A walk into FOREST PARK. PEAK fall colors. Exhilarating.

Bloged in Fall,General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Tuesday November 3, 2015

What a crisp, bit cloudy, brilliant morning….. neighbors Dog found to have a TIC….they cancel going along and go to the VET. Just ME and MAC. The light looks perfect for an autumn picture maybe. I only take the phone camera. ………… SO.

JOIN me for just a few brilliant visions my head saw this morning, here, the peak of fall color:

I don’t even have to leave the yard these mornings….in the BACK of the house, our tiny Deciduous Redwood (now about 10 yrs old..) is ready to shed its needles…..it’s gorgeous spring summer and fall……

redwood redy to shed

SO…..One doesn’t have to walk far from this house to find so wonderful a rain forest, that the shorter vine maples often have to bend and stretch and search for light. hence. many scenes like this:

bent trees

or these……

bent 5 to home
**Those BENT limbed trees are all over this park…..the nature of the rain forest!

Halfway into our walk, we pass MAC’s favorite late winter romping puddle, the Elk Wallow….it’s just now barely returning with all the rain, but not quite “rotten” enough to intrigue him….by January, if he’s NOT leashed walking by this, it is irresistible to him:

return of the elk wallow

And, then uphill for a big, yep, it works the lungs, good reason to walk, eh….. some other tree scenes are simply breathtaking (at least “live” they are…I know, it’s a phone camera):

autumn color light2

and on the way back, if you’re looking you’ll find a few “bird buffets”….rotten trunks now full of bugs for our feathered friends:

bird log2

or this one:

bird log1
**bigger, and looking like there’s a nest or two up higher…..

ONE massive old fir ….I’m wondering about termites…..SOME ANIMAL is taking on some of the thick bark of this tree….it’s a GRAND HUGE OLD fir:

massive old fir

****AND this morning’s walk was NOT along the VERY scenic Wildwood Trail…..sinee I prefer to let MAC walk unleashed, I often stay on the Fire Lane…you seldom see a soul unless a jogger or two….but if you and I HAD walked the Wildwood, this is what it looks like out this far from town:


Thanks for joining me……….I USED to THINK I was giving up my own wants to WALK this dog for HIS sake….and long ago, I realized I GOT more out of it than this wonderful animal companion, who loves the walk, but his nose is always looking’ down….. and, well, he’s right in a way, you need to make sure you don’t come across coyote scat and step in it…..damn coyotes! They poop right ON the trail…. OH well!

We’re back home now with an appetite! How about some just baked sourdough toast and eggs and bacon? See ya soon.

End Oct Begin Nov

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday October 30, 2015

**ANY picture can be “clicked” on to see it in full perspective……

Wow, our weather turned within a few days from the endless summer dry warm bright worker-bee busy life to dark gray, wet, drizzle, fog period now forecast for 5-6 days……and the plants in the yard seemed to be on pace, maybe not so noticeable in the bright sun as they are now……… but with the long-term forecasts ALL calling for 5-6 days of rain / gray…….it was TIME to get any yard work done ahead of it.

The LAST Flowering HUGE plant: the Datura, and NO, we’re not making tea out of it


The “favorite” fall tree for how the leaves/shape appear:

fav fall tree

The Deciduous Redwood we have….the needles finally turning gold/brown, soon to drop:

redwood redy to shed

The Huge Leafed Catalpa Tree stuck in a narrow space between house and a row of firs….has finally almost shed everything, but it IS the yard space I have to pick up with the mower/bagger MANY times and drop on the garden….I got it really cleaned out last night expecting the rain to start:

catalpa base

Yes, the Garden is now under a heavy 4-6″ layer of mulch for the winter:

hevy grdn cover

Oh yes, Rodger got his turn at cleaning the chimney prior to fall wood fires….yes, done ahead of the rain, and we should be set for a couple of years now:

clean the chimney

Even some vine maples in the forest seem to be showing strains of a very DRY summer:

bent trees

So….yesterday was a very busy day getting the place ready for the rain period to start….and today, I spent reading a book! Yes, recovery!

a melancholy mark

Bloged in Fall,General Home Life by mark Wednesday October 28, 2015

No post since August. Clearly showing the decline of blogging as with almost everyone I used to “follow”. Now replaced with the short-quips on the FB, Twitter….. now everyone’s convinced they no longer have the time to read a considered post in a blog…..takes too much time because you have 459 “real” friends on the other media formats. And I can’t claim I’ve done any differently…. It IS a bit fun to read little bits about a lot of people….but………… oh well…. just my observation.

I had to decide Oct 1 whether to even “pay” for another time period for Blue Host to maintain this site…..so I Outta find it IF….. this next year I Do learn to write in this little ‘diary’ again, OR….just back up the database and put it on a DVD scrapbook for ALL my “0” grandchildren to read about. Hah.

That being said, SO MUCH has gone by since August……… I’m simply going to throw up a few pics and a few thoughts about the last 60 days…..as fast as I can, I MUST get back to FB quick to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Hah.

So the walk through FALL begins:

fog wlk2

FIRST observation Oct 28, 2015. Sigh. I am truly feeling melancholy, a little blue this morning. For the first time, ALL long term weather forecasts are calling for our entering the normal “wet” period of late fall that may well be here through spring……and ALWAYS……when that first starts, I feel a bit empty after having 6 straight months of fabulous perfect sunny days/ warmer nights. Day long shades of gray, and little drizzly rain bits are not my cup of tea, although I WELL know that’s HOW you have a rain forest. And how can I WHINE…….of course I wouldn’t trade this for the serious long-term drought killing California.

2nd Observation: I just turned 69. Just HOW did that happen? I used to the “little kid” in the family a short while back:

Yep, that’s right….the last one you can still be NOT in your “70’s” . . .a decade I am not fond of yet…..you begin to be discounted by fewer friends (fewer are alive for one thing…hah)….. others you know that ARE your age…..begin to discuss Prostates, bumps here or there, digestion, prescriptions, doctors, and on and on. NO! Let’s talk about our friends we miss or even see, and about where/what we’re doing…… let’s still be ALIVE while we ARE alive and healthy……NOT start to sink into that nursing home machine 10-15 years before you should. ENOUGH of THAT!

SO………. remedy. While I type, Playing a bit of Debussy (Children’s Corner)….spot of tea, and just let myself SIT here and mind-wander. Hm……I already feel better.

And…. one of my NEW adventures IS Bread Baking….starting with learning Sourdough from a fabulous Prof. Melanie Templeman, who we’re lucky enough to be neighbors with…my first class mid-day pic:
mark n bread
**I’m already up to attempt #16, and AM getting better….(that being said, on #16….I completely forgot SALT…oh well).

Friend and ex-neighbor Krysta stopped by not long ago….

krysta 2015
.now living on the coast, she’s got a lot of life surrounding her….2 new kids, a degree in nursing meaning she’s working plenty at the hospital, and dealing with “marriage”….. AH, maybe that’s ONE little part I do NOT miss about being younger…..A LOT of added stresses older folks don’t have….or need :) .

**An overdue BIG project for OUR household has been…..getting some maples down that were either already on last legs from termites, OR…leaning toward the house because that’s where the sun was coming from…. and this September we DID it….WHAT an adventure it is simply to watch a crew dancing up 30-40 ft in trees with heavy chain saws hanging from their belts while they slowly cut a tree down to size. THEN….OUR own work began, cleaning up the entire site, splitting the trunks, getting the last huge trunk (164” around at the base) cut down…..WHEW! There were some adventures here….some exercise, and a HUGE satisfaction moment when the stacks were either stacked for curing this winter, or IN the woodshed for warm fires that’ll begin soon…… Not SURE that MAC understood the scope of the project, but he sure like THIS little pile of ex-wood bits:

last of huge tree

**almost done….. Splitting wood’s the fun part, stacking….the good exercise part:

last stacking to do

SO….got that done…… got the garden cleaned up, deer fence once again, rolled up and put away, plants dried, frozen, or…. A relief kind of to let this year’s garden go…..the year was So warm, dry, that harvesting continued TOO long….wore me out!

garden to rest 2015

And…..the space was turned over for the deer to salvage dinner snacks as they wishes:

deer eat grdn fwrs

Not long ago, a friend I have not seen in some 30 years visited….it was non-stop talking, dining, and learning once again, real friendships remain no matter the time and distance. Dave’s a fabulous guy, and he’s already missed…..we’re hoping to see him again soon…..

dave n mark

Okay….I Do admit one thing……….with summer out of the way and gray days upon us, I “allow” myself a bit of pleasure……. (no, don’t go there)………I get to “READ” a few books I’ve gotten ahold of through the summer…..waiting first is the one about “how/what animals feel/think” . . ..a subject I am close to, as we’ve grown to understand a LOT more about nature living here the last 20 years than we used to. And, now that MAC has somehow gotten to be 11…..when we first got him, I was thinking, “Well, HE’ll be the lat dog you’ll ever have…….and now, he’s already as old as I am…….and I’m probably TOO well aware I just might be showing a few signs of being 69 as he’s showing being 11…..HOWEVER….he STILL does a strong powerful swim session 1-2x a week down in the river…. he’s been a great friend.

Sigh. Time to go………….. there’s one piece of birthday cake left and it’s noonish….

mrk bday cake2

hm……I think my birthday will be completely gone when this piece gets put on that plate in a bit………okay. I’m 69 now. Whew.

High Summer August Days. Thin the Garden

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Friday August 14, 2015

The raw season-ending-coming-soon weather changes that come in “High” summer sometimes take your breath away. Roses…..the “springtime” wonder…..have mostly gone, but those that are left are appreciated all the more in their dry hot weather beauty:


okay. NO time to sit around in “August” of high summer smiling at roses….. work is finally “required” in the vegetable garden. Simply because, the production there is NOW at a point harvest must happen……..THIS is the point one works for in the 3 months that lead up to this. Some things had to be done NOW:

**Thin/Prune some Bay Laurel branches poking through the deer fence. I wish people would take some…cook with ’em fresh, or dry them…… it’s cool to have the plant that gives us “Bay Leaves” in the yard:


This year, I surrendered the north end row of the garden to mostly “Volunteer” plants since with most damp years we don’t see these, so it was simply an experiment. … but in this row are 2 kinds of tomatoes, 2 tomatillos, a bunch of garlic plants and then some planted chard, thyme, rhubarb…. The bay laurel is at the end….but I was amazed how BIG even these volunteers got and how much they too are fruiting:


The Tomato rows begin with some “Stupice” (Russian) heirloom tomatoes that truly work well at our altitude, they are early, perfectly tasting like a big slicer…..We and a couple neighbors have been dining off these are 3 weeks now almost ev day….delicious:


And the other 1st plant in the row is the SUNGOLD, our favorite ‘cherry’ tomato…. that plant is absolutely FULL of fruit…..so this next month, there will soon be “spares”…..we won’t be able to eat all of them:


This was an “experiment”….an Italian huge Slicer tomato (oops…forgot name at moment)….but the plant and fruit are SO heavy, you can SEE that it’s bending the tomato cage itself:


**I’ve mentioned on the FB how, since Aug 5, I’ve been pruning these plants back, and maybe this can show you why…..I HAVE TO…..they’re producing lots of fruit yes, but STILL growing vines/branches….and in 4 weeks….by mid-September, weather will be changing and not in the Tomato Plant’s favor. So TODAY, THESE rows all got a major cutback of vines:


now, at the Southern end of the garden…..this early cool crop row of what was lettuce/chard, celery, is finally been chopped out….we had enough Chard to get tired of it…..I’m NOW awaiting to see just how the corn Does RIPEN up…..it’s about done with the tassels dropping pollen period:


2nd Harvest of the Oregano meant…..it went into the compost heap….1st harvest produced 2 quarts of dried oregano……. too bad I couldn’t have sold it…it’s one hardy annual:


And Thyme was harvested…….now drying in our Dining Room:


It DID well….smells wonderful:


I sure don’t KNOW what KIND of heirloom Zucchini Michael & missy gave us this year, but it’s unquestionable that it’s been the most amazing squash plant I’ve ever seen….. Rodger’s made zucchini bread 3x and plans more:


Now…the Tomatillo Plants are coming into season….and even though I cut BACK the number of plants THIS was a summer with weather perfect for these guys…..I will have MORE than I’ll want to turn into salsa….will have to give some away within a couple weeks:

THIS……was the tomato harvest TODAY…… (will do this again in 2-3 days):


And what garden is complete without a few of these guys blooming by August…..2 of ours are already finished pollination, now drooping, and seeds beginning to form……by November, they are Perfect Bird Feeding plants out there….they remain standing until the seeds are all eaten:

And THIS GARDEN…..in AUGUST…..is one of the BIG reasons Mark doesn’t have much life outside of being home…………..but it’s exactly WHY one DOES do the tiring work of the 3 months leading UP to this….to see, enjoy, preserve, eat, etc etc…..the beauty that grows out there.

that’s all folks!

pickled days of August

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday August 4, 2015

Here’s where a pickle w/e begins, the Pumpkin Patch Produce Farm down on Sauvie Island. It’s an old wonderful place, wonderful owners, and like all land down there, at the very confluence of the Willamette & Columbia Rivers, it’s 20-30 ft deep loam soil has been flowing down that Columbia Gorge for a couple mil years….so it’s rich:


First task is to calculate how many supplies you’ll need buy finding out just how ‘many’ quarts the cousins hope to take home…..we came up to around 100……. To make 100 quarts of pickles, it will require:

*about 100 lbs of cucumbers
*about 15 bundles of fresh dill weed (from a farm hopefully, the store bundles are small and wilted
*a few dozen garlic cloves…..and these you’ll find more varied than you’d think depending on where you look…..this years fresh garlic came from West Union Gardens.
*Dried Red Peppers. Purely for aesthetics, and that Grandma & Aunt Merle both used them.
*Fresh serrano & Habanero peppers.. . . . . as folks have gotten used to the habaneros, this year the split was 50-50….. so these are ‘winning’ over appetites.
*Fresh Grape Leaves….from our yard
*dried alum – 1/8 tsp per jar. Reputedly helps retain crispness.
*Canning Salt – about 10 lbs
*Vinegar – about 3 gallons.
*optional…..and we haven’t added…….. bit of dried mustard seed and/or celery seed.

Everything but the cucumbers and dill weed may be bought earlier, but those last two items are best fresh…and bought ONE DAy earlier than the pickle day…once home, the cucumbers are rinsed, blossom end cut (to avoid spoilage),

brining cukes

and brined overnight:

cukes prep1

Over a few days time, hopefully, the house has been prepped so that just before the cousin-crew shows up, we’re ready:

pre pickel

And HERE is where the day gets lost in business…..not another pic taken until we were done….I wanted 2-3 to show the mess that this can be at times, but NO….we were all moving too fast…..talking the whole time, it’s a great little family event:

ray pickled 2015

This all began when there was only ONE Aunt left alive ….and by luck, she still made her mother’s pickles, lots of them……Here’s Grandma Ray’s written recipe, and Aunt Merle’s Notes….. the pic on the left is used on the label…it’s Grandma Ray at 16:

pickle label n grama write

End July & Begin August 2015

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday July 30, 2015

How the heck has HIGH summer gotten here this fast! I can’t keep up with pace of this hot/dry summer……

Last time a post was published, we were going on and on about the Evening Grosbeaks.

*That beautiful huge flock of evening Grosbeaks was gone by Mid-June as we thought they would be…..boy, were trees ‘quiet’ in comparison for a while, till the rest of the Black Headed Grosbeaks ALL arrived and began calling those beautiful long floral calls every morning beginning about 5:00 am. BUT they too, have JUST finished fledging their last bunch of chicks, and have already thinned out by half……there are NO birds calling in the mornings. Seems sad in comparison to the beautiful sounds of spring.

*First of July company were the Ebert/Hoppe’s from Minneapolis….Thomas was here to perform a wedding for Matt & Kate….. this things was one gorgeous affair held in the Hoyt Arboretum ….on a sloping hillside …. one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve been to, memorable, and so MANY fabulous people. We were lucky to be included!

*Matt/Kate, Todd/Lizz came up about 2-3 weeks later for an evening of some music fun…..perhaps it was obvious some had been enjoying a little wine when Beethoven inspired the MICE to appear:
****Click on the mark-matt-tod text…I don’t know why I’m not getting an image uploaded!!

mark matt todd

*The GARDEN! This year is almost in the record books for being DRY and HOT…..it’s been impossible to keep the lawn from dying, it’s solid brown….and all the flowering shrubs are demanding time/water we’ve never had to give them. The toll on the vegetable garden is visible….the lettuce exploded in growth, bolted, withered….the Chard is still out there and giant but a little bitter by now. IT was SO hot, I never replanted any lettuce….so there’s about 15% of the space empty…….now while The cool weather crops suffered, tomatoes/tomatillos are SO tall I’ve had to tie up branches as best I can for the tomatoes, they’re all well over 6′ and trying to spread out….they’re JUST beginning to ripen, though, tasting great, and that MONTH of fresh tomato dining will likely over-ride any negatives I’ve felt this whole growing season….I’ve just never had enough free time to keep up!!!! As I type this, the big orchard boxes out front full of flowers NEED water….and I’m NOT going out there in the hot 96 sun to do it…..they’re gonna have to figure out how to suffer it out until about 6:00. Whew.

Lord! After last winters winds blew off about 15-20 shingles from the new wing of the house, it was obvious, this older portion would have to be replaced…..DONE in July! 25 yr guarantee …. to save a little of the cost, Rodger tore out the old chimney from the front older part of the house ….(we’d replaced that wood stove with the new one in the family room in the newer portion of the house)….that was a bit of a drafty, and dirty chimney hole in the dining room. Rodger had most of gone by the time I took a pic:

With the help of pal Aaron show showed up by surprise, and gladly so, (it was AARON who crawled into the attic opening to grab that old chimney and lift it out)….. soon things were all on the ground to get hauled off:

I was left to vacuum/clean the inside of the room where the bunch of ash/crumbs from old fires fell through that opening while it was open:

And we were ready……as the roofers arrived soon after with supplies:
roof arrives 2

Best part of that story is that the 3-man crew showed up at 7:00 am next morning ….and as the day went, it was obvious they wouldn’t finish ….. I didn’t like that because good rain was expected sunday. On their OWN…..they decided to stay put ’cause THEY wanted a day off Sunday….there were there until 7:30 PM….and did a beautiful job….and boy were WE happy with that action….it DID rain lots Sunday afternoon…. yea!

*PICKLES! THIS IS the weekend the cousins will be here for what’s become an annual family tradition. NEW cousins this year? Joe & Stacey Smith from Kennewick…..Joe works in the wine business there….they’re lots of fun, and hopefully will have so much fun they’ll be here every year. Joe is the grandson of Aunt Merle, the last Aunt who was still making these back in 2008….she taught us how to do this stuff…… and Joe’s Aunt Nancy P was with us from year one, until she too passed away 3-4 years ago of the scary Mursa Virus, we still miss her fabulous personality, and loving spirit:

nancy 2
**THAT picture was taken in 2009…..sigh….

Getting READY for it? It’s a little work……the cost for supplies (not jars) is about $2.25 per quart, and a jar cost give/take $1.00 1.15…….so you’re not saving much money, but you’re sure getting something that makes memories, and if I may say so, are delicious. SO……OUR 30 jars are here, and each cousin brings how many jars they want to make.

Everything else? I’ve been collecting as I tour around farms, markets: so we have some beautiful just harvested garlic, dried red peppers, grape leaves out on the vine yet, canning salt, habanero & Serrano peppers ready, vinegar, leaving the Cucumbers and Dill Weed at the Pumpkin Patch awaiting our arrival tomorrow……

We’ll bring them home, get them soaking in cold water tubs overnight, cutting off the blossom end……and await the cousins saturday morning!

The new dishwasher has a hot enough rinse/dry cycle, it’s wonderful to load the jars in there…. when done, they’re ready for packing….the real fun of the day.

I can’t believe it was early June for the last post…..it’s been a VERY busy hectic hot 2 months…… whew!

Pipe Organs. A renewal of my interest.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday July 13, 2015

Having just watched a little PBS documentary about Pipe Organs in Today’s world….. I think I must comment on how/why it moves me.

***THAT being said, if you want to skip the boring Mark story, go straight to the bottom and enjoy listening to some of my favorite ORGAN Pieces, things I would have LOVED to play when I was having those thrilling experiences, sitting on the bench of some wonderful Musical Instrument playing for Church, a funeral or a wedding.

**above, This is the world famous “Wannamaker Organ” at Longwood Gardens near Philly…built by yes, “Mr” Dupont trying to out-do even his own brother’s pipe organ…and he certainly did…..

Here’s the short preview of the just released 2015 PBS documentary “Pulling Out All the Stops”…..about a world Pipe Organ Competition that ends up with 10 semi-finalists at the “Wannaker” Organ location mentioned above. It’s a truly fascinating documentary and I hope your local PBS station plays it soon:

From the age of 4-5 when I was first showing interests in Piano, and those piano lessons went on for years, and THEN the little Hammond Organ the Church had, I got quite captivated BY the organ. THEN, I learn there really ARE bigger Pipe Organs….. at 15 I got to take an Organ class that ended up our playing on the Pipe Organ at the “new” Methodist Cathedral in Boise, ID….I don’t think ANY other instrument has ever moved me as much since then.

Sure, in that little cow town, by 12-13, I was installed as the local “Church” “organist”, and then mini-region Organist, and thought THAT was fun until that Pipe Organ class later…..every time, that instrument got more complicated so did my feeling that I’ll ALWAYS love this music. THEN, just as I go on my Mormon Mission, at the farewell gathering in Salt Lake City, for that “week’s” group of new elders, I was selected to be the organist for it….and played the music on the Assembly Hall Pipe Organ on Temple Square…my, wasn’t I coming fine?

Well, that was that. I gave up religion as soon as I came home from that mission, and left music behind as well…..to get a “life” started, a career, “coming out”, all that growing up stuff.

Of course, while I lived in SLC, I “would” go to the Organ Recitals on Temple Square once in a while, and simply thrill every time I could soak up the grand depth that ONE PERSON could pull OUT of a GRAND complicated instrument like pipe organs.

Of course, I’d discovered The history of these organs by then….not just for Church! 100 years ago, they were everywhere…..big Macy’s stores, Theaters, Movie Houses, Many Private huge organs built for the uber-wealthy, and then of course, the big cathedrals. It was ONE of those big rich names from history that had an Organist hired for a recital EVERY morning at 7:30 to begin his day, in his own dining room. I’ve loved them from those years to now……

Even a couple years ago, friend Serafina, in the bay area, arranged for us to meet a friend of hers, the master organist at Stanford University…..teaches Pipe Organ there at their own cathedral. THAT was a bit of a thrill itself…..but of course, if left alone, I “could have”…been a little more daring:

organ stanfrd mrk play 2

And finally…..now, I have somehow realized, I do want to make a bigger effort to see these instruments in concert……and am going to take some time finding out where/when these recitals are held, who IS the king of the Organ Players now, and on and on. I have a little homework to do.

BUT, hoping you’ll join me, HERE are a few short clips of my favorite organ pieces….the fun ones. You might as well, IF….hah, you’ve already read THIS far. HERE ARE SOME FUN little PROGRAM LINKS TO HEAR this magnificent instrument one piece at a time:

1) Probably the world’s most famous POWER Organ Piece is Widor’s Toccata and Fugue in C Minor. It’s 6 minutes…..sit and enjoy….this guy plays this SO perfectly……(think he’s gay…hah)…Prob not, he’s simply Australian, Mr. Siegfried Franke, head organist in Melbourne’s Westminster Cathedral.

2) Same organist, but this other most beautiful Toccata, the famous: Lanquetuit, again 6 minutes of wonderful video:

3) Perhaps some Grand AMERICAN THEATER Organ for FUN? Here’s that classic, “Puttin’ On the Ritz”…from a long departed master, Walt Strony (Embedding this vid was not allowed…you must click and go see him perform….fun):


and…of course, there was even one Mormon Organist I liked a lot, who very rarely stepped outside the strict performance boundaries….. but did a delicate little cuteness for Christmas here…. John Longhurst, the Mormon Tabernacle Oranist plays “Go Tell It on the Mountain” at a christmas program there…..(**move the cursor to about 1:00 minute to hear the FUN improvisation).

AND LASTLY…..if you THINK ONLY OLD people are enjoying Organ Music….here’s your NEW GENERATION ORGANIST…..American Cameron Carpenter here playing Royal Albert Hall….his craftsmanship is quite astounding (the clip IS 17 minutes….skip first to about minute 2…..and listen only as long as you enjoy it):

So. now you know a part of me I don’t talk about much. Let me know when you hear of a great pipe organ program coming up…….I might be there!

Eve Grosbeaks, hummers, garden, wood work, bread baking, etc

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday June 1, 2015

Once again……just to use as reference for next year…..notes on happenings at 9336:


evens 1

It’s finally been OUR turn once again to host the BIG flock of Evening Grosbeaks….only ONE other time has the crowd been this big and lasted, now, for 3 months…..somewhere been 30-35 birds arrived at the neighbors 3 doors down in January…and soon moved over to our place since the feeders were in BACK away from the road….and we went to work encouraging them to stay…..4 feeders put up that THEY like… SOON, all trees around us, at the tops, in the mornings, were alive with the calling, and it was rather thrilling….so ALIVE.


They spent 3-4 weeks like this, and then sort of seemed to split up….we began to see pairs at the feeders, less calling ……but….that stayed that way only about a week or two…soon all were back, and HAVE nested…….and JUST this past week, been bringing fledges to the feeders….Fun and yet sad…..FUN to see chicks staring at all the others feeding trying to figure out how it works, and STILL nestling up to a parent who shoves them away now…..it’s a tough world kid!

So here we are June 1…….my “SUSPICION” is……once these chicks are adjusted and well, this entire flock may move on……..these birds are rather well known for being unpredictable. IF they do, glad they stayed to long, and yet, their beauty and company will be missed.

2* The Other Birds:
**The Speckled Junco….is a real beauty….most slate juncos are just varying shades of dark gray with a black head…no, this little guy has white spots everywhere on his back….and it’s been fun to see how often he’s at the feeder…..given me an inkling of how many juncos there are. I NEVER knew……since they were often here…. but since HE’s often here, it could just be a ‘few’ that are nesting around us. **the SAD story…..Juncos are ground nesters….but ONE chose to nest up in a roof corner……12′ up. Her chicks just fledged prematurely…one died landing on the sidewalk below….She called for hours there….trying to scare us away and get the chick to move. Sigh.
**Black Headed Grosbeaks…….we have 3-4 pair……and the males calling from the very tops of the tallest trees in the mornings.. . .. NICE way to say HI……I’m here, Ladies! Are you ready? **They’re nesting NOW.
**WITH our VERY WARM/DRY spring, water’s become a precious commodity even here in the rain forest…..we’re seeing some birds we rarely see come in just for water and bathing: the Western Tanager, Townsend’s Warbler, and some kind of sparrows……it’s FUN….since the best bath is right at the back window.

3* GARDEN. **As is expected now, every spring, our perennial plants came up perfectly and early since it was dry…..so we BEGAN summer with potatoes, oregano, leeks (from last fall…ready to eat now), rhubarb,

rhubarb 040915

and finally garlic and shallots are on their way. I used the little tiller to get a place for whatever we’d find at the Canby SALE May 1, and Millenium Farms Mr. Michael & Ms. Missy Stucki about the same time…..so NOW…….out there are -24- Walls-o=Water surrounding 13 tomato plants and 11 pepper plants…WHEW!


gardn may 2015

always a tiring day to get that all set up, but now it’s there and roots growing….most COOL. The NEW “trendy” tomato seems to be the PINEAPPLE EXPRESS from Michael….we’re testing that….but we have our fav’s: Stupice, San Marzano, Sungold, a Siberian experiment and a couple others….this will be fun……. ALSO WELL on their way Lettuce, Chard:


Celery, Parsley (eating it now)….that’s leaving us 3-4 rows yet to be planted and it’s TIME to get that done.
**on a sad note, the BIG tiller wouldn’t shift into gear ….I KNOW,should have found that out in March …..and taken it in then…..got it to Roy Boys who by now were all backed up, so it took a month to find out it was rusted to bits….and repair costs would be around $500. It was sent to recycle………and the little tiller finished the work out there………
**SO WHAT IS GOING TO GET PLANTED? *corn? *Tomatillo? * ???

4* Company: John, Toni, Maeve, & Leah Cunningham were here in May for a few nights….what a blast that was…….seems we may have to visit Boston someday!

5* Company: Jim Tueller & John Zimmerman visited from Florida! What a blast again, as always….seems I’ve known Jim all my life….. after all, he even held the same Missionary Jobs in the Mission Office that I did, just a couple years after I returned home……a favorite life friend! Maybe a Florida Visit will be needed too!

6* Downing TREES! 4 of them! The huge maple right at the top of the slope, and right by one old tool shed…..was rotting and leaning toward the house……….. I used my BEST personality flattery traits at the Portland City Permit Offices to get a rush job on what usually takes a month: permits are NOW required to remove any tree in Portland….this guy got me an inspector out in 2 days…….and soon we were watching Roots and Shoots Justin Keane & Crew dancing up in those tree tops getting them cut down……with ALL finish work to be done by US….. hence, their one day fee: $1600. OURs? a lot of back breaking work stacking, moving, unstacking, moving, re-stacking firewood for this winter.


……and cleaning up the slope below……and spreading a truck load of woodchips all over the yard

woodchips before

(mark’s job)……I’ve gotten the chips around, Rodger’s cleaned the slope, and now, the REAL hard work of the splitting/stacking, etc etc etc…..can be stretched over a few weeks so I won’t end up dead. What a fun kind of torture/adventure.

7* MISC good times have been plenty here…..it’s been a GREAT wonder spring……hope it continues……and can’t forget….the Julie Teal Strawberry Shortcake Party at her house out on Sauvie Island right ON the Columbia River…..with Nancy Grossenbacher, carol dubosh, and a crowd…..that’s one of the highblights of the year.

8*….oops, HUMMINGBIRD NOTE: Seems like there’s been a LOT of them, BUT…..only my luck at keeping records of how much sugar/water I cook for them for the past 8 years can prove changes in how many come……..AND………… LAST may……..there were enough hummers here to average consuming at least 2-4 cups daily MORE last year than now…….. given we have been warmer and dryer, I wish I could translate that into numbers of birds…..I AM left with some wonder if we lost a few that tried to fly up from MX through drought stricken California. Sigh.

I can only HOPE the rest of this summer is one I can keep up with…….this moving/stacking wood thing is about the first time I’ve truly felt being 68 years is not a good thing.


March? Are you kidding? and Springs about here.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday March 9, 2015

It’s an observation I feel strong about: The OLDER one gets, and yes, I’m bordering on ancient, no longer regarded among the living by the young set………..it honestly seems time speeds up…. No, I’m not desparately trying to create and finish a bucket list, just wanting to read MORE books, COOK better food, sleep restfully at night, feed the birds, get the yard ready for another summer, and get the house “chores” done…..Whew! I sometimes wonder about people I hear going BACK to work because they were so bored at home. I can only presume they have “staff” to do everything THEY should be learning to do at home.

We’re completing 3 months of the warmest weather on record for mid-winter here in oregon. Our snowpack is nothing on the mountains, and summer fire season will likely be a serious one. That being said, it HAS been very nice to keep up with house cleaning without wet mud everywhere! It also means some nature fun we might not have explored other wise. **It also meant, in JANUARY, we saw mating dives being performed by Anna’s Hummingbirds, our tough little year-round resident….it was a bit shocking…..but FUN.

Oh well. Just a quick note here, like the last few “barely-alive” blog posts….hoping SOMEDAY, I will get back to keeping this little diary…it was an enjoyable task.

**Evening Grosbeaks…..the big flock FIRST sighted here in the ‘hood in late January at the neighbors…..SURPRISINGLY, and without a hint, moved over here a little over a week ago, and it’s thrilling….a bit more costly in seed, and worth every penny. Many mornings, there are solid counts of this most beautiful migrant bird. They ARE unpredictable in moving about, we can only STILL hope 2-3 pair remain with us for nesting and raising chicks.
**Rufous Hummingbirds…..the very FIRST males were spotted at our feeder last week, right in time with the usual siting, and now there are at least one if not two, that are settling in waiting for the ladies to arrive……the poor female rufous….they do EVERY BIT of the work of nest building, raising young…the males simply show up first, set up a territory and attempt to mate with everyone when they arrive. They must a tiresome sort in the evening….they have nothing to talk about except……uh….. you know.

Cousin Mary joined us for a weekend in February of dining out, wine tasting, and a lot of fun. I am SO happy to think she will continue to come visit despite we lost her husband, my cousin, Stan, in November…. and we may very well go visit her in Idaho this summer.

So really, quiet sunny winter…..meaning a lot of yard cleanup’s already done, pruning DONE, thinning and removing weeds….getting done, it’s a NICE feeling…. WE DID get to California for the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival….great to see the family, but things are SO uncertain with the fact there’s clearly not enough water to keep all the orchards alive….some are already being cut out….old trees….sad…..

WASHER / DRYER – ! As a “guy” type, well, sort of, I always bought the “sturdy”, simple, 3-cycle machine for the modest price believing I live life simply…… Those old sturdy machines for about $350-450 each are long gone and new ones come with computer boards that I don’t think will last the 25- 30 years these things used to last. That being said, THIS time, I wondered what it would take to have a great pair of washing/drying pieces to….work in this wetter muddier climate…. By the time “R” did the research, we found the top of the line machine that would have cost about $4000 installed and done, THAT firm also makes the top of the line SEARS/KENMORE model…..with a huge washing tub…..for HALF the cost. That’s what we got. And boy am I happy….it’s the first machine big enough to wash a bed comforter at HOME, and so we’ve put this thing to the test…. I’m happy the old ones broke……this is fun (and we hauled it home and installed it ourselves!)…..

I think I’m breaking new ground on the coming to understand sourdough bread (basics)……I’m not the kind of guy who reads reads reads cookbooks, bread books and comprehends what it seems to take to “KNOW” what your making, to “KNOW” the “FEEL” of creating that dough, and learning the patience of feeding/refreshing a starter for at least 3 days to get a full wonderful flavor….but I AM and am enjoying it more all the time.

Well, this seems to expose our winter as one boring period of life……..and maybe it was, we haven’t been as social as in times past…. is that ALSO the sign of getting older? Yikes…..I better shake THAT behavior off……. and with spring knocking at the door, I don’t think that will be hard to do.

There. I did it, NOT much in content considering all the wordy stuff here. With luck things will improve…now. out to the yard…..get the work done out in the SUN! yes. I said it. SUN….. in PORTLAND…….in MARCH!


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