Rain Monster

  Here is another illustration of Lucy and the Rain Monster.

     Lucy told her friend that every time it rains, she has this nagging feeling that she is being followed. But when she looks around, she never sees any one else, except for sometimes strangers occupied with their own business. Her friend gave her a concerned look mingled with pity. What sort of stalker would only com out in the rain? Lucy scowled at her friend's condescending look and didn't continue her story. Because the thing was, although she did feel she was being followed every time it rained, the follower felt benevolent. This wasn't some sort of sinister stalker lurking in the shadows, it was something else. 
   Still, just in case she was right about the follower but not right about the good intentions, she got her self a dog escort. BeBe and Lucy became fast friends. BeBe was a delightful dog who liked cuddling, leaping, long walks and chasing butterflies through fields. Lucy also liked cuddling, leaping, long walks and chasing butterflies through fields. The two were never bored in each other's presence. In fact,  BeBe and Lucy spent the whole summer delighting in each other's company. During the first rain of Fall, Lucy forgot all about her reservations about being followed. Lucy and BeBe set out on a rainy day walk together. But while walking past her neighbor's houses, BeBe's ears perked and her little nose sniffed the moist air. BeBe turned around quickly and barked a friendly yip. Lucy turned around too, and that is when she saw him.... The rain monster. 
    The rain monster blushed and averted his eyes, realizing the jig was up and he had been caught. In the past, the rain monster was able to sense that Lucy would turn around, and he would quickly transform into ordinary rain before Lucy had a chance to spot him. But BeBe's instincts and quick reaction time were much more advanced than Lucy's. 
    Lucy was too shocked to speak. She had wondered about being followed, but certainly not by a magical creature. The rain monster cleared his throat and said "Excuse me Madam, I am the rain monster and I humbly beg your kind acquaintance." 
    Lucy was still too shocked to speak and was quiet for a moment, but then BeBe barked pleasantly, a chiming happy bark that Lucy knew well enough meant that her dog friend was full of glee. Lucy cleared her own throat and said 'Why, how do you do? It is nice to finally meet you."

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Carpet of Crushed Barnacles and Gray Pebbles

     I found a set of photographs I took last Summer and forgot all about. They are of Richmond Beach, a beach near Seattle. While we were there, amateur naturalists stood by the shore and waited for curious beachcombers to come along so the naturalists could dispense their beach knowledge. They all were light blue shirts and  I think they were also wearing rain boots so they could trek into the water if needed.

  I have been listening to a new (to me) interesting and hilarious podcast called The Dead Authors Podcast. The premise is that comedian Paul F. Tompkins is H.G. Wells. Fictional Wells found a time machine and now travels to the past to swoop dead authors from throughout history. In his trusty time machine, he brings them back to our time to interview them. Other comedians play the dead authors. While listening to the episode featuring Shel Silverstein, I learned an interesting fact. Shel Silverstein wrote the song 'A Boy Named Sue' that Johnny Cash sings. I like this fact because it makes complete sense! 'A Boy Named Sue' is the sort of fanciful and playful tale that Silverstein thrives in! The song is bizarre yet delightful, just like all of Silverstein's best poems. But, maybe in the future, it will not seem so odd to name a son Sue. It seems like right now, it is popular to name daughter's boy names, but not yet popular to name boys girl names. Maybe now that our culture is getting less uptight about gender norms, there will be boys named Sue who are perfectly content with their names. Around the world, male Sue's will have no desire to seek revenge on their fathers. But as of now, it is far more socially acceptable for women to adopt traditional masculine traits then the opposite. I guess you could argue that this is empowering to women because it means we get to be who we want to be in a way a feminine man does not. But in the end, it still sends a message that traditional masculine traits are better then traditional feminine traits. Hopefully, someday, we will all just get to be whoever we are. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Koi Fish and a Good Book

  There is an amazing plant nursery near my house that has a koi pond in one of their greenhouses. The fish are very friendly and very large! Last time I was there, hunched over the pond taking pictures, there was a cute little boy next to me who was giggling with joy at the fish.... or should I say...giggling with joy at the koi...hahaha! He told me the name of one of the fish too, but now, much to my consternation, I forgot the name! I think it was something like Richard or maybe Bob... or maybe Stanley. The fish that had a name was the biggest in the pond and he was lurking around on the bottom all by himself. I heard there are now baby chicks at the nursery too! I gotta go for a visit, stat! 

The fish says 'Hello.' The fish says 'Goodbye.'

  Speaking of chicks, a book I finished recently was about a girl with her own brood of chickens. The book is called 'Calling Dr. Laura' by Nicole Georges. I am usually not as interested in reading nonfiction as I am in fiction. When reading fiction, I feel like anything is possible! Where as nonfiction has to stick to the rules of reality and what actually happened. But this book was a very interesting and beautiful memoir. It was a work of art that was made more powerful by being true. It was actually a graphic memoir, so it was in comic book form. 'Calling Dr. Laura' is about how one woman's visit to a psychic led her to discover something about her own past.

 The story is about Nicole, who grew up with various different father figures coming in and out of her life. Her own father, she was led to believe, died of colon cancer. The story oscillates between her current life and her life as a child. In her current life she is a animal-loving artist and musician. She lives with her girlfriend (who her mom thinks is just a roommate), her chickens and a bunch of dogs. While managing the ordeals of everyday life in Portland, she slowly unravels a family mystery! It is a visit to a mostly inaccurate psychic that acts as the catalyst toward discovering the long buried secret.
  In the segments of the book where Nicole is a child, we learn about her relationship with her mother and her stepfathers and about the different events that shaped her into the person she is.
  I love the way Georges illustrates the book. She is an amazing artist and in the grown-up sections of the book, her illustrations are more realistic and precise. In the sections telling the story of her childhood, she adopts a more cartoonish and innocent style. She relies more on line drawings and less on shading and texture. The people have rounder heads and simpler features. It is a clever way to convey the way childhood feels in our memory versus the way adulthood feels.
  Part of the reason I liked this book was because the characters really reminded me of friends I had in college. So there was a certain personal familiarity in the characters. But this is only a small part of what drew me to the characters. Georges illustrations and writing easily brought these people to life for me.
  Overall, 'Calling Dr. Laura' was a captivating book and made me question my usual aversion to memoirs. I will definitely keep my eye out for more of Georges work in the future.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bainbridge Island Ferry Expedition

  In Seattle, when the sun comes out, it is important to take full advantage. A couple of weeks ago on a wonderfully sunny day, my friend Ces and I went on a ferry ride to Bainbridge. On all previous Bainbridge trips, the ferry ride was the highlight and the actual island was a bit dull. But this time, Ces and I had a blast on Bainbridge! Mainly because they have a new (maybe only to us)  free art museum that has really interesting art in it. I didn't take any pictures at the museum, because I never know what the rules are at museums. Often, I don't take pictures to avoid the possibility of being yelled at. It never feels like much of concession because most museums house the type of things you can find pictures of on the internet anyhow. 
  It was a very art infused Bainbridge trip, because while walking around town and along the waterfront, we saw a lot of public art. On Bainbridge, they have many giant frog statues. In Seattle, we have giant pig statues. I don't know how this giant animal statue trend started, but I like it. Bring on the giant animals!
  While walking along the waterfront, we found more art. I like the one of the rock man running away from the rock dinosaur (pictured below!). 
  It wasn't just an art themed trip, it was a 'quaint old-fashioned town' themed trip. We did several 'quaint' things. We went to a diner themed liked the 1950's. It was in a metal building that looked 1950's-futuristic. On the inside, I could easily imagine myself saddling up to the counter and ordering a chocolate soda. What really happened was that Ces and I sat at a booth and ordered modern day sandwiches. Mine was vegetarian with cream cheese and sprouts which seems decidedly un-1950's. After our 1950's lunch, we went to a fudge shop and got lots of free samples. Fudge is the type of thing people only eat while visiting quaint, small tourist towns.  We went to a candle and tea shop where a very gentlemanly and eloquent man wished us a good afternoon and talked with calm enthusiasm about all the goods he was selling. 

   Here are links to some of the artist highlights from the museum (and beyond).
  • Sue Roberts- She does amazing portraiture and illustrative ceramic sculptures. 
  • David Eisenhour- He does metal sculptures of small things in nature, but he enlarges them. So giant metal shells or giant seed pods. 
  • Shawn Nordfors- He makes giant wooden heads that are around four feet tall. They look really cool from the outside, but if you look in their eyes, there are small and beautiful dioramas. 
  • I also found the website for the artist who does the rock sculptures on the waterfront, his name is Ethan Currier.
  • I tried to find the artist who does the yellow frame waterfront art (the one's int he last pictures), but no luck. For now, it is a mystery!