Hamlet Update, May 19, 2005:
We have two close items bothering us from our little place right now:
We are a little sad about the male calling songbirds in the morning and evenings. They used to be right here at the house. Two things have caused them now to sound like theyâ€™re down the block. One, ED clear cut the meadowâ€¦â€¦itâ€™s just a nasty mud heap now that heâ€™s dug up trunks and all. So THAT side of the house means thereâ€™s nothing left for deer or birds to even look at let alone set up house in. On the other side, the adult male living there has gotten himself a NEW set of drums as he fancies himself quite the musician (yes the one not speaking to Mark)â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦he practices loudly some evenings and when he does, not a bird is to be seen except the dozens of hummingbirds now frantically trying to get house set up and kids raised before they leave in June/July, such a short time away.
And, finally, the balance of nature is showing itself. Cowbirds and a few crows are back in the neighborhood looking for nests of our songbirds to lay their own eggs in. The cowbirds chick will be so much bigger than the little songbirds the nest was built for, will quickly kill the others and let the little songbird raise him on his own. When grown, heâ€™ll then join other cowbirds back down in the valley. The wild side of nature.
I had started a little update two weeks ago, but feel I have to re-write that since spring changes happen so quickly. Yes, Iâ€™ve made a statement that spring here is the longest season there is, and it is. Itâ€™s just that so much happens if youâ€™re at all able to watch nature that itâ€™s a daily marvel.
Two weeks ago I had noted weâ€™d seen our first Male Grosbeak at a feeder and now there are â€œpairsâ€ set up and visiting daily. At least three males sometimes clash a little to control the area, but by late afternoon have began singing their beautifully long liquid warbling territorial masterpieces of music.
Two weeks ago I was going to mention that neighbor Krysta had heard an owlâ€¦â€¦Well, we can regularly hear the little screech owl at night in back of their house so weâ€™re sure theyâ€™ve once again set up house in last yearâ€™s nest inside that huge old maple that leans toward Krystaâ€™s homeâ€¦..if it were me I would have that thing taken down now knowing that the inside of that tree about 15 feet up is so weak a family of owls can live thereâ€¦.
Two weeks ago I would mention that the finches are all back by reference to individual sightings but now daily we see pairs of house, purple, and goldfinches all in breeding color. Our local mourning dove pair is here every afternoon cleaning up the ground where other birds sloppily drop excess seed. Although the squirrels will fight with each other mightily over a â€œspaceâ€ to eat, they will sit there in complete harmony with a pair of doves and eat with them, and thatâ€™s a cute thing to watch. Youâ€™d think the squirrel was their bodyguard when he sits up on his haunches paws crossed in front of him looking around for trouble while the doves obliviously feed..
Hummingbirds are a thrill to have back. Itâ€™s every year fun when you get go just outside and get buzzed a few times by an impatient miniscule tiny bird whoâ€™s not wanting you to mess with his feeder (even though Iâ€™m only trying to refill it) Theyâ€™re average intake is at 1.8 quarts daily now for the last three weeks. As soon as it warms a little, that should go down while moms are nesting. They always pick a few favorite feeders to fight overâ€¦â€¦..and every year itâ€™s different. This year theyâ€™re using one in the front of the house and emptying its quart capacity almost every day. Last year the spot was right by the office.
The nesting sack is being visited by chickadees, finches and hummingbirds already.
Without the blackberries sitting at 6 feet high between us and neighbor Ed, we now are watching what happens in the meadow (former meadowâ€¦.itâ€™s now a huge mud hole for the most part with huge stumps sitting around. He only left a strip of trees along the road and 3 fir trees in the back. So we really do get to see whatâ€™s going on in there. We always thought the deer wouldnâ€™t be seen up here until about June one, but now weâ€™ve seen some yearlings wandering about since being kicked out by Mama whoâ€™s in preparation to give birth to this yearâ€™s Bambis. We have seen two different coyotes, one a huge healthy male, one a smaller more softly colored female simply walk up from down the hill and look around that meadow trying to figure out what the heck happened to what was undoubtedly a foraging spot for chipmunks, squirrels, mice, etc. SO at least until Ed begins construction, I guess weâ€™ll get to see a little more of the wild side up close. .
At the Canby plant sale on May 1, we went ahead and bought quite a few vegetable starts as weâ€™d finally began to believe the warm dry spring was going to continue. As SOON as those tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and a basil test plant were in the ground and surrounded by water jackets for insulation, our WET weather began and hasnâ€™t let up. The peppers and cukes look half bug eaten and fatigued by dampness already, so weâ€™re waiting to see the outcome. Itâ€™s now time to have corn seed in starter pots somewhere out of the rainâ€¦.so with all thatâ€™s going on; weâ€™ll see how far we get. The tomatoes however, seem to be almost thrivingâ€¦theyâ€™re kind of getting a little stronger, 3 have even thrown out a bud or twoâ€¦..so who knows? Ah the mysteries!
Weâ€™re, well at least Mark is, a big participator in the Starbucks coffee grounds recycling program. Rather than go in take the little neatly packaged bags of used grounds, Mark always just asks if they have a compactor load of grounds (THANKS, NANCY for the advice) and theyâ€™re happy to give it to you rather than have to repack it back into the heavy shiny bags that the beans originally came in. Clever Corporate management, eh? I am not a Starbucks user, but now have reason to go inâ€¦…we must have collected 3-4 hundred lbs so far and itâ€™s benefits are evident in keeping slugs out of the lettuce, a couple of rhodies seem perked up, and â€¦â€¦â€¦what else? Iâ€™m planning on continuing to collect because we havenâ€™t touched the lawn yetâ€¦.. And will.
**Mac the dog is completely under exercised this weekâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.. The rainâ€™s one thing, another is Markâ€™s hip. He exaggerated his old car wreck injury and brought on some tendonitis and bursitis badly enough to force some quiet time. It was probably a result of all the wood-splitting, garden tilling, etcâ€¦. Heâ€™s being sent to physical therapy next weekâ€¦..weâ€™ll see. A new measurement will be done of that one shorter leg and determine if the lift heâ€™s always used on that side must be lengthened. MAC in the meantime is anxious to run and be outdoorsâ€¦â€¦â€¦.. sorry, Pup.
We were blessed to have *VISITING VACATIONERS*, Cousin Karen & Aunt Paula arrived last week for a few days and that brought on some non-stop activities: 1) A trip to Mt. St Helens and the visitors center, WHERE, for the first time in three weeks, the mountain was even visible, and for the first time since last November, an ash plume jetted up while we were really at those windows to see in the visitors center. We were all impressed. The film there is always fun to watch, and the power of what happened unbelievable. The visitors center is a great place, and the site itself still showing the extreme devastation that happened althoughâ€¦â€¦â€¦..the further you get from the actual volcano, recovery is speeding along so well, you wonâ€™t know this happened in a few years. The St Helens elk herd has exploded to 2500 animals we were told since the predator population hasnâ€™t really recovered.
We also gave the girls the pleasure of dining at Kelsoâ€™s finest restaurant, the Hilander Bowling Alley where some actual home-made good food comes out of the kitchen. Itâ€™s just such a surprise to tell someone youâ€™re going to the Bowling Alley for lunch. We enjoyed a Rousing 3 day game of heartsâ€¦â€¦and unlike last Year where Paula reigned in the championship, this year Mark took top honors!! They claimed it was because I made up rules as I went alongâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..hmâ€¦â€¦â€¦.no one has challenged any of those yet, so I keep the trophy.
We cooked a little, and wouldnâ€™t you know, 8 weeks before we to have a brand new deluxe oven working in that space, this old Kenmore died while Karen was trying to make us a Paula Deen Apple Cake! No more baking for 8 weeks.
The kitchen progress has changed suddenly. We sat and discussed, evaluated, thought, talked, talked, talked, sometimes into a disagreement or two since March 8, but in the last two weeks have ordered the cabinets for an intended delivery Jul 1, went down today and put our name on three slabs of some beautiful granite slabs, and all our appliances weâ€™re buying are IN the house except the range hood that will be here June 5. So now the talking is about done and the dirty part must begin, i.e., tear-outs and de-construction. We have to have this thing disassembled, cleaned, new lighting, drywall, gas moved, plumbing ready by mid-June. That means coordinating all those things in a selected order. So the babble easy talk stuff is done, and we have to â€œwalk the walkâ€. Oh yea, by the way, now that weâ€™re buying, the money seems to getting vacuumed out of here too fast…..it’s scary.
Other than all this busy stuff going on, weâ€™re both thinking a lot of two acquaintances, Markâ€™s Cousin Nancyâ€™s husband Warden is suffering the effects of a brain tumor thatâ€™s awaiting recovery enough from surgery to do radiation while old CF friend John Dunmire is having brain tumor surgery today in Dallas. Markâ€™s cousin Georganne in John Day is having tests done on a thyroid tumor this weekâ€¦â€¦.. Life isnâ€™t always kind.
Our thoughts go to all our friends, we appreciate your being in touch, and your patience with us and all the kind thoughts about Tuckerâ€™s passing.
Mark & Rodger