Sunset Hill

A couple of my favorite pics taken at one of my favorite locations, Sunset Hill Park, overlooking the marina and Puget Sound.

I’ haven’t been lucky enough to spot whales here — not yet — but we did see a couple eagles in a pine tree. They flew away before I could snap a photo.

It’s a bit hazy, no snow on the Olympic Mountains, yet continually mesmerizing and so sparkly.

In a Bit of a Pickle

After the winds and rain subsided, I checked on my garden and discovered two previously hidden cucumbers.

I remember planting a few seeds of the pickling variety but everyone was all mixed up and I couldn’t tell which was which until I saw these gigantic specimens.

I haven’t completely decided if I’ll eat them fresh and possibly not pickle them, because I didn’t discover any others that were ready.

And this one, too, not quite as deformed.

I’ve had success with pickling vegetables, here’s a post about that:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/07/06/easy-peasy-refrigerator-pickles-meatlessmonday/

There was an unexpected sprinkle this morning; not forecasted, but welcome nonetheless.

Happy Monday!

Ghost Ship?

Not this time.

My son takes the greatest photos.

A couple weeks ago, Lady Debbie, a commercial fishing boat, ran aground south of Westport, Washington. Luckily, there were no injuries and all six crewmembers walked away.

I wonder why she’s still there, unsalvaged, because it looks like it’s already starting to deteriorate and is now a canvas for taggers.

I wasn’t with the fam on this surfing beach trip so I didn’t get to actually see the vessel, but the last time I was there, I discovered a treasure trove of sand dollars which made me VERY happy.

Wavescape

There are hardly any plants that grow in the sand here, so when I saw these marshy reeds up against the seawall, I peeked through and snapped a few photos of the pretty ocean.

Bird of Prey

I wonder if this is the same hawk or a family member. Look at those talons!
It seems as if they no longer care if I’m outside and simply carry on with their business.
How cool is that?

Cotton Candy Clouds

Last night’s pink cotton candy clouds. It was really quite spectacular.

So much beauty if you look for it.

Look Down! Baby Bird Alert!

When it cooled off slightly in late afternoon, I went out to the garden to water plants because it’s been SO HOT and everything is parched. We haven’t had rain in a long, long time.

I heard chirpy calls that sounded a bit distressful. How could I tell? I like to think that I can communicate with animals–whether or not that’s true, it does make me listen to them, and I feel that I can distinguish one sound from another, sort of like when you know why your baby is crying, whether it’s hungry or tired or frustrated…

At that precise moment that I heard those chirps, I was walking on my stone pathway and I looked down. There, camouflaged on a rock, I spied a tiny bird. If I hadn’t paid attention, I would have stepped on him/her!

I ran back on the deck to grab my phone, and he had hopped up on an exposed tree root.

I began to have a chat with this darling creature who appeared to be lost and a bit scared. I can understand why, because he’s definitely NOT supposed to be sitting on a gray rock exposed to all sorts of danger.

I brought over a small pan of fresh water and watched him hop around a little and flex his wings, so I surmised he had fallen out of a nest and wasn’t actually injured.

Again I became aware of lots of birds circling the area, yellow chirpy finches calling out to this little guy, so I knew it was a Lesser Goldfinch fledgling, a common bird in Southern California and one I often am lucky enough to see around here.

From the tree root he hopped onto a hanging succulent and finally made it all the way into a basin shaped planter on top of the tree stump. With his family encouraging him to join them and fly to safety, I thought it was best to give them all space and went in the house.

Later, just before dark, I checked and he was gone. As soon as I woke up this morning, I checked again and there’s no sign of him.

Fingers crossed, I’m hopeful that this was another happy ending at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

I discovered a lovely poem by Mary Oliver:

Goldfinches

In the fields
we let them have-
in the fields
we don’t want yet-

where thistles rise
out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open-
each bud
a settlement of riches-

a coin of reddish fire-
the finches
wait for midsummer,
for the long days,

for the brass heat,
for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles,
dazzling as the teeth of mice,
but black,

filling the face of every flower.
Then they drop from the sky.
A buttery gold,
they swing on the thistles, they gather

the silvery down, they carry it
in their finchy beaks
to the edges of the fields,
to the trees,

as though their minds were on fire
with the flower of one perfect idea-
and there they build their nests
and lay their pale-blue eggs,

every year,
and every year
the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches,
in the silver baskets,

and love the world.
Is it necessary to say any more?
Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields?
Have you ever been so happy in your life?

Musical Notes: A Composition of Crows

I’ve never played a single musical instrument — well, I took a few guitar lessons many years ago but I can’t remember a thing plus I had no talent.

We have a piano because of Angel Boy. His grandma really wanted him to learn so he could play Ode to Joy and Fur Elise for her, which he did, and it made her very happy, especially during her final illness.

I looked up on this very sunny and hot blue sky day and the first thing that popped into my head was that I was looking a musical score of some sort.

I think I’m not the only one who has observed birds on wires and took similar photos, but this is my contribution. Whatever tune they’re playing is a special sort of magic. Counting Crows?

Grape + Blueberry Jam

All my grapes became ripe at the same time which made an easy decision to embark on a grape jam project.

I found lots of recipes for grape jelly but I wanted to include some of the texture that a whole grape can provide and not merely strain out the skins and pulp for the juice.

Always experimenting, I also had a half full container of 100% pure blueberry juice that I used for the Angel’s smoothies so they wouldn’t be refused because they were a yucky GREEN color. It perfectly masks the kale and spinach, teehee.

Every summer, my mom and I used to make pickles and jams and preserves, enough jewel-colored Mason jars to last until the following spring, but I haven’t done it in a while.

She was way more scientifically precise than I could ever hope to be as I never had her patience, but most of the time my creations taste pretty good.

It’s hot and humid, not the greatest weather to cook pots of boiling grapes, but once I started, I was committed to finishing this project.

I didn’t can them in a proper water bath but filled containers for the refrigerator and freezer.

The most time consuming part was separating every grape from its tiny little stem–thank goodness my grapes were seedless — so I set aside about four cups to use whole, and cooked the rest of the grapes separately to strain. I might have zero patience but I’m clever!

At the last minute I decided to add ginger and cinnamon. Those two ingredients elevated the flavor more than I could have imagined.

I lost the identification tag, so I don’t know exactly what type of grape I have, but they’re seedless and very sweet. This was only half of the grapes I used.

I cooked them in two pots, added the sugar equally along with ginger and cinnamon, and skimmed off the white foam:

Strained the one pot of grapes that weren’t cleaned as diligently…

After that, I combined both pots of grapes, added the blueberry juice and pectin, let it come to a rolling boil for another minute, and the mixture was ready to fill freshly sterilized containers. I wasn’t going to use pectin because I thought there was enough natural pectin, but I had some and it’s vegan, so I added it.

Disaster! I’m sure most people are smarter than me and wouldn’t fill plastic containers with boiling liquid. Life lessons, right? I licked a bit off the counter and it’s DELICIOUS. Don’t you think that container reminds you of Picasso’s melting clocks? I do! Such a mess.

Much better!

I had to hurry and sterilize a lot of glass jars and didn’t have time to scrape off the labels, but they’re clean and bacteria-free. After cooling, it jelled beautifully. I’m very happy with the results!

Here’s the recipe I created.

Algae Cluster

I crossed the street to see if there were herons or egrets in the ditch that feeds the lagoon, and this is what I saw.

They almost looked like lily or lotus pads, but it’s a cluster of green algae. I hope it’s not toxic, BUT it clearly demonstrates how things that look beautiful might be harmful, noxious, destructive, and dangerous.

#WordlessWednesday