Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Clouds Part

This photo was taken by K at Klipsan Beach, WA with a plain, old film camera. On a Washington beach in December, you never know what you'll get.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Photo of Our Snow

As I mentioned two posts ago, a few inches of snow are a big deal where we live. Here is a picture that K took of me, A, Tinkerbelle, and a few of her friends.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


R has moved on to the second area of his mission. This one is Ahrensburg. Located just northeast of Hamburg and southwest of Lubeck, Ahrensburg is a huge change from Siegen. It is in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's northernmost state. It is not far from the watershed boundary between the North Sea to the northwest and the Baltic Sea to the northeast, but it is only 137' above sea level and is rather flat. R also works in surrounding communities including Delingsdorf and Bargteheide. It's most famous building is the Schloss Ahrensburg (Ahrensburg Castle) shown above.
Here are some other pictures from around Ahrensburg.

German art can be kind of strange (not unlike American art, actually), but can someone please tell me what the point of this sculpture is and why the city allowed it in their park?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow in Vancouver

We don't get much snow in Vancouver, Washington. Most winters go by with none. That was not the case this December. We set a local record with 12" of white stuff this month and the first true white Christmas in over a hundred years. Here's a picture of downtown Vancouver three days before Christmas. It wasn't tough to get around except on Christmas and the day after when the previously well-packed snow on the side roads softened up so much that, as one of my co-workers described it, it was like "driving on butter." Wheel ruts went all the way to the road, but the front of a low car like mine had to push the snow in front of it. Vancouver needs to buy a plow and learn how to use it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bad day for doves

Yesterday, I hired a friend to work with me on thinning our huge douglas-fir tree in the backyard. Everything went very well, but we both wondered why two doves did some dangerous flying stunts in the area with enormous limbs falling all around them from heights of up to eighty feet. I found out later.

As I was hard at work cleaning and bucking some of the larger limbs for firewood, I glanced to one side and saw what looked like a large piece of bark in the lawn. It caught my eye, because this particular piece of bark was gray and the bark on the tree was brown. I took a closer look and found that it was not a piece of bark at all, but two baby doves snuggled side-by-side and head-to-tail in the green grass. The birds were clearly too young to fly, but they had all their feathers and were breathing and blinking their eyes. We still haven't found the nest, and I have no idea how the two of them came together to lie in the grass the way they did. We found out later that they had some limited standing and walking ability, but at least one of them must have done some pretty good traveling by their standards to seek the other out.

I showed K my discovery, and she placed a call to an organization she found in the phone book that "adopts" and cares for injured raptors and bird of endangered or exotic species. The man who answered the phone said he couldn't take these birds, but he kindly told us exactly what to do.

Following his instructions, we cut a square hole in the middle of a half-gallon milk carton and added natural grasses, leaves, and other local materials chosen for their cushy softness. We hung the new "nest" on the northeast (shady) side of the douglas-fir tree from which they fell. Then we inserted the birds next to each other in the carton.

Our counselor assured us that the mother would find her babies and that they had a very good chance of survival. He also passed on two pieces of information that we didn't know, which I will now pass on to you: (1) Have you ever been told that you shouldn't touch baby birds, because the parents will sense the human contact and abandon them? Apparently, this is BS. Actual bird parents will return to help their young after far worse than a human touch; (2) You should never feed a wild baby songbird water from a dropper or otherwise. If you do, it will likely aspirate (i.e. get fluid in its lungs and die). Wild songbird chicks get their fluid from the food that the parents regurgitate into their little mouths.

We haven't seen the parents since, but the babies are still alive in approximately the same condition as we found them. Any neighbors who have cats be warned: all felines seen in the area near our dove nest will be hunted down, captured, and flogged until dead. And that goes for raccoons and possums too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


R is now living in the city of Siegen, Germany. Siegen is a city of 105,000 people in west central Germany, 57 miles east of Cologne and 79 miles north of Frankfurt. It features the University of Siegen (12,500 students), one of Germany's highest bridges (about 315 feet above the water of the Sieg River), and lots of trees.

Siegen has been around since at least the early thirteenth century and features two "castles" (more like very large, very fancy, very old houses) named Oberes Schloss and Unteres Schloss, both shown below.

Siegen's history is replete with colorful characters, including Heinrich the Rich, Engelbert II of Berg, and Wilhelm Hyacinth.

Siegen has changed a lot. During World War II, the Allies bombed it several times, because it had a crucial railroad. Those bombings erased 80% of the town at that time. After the war, it had just 28,000 inhabitants. By 1975, it had 116,000. Its population has declined a bit since then.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coming soon!

As I write this, R is over the Atlantic Ocean on a Delta Airlines jet, booking it for Paris. He'll finally reach Hamburg at midnight PDT (9:00 AM 8/13 in Hamburg). Details on his first assignment in a week or so.