Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Technicolor California

Here's my parents' backyard on a clear, winter day. Day-glow works for me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bark-less in California

I wish I could get some close-ups of some of the lovely Manzanita tree bark that thrives in the dry climate here. Until then, this will have to do.

Monday, December 29, 2008

California Palm

I was actually trying to get a photo of my son's Stomp Rocket going up in the air, which of course, was impossible, using a camera phone. But this unintentionally and annoyingly arty photo did manage to capture one of my pet peeves: a Northern California palm tree. Unless they're growing in a row down the middle of Dolores Street in San Francisco, palm trees in Northern California look mentally challenged to me. They are so non-native and weird looking and they're often planted right next to a California Oak, or even an evergreen. Awful. This view is tiny and about all I can take of the things. People, please--no more palms in Northern California.

A (dark, blurry) Stomp Rocket in action.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Northwest Snowy Christmas

We managed to get to California in an epic 19-hour road trip journey. There are some harsh weather conditions, mostly in Portland, due to their lack of snow-plow equipment and a working snow itinerary. But Southern Oregon and Northern California are experiencing their own "storm of the century" at the moment. Twenty-four-hour snowfall in the mountains and a monsoon from Crescent City to Richmond, CA. That's some daredevil driving conditions.

Have a wonderful holiday. We're planning on eating a lot of pumpkin bread today.

View from the car along the Redwood Highway (199)

Sledding in our neighborhood in Vancouver, WA--largest snowfall in 58 years! Makes for some good sledding (and shoveling and going stir crazy).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Been busy around here lately, trying to get out of the snow for Christmas. All weather indicators point to staying put for Christmas, but we're stubborn and trying to see family.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Useful Tree

I thought my mystery cherry tree (with fruit that never ripens) was sort of weird-looking and useless, but as of two weeks ago, I realize it has a very good use. Trees give us oxygen, shade, noise abatement, higher property values, AND they feed hungry birds in the winter. At least this tree does. It also gives disaffected preteens something to throw around the neighborhood, but I'm trying to put a damper on that.

Bonus tree--Gaah! Lots of snow the past three days. I think we're up to 10 or 12 inches. No one will say and no one will plow it, hoping for the rain to do the job, I guess. Only it just won't rain. Unusual for around here.

The first day of winter made a grand entrance this year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still More Snow

We got about three inches today and more tomorrow, perhaps six. The kids had a snow day and got all red-cheeked while sledding. We ate sugar cookies and opened a present--an Easy-Bake Oven--and made more sugar cookies.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Still Snowin'

Today it stuck. The first photo is the winter view of the first tree featured on this blog on August 31st.

Trees by Cooper

This week I blogged about Cooper the Cat on my other site, Captive Wild Woman, and I don't see why I can't use myself as a source of information--cross-blogging, if you will. Cooper's owners have outfitted him with a little digital camera that automatically snaps shots every two minutes. So hundreds of photos later, we can all see Cooper's little slice of Seattle. Here's Cooper with his camera (disguised with a fur camouflage cover), and a lovely look at trees from his Flickr site.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Lacamas Lake - Late Afternoon

It's dark in the afternoons around here from November on. Here we are on a hike in Camas alongside the lake. This was around Thanksgiving. I'm not hiking around much this week because it's 26 degrees out. Should be snowing some time today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ferns, growing on a dead tree. I like how nature re-uses and recycles.

Monday, December 15, 2008

First Snow 2008

Sunday was our first snowstorm and it was cold enough for the snow to stick around all day and night. I used my ice-scraper on the car windshields for the first time but when I got to the store, they had closed, due to weather. I couldn't help thinking that stores in Minnesota, the Badlands, and the Northeast would have found a way to stay open. Maybe my drive to get my mom a Christmas present is hardier than my sense of survival...?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nutcracker Mouse Decor

One of the fabulous trees we saw at Vancouver, WA's Festival of Trees, held by the Vancouver Rotary Foundation at the end of November. This Fest. has everything you need for Christmas fun: Photos with Santa, a Festival of Gifts with local stores represented, a community tree lighting in Esther Short Park, a carnival, gingerbread dioramas (favorite: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chocolate-river scene, made entirely out of gingerbread and candy), schoo choral groups from around Clark County, dozens of beautifully decorated trees, and a talking tree that chuckles when children tickle its branches.

I know I sound like a booster, but I brought my parents and my six-year-old to this event and everyone was pleased, even Santa when he watched my son whip out a catalog to show what he wanted this year (very efficient kid). Here's the Nutcracker Ballet tree. I usually don't go for white trees, but this one was pretty nice and it's the only photo that didn't turn out blurry because excited six-year-olds at Christmas Festivals tend to take blurry photos. Usually the blurry photos are my fault.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Symbolic Trees of Cinema - "All That Heaven Allows" 1955

Douglas Sirk's 50s-era melodramas always do it for me. I love the shiny smooth trappings of upper-middle class existence, always revealing their loveless, shallow core by film's end.

In All That Heaven Allows, well-to-do widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman--looking all of 38 with those uptight hair curls) falls for her handsome gardener, Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson, as always in the 50s, looking good). Ron lives off the land and could care less about material goods. Cary would love to marry him and live in his quaintly converted barn-house, complete with dappled creek and delicately tip-toeing deer, but alas, her peers and grown children look down on the match and make her feel sleazy for considering a love that dare not speak its name. I am so glad I didn't live in the 50s.

Anyway, Ron's all about trees. He's studying to be an arborist and his favorite book is "Walden Pond." Here, he shows Cary a lovely fir specimen from his yearly crop. Ah, romance!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Warehouse Tree

You know the developer of these warehouse buildings was forced by law to install a few trees as well. It's got that "enforced" quality. Still, it's nice to see some greenery among the Clark County Indoor Sports Center (and there's a really nice new park alongside it with a forest, running paths and amazing dog park, so I'm not complaining).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas in Suburbia

People seriously decorate for the holidays in the Northwest. It gets dark around 4:30, so it's understandable and makes the winter a lot more cheery. Thank you, decorators.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Raindrops on Branches

And whiskers on kittens? Something like that. A weeping Japanese Maple with drops.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tree Shapes

I was concerned about taking tree photos this winter. How would I get some good shots of dormant plant-life in the next few months? I had completely forgotten about two things: moss and lichen. And also tree shapes, which are much more noticeable without all those leaves in the way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Big Lots Christmas is Upon Us!

I actually took these BEFORE Halloween at our local Big Lots! store. I couldn't bring myself to post them here until after Thanksgiving (of course, that didn't stop me from posting them elsewhere to make a point about commercialism, capitalism and Christmasism). It has been noted that these resemble the lot of aluminum trees in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that causes Charlie Brown to become so depressed that he buys a raggedy little tree that needs a little love, further alienating him from his antagonistic peers. Get down to Big Lots! before they're all bought up!