Sunday, August 17, 2014

Transcendent Coffee

I made a cup of coffee today that was so good it transported me to another time and place.

One moment I was sitting in front of my computer with my bucket of pens a stapler, pencil sharpener and binoculars crowding around my mouse.

Then I lifted the cup to my nose and the sensation swept me to a tropical land where the first rays of morning sun delivered pitch, resins and floral perfumes from the jungle's edge to me on the most delicate morning dew and the slightest of breezes.

As I stood on the porch of my wood and thatch hut surveying the village and the surrounding jungle canopy lit by the honeyed morning sun, the villagers, as they passed by, looked at me with the fondness normally afforded to a beloved grandfather. I could only imagine that I must have served the village in some profoundly benevolent way in the recent past. Cured a dreaded disease, or saved the life of a revered villager.

Then I remembered the real reason they loved me. I had developed a means distilling the essence of grandmotherly love from the local coffee and freely shared the technique with them. They were so grateful they vowed to honor me always as a venerated village elder. And they were true to their word.

Yes...that is how good my coffee was this morning.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Serious Tea

Lately I've discovered that tea is about one-thousand times better than I knew before.

I'm going to share with you a few links and advise you to try this. Why?
1. it's delicious
2. it's likely excellent for your health (go to informationisbeautiful and filter on plant/herb)
3. you need another reason?

If you decide to buy some really nice tea (available in links below) you should observe the recommended brewing practices, such as:
1. water quality (spring, filtered or well water)
2. water temperature
3. steep time

And also remember that the fine quality loose-leaf teas can be steeped multiple times, which can really change the price-per-cup equation.

Here are some sites with really nice tea.
Red Blossom...I haven't tried any of their tea yet, but my instincts tell me they have some of the finest tea available in the US.

Red Blossom Oolong:

Red Blossom Green (loads of Dragonwell)

Ten Ren's Tea
I have tried the Supreme Ti Kuan Yin and it really is superb.

Tea Zone in Portland, OR
I just tried their Dragonwell last night and it was exquisite. You can dine-in and/or buy loose-leaf from them.

Sakuma Bros.
I haven't tried this yet either, but tea grown in my home-state has great appeal to me. I'm sure it's inevitable I'll try it:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Generous Spirit of Leonard Cohen

I was at this concert and was moved by the loving respect he paid all his band-members.

His tribute to the drummer is hilarious too.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Lullaby

The screen will be black...the intent is just to listen to this song.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Good Stuff, Including Fuzzy "Babels"

I've posted about grumpy herons, monsters, the frustrations of the focus and the elusiveness of the Teal...but that was all just for laughs.

These are a few of the good, unfunny things we saw at the refuge.

Cool looking turtles

Regal-looking tadpole assassins

Swallows playing against character and sitting. It looks like a sit-in, but conditions at the marsh were perfect, so I think blocking the road is how they take their siesta.
And, as promised....the fuzzy babels (and their parents)

Friday, May 02, 2014

We Never Did Get a Good Picture of the Cinnamon Teal

The Cinnamon Teal were abundant at the refuge. And yet somehow they eluded our cameras like skilled celebrities dodging paparazzi.

First they were far off and we struggled with the focus

Then we got close, but they headed behind the grass....and focus is still an issue

Deeper and deeper behind cover...

We moved the car, but they had another means of escape:

The mostly unobstructed, almost unblurry torso of the Cinnamon Teal:

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Now We Know the Truth

Finally we know how they have been producing these Loch Ness Monster photos all these years:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best Laid Plans

A few weeks back I saw a pair of Wood Ducks at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Heidi and the boys weren't with me, so I thought I could give them a treat by taking them there and showing them these marvelous birds.

Of course, being a man and laying plans, things were sure not to go smoothly. But this story has a twist at the end.

Upon arriving at the wetland we were immediately taken by the Cinnamon Teal, which were out in force. Attempts to get a clean photo of those were mystifyingly difficult with our telephoto lens. We ended up with shots like this:

After driving the loop, seeing all sorts of wonders, except of course for the Wood Duck, we got hungry and drove off.

Once home Arthur and I were reviewing our photographic record of the trip when what to our wondering eyes should appear.....a Wood Duck in the background of one of the Teal shots:
The Teal with his backside to us, blurry and behind the grass, was the intended subject of this photo.
The Wood Duck in the background, in focus, broadside and unobstructed went unnoticed until "post production".

I think I will make a point to plan more things just so I can laugh at the ensuing comedy of errors.


Seen at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

The water was abundant, the fields were green, but this Great White Heron appears to scowl. Maybe his mom wouldn't let him be a ninja for Halloween?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fat Hummingbird

Yesterday a hummingbird approached the feeder, flying like a bumble-bee, i.e. clearly near the point at which his girth was too much for his wings to keep aloft.

But he managed to alight upon the perch and began to feed.

In fact, after sipping for a while from the feeder, the trajectory of his exit was governed more by gravity than by his own will.

Having traveled no more than one foot horizontally from the feeder and descending six feet, he made an abrupt and unorthodox semi-controlled landing in the herb-garden.

He realized that now is not the time to fight gravity. Instead he decided to act as thought he just really wanted a nap. And so he sat there, a needle-nosed, iridescent Cartman, waiting to regain his morning strength.

Some time later, he was gone.