Hummers everywhere

Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Monday March 17, 2014

Just a quick add for future “reference” . . . . . . about a lot of just now arriving-for-the-season Rufus Hummingbirds.

We always begin looking for their arrival in early March. The first ones seen are often just passing through, heading into Canada likely. The first ones to arrive are always the MALES. They arrive to scout out good territory, where food’s available, and a place the females will also see easy food sources. You may see a few of these “early” migrants for a day or two, feeding, resting….but they move on. This year, from the first sighting of a male arrival, the numbers grew one by one, just 2-3 for the last two weeks.

I am always awestruck to see the first one Rufus KNOWING this TINY creature has just flown some 2-3 thousand miles through spring coastal storms from Mexico, and many will CONTINUE north:
1hummale2

Well, it appears not many moved on, or I wasn’t paying attention……..Boom! With cousin Stan and Mary visiting us this week, we were all sitting at the Kitchen island for breakfast / tea. While chatting, I was STRUCK quickly how EVERY hummingbird feeder I could see from there (3) was ‘set’ with a male guarding it and females continuing to fly in and try to eat….. at all 3 feeders at ONCE! I checked the others, it was true of those also. I returned to look at the primary one in the front window….it was EMPTY.

2008rufouspair
****note on this picture: A male Rufus….confronting a female Anna’s (year round residents)…..for some reason, they don’t always fight with this ‘larger’ cousin****

WELL. That made me glad Mary & Stan were here…..I realized I had NOT been paying enough attention to the “numbers” of arriving Rufus….. I quickly put on 6 quarts of sugar/water to boil and get ready……pulled out the LAST 2 pints left in the garage fridge and replaced the empty feeder…. as SOON as the others are cool, I’ll immediately put out 2-3 more feeders, replace the heavy use ones with Quart size feeders.

The Hummingbird Season has begun. I can’t wait for an evening in May when the first hatchlings are fledged and we’ll likely be seeing these numbers are feeders on some COOL spring night:
1hummdubldip

I can’t close this without giving DUE credit to our tough year-round resident Anna’s….who ALL used to fly to the lowlands for winters….but Audubon believes “some” began staying up here through the winters simply by enough people leaving feeders out for them…..so we do that….. they’re completely different than the Rufus, less agressive, larger….but then, of course, they don’t make a 4 – 5 thousand mile migration every year…. Here’s one of our male Annas:
annamale

So, Whew! Hummingbird sugar/water is cooked alongside home-made Kahlua and both are now cooling……Stan & Mary are off to OHSU, Rodger’s working, so I’ll take Mac for an over-due Columbia River SWIM….so tonight while we all visit, He’ll be worn out.

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…..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:

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…..is finally winning the battle and truly at 9-10′ high, I think, it’s going to be a keeper:
hemlock mar 2014

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. . . . .

2013 HIGH Summer. The August Garden & TUNA!

Bloged in garden,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Wednesday August 7, 2013

Whoa!

Like every August, it’s HARD to believe that just about 70 days ago, one starts with some damp ground that you weed, feed, rototill, and begin to “work” with plants, water jackets, and “time”…….THEN……one day, you wake up and the ‘garden’ seems to explode. No different this year, this garden is thick and almost overgrown. An exceptionally DRY year has exaggerated that fact….the garden’s solid green, the yard’s pretty brown…..and the house has had flower arrangements several times. Breaking up Dahlia bulbs last winter paid off……there’s already been 3 times Dahlia Flower Arrangements have brightened the family room, and there will be more!

This was the 2013 NEW bulb addition:
*this yrs dahlia 2013

Seems every August, a day comes when ….. as today was, I “re-discover” the motivation that makes a person work all summer to grow a garden. Today, I just finished a big lunch of Potato Salad (everything but eggs from the garden including potatoes (finnish fingerlings), the first just picked vine ripened tomatoes….sliced and slightly salted. I finished that lunch with some tree picked peaches surrounded by some vanilla bean ice cream. That brings back every GOOD memory of MY childhood summers….when things came OUT of Mom’s and Grandma’s garden that we immediately enjoyed for lunch. In 2-3 weeks, it appears there will be quite a sweet corn harvest to enjoy too. AH! The August Garden.

Remember the MAY Garden Pic?
walls o watr 051613

Remember the End-of-June Garden Pic?
grdn jul 15

And finally….TODAY. Here are some from this morning’s prep to water, and tie-up, or, “support” unusually huge garden vegetables:

I asked Mac to pose to give some perspective on just how high this Golden Jubilee Corn has become:
mac in tall corn

And turning a few degrees, another picture:
mac small in grdn

From the south side (yes, the deer fence shows):
south grdn view

And the Tomatillos! For the yield we’re going to get, I’ve planted FAR too many….we’ll be giving some away:
fnnl tillos crowded

We messed with mother Nature this morning too……IF it appears the corn TASSELS are truly giving off dust/pollen, and there are Corn Silks still untouched, I cut 2-3 tassels and introduce artificial fertilization to the plant…yep, it wasn’t natural selection, hah:
fertilizing corn aug 2013

So NOW, I can begin to plan just when this lettuce can be picked to match the annual week we’ll be eating some beautiful BLT’s: garden lettuce, home-made bread, bacon, and tomatoes outta this garden:
future blt 2013

AND that doesn’t mention what else is ready to harvest THIS week: 1) MORE Rhubard (4th cutting this summer, wow), 2) BASIL – harvest and get some pesto made n frozen, 3) 2nd cutting oregano to dry, 4) 2nd cutting Thyme, AND SOON TO COME: 1) Tomatillos……and Peppers from the garden into SALSA, 2) CORN! to Eat and Freeze for winter.

AND……….what really made us tired after all’s said and done, was a full day of making the family Pickles last Saturdaypickling 2013 aug 3

THEN……..Fisherman, neighbor, friend, Aaron returned from a chartered Tuna Fishing Expedition with friends, family.. It is TUNA season! They came back with so much, his surplus was 47 lbs of Albacore Tuna (filleted weight)….WE have been planning this day with friend Marie & Jamie who own John St Cafe, our favorite breakfast place, for a month….so the fish came in Sunday. It was placed in Marie’s restaurant cooler sunday, and we began canning Tuna Monday morning……. 2 hours of the entire time, the fish simply sat in pressure canners to cook/cure. Marie bravely cleaned every filet herself on Sunday after work. . . . yes, R & I lucked out…..so when we came to her restaurant kitchen, we simply had to pack jars…..in four hours this was out outcome:
marie n mark tuna

Was that enough? No. We’re doing Tuna Part 2 next Tuesday with some fish from Marie’s source in Gearhart who, are going to expertly clean/filet the fish before we see it……So it appears WE have to come up with a few recipes for using CANNED Tuna this winter!

SO. YES, it’s HIGH SUMMER in the Pacific Northwest, a summer running full of energy with all the dry weather…… The rainy months get long, yes, but there’s nothing more intense than these 6 months of full-on NW summer……….

Whew! No WONDER we don’t make plans in August………”spare” time doesn’t show up until Mid-September.

Hummingbird Life @ 9336 A big learning year

Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Thursday June 20, 2013

After 12-13 years of preparing the simple sugar-water solution that feeds a beloved tiny migrant bird that comes up here from Mexico for a short 3-5 months, I feel like I’ve learned more THIS spring than I expected.

Some facts:
**Portland has year-round hummingbirds, called “Annas” . . . that, until 20 years ago were pretty much ‘valley’ birds…. they would visit the hills in the summer but never stay year round
annas feeding

For an undetermined reason, but thought to be the fact that more homes have been built up here in the hills, and MORE people began feeding the hummers, a few Anna’s slowly began to stay year round….tiny numbers…… By 2013, I wish I could COUNT between Anna’s and the migrant and fun Rufus who make, for their size, the longest migrant trip of any animal on the planet.

**Anna’s are calmer birds than Rufus. Anna’s ARE territorial, just don’t seem quite as much…. When I carry a feeder re-fill to the replacement spot, an Anna will sit there staring at me much longer than the wild Rufus….they may only fly a few yards away to wait until my task is done…. Rufus will seem to disappear up into the fir trees…

**The Migration Pattern is fascinating for Rufus….and itself is, in a tiny way, changing. Begin: ALL of them are somewhere warm in some Mexico regions……..after arriving for winter anytime between September – October, they get restless around February. The males react first and leave…. and until recently, ALL of them began flying up along the California Coast (because first spring blooming is occurring THERE, not inland)…… We likely see none of the first, unless one feeds for a moment and moves on:
1hummale

But by late March, early April, we’re seeing one or two now and then, already setting up his own mating territory, and he’ll defend it strongly.
malerufus12

Sometimes they’re striking in a photo if the sun reflects that beautiful gorget:
rufus males gone

The FEMALES / Yearlings then leave, and follow the same pattern….. The MOST interesting FACT IS: Territory. The genetics are so hard coded in these tiny miniscule brains, they seek out and usually find not just the are they were raised in, but the same neighborhood, and not just that, but will look for the very SAME Feeder that they used the year before…..it isn’t unusual to see a hummingbird fly into your yard late March/early April zipping around a spot you had a feeder up the year before. Whew!

The Females arrive here to be met by a few males ALL ready to mate and have to deal with that ‘action’ even before they’ve got a nest ready to go. A nest made of soft forest bits tied together with spider webs, and there’s plenty of webs made by the spring spiders ……. The mating done, and nesting begun, one wonders what happened to your birds? They almost seem to disappear….. then the first hatchlings (both Anna’s and Rufus……now……..) often cause you to put out MORE feeders than earlier…..(We will have 10 up for the 2-3 month peak period ) and from that late-May period, you learn to love these little birds.

Once fledged, the youngsters are on their own because Momma Rufus and Dad mate AGAIN for a 2nd nesting! There is NO mistaking seeing a fledgling at your feeder…..almost larger than the parents because of her fluffed feathers, this kid looks cold:
hummerbaby

However, the MOST Astounding THING I’ve learned THIS year comes from the Anna’s Hummingbirds, proving they’re finally here in greater numbers than I’ve known. The first time I had NO idea what that high 2-3 second loud chirp was, but followed the sound to watch a male diving straight down from somewhere between 100-150′ toward a female, and drawing himself up just short of reaching her, in a posture with all wings, tail-feathers spread….the tail feathers causing the chirp. This mating behavior was repeated for 3-4 weeks for us both…..and considering it’s luck to see it by being in the right place at the right time, this was THRILL summer for me if that was all that happened. It was astounding to watch….this SO TINY creature doing such a powerful thrilling straight up climb, preparing, and diving straight down, curving up at the bottom….with that distinct “CHIRP”….. I couldn’t even find a you-tube on the web (of any quality) that equaled what we repeatedly witnessed. Lucky us, yes.

The males…..do NOTHING to help with ANY child rearing or nest building. They stick around to mate. Once the 2nd mating’s done, they are GONE! That’s about to happen right here for us…..the males we’re seeing now are mostly juveniles, whose colors aren’t quite to brightly developed and they’re not yet so aggressive.

The migration partern back to MX? NO, NOT back down to California…the blooming’s done there now…..These males head east, often right along the Gorge and highest mountain ridges (wherever the blooming’s happening and/or insects are around)…and eventually move DOWN the spine of the Rocky Mountains back into MX. The FEMALES? Once their 2nd nestlings are fledged, they TOO leave (JUST ADULTS)……following that pattern. Then the unbelievable happens. Late August or so, the young juvenile Rufus kids leave here, and Alaska, Canada, ON THEIR OWN, flying down that same migratory pathway the adults made with NO guide, NO help at all! It’s an amazing science fact!

We’re then left to leave up 2 feeders for the winter…….having moved from .1 quarts a day in February, to .2 in March, to .3 – .4 in April, but by Mid-May, will explode up to 5 quarts per day when the Rufus are here, and first hatchlings are at the feeders…….
cold hummers

By Mid-June, that drops to 2.5 quarts for another very short few weeks (aided in part by all the flowers blooming and insects flying around), and by Sept 1, we’ll be back to .2 or .3 quarts…… What a time it was.

The birds feeding behavior is affected by the nesting, the weather, and how many birds are here. When we get cold snaps, they’ll gang up at feeders and at cold evenings, will seem to draw a truce about territory….even sometimes one hovering or sitting on another’s shoulder while it drinks, and when that birds pulls out the beak, the hoverer feeds:
may07Hummersdusk12close

Maybe the crowd’s gotten bigger each year because yard plantings, experience has made us better bird attractors…. much of this is sure big thanks to dear friend Nancy Grossenbacher who taught us all the basics…. It IS a joy to see these tiny birds in the yard, not necessarily at a feeder but at flowers, after insects, and hovering everywhere in the evenings.

One of the best life experiences of living up here in the Rain Forest.

Some dog walk pics…normal gray light Portland

Bloged in Nature,Portland by mark Tuesday May 14, 2013

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:
dave slr trail

Some places are SO full of growth, not much light is there on a cloudy day:
trail to rchlnb050813

And further down, things just get rich and green:
trail to rchln050813

On this walk, we went along Firelane 10……nice vistas, not sure this cheapo camera shows that:
alongfireln10 050713

Still a few trees left waiting for leafing out:
rochlinprpedge050813

And, Lower Newton Road…..
nwtn road050813

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…
firelane10 may82013

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:
rchln trailc 050813

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.

And the 3 legged Coyote Lives to thrive another day

Bloged in General Home Life,humor,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Monday July 30, 2012

We have talked about the ‘3-legged’ coyote that’s been in our neighborhood all summer. Eventually almost everyone’s seen it and often more than once. At first you’d feel sorry, then the longer you look you realize it’s completely healthy and that fact even more amazing when you’re realizing watching it move that the missing leg is a front leg, the very leg needed to “pounce’ on the prey.

AND as you will see, the leg seems so smoothly covered, it “appears” to be a genetic birth defect, not an injury……..

Well, we finally have a neighbor story moved down to our block that’s the best of the summer, I think, and the “guilty” shall rename nameless to avoid …. some perhaps wanting to dine on what “R” is placing on his compost heap.

So. Yes, the coyote’s been doing well. “R” greets morning one day last week…. and as he looks out his back window realizes there is a coyote lying on its back in the middle of some tall grass….. Then he realizes it IS the very 3-legged Coyote that’s gotten all the attention. He grabs his camera….takes a couple pictures…

“R” realizes the animal seems perfectly content laying there, rolling back and forth some, looking at the trees & sky…..even looked at “R” a few times.

“R” gets out to his shop and works a bit…comes back in to see the coyote’s still laying there. Concerned he wonders about calling for help…..rabies? ill? Sad, that the animal hasn’t left.

As he calls for help, “R” remembers the KEY element that may just explain it all! ***Yes, he’s put out lots of food scraps out back, a perfect place to compost and yes, it might feed a lovely wild animal or two.

BUT, a light dawns! “R” just remembered finding that ‘stale’ batch of marijuana brownies in his fridge yesterday. Guess where he tossed them last night? Yep. Right where Mr. Coyote seems to be unable to move. ….. It appears we “KNOW” who ate the entire batch….this poor 3-legged guy who needs to eat EVERYTHING he finds along the trails………..

Oh, the mystery of those brownies! We’ve all experience it at least once! So. A VERY stoned coyote it seems that took most of the day to get itself together and wander off……about 5:30 that afternoon.

We’ve laughed and laughed…….I can only WISH “R” would have called me to some see the scene……

NATURE 130% in June / Portland, OR.

Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Nature,Oregon,Pacific Northwest,Passerines by mark Monday June 4, 2012

I can’t imagine how brilliant writers have the day I had today and not make a complete NOVEL out of what tiny little nature things that walked/flew around this house.

1) Squirrels. Have born young, the young are no longer nursing, and are out in the “community of squirrels” (Eastern Fox, Eastern Gray Fox, Douglas **native)… They only localize off our rear deck because of the 8 bird feeding stations where seeds drop to the ground.

But ONCE in June when the young are no longer allowed to nurse, and are brought TO this feeding station, to learn the science of what their diet IS, they are so soon spurned and turned away, and chased away by vocalizing parents (and others)………that it’s a bit sad, but they learn they must go off and find their own “territory”….not uncommon in nature. **At least I’m happy they’re eating most of the dropped seed….to keep any mice/rats at bay.

2) DEER. ONCE A YEAR, Doe give birth to fawns…and just AS they do, they give their yearlings eviction notices. Only Once a year, the deer seem to disappear, then while Mom and baby are quietly hiding/nursing, the yearlings appear alone, seemingly a bit lost, and HUNGRY. Today! That happened a yearling buck walked right by our windows to the seed/log we just got……and relished in that find for about 5 minutes…when MAC realized there was an alien who he KNEW was going to destroy our civilization. The barking spooked the dear, but he was back soon SO hungry. It was a fabulous watch for 5 minutes….then he ambled up the side of the house toward the vegetable garden. WOOPS! I have NOT put that deer fence that goes up EVERY year June 1………….. I finally had to let him know I WAS in this “pasture”….and opened the window….he pranced quickly away.

***and of course NO photos……when I simply turned my shoulder, this askeered little deer immediately looked my direction……quiet and NO movement allowed this to happen. I had a great time.

BUT……..TONIGHT, JUST NOW, I spent 30 minutes watching him return to the SEED BLOCK 20 ft from the window…..dine to his hearts content….then amble to the front of the house for salad, aka, apple tree leaves….and I think he ate too much for MY comfort, and then graze in the pasture. THIS was a NATURE MOMENT of a lifetime……..beautiful young sleek native DEER!. Ah, Yes.

3) FLYING SQUIRRELS: After not seeing them for a couple weeks, was SO happy to see -4- of them at once last night in the feeder….seems like THEIR young are ALSO not nursed to completion, and, NO, we hadn’t love them, they’re back! HURRAY. AND it was FUN to see them comfortable 15′ from my chair dining at length.

4) OWLS. Yes, it’s their time too. JUST Thursday, on the dog hike, I was a bit ahead of the group, and SAW a barred owl, very close, FLY in front of me, turn and land on a branch not 100′ away……she watched us…until the group got close and flew further……. End of story? NO! On the weekend, group member Arnie ran into the scientist doing the wildlife count this month for Forest Park, fabulous John Deshler (google him)….. and John not only showed him that very NEST that I was SO close to) but sent him photos of the chicks his nature photog Scott Carpenter had taken.

I am SO thrilled to NOW be able to not just walk the dog, but go check on the progress of the 4 little owlets………….

5) Oregon Juncos. These poor little bottom of the food chain birds NEST IN THE LAWN or on the ground…..SO defenseless…..almost EVERY year we get ONE….we found one, she had five eggs. NOW, 2 are hatched doing well (today), one egg/young disappeared, and should be 2 more tomorrow or……. AND yes, we protect them by putting a tomato cage around that lawn spot…..that is not touched or mowed until the young are fledged:

6) RAIN. Yep, it’s becoming the Junuary I hate……….I HAD to put sluggo on the borders of the garden near the lettuce…..who knows…….and snow levels will get down to 3500′ tonight…… We will know Wednesday……..

What an exciting 2012 THIS is starting out to be…………I had a nature day I’ll never forget.

The Garden June 01 2012. a warmer spring this year.

Bloged in garden,General Home Life,Nature by mark Friday June 1, 2012

Some interesting changes (so far) in THIS year’s plant growth…..even though our RAIN amounts the last 3 months his a record (14″), the temps were SO much warmer to include DRY SUNNY periods, the plants in the garden are doing amazing. I’m remembering HOW much I like gardening because of this fun change……..

So a quick camera walk around the house let’s me celebrate the GREEN beauty NW Oregon is right now. Some shots of changes in the yard:

This little water fountain was given to us by the friend who made it…..and birds have QUIT even going to the one with NO water movement…they ALL bathe in this because of the fountain….it’s fun to watch because it sits 1′ from the window:

This hemlock was planted from a volunteer tree about 5″ tall 8 years ago…it has struggled EVERY winter until 2010 against the Buck Deer who liked to rub the new antlers clean during the rut….it’s FINALLY over 6′ tall, and I believe, is gonna finally take off:

Every year this looks so lush even though it sits where little water gets to it:

And it seems only 4-5 years ago that we planted a “few” Japanese Iris bulbs dug and given to us by pal Karen Smith from her yard, and now, in 2 places they look like this:

And really the same about this berm along the driveway which was no more than spare dirt brought in when friend Dave dug his septic tank for his new house and we spread it here…..we planted a few things as “experiments”…..and they seem to have managed just fine (yes, a couple things are buried in here and need to be moved):

I LOVE the grape vines (that never mature in our little micro-climate) that give us huge leaves by Pickling Time….”1 per jar”….that’s rule…..

AND….it’s peak Rhody time…… all these plants ever get is a dose of Epsom Salts every spring:

And a quick peek at the garden……….at the row’s west ends….fingerling potatos are on the way while marigolds, leeks, onions, tomatoes are growing:

This doesn’t often happen by June 1…..tomato plants are growing out of the TOP of the Kozy Coats already proving temps have been WARM here since we planted them:

****the aqua jackets are around all the hot peppers and will be until Jun 30…..unless it really DOES warm up and stay there.

Here’s a little task for next week…..these corn starts (Golden Bantam is this year’s experiment) will go into the ground:

HERBS are doing fabulous….we’ll be eating cuttings within a week or two from: chives, oregano, sage, basil, rosemary, celery….. and the sprouted cilantro seeds will take 3-4 weeks. LETTUCE will begin getting trimmed and eaten in a week. Yum.

Mac has carrots planted for himself in one row……………(no I haven’t told him they’re up yet).

The curly willow trees we cut down last fall? some of those cuttings started sprouting….I’ve given away a couple and potted 3 more…..any takers?

It’s a good spring here.

ARIZONA 2012 DAY 1:

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature,TRAVEL by mark Wednesday May 16, 2012

April ended with a bang! A trip to a state I have NEVER visited because of something I don’t tolerate well at all: HEAT. And NOW, the religious right has a stranglehold on its government, so I was leery of visiting our friends there…. Knowing I was pasty white, I thought I’d give it a shot hoping the Border Patrol guards wouldn’t arrest me as an illegal.

Yup, we two departed April 27 for a 10 day stay in AZ…..and experience yet another modern life miracle: After becoming on-line friends with bloggers, getting to meet them personally…..and SEE IF the friendship magic really IS in the mix. We already knew HOMER in Tucson. Homer’s been to Portland twice and each time we had a grand time with him….. He’s recently become partnered, so we were anxious to meet Evan. Michael and David are in Phoenix…..we have mutual friends of theirs we DO know who’ve all been to Portland a FEW times and in each case has another grand time becoming friends, so we really looked forward to actually getting to know these two. Not only did they host us like royalty, they arranged our lodging for Flagstaff the next 3 days…. since they knew the owners, they arranged a “2 for 1″ deal for us at one fine gay-owned victorian lodging B&B……..more on that later.

We arrived ready to meet Michael & David. We were told to report to: “THE MISSION ” . . .a wonderful welcoming “Old Mexico” feel restaurant where your Guacamole is made tableside…is chunky as it should be. We hadn’t sat long when Michael walked in, and within a couple minutes, felt like this was NOT a NEW meeting, but a reunion of old friends. David followed shortly, and we spent a delicious fascinating evening with wonderfully warm friends. The next day, we departed for the ” DESERT BOTANICAL GARDENS “….and what a way to begin a stay in the Sonoran Desert….LEARNING about an ecology neither of us were very familiar with but would be in for 10 days. A GREAT TIME:

Simply desert beauty as soon as you walk in (click to get a better feel of this grand plant collection):

The harmony between the birds that live off these huge saguaro’s is amazing…they both EAT from the flower, and nest lower on the plant:

We’ve forgotten the names of these beautiful trees…. they not only brighten the surroundings when they bloom, but when the blossoms drop, the ground becomes very brightly buried in gold:

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It was SO wonderful to see the desert when SO many of the cacti were in full bloom…..

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I don’t think a pic captures the rugged beauty of this winged creature …..elegant statuary:

JUST to get the size of these giants in perspective, to you see the little midget in the lower middle of this picture?

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This cactus sends out growth arms….until it settles on other plants, and slowly chokes them out….wish I’d remembered the name:

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What an extraordinary plant….again, huge….see that same midget in the background? An exotic beautiful plant going to seed:

ALL round us, this late spring in the desert was full of blooms everywhere…..best time of year to see desert life:

Even a better one (this one SHOULD be seen original size: please click):

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Remember the bird above eating from the cactus flower? Here’s the nest….fascinating:

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ALL through this tour, the density of plant life taught me that life isn’t rich and full in a rain forest, it’s rich and full here too:

LUNCH… Scottsdale, AZ
We left the gardens early enough for lunch………..and at the airport we’d seen signs for: * GRIMALDI’s PIZZERIA *
What? Our favorite Pizza experience in both of our lives was found at Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn….right under the bridge. THEN, it was a one-shop only place….they’ve now expanded. Yes, we ate there, and enjoyed the SAME fabulous NY thin crust pizza! WE KNEW we’d be back at least once more before we went home.

From there, we had to get back to M & D’s to meet Homer….our good friend from Tucson, a real archeologist, who was taking us north to Flagstaff where he and his partner Evan were to show us the BEST of that gorgeous area. We got to Flagstaff, checked in the *STARLIGHT PINES BED & BREAKFAST* ….and our Flagstaff Weekend will be chapter two of our vacation diary.

What a way to begin a desert adventure! Thanks, Michael & David.

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