Last Post May? oops. very late diary entry Aug 4 …summer summary

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday August 4, 2014

It’s obvious I’m not even recording a ‘diary’ history for my OWN use anymore. Last entry was May 8. In fact, there’s just an outline here of things I might use looking back a year from now……….. awful writer I am.

May 10 forward…….

We departed for Chicago for a 2 1/2 week trip on May 17. It was a fabulous time from beginning to end. Doug & Leon hosted our stay in the beginning at their home in Elgin…….enjoying their historical home’s comforts, the local best dining choices, and talking….a lot. Grand time. We prepped with them a tiny bit for some of their friends who always join at their house as it’s right in a city Race route….met some of the heartland’s finest.

A highlight of this visit was visiting the Peggy Braetbart Nature Museum visiting Doug’s butterfly Gardens…
it was an amazing science experience with the tour of the labs where many of the creatures are raised. Whew.

Taking the river tours featuring Chicago outside architecture is a learning experience…..this is one FINELY designed city.

We trekked from there northward to River Falls, WI where Bev Hoppe held a grand dinner evening at her home for her kids, cousin Jeff and us….I will never forget that evening. We were treated as if we’d been lifelong best friends…….. We also got to see some beautifully constructed artistic wooden pieces built by Bill Hoppe, who Bev lost just a months prior….. What a night we spent! Bev and Beth took us on a hike for birding, seeing grand waterfalls at Kinninnick:
kinnikinick everyone
, rock climbers, dining at a re=built Post Office, shopping, another grand day…. Then we drove the 40 miles to Minneapolis to stay with Brenda & Thomas a couple of nights and catch up with their lives…..we’ve missed them since they returned to the heartland from Portland a few months prior. Thomas with the kids Ben & Eva:
i min walker cntr ben thm eva 3

Neither of us had ever been to WI OR MN . . . . .so everything we saw was fantastic…..those lush rolling hills of hardwood forests are beautiful.

We came back to Chicago to stay with my cousin Dennis n Nan who live in a beautiful home SO close to Soldier Field, its what you see out one of their back windows….. From here we toured the city with NAN as our guide for the architectural secrets, a day at the art institute with Tate Hunt as our guide…it was sure great to SEE Tate again….hadn’t seen him since the blogger gathering in 2005? Gavin, also a friend made through the blog world joined us from NY……what a great few days we enjoyed in Chicago.
cgi art rdg gav tate

**Don’t forget to talk about Wrigley Field……in its 100th anniversary year, yes, we took the tour.

We arrived back home to some hard work trying to get a garden started at the END of May (the penalty I can report now as I write this in August……little fruit ripe yet, it[‘s still all big huge plants)…… going to Classic Pianos who had FOUND the very jewel of a piano I’d been wanting for some time….these fabulous brothers gave me all the money I’d paid for the old tinny one back toward this new one that they had found and held for me for a month……
kawaii new 2014

a very nice little Kawaii Upright….almost sounds like the baby grand I mistakenly gave up a few years ago.

June involved everything June does in Portland…..getting geared u-p for summer…. It began with making the strawberry freezer jam! Yum. That’s followed 2 weeks later when the Cascade Delight Raspberries ripen at West Union Gardens….more jam……
berry jam 2014

Then we await the July creation of Apricot Jam, then the Triple Crown Blackbery Jam, and right NOW, aug early, I am awaiting making Peach Ginger Jam.

JULY – brought a visit from a fabulous Niece, Shauna, hubby Moe & beautiful kids Miriam & Sommer……. we had MORE fun than I could have thought so I am happy they’ll be in Utah for a year, maybe we’ll get to see them again before they had back to Ontario, Canada where Shauna’s a bus prof of history. Midieval History.

And, LATE in July, STILL trying to get that veggie garden up to speed and fighting MOLES as I’ve NEVER had to fight them before (I suppose because we haven’t sprayed anything Monsanto out in our yard for a few years….so it’s healthy, yes, but it’s a losing battle against moles… FACT, IF….the FIRST year I’d ever tried to grow a vegetable garden involved what the fight has been this year, I seriously DOUBT if I’d EVER kept gardening….. ). Well, July 18……. while watering that garden with the soaker hose, a mole tunnel collapses the corn plants I’m standing next to, and I dive to the ground hoping to plug it without losing 5′ tall plants… pinkie finger hits something hard, and I end up with a condition called: MALLET FINGER
WHICH…….will hamper what I do for 8 weeks. I went to E/R next day, and to the doctor Monday, and now have a small plastic cast to hold the finger straight (all the tendons were torn loose)….. can’t get it wet, can;t do much…. big oops.

I have this cast replaced/updated for the first time tomorrow morning.

That oops explains my poor typing, and…..during the family pickling weekend THIS coming saturday-sunday…..I hope I’ll get my share of work in. I’m prepping the kitchen and supplies now…….6 of us will be here to make 140 quarts of grandma Rays Pickles……again…… it’s now a family tradition.

Well, I’ve missed a LOT of trivial fun bits of life we enjoyed this summer, it’s been a most interesting one, and maybe someday I can get a few pics thrown in here…..but for now, this will have to do.

AUGUST……month of more home-made potato salads
potato salad
, watermelon, peach jam, home-=made ice cream, BBQ, fighting moles, watering, enjoying a summer night or two on the town, and on and on and on and on………… summer.

Are you Kidding? Mid May almost here?

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday May 8, 2014

It is hard for me to believe that time is NOT passing faster….I sure am not getting as much done as I should….and we’re leaving town in 10 days. I shouldn’t be throwing a few pics up here for my “diary”.

So, here’s a ‘hurry up and get this done’ post about my current spring thoughts.

**AT cousin Nancy’s took a picture of a very old maternal family reunion at my folks house in 1954:
ray reunion 1954
**I “believe” I can work with this in “Photoshop” or something to help it out……..lots of memories

Now. The garden finally got “tilled” with the trusty old big machine that started on the 2nd pull…. (BECAUSE….thanks, cousin Dennis! I’m using boat/marine gasoline (leaded) you buy at any boat dock)…and your machines never get gummed up again.

Looked great after it was done….
2014 grdn tlld n rows

With the ‘promise’ of warmer dry weather coming, there are a few lettuce plants out there that are almost ready to eat…..and it IS May when deer start to show up eating young plants. The deer fence went up on the “sunny” day yesterday, and I’m glad it’s done:
deer fence 2014

The Rhubarb is doing very well, first cutting already gone to Marie at John St Cafe….2nd cutting very soon:
4 rhbarb grwng fast

And I only have one little of our “mini-greenhouse” starter boxes going….this cabbage, parsley, etc was planted yesterday too:

ALONG, Skyline, our 10 year old “Kerria” is doing fantastic, beautiful small yellow “Japanese Roses” that last about 3-4 weeks:

**AND I LOVE the arrivals of our songbirds this spring…’s continuing right on track, in fact, we’re seeing MORE birds than last year…….it appears that the drought/dry winter in California was a lot easier for them to migrate through than the extremely stormy winter last year. Example? HUMMINGBIRDS: So far last year Jan to May 10? 40 quarts……consumed. THIS year? to May 10? 80 Quarts! We’ll be busy with those kids for a couple of months, for sure.

So here are some other beautiful arrivals: The American Goldfinches:
American Goldfinch

The gorgeous tiny Wilson’s Warbler has been here every day, lately with a lady friend, yes:
Wilson's Warbler male, Wilsonia pusilla, perched in pine tree.

The Yellow Rumped Warbler showed up alone, then next day, 4 of them, but now…..they’ve probably moved into the woods for mating/nesting:
yellwrmped wrblr 2

And of course, our favorite champion songbird caller, the Black Headed Grosbeaks are here, and beginning to nest already:
blck hd grsbk

We have one pair of Evening Grosbeaks who’ve decided our feeder stations are just right…..they were here about 5 days, and yesterday, there were 9 of these beautiful birds at the feeders….with some “luck” maybe we’ll have more than one pair stay around for the summer:
**above’s a “web” pic**

MAC is donating to the nest-building effort for the birds….. We captured enough of his shedding hair to fill this suet cage….and the chickadees are using enough, that THIS pic, is the 2nd time I’ve filled it:
4dog hair nest mtrl

**On the dog walk, captured this fun MOSSY tree trunk fallen over… had every appearance of being ready to come after us:

With very dear friend SHEILA ELLAM (R’s ‘best’ friend in High School) for a few days, we did tour Portland’s most famous gardens, the Rose Gardens in Washington Park. Roses weren’t out yet, but the Rhody’s and other things were at their peak here, just a few weeks before the Rose Festival in June. THERE WERE two I want IN OUR yard, but have NO clue what they are…..I believe this will take a bit of research:

Plant #1:
pdx mystery plnt 2

Plant #2:
mystry plnt 1

And that’s it……got to run…… a Pork Shoulder has been cooking in the crockpot for 10 hours…..I believe our dinner is about done. Yum.

Hummingbird note april 2014

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday April 23, 2014

for recording updates in the wildlife diary – - – here at home, 1100′ NW Portland:

Rufous Hummingbirds, according to the Audubon Society, 1st pass through ‘lightly’ late February….these birds are usually northbound migrants and will end up nesting in BC or WA.

They arrive when it’s rather cold……..after living in No. MX all winter:
1hummerbabyjun062004 009

At our address along NW Skyline, we usually see the first arrivals mid-March to 1st April…..THIS is the FIRST year I learned that females can be on a nest within 3 days of arrival! Whew! I KNOW their nests are tiny, but so are they! WE DID get activity busy enough that 3rd – 4th week of March that I was impressed…..about a quart a day of food was being consumed. Then they all seemed to disappear……as weather warmed a bit, blooming in the yard, insects, etc.

But I began to realize they HAVE been nesting………until……. April 21, evening, light rain falling and……. The feeders began to get swamped with activity….. and that repeated yesterday, getting even heavier….. and by nightfall, I recognized the fact there were juveniles in the mix…..not just Rufous, but the larger puffy Anna chicks as well……and those poor little chicks, hatch out, and find out you’re in a cool very rainy place:


SO. the FIRST mating, hatching, raising, has succeeded.. . . . parents will continue with this first batch another couple of weeks, and settle in to raise a 2nd set of kids….. TODAY, 3 QUART feeders will be placed at the heavy use locations….and a couple more feeders placed further out in the yard …near the fir trees I think nests are in.

WHEW! This is joy to watch these tiny whirrrrrring sounding birds ……
cold hummers

….and….. even though rufous will be aggressive with each other around the feeders, it seems they don’t even give recognition to the Anna’s….viewing them as NO threat to the food….they leave Anna’s alone. Learning continues here about this fine little bird.

I still love the absolute radiant beauty of the Male Rufous:
hummer rfous male nice


The grand love life of the GREAT BLUE HERONS on Sauvie.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday April 21, 2014

The beauty of Great Blue Herons. Stephen R and I went “birding” out to the great produce capitol of the area, and bird refuge wetlands…Sauvie Island friday. Though mostly disappointing ….every migrant has come and gone, winter visitors gone back to the arctic, and ‘locals’ paired up and nesting….The arrival of the barn swallows was in clear evidence near the audubon station seeing hundreds flying for insects and building nests.

HOWEVER….. The ONE bird I ALWAYS love to see during the spring are the Great Blue Herons….who live mostly single lives, but do the most extraordinary thing when deciding it’s “time” to raise chicks.

The males gather in Heron Rookeries…. The one I’m familiar with has over 50-60 nests by now….and begin “colonizing” in February picking out an existing nest (usually), begin dressing it up, and doing some fancy wing moves to entice passing females….. when a pair bond is made, they both get to work on strengthening that nest, even using sticks as bonding items passing them back and forth.

GREAT calling sounds are evident ALL day long during this period, and the trees have NO leaves, so it’s easy fabulous behavior to watch….these 5-6 pound large birds up 50-100′ in the trees making a community for safety while they raise the family. Ah, the HERON ROOKERY:
herons nstng

So, mating gets accomplished and eggs are being laid……….but that’s the most AMAZING part.

The evolution of this beautiful bird’s nesting has brilliantly and so successfully been timed so that about the time the birds (both will share nesting….)…are on eggs, the Trees where the nests are, begin LEAFING out. The grand birds are not so visible…..and in stark contrast to the period 2-3 weeks prior, it’s getting eerily quiet…not a peep.

Copyright Andrea Moberly

About a week after that pic above was taken, the nests become completely invisible cloaked behind the tree leaves. Even when birds depart or arrive …you WOULD think a bird that big would make some noise landing. NOPE. Not a peep. Using your spotting scope, you can ‘find’ a few nests with a beautiful female head sitting starkly still……and quiet.

SO THAT WAS MY POINT about this bird visit to Sauvie… NEVER fails to astound me how this large bird reproduces…..with SUCH JOY…LOUD CALLS, displays, huge nest building completely in the open…..a behavior you get to see visiting the spot in MARCH.

one heron nstng

BUT……. last Monday, the same spot is there, those 50-60 birds are THERE….an you can’t HEAR or SEE a thing without binoculars…. and my mind is again astounded about nature.

NOW……time passes……and we’ll go out again late May…….and stand by those trees. Once again, you see very little except huge birds flying in to go retrieve food for chicks, or flying back in Bringing food…. and the DIFFERENCE in this visit? Yes, you can’t see into the trees, but once again, they’re making big noise, the chicks are squawking to be fed, and it’s quite astounding again, THIS time knowing, the bird population in the tree has grown by at least 1/3 since your last visit, and YOU KNOW they’re in there…

It’s a grand day out when I get to see this nature wonder in the spring….and sometimes I DO wish I COULD see those nests knowing it would look like this with those big chicks next to the parents:

ready to fledge herons

**NO,none of these were my photos…..

Notes Apr 8 2014

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Tuesday April 8, 2014

After a fairly mild winter, March almost broke records with Rainfall…..tied for 3rd all time. Last time we had this much rain was March 1957.

So, now, spring is exploding after the ground got saturated with mild temps…..(sorry, Midwest with your hellish winter)….. What’s up? What isn’t up is more like it. Veggies: Potatoes, chilves, green onion, leeks, shallots, oregano, fennel….with lettuce, parsley planted. NO seeds started yet, but that get done soon….. I have the plastic mini-mini greenhouse bins ready.

Currants are blooming….bees are everywhere. Hummingbirds have disappeared within 3 weeks of arrival……ALREADY nesting I presume AND eating lots of insects now that they’re out.

Dandelion Patrol! IS big time now, and I’m almost at the point of…..sorry birds, I may have to spray a bit of the lawn….since I’m getting weary of digging out the roots of those pests…..the new neighbors don’t help much with a mammoth dandelion lawn………. they’re new here, so we’ll give ‘em one more year to, uh……. settle in.

I feel some energy coming back. I don’t remember a winter where long gray damp days got to me by March 1……I suppose last year’s dry warmer spring got to me.

We have enjoyed lots of theater the last few weeks, and will be going to Othello this Sunday. We’ve dined out a bunch, but spent most of our entertainment hours at home. I worry I AM again as Rodger’s accused me of doing….I’m NOT as ambitious as I used to be, there’s NO question.

Even Mac’s not QUITE as ambitious as he once was….at 9 1/2….it’s not as hard to keep him exercised and worn out.

TO DO LIST April 2014 left: 1) Plant some seedlings ….that should be ready for transplant mid-May 2) Finish thinning out house clutter, a project started in February…..and once things got comfortably thinned enough to navigate, the cleaning stopped. woops….

So, in a very short note, here is spring 2014….and I’m getting back in shape. Not easily…so MUCh yard work yesterday, I’m sore and tired today…….we’ll keep at it!

FUN NOTE: A tiny crew of 2 plus 2 stars (including Grimm Nick -David Guintoli) of the TV series GRIMM we’re preparing to film a scene as we walked back up on Firelane 10 in Forest Park….. I didn’t dare just take the pic while they were looking at us….so did this from a distance….but I did offer, “Hey…I can get my dog over there, he can probably solve whatever crime scene you’ve got there.” ….they laughed:
4grimm filming

YES, Meeker Raspberries are healthily up, and spreading a bit, yes:
4raspbry grows 4 2 14

Yes, Finnish Fingerlins, and red potatoes are back as always….and there’s enough starts out there we will be sharing some:
taters 4 7 2014 are up

Always a sign of spring: Rhubarb!
4rhubarb big 4 2

mar 8 2014 winter weakens a grip & a Rufous arrives.

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest,Portland by mark Saturday March 8, 2014

A quick note or two. Winter in the Midwest through to New england have been a tortured test of wills…..below 0 temps, FEET of snowstorms, over and over… complaining of a small drought in PAC NW Oregon, seems whiny. I’m just noting, yes, we have been lucky, but we have needed more rain. That began the last couple days of February and continued up to now, March 8…..WITH that, temps ARE warming for us…. enough that the lawn HAS begun to green up, grow enough to get out the winter rested lawn tractor, start it, MOW about 1/2 the lawn….. fertilize it, put down what ‘ferrous iron’ I had left, and now wait for it to truly get a deep green and grow. Doing all that let’s you observe what’s happening in the yard March 1:

1) TEMPS. Two days in the last 4 were over 60, a bit warm for now, but enough that our Orchard (Mason) Bees, all resting in their little posts will begin to move in their cells, and hatch….OUT came the first 3-4 blocks…and are now awaiting bee hatching:

bee homes mar 2014

2) What will they dine on? NO buds on any fruit tree yet….it’s been too cold for that…..but….there’s hope. This one rhody like plant is full of blooms:
flwrng shrub mar 2014

3) The CURRANTS seem like they’ll be next, and those are fragrant rich pollinators:
currants 2 2014

4) Wait a minute, that hellebore has been ‘sort-of-blooming’ all winter, and now looks like it has pollen to share:
hellebore mar 2014

Then the elderberries, raspberries and apple trees within a month……

****JUST yesterday, the very FIRST Male Rufous Hummingbird was seen feeding, feeding, and feeding on the back feeder…..Seems an early arrival, and likely migrant that would continue north…..but when I scared him from that feeder accidentally, he flew immediately around the house to the office window, where, all summer, a feeder sits….he stared a while….seems to me he KNEW where he was. Today, he’s been back 2-3 times feeding. either he’s resting up for his next trip segment north, or he’s here setting up territory already. Nonetheless, 2 fresh quarts of food were fixed immediately, and now 4 feeders are awaiting more arrivals….we LOVE the time the Rufous are here…..malerufous

And the 5 maturing Hydrangeas will then be in bloom, a plant I LOVE because those blooms last a LONG time:
hydrangea mar 2014

Well. Looks like these little calm bees will be busy till June when they’ll go back to bed again and wait the rest of the year out till NEXT spring. Whew! Short busy life……Good thing we bought new empty little bee hive tunnel posts for this year….they’re ready.

Other things are showing signs of surviving the frosty winter.

fall GARLIC plantings are up:
baby garlic mar 2014

Our Hemlock planted some 10 years ago, but losing a battle every winter with the male Bucks when in their rut as they have scraped this little thing almost bare more than once… finally winning the battle and truly at 9-10′ high, I think, it’s going to be a keeper:
hemlock mar 2014

WELL…’s been a frosty, dry winter up to now. AND, yes, compared Portlanders living at 40′ elevation, we’re two weeks behind…. BUT I’ve come to love this 1000′ elevation location….it’s unique, quiet, and let’s you be with the nature all around us very easily. After 15 years, I somehow have a strong feeling with temps nearing or passing 60, with the longer light days, and rain filling up the dry places, this yard will look 100% different within 3-4 weeks…. I never knew how much I loved spring until I got so intimately acquainted with this little piece of land in the rain forest of the Pacific NW these last 15 years. . . . .


Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday February 25, 2014

About a year ago, our neighbor, very nice 29 yr old guy with his own plumbing business (his “family’s” business that he runs)…. took on a Rottweiler “show-quality” pup that his girlfriend had wanted, so Aaron got her “Gator”….a gorgeous animal. Just before the dog arrived, Angie passed away….. Since he runs 90% of the family business, Aaron had NO time for the dog, and really no time to deal with finding a home. That went on for this past year.

We would go out to find him in the back yard so lonesome…..when you would go up to the fence, he would lean into the fence with all his weight….. hoping you would rub that fur…..he quickly learned to sit for a ‘cookie’ now and then. Let out twice a day for all this time, he spent his indoor time in a penned space just off the kitchen….. so the morning outdoor time was about 5:30 am before aaron left, and then about 4:00 – 5:00 when Aaron got home….

As time went along, I finally began to hint ….wondering if he had begun to accept this could not continue for the dog….. and about 3 months ago, began to talk about the loss of Angie, and that he was probably hanging on to a few things because her death was unexpected and sudden. BUT, he knew he ‘had’ to do something.

After that, I began to wonder what options there were for rescuing a big Rottweiler ….. would anyone want this large untrained lonely dog now? He’d be handful ….. but without saying anything I took his lonely pic:

gator 12 1 2013

AND…..submitted a little ‘ad’ in a dog rescue site just to see. The response was big……6-8 total hopefuls to adopt a rottie, and 3-4 absolutely sounded perfect…..3 here in Portland, the first responder near Boise, ID. I printed them out with my ad, and just “showed” them to Aaron…..saying, what I’d done, and please don’t feel pressure, but WHEN you really think the time is right, we can run this ad again……. He took the papers…….. and that was that.

I responded to the woman from Boise, ID….that looked like it wasn’t going to happen at least now.

WELL. Two months later, Aaron had recovered himself more and more, he showed up asking for the phone number of the woman from Boise! I couldn’t believe it! She lives on 40 acres with family on adjoining farms…. I assumed she’d already found a dog.

Things paid off. Mikki was still waiting …… Aaron was ready …….. they met halfway between Portland and Boise Sunday to do the meet-greet…..and exchange if all was good. Aaron met them, opened the crate, Mikki said, “Oh shit, he’s a BEAST!” . . . . Before Aaron could ask if that’s bad or good, she then said, “He’s beautiful…I had NO idea what kind of Rottweiler you’d be bringing but this is a show dog. I’m going to love him, he’ll be going EVERYWHERE I go…..” Gator was placed in her Jeep wagon……where he immediately laid down….seeming content. Whew!

This was a lesson I learned in such a personal way…… what was that? “PUT GOOD THINGS OUT THERE…….and just once in a while, they work out.” . . . . . This seems to have worked out in about as wonderful a way as possible. She has already texted him twice with pics, and a happy new owner. Lucky is GATOR!

winter 2013 . . ..a changing neighborhood

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday February 3, 2014

Haven’t noted a thing here since november. Wow. I guess KNOWING that the site hosting these little diary writeups known as Scuff Productions….WILL go away sometime, and the modern version of blogging (the FB) have taken me out of the habit of writing here. I think writing here is a lot more helpful to me, it’s ALWAYS nice in the spring to look back a prior spring and note the differences in what weather we were living with then vs right “now”… also I can note house changes, lives, etc. On Facebook….seems one-liners are all that’s wanted…. I’ve become more dis-connected with that medium this winter than I expected. And. I think that trend’s going to continue…..after all, I’m NOT the witty guy others seem to be.

So. Why am I here today? Because it’s snowing out of this window right now? No, but it is….probably will for half hour. Nice.

November 14…..I recorded the end of the growing season markers in the yard. In December, we had a bit of an arctic freeze (well, a freeze for a rainforest climate)…..with teens at night for over a week…here was one casualty…I always feel sorry for these guys….NO body fat….NO insulation….
dying hmngbrd

NO snow, ice, NO moisture. DROUGHT conditions exist in Oregon that started last summer…… From the beginning of the water “year” (Oct 1 to Oct 1)….we are currently 15″ down on what we should be….If we hike in Forest Park or Drive Highway 30 along it’s bottom elevation borders, there are NO streams running off the hills that should be full flowing in February. Farmers in SE Oregon may have a disaster year….. as will ALL of California. The disaster that awaits California is impossible for me to imagine……

Our holidays were nice…..and for what’s become almost standard, on Thanksgiving day itself, we enjoyed just being home, cooking a holiday dinner. Almost the same as Turkey Dinners we enjoyed from our parents when we WERE kids…’s become a restful, wonderful holiday. The period around it is unbelievable though isn’t it? Shopping, Cleaning House, Decorating House, Setting up a Christmas Tree….decorating it alone takes days…. preparing foods for a likely neighborhood gathering, Christmas Cards, oh yes, wrapping…. ALL of it. Whew!

This year, it became worth it though, our neighborhood gathering here at the house seemed perfect…..I think part of that is that we’ve all lived around each other so long, it’s not hard to talk for a while ….we know too much about each other. Nathan & Melanie took the prize though, he spent the afternoon (unknown to us), grilling lots of bacon wrapped treats –3 or 4 kinds….and brought them along…..there was a LOT of food when we added his trays to our bits and bites.

One lesson learned though: BECAUSE of the new families that have been moving in along the hilltop near us, and at the suggestion of Jen & Maria, we held this party very early with the idea that folks with little kids can go….. and be home in time to get the kids to bed early. So. We said, come at 4:00 PM……until whenever….. that changes the dynamic a little, since no one has had supper of course….. EVERYONE ATE like it was “suppertime”
our xmas prty 2013 h
as soon as they got here, and by 7:00, everyone had left. Not only that, but when invites were responded to, Only one of the four couples with kids invited even came….. It didn’t last long enough to even sing around the piano a bit. This means next years party will start at 7:00 PM. The “normal” time it always started.

This piano that has been a disappointment, is awaiting replacement
(at the right price)…..”Classic Pianos” here, well, the sons of the owners at least, seem to have taken a liking to us, and are ‘watching’ for the ‘right’ piano to come in, and will trade us up… us full price paid for this one….. I look forward to it. This piano sounded okay at the store …..but completely tinny here….. it can’t stay. . … maybe it was a good thing we did NOT sing.

So, Christmas was quiet and nice……….. the tree up in the ‘new’ Dining Room
our xmas prty 2013 f
(originally built as the Living Room….but with the new family room in the back, we’ve moved things around in this busy year of new floors, trim, furniture, etc. Looking forward to enjoying the house all anew this year.

And back to the weather. I thought of updating this a tiny bit today since we have, for Portland, a little weather event coming this week: Severe drops to the teens at night and below freezing in the daytime at least until Saturday when we’ll probably see snow….. It feels seriously whiny to even mention our ‘event’ when the entire midwest, east, and south have seen severe arctic blasts, crippling snow, ice and more……. but remember, I’m noting this for my own year-to-year comparison on how our yard recovers from winter. Already, crocus and other little plant starts are UP…..some little baby buds on a few trees…. a few nights in the teens, and our spring may turn out completely different. . . .

I’m accompanying a friend to chemo treatments a few times. Stephen was diagnosed 3-4 months ago with lymph cancer of the spine and in the late stages of it. As a man of the arts, he’s lived on the wise thrifty side of life, so has no car…..I could give that ride and be happy to do it as some of his other friends have done. They put him on a severe treatment schedule….EVERY DAY for the first two weeks….. then, as he gets sick from the chemo, he’s given a week or two break……in-between all that, his blood has had to be transfused a couple of times requiring some hospital time. It’s been interesting to get to know Stephen in this light….. I’ve always known he was brilliant, a brilliant creative writer, and a man who will tell you honestly what he things, NO being nice. It’s been rewarding to have this experience, and hopeful when he was told right at Christmas the tumors are shrinking……. but what a balance! Chemo, trying to continue to eat, exercise, and keep some weight on…..he’s showing how strong his character really is. My salute goes this winter to Stephen!

Finally, January became the month to clean out what almost have become pathways in two back rooms… boxes from relatives long gone, cookbooks, mementos, etc…..our OWN detritus that’s piled up over the years…..keeping some things at first not knowing what it would be like living here, and on and on. Well, we finally had to make room. It’s been a VERY busy month with attention on separating all this out, trips to local charities, finding out “which” relative truly WOULD want to have certain items, and finally shipping some. Still a bit more to go. Whew! It’s been exhausting…..but it got me out of the annual hated winter “tree pruning” task …….well, up to this week. I have apple tree almost done…..and that was 3 weeks ago….nothing since then.

And now……that task must be finished. Maybe I would have kept my focus on pruning had I thought the arctic weather WAS coming in for a visit……. BUT. It’s a good time for the tree at least…… so off we go……coats, long-johns, gloves, hats, ladders, tools….well, IF it quits snowing pretty soon……………..
snow feb 3 2014 b

November. Hello real fall, bye Indian Summer

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday November 14, 2013

Just a few shots of fall beauty… least for me. We’ve been too busy on house projects to think about anything fun or exciting….but I still love the color here.

The garden is finally at rest…a LONG dry fall led to an extra deep layer of leaves being placed here as the winter blanket:

Not completely without food, MAC has been at attention more than once standing right here (and yes, caught 2x digging) for his favorite garden vegetable, the mighty carrots:

We have 2 apple trees…the Gravenstein ripens in August, this Granny Smith in October…so we get apples for 3 months… NO, we didn’t eat very many, and as these fall, deer and/or a coyote wanter through every day or two and pick up what’s on the ground:

The gravenstein’s left ON the tree are for birds and squirrels now. They’re pretty soft and rotten, but it sure doesn’t stop birds and squirrels from getting a meal here…

And in the back yard side, along the point the drop-off begins…. when we cut the maples 10 years ago leaving the high stumps to rot and eventually fill with bugs for woodpeckers, we ALSO planted a Pine Tree…. Now, 10 years later, it’s STILL small, and I’m wondering what happens first…does it catch up to the height of the stumps BEFORE they fall or not:

And, 20′ away, right off the deck we finally planted a SEQUOIA tree from the pot it’s been in for 10 years….and no, there’s nothing wrong with it. We bought it as soon as we heard that it IS: Deciduous….I’d never heard of that in a Sequoia, so we’ve been watching it’s beautiful light green needles turn brown every fall and drop….it’s a beautiful tree:

I’ve always loved that back part of the deck…looking at the birdbath, feeders, trees, and that slope:

And so much for November. WILL we get motivated to be ready for December?

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