Collies and Seattle

Clover and Raven after a recent professional grooming. Their fur is white, white, white.

Regis and I leave for Pensacola on Wednesday. Jason (our son) and Dan will be watching the collies for almost a month while I am gone. They live in Seattle, so the 8 month old pups will move from a quiet environment to a city environment. It will be good for them. Jason and Dan plan to take them on adventures and go out to dinner. With their patience, this should significantly improve the krakens ability to handle a diversity of situations.

I took the krakens to a professional groomer for their first time today. I have been bathing them myself and letting them air dry. When I arrived at the groomer, Raven was very vocal. The groomer told me that was because he was stressed and I believe she was correct. Clover arrived like a pro. When the dogs started to be blow dried, Raven was fine as long as the groomer whispered sweet nothings into his ear. Clover lost it. They could not finish blow drying her. I told them when I dropped the dogs off, to not force it if they didn’t like the dryer. It’s better to introduce slowly.

It will be an interesting few weeks moving forward as the collies explore Seattle and Regis and I move the boat from Pensacola to the east side of Florida. The plans are for the boat to arrive in St. Augustine, but that depends on slip availability, etc. I need to leave out of Orlando to get back home on December 13. I will hop off the boat in the time/place that works best for a return. If we can make it all the way to St. Augustine in time. I can visit with some of my amazing friends. If not, I will jump ship somewhere else in order to get to the airport.

A Mouthful

A common loon with a large fish.

I went to Lions Park in Bremerton in hopes of getting a picture of a common loon I had seen when I walked the dogs. After walking the dogs, I got my camera and went back to the park and got lucky. The loon had a large fish in its beak. It is not clear to me if the loon ever swallowed the fish. It seemed too big to me.

Common loon.

I found a salmon carcass lying on the shore and heard the barks of a sea lion. I never caught sight of the sea lion, but the sound was unmistakable.

Salmon carcass on the shores of Dye’s Inlet.

Recently, we went to Seattle on the Bremerton to Seattle ferry to have an early Thanksgiving meal with friends and family. It was a beautiful day for a Puget Sound crossing. We brought the krakens and walked them through Seward Park prior to dinner in hopes it would wear them out. They were good and mostly stayed in their place during the meal. There was an occasional attempt to see if the rules for staying put still applied. Jason and Dan hosted an amazing dinner. Jason is an outstanding cook. This became apparent when he was a teenager and after coming home from work one day to an amazing meal, I told him he could live with us forever if he kept cooking like that. He left anyway. Every Thanksgiving, he texts me pictures of the amazing dishes he has made. Being on the other side of the country, I could only salivate. This time, I ate. Hopefully, they will still have leftovers when we drop the krakens off on Tuesday before our flight to Pensacola. Jason and Dan are delighted to watch the krakens for nearly a month. I hope they are still speaking to me when I return to retrieve the collies.

As I was working on video and pictures today, Regis told me to check out the deck. There was stuffing from one of the dog toys all over the deck and yard. Following is a short video that includes the perpetrators.

Regis is Freezing

Regis has not been warm since he arrived back in Washington almost a month ago. Too much time in Florida has weakened his system and he cannot handle the cooler weather. The temperature recently dropped quite a bit resulting in a bunch of snow on the Olympic Mountains and nearly freezing temperatures here at night. I am learning to dress better and the collies do not care about the weather. Their fur is growing nicely and rain does not impact them. So, we are doing fine. Regis is counting the minutes to his flight to Florida next week.

Today was clear, so I got good views of the Olympic Mountains and their new snow. Everything seems so blue here.

For those of you who are into plants, we arrived at this house with a ton of invasive English Ivy covering about 1/3 of the property. We started to tackle the problem. The whole property is too overwhelming to deal with in one season, so we started with the front gardens and the retaining walls nearest the house. Here are a few before and after pictures of the progress.


After removing the ivy, I am planting native plants.

Kind of an Update

Snow over the Olympic Mountains.

We have a couple moving parts and this post is a little bit of a few things.

Regis and I will be leaving next week to arrive in Pensacola to start the process of moving the boat to the east side of Florida, weather permitting. My son and his partner are going to watch the collies (aka krakens). I must be back by mid-December with a flight out of Orlando, so Regis will drop me off wherever it makes sense to get me back home in time.

Locally, the weather is changing and getting colder and wetter. We went almost four months with little rain and the situation is changing. I went to a local park on the water today where I regularly walk the dogs. They are still a handful to walk together, so I went today by myself. A friend told me that Brandt cormorants regularly fly there. I see cormorants regularly but did not realize they may have been new to me. Indeed they are a bird I can add to my life list. A good friend in Florida told me to bird every bird and she is absolutely right. I got a new life bird today not realizing I have been seeing one regularly. There were also pelagic cormorants.

Pelagic cormorant.

The weather has changed and there is snow in the mountains. It’s very pretty. Regis is still in Florida mode so he has been cold since he arrived. He moved the thermostat up five degrees when he got here and the dogs and I have been panting in the heat ever since. We are used to the cooler weather. Not Regis.

But, today at the local park on the water taking pictures, it was excruciatingly cold. I thought the temperature must have dropped to the twenties and it was in the mid-forties. I will be in trouble when the temperature drops more as expected.

I have a video below of the collie krakens playing. They are big but still puppies. They are crazy playing together. Clover rules the roost and sometimes prevents Raven from eating. Since we are here, we do not allow that behavior. It is still interesting to me. Clover continues to dig new holes and loves her little animals. Although she chews on them, she does not chew them too much. Raven is happy to decapitate and remove the appendages of all the animals. He is a chewing machine. I continue to be fascinated how different they are even though they are siblings.

I have two wonderful Orvis dog beds for the puppies at night, but during the day we are upstairs and they try to sleep in Dart’s smaller beds. They are outgrowing them and Orvis recently had a sale, so I have two new collie sized beds arriving for them soon.

We do not watch TV or movies much. About a week ago, I decided to watch a movie on the big screen TV. Clover was fascinated. She had never seen a movie on it before and was curious. It did not last long and she left. I plan to try a Lassie movie soon and see if it is more interesting to her. She loves different sounds and smells. I have been hiding a scent for her to find and she loves the game. I think her wonderful nose is the reason why she finds all the trash on our walks.

Glaucous-winged gull, immature.
Flowers I saw in the local park.
I love the color of the leaves. Living in Florida the last six years, I did not get to see this kind of beauty. I am soaking it in. Every place is special for its own reasons. Enjoy it.

UPDATE: This post was revised to correct the caption for the cormorant.

Canada Jays

Canada jay.

My brother and his wife recently visited and we drove to the top of Mt. Walker hoping to get a good view of the area. There were partly cloudy skies. We were fortunate that the cloud cover was high enough to get a decent view. We could just barely make out Seattle and Mt. Rainier in the distance. It was hazy and I had difficulty getting the camera to focus on Seattle. We could barely see it with binoculars, so I pointed my camera in that direction and took a bunch of pictures hoping at least one would be in focus. Because of the atmospheric conditions, what we could see of Seattle appeared unusually large for that distance.

View from Mt. Walker. You can barely see Mt. Rainier in the distance in the center.
A view of Seattle from Mt. Walker. There was a lot of haze and a blue tint to everything.

When we went to the north outlook, a pair of Canada jays visited in hopes of getting something to eat. Another group brought some bread and the little birds bravely landed on any outstretched hand that had food on it. Canada jays were called Gray jays until 2018. They are also known as whiskey jacks and camp robbers. They use their saliva to store food above the presumed snow line allowing them to live successfully through the winter in northern forests up to the tree line. The pair of birds that visited us were taking the bread to cache and coming back for more.

Canada jay.
Canada jay taking bread from someone’s hand.
Canada jay with bread in its beak.
Steller’s jay.

While our guests were with us, Clover stole their socks. At the time, she could not get outside to stash them under the deck, so she left them at the door. She also jumped into their bed with them. The dogs are not allowed on the furniture, so I do not know where that behavior came from. The two dogs look alike but it does not take people long to figure out by each dog’s behavior which one is Clover.

The vet told me to move them to adult dog food and transition slowly. You do that by mixing the puppy food and adult food and increasing the amount of adult food until you complete the transition. Clover and Raven immediately began picking out the puppy food and tossing it on the floor, so mixing the two foods did not work for us.

The collie puppies are more interested in the adult food than the puppy food. After mixing the two to transition slowly over to adult food, the collies removed the puppy kibble and tossed it on the floor.

We have a driveway with a steep drop off on one side. Regis took the dogs for a walk the other day and let them loose upon returning to the driveway. We try to use the opportunity to ensure they learn not to run away and come when called. When Regis let them loose, Clover pushed Raven over the edge of the driveway. Regis told me that Raven has four-wheel drive, so he recovered quickly without getting hurt.

Basic Guide to Backyard Birds in St. Augustine Available on Amazon

The Basic Guide to Backyard Birds in St. Augustine is now available in paperback and electronic through Amazon.

Amazon Kindle click here

Amazon paperback click here

Barnes and Noble paperback click here

Days of rest.

I have been taking it easy for the last 4-5 days. I have not started anything that might balloon into the a major task. What I have been doing is cleaning up, yet again, and finding homes for things that have been laying around for some time now. I am planing a trip back to Washington to get away from the boat for a while. I have been away for 2 months now and that is far too long.

A ships figure head of a different kind.

Linda suggested I do a post about the goings on at the marina. I bet she was hoping for some wildlife photos but no luck there. I have been trying to get a pic of some dolphins that have started swimming through and around the marina, but do not have one good enough to tell it was a dolphin.

I got some pics of the area. That is, what I can see of the dock. Just across the water is a huge industrial area. Many different things going on.

Large red crane to unload/load the barges. On the wires across the top are 20-30 pigeons. They hang out there or under the bridge nearby.

Directly across is a staging area for a bridge replacement project. Instead of trucking in the concrete spans the company bought/leased the land and built a concrete processing plant to pour/form long bridge spans. While the new bridge is now in place, all the cleanup of old pilings and construction components is ongoing. Mostly this involves hammering very large chunks of concrete into smaller ones. Almost every morning at 6:45, we can hear the big excavators squeaking down the hill to the piles next to the barge and begin hammering. All day long, and then they squeak back up the hill and disappear for the night.

Concrete tubes waiting to join their smaller sized friends in the background.

The large pieces are brought in by barge and unloaded by a monster crane. I presume the smaller pieces are trucked out to make even smaller pieces somewhere. All the metal reinforcement is probably sold to the metal recycler next door.

Barge full of recycling. The pile of metal in it is at least 16-20 feet deep about 125-150 long and about 20-30 feet wide. That is a lot of metal.

Farther up there is the metal recycling business. They appear to take metal of all kinds and stuff it into a giant compactor and squeeze it into a square-ish shape. They have two hill sized piles they work with to feed the compactor. After that they start loading a barge from the giant hill sized mound of squished cubes. All day long. After a couple days the full barge disappears and an empty one is soon there.

Small tug. Cute
More tugs and cranes farther down.

Little Douglas Squirrel

Douglas squirrel.

Today, I saw a small Douglas squirrel hanging around. It is the smallest one I have seen, so I think it must be a juvenile. Douglas squirrels are also called chickarees.

I like this image because you get to see the feet. The little squirrel also reveals it’s a male.

I got the collies (aka krakens) some tough toys at Costco. On the first day, they removed the eyes. I cannot find the eyes, so they may be working their way through the system of one or more of the collies.

Eyeless dog toy.


Smokey sunset over Dye’s Inlet and the Olympic Mountains which cannot be seen in this image.

We had a particularly smokey day on the west side of Puget Sound today. Sometimes we escape the worst of the smoke lately while Seattle suffers, but not today. There are at least 8 wildfires in Washington. I went to the local boat launch for sunset pictures and could not help but think “smoke on the water, fire in the sky.”

While watching the sun set, I heard the loons on the water. Just before I left, a bunch of them started calling out at the same time. It was music to my ears. I missed having Dart with me.

After the sun set, it was possible to barely see the Olympic Mountains on the right in the picture.

Sibling Dogs, but Very Different


Clover and Raven have similar coloring, so they can be difficult to tell apart. As they grow, the size difference between them widens and it is easier to identify each dog. Raven is heftier, while Clover has a thinner face. If you spend time around them, it is relatively easy to know which dog is which. Their personalities are very different.

Clover is a barker. She is particularly reactive at night and can easily bark for hours over something that she knows about but I do not. I usually cannot identify the problem, so assume a wild animal or lose pet is nearby and she will not settle until it is gone. I do not doubt that she is aware of something. When Raven chips in, I know I better take a look because it is likely something I can identify. Once it was a utility representative marking the ground for utilities prior to the installation of a fence. Another time, the neighbor’s German shepherd was loose and running around outside our house. Clover usually does not bark if she is crated or penned, but sometimes that is not enough to stop her.

Clover is a digger. She has a few holes she is working on around the yard and under the deck. When I catch her in the act of digging, Raven is usually lying next to her watching her progress. We had a fence installed last Friday and our yard is on a hill. The gate needs to be basically level, so there is a small gap under the gate on the downhill side. It did not take Clover 24 hours to widen the gap and escape. I was reading a book when I heard a dog whining like it was stuck somewhere. I looked out back to see Raven whining inside the fence while Clover was exploring outside the fence. She came immediately when I called her. The other day I was digging up the edge of the garden to install pavers. She rushed over and started digging frantically like she was saying “I got this.” If I could have directed her efforts exactly where needed, the task would have been accomplished quickly. Instead, she became a little roto tiller in the garden.

Clover: I should have named her Digger.

Clover likes to stash her found treasures underneath the deck. Every day, I retrieve the items she has hoarded. I usually find socks and some of her animal toys. The other day I found a camera lens cap. Fortunately, I have only found underwear a few times.

Clover likes to trim the garden. Plants do not have a chance around her. Raven will sometimes join in on the trimming but Clover is more determined. Clover likes to move the rocks around the yard if they are light enough for her to pick up. One of the front gardens is filled with small rocks and she regularly places them on the sidewalk, her preference.

Clover likes to get silly on walks. She will start biting the leash and jumping up in the air. It is hard to walk that way. I am trying to train her to behave when she is on the leash and having modest success. Three seems to be a magic number with Clover. She needs to be told at least three times she is not allowed to do something before she believes it to be true. She can be expected to test this regularly to see if the rules changed since yesterday.

She is an enthusiastic dog and when she wants to obey commands, she does it with great joy. It is a pleasure to work with her when she is into it. When I ask her to sit, she often comes running to sit in front of me looking straight up at me and wagging her whole body. It is as though there is nothing that could be more joyous then doing a sit on command.

There is not a toy, stick, leaf, rope, or other item that one dog has that the other does not try to take away. The ground could be littered with sticks and the only stick acceptable is the one the other dog has. The best toys for them are ones that have long parts (e.g. legs) so they can each grab an end and pull. When Raven has a particularly nice chew, Clover has learned the best way to get it is to come to me with great enthusiasm to say “hello, please pet me.” If I say a kind word at that time, Raven is alert and immediately by my side. Clover is just as fast leaving me to grab whatever he was chewing. I fall for it every time.

Raven is the ideal pet. He only relieved himself in the house once since he arrived at eight weeks and that was my fault. He trains easily. He rarely barks. He is content to lay around chewing dog toys. He likes to watch what Clover is doing when he is not actively playing with her. As far as I can tell, most of the items that should not have been chewed, like carpets, charger cables, and furniture have been Clover.

Raven spends much of his time chewing on these bully sticks. When he tires of chewing, he sometimes lays or sleeps with one hanging out of his mouth like he is smoking a cigar.

Yesterday, I told the dogs to sit before putting on their leash. Raven sat right away. I started to put the leash on him and Clover started circling him like a shark. Then, she starting darting in to nip at him. Today, she has been so good, I am worried about her.

I adore their differences and would not have them any other way, usually.

Also, today. My brother and his wife began driving our RV and tow vehicle from Pensacola, Florida back to Washington. Regis had the RV and car in Pensacola while he worked on the boat. It is a working marina and they do not want people staying on the boats. Regis stayed in the RV and used the car to get supplies, parts, etc. The original plan was for me to fly down and bring the RV back to Washington. I asked my brother if he wanted to join me and he enthusiastically agreed. Soon after, his German Shepherd died and he asked if his wife could join us. Of course.

Then, Dart started to have obvious health issues and I did not want to leave him. Since my brother’s wife was in for the ride, I asked if he was willing to do it with just the two of them. He was up for it.

My brother’s initial concern was how safe it was to travel. I have heard this concern expressed by several folks. Regis, Dart, and I have crisscrossed this country including parts of Canada five times and have had no issues. You can encounter bad people and situations anywhere, including a block from your house. I can never say it is totally safe to travel in an RV but it is not totally safe to be in your home. Most car accidents take place close to home. I only remember two people I would have been happy not to have met. One guy in Montana was building a large charcoal fire on top of his picnic table while the campground had no burn signs posted everywhere and the sky was so thick with smoke for local wildfires that you could not see the Rocky Mountains 4 miles away from our campsite. After Regis politely telling him there was a burn ban, the guy got irate and we left the next day before he burned the campground down. One time, while Regis was swimming in a lake in Washington, a relative of the campground owner who was sitting on the shore near me, told me that we were not welcome in the town if we were not Republicans, blah, blah, blah. I did not feel threatened. We mostly met wonderful, helpful people on our travels. Two grumpy guys in all those miles of traveling is nothing.

My brother and his wife arrived in Shreveport for the night. They were pleased to have had wonderful encounters with people at gas stations and the campground. Their first day proved the experience that Regis and I usually have. After 500 miles of driving, they were as enthusiastic after arriving at the campground as when they started.

I put together an album of Dart as I do for all my dogs. I usually use a template, but now that I know inDesign, I designed this one myself and I love the results of the interior for Dart’s book. I am putting the interior here of the PDF file for those interested. He was such a special guy and this is my homage to him. Click on the link for interior or download below to see the contents.