Three Things Thursday: I’m Back

I have been away for two months now, mostly because of a good thing: travel. While I was gone, Three Things Thursday, which I’ve always enjoyed a lot, changed homes.

I’m happy to get reacquainted with Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week,” at its new home.

Three Things Thursday
(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)


After three Fitbits and two Jawbones, I am now the proud owner of an Apple Watch:

Apple Watch

If I had realized how easily those other devices would fail or break, I would have saved money by simply springing for the watch in the first place. Now I just have to get back in the habit of doing something serious about my exercise (or lack thereof).


It’s baby season here, where we entertain many of the deer who inhabit the neighboring park. Here’s this year’s fawn, still young enough to sport her fawn spots, with mother:

doe and fawn 2017

Thanks to my husband for getting this great photo.


On a recent Lunch Bunch outing to a nearby Mexican restaurant, I had fried ice cream for the first time:

fried ice cream

It was delicious, but then, I’m a fool for ice cream.

Thanks for checking in. I hope everyone has a good week. Until next Thursday… .

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Northwest Trek

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy


Trip to Northwest Trek

Earlier this week we took a trip out to Northwest Trek near Eatonville, WA, USA. A facility of Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek focuses on both flora and fauna native to the Pacific Northwest. Its main feature is a 450-acre free-roaming area, containing meadows, forest, and wetlands, where many non-predatory animals live with only minimal human intervention. Visitors ride trams around the area to view the animals in their natural habitat.

I usually concentrate on the animals, but this time I decided to look at some of the plants as well. Here are three of my favorite things from this visit.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) Salmonberry

(2) Roosevelt Elk Bucks

Elk bucks

Look at these six big guys lounging around. Right now their antlers are growing to make them attractive to the females come mating season. Antlers are covered with a substance called velvet. If you were to touch the antlers now, they would feel like soft velvet rather than the harder substance they will later become. But please don’t touch these growing antlers! They can grow as much as one-half inch per day and are suffused with blood vessels. If you were to touch them, you could feel the animal’s pulse as blood feeds the growing velvet. Because of the large blood supply, even a small tear in the velvet could cause the bull elk to bleed to death. That’s probably why these bulls are content to sit around instead of risking a possibly fatal nick to their antlers.

However, this bromance will end at about the end of July, when hormones begin to surge at the beginning of the rutting season. Then there will be fierce competition among the guys to attract the females. After mating season ends, the antlers will fall off. Then next spring the whole process will start again.

My thanks to my husband, who happened to be on the correct side of the tram, for letting me use this great photo.

(3) Red Elderberry

red elderberry

Red elderberry bushes grow along stream banks, in swampy thickets, in moist clearings, and in open forests. These bushes are common along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The small red berries are not palatable and can cause nausea when raw. However, the cooked berries were an important food source for native coastal peoples. The berries are still used to make elderberry jelly or elderberry wine.


© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy


We have a couple of trips scheduled for the next two years, for which we recently bought a new camera with a gigantic zoom lens. My husband has been walking around practicing zoomed-in photography. Eventually I will claim the camera for my own practice shots, but in the meantime I’m grateful that he has allowed me to use these three bird pictures.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) Singing Bird

bird singing

I haven’t yet tried to look this guy up in my bird book. My husband says he was singing his heart out.

(2) Hornbill

Hubby photographed this exotic bird on a visit to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.


Here’s some more information:

Meet Pilai the Hornbill! She is 20 years old and weighs a little over 3 pounds. She lives at the Asian Forest Sanctuary exhibit. Her favorite snacks are grapes and bananas. She also loves blueberries but they have to be the perfect amount of ripeness for her to eat them. Pilai plays with small toys but her favorite is a rock that she uses to toss around and clean out her beak with. Hornbills in the wild also use rocks and bark to clean their beaks.

(3) Flickers (I think)

I was pretty sure these were a female (left) and male (right) flicker:


However, when I checked my bird book, the sketch didn’t look exactly like this. The book has the red on the front of the face, not on the back of the head as it appears to be on the bird on the right. But the book says flickers are common on the ground, where they move around eating ants, and that description fits what the birds in this photo appear to be doing.

Flickers are large birds in the woodpecker family and are common around here, so I’m sticking with my original identification unless someone can identify these as something else. Please let me know in the comments if these aren’t flickers and you know what they are.

Have a good week, everybody!

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy


Oh deer!

We live adjacent to a park that is the home of lots of deer. The deer frequently come to visit us because they like to dine on our succulent bushes and flowers. Here are the three that came to graze on my lawn recently:

deer on lawn

I’m not a gardener, so I don’t get too worked up when I see them. After all, the deer are not invading our land: We have invaded theirs.

However, I do understand why people who are serious gardeners get so worked up over the deer. This bush, right across the street from where the deer were grazing on my lawn, shows why: The bush should be covered with white flowers all over, but the deer have eaten all around the bush, leaving flowers only in the middle, where they can’t reach:

bush eaten by deer

Crab season

Dungeness crab season has arrived at a local fish market:

advertisement for Dungeness crab

I love life in the Pacific Northwest!

Happy week to all.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Here’s this week’s entry for Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”


(1) My Husband’s Newest Toy

This is Roomba learning its way around our house:

I very much thought that this gadget would be just a toy, but I was amazed to discover how good a vacuum cleaner it is. It works on both wood floors and carpets; it senses what kind of surface it’s on and adjusts modes accordingly. The biggest drawback is that it has a small dust bin and therefore must be emptied frequently.

And there’s an app for this, which you download to your smartphone and use to program the unit. Our Roomba begins its appointed rounds of our main living area—foyer, hallway, guest bathroom, kitchen, and living room—at 1:00 AM. If the battery runs out before the vacuuming is done, Roomba returns to its home base, docks to recharge, then resumes cleaning where it left off.

I’ve seen the videos on Facebook of cats riding around the house on a Roomba, but we’re content to let it do its thing unencumbered while we’re sleeping.

Oh, and this thing is not cheap. Consequently, it is my husband’s and my Christmas gift to each other.

(2) Steller’s Jay

Back in St. Louis, where we lived for 42 years, we had a lot of Eastern Blue Jays, which feature a blue body with areas of white on shoulder and head areas. On one of our first trips out to the Pacific Northwest to visit our daughter while she was in college, we drove out to Mount Rainier National Park. Just outside the entrance to the park we stopped for lunch, where we saw several birds that looked like Blue Jays but with charcoal gray instead of white patches.

Steller's Jay

The waitress told us that the bird is a Steller’s Jay. Since moving to Tacoma, we haven’t seen many Steller’s Jays because they hang out in forests, not in cities. But on our Thanksgiving trip to the coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, my husband caught this photo of one while out on a walk.

Don’t tell the Eastern Blue Jays, but I think the Steller’s Jay, with its contrasting blue and dark gray feathers, is just a bit prettier.

(3) Red-Breasted Sapsucker

A couple of times over the last week I’ve noticed another bird I’m unfamiliar with in our front yard. I was only able to get photos the second time, and that was a rainy and dreary day, so I apologize for the low quality of this photo:

Red-Breasted Sapsucker

According to Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Nancy Baron and John Acorn, sapsuckers drill small holes in the bark of a tree. These holes fill with sap, which attracts insects. The birds then have a two-course meal: They both eat the insects and drink the sap. Hummingbirds often associate with sapsuckers so that they can share the sap.

After I had photographed the bird and looked it up in the book, I went back and looked at the trunk of the tree where I’d seen him. Sure enough, the trunk is covered with tiny holes. When I was photographing the bird, I was surprised that he hung around as long as he did while I gradually moved in closer. Now I see that he was concentrating so hard on drilling all those holes that he probably didn’t even notice me.

Hoh Rain Forest

We drove through the rain for the last hour or so of the trip yesterday. Since we had rain for the whole week we were here last year, I expected that the rain would continue, but we awoke this morning to bright sun.

We decided to take advantage of the good weather by visiting nearby Hoh Rain Forest. We had hoped to go last year, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. It’s about a 30-mile drive from the lodge to the visitors’ center. (See the map in yesterday’s post.)

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Located 30 miles from the coast on the west side of Olympic National Park, Hoh Rain Forest receives about 140 inches of rainfall annually. Some of the largest trees in the world grow here. Western red cedar and western hemlock grow up to 200 feet tall, while Sitka spruce and Douglas firs can reach 300 feet.

Types of trees in Hoh Rain Forest
Types of trees in Hoh Rain Forest

The rain forest environment is also perfect for ferns:

Ferns love the rain forest
Ferns love the rain forest

We took the trail called the Hall of Mosses. Mosses cover the trees, making trunks and branches look like green fuzz.

The heavy moisture in the air muffles sounds. If you look up, you’re likely to see the tops of the evergreens swaying in a breeze that you neither hear nor feel.

Elk scat
Elk scat

Roosevelt elk live here, where they find a rich food source of all the plants that grow on the forest floor. Elk are especially fond of salmonberry bushes, which they keep trimmed well below their growth potential of 15 feet. We didn’t see any elk, but we did see evidence of their presence:


Three Things Thursday

Another Thursday, another edition of Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

Three Questions and Answers

1. What’s that bird?

That’s the question we asked our waitress when we saw this bird:

Belted Kingfisher

We had taken the Tacoma Narrows Bridge over to Gig Harbor for a follow-up visit with the eye doctor after my cataract surgery. When we stopped for lunch after the visit, we saw this guy. Soon another bird who looked just like this one appeared as well. They both perched, though not together, where they could watch the water. We assumed they were probably watching for fish to eat.

The waitress didn’t know what kind of bird this was, so when we got home we consulted Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Nancy Baron and John Acorn.

Answer: It’s a belted kingfisher. And yes, they were having lunch, too, watching for fish to dive for.

2. What does that mean?

While watching the belted kingfishers, we spotted this sailboat moored nearby in the marina:

Sailboat Zaftig

When I asked my husband what zaftig means, he checked his phone.


adjective, Slang.
1. (of a woman) having a pleasantly plump figure.
2. full-bodied; well-proportioned.


3. What WERE they thinking?

That’s what I thought when I saw these bushes for the first time:

hedge bushes

I wondered why anyone would sculpt their bushes into this suggestively phallic shape. When I noticed similarly shaped bushes at other houses, I assumed that the home owners must employ the same landscaping service.

On a recent Franke Tobey Jones outing, I heard a woman on the bus explaining this mystery to her friend.

Answer: The deer, which we have a lot of, eat the bushes. The tops of the bushes are wider because the deer can’t reach that high.

So I was right: The home owners do have the same landscaping service.