summer speeding up

Bloged in birding,garden by mark Thursday June 29, 2006

Things are now moving at summer speed. Even though daylight lasts almost 16 hours now, you just don’t get to do everything you could or should.

In the garden the deer fence is almost up since we now are seeing more of them and they’re moving ever closer to the yard. Soon they’ll be munching on the roses next to the house but they better leave the tomatoes alone. We DO have quite a few green tomatoes already and hundreds of blooms. This just might be a banner year for gardeners:

Bird babies are filling our back yard like no year in the past. Some of the little “brown” birds we’re not even always sure what they are. But our Evening Grosbeak family continues to feed, and Rodger got a pic of the juvenile at dusk:

This was her at the water bath. Beautiful, eh?

Summer food is becoming abundant so we just may see a few other birds soon like Tanagers and Waxwings who are beautiful as well. Here’s our elderberries ready for guest diners:

Any walk in the forest will reveal an animal buffet when you run across an old stump that’s rotten enough to be full of delicious bugs:

Another beautiful thing blooming right now down in the park are wild native Tiger Lilys, and they are eye-catching:

We mention the walks in our back yard….heh heh, down the hill at least in Portland’s Famous Forest Park but never get pictures. This week, Rodger walked with us and took a pic of the Smiths and Mark…..too bad he wasn’t in it. This shot is just a little spot on Newton Fire Trail, so imagine that the Wildwood Trail itself is all of this and more beautiful:

Mac’s getting good runs and walks. Yesterday we had a houseguest, “Mason”, Paul & Kristen’s English Lab pup who ran Mac ragged ALL day. This pup would NOT rest if he were tied down. Balls were thrown about a 1000 times, he got a walk in Forest Park, he got winded enough to lay down while drinking out of the bowl, and still wanted to play. Mac on the other hand at the ripe age of 2 is more calm now and I got a good appreciation of that state yesterday. Mac HAS discovered the joy of dry weather bringing out sprinklers:

The kitchen is getting used more all the time. Here’s the morning after beginning a bread starter Monday night:

About three hours later, here’s the result of the big loaf:

This was a tasty combination of rye, wheat, flax, white, gluten flours, wheat germ, vitamin C Crystal, yeast, water, buttermilk, egg, salt and honey and about 24 hours of fermenting. Good stuff when toasted and strawberry freezer jam on top! ! !

Tonight we go with dear Smiths to “Theater District” a little Rep Theater Group doing a moving story about a family whose father realizes he’s gay and all that ensues. There’s lots of talk involving the child, the new partner, the wife, so this has been described as a heartwarming, moving, sad, happy tale done very well.

So life today is good. …………. The sun just popped out, time to weed and mow.

boys night out.

Bloged in Gay,Scuff Boys by mark Thursday June 29, 2006

We had been invited to attend the season final concert of the Portland Wind Symphony as one of the Scientists from Rodger’s Dept was performing with them on his clarinet. So, Saturday night began completely respectable as we sat in Lincoln Hall at PSU and watched the “history of band music” performed. It was the final concert for the retiring professor, who, unfortunately, had Parkinsons. Completely chipper and sharp as could be and although crippled now, did a fair job at conducting. The NEW conductor performed one number and it looks like this will be good for the group.

But what happened after is of note. We had not gone out “on the town” here for a year or two and as it was Rose Festival night decided to peak in at a club or two, you know, just for research. Well we did learn where things are or are not happening for the Portland Gay Community. One place just for “posers” seemed ridiculous as much as it appeared to be a Steroid Palace. One seemed a little sad and attracted several of the street kids who just seemed to want to “belong” to something. The Leather Bar has had new owners for some time and was hopping. Mark innocently approached a group of tough looking guys to ask if THEY were the local reigning Leather Alliance (or whatever they’re called).. … NO, they laughed, just out on the town like we were.

We finally stopped in at the real dive as it was next to the exit road heading home, and there they were. What in the gay world are called “bears” (husky, or hairy, relaxed) had packed into the Fox and Hounds as the finish to their night of giving out titles and awards for whatever their group “does” . . . . . That was a fun group of guys we have to admit.

It was the next morning we realized we had gone through $80. and had headaches. No longer 22 I guess. But it was a memorable evening, so next time you need a tourguide seeing the Portland night life from this point of view, we’re available.

MAC – $261 later.

Bloged in Scuff Boys by mark Tuesday June 27, 2006

After a great day for Mac, who spent time swimming the Columbia River in the heat wave, then napping, then relaxing, and finally in the evening, getting to retrieve a “stick” down the hillside, he landed wrong and ripped open a pad on his front leg. Two hours and $261 later, we were home from the vet. He is on ordered quiet time today and tomorrow….. the little lout! ! ! On the good side, he doesn’t seem to feel any pain at all, and that means he WOULD like to continue running and jumping. Oh well. Maybe he’ll calm down soon.

evening grosbeaks Celebrate

Bloged in birding by mark Tuesday June 27, 2006

With unabashed cheers, Mom and Pop Evening Grosbeak have brought one female juvenile to the feeders three times! We’re still hoping a second is getting set to fledge, but we are THRILLED to watch these feedings………of a somewhat reclusive beautiful bird who decided this summer that OURS was the safe place place to raise a family. Yippee! The sad part will be knowing that in a few days they’ll all probably leave to join back up with a larger Grosbeak flock as these birds tend to travel. Wish we had a picture of the family.

It’s a Heat Wave

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Sunday June 25, 2006

Portland’s first heat wave began to arrive today only hitting 91 downtown (and thankfully, only about 85 up here…….) with 100 expected the next couple of days. So the house is all opened up here and will be until about midnight probably. It will be again in the morning until things begin to warm up so it should remain fairly cool until probably 4:00 or so…….. then we suffer for 2-3 hours with fans until the gorge send breezes that run up our hill and begin to cool things down.

In the meantime, Mark watered the garden again to find that moles have tunneled under everything they didn’t tunnel under before. how frustrating! But at least watering’s done until Monday now. At some very soon point, everything on the place will be needing regular watering. Once the first heat wave hits, the summer really begins to dry everything out.

ON the health front, my colon looked marvelous accoring to the doctor. So perhaps I won’t need one again. In fact, some folks are telling me that the procedure does NOT prevent many deaths, that a fecal/blood sample are just as reliable preventives as a colonoscopy. And about $2,000. cheaper, eh? I’ll research more before the next one.

More soon as we see what the heat wave does to us mentally.

On a Colonoscopy and Buck Deer

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature,Scuff Boys by mark Friday June 23, 2006

You can see I’m having miscellaneous thoughts today.

Yes, I’m almost 60, and at someone’s insistence, I have agreed to have what every person should have done after age 50: Yes, a Colonoscopy. That is tomorrow at 10:30 and it’s already unpleasant. I’m starving. All I’ve had today to eat? Blueberry Jello, water, chicken broth, water, water, two more spoons of jello. Supper? Water, broth, jello. Oh, yes, and four pills every 20 minutes for a couple of hours with a different pill at 9:30 PM. Yes, you can guess what those are for. I really hate this procedure, but . . .. . what’s one to do? Buck up, drink, and wait. Wait. Tonight should be a fun night.

In the meantime, however, a most fabulous little nature moment occurred this morning. I knew I had to soak the garden and all the newly planted stuff on the berm because we won’t be doing it tomorrow……and by Saturday, the heat wave’s here for three or four days. So…I had to do it today. There I am, and I know you feel sorry for me, dear reader, starving…………..but having to water. This watering also showed that the moles are once again, as they do every spring, tunneling directly under the young veggies roots and I’m forced to reset those plants and get dirt under them securely as I water them. Almost all of them. So this early watering takes concentration and time. That’s one thing about the hand watering, I KNOW if something’s wrong.

The point, though is that halfway through, MAC began to growl then a steady bark, and a quick jump to run toward the open 4 acre field that’s now bare next to us. Of course I was yelling at him immediately. I “had” seen Mr. Ed out in his yard next door early and just thought Mac may have been suspicious.

**NO, of course I did NOT have the camera….this guy looks just like the one I saw, in the same kind of field, and HONEST…..looked that close)

As Mac began the gallop I realized what I was seeing was actually more than the one deer. I had turned to see TWO LARGE Buck Deer halfway through the field heading to Skyline. One immediately galloped back to the Park, and the BIG (four pointer with the moss antlers) guy took off toward Skyline with Mac after him at full speed. I immediately knew it was going to be somebody dead on Skyline and was yelling………..I immediately dropped things and ran off the berm to Skyline and toward the action………….yelling. Up from the other side of the road comes MAC panting. What a Thrill HE had, eh? We came back to the garden and I began watering again. In about five minutes the scene was repeated once again as the second deer felt he “had” to follow Buck number one. There goes Mac again. I hadn’t tied him. Who would have thought this other deer, in the middle of the day in an open field would go walking across after what had just happened? THIS time, MAC did not follow him onto the road although I thought he had. I ran down onto Skyline and toward where they would have crossed…..I heard the brush downhill being trampled and thought they were both together. I kept yelling for MAC………..until I finally turned around and there he was above me on OUR OWN side of the road looking perfectly innocent and asking, “What the heck’s wrong with you?”

Oh well. Not much later we were all done and back in the house wondering just what the heck I could eat that the doctor wouldn’t KNOW about the next day. Any ideas?

Portland Out and About and Proud

Bloged in Gay,General Home Life,Political,Portland by mark Wednesday June 21, 2006


Gay Pride came to Portland this week. On Saturday we joined friends Eran, Roushdi, and their friend Bill for a fine meal at Hobo’s in Old Town. From there we took the light rail uptown to the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. In one of the three theaters in the complex (ours was set in the Newmark Theater) we attended the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus concert called, Razzle Dazzle. This town gives this group a lot of support. We wondered if it was just because, for the most part, Portland is progressive and liberal anyway. We also wondered this because the actual performance we heard left something to be desired. The Conductor simply waved a beat in the air while about half the men didn’t even watch him. Hence, he was giving NO direction or place for them to really be on-point about. The Piano Player is someone well known in Portland as a solo player but he’s not an accompanist. He would NOT follow the group but played his own style and tempo throughout any number so HE wasn’t helping them. The show brought on lots of costume changes and dancing since this was, after all, an homage to Broadway. Well, some boys can’t sing AND dance at the same time so there were a few moments that weren’t really smooth on stage.

ON THE OTHER HAND, it was a fun program to see and our Hats go OFF to any group of 80 or so guys who do this just for the love of singing together. I say this because there WAS talent in the group so they could use real DIRECTION and good music backup. Maybe next year, eh? The Newmark Theater is a beautiful venue! !

The best part of getting into the Newmark Theater was in walking past two open doors, where Mark saw this sign, “There will be NO Intermission for Menopause.” WHAT? He exclaimed. Isn’t that a True statement! Sounds like this WILL be a fun concert after all. Then he found out that the sign was simply placed at the doorway leading into the small third PCPA theater where a performance of the play, “Menopause” was being staged. Oh well.

We went to a club or two after the concert and since it was Pride weekend, they were busy. We ended up at Slaughters who was having a beach party. We all enjoyed ourselves and returned to town the next day for the Gay Pride Parade. Well, Rodger did anyway with Brenda and her Mom visiting here from Wisconsin.

Mark joined up with them later at Kell’s where we enjoyed good food and some great chat. After lunch we all parted ways, and we bade Portland Pride farewell:

The Pride Festival was SO packed we came on home where a return to preparations for the week’s duties ensued. On Monday, the veggies were watered with some hope that our new weather forecast is accurate. We should be up to 90 by Saturday and that may stay around a few days. WHOOPEE ! ! ! I think Summer just began.

By the way, earlier Saturday, we rode with neighbors Dave & Deborah, and their friends, Seth and Susan to the Dixie Mountain Strawberry Festival to see what all the hoopla about their “famous” “Strawberry Short Cake” was. Dave & Deborah are building a most exotic house from scratch. Dave’s quite the engineer so has literally spent some years getting it to the point it is now. It is so solidly built, I doubt they’ll spend more than $1.00 per winter heating the place. It’s gorgeous, and finally getting inside work done. EACH phase, however, takes weeks. Before Dave can pass an Electric inspection, for example, he must run miles and miles of wiring throughout the entire structure. It’s an amazing project to watch roll out. Seth and Susan are doing the same thing on an 8 acre plot of land that you can see Mt. Rainier and Mt St Helens from. Seth has worked in Metals enough that this place is built solidly on Iron and Steel. Solid metal flooring, Metal framing, and you have a most interesting place. He has a crane sitting by this house because HE builds the pieces, lifts them up with the crane, then attaches many of them all by himself. These are INTERESTING people. For a guy like Mark, who has to carefully analyze to make sure he has the right size of wrench, it’s a mystery how someone can even THINK of standing next to a huge metal wall held up by a crane and fastening it to a new house.

Woops. Back to the berry festival. After a beautiful drive over to the North Plains area (really only 10-15 miles. Skyline Blvd ends up at Dixie Mtn Road) on a dirt road somewhere on Dixie Mountain. Remote enough in the hills that passing deer were out in the middle of the day. We arrived at this remote Grange Hall where a lot of people are browsing around some farmer’s booths and lined up for: Strawberry Shortcake. You can buy small $5., Large $10, and Family: $25. Here’s the small:

At two inches deep, this was a huge meal in itself. It was luscious, homemade, and fabulous all on its own. We WILL go next year. What a little adventure that was.

Friends hiked up Dog Mountain last week. It’s way up the gorge on the Washington side (across from Cascade Locks) and I’m sorry the web page won’t hold the original BIG picture to get a real perspective. Just remember when looking at the little one here, that the river in the picture is the huge Columbia a few miles from the picture site. The hike takes folks up to about 3,000 ft, so it changes how everything looks, and it looks spectacular:

Rodger snapped this evening picture of some rhubarb leaves I had simply put on the compost heap a couple days before. Fairly dramatic, eh?

I DO think he may well find some day his artistic eye with a camera may end up making him some money some day.

I have probably left out the most interesting item we’ve done this past week, but, remember, in Portland, if the sun is OUT…………we’re busy.

Mark & Rodger.

Prairie Home Companion: The Movie

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday June 21, 2006

On Saturday, June 10, we went to see: Prairie Home Companion, the Movie

One word is it for this movie in our opinion: Fabulous. Some critics criticized it for not having much of a plot? They’re a critic and don’t know what a semi-documentary is? It’s a sort of doc movie about a Radio Show that includes a look at what happens backstage. It’s Altman at his finest. It is a poetic beautifully made film about a slice of America that used to exist. I say “used” to exist? Well if the average age of the movie goers at our screening was an indicator, it won’t be around forever since most of them were older than me.
I resented the movie review we watched on Ebert/Roeper. Roger Ebert gave it a glowing heartfelt review and loved it. Roeper squashed it simply because he doesn’t LIKE these kinds of programs, doesn’t like acoustic string music at all, and wouldn’t go to one of these shows if he were paid to. How can he give a neutral review? He didn’t say ONE thing about the quality of the film itself, just how much he hates homey shows so gave it a big thumbs down. Ridiculous.

I can only say, if a person doesn’t like Keillor and his genius, or this movie, then that person has probably never spent much time in a small town. For someone who grew up there, and can still recite dozens of stories about the wonderful folk there. AND: although not a Lutheran, as the stern Wobegoners are, growing up Mormon or any American Protestant religion has much connection to them. Even hearing about the wobegon Catholics with their ceremonies and ritual, I distinctly remember the same feeling in Vale Oregon watching my Catholic friends grow up.

We LOVED this movie and all that came with it.

berry season

Bloged in garden,Pacific Northwest by mark Tuesday June 13, 2006

I scored today! So I did something I haven’t done before. It’s berry season. Since the pickup needed gas anyway, I tied Mac in the back, and wound down to Linnton to fill up. Linnton’s close to our famous produce farms, so……. we then motored on over to Sauvie Island and peeked at the Pumpkin Patch. There were flats of Oregon Native Hood Strawberries just picked.

These aren’t the big steroid units we get from California. They’re smaller but packed with flavor. Price? $14.00 per entire FLAT ! ! ! I got a flat and had eaten a bunch before I even got home. Once home, they were safe as I immediately hulled them, dry-packed them and they’re now in the freezer. Next time you come by, make SURE you ask to taste the Strawberry Freezer Jam that I’ll be making through this year! ! ! I have finally realize I too can make this luscious berry freezer stuff just like Mom used to make ! ! This frozen Strawberry Jam is fabulous.

And as a plus, Macko had a romp in the river……………a plus since the evening hours after these swims means a quiet little happy dog.

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