Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New ideas for tapir fundraising

I've been working on a new web page today for raising funds for various tapir conservation projects. One of the projects I started with is Kendra Bauer's Baird's tapir project in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. Here's Kendra's web site. She loaned me this photo of "Noel," one of the Baird's tapirs in her project. Here's the tapir project donation page I've been working on. Scroll down till you get to the Baird's tapirs. The donation part of the page is just started, and will be a lot better once there are a number of projects on it. I'd be working on it all day, but Lee and I are going to take off for Portland for the holiday. I'll be back working in a couple of days, and I'm really excited about this new idea. Tapirs have been my love since 1968, so what better way to bring in the new year than to work on keeping them alive and well?

I hope anyone reading this has a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve, a great New Year's Day and of course, a fantastic 2009! I'm looking forward to it :) I've started on the Resolutions already, so look out!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas! And more snow in Astoria

It was supposed to rain today, not snow, but it could still rain anyway, it's still early. Here's what the morning looked like to the south. The pavement was black and wet yesterday. Not so now.

Snow to the west - in the direction of the River Pilots' office and the Maritime Museum. That's also a bit of the river there at the bottom of the slope.

A waterbird in the snow on the Columbia River.

Lots of snow falling. Can you see the ship? I didn't . . .

It was there all the time. Now the snow has stopped for awhile. We were supposed to get rain all week. We'll see what happens.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, peaceful, enjoyable day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A 40-year "snow event" in Astoria . . . the saga continues

Today we had rain, then icy rain, but the temperatures were well above freezing and the net result was melting. It's not all gone yet, but driving is much easier. You can see the rain on the window better if you enlarge the photo. (Scroll to the bottom for info on the "snow event.")

This is taken from our doorway at TPF (The Animal Store). I was working right up through the end of the day, so I didn't go out and find new places to photograph.

You can just see the smaller (brighter red/orange) ship behind the darker red Mary Ann Hudson. The smaller ship (May Star) has been out there all day. I should have gone out early and counted the ships. They're harder to count at night, but last night after dark, it seemed it seemed as though there were at least a dozen ships that could be seen from town, which is a large number. Anyway, the May Star had been out there all day, when the Mary Ann Hudson came shooting past, providing an interesting color juxtaposition and size comparison. The MAH looked huge.

Take a gander at what this seagull is doing with its head! You might have to click on the photo to see the gull better. I didn't know they did this.

And now, here's the 40-year "snow event" info I was referring to in the title. I'm editing a bit from the e-mail sent out by the Weather Underground web site. I use it all the time. It looks like it will be raining and even warmer all week, but here's our historic moment:


A historical perspective on the December 20-22 2008 snowstorm... Plenty of snow has fallen across the region this past weekend... as well as last week. In fact...with a brief period of light snow this became the 9th consecutive calendar day where at least a trace of snow fell on the Portland Airport. Generally 10 to 16 inches of snow fell across the Portland and Vancouver Metro area. [Note: we got less here in Astoria; I don't know what the figure is.] Historically...this is the biggest snow event for the valley floor locations of the Portland Metro area since at least 1980. For some areas outside of downtown Portland [they may be including Astoria here] ...this event was the heaviest snowfall in at least 40 years...when the big December snowstorm of 1968 hit the area. Despite being the biggest snowstorm in a generation...this storm did not quite make the all-time top ten list of snow storms for downtown Portland. This is due to several bigger snow events between the late 1800s to mid 1900s...when double-digit snow accumulations were much more common for the Portland area. A storm is defined from the onset of steady precipitation until the end of the showery period behind the storm. Often...this may be a 1 to 3 day period. The 2008 storm is from Saturday morning through Monday morning.


Astoria Airport (period of record: 1892-present)...
December 20-22 2008 storm totals.........4 to 7 inches

(note: totals varied greatly by proximity to the ocean)

biggest snowstorm

1969 Jan 19.1 inches
1964 Dec 16.0 inches
1922 Dec 12.5 inches
several storms of 6-8 inches

snowiest decembers

1964 19.0 inches
1922 12.5 inches

snowiest months (all winter)

1950 Jan 26.9 inches
1969 Jan 26.3 inches
1964 Dec 19.0 inches
1943 Jan 13.8 inches

Info by NWS Portland climate staff


So you can see that while 4-7 inches is not earth-shaking, it's in the record books for this area. The airport is across town and across Youngs Bay, closer to the ocean, and I believe we got more snow here in town. Since we're only a block from the Maritime Museum and they may have a record, I'll check with them in the next few days. This has been fun :)

~ Sheryl

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow in Astoria, Dec 21, 2008

Last night the wavs pounded so hard and the building bounced. I thought we had a big log, but I never saw one. Morning was a peaceful contrast. Here's one of the hundreds of photos I took today. I narrowed them down for my Picasa Album. I read a few more things about my camera today and did some experimenting. I was also walking in the rain and/or falling wet snow for most of the walk, so some of the pix are artistically blurry. You can see them in the web album. By the time I got to Links Outdoor, my hands were so cold I could barely work the camera. I had some thin knitted gloves, and they were very wet, so I bought a pair of better gloves that still allow me to push the buttons. It won't keep the lens dry, but it will help the fingers!

I love the way the ice completely encased these branches.

The day started with icicles and with snow on the ground, but it was crusty and brittle, not like the powder from yesterday. Then it melted more and it rained some. It was supposed to rain all day, but as it turned out, it snowed hard most of the afternoon instead. The ground slushed up during the middle part of the day, as you will see from the photos. This is all so unusual for Astoria. If we get snow, it's usually a fraction of an inch for part of a day, or else it doesn't stick, or even if it's 2 inches, it's gone in a few hours. Now the forecast is showing snow all week, but the high temps will be above freezing, so we'll see whether it's rain or snow or mush or all of them together. It's interesting, and I had a blast walking and taking pictures yesterday and today. The Hanukkah gathering was put off because nobody could get back to Astoria. I have new orders to get out for the gift shop and I don't know if I'll have employees tomorrow or not. Saturday I slid on the road with my summer tires. Today would have been OK, but I walked instead. We'll see about tomorrow. I have several Express Mail orders that should get to the post office before 1:00.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow in Astoria, Dec 20, 2008

You can't tell it, but this is the River Walk a bit east of the Maritime Museum. For lots more pictures from this trek, see my Picasa Web Album. I'd worked all morning and early afternoon packing up orders. We had only a few compared with the past few days, but it took me several hours. I'd been planning to deliver them to the post office just before 4:30, but it became obvious I didn't want to drive that late, so I took them early, then went to Safeway. I'd been planning to go to the gym and work out and shower, but I'd slipped on the road already this side of Safeway and I didn't know what to expect out by the gym (summer tires, a small slope here and there). So I drove home and put on my boots for the first time, maybe in years. It was clearly not sandal weather any more. I'll wear them when it's freezing out, but not in snow. I just have warm feet, I'm not crazy. I walked over to the pool, which was much closer than the gym, and got a 10-use pass for showers and pool. It was another world in there - warm! The weather never changes in there. So strange. It could still have been "typical Astoria." It was nice. My fingers were nearly frozen when I got there. I'd neglected to find gloves and I had my hands out of my pockets since I was using the camera.

Warmed inside, I had a wonderful walk back across untrodden fields of snow between Marine Drive and the river and along the River Walk. This location looked SO different only a few days before! It wasn't as cold coming back. The breeze was from behind, and snow wasn't falling on my camera and my hands. It was wonderful. The downside is about work and travelling, but the snow is absolutely glorious . . . and so rare in Astoria! Lee says he sledded down one of the streets in the 1970s (7th Street?), but I really don't know when Astoria has had snow like this in the last 50 or 80 years or so.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More schizophrenic weather in Astoria

This is basically the same shot as I posted yesterday morning, it's just more densely white. Snow in Astoria is rare anyway, although we've had more of it in 2008 than in most years. We're supposed to be in the midst of a storm right now. It's been a bit schizo, with wind and chill, heavy snow, then rain, then bright sunny skies, etc. What we're expecting now is a big freeze, although it was supposed to start a few days ago and it didn't happen. This time it's looking more likely. There's less slush to freeze today than there was a few days ago, but there's still enough of it. Streets of glass is what we're talking about for this weekend, it seems.

I took the photo above this morning looking west along the River Walk from our place near 15th Street.

This is looking out to the river. Yeah, nice green bushes, all covered in white.

Indoors, it was warmer, and we're still scrambling to get orders packed up and shipped. We also have a lot of incoming inventory for the last seasonal push to fill new orders and get backorders out. One of the UPS trucks got delayed due to the weather, so we have one shipment that won't be here till Monday. In all, Sue and Barbara have been doing an incredible job. Lee pitched in and filled orders for a few days before he left for Bend. Now he's over there and it's inadvisable to drive back this weekend. Whatever is going on here, it's colder there, although it's drier. He thought Saturday might be a good driving day, but now it looks like Saturday will come with a lot of snow and icy roads. Barbara couldn't get in to work from Washington, so I packed up orders nonstop for two days and got behind on my computer work. She made it in today by getting a ride with someone with the right tires. We don't all get snow tires here; it's usually very easy to get through winter without them if you live in town. Sue came in every day. The road up near her house was a bit slippery, so we weren't sure from day to day, and I don't know how I would have handled the Christmas rush without her. We'll see what happens with the weather over the next few days. I haven't been out that much, mainly since I had things I had to get done on the computer. If we have snow and not too many orders, I may put my boots on and go walking. For anyone who doesn't know, Astoria is built on hills like a mini San Francisco, so it doesn't take much ice to make life in this town pretty interesting, and this weekend we could have a lot of it. I've rented some movies and stocked up on food. If Gimre's is open on Saturday, I may try to get those crampon type things that attach to your shoes.

I liked this pic of the Coast Guard ship noodling around just past our catwalk. I'm not sure what it was doing. It apparently sent out a small boat from the mothership, but I didn't see where it was going or why. The CG has been on the river a lot lately.

Here are the little birds I had in an earlier blog post (December 14). Thanks to Tom Means, I learned that they're called buffleheads. Wikipedia says they're one of the smallest ducks and the name comes from "buffalo" and "head," because their heads are rounded. The females are the ones with the stripe that's about the size of your finger. The males have white over a big chunk of the head, looking like a large white piece of pie. I thought I hadn't seen any, but looking back at the photos, I did see some bad pictures. I'll keep working on my buffelhead education and also try to get a good photo. They winter in protected river areas like ours, it seems.

This was a site. The river pilots work in inclement weather, for sure. What else are they going to do? It was snowing fairly hard, although the long lens condenses the flakes more and makes it look nearly opaque.

Interesting lighting. That's the pilot boat out there with the ship. I couldn't read the name through the snow.

In awhile the sun came out, and melted the snow from the sunny side of many objects. It didn't get much above 32 degrees today. The other day most everything melted finally, because the temp was around 38.

It stayed sunny and beautiful most of the afternoon. This is looking east along the River Walk. The entrance to Marine Drive on the right is 15th Street, and I'm standing just in front of The Animal Store.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Schizophrenic weather in Astoria

There was some ice this morning, but not a lot. We'd been told to expect a heavy freeze, but it didn't come through. Most of the dark stuff is water on the pavement.

There was a bit of snow, but it hadn't penetrated the trees and the lees of buildings.

Inside, Santa's helpers spent the day packing and shipping lots of boxes, including last-minute inventory that arrived with no time to put it away.

This is 15th Street and Marine Drive. Schools were closed, in at least in part of our area, so I was surprised to see the bus. I thought the yellow and warm earth tones were pretty in contrast with the snow.

Snow and also raindrops on the kitchen sage and grass. The weather couldn't decide what it wanted to do today, so we got a mixture of stuff.

See what I mean? These pictures are in order. Now it's snowing like a maiac.

Two river pilots are either coming from or going to work. Nice day to go out on the water in a small boat and climb a ladder onto a ship, yes? They laughed a friendly greeting when they saw me taking their picture.

Then it cleared up again, sort of.

Here's the radio tower and our building on the left. It looks like a balmy summer day.

From inside The Animal Store a resin parrot and plastic meerkat take note of the scene.

After everything calmed down and melted, it hailed. Most of the white stuff in this photo is hail. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 17: Snow in Astoria, 2008

It began snowing during the night. It was one of those nights I stayed up into the morning and worked online, doing what I could to boost our visibility in the searches so our gift shop would generate much-needed orders. It was fun anyway. I love working with photos - blogging, Panoramio, web albums. . . .

The snow was a surprise. I'd forgotten all about it until I looked outside as I was getting ready for bed about 4:15 in the morning. I love these night pictures - the scenes look so gentle.

When I finally got up late in the morning, there was more snow yet. This is outside The Animal Store looking west toward town and the bridge.

But it wasn't all snow, and it wasn't all that cold. There was a lot of slush and water. The reports said the freeze was coming, though, so whatever was water now had the potential to become very slippery very soon.

I thought about the ice potential wherever I went today. I was driving. Although I have summer tires, it wasn't bad today. But it wasn't quite usual, either. A mound of slush had built up at the exit of the parking lot, and I almost ran over my friend Lisa. Oops. I love this pic with the reflected lights in the footprints and under the tree. After going up in flames, the Bank of America had moved into a portable building in the old Safeway parking lot. I thought it was fitting that it now looks like a fire engine. Maybe they took the motto to heart: "Be Prepared."

Here's another pic of the bank showing just how much it does look like a fire rig. Look at all the footprints in the wet snow. This is really a novelty in Astoria.

Next to the portable bank. I liked the track pattern, but also this shows what's in store when it freezes. That's all water and slush.

I went up to see Laurel and James and little Teagan. So cute. I held him for a long time. He likes to put his hands together. Laurel says it's a comforting gesture for him. He was also holding his mouth for long periods of time in a position as if he wanted to whistle. In this case, with the tongue out.

There you go. That's the whistling one; he does it quietly - no sound.

I'm learning to hold a young baby, since I haven't had much experience. I've held a few, of course, but it seems ages ago. My friends didn't have them till later, after they or I had moved, and I wasn't around much when my sister and brother's kids were young. I got out of Dodge and stayed out, pretty much.

Sleeping. I must be doing a good job. Note the hands again.

Here he is after Laurel (Mom) did the changing. I'm not ready for my diaper changing lessons yet, thanks. That will come in time. (Maybe.)

Swaddled and back in his crib. And now he's down for a long winter's nap.

Well, not really, he wakes up a lot, but outside it's looking more and more unmistakably like winter.

I returned to work. Isn't it wonderful when work can consist of plastic eels and such? I love it!