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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Moonrise on Independence Day, July 4th, 2020 in Seattle was 9:11 P.M. By that time the penumbral lunar eclipse was happening, causing a slight shadow to fall upon the full moon.

People asked me what I was waiting for when they saw my camera. One woman seemed to think my wait was pointless until– SHAZAM! The moon came out from behind the trees.

Glorious…

A passing boat had this patriotic light display on it.

Then the fireworks started to happen.

It was amazing to see the fireworks light up the water next to the shimmering trail of moonlight.

This picture reminded me of a face, specifically that of Gypsy in MST3K.

The moonlight stretched further and further across the water as if extending a path to onlookers.

As it darkened, Saturn emerged like a pinhole was poked in a dark canvas. I expected to see both Jupiter and Saturn, but only saw Saturn (I think…)

What a blessing to have this light show going on along with the fireworks.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Have you ever been driving along and are suddenly so awed by what you see rolling over you that you stop to take pictures?

I went eastward down a side street to capture the utter darkness of this immense cloud in Snohomish County tonight.

This inky denim-blackness looked like it was going to swallow the earth.

The clouds to the west were fluffier and friendlier, yet still moving like something was after them.

This was a truly ombre sky. It comes on the heels of a torrential rainstorm on Saturday night that snapped thick flower stalks and triggered small landslides.

It was not like this farther north. I must have been in the right place at the right time to see this massive conglomeration of cumulus clouds passing overhead like a vengeful mother ship.

The color has faded out of the sky. It is grey, becoming darker as the world turns herself round a little more. The clouds are long and black and ragged, like the wings of stormbattered dragons.

Keri Hulme

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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For years I have been fascinated with the story of a goldfish that survived the April 29th, 1965 Puget Sound earthquake. This was a strong quake that one of my parents remembers vividly. They were just kids when it happened, and as a kid I remember marveling over their description of the strong jolts, groceries toppling, and the pavement in the parking lot of a Pierce County grocery store rising and falling in waves.

HistoryLink’s Alan Stein wrote a piece on this nearly 20 years ago which is posted below (click to see the explanatory newspaper photo). Given the local connection to Juanita Beach, and the fact that Wednesday is the 55th anniversary of the earthquake and the goldfish’s improbable survival, I’ve wanted to make this into a local festival. I asked around. No bites. And that was before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

At minimum, I wanted to put this logo, with its upside down fish bowl, on t-shirts and bumper stickers. Kirkland needs to celebrate its history more as its high density development is swallowing up the past. We see cars with odes to Wall Drug, the world’s largest ball of string, and the Mystery Spot, so why not our Juanita Beach goldfish? Why not make this a thing? It’s especially salient with the renovations going on at the park right now. Much of the park is being completely redesigned.

If you live or work anywhere near Kirkland, raise a glass to the Pepple goldfish this Wednesday, April 29th, then turn it upside down quickly and see if you can get a seal. We really should celebrate something this memorable, this miraculous, this bizarre… especially at a time when we all need a really good party.


Goldfish survives bizarre earthquake experience on April 29, 1965.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 3/01/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3037

On April 29, 1965, a goldfish owned by Juanita resident Howard Pepple survives a strange experience. The glass bowl containing the fish flips off a 4-foot 8-inch bookcase, overturns, and lands on the floor upsidedown, forming a seal. When Mr. Pepple returns home, he finds the fish swimming complacently in its overturned domicile.

A Fish Story

Pepple, a caretaker at Juanita Beach Park, lived in an apartment above the park’s concession stand with his wife and fish. No one was home during the quake except the fish, so two hours after the temblor Mr. Pepple returned to assess any damage that may have occurred to their dwelling and possessions.

The object most out of place was the fishbowl. When the Pepples had left in the morning it had been sitting on a shelf, more than four feet above the floor. It was now lying upside down at ground level. Examining it further, Mr Pepple saw water inside. The fish swam within, oblivious to its current predicament.

Flipper

Investigators surmised that during the quake, the shelf swayed, and the bowl was knocked from its perch. It flipped end over end as it fell to the tiled floor. The soft tile, similar to lineoleum, softened the blow, and the mouth of the bowl landed perfectly flush with the floor. A seal formed which kept water (and fish) inside. Rocks which had been on the bottom of the glass domicile were on the floor, still within the fishbowl.

The local newspaper was alerted to this bizarre event and photos were taken. Pepple then inverted the bowl, returned it and its resident back to the shelf, and things returned back to normal in the Pepple household. All was well again in Juanita.


Sources: “Juanita Goldfish Swims After Quake Flips Bowl,” East Side Journal May 6, 1965, p. 1.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com except HistoryLink article, which is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution.

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This is the cottage I call the Feriton Fairy House. Where is Feriton, you may ask? It’s on Google Maps… right smack where the Google campus is in Kirkland, Washington. KirklandHistory.org has a well-researched explanation of why this area is called Feriton. Most Kirklanders are unaware of its historic name.

Located just north of the walking and biking trail through the heart of the city known as the Cross Kirkland Corridor, you can pass by and completely miss this gem built in 1945. The area is dominated by commercial and industrial sites from the CKC southward, and larger, more modern residential buildings on the other sides.

This is what you might see as you travel towards Houghton (PCC, Met Market, Northwest University) on 6th Street South.

Here is what you might glance at while traveling northward.

You might think it’s just a shack on property worth most of a million waiting to be swallowed up by another condo building. But stop for a moment. Look closer.

The closer you get, the more idyllic this setting becomes. The busy road and the bike lanes start fading away. You become aware of the tinkling water of a creek. You begin to marvel at the lush grounds and old trees.

Linger longer. Who lived here? What was its purpose? I’ve met the owner and know that he still cares for the place. There is nothing worth stealing, yet this little island of calm on the edge of downtown is priceless.

The Feriton Fairy House has seen better days. Yet it’s that worn, down home feel that lends itself to the fairy tale realm. You can weave many stories centered around this house. You can imagine a World War II veteran having lived there since he came back from France. You could conjure up a tale of three raccoons that live inside and argue over how to make the best buckwheat pancakes for their woodland neighbors. Perhaps a wise gnome in a blue cap lives there and only comes out in the moonlight.

Even when you’re walking by across the street it doesn’t seem like much.

Just cross the street, though, and you seem to be staring at a little slice of the shire. Imagine this without the fence, without the adjacent busy trail, without the sidewalk and sign. It seems like another time and place.

You’re standing in the middle of a city near the campus of a major corporation yet here is this splash of country. Follow the creek under the roadway and you’ll find a friendly willow and magnificent magnolia soaking up the hydration on the other side.

We often take one glance and keep moving. There is value in stopping, looking, breathing in, tuning the distractions out. We can fail to see great beauty when we pass by too quickly or stand too far off. It’s when we pause and explore, when we get a little closer, that we can find an oasis in the arduous busyness of life.

There’s no two-car garage here. No upper stories or pretentious balconies. The beauty here is in its simplicity. Standing on the edge of this property, while you’re drawn into the pastoral setting, you cross a threshold into a timeless state in which you realize this is what Kirkland once was.

May this cottage continue to stand as a monument to a simpler time when we wanted less and were grateful more.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Standing on water, watching the Pink Super Moon rise, a guy jamming on a Flutophone while sky watchers flit around in their bank robber chic attire… yes, it was an epic night.

Watching this moon come over the eastern horizon was a transcendent experience.

As we carefully spaced, socially distanced sky watchers were hyper focused on the eastern sky, another light show was going on behind us in the west.

Driving north, I noticed the planet Venus blazing in the western sky.

Three of these lights are not the moon. Do you know what the others are?

Driving to work the next morning, I was in awe of the still full moon dangling over the water in the pink and purple heavens. I’d stopped to get photos of the moon at dawn the day before– it appeared as a gargantuan orb splashed with molten xanthic. By the time I found a place to park it had disappeared behind a bank of clouds. So I was especially grateful to get these early morning shots.

Only the first and last shots in this post were edited. The colors of this night and the following morning really were this varied and spectacular. In one week, we were blessed with a super moon, Passover, and Easter all at once. Surely that is no coincidence.


…it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.

Psalm 89:37

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Did you see it? The crescent moon was flanked by Jupiter and Mars this morning before dawn with Saturn off to the left. The moon was so large and buttery and the planets so bright that it was surreal. It seemed like an epic scene out of a science fiction movie set in another galaxy, like I was speeding towards someone else’s sky.

Only after I arrived at my destination was I able to try to take photos. By then some of the colors had faded and I could not see Saturn. But seeing Jove and angry red Mars was more than enough.

A lot is going on in the predawn sky. As you climb out of your dream life and disentangle yourself from the sheets, be sure to look outside and up to catch the latest the heavens have to offer. Space.com has the day by day rundown for this month.

With wonderful wisdom the Lord God on high
Has contriv’d the two lights which exist in the sky;
The sun’s hot as fire, and its ray bright as gold,
But the moon’s ever pale, and by nature is cold.

The sun, which resembles a huge world of fire,
Would burn up full quickly creation entire
Save the moon with its temp’rament cool did assuage
Of its brighter companion the fury and rage.

George Borrow, Wild Wales

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Earlier this week I drove down to photograph the latest developments in the West Sammamish River Bridge project. I shared pictures of the three bridges there in The Final Countdown, two of which will soon be lost to time.

Almost all of the trees on the west side of the bridges have been removed to make room for a crane. It is painfully obvious what a necessary screen they were as the road now has a plain view of messy industrial sites beyond.

On the south side of the bridges is the local boat launch on the west and Rhododendron Park to the east. As I glanced to the east, I was elated to see a big tree on the edge of the park full of cormorants.

There were cormorants everywhere. You can usually find a couple paddling down the slough here, but 1… 2… 3… They were almost impossible to count as these trees (plural) seemed to be a beachfront disco/single mingle spot for the local population. Other two-legged species gathered around the trees to photograph the gathering.

I counted 57 cormorants perched in these trees at one point, but some kept rushing off as others arrived. I chuckled inside because 57 cormorants sounds like a vintage car… a ’57 Cormorant. Try it on an unsuspecting teen and see if they respond, “yeah, yeah, that was a great car.”

These appear to be double-crested cormorants. The ones with lighter feathers may be juveniles. Not being a cormorant expert, The Cornell Lab’s page on cormorants sheds a little light on this.

Once again being sans tripod, I struggled to find stability during these zoomed in shots. This one turned out a bit out of focus, so I played with it to highlight the striking emerald color of these birds’ eyes.

My Nordic ancestors thought of cormorants much as we think of angels now. Cormorants were believed to bring warnings from the Folk of the Forest and therefore functioned as protectors.

Do you believe in angels? I do. Thursday night some friends prayed for my safety. Friday morning I had a narrow escape from a sudden danger. I’m certain that some invisible friends helped guide me through.

These birds weigh about three to five pounds each, so these branches must be sturdy enough to host such a party. I noticed that none of them landed on the trees and touched each other. They liked being close, but didn’t seem to interact much. Perhaps they too are practicing social distancing.

Here come more! Those of us near the base of the trees were amazed.

If you are familiar with Packard automobiles, they had a distinctive hood ornament often referred to as the “swan.” But it’s said to actually be a cormorant.

These birds of a feather didn’t make a lot of noise. This video of their call demonstrates why stumbling upon a group of these at night can be unnerving. Years ago I was ambling along a different spot on the slough in the dark and froze when I heard what sounded like 35 hoarse cats hacking up hairballs. I had no idea what was “hargh”ing at me just offshore that night.

According to Wikipedia, Phalacrocoracidae is a family of about 40 species of aquatic, fish-eating birds. We call them cormorants, but some in Britain call them shags. Curious about the etymology of this word, I learned that this French-sounding term, cormorant, is Middle English, comes from the French cormoran, which before that came from medieval Latin’s corvus marinus, or sea raven.

Keep your eye on the bird second from the right. He or she cracked me up. I think they were really enjoying the sun.

And back and to the right…

A little forward, to the left now… It was like bird yoga. You’ve probably noticed the dangerous snarl of fishing line on the top branch. People do fish at this spot. Personally I wish we’d just leave the fish to the birds in such places, especially with the bridge project starting as it’s disrupting their habitat.

That’s about a four-foot wingspan on the left.

This appears to be the wing drying behavior that double-crested cormorants do when they land. Not all cormorants do this, curiously. The sun was very warm in this spot on an otherwise chilly day. This wing drying is also associated with the Christian symbol of the cross, which may explain why the cormorant occurs on certain European crests.

Here you can see their magnificent black webbed feet. Since they are primarily designed for life in the water and swim with their feet, their legs sit towards the back of the body so they’re not the most graceful walkers. In the water, they are fish killing machines, a fact that has caused humans to mistreat them in some cultures. A cord was tied around their neck so they couldn’t swallow fish, then men would use them to hunt fish and take their catch from them.

Interestingly, this type of cormorant will nest in trees or on the ground depending on the habitat.

As graceful as these birds are in the sky and water, there is still something vaguely pterodactyl about them to me. Perhaps it’s because they are among the so-called earlier birds. They seem to be a survivor from a distant past.

When Dylan Thomas proclaimed his love for his wife in a letter, he said, “I will come back alive & as deep in love with you as a cormorant dives, as an anemone grows, as Neptune breathes, as the sea is deep.” As this bridge project continues, I hope the locals like these big black diving birds survive unscathed.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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The Algonquian are credited with calling this moon, or tibik-kėzis, the Worm Moon. Tonight we were dazzled by the Worm Moon Super Moon, aka the Worm Super Moon.

Even the shots when neighbor doggie with cataracts was getting tangled up in the tripod, which are not very focused, are captivating.

Collective Evolution just posted a piece titled The Moon May Not Be What We Think It Is. We humans still have many questions about the moon and this touches on a few of them. Is the moon hollow? How was it formed? Is it nearer than we think it is? Could astronauts really have survived the Van Allen Belt to get there?

Ultimately, all roads lead to intelligent design. What is on or in or isn’t in the moon remains to be seen.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Safe indeed by land to journey,
But the way is rough and trying,
Long the road and full of turnings;
Lovely is the ship on ocean,
Beautiful to ride the billows,
Journey easy o’er the waters,
Sailing in a trusty vessel;
Should the West-wind cross our pathway,
Will the South-wind drive us northward…

The Kalevala, Rune XXXIX

If you are a regular here then you may recall last October’s post, The Second Most Photographed Object in the World. In that post I showed parts of what’s left of the ferry Kalakala, which in its heyday was the second most photographed object in the world behind the Eiffel Tower. It sat unwanted for years until it was carved up, its choice pieces now weathering on the shoulder of the Cross Kirkland Corridor and next to Salty’s at Alki Beach.

Exiting the West Seattle Bridge at Harbor Avenue, I remembered the giddiness of decades past when friends and I would cruise this strip, feeling so adult in our newly acquired vehicles. I had a sharp reality check as I passed derelict RV after derelict RV along the roadside.

Arriving at Salty’s, where scuba divers were simultaneously suiting up and stripping next to their vehicles, I realized how long it had been since I’d actually stopped here.

As on the Cross Kirkland Corridor north of 7th Avenue, you have the distinct impression that you’ve stumbled upon the remains of a first generation mother ship. This part of the Kalakala occupies the northwest corner of the Salty’s parking lot.

This part of the wheelhouse faces east towards downtown Seattle and Harbor Island. At first glance it looks like you might be able to put a quarter in it and go for a quick cruise. But it, too, is rusting away, perched on terra firma instead of plowing through the Sound.

I’m not sure what is in the foreground. If my source is correct, the owners of Salty’s had to move some of their “urban reef,” pieces of the old Spokane Street Bridge, to accommodate the Kalakala when it moved there in 2015.

Inside of the wheelhouse, you feel as if you’re gazing out of an oversized Corinthian battle helmet made for Henry J. Waternoose III (Monsters, Inc.).

The views from here are entrancing. This is certainly a spot where shadowy superheroes come to brood over the Emerald City at night, capes flapping in the brackish breeze.

The voluminous clouds on this Sunday afternoon reminded me just how small this big city is in the grand scheme of things.

And yet the city just keeps going up, up, up…

Hmm. This does look like a defeated tripod from War of the Worlds, still ready to fire upon humanity…

Das Kurbelwelle. A relative just made a beautiful table using a crankshaft as the base. This crankshaft would be more appropriate for a table for Paul Bunyan. It’s massive.

It may look like Medusa saw her own reflection and shattered, but I think this is probably more of the old bridge.

This does quite good on its own as a modern art statement.

Those clouds…

Das Ruder. This rudder steered a dead weight of about 750 tons.

This shot reminds me of a tugboat. Or like the Kalakala is looking east, telepathically reaching out to its other half that is languishing on the side of a trail 15 miles away.

Thankfully you can turn the camera so it still seems like the Space Needle dominates the Seattle skyline.

Another view from the helmet…

Oddly, I didn’t find any signs telling people what these relics are. At this point a couple was standing in here with me and I explained the Kalakala’s story. I thought the owner was going to do more with these, but five years on, here they remain.

Three cormorants, three towers… every time I see the towers on Queen Anne I’m reminded that my dad would climb them to do maintenance.

The patina in here, where it hasn’t been vandalized, is gorgeous.

Unk, standing at a porthole, wept quietly. He was weeping for love, for family, for friendship, for truth, for civilization. The things he wept for were all abstractions, since his memory could furnish few faces or artifacts with which his imagination might fashion a passion play.

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Thank you to the Seattle history titan who reminded me of the whereabouts of the Kalakala’s other half. For a treasure trove of Kalakala facts and photos by the real experts, click here.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Both the humans trembled– Merlin because he did not know what was coming, Ransom because he knew. And now it came. It was fiery, sharp, bright and ruthless, ready to kill, ready to die, outspeeding light: it was Charity, not as mortals imagine it, not even as it has been humanised for them since the Incarnation of the Word, but the translunary virtue, fallen upon them direct from the Third Heaven, unmitigated. They were blinded, scorched, deafened. They thought it would burn their bones. They could not bear that it should continue. They could not bear that it should cease. So Perelandra, triumphant among planets, whom men call Venus, came and was with them in the room.

C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

Jumping from one commitment to another tonight, I struggled through Seattle traffic to try and reach a clear place to watch the heavens at 5:50 P.M. The sun was setting and the planet Venus would be burning brightly next to a crescent moon.

In both of the above shots, you can see a tiny dot to the upper right of the moon. That is Venus, our sister planet, the morning and evening star. Second from the sun, the closest planet to Earth, she spins the opposite direction and has a surface temperature around 863 degrees.

There are many amazing things to know about Venus.

As I hurried along to get to a more open place, I could hardly believe that I was witnessing this. An aircraft was heading right for Venus and the moon! I ran south and took this photo as it passed over Venus.

This aircraft skimmed the top of Venus and sailed like an arrow towards the moon. There was nothing else in the sky when this happened; this was phenomenal.

Wow!

Threading the moon…

That moment left me in awe. Of all of the places a flying machine could have been in this vast expanse of sky… I was blessed to witness that!

Luna on the left, Pelelandra on the right. What a night.

The color of the sky changed rapidly like an undulating octopus blending into a Kandinsky painting.

One must wonder if someone was standing on the moon waving at Venus.

What cosmological protoplasm is this? In several shots, Venus appeared as a burning sphere of citrine.

Good to see you, neighbors.

Que bella noche…

Venus and Mars are our next of kin: they are the two most Earth-like planets that we know about. They’re the only two other very Earth-like planets in our solar system, meaning they orbit close to the sun; they have rocky surfaces and thin atmospheres.

David Grinspoon

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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