1. Yep, I AM feeling a bit older.....I SO do NOT like this being the year I will pass the decade of the "60"s... ...and hope I stay healthy/lucky enough to continue to "seem" to attract conversations with lots of younger people .....I LOVE talking to people about life....... Why else are we here after all? 2. 2016 summer in portland. Year of the weirdest weather we've seen in our 20 years. Everything ended up growing, just not quite as normal as in other years....the veggie garden tomatoes just ripening here in mid-September... everything else: DONE, FInito...out! 3. Theater. Just began our 2016 season, but besides our Artist Rep Theater tickets (lowered to only 4 shows because we didn't like the plays they've chosen ..... Rodger's boss has "given" a season of tickets to us to Coho Theater Productions as well....and will likely be going to those with Steve and Jo....just did the first one, the "GUN SHOW" on Saturday Night.....a serious, hard look and conversation afterwards with attendees about guns and violence . . . . whew! SO NICE that Steve and Jo love going out afterwards too for a drink and post-play discussion....... then, the very next day, we go with cuz Nancy & Jerry to Artist Rep's first season play, "TREVOR". . . .a ridiculous attempt at humor trying to portray a weird relationship between a chimp and a new widow owner that ends up in tragedy. Not ONE bad review could we find in New York, Los Angeles, or SF . . .or here for that matter, but not ONE of us liked it and wished we'd walked out at intermission (as a few others did)..... Whew! . . . . . AT LEAST, looking forward to a great season for theater for us this year! 4. Night life. What? We have night life? The weirdest thing, it's only a mile away.... since Scott Becker bought the Skyline Tavern (as a sort of "plaything" toy....) . . . it's become quite the hangout for some neighbors (we've met a few we never have met)....intel/nike engineers, the curious from downtown who've read about this new tavern's life, a great MIX of people... Lisa, Mandy, Steve, Alex, all make us feel welcomed completely.....always people to meet and chat with, interesting music on fridays..... we're glad this has come to the 'hood. 5. Dog. Just reached 12, and is showing it. The hips are weaker, his skin chronically dry, the energy not lasting that long.....I'm convinced his swimming has helped keep his health good this long. Sigh. Mac's been a good friend to have around. 6. Dining / Cooking. Continues always to be an enjoyable experience to me. So glad the greatest breakfast/brunch in this town of a 1000 restaurants continues to be John St Cafe just at the bottom of the hill, and glad the Overlook Restaurant, now in its 60th year run by a Greek family, of course, REMAINS the ONE absolutely identical twin of the classic 50's diner/coffee shop / bar in the back . . . . place where you can get liver and onions day or night, chicken fried steak breakfast/lunch or dinner, and on and on.... great little place.. ...
for Mark's reference next year.....a couple 'new' lessons I learned in this weird 2016 summer of weird cool/warm/damp/dry summer . . . . . 1. Tomatoes. water regularly, sure, into Late July or early August...when you have all those tomatoes out there, GREEN .... ripening is encouraged by reducing the watering.... it convinces the plant, summer's almost over... and by mid-Sept, QUIT watering the plants. 2. Tomatoes - yes, keep pruning any and all dying leaves, THIN out thick inside growth to allow venting and more tomato fruit growth...... do all you can to maximize the use of the cages to help those heavy branches keep from splitting. 3. CUCUMBER - esp. LEMON.... **Plant this against a fence side.... and encourage that thick bunch of vines this plant makes to grow up along the fence. the "lemons" aren't ever so heavy that they'll hurt vine growth. 4. Peppers - don't plant a whole row....we keep planting several odd types, and they NEVER mature in our cool summers. 5. Corn - GET seedlings started EARLIER next year in little pots, even if you have to re-pot b-4 putting out in the garden....use the 1 variety that's always worked here: Golden Jubilee..... 6. Where? **Tomatoes were in the east-north side 2016....move to opposite next year. 7. HERBS - remember to plant just inside a fence opening access so you don't waste time just going out to get some mint, parsley, etc. 8> More later?
What a crisp, bit cloudy, brilliant morning..... neighbors Dog found to have a TIC....they cancel going along and go to the VET. Just ME and MAC. The light looks perfect for an autumn picture maybe. I only take the phone camera. ............ SO. JOIN me for just a few brilliant visions my head saw this morning, here, the peak of fall color: I don't even have to leave the yard these mornings....in the BACK of the house, our tiny Deciduous Redwood (now about 10 yrs old..) is ready to shed its needles.....it's gorgeous spring summer and fall...... SO.....One doesn't have to walk far from this house to find so wonderful a rain forest, that the shorter vine maples often have to bend and stretch and search for light. hence. many scenes like this: or these...... **Those BENT limbed trees are all over this park.....the nature of the rain forest! Halfway into our walk, we pass MAC's favorite late winter romping puddle, the Elk Wallow....it's just now barely returning with all the rain, but not quite "rotten" enough to intrigue him....by January, if he's NOT leashed walking by this, it is irresistible to him: And, then uphill for a big, yep, it works the lungs, good reason to walk, eh..... some other tree scenes are simply breathtaking (at least "live" they are...I know, it's a phone camera): and on the way back, if you're looking you'll find a few "bird buffets"....rotten trunks now full of bugs for our feathered friends: or this one: **bigger, and looking like there's a nest or two up higher..... ONE massive old fir ....I'm wondering about termites.....SOME ANIMAL is taking on some of the thick bark of this tree....it's a GRAND HUGE OLD fir: ****AND this morning's walk was NOT along the VERY scenic Wildwood Trail.....sinee I prefer to let MAC walk unleashed, I often stay on the Fire Lane...you seldom see a soul unless a jogger or two....but if you and I HAD walked the Wildwood, this is what it looks like out this far from town: Thanks for joining me..........I USED to THINK I was giving up my own wants to WALK this dog for HIS sake....and long ago, I realized I GOT more out of it than this wonderful animal companion, who loves the walk, but his nose is always looking' down..... and, well, he's right in a way, you need to make sure you don't come across coyote scat and step in it.....damn coyotes! They poop right ON the trail.... OH well! We're back home now with an appetite! How about some just baked sourdough toast and eggs and bacon? See ya soon.
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: 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. ****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: 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: 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.
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. . . . .
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: * 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? Remember the End-of-June Garden Pic? 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: And turning a few degrees, another picture: From the south side (yes, the deer fence shows): And the Tomatillos! For the yield we're going to get, I've planted FAR too many....we'll be giving some away: 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: 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: 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 Saturday 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: 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.
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 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: 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. Sometimes they're striking in a photo if the sun reflects that beautiful gorget: 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: 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....... 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: 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.
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: