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March, 2006 | Scuff Productions

It IS Getting Better….Spring, that is.

Bloged in birding,General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Thursday March 30, 2006

Once again, in shirtsleeves this afternoon, I made yet another repair to the aging and failing big bird feeder tray under the big Cedar Tree. Wire can do wonders to hold something together a little longer. A new “family” of jays (they usually keep their kids a year or two) have moved into the neighborhood to set up nesting and predatory behavior. They seem to spread out in the morning and squawk back and forth as an alert about food sources, threats, etc. The parents seem to know us however. The second they see me near that back door, they’re gone……screaming in protest. I believe they DO remember the pellet gun.

Once again, I’m starting lettuce, cilantro, parsley and spinach seeds in our $20 plastic wrap green thing. We lost everything earlier in two wind blasts….but are hoping this time it will work. The current state of our produce?
And those plants are from Home Depot.
However, out in the real garden, a few things are up: green onion, chives ready, rhubarb upabout 6 inches, oregano reviving, so looks promising.
I moved a couple things to the woodshed, got about 10 big plastic buckets out of the garage to haul off, made a little room in there, refilled hummer feeders, threw a dog ball 50 times, and saw what I’d missed all week on the hillside. The TRILLIUMS are blooming!

These are a Northwest protected plant. They grow slowly even though there’s not much too them and take years to get to this blooming stage. They blend in so well, you won’t see them unless you truly look. Once you look, you may see lots of them as I did today. Beautiful. Two feet away from this is a gorgeous double daffodil and we’ll never know how it got on the back hillside.

And what the heck have I done this for:

well, we’ll see what the birds think.
**Note: I took my first wellbutrin today. That means quitting entirely is just around the corner, hurray.

Breads and Commitment

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Monday March 27, 2006

On Breads: We sure played around this weekend with breadmaking experiments and sourdough. Mark had a beautifully pliable wonderfully kneadable fun dough that became two beautifully risen round loaves!

The REAL Result? Taste was okay, but they were so dense they couldn’t be used.

RODGER found himself once again on the Ciabatta path. After making a Professional competition quality pair of Ciabatta loaves last weekend, he was inspired to take a bit of the sourdough starter that was alive and ready to use and see what kind of ciabatta THAT would make. The dough was muddy, wet as ciabatta usually is, but the second day, it just didn’t rise as it should. Even in the oven it didn’t high enough to make it out of the brick stage. Taste? Good, but far too dense to save.

SO. Are we making progress on cooking or not? YES, because this time, we actually tried to experiment and had some real fun. We KNOW the loaves now that we can make that work, so why not branch out?

On Commitment. Rodger’s Wellbutrin is in house, and mine ordered for pick up tomorrow. We begin the 2nd round of cessation on smoking probably this weekend AND renew the commitment to lose the 8-10 pounds we’ve gained back in the last year after baking so much. SO. We’ll have an exciting spring no matter what else happens. No arguing, thought, right?

Hummingbirds………….have already emptied the first feeder I put out ! Hurray.

PEPPER CREAM SALAD DRESSING

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out by mark Monday March 27, 2006

I think I made a Excellent, creamy, and a little tangy salad dressing after I added a little horseradish AND my secret home-made Chili Sauce (Tabasco could be used).
I also felt I could adjust amounts to make less/more……..and it always works.

PEPPER CREAM SALAD DRESSING

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp freshly ground, coarse black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white vinegar **NOTE: I used Pear Vinegar…
1 tbsp Horseradish – – like Beaver Brand
1 tsp Mark’s famous home-made Hot chili Sauce (or other hot sauce like Tabasco)
Optional:
2 tbsp fresh onion juice (see note below)

Mix above ingredients until creamy. You can let it mellow in refrigerator at least 24 hours before using.

Note: onion juice may be obtained by crushing fresh onion in garlic press or blender.
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depression, eh?

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Tuesday March 21, 2006

I assume that’s what’s wrong with me. Maybe the tail end of winter, maybe something else? I have had a serious headache all day, and not one microgram of energy or will to move. Don’t tell me this is what’s coming with age. I believe it has something to do with ……. the big evil, yes, smoking. We failed in our Christmas resolve and although “progress” is noted, I have been back at it much to my chagrin. I am now preparing the resolve I know it’s gonna take to finish ’em off. It’s going to be very very soon. Rodger has still very much reduced his intake. He no longer smokes at work or in the car. We’re KNOW what we’ll be up against this time around.

At LEAST I had some great Tacos for lunch………chopped up some of our roasted chicken pieces, broiled ’em a tiny bit, stirred in our Tomatillo Salsa…….. then. Fried the tortillas and added: the chicken mixture, pico de gallo (Rodger made it last night), some Mx. Cheese, lettuce, and voila! Delicious. Maybe that will aid recovery from this malady I mysteriously have contracted.

Tomorrow will be a new day!

WHAT is THAT?

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday March 20, 2006

I have seen our very first MALE Rufous Hummingbird at the feeder today.

This is turning out to be the warmest day of our 2006 year so far. At about 55, it’s shirtsleeve weather, and welcomed warmly. This first turn of spring always brings on that old “need a change” feeling, eh? So, a quickie carpet shampoo came to be for the back part of the house, and that doesn’t touch the dirt underneath I’m sure. It meant the kitchen floor got a good cleaning, clothes and rugs washed, bird feeder strengthened a little, and this: I moved the three volunteer Fir trees off the berm out onto the front of the yard. They’re only about one foot tall so far, but as they take hold and get some height, we can then slowly remove filberts that always look straggly out along the street. Annoyingly the filberts always grow into the phone lines too.

This day also meant the dog got a ball on a rope thrown everywhere. Finally, I threw it down the hill as hard as I could and in a rare moment, it missed every tree it could have easily hit on its way down.. It seemed to “drop” out of sight into a ravine I wasn’t even familiar with. Mac was unable to find it. It “was” his favorite ball, so I thought, “What the heck!” I put on boots and went down the slope to see what we could see. We DID come to a steep drop off and there at the bottom was some old rusty black metal “stuff”. No, NOT a car! I had to get into the steep ravine to confirm it, and unbelievably, yes, there was a car so very old there was only about one foot left above the ground. Of course, it’s pretty much rusted into pieces now. I thought no one would believe me, luckily, the tail light just fell out into my hand and I brought it back up with of course, the ball, AND……………the suet feeder that raccoons had made off with a couple summers ago. It could only have been a small Model T or something, it just seemed so small and decayed laying there. Just HOW that thing got that far down this woodsy hill IS the story I’d love to hear.

Sadly, you don’t take a camera with you climbing down into the woods. Oh well. I guess we now can say we have “something” below OUR house no one else has.

hummingbird seen

Bloged in birding,General Home Life by mark Thursday March 16, 2006

This winter has been so muddy, wet and cold we forgot a major interest of ours. Rufous Hummingbirds only come up and stay with us for about 3 months a year. The REST of the year is spent migrating the thousands of miles they travel every year. If that’s true why weren’t we ready for early arrivals? Kick me. Nancy G reminded me of this fact when telling me her Anna’s were already nesting in Lake Oswego. Duh. I read the Oregon Birder’s List and realized we were late. We immediately cooked up food, and put out three feeders on Mar 13. The first little female Rufous was seen shortly after on Mar 14.

(that pic is from 2002)
Today I finally looked at my old birding logs back to 2002 and realized we have seen the first birds here EVERY year between Mar 9 and Mar 11….pretty steady kids, eh? I read further that we put out the nesting bag last year in April. Whew. I gotta out of this winter mode. El Nino ain’t cooperating and we seem to have one more forecast for snow levels down to 1000 feet Friday night before things begin to warm up. I’m gonna be watching out more now to get the stage set for the arrivals of our favorite little summer migrants due anytime.

Notably, the “bird sounds” in the yard HAVE begun to brighten up with song sparrows and Robins arriving. The beauitufl Varied Thrushes have disappeared just in the last couple of days…..they’re on their way to Alaska! Whew a Chore just to have kids.

March like a Lion

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature by mark Thursday March 9, 2006

Things kept me from writing this month: Stoking the wood stove for one. We had severe winds for a long time, and it wasn’t without consequences. We saw that in a walk with friends/neighbors Karen & Baird with dogs Ellie & Mac down Newton Road into Forest Park a few days after the winds ceased. The walk brought to our attention the power of nature. Scores of new trees had blown down. These two trees were down just 100 yards from the Smiths home on the way TO Newton Rd:

So on we go and pass two other down trees to get on Newton. Halfway to the park, the scene in front of us was of the grand Cedar Tree that fell across Newton and shown in an earlier post. That tree snapped halfway up, landed across the outstretched branches of a tree on the other side of the road! What a site! About a week later, someone it had apparently fallen and been cut up…..too bad.

We enter the park, and about 100 yards in, was this mess of HUGE old trees laying across each other and one still up but leaning:

We all wondered what it would have been like to be there at the moment all these snapped in the winds. We continued on and took the Wildwood trail to circle back to Newton:

This VERY scenic trail runs below our house all the way back to downtown Portland, about 20 miles in a meandering wander.

Anyway, this was a memorable walk.

Rodger took time to go to Ripon, CA for the annual Morgan Family Reunion held at Aunt Paula’s to coincide with the “Ripon Almond Blossom Festival”, and you know the old Ripon saying, “From the Blossom Comes the Nut”. Hmmmm. Rodger had a great time staying with Paula and seeing all the family. Cousin Karen’s crafting talents continue to expand, and this quilt is her latest:

The detail is unbelievable, all that art work is NOT just a fabric piece, that was Karen’s handiwork.

Rodger’s car broke down and the rental company replaced it with A Charger, so we’re NOT sure just how fast everyone was moving when cruisin’ Ripon’s Main St:

They DID have a lot of fun with the car though.

No big group pictures were taken, but he caught one of the Thomas Sisters, Mom Karen, Grandpa Pete and Aunt Paula:

Rodgers return with a heap-0-goodies, and that’s normal when returning from Ripon. He bought a Garden Harvest basket that will come in handy about July on. He brought six dozen absolutely fresh extra large eggs, pounds of almonds flavored in every way, Rice Krispie Treats from Aunt Paula, cookies, Potato & Ham Chowder, and other assorted foodie things. That meant Yum for a while…….

We joined Boys Roushdi and Eran for dinner at Ringside downtown where you begin always with: Onion Rings. No one does them better than Ringside. We enjoyed prime rib, steak, and Mark ordered Chicken Livers done perfectly. That evening was capped by hearing Al Franken speak at the Schnitzer Hall……..a lot of material we’d already heard on his radio program, so we were a little disappointed, but it was FUN to see Roush & Eran.

Feb 20 meant it was Jason and Liz’s first anniversary celebrated with another honeymoon at the coast…..It dredged up memories of piano rehearsals for Mark to honorably play for their wedding, a grand experience one year ago on that fabulous Piano.
I must finish this diary entry, but before I do, I must mention a March surprise. Just as our weather conditions began to improve, Mark’s mini-greenhouse sitting in the front porch alcove was sprouting, just as Robins and Song Sparrows have arrived to begin nesting, and trees are budding, etc., we have been rewarded with a snowstorm that was prefaced by high winds. The winds last night blew over the “greenhouse” so most of the plants are lost, but SNOW came afterwards and here’s some pics to prove it (THIS should prove to some naysayers that it doesn’t ALWAYS rain here….sometimes it snows):

Neighbor Stevie Goetz proudly displays his new SnowBunny crafted this morning.

Looking from the driveway over the berm up toward the garage

From Skyline Blvd looking up to the front of the house

Looking out the front window this morning.


**This is an important one but it may be hard to see all the little birds. There are two or three on the branch suet feeder (the pole with the round appearing holes?), birds on the caged suet (caged to protect it from large birds or squirrels), and more birds on the suet hanging at the deck edge. In THIS weather, feeding the birds just may save their little lives. Yep, we’re messing with Mother Nature.

And so it goes. We hope this El Nino concludes soon so we have a spring and can plant a garden by May. Whew.

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