Friday, February 27, 2009

Feb 27: The River Walk and Fisher Poets at the Wet Dog Cafe

There was a little snow yesterday, but it was sunny and pretty. Then the storm came in. Today there's snow on the mountains in Washington and it's just gray out. Very gray. The only reason I included this lifeless photo is to show the snow. I smudged up about half of the camera lens (see yesterday's post), probably grabbing it with hand lotion on and with the lens cap off. That was sometime yesterday, and I didn't realize it until the end of today. It was overcast and chilly, and what sounded perfect was to get a movie and watch it in bed, so I took a nice long walk along the river to the video store, taking pictures and generally enjoying the walk. Later I noticed the lens.

Outside the post office, I took note of this headline and of the brighly colored newspaper vending machine. You can see how bad the smudge is on the left side of the photo.

Near the end of my walk (and with the lens now cleaned off), I thought maybe I'd warm up and relate a little bit at the Wet Dog, but the first words I heard on the inside - directed to some people in front of me - were, "Do you have reservations?" What? The cafes and restaurants are never this crowded this early, but I'd forgotten it was the Fisher Poets Festival. There was no room at the inn, and I was tired. I snapped a quick photo and moved on.

Here's the outside of the Wet Dog along the river walk on a gray, gray day. I walked on home and watched the movie.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A touch of snow

The weather report said it might snow down to sea level. We got just a touch of snow last night. Here are the remains of it on the catwalk this morning. It's been cold and overcast and not very inviting for walking, but this morning it's beautiful out. Darn, I got a smudge on the lens. I sometimes pick up the camera without thinking about anything except getting a shot, and I must have had hand lotion on or something. I didn't notice the smudge right away, either. Note to self: Um, check the lens :)

Later in the day, here come the clouds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not so much downpour, but another drizzly day on the river

I'm basically just reporting today, recording what kind of day it was. Rainy, drizzly. I worked inside most of the day, so I didn't get much of an impression except for the one from the back deck. Even on a day like today, there are wonderful things to see once I get out. There's a smudge on the camera lens. Sorry about that!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Plastic or rubber ammonite replica (extinct sea creature)

I finally got it! Taking pictures of animal figurines, replicas, stuffed animals, etc. for my online gift shop is fun for me, but every once in awhile I get one that for no apparent reason (until maybe later) has me SO frustrated. This was one of them. But with persistence and trying different backgrounds, lighting, cameras and settings, I finally got the colors almost exactly right and got an exposure I'm happy with. Sometimes I get them in one shot then mess with them a little in PhotoShop, but this one took about an hour. I don't know whether it was the gold, the bright white next to the darker colors, the specific color palette, or what. But here it is, I'm thrilled. By the time I was done with this plastic ammonite, I had a great appreciation for it. I really love it! Once I get some of the mechanical web production done, it will be fun to do the research. From the tag that comes with it, it sounds like a pretty interesting critter. There's a VERY cool representation of a living ammonite on this page. Now I'll find a good HTML template to adapt and go to work on it :)

When I was young, one of the things I wanted to be was a paleontologist. I often think that having an animal store and a web site gives me a lot of the satisfaction in studying a variety of things and producing them online that I might have wanted from a career like that. Plus, the variety of what I can do is endless. I love building stuff on the Internet, and so many people appreciate that we're here doing what we do. (I guess I'm enjoying myself today!)

Rain, rain, and more rain

Rain in Astoria is nothing new, but I've rarely seen it rain this hard for this long. Yesterday I couldn't see the road ahead of me as I approached the roundabout on my way across the Youngs Bay Bridge to get to the gym in Warrenton. Last night I was watching a movie (The First Knight), when there was a rumbling louder than the on-screen sword clashes, shrieks, and general din from a Medieval village being plundered. But it sounded more like . . . yes, it was thunder, extremely loud and rare around here, despite the amount of rain we get. I wish it had continued, but it was short-lived. However, it continued to pour as I watched the movie and fell asleep, and the pounding of rain on the window is what woke me in the morning. I took the photo above first thing today, as it was still coming down in buckets. It's the runoff from the roof of the old Englund Marine building.

This should have been our walkway into the building, but when it rains so hard, the water backs up, turning it into a pool.

I was messing with the camera. Nice.

Our downspout - I finally got it in focus.

This is the view just beyond our front door, a very empty River Walk. In nice weather, the Astoria waterfront trolley comes along the tracks. The wood stairs go up to a small park area with a big built-in table and benches. Usually a bunch of guys sit there and drink, so it's not too inviting, but then it's also the only place in Astoria I've ever gotten flea bites (no thanks), so I just look at it and sit elsewhere, like on the benches down by the water.

One of the Bzzbag fabrics - I love this one!

This is one of the fabrics for Beth's BzzBags, which I wrote about yesterday. You can read about saving the planet one bag at a time on my blog or check out Beth and Gary's new Bzz Bag web site!

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Help save our planet one bag at a time"

Check this out! My sister-in-law and my brother have just put their first web site online. Did you ever want an alternative to pulling bags off the roll at the supermarket and wasting all that plastic? Not to mention wondering where it goes in the earth when you're done with it. Beth has taken care of that for you! Come visit THE BAG LADY's web site and have fun with the colors and designs. Help save the planet, and have a good time doing it. These make great gifts, too. You can see the bulk item grocery bags in sets of three, and also don't miss the Fabric Gallery! You can use the bags for granola, pasta, beans, apples, carrots - anything you'd put in a plastic bag. The checkers at Safeway got really excited about these bags when I first took mine in. They were showing them to anyone who would listen! "Oh, how cute!" "Where did you get that?" They loved it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feb 22: Gray on gray, a very rainy day in Astoria

I guess many posts could be titled "Rainy Day in Astoria." Today it came down in buckets. I love the gray when it's accented with sun. Both the photos above and below are nice for that reason. It would pour cats and dogs, then the sun would come out. You can see a faint rainbow in both pix. Then it would start again, then the sun would come out, etc. You get the idea.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be good time to build the extra storage space I've been wanting. I've been here two years and I haven't taken the time to get well-organized as far as my personal stuff goes. It's usable, but not good Feng shui. I'm feeling it more right now. I've been throwing some stuff out, pitching the worthless and taking things to the thrift shops. Now it's time for an additional dresser.

This one has a lot of parts.

I like this picture of the male and female bufflehead, because it shows clearly the whiter head of the male. It shows the markings comparatively on both of them. They usually swim away from me, but this time they took flight. I didn't remember them do this before, and I snapped quickly. I was surprised when I looked at the photo to see what their tails look like when they take off. Do all ducks do this with the fan shape? I was equally surprised that I got them in focus. It's still raining. You can see dimples on the water.

I liked the plainness of the small boat against the huge orange ship. The big and the small. It's always interesting to see them.

I thought this one had an unusual name: "Global Wisdom."

Yup. Rain.

Here's one that came out like a piece of abstract art. I like it.

Gray on gray. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. The seagulls don't mind much. They were pecking around on the top of the roof. We got .47 inches of rain today, and since we're behind on the month-to-date and year-to-date, I guess it's good that it just keeps raining!

Back to the project. I don't remember the name of these bolts. They're the kind you put in and twist around another piece of hardware, and they're supposed to lock neatly into place. That's rare. This dresser was largely made of actual wood (it gets points for that), but the pre-drilled holes were uneven, and nearly a third or a half of the bolts didn't work the way they were supposed to. I hate pressboard, but the bolts work more of the time because the drilled holes are more regular. I'd still rather have the wood, and there were enough other screws and parts that it was sturdy when I finished.

Progress . . .

. . . and it's done. I'd put the top on backwards, so I had to take it off (many screws) and put it back on. Finally it worked out just fine. The big tapir on the dresser came from Bocas del Toro, Panama, and the lying lowland tapir above the iPod is my favorite of the ones Sergio made for TPF's gift shop.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bufflehead duck male and female

I keep trying to get a photo of the males. They have more white on them and the crazy pie shap on the head. Speaking of which, look how tall the head is in relation to the beak! I think the female is pretty, too, with white streak near her eye, but it's rarer to see the males. They often swim paired up. These two were out at the extent of my zoom, so the picture isn't that detailed. I may have to sit in one place for a long time to get them to come in close enough for a better photo. When I see them and go out on the deck with my camera, they get the heck out of there as fast as they can. I'll keep trying. I took this picture from my back deck here on the Columbia River in Astoria. It still amazes me to be on the river. I love it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You left on a beautiful day

Lee and I had breakfast or brunch at Astoria Coffee House.

This isn't too elegant, but it's a reminder of a breakfast enjoyed - granola, fruit, and creamy yogurt with a decaf extra wet cappuccino.

There are more fishing boats out than I've seen in awhile. This one is so blue. Pretty.

Here they're reeling in the net on the way home to the East Mooring Basin.

We've had a lot of logs this year, but no individual log has come close to matching that monster tree that hung up on the building a year ago January. That was incredible.

It was simply a gorgeously beautiful day on the river.

Toenails. Lee likes to get me a pedicure at A-Nails. It's just across the street, so it's convenient and it's relaxing sitting with my feet in the water and someone working on them. I'd never considered having my nails done, but just before we left for Italy a few years ago, he gave me a certificate. It was fun, but I hadn't especially noticed nails, and I thought the white tips were either a joke or unfinished. Then I thought they looked like animal claws and I began to like them. Forget the fingernails, though, I had them done once and they were all scratched up within an hour (they were the spray-on kind; I didn't realize what was being done; maybe a real manicure would have lasted longer - maybe). I USE my hands! For awhile there, I was having some fun with toenail colors, and now I'm back with the white.

This is just a small tree floating beyond the back deck. The water has settled down. It's so still now, but you know it was stormy in the recent past or the tree would still be standing somewhere in Washington or Oregon, or maybe even Idaho. I love the colors.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Colors of Astoria in February

Some days just have better color and lighting than others, and this was one of them. I didn't know what this bird was, but I found it in my Birds of Oregon book. The white over the beak gives it away. It's a lesser scaup, a common diving duck that breeds east of the Cascades and winters here on the coast. The book says they can often be seen in flocks of thousands, but our birds here seem to live in small numbers. I haven't specifically noted this scaup before, but I think I'm becoming more attuned to the differences in birds here. I like birds, but I've never been as interested in their species as I was in mammals. That seems to be changing now that I'm living near so many of them. The young of scaups form groups "tended by one to three adult females." I guess this would take place east of the Cascades, so we don't see it here. I thought the colors of this photo were just lovely, and the ripples in the smooth water make me want to touch it.

I love the colors here, too. The infusion of blues like this doesn't happen every day.

I've taken pictures of this building many times, because it's hard to pass up the colors and shapes, but this time the lighting was rich and my timing was right. Look at the birds. I think they must be ducks.

I've always liked this purple hose on Commercial Street in its Victorian . . . thing (what do you call the bit that holds up the hose?). Today it seemed especially photogenic.

It was pretty chilly, but Lee and I bundled up and had gone for a walk along the river. This was taken about a block past the Maritime Museum. As we stopped to chat with Jan, I took a picture of the trees against the sky. I like the pale colors of the sunst and the delicate lines of the bridge.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A beautiful morning in Astoria, Oregon

It's nice to be back in Astoria, and the day was shiny and just about perfect. It was a little chilly, but so beautiful! This turquoise paint catches my eye every time I pass. I finally got a pic that shows the color well. The clear light today was remarkable. We're used to the rain here, and some of us love it, but we do enjoy the sun when it comes out! I think we get more sun than is rumored. For a place that gets 70 to 90 inches of rain per year, I'd say the sun shines quite a lot. In any event, the atmosphere today is spectacular.

Blue sky. Interesting patterns in the tree branches.

We're walking down Marine Drive from The Animal Store towards Astoria Coffee House to get . . . yeah, surprise . . . coffee and brunch. The light was right for a photograph of the houses on the hill. You'll have to click on the photo to see much.

Another set of interesting branches and colors, this time from inside Astoria Coffee House.

This is the former fish market just east of the big Pier 11 red building. We almost rented it for The Animal Store two years ago, but it wasn't quite right for us. I love the old board planks on the walk/pier/parking area, or whatever you call it, and hope they'll never disappear. Look how empty the place is. It may not be good for business, but I love that feeling of space, emptiness and quiet today. Astoria has so many moods.

Pier 11 with the new steak house - entrance just beyond the blue truck. Pier 11 has intrigued and/or haunted Astoria for quite a long time. I did not tweak the color. It was that kind of day.

Walking back from Pier 11, I took this in front of the Wet Dog. It's just an absolutely gorgeous day.

Here's where the ferry to Washington used to dock. Now it's a picturesque ruin, but you can walk out on the pier on the left. It's actually a small waterfront "park" (no, not the grassy kind, but a designated historic area).

The pilot boat docks next to the old ferry berth.

Scenic pilings at the old ferry dock.

Colors. There must be a reason the ropes are all blue and turquoise, but I don't know what it is.

Here's looking down the River Walk from the end of 14th Street, which is where the ferry dock is. You can see a piece of the Astoria-Megler bridge in the back ground.