A Luv Affair begins

Bloged in General Home Life,kitchen remodel,Scuff Boys by mark Monday May 30, 2005

Society Page:
Ms. Abby arrived Friday night with her entourage, David & Serafina, to begin a weekend long love affair with our Dog Mac. Those two were making everything except live puppies (Abby is “fixed”) and doing lots of licking face to face for three days, that is, between Abby’s intense concentration on Squirrel containment. Abby is the first dog I’ve ever seen (she’s a blue/grey beautifully colored loving Staffordshire Terrier) that will focus, concentrate, and literally stalk her intended victims. Of course she didn’t really catch one, but she may just stand out there 10-15 minutes in one position with foot raised ready to pounce if the opportunity came about. She would chase a squirrel up into the tree finally, then follow it from tree to tree until she would be called back to give Mac some more licks. What a fabulous visit by Ms. Abby.

Sadly, Mac has reached the age whtere the “Tutoring” must be considered. His lifelong pal Porter came over Friday night to say hello, and was attacked seriously enough to force Mac into his kennel. Repeated efforts to bring them back together were unsuccessful and Mac showed he has reached the age where the woman in his life is to be protected from others at all costs. Now that Abby’s gone, will he have to grovel to win Porter’s devoted pal-ship back?

David and Serafina brought a welcome diversion from kitchen talk, so the whole weekend was spent with dogs, or at some great spot to eat. We had two fabulous evening dinners, first one at Clark-Lewis down on Water Street near OMSI. In an older renovated warehouse, the space is open but very loud. Luckily the food was exceptional. Last night, we spent a very wonderful two hours at Bluehour. Whew! We are NOT used to eating that well, and it’s showed this morning. But, thanks, Serafina, for treating us to a Bluehour treat!

We got to see David’s film about Baseball’s foibles, a documentary work in progress, and that really is going to become something I think. We spent a couple hours on the beach at the river with the dogs where Mac punched onto retriever duty while Abby waited near shore for his every return so she could grab the stick and run. Abby did not seem to want to actually swim!

We had our first meal with the kitchen half in half out, i.e., didn’t find everything we needed, and used cooking methods only involving the stovetop……so we see where that adventure’s headed. After tomorrow, we won’t even HAVE a stove or dishwasher………or sink. We’ll see what happens. We’re prepared with the toaster oven, micro, bread machine, bathtub washings, etc. The hummingbird food will be cooked out on the propane cooktop.

Oh well, thank you David and Serafina for the visit. Another great time because we’re lucky to know great people in many places.

Mark & Rodger.

More on Paula & Karen’s VISIT

Bloged in birding,Family,General Home Life by mark Wednesday May 25, 2005

Dear Diary:

Once again, we get surprised about the silliest things. As mentioned in our May 19 update, Paula and Karen gave us a little visit.

We’re not sure how this happened. WE have a towel or two that hangs on the oven handle………….. While Aunt Paula visited she seemed to observe that one towel might have been a little worn………..and sent a replacement.

Do you really think the original (left) was worn out?

At any rate……………… the NEW towel will be saved for the new kitchen grand opening, and in the meantime, the old towel, i.e., rag, has been getting used for appropriate dust/mess cleanups. Why didn’t we notice the old towel might have served it’s useful life.

THANK YOU AUNT PAULA………………………………….and also for the scrumptious new eggs we’re still enjoying (for about another 3 days).

Love to Aunt Paula who always notices the “little” things …………….I mean really, can you tell a difference between the two towels? Hah.

Thanks to finally transferring our dig pics from camera to PC, we can throw in a few pics of our visit to Mount St Helens with Paula and Karen, not to mention a brief mention of our stop at what MUST be one of the largest fabric stores on the planet, Fabric World on the eastside of Portland.

Remember our mentioning the little ash plume that we saw?



And there we were so proud to have been there for this historic moment (hah).
Looking at these trees almost made us dizzy:

NOTE the trees seem a little “fuzzy” ? Well that’s actually how they look…they’re not all growing at the same angle and we can’t figure out why. They’re on the road coming back from St Helens…..in the new forest growth. You can clearly see the old burned forest logs through the green.

Karen is a fabulous creative seamstress. Her major request when coming here was to see “Fabric World”. Built on probably two acres, the store is huge. So many husbands get worn out, they have a TV room not for kids, but for husbands. A Huge section of drapery fabrics are there, and of course, as in all fabric stores, “everything” is 40% off as you can see here:

Karen found a favorite fabric, and is still not sure what she would sew with it:

After a couple of hours there, we were all starving so went on to Washougal, WA for a trip to the Pendleton Woolen Mill outlet store and a fantastic lunch at our favorite Restaurant in the whole area, “Roots” in Vancouver/Camas. A good day in all…..and NO, Karen did NOT buy the bodybuilder fabric.

We stopped one morning at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden for a little hike and truly enjoyed the baby coots and ducks as much as the beautiful greenery. Mark was astounded how tame the city squirrels/birds are since they’re exposed to people all the time when compared to our wild nature here. There, since visitors can buy seed to feed the local animals, they’ll walk right up to you and wait for something to drop…………. We saw some beautiful red-winged blackbirds calling out their gorgeous tune in this gorgeous setting:

Our own BIRDS continue the spring flings, and we can almost count on them for regular events like the thrill of the robin’s nest in the juniper bushes in front, once again with four eggs. Here it is up close:

And if you just back out the camera about a foot, you can see things are quickly becoming camouflaged:

I wouldn’t have known this was there had I not startled the poor Momma by using the weed-eater too close to her and she flew out of the bush protesting loudly, of course, and didn’t stop until I moved away. Yes, she’s back on the nest.

Beautiful goldfinches are eating lots of thistle every day and taking nesting material. Here they are from our little birds-eye view through the scope:

And Rodger captured a little male Rufous sitting right outside the office carefully guarding his quart of sugar-water as if it won’t last:

NO, we haven’t forgotten about all our hummingbird requirements even when the stove is removed next week. We found a good buy on a big Weber BBQ at a BASCO warehouse sale last week that has a side burner perfect for cooking the sugar-formula. So, no, we’ll continue to support the love-making and chick raising hummers right through July.

And the Kitchen? This is about the last shot of a worn old kitchen getting ready to be stripped out:

It took as long to clean up the dust from removing this soffett as it took Rodger to cut it out. Unfortunately one of the wires was cut and we’re trying to figure that repair out. We mentioned the oven has given up the ghost, and it’s sad with this new expensive import from a New Zealand Company sitting just feet away but useless for about 8 weeks yet:

Seeing it does motivate, though. The major tear out begins on next Tuesday and hopefully, all the sub-projects come together by end of June for an install in early July. If we’re completed as planned, we’ll have to have a grand opening late in July.

We’re paying attention to our dear friends who aren’t feeling their best right now. Warden begins radiation and chemo probably tomorrow. We’re still trying to get ahold of John D. and hope his surgery went well.

ENOUGH! I have WORK to do don’t I ! ! ! ! So sad to see this period of relaxation end.
Mark & Rodger.

Experiences in De-Construction

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Saturday May 21, 2005

Well.

The work seems like it’s been progressing toward prep work for the craftsmen to come in, but it appears that was all child’s play. Yes, we nipped off a bit of trim now and then, we laid bare a 5 foot wall to expose a support beam, boy weren’t we real men?

Tonight. We have barely begun to break the fragile shell of true deconstruction.

We began to rip open the dry-wall of the pantry external side…..dust, chunks, going everywhere….and Mark cleaned as he went. So far so good.

Rodger, manly man he is, ventured up into the attic with light in hand to assess and move some blown insulation away from the soffett area, the soffett in the middle of the kitchen that we are removing. He found layers of the stuff deep enough he couldn’t exactly be sure of where the rafters were but luckily we’d bought some little 1×6 fence wood to lay down and make sure you don’t fall through to the floor below. With respirator on his face, and dim light, he finally decided just to hand-rake the stuff back away from what soffett area we had to tear out. He came back in full sweat, breathing a little hard, and had to go outside. Remember, this is a fragile tiny beginning.

THEN. Energized by his success, he decided to open up the soffett (as he’d already “raked” out most of the insulation. He took a saws-all (saws through about anything for ‘de-construction’ efforts) and opened up the soffett in the center of the old kitchen…WHEW! insulation and dust poured everywhere, something we hadn’t quite anticipated so hadn’t closed off the openings of the room entries with plastic.

No problem. Friend and construction wizard Richard (he built a custom home from scratch by himself) had kindly lent us his old shop-vac………that, apparantly really wasn’t prepared to handle dry-wall dust. As Rodger finished cutting, Mark powered up the old vac, which, within about 3 seconds began to blow out all the fine powder dust as fast as taking it in. Woops. That meant we will now have dust everywhere, partly our fault for not enclosing he area properly.

Oh well, We have been told over and over again that these Kitchen remodels take on a life of their own, and they began to go dark, and get darker, and darker, and foggier, for a long time. So tonight we’ve just learned how extensive the “DE-CONSTRUCTION” task is going to be.

We can’t really boldly finish off removing the kitchen itself for a bit since Rodger’s old work-mate and friend Serafina & partner David are arriving next w/e for a short stay, so that will be a fun distraction. After they leave however, it’s now a full realization what a dirty job big job lies ahead.

Well, once again! I suppose that’s part of the problem of trying to put in a great kitchen on a pauper’s budget! This is when you laugh. A laughing occasionally is recommended during these life altering projects (I’m sure Dr. Phil will back me up on this).

So, now, we’ve vaccumed, showered, and settled in to again think about what we need to get done to continue the …..ahem, “De-Construction”.

**We intended to put a pic of tonight’s class-in-remodeling, but the battery on the camera was too low to transcribe. Pics coming.

Hamlet Update May 19, 2005

Bloged in birding,General Home Life,kitchen remodel by mark Thursday May 19, 2005

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 they’re down the block. One, ED clear cut the meadow……it’s just a nasty mud heap now that he’s dug up trunks and all. So THAT side of the house means there’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)………………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, he’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, I’ve made a statement that spring here is the longest season there is, and it is. It’s just that so much happens if you’re at all able to watch nature that it’s a daily marvel.

Two weeks ago I had noted we’d seen our first Male Grosbeak at a feeder and now there are “pairs” 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 owl……Well, we can regularly hear the little screech owl at night in back of their house so we’re sure they’ve once again set up house in last year’s nest inside that huge old maple that leans toward Krysta’s home…..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 there….

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 “space” to eat, they will sit there in complete harmony with a pair of doves and eat with them, and that’s a cute thing to watch. You’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. It’s every year fun when you get go just outside and get buzzed a few times by an impatient miniscule tiny bird who’s not wanting you to mess with his feeder (even though I’m only trying to refill it) They’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 over……..and every year it’s different. This year they’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 meadow….it’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 what’s going on in there. We always thought the deer wouldn’t be seen up here until about June one, but now we’ve seen some yearlings wandering about since being kicked out by Mama who’s in preparation to give birth to this year’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 we’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 we’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 hasn’t let up. The peppers and cukes look half bug eaten and fatigued by dampness already, so we’re waiting to see the outcome. It’s now time to have corn seed in starter pots somewhere out of the rain….so with all that’s going on; we’ll see how far we get. The tomatoes however, seem to be almost thriving…they’re kind of getting a little stronger, 3 have even thrown out a bud or two…..so who knows? Ah the mysteries!

We’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 they’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 in……we must have collected 3-4 hundred lbs so far and it’s benefits are evident in keeping slugs out of the lettuce, a couple of rhodies seem perked up, and ………what else? I’m planning on continuing to collect because we haven’t touched the lawn yet….. And will.

Dog Report:
**Mac the dog is completely under exercised this week………….. The rain’s one thing, another is Mark’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, etc…. He’s being sent to physical therapy next week…..we’ll see. A new measurement will be done of that one shorter leg and determine if the lift he’s always used on that side must be lengthened. MAC in the meantime is anxious to run and be outdoors……….. 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 although………..the further you get from the actual volcano, recovery is speeding along so well, you won’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 hasn’t really recovered.
We also gave the girls the pleasure of dining at Kelso’s finest restaurant, the Hilander Bowling Alley where some actual home-made good food comes out of the kitchen. It’s just such a surprise to tell someone you’re going to the Bowling Alley for lunch. We enjoyed a Rousing 3 day game of hearts……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 along……………..hm……….no one has challenged any of those yet, so I keep the trophy.
We cooked a little, and wouldn’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 we’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 “walk the walk”. Oh yea, by the way, now that we’re buying, the money seems to getting vacuumed out of here too fast…..it’s scary.

Other than all this busy stuff going on, we’re both thinking a lot of two acquaintances, Mark’s Cousin Nancy’s husband Warden is suffering the effects of a brain tumor that’s awaiting recovery enough from surgery to do radiation while old CF friend John Dunmire is having brain tumor surgery today in Dallas. Mark’s cousin Georganne in John Day is having tests done on a thyroid tumor this week…….. Life isn’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 Tucker’s passing.

Mark & Rodger

Bird Tales from Southern California

Bloged in birding,Family,General Home Life by mark Wednesday May 4, 2005

My brother Norm and wife Naomi called last night to tell us about life in the new retirement lane. Yep, Norm’s been on and off about quitting for a long time. Every time he’d resign, they’d beg him to come back so in the last couple years, he’s been gearing up for it. When they were here a couple years ago and saw our birding setups, they fell in love with the hobby. On their return home, they began to learn about birding and of course began setting out feeders, etc.

SO, this note had to be written to tell EVERYONE about Norm’s birding story highlights and a big tribute thank you to Nancy Grossenbacher, who, is responsible in large part for now not just US enjoying this, but my Brother in So Cal, as well as others I’m sure I’m unaware of. Nancy is one of the most sensitive people I’ve ever met about our environment and nature. While living next to us we learned many lessons about caring for wildlife and becoming observers and caretakers of nature rather than “conquerors”, i.e., destroyers. When a feral cat finally moved into the neighborhood and had kittens, Nancy set up nature traps and rescued all the kittens, removed them to the Feral Cat Society, and felt deep remorse that the Mother couldn’t be rehabilitated. She taught us about nightly nature as well, the great horned owls, the flying squirrels, raccoons, and all the rest. She let a Raccoon mother raise her brood in the attic of her house rather than risk injuring one trying to get them out.

She is inventive too. When facing a mouse problem in her kitchen walls (adjacent to the garage) she cleverly built a pool of water in a deep bucket with a “slide” placed directly at one of the mouse holes…..it worked.

Nancy will spend a DAY at a large plant sale and then go again the next day if a friend missed out and wants to go also.

So. We have learned to love birding and simply watch all that happens in the bird year, and stuff “does” happen ALL year if you just learn to watch. THANK YOU NANCY, we love you very much for all you’ve done for us…………………..We are blessed to call her friend.

==========================

Now. On to a couple birding tales from Riverside, California. As Norm and Naomi got more up to snuff on birding, they have ended up with some birdhouses, feeders, and a very private back yard to enjoy the hobby in. They are being rewarded now with some real treasures.

This year, a hummingbird built her nest hanging right from the clothesline immediately outside their bedroom window. They got to see this mother raise two chicks successfully…..YES, as usual, one either got pushed out of the tiny nest as they got bigger, or maybe just fell to the ground. In nature, this spare chick would have quickly been lost. Norm and Naomi have had two dogs in their yard for a long time, and these guys seem to have driven off most predators. So this chick sat on the ground and MOM kept feeding him for several days until he fledged an flew off. The remaining chick finally got out of the nest and crawled with his tiny little feet onto the clothesline wire….where HE got fed for another couple days until he finally learned to fly. Norm was able to watch her feed these chicks every morning…..putting her wet tongue down their little beaks….what a nature thrill that would be.

They have had a pair of Orioles (Baltimore OR Orchard, both are out of their migrating area) nest in one of their trees. They thought they had a Grosbeak pair until these Orioles started feeding at the hummingbird feeders….I can’t imagine it…here’s a big heavy (compared to hummers) 6-7 inch bird landing on a hummingbird feeder and drinking away. I never had a clue that something larger than a miniscule hummingbird would be dining on sugar water. They DO eat fruit and insects. SO, here they have a beautiful PAIR of Orioles they’re watching daily. As they sit on their patio, they’ll have hummingbirds on one side, tiny as they are, and the huge Orioles on the other side right by them feeding…….and NESTING !

They’ve had a pair of blackbirds nest and have young…..something happened and all four chicks fell to the ground……sans feathers….very young. While enjoying having a Roadrunner explore their place periodically by running along their fencetop occasionally to avoid the dogs, they had no idea Roadrunners would be predatory. Here the roadrunner shows up and sees the chicks…..he jumped off the fence, grabbed one, and ran along the deck until he could fly off with food in tow. The parents successfully raised the other chicks by herding them under shelter until they could grow up enough to fly. THAT would have been fun to watch too.

SO………………..Nancy G………………see what you’ve done for just us (I’m sure there are lots of others)………………. Thanks to you, and to Norm and Naomi just for the phone call to tell us about their adventures in birding.
Mark & Rodger.

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