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.....so 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: 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: 3) The CURRANTS seem like they'll be next, and those are fragrant rich pollinators: 4) Wait a minute, that hellebore has been 'sort-of-blooming' all winter, and now looks like it has pollen to share: 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..... And the 5 maturing Hydrangeas will then be in bloom, a plant I LOVE because those blooms last a LONG time: 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: 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.....is finally winning the battle and truly at 9-10' high, I think, it's going to be a keeper: WELL.....it'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. . . . .
We woke up to a low thick marine layer of clouds. I grabbed the el-cheepo camera thinking the light THIS day would be good for pics, and actually show what kind of rich light the park usually displays in the spring when EVERYTHING is green. We leave Skyline here....trespassing across Dave's side road....where the little road ends, Forest Park begins: Some places are SO full of growth, not much light is there on a cloudy day: And further down, things just get rich and green: On this walk, we went along Firelane 10......nice vistas, not sure this cheapo camera shows that: Still a few trees left waiting for leafing out: And, Lower Newton Road..... Newton Road, on the return: **we're listening here to Pileateds calling from the top of an old growth cedar...that has long seemed to be telegraph central here....SO tall, the top 40' is dead...and always being used as a calling point... And finally going homeward bound, leaving Newton, we're back on the little 'private' trail from Arnie's house to Skyline..... Peter and Jeanne, I'm sure, are discussing Mystical Philosophy: Oh well......not much said, just what a rain forest looks like in mid-spring.....w/o rain, and before anything dries out......nothing spectacular.
I couldn't let the FROST 2013 event pass without a comment or two and a few of the pics captured.....I'm trying to make this short. From the last birding trip in November....I ALWAYS love what this big farm does with two old ancient farm trucks all summer long....from season to season, whatever's at its peak is placed into the beds of these trucks...here was the last one of the year: Here, from our quick trip to Multnomah Falls with pal Doug Taron visiting from Chicago, we passed fun ice spots in the gorge.....some of the hillsides looked like a movie set: At a point we stopped to absorb a small stream almost completely frozen from high cliffs to the bottom...I saw a plaque honoring this person who donated the land right here to the Gorge....the MYSTERY about it was the old stone fireplace that adjoined this spot....it made me wish I could have seen the old place when the family as living there: And here that was....almost lost now in moss, green, and decay....it just called for a story to me: And here was that iced over little creek..... And here WAS gorgeous Multnomah Falls getting all seized up in ice: another view: (the wonder of this place is NO less magnificent in winter than it is in summer) The pond below the first stream break under the high bridge...almost completely iced over: And the BASE of the falls: ***The blowing wind had that bridge completely iced ....I was surprised the Forest Svc was letting anyone up here: Another iced over creek....that ONLY kept flowing because it covered a LOT of ground in a short time: And friend Doug Taron, shivering in front of the Falls in the icy wind: And now for a couple fill-er pics from the winter: Mark's date at the last Grateful Dead show: (Thanks, Nancy....) This IS MAC swimming at 30 degrees down at the pier in St Johns....doesn't care if it's 20 or 80: WET and now shivering yet: When we have these cold periods, I always kind of like just knowing this is out there, dry, covered, and ready to go....it's the remnants of our big old fir from 2011: MY FAVORITE VIEW THIS WEEK from our BACK YARD, right BY the woodshed: The LAST of the Gravenstein apples are NOT going to waste....the wintering-over (from Alaska)Varied Thrushes are devouring them like crazy right now since the ground is too frozen for them to grab some grains: And other favorite, the limbs of the big FIR out in front by the garden just look magic: The tree branches right by the garage: AND NOW......we tried out this area rug in the new dining room......it was returned.....TOO much red: And our tiny little Christmas tree this year....had to be moved because of the new wood stove, so NO space as we've always had for something grand...."downsizing": AND ICED NW Skyline Blvd....was solid BLACK ICE this morning.......car wrecks, you name it, it happened....and by 10:30, it was all melted:
Fall went on a respectfully long time it seems across much of the country. We kept snapping pics because fall colors have never been so brilliant so long. But with the first REAL winter RAINS in the forecast, and most leaves exiting the trees, I grabbed the android a couple days ago to snap a few "bye" pics around the place or on the trail to say "bye" to our unusual fall. **pic quality suffered a bit** it was foggy in places. **I can COUNT the last Gravenstein apples left (4). All that fell have fed deer & coyotes. These last four are feeding birds....I love it: I am quite sure it's birds..... squirrels would have pulled too hard and they'd have fallen. This is delicate eating: But, at least the Granny Smith tree is now about ripe. A pie in December? Once again, as in the spring post, at the top of the trail, we start down Dave's little road....the leaves WERE SO THICK I took the mower / bagger to them twice in the last 2 weeks. This is what was left 2 days ago....the leaves are almost ALL gone off the tree today: Then on to Arnie's stretch of the trail where several perfectly healthy Vine Maples seem to enjoy their warm quilt of MOSS: At the bottom, I've mentioned the mammothly tall cedar...here's looking up from the bottom...to PROVE it IS alive. What's interesting, the top 40 feet of this tree sits ABOVE those branches as dead as can be...and serves as a feeding/calling post for EVERY woodpecker in the area: MOSS! IT WAS a rather cool summer, not too dry . . .so the MOSS has hung on....can you imagine what this will look like in the spring? MORE MOSS....it's beautiful right now: And some of it's LONG: And as you walk BY the MOSSY branches, the leaves on the trail make a lovely carpet: If you're in the right place, thin branches look good under moss: The Newton Fire Lane ...... One of the first markers one reaches from OUR starting point is this old growth tree with MilePost 25 1/4 on it. This means you are 25 miles from the Wildwood trail start in MacCleay Park downtown: Just this week, as some wind began prior to this incoming BIG storm, three week thin trees came down.... IN a park like THIS, they don't leave much of a mark: One Ravine view is a natural pic place....taken by one of the few OLD growth Fir trees left after the 1940's logging: A Fall Trail view; Trail view 2: And on to beginning a few things for the weekend dining................. Sauteed Sprouts....stir-fried w/onion/garlic/brown sugar / touch of peppers & soy, YUM: Roasted Asparagus: Tomorrow.....Winter Garden Salad, Rodger's Pies, and more and more. Tis the season for family and friends.
Awakening to foggy morning, dark later, cooler days, shorter light spans, the garden is doomed. Until then, however, busy busy busy, yes, like the ant and the grasshopper! I wanted to save some of this 2011 Sept memory to see NEXT year late-summer ..... just in case THAT year's harvest is a bust. Hah. Some things are about done....The herb row for one (except for the fennel seeds that are JUST beginning to form: ***These will be harvested in about a month....dried slowly, and we'll have a big supply ready*** Bruce and Kevin? Ready for your shipment? ) The Oregano (closest) has been harvested, dried, and is being used in salsa. Thyme awaits cutting for drying, and the celery will be around until November for kitchen use: On the other end, things ARE looking perhaps a bit ragged now, but somewhere in this picture there are hundreds of hot peppers that, will either be used fresh, or when it gets some colder, will be cut and dried for use through the year: ***The cilantro in that pic IS going to seed....I'll have enough out of that to keep us in the herb through next summer and beyond. The NEW HARVEST BEGINNING TODAY? CORN! Here's the Corn Chowder ready for supper tonight: **and there's a big bowl of sauteed fresh corn to add to that if one wants ......BODACIOUS corn! VERY Sweet. There is ONE HUGE thing making the garden still look spectacular. SUNFLOWERS. It truly is a beautiful space right now....FULL of BEES everywhere. Here's the big view: Nice! Things HAVE been coming along nicely....... the Sungolds will STILL be giving up those little golden gems for a couple weeks at least: The Tomatillos will ALSO continue to ripen perhaps into the 1st of October, and I'll probably have enough to make another double batch by Friday: BUT....for The last 3-4 days, besides what we've eaten and given away, or taken to a dinner, THESE are ON the island awaiting some attention....... ***AND PLEASE, CLICK on the PICTURE.....You MUST see it in its FULL POSE!!!!**** **NOTE: Tomorrow nite, Rodger will make a fabulous "sauce" with some, and I'll roast the others. Some of his sauce will be in the freezer with the roasted ones. . Other than that we have FINALLY made SERIOUS progress about cleaning up the downed tree mess. Remember all those stump pieces in the yard: Here's that same view now: Lookin' better, but will need to re-seed the lawn in the fall: Then, there were TWO rows of big branches to saw, split, move, and stack: . NOW, there's ONE left that will be gone by weekend: Must post..... many other tasks of catch-up to do still........... **NOTE here: Wednesday, weather appears to seriously be downgrading . .. not bad, but not good enough to ripen tomatoes further..... Must plan on freezing corn next.
* As we came back out of the park on the way home.......... Right in the parking lot, OWL MAN (a scientist, who's been studying the progress of owl growth inside the park for some time, was lecturing to a group. **Mark's history with Owl Man: One morning OUR little walk-group was hearing OWL Hoots as we descended Newton Rd to get to the trails. I, being SO famous for making owl hoots, hah, began answering back to see what the owl would respond with....... Hoots came back, and I kept answering, MOST coollll....... As we neared the lot, I saw a guy nearing the lot also with packs, etc. I asked him if he'd "heard" the OWL calls in an excited birding guy way, to which he responded that he WAS the Owl Scientist, and those were HIS calls to a Pygmy Owl he'd been listening to, and that MY sad imitations, my "karaoke" of owl hoots wasn't fooling anybody, in fact, his Pygmy Owl was NOT amused....... THAT was how I met Owl Man..... Nonetheless, I continue to walk in the park, and today, took a few cheap shots of a few nature items I noticed this day in july......they're posted in random order..... (and, most can be enlarged w/a click.....I felt a larger pic on some view points was worth it)...... The kids and dogs await for me to catch up (embiggen this picture for a better feel:) . Another corner, one of many on the hike...... . There's always a few winter trees w/stumps down that get lost during our WET winters: This tree will take years to finally decay: . Here's very last remains of a tree whose little bottom shell remains standing......all the rest now forest compost. Of course, one could only guess how many years ago the top fell over: . A favorite early summer week....the small native tiger lilies bloom, and this year, there's lots of em: . If you're starving, the salmonberries are beginning to ripen....make sure you let 'em get soft/bright....they can be bitter: . . One of many scenic little ravines, and in winter, every one has a little stream in it: . Here's a tree that began its life growing out of a decaying old log....that old "nurse" log still giving some support..... . Another old nurse log....this one LONG gone, and a lot of weight now on those roots: . . Love the old growth trees that get enough just-right setting to grow moss: . There ARE a FEW old growth trees still in the park....most lost to logging just before the place was established as a park 70 years ago: . and here, as in many corner turns/ravines of the trail....an offshoot little trail goes UP the ravine....and is probably used by many animals at night..... for.... ?? . The Vine Maples grow well in the shade, hence: they develop moss that is there all year, just gets a little dried out during the summer. It's STILL nice stuff: . Nice Wildwood Trail markers? Ev 1/4 - 1/2 mile ......a tree tells you just how far you are from City Center, er, rather, the START of the Wildwood near downtown: . Here's a clump of Maple trees...obviously started when the old one died out....now as they mature, lucky they're all alive as they compete below and above ground for space, light, soil, water: . As Mac and I head home, ev day, we're kinda happy to reach this point.....we're only about 3 blocks from home now, and some water, or breakfast maybe: And summer is on.................The BIRD CALLING is strong now.....I can tell OTHER birds are fledging young besides robins. ......
Flowering plants everywhere in the NW have been about 2 weeks late, just like the arrival of Songbirds this year. That's NO different here at 1000' elevation near the Columbia Gorge.... MOST Portlanders reside near 100' elevation, so they not only have better trigger weather for jump-starting plant growth WHEN things warm up, they also have...... our Topsoil after these millions of years of landslides and rain! But that's a story for another time. ha. The miracle began happening about mid-June. Yes, temps remained cool, but began to seriously get dryer, and lighter. They passed the 60 mark, and warmer at night. Plants began to "believe" they'd live. They began to fight OFF the slugs (Hey, I'm talkin' to YOU: Dahlias!). In the 3 weeks since, even Rodger recovered from his S. A. D., and in the last WEEK, as temps rose into the high 70's, he began to organize the deck plants. I peaked around the yard this morning with the little "free-gift" camera, so see just "where" things are........(where the veg garden is, will be a post tomorrow)......and REALIZED.....things are doing very nicely. SOME places like the berm we began a few years ago are beginning to look "nice" if I may claim that term...... when it started, it was piles of CLAY SOIL..... oh well, it's now very much alive. I decided to do my amateur pic shoot after we sat yesterday evening on the deck in 85 degree air, as birds/squirrels came in to feed.... and decided I really loved where I lived.......... From this end of the deck, you're looking toward what would be downtown Portland if you could see that far.... the TALL tree stumps have been discussed many times, but are finally paying off....a very large beautiful Pileated Woodpecker is regularly visiting the yard dining on several old stumps we have and on these tall maples left standing, "Thanks, Nancy for the lesson." at least 10 years ago: Looking straight out from my chair, my buddy, Mr. Douglas Squirrel was happily enjoying dinner..... ALL the Flower Pots look beautiful, RODGER...... Rodger always gives this little Mr Crazy-Pot a wig in the summer: I have always love the glass head too.........it can fit anywhere....... If I walk OUT the family room onto the deck, just to the right you pass this wonderful hanging basket, the double Fucshia (note my dear hummer feeder behind it, one of 8 in the yard): walking further out, there's the one LAST lovely Iris blooming, and I love it more than any other...the DEEP Purple bloom is pretty elegant (sorry about the focus): Just inside the woodshed, you can see a project DUE UP soon will be to get or cut wood and get it stacked in here for next winter. But in the meantime, I have BAY LEAVES drying here....just trimmed from the plant in the garden: Moving toward the driveway, the BERM growth is taking off....the vinca variety has been SLOW to get started but now even covering my "dead looking" grass I really like....but in total, it finally looks all alive: And from the south side, it looks even better (lots of different things were planted here as experiments just to see if they "would" or "could" grow up here, most have survived): Showing off is the peony, it must have LOVED this cold wet spring (I still hate that they last such a short time): On down by the road, a nice smoky Tree Rose (thanks, Nancy........ many things in this yard we owe to her sharing from her place) is blooming...the tiny pale blooms aren't fancy, no, but they're hardy, and nicely balance the smoky/dusky leaves: If you moved along the front by the road, it's nice to see most of my little fir trees still struggling along, they always seem SO slow to grow the first ten years...... but we'll be able to get rid of filberts in 3-5 years....I can see it coming........ at LEAST the Elderberries are ripening, so MORE fun birds will be dining here we don't get to see too often: Tanagers, Waxwings, etc....I saw a grosbeak dining here yesterday: Back at the house, our roses have suffered in the cold/wet, but a few are beginning to bloom, I like this yellow one: The Clematis is always dramatic, and they're now about 3 weeks old: If you run out of things to do, ha, you can always "de-flower" ha, the rhodies.....it encourages growth.......
We were honored by the visit of a couple of blogger/friends from New Hampshire we'd never really met (other than through friends we "have" met). They were here a week to visit Will's daughter in Salem, and on the way home, they stayed the weekend with us. From the moment they arrived, the talks began, and we had a fabulous time. Will & Fritz were curious about the spots tourists "don't" see in Portland. That's always an enjoyable day for US, so Will and Fritz got buckled in for a fun day. . . . (others may remember one or two of these spots.. . . .) As we often do on a visitor inspired weekend, a brunch was in order, and one of our favorites is just down the hill: *John Street Cafe* **You want "neighborhood" home cooked food? This is it! If you don't want an hour wait though, you'd best be there early. NO ONE I have ever met can make an omelet like Marie.......here's our favorite, the Omelet de Javo: From there, a nice drive along the Willamette Bluff to eye a city view, and a drive to the infamous but family run *Portland Memorial* The building's on a hillside, so from the street side you enter on the 5th floor....(10 floors)...and will see expanses like this often: Not to mention many paid little sites like this little aging fountain: Sure, some think it's a bit creepy, but what it IS, envelops you ..... I guarantee it. Just a short jaunt away is the Sellwood neighborhood with antiques, curious, nibbles, and atmosphere. We wandered a bit through the antique mall called: *Stars Antiques* Just "some" blocks away, and you've moved from the trendy Sellwood Neighborhood, up through East Moreland going by Reed College.... a lovely spot where it has been rumored, you'd likely be able to find some Mariwhana rather easily.....yes, a liberal college. But, we move on the trendy SE Hawthorne to simply show Will & Fritz the fabulous: *The Back Stage Bar* IT IS part of the famous old restored Baghdad Theater, but is the part where the back stages were...the ceilings seem so high you wouldn't dare be up there with the stage sets: IT IS a great spot to meet friends, play a little pool and try ti figure out who all the theater/celebrity greats are painted on the massive east wall....part of history. From here, it's a mere few blocks to try to drive through a 100 year old neighborhood of beautiful old craftsman homes....and not get lost what with all the diagonal roadways, central flower parks, but it's a worthy spot to see: *Ladd's Addition* And, if you're there, don't miss a peek at the lovely building on Spruce that houses a cultish group called: "I Am Sanctuary" . . here's a street view of the spot (love the city rose gardens in this part of town): *I am Sanctuary* The afternoon is moving on, and the boys were interesting seeing a place that takes in ANY/ALL pieces from old homes that were either remodeled or replaced, and resells the used parts.....over on trendy Mississippi street, this is a marvelous building to wander through: *The Rebuilder's Center* As our timepiece ticked toward the magic dining hour, we made a last stop at an artists gallery, where OLD recycled wood is made into new REAL furniture, some lovely pieces can be seen here: *Eco Furniture* From the front, it's not a place you'd likely even go into: . . .. .but it is worth a view. Finally! We'd been bragging out dining at Clyde Common, the restaurant we'd just fined at with Bill Hawley when he was here...(thanks, Bill!!).....and we "knew" we needed to be there early, else there'd be a LONG wait to dine..... So, we hurried over to Stark St to inquire for room at the dining tables of: *Clyde Common Restaurant* We were NOT disappointed. .... ALL of us enjoyed items NEW on the menu, shared plates, a lovely bottle of LaCrotta Wine, and a couple of fabulous desserts. From there, home seemed a good place to relax where we chatted for another couple of hours before the boys deemed it time to prepare for their PDX departure the next morning. Of COURSE, we had to end the evening with a bowl of the last-of-the-season batch of Home-made Raspberry Ice Cream: *Raspberry Ice Cream*. That recipe was posted here *Raspberry Ice Cream* This was a fabulous weekend shared with two folks we'd known only from the blog world. . . this has illuminated the value once again for US, anyway, how this web world can open doors, and it is much easier finding people you have lots in common with than it ever was. For these two, everyone said we'd get along, but I had no idea how much in common we'd share, and how much fun this would be. Maybe we'll have a reason to visit New England, eh?
From our local independent paper, the Willamette Week, this letter was printed. It is an unromanticized, rather honest tiny description of the economic vacuum that exists here. IF you lived here, you'd be laughing seriously, if that's possible: A Great Place To Live (And Die) That was a fine article on Portland and WW in the last 3 1/2 decades. It looks like you’ll soon be replacing The Oregonian as Portland’s primary daily. I think Bud Clark and Sam Adams typify Portland’s quirky image—not dirty like Chicago, or wealthy like Manhattan, but funny like Disneyland. It occasionally wants to be taken seriously as a fashion-forward environmentalist’s utopia, or a place where real industry would come, but in the end, its Willamette is no better than Kucinich’s burning Cuyahoga, its infrastructure is crumbling, and its leaders are too busy chasing (underage) tail to care. Portland is now, a great weekend trip for a family from Seattle or San Francisco, a hip town for slackers looking to score meth and beg for money on the street corners, and probably the quintessential locale for upscale California retirees to move to, buy a dog and a condo, live for a few years, and then die. The truth is we have no real industries except for health care and hospice. When it’s time to pull the plug on Grannie, you want to do it here. Mark Kraschel, Portland