Thursday, January 29, 2009


I have some of my favorite photo's as my screen saver on my work computer. Just the other day, one of the gal's I work with asked me about the picture above. Where had I taken it? Did I find the rocks stacked like that or had I done it? I answered her questions - It was taken at Hug Point on the Oregon Coast and yes, somebody had stacked the rocks on the driftwood log and I found it quite pleasing to the eye. She told me she absolutely loved the picture and could she possibly buy a print from me. Of course I said "YES!" and will be printing and framing it for her this weekend.

In other WA-HOO news:

Tonight, I decided to list one of my robin ornaments on etsy. After completing my listing, I browsed the etsy site to see what new things are out there and to check in with my favorite sellers. Going to the home page, I decided to check out a few of the featured galleries and was completely surprised to find my just listed robin in the "Environmentely Friendly" gallery. She is made from a re-purposed wool skirt, which is why she qualified for that catergory. I love it that someone on the etsy team choose to put her in a gallery. FUN!! (I just noticed that the widget I put on her is adding new items when the gallery is updated, so by the time you read this my Robin will be down the list and not visible on the widget anymore. Oh well, she's still in the gallery, just farther down the list...)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Stills - Potluck

This week's Sunday Stills challenge was Potluck. Ed said to go out and play with your camera to see what you can come up with. We were out for an evening drive and I was loving the sunset colors that were reflecting in the water. I took quite a few that didn't turn out well at all, but was fairly happy with this one. I need to learn a whole lot more about shutter speed and night settings to get anything worthwhile, but it sure was fun playing with it.

I'm always trying to get decent pictures of wildlife and birds, but it's been tough to get a good shot. My problems tend to be that I can't get close enough and when I zoom in to far the pictures are blurry. I'm sure part of that's because I'm not using a tripod, but the lightening is also an issue for me. Here in the Pacific Northwest, bright days are few and far between, especially this time of year. Elk tend to come out to the open fields to feed at daybreak or at dusk. These pictures are taken in the early evening and there was still a bit of sunlight, though most of the bulls were in the shade.

This bird and her twin were visiting in my backyard recently. I'm not quite sure what she is, but think maybe a Thrush. My camera's got a pretty good zoom feature, but it seems like the color gets a bit washed out when I zoom in at times. Does anybody else have that problem?
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January Splendor On Saddle Mountain

The alarm clock woke us at dawn as the orange glow of sunrise began to lighten the sky behind Saddle Mountain. Riff started brewing a pot of coffeee and I headed out to the deck for an early morning picture of the mountain that we would soon be hiking.

We have lived here in Clatsop County for almost four years now and hiking Saddle Mountain has been on our list for just as long, though we have never actually gotten around to crossing that one off the list. Today that would change.

Like two kids at Christmas, we excitedly discussed what we should wear and what to bring for our lunch at the summit. It was an incredibly beautiful January morning, but we knew that it could be much chillier and very windy on the mountain, so even for the two and a half mile hike to the summit we would need the proper gear.

We drove up Highway 26 to the turnoff, anticipation with us all the way. The trailhead is about seven miles or so down a narrow county road. At one point, a tree was down across the road but when falling it had graciously left enough room for my small Suzuki to scoot around it. Four other cars were in the lot when we reached it and a big red pickup truck was right on our tail, so we knew we would have company on the mountain.

There was a cool breeze blowing, so along with my t-shirt and sweatshirt I pulled on a windbreaker, gloves and a wool hat, slung my camera around my neck and we started off through the moss-covered forest. The trail starts right in, climbing in elevation right away. It didn't take me long to heat up and shed that hat and those mittens. Riff had his daypack on, stuffed with his jacket, our lunch and water bottles.

We hiked the trail at our own pace, or Riff's I should say, which was a bit of a push for me in some of the steeper spots.

There are many incredible views along the way. Places I could stand forever, breathing deeply of the clear forest air and soaking in the gorgeous vista's. A little over a mile up the trail, there are area's where you can actually see the ocean waves breaking against our Pacific beaches.

Cresting a corner about three-quarters of the way to the top, Mt. Rainer in Washington state came into view. Riff's first word was simply, "Wow". This view made me turn my eyes to the top of Saddle Mountain in anticipation of the view from up top. It's incredible from down here, what will it be like up there?

We were coming down into the saddle of the mountian, the very drop that gave it it's name. The saddle is a dip between the two peaks and this part of the trail is full of shale and loose footing though the shale has been covered with a type of wire, (looks like big chicken wire to me!), to help with traction. By the time you reach this area, you're almost there. We were at about two miles on the trail and until now, for all intents and purposes, had been alone on our hike. Small glimpes of the couple from the big red truck could be seen now and again and we had heard talking and laughing coming from behind us but had not seen those hikers at all. Now we were above the tree line and could see the rest of the way up the trail, so could see the other mountain adventurers.

Panting and pushing tired calf muscles the rest of the way up the the summit rewarded us with spectacular views on this crystal clear day. As another hiker remarked, "You can almost see to Japan. This was so worth it!"
Looking in one direction, we saw Mt. Rainer, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood all in one panoramic shot. Turning to the west we gazed down onto the Pacific Ocean and the villages of Manzanita, Seaside and Astoria. Astoria sits at 300 feet above sea level and is built on a steep hill. From this vantage point of 3,000 feet it looks as though Astoria's built on flat ground instead.

The day was so brilliant and beautiful that we were able to sit up top, enjoying turkey sandwichs and apples in our t-shirst, surrounded by spectacular beauty.
When we finally tore ourselves away from the view and decided it was time to head back down, we were amazed at the number of people and dogs that were winding their way up the mountain slopes. There were several groups with small kids, one being no more than three years of age, who had made it all the way to the top. It was great to see so many people out, taking advantage of the unseasonably gorgeous weather.

Under the shade of pine trees and through a few leftover snow patches we wound our way back down the mountain, where the parking lot was now overflowing with the vehichles of enthusiastic hikers. Reaching the car, Riff took of his knee-brace and I shed my camera. We gave each other a high-five, vowing to do this again before another four years passes us by.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Birds of Change - And the Winner Is...

Comment #6 - Anonymous Robin ~ Now how darn appropriate is that! I love it! Robin, I'll get your Robin to you soon!

Robins are one of the first songbirds that you see in the spring. Their arrival means that winter will soon be over. They give us hope for a new, softer world and a renewal of our beliefs that things will get better.
I am participating in Regina's Birds of Change swap over at Creative Kismet and choose to make Robins for my bird of change for the very reasons above. Along with this swap, Regina has asked any participant who wanted to, to giveaway one of their bird creations on January 20th, a day of big change for us Americans and also Regina's birthday. (Happy Birthday!) In true Rainy Night fashion, I am a day late posting my birds, but nevertheless, I would love to send one winging your way. Please leave a comment letting me know what your favorite bird is and your name will go in my magic basket. I'll randomly draw a winner on Saturday, January 24 and if the winner is you, one of my Robins will fly into your life.
Then, pop over to Creative Kismet to find a list of other bird giveaways. The creations everyone has come up with are incredible!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Stills - Color

This weeks Sunday Stills challenge is simply color. A good choice during the dead of winter when color isn't what permeates our senses. This church steeple is reaching for that blue sky, which is an unusual site in January in the Pacific Northwest. We've had some beautiful days here on the North Coast this week.
The picture below is a few of the very colorful meters that are in front of a thrift store here in Astoria. They really pop-out at you as you drive down Duane Street.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Lesson In Tolerance

Is there that one person in your life who just rubs you the wrong way? The one that brings a grimace to your face when they walk in the room. There's just something about this person that you can hardly tolerate, but they are so unaware of your feelings. This person is always so happy to see you that they immediately approach you the moment that they see you.

While your nemesis is looking at you with total adoration you are trying to make eye contact with anyone else in the room, imploring them to help you stop this obtrusive behavior.

You search the exits of the room, trying to find a way out while your irritant seems to be all around you at once, filling the room with his presence.

You finally realize theirs nothing you can do, you are family after all and are thrown together constantly. He's not a BAD person, just irritating to you for God-only-knows what reasons. You vow to try to be more tolerant of his over zealous behavior.

(We get such a kick out of watching poor Blackie "tolerate" Mr. Thomas O'Malley. He looks at us as if to ask, "Do you see what is going on here? Are you going to do something about it?". No, only take pictures of your discomfort dear doggie.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

French Cuisine

My brother, Joshua, knows that we love to cook so he sent us a new cookbook for Christmas and it came in a very cool Strand book bag. The book is 'Patricia Wells At Home In Provence ~ Recipes Inspired By Her Farmhouse In France' and is as much fun to read as it is to cook out of. Fun little quotes are on some of the pages and there are fun little blurbs about each recipe and why it was chosen for this book.

Last nights dinner was made entirely from our new cookbook. The menu read as follows:

Penne with Sausage, Fennel and Red Wine
Golden Parmesan-Pepper Loaf
Eli's Apple Crisp

I actually had made the bread on Sunday, but just before dinner we had decided to go to a movie (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -thumbs up!), so while making the rest of the dinner on Monday night, we decided to grill slices of the bread on a hot cast-iron gridle. Mmmmm.... it was completely delicious that way! The Penne dish called for 2 cups of Chianti wine, so we drank the rest of the bottle with dinner. Cleaning up was a hoot, but after a couple of glasses of wine I really can't tell you if those dishes got very clean. Ah well, a good time was had by all!

"I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation."
~Madame Benoit

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunday Stills - Closeup/Macro's

Just a few days ago, I ran across Ed's Sunday Stills blog where he poses a weekly photography challenge and gives helpful advice for us would be photographers. I'm going to try to join in with his challenges this year as I can. I'm really looking forward to it and hopefully learning more about techniques and my camera in general. This first weekly challenge that I have joined is closeup/macro pictures. My camera does have a macro setting but I don't know much about it yet. I have read the very small area of my instruction manual that pertains to this setting, but it sure didn't tell me much. My first thought was to take a closeup of the grain in our firewood. I don't have a tripod and don't seem to hold to steady, so all of those came out way to blurry. Next, the marshmallow and chocolate chip topped brownies that I just pulled out of the oven caught my eye, but the winter rainy light inside my house didn't work so well, so I headed Ed's advice and held a piece of Kleenex over my flash to make it not so harsh. That picture turned out okay, but just okay. Not good enough to show off here. I then decided to wander outside and see what I could come up with. The raindrops were glistening and dripping off the end of the rhododendron leaves and I took several shots of a drop hanging precariously on the edge, but that just didn't turn out right either. Finally, I liked how this one turned out, raindrops sitting on the leaves, just not dripping like I'd first envisioned. I also liked the texture of the picture below. This is a little shrub that's in our Secret Garden out back. Yes, I do know that it's Saturday, but I was excited and couldn't wait until Sunday, so these are my Saturday Stills instead.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Tea Time Winner

Chris from Country Patch is the winner of my Mom's happy birthday tea! Chris will get a container of homemade Russian Tea mix and a new mug to enjoy it in.
Thanks to all of you who left and comment to help celebrate Mom's birthday!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Early morning sunrise from our back deck. If we ever decide to move again this view is going to be so hard to match. Everybody give a little wave to the whole Zombie family across the bay!

Don't forget to scroll down to enter my Mom's birthday giveaway by Friday, January 9th.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tea Time Giveaway

Early morning tea time was something that my Mom cherished. She would get up each day at 4:30 in the morning to sit quietly, writing letters or in her journal with a cup of tea before the rest of the family got up and brought the chaos of life to her world. It was her own special time to feed her spirit and soul.
January 9th is approaching and would have been Mom's 65th birthday. When my sister, Stacey, and I lived closer together, we celebrated Mom's birthday each year with a shopping trip to Billings, Montana and lunch somewhere fun. Something Mom would have enjoyed and definitely something she would have liked to do on her special day. We no longer live close enough to do that, so we've put our heads together and came up with a fun giveaway to honor our Mom's memory. I will be giving away a jar of homemade Russian Tea mix and a mug to drink it in, (Not the one in the picture. I haven't decided on the mug yet.), and Stacey will be giving away a set of stationary with a nice pen to write your letters with. We will each have our own winners, so be sure to hop on over to Staceys blog and leave a comment to enter her giveaway as well. If you want to post our giveaway's on your blog, we will give you an extra entry for the link. Make sure you let me or Stacey know that you linked so we don't miss it. Enter by the end of the day on January 9th for your chance to win these happy birthday gifts.
Thanks for entering and good luck!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Road Trip - Part 2 - Spokane to Cody and Back Again

Freezing fog greeted us the morning of our second leg of the journey. Everything was covered in horefrost and was incredibly beautiful though a little bit treacherous for the crazy fools who were on the road.

'Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I,
but when the tree's are bending low,
the wind is passing by.'
I am here to tell you that whoever wrote this classic poem had never been to Wyoming and Montana in the wintertime. You can see the wind. It is physical and solid and a constant. Hal Ketchum had a song with a line that said "Mama knows Wyoming by the wind". It's so true. Hang on to your hats boys, we are in Wyoming. (these signs were in Montana. Up around Livingston where the wind never stops. 75 mph gusts as we were going through. The interstate gets closed here quite often for high winds and has a tendency to tip over semi's. Yikes!)

When you see Heart Mountain, you know you have arrived in Cody, Wyoming. Now where are those babies...

Wa-Hoo! Our grandbabies ~ This is why we came...

Westen wasn't sure that he wanted to wear that monster hat Grandma had made him, but he was very interested in checking out his new fire truck. Motor noises were soon coming from those tiny little lips.

Noah loved his new dump truck, thinking that it was to ride in and making Grandma push him around the room while he sat in it. What a silly boy. His monster hat fits his personality perfectly.

Grandma fight-fighted Noah to sleep and Uncle Kevin simply soothed Westen to dreamland. We both had to use different tactics but are very proud of ourselves, as you can see.

I don't have any pictures of the biggest highlight of the week. Riff and Sam had gone out hunting Monday morning and spotted a cow elk that had fallen through the ice in the creek and could not get out. The two of them knew that they couldn't get her out themselves, so they went back to town for reinforcements. They rounded-up Kevin, Riff's brother Ron and nephew Nick, then called Jim who is the private game keeper for the Two-Dot Ranch. Getting back to the spot where the poor cow was stuck, Sam got a rope or two around her neck and they had an elk rodeo, with the outcome a very happy cow elk running off over yonder hill. Riff did have the fore-thought to grab his video camera, so Ron, fresh from knee surgery, filmed the whole thing. Ron writes for several hunting magazines and already has an article in the works. The video is incredible to watch and will soon be on some news show, though I'm not sure at this point what and where. I'll keep you posted when I know...

Dustin and Kevin spent a day on the slopes at Red Lodge Mountain. It was the perfect day for boarding; fresh powder, lots of sun and no wind. If you were to ask Stacey, Dawn and I, we would tell you that it was also the perfect day for shopping in the fun little stores in the sweet mountain town of Red Lodge, Montana. And Riff will tell you that it was the perfect day to enjoy a cold Red Lodge Heffenweizen at the Snow Creek bar. Different perspectives, you know!

New Year's Eve was spent at my sister, Stacey's. We ate, played cards and watched the ball drop, cheering in 2009. Noah didn't make midnight, thank goodness!

A few of my brother-in-laws cows grazing in the shadow of Heart Mountain. Such a tough sight to look out at every morning!

Friday morning came, time to load up and head back home. We want to come home, we just want to take those babies with us, but their Mommies were suspicious and watched us like hawks leaving us no opportunity to stuff those little guys in our packs. Pretty narrow-minded, I think!

On our way to Wyoming, we passed by the Crazy Mountains of Montana in the dark. I wanted a picture of the sign, since Riff has always pointed at it to let me know "my" mountains are coming up. He seems to think they named them after me. How rude, I always say. Anyway, on the way back I had my eye peeled for the sign when I knew we were getting close, but 'lo and behold, the darn sign was covered with snow and ice and the silly mountains themselves were covered with clouds, so this is all you get. They are beautiful under any conditions. I'm going to have to do some research and find out exactly why they are called Crazy Mountains. It doesn't have a thing to do with my personality....

A few miles of white-out conditions outside of Butte, Montana had me gripping my "OH GOD!" bar and asking for our Gaurdian Angels to fly with us. They did and we are now home safe and sound, enjoying the comfort of our own living room as I'm sure our families are enjoying the peace and quiet of theirs. Glad to see us come. Glad to see us leave.

May you all be blessed with beautiful families and clear roads home...
Happy 2009!