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November, 2006 | Scuff Productions

BIRD Watcher Headline: Scenes from a window on a Frosty Morning

Bloged in birding,Nature,Pacific Northwest by mark Wednesday November 29, 2006

Portland sits in a cold snap. Chicago and Midwest Heartlanders, Montana Ranchers, and LOTS of folks would laugh when we whine that we’re 20 degrees at the last of November and we’re COLD. OUR climate is NOT used to this in November. We will get to these temps mid-January for about 2-3 weeks and it’s over. The high today will only be 30 or a little above up here.
Looking from the deck down to the hillside, the frost/snow combo never melted yesterday and won’t today. Portland is on a WINTER STORM WATCH and here’s a tiny bit of the text from that warning issued by the National Weather Service (our beeing at the end of the Columbia Gorge doesn’t help when these cold snaps arrive…..EAST winds blow down from the cold inland valleys and help set up the situation described here):



The last of our roses didn’t have a chance, and by tomorrow morning will be enclosed in a smooth shield of ice most likely:
For a bird watcher (not a serious one, a hobbyist) whose been feeding the little guys that winter over with us for years now, a COLD snap like this means a little extra effort on OUR part saves lives. Seriously! You saw all the frost on all the trees above. When lots of food sources aren’t around for these guys, we can help. I took the camera to the window looking at the deck and at first glance (and looking at a smaller picture than the original)…………can you see any birds at all? Can you see the Male Hairy Woodpecker at the suet feeder? (There are at least a dozen birds in this picture)
OK. Hard to see in that, BUT…………. thanks to Rodger’s acquiring a Spotting Scope (while I whined about the cost), we can get a bit better view of our little friends who come to eat. Here’s a FEW of the birds that came in the minutes I took pictures. Sorry I missed a favorite, the Northern Flicker….big and beautiful, but SHY. He flew off twice when I got close enough to snap the pic.

Here’s the smallest woodpecker we have in our forests, the cute male DOWNY WOODPECKER (The female will not have the red band on the head):
and he moves FAST when he chips into the suet:
and he gets wary for good reason. Predators that might arrive from above (See the note about the big Cooper’s Hawk at the end of this post)
Here is the next size up woodpecker, a nice proud Male HAIRY WOODPECKER:
You can see his red band when he turns to the side:
And his lovely more subtle colored female counterpart, Female Hairy:
and yet another so cute shot of this lovely female:

We have numbers of these other smaller birds (I KNOW I didn’t get all of them). Here’s a cute black-capped chickadee, a resident favorite of ours because of their bubbly personalities and fearlessness. They’ll let you stand within a foot of their feeding if you are quiet about it: In the summer when their young have fledged, they bring the entire family in one group to feeders and it’s a madhouse for a few days.
Not to be outdone, the Nuthatches also always fun to watch, even though they are so small….but look at those LONG feet and you can tell they spend a lot of time climbing tree branches looking for insects:

We can’t forget the gorgeous winter visitors from Alasks, the Varied Thrush:
These fascinating guys fly into the Northwest every winter from ALASKA! They think THIS place is Florida or something? I suppose if you consider the weather they were leaving, this IS Florida.

They are Robin cousins so feed on the ground most of the time as do several of our winter resident birds.

On to the mammals invaders. These little bullies are NOT native to the West. Early Pioneers complained that the native Douglas Squirrels were ugly (they’re not) so had friends bring in the Eastern Fox Squirrels who now have driven out most of the native population we had. They are cute, however:

They’ll sit out here and devour seed by the pound:
Yes, too cute:

This next picture I DID NOT take. It is from the web. We both love these guys more than any other wildlife visitor that visits our home and if I’m talking about WHAT motivates us to feed the animals, THIS guy would take the trophy. LOTS of residents up here in the woods NEVER see these guys because they feed under the cover of darkness, and hence, become one of the targets of owls. FLYING SQUIRRELS

And Now I realize I’ve spent entirely TOO much time on this blog, but I did get caught up in the moment of cold weather vs. our little friends, and so………they won. They’re all going to be well fed for the next couple of days.

And I couldn’t resist, I said I didn’t get a picture today of the Northern Flicker so grabbed one Rodger took a couple years ago. He’s just TOO Gorgeous not to include since he WAS feeding out there with the other birds I did capture:

By the way…………while just finishing this up, I just had a most thrilling sighting. About 100 feet from this office window, a huge Cooper’s Hawk just landed by the edge of some bushes. He sat there about 30 seconds. What a thrilling view.

OKAY. Back to working on finances where I SHOULD have spent the last two hours rather than escaping into the absolute thrill of preparing this post. ………..what a time consuming thing it is to actually commit to figuring out exactly WHAT my finances amount to. Yuk.

A Change is coming? Do I hear bells?

Bloged in garden,General Home Life by mark Wednesday November 29, 2006

Faithful to our past, those outdoor lights went up the day after Thanksgiving (or was it that day because the day after our weather was to begin a steep decline?. Now we glow in the dark with a simple line-o-lights along the roofline:
Before our rain – changing to snow – changing to freezing weather arrived (and mind you, a freeze in Portland at 20 degrees in November IS rare and hard on our little microworld wildlife), I decided to go ahead and harvest my FIRST Bay Leaves from the plant we just started this summer, and don’t they look like they’ll be perfect when dried?
They DID turn out great and are now safely bottled in the cabinet. However, the Bay Leaf Shrub isn’t too hardy, and I didn’t cover it…..will it survive?

We brought in our two experimental HOT Habanero Fatale II and Serrano Potted Pepper plants a bit ago, and the peppers continued hanging safely on, but complained about having to sit in a bathtub:
We’ve sinced harvested those super hot Fatales and they’re now drying on a thread.

The next fun thing once the weather arrived exactly as forecast, and is NOW VERY cold for us, was to once again make Scott’s (Purple Twinkie) Tomato Dog Treats for Mac. They’re fun to roll out, cut and bake:

Best of all is the simple fact, MAC loves these things……if you’d like the recipe let me know. They would be GREAT fun for kids to make, and THANKS, Scott! ! ! !

So NOW, we wait for this cold snap to leave. We’re having a fire each night and stirring it back to life in the morning until the house warms up again…….. So with air as cold as it is outside, the house has been very comfy.

Yesterday, I walked Mac with his girlfriend Ellie and her owners Baird and Karen. We were ALL wrapped up as warm as we could be with hats and gloves on. How did the dogs react to the cold? Not a blink. In and out of the “ponds” (lots of standing water now down in Forest Park…since all of the rain), getting as muddy as they could. It amazes me that MAC, unlike our old Chessie Tucker isn’t covered with thick fur underneath. Lots of his belly is bare but for some reason, cold still has no effect on him. They’re FUN to watch scrambling in the snow and mud, REALLY fun.

Is the Wasatch Prayer Experience Universal?

Bloged in Mormons by mark Saturday November 25, 2006

Well. I don’t normally link to a newspaper article but truly feel what this funny Mormon writer did was express a universal human experience. Bargaining with God. Seriously? YOU have NEVER bargained with God. If you have, read this so you can giggle at yourself for a bit:

The Wasatch Prayer Experience

Now. Feel better? I did. Then I ate some more Turkey and Gravy.

Turkey Day Disconnect Post-Script

Bloged in Family,Scuff Boys by mark Saturday November 25, 2006

And once again, my little disconnected heart was redeemed on that uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving by the love and camaraderie celebrated with dear friends and extended family Baird & Karen Smith. Along with Karen’s folks, Keith and Helen, Uncle Wilbur at 88 and brother Bob, the remaining guests were two other neighborhood couples. This group of folks are really our extended family now into our 10th year of living so close to them. IT was a joyful afternoon, and the Smiths leave NO detail untouched when making their guests feel welcomed and loved. Hurray! I am whole once again.

How Can You be Disconnected to Thanksgiving ??

Bloged in General Home Life,Scuff Boys by mark Thursday November 23, 2006

Listen up kids………….. I am 60. If I thought I’d ever be 60 when I was 22…….I would have said “that’s another lifetime from now.” IF I thought I’d be 60 when I was 59………..I think I just said yesterday, It’s not possible! I was 22 about 3 hours ago.”

I am feeling very disconnected from this holiday. Well at least maybe until tomorrow…there’s always hope!. Is it simply age (*I turned 60 in October)?

My role model parents, uncles, aunts, & some cousins have already died or disappeared (about 99.5% died) on my radar.
I am at the moment left with one beloved, favorite Aunt. As I “type” this, my beloved Aunt Merle is in a nursing home in John Day, Oregon on this Thanksgiving Eve because of recent mini-strokes, a dying faulty heart valve, and other “incidents” linked with age.


My Aunt Merle was the youngest on my Mom’s side of the family. She was a “bit” of a rebel in those years (there were NOT rebels in those years) because she and her sister Pauline signed up with the WAVes (females in the Navy) for their patriotic duty…… (or was it to escape the hopeless life of the farming poor in Eastern Oregon?)

My disconnect with the holiday is: The ENTIRE generation older than me have finally departed but for Aunt Merle, who is preparing to do just that. With Aunt Merle leaving, I can no longer feel a “real” link to a blood-relative Thanksgiving Dinner where relatives put on the smiles, the heart-felt love, put aside any differences and say “THANK YOU” for what they DO have.

My other “Nancy” cousin here in Lake Oswego endures a pain that has separated her from her partner Warden. Warden lives with the Brain Tumor Experience and has for two years now. Warden is not the same person he was then, and is not certain of what lies before him. I have been to Nancy & Wardens house several times, but have been NO help. Warden is NOT the Warden I knew, and I am NOT the partner assigned to help Warden out through this experience.

SO……………………………. This Thanksgiving.

WE are TRULY blessed because we are NOT forgotten and luckily, healthy. Tomorrow, we are joining other neighbors with Baird & Karen Smith and their own parents for what I’m sure will be an honestly memorable feast. NO discredit to them at all, rather a flag of honor in that they always make sure that they take “care” of those in need….and I don’t mean that in the vague homeless way….. neighbors Steve & Krysta for example would be in South Dakota …..but they’re going for an extended stay at Christmas. So they’re here without family. Dave & Deborah, the newlyweds building the new castle at the corner WERE going to Seattle unitl the last minute………….they’ll be there. So, the beloved Smiths with Karen’s folks will take us all under umbrella and truthfully, we will believe we ARE family when we are there.

When I come home tomorrow night, I will also probably connect with Rodger’s family on the phone for a bit and feel in MY heart that THIS is my family…….. There lies the disconnect. I finally KNOW that I’ve reached 60 years and as the “baby” in the family, unfortunately, I have seen my own family disappear.

I DO have nieces and nephews however most of them are distant. Our family did experience Death (my sister) and then divorce (all brothers but one). The non-divorced “good” Mormon, you know the one considered “worthy” in his own Mormon cocoon circles ripped our family apart by somehow losing our Fathers entire inheritance in real estate scams (then lied about “where the money was” for years). He then called two of us who called him out on his deeds gold-diggers for being angry about it. Like THAT would be the link holding people together.

ALL members of my blood family have left the Mormon Church and religion in general except this one who still preaches in the chapels of Utah giving advice to those who are “less than himself” who serves as a “High Priest” to the great unwashed. Believers are expected to heel unto the advice of these “brethren” if they “hope” to keep their “blood” family linked for the great eternity. Really. Would one really WANT to be linked and chained to these people? The TRUTH is I’m lucky to have two brothers I can relate and talk to without the color of religion shading up our thoughts and opinions. When religion is progressive and lived as lots of dreamers wrote it up to be, then it’s wonderful. Sadly so often it becomes dogma and oppression to most.

SO…………..really I have no complaint. Somehow, when ALL your “blood” connection to Thanksgiving is non-existent, the nature of the holiday changes.

I AM learning NEW connections that should have been there in the first place. Thanksgiving for friendship, love, commitment.

THAT is what I am learning for THIS 2006 Thanksgiving. Thank you Rodger, Baird & Karen, Aunt Paula, Bruce & Kevin, Karen T, Bruce & Nancy P, Nancy M, Thomas & Brenda, etc etc etc.

As my “blood” relatives passed away and we blood relatives no longer surrounded ourselves at a table to hold hands in an American kind of Thanksgiving, I became more distant to what the day celebrated.

In the mean years in-between there were WONDERFUL Thanksgiving holidays with extended gay “families”. They were fantastic, fantastic food, friendship, fellowship, etc. They were NOT what the blood Thanksgiving was and for years, I thought it was an improvement on the holiday.

Now, as I approach seniorhood, I’m feeling a heartache knowing that the familiar blood relative Thanksgiving Holiday is no more. NO MORE of us same-age cousins making fun of anybody.
ON the UP-side…………..I’m learning an entirely NEW meaning of this holiday.

I HAVE HOW thankful I TRULY AM for my partners family. They have absorbed me in ways I never knew an “in-law” family would. They have considered me son/uncle/cousin/partner from the day I met Rodger in 1989. I SHOULD write MORE about that……………..


Ah………….I’m now a “morgan” cousin.

FOX is IN the henhouse with RUPERT MURDOCH

Bloged in Political by mark Wednesday November 22, 2006

Well, Friends:

Does Rupert Murdoch (FOX NEWS) have ANY Ethics?

Not according to this AP article this morning. Why was I not surprised to read this. BEFORE HE cancelled the OJ Simpson contracts about “The Confessions”, he offered the Brown Family Millions of Dollars to “ease the pain” I suppose. Read this:

News Corp. accused of hush money offer
2006/11 By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

NEW YORK – The O.J. Simpson O.J. Simpson book saga took another twist Tuesday when his former sister-in-law, Denise Brown, accused the media company behind the project of trying to buy her family‘s silence for “millions of dollars.”

A spokesman for News Corp., owner of Fox Broadcasting and publisher HarperCollins, confirmed that the company had conversations with representatives of Nicole Brown Simpson‘s and Ron Goldman‘s families over the past week and that the families were offered profits from the planned Simpson book and television show, but he denied that it was hush money.

Denise Brown told NBC‘s “Today” show Tuesday that her family saw it as hush money.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

MARK SAYS: I HOPE you will VOTE on this issue by choosing OTHER venues to get your NEWS FROM. This simply confirms everything we’ve always KNOWN about Muroch’s NEWS EMPIRE (including Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, et al) that what you hear from them is NOT TRUTH or NEWS.

Food Insecurity. Do YOU have it?

Bloged in Political by mark Wednesday November 22, 2006

Dear Friends:
Today, the U.S. Government has all but said we’ve solved the poor and hunger problems in America. The Starving poor are simply “food insecure”.

If you want to SKIP my little RANT and about the “Food Insecurity” issue only then at least please go straight to the point of my writing, i.e., the little headline that started this is at the bottom:

BUT………….in the meantime………………

I want to make SURE everyone I KNOW reads this article on yet another new Government Use of Words to change the truth, i.e., PROPAGANDA.

Propoganda has been used with wild abandon by our government for a long time. Our current administration does lie about almost everything. For Bush it began in his first year with Cheney having secret meetings with energy companies the details of which are STILL secret but you’re paying double for oil products now (yes there’s lots of reasons for that but don’t think for a minute that most of it isn’t because of manipulation by the oil companies…check their profit statements this past year). Since then they’re distorting truth in statistics about environmental pollution (another deadly serious matter), corporate oversight (next to none), federal appointees, lobbyists (Abramoff and elected congressmen), MEDICARE and Health Care, FDA and all your Food Supply, the Military Industrial Complex (aka IRAQ wars, privatization of the military), and MOST of all, BUSH has been expanding Presidential Powers to a scary degree almost every time he signs a bill (google the word: “Signing Statements”.

Disclaimer: The Issue I’m ranting about DID get started in “committee” in Washington as early as 1992, so it’s not Bush Personally who started this but it fits his administrations pattern of saying things like, “This isn’t a wolf at your door, it’s mere puppy. You just need to change your view of this “puppy. He won’t hurt you.”

They’ve stooped to a NEW LOW today by releasing a change in policy about the poor. There are no more hungry folk around your town, they are simply “Food Insecure”. Somehow it bothers me that It IS OKAY to SPEND BILLIONS on a Distorted Tragic WAR Murdering Hundreds of Thousands of Innocent People and NOT have funding to help the desperately poor, homeless, disturbed and otherwise handicapped in our OWN society.

READ THIS LITTLE HEADLINE THIS MORNING and think that over a spot of tea:

No more ‘hungry’ Americans: US government says

Nov 20 6:37 PM US/Eastern

The US government has tweaked its terminology in referring to the nearly 11 million Americans who face a constant struggle with hunger to refer to them as people with “very low food security.”

According to a report released this month by the US Department of Agriculture, roughly 35 million Americans had difficulty feeding themselves in 2005 and of those some 10.8 million went hungry.
But unlike last year’s report on hunger in America, which labeled families who don’t get enough to eat as having “food insecurity with hunger,” this year’s report referred to them as having “very low food security.”

The change in terminology has angered groups that fight hunger who say it is aimed at hiding a stark reality.

“There is very widespread feeling that it was a mistake to water down the language,” Jim Weill, director of the Washington-based Food Research and Action Center, a non-profit organization, told AFP.

“There are 35 million people in this country who are struggling with hunger, no matter what you call it,” he added. “An there is no way ultimately to obscure the fact that we’re an incredibly wealthy country with 35 million people who are struggling with hunger.”

US officials have defended the change, saying it is based on a recommendation from the National Academies, which advises the government on science and medical issues.

OKAY friends, that’s it………….but if you think I’m being silly, here’s the Governments WEB PAGES on this matter. They’ve wasted more than 10 years on committees to come up with this way to tweak the fact people are starving in every city in this country…..but have a look, view some of the worksheets, you should get a good laugh or cry whichever way you want to look at the issue:

click here to enter: The USDA.GOV/Briefing/FoodSecurity/

Oh well. I’m experiencing Food Insecurity. It’s Back to hopefully mashing some dried oats I dug out of the neighbor’s horse stall for some cereal then going out to look for seeds or grubs for my lunch, eh?

Politicians Come in All Religions. Even Mormons.

Bloged in Mormons by mark Tuesday November 21, 2006

I have had no use for Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts. He’s stumped for BUSINESSMEN 100% and you would expect that since the only company he founded was a capital investment firm and he’s a Republican AND……..a long time Mormon. His father was George Romney who saved American Motors (remember the Rambler? Whew! How many poor Mormon Missionaries had to drive around in those wrecks? I remember them being called “Romney Bombs” when I was a missionary.

Anyways. Mass. lawmakers passed Same-Sex Marriage a couple of years ago and nothing bad happened. It’s not been contested, and been tolerated. Mitt Romney did not do ONE thing to try to overturn it while he WAS Governor. Here’s the angry part.

Now that he’s a lame duck governor and…. RUNNING FOR President of America, he’s milking the far-right insane born-again crowd by trying to BAN SAME SEX MARRIAGE in Mass. even THOUGH the Mass. Legislature is already out of session. This angers me because he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the subject except it would buy votes from the Republican Born Agains, the SAME crowd George Bush stumped the same BAN for while running for president. Once Bush became president, he showed the extremists that he really didn’t care about the subject. SAME WITH ROMNEY. That hypocrisy coming from someone portraying themselves as living THE only TRUE religion, that he alone (of all candidates) follows the rules of the ONLY Church that God talks to through a prophet, and oh, yes, he’s another wealthy white republican who has not an ounce of care for the poor, the uneducated, i.e., the powerless.

SO. Simply browsing a MA. blog I saw something even I missed for about 5 seconds.

The MA. blogger was talking about Romney and his poor record as Governor. “But he does have the only unique stance on this whole marriage question. He’s against Man-Man Woman-Woman marriage, but even Man-Woman doesn’t cover it all for him.

Mitt Romney believes that “Marriage should only be between a Man and a woman ……. and a woman ……. and a woman ……… and a woman ………. . As I laughed out loud, I thought of this early Mormon Prophet Brigham Young who had the same philosophy:
And that was just “some” of Brigham’s harem. Some have said by the time he died he had over 57 wives. Others say just 27.

Oh well. I did enjoy reading what he probably really stands for regarding marriage.

Jesus on your Food

Bloged in food: recipes + dining out,humor by mark Monday November 20, 2006

I couldn’t resist. I’ve borrowed a picture from Lelo in NoPo’s page as an inspiration to my future wealth. Lelo is almost our neighbor and writes a gardening column for Oregon Live. She and partner AdRi were married the same week we were in March 2004.

Now. On to our subject at hand. It seems that everytime someone sees an image of “the” Jesus in something it sells for a million somewhere. I’m buying THIS pan and selling my creations at Saturday Market:
Do you think I can make a lot-0-money from certain targeted conservative righties? Perhaps if I could, WE will be happier, and they will be contributing less money to King W.

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