I've noted the quaint rural quality of my weekly S.E. Oregon County Seat AND Cowtown Newspaper before (Remember the headliner? "Manure Meeting"). Ah, yes, The Malheur Enterprise, affectionately called, by my father, "The Manure Spreader." On the society page THIS week, I noted the "Jordan Valley News" column and decided to read it. ***Jordan Valley was originally settled by young Basque Sheepherders...... they spent many summers entirely alone in this desert............ Their descendants still live there. The Basque restaurant still serves meals family style. You eat what they've fixed for that day. There is magnificent desert beauty in this part of Malheur County. Those who visit the Steens AND see Leslie Gulch or Succor Creek Canyon, or Owyhee Reservoir, are all awe struck when they visit, and tell me they're happy they went on those extra miles. That was a tiny view of Succor Creek....a fantastic hike you're guaranteed to see hundreds of quail and chuckers.*** This is Leslie Gulch....hundreds of curved roiled volcanic rock that cooled into fantastic shapes, another fantastic hike: As I began to say, I read this note in the little Jordan Valley News column in this week's "Manure Spreader", aka, Malheur Enterprise: "The 3-on-3 Basketball Tourney wil begin at noon April 5 at the high school gym. The deadline to sign up is April3. Cost if $45 per team or $15 per player. Pee-wee games are $15 per game. $5 per player. For more info contact *******. Proceeds to go towards Mike and Zelda Workman's medical bills." WHAT? Mike Workman is my first cousin who moved to Jordan Valley because Zelda inherited her father's working cattle ranch. So with no money, but promise of a ranch, they moved. Zelda actually IS a working rancher and works the cattle! She IS the cowboy I could never have been. Mike volunteers to coach the school's basketball team, tries to make a few extra bucks mowing and baling hay with his big haying machine he's in debt for. The REAL life in the west, eh? The town loves these two, no doubt, partly because Mike's got a smile as big as he is tall, and he IS tall. I called Mike's sis, Nancy, who's my age and lives in Seattle. She had no idea what I was talking about. What? The entire town's holding a fund-raiser for your brother because of some kind of medical disaster and you don't know? She said she'd find out. Nancy called me back last night to say: After the move to J.V., they decided to postpone getting health insurance until they were settled in a bit. Unfortunately, Zelda's gall bladder called them on that decision, and one big surgery later, they're now about $20,000 in debt to an HMO. So, you RAY cousins reading this, send me or Nancy P. a note.....maybe we could all be sending a buck or two to Mike, eh? As much as I despise our failed health care system in this country, one MUST carry SOME level of health insurance even if the deductible's HIGH....Had these two carried a cheap policy with $3000 deductible and big co-pay, they'd be in better shape today. Oh well. That's what I get for reading this cowtown newspaper.
Public transportation isn't something Rodger and I know much about here in Portland. The closest connection to a bus line is 2.6 miles away down about 800 feet of curvy Germantown Road. I "have" taken Bus 17 from there when I was on Jury Duty twice, a nice little ride with the car parked at the Police Station in St Johns. Other than that, for us, by the time we've arrived at a spot to catch the bus, we're almost at the place we want to be sometimes. However. The 1998 trusty Subie needed front brakes. Do I go to the Dealer AGAIN as I always have? For the $325 they WANT to charge, they do provide a rental if it's more than two hours. The â€œextraâ€ work â€œtheyâ€ want to do on this car while they're putting on brake shoes isn't necessary and doesn't bring an expired warranty back to life. I perused Angie's List. There it was. GerBroc was the closest service joint with an AAA rating, NO complaints, and LOTS of happy customers writing about it. They're next door to a great "biscuits and gravy" joint called: Beaterville Cafe. They'll do the whole job and oil change for $181. Issue: THEY want the car all day, no rental. Why all day? They say "just in case" they run into something unexpected. Hm. Sounds suspect, but with Angie in mind, I made the appointment. So. I find myself at 0800 Wednesday somewhere along N. Killingsworth Ave only 7 blocks from Portlands â€œYellowâ€ line Tri-Met's light rail line, the MAXX runs straight downtown ending up at 10th near Portlands beautiful old Central Library. My mind saw me as a kind of man of the rails, a one-stop explorer. I'd get on the MAXX and end up discovering something fantastic in that beautiful library with all the hours I would have. I arrived at the boarding ramp for MAXX with lots of other morning commuters. Of course, I wanted to look like a seasoned commuter while figuring out buying a ticket. I glanced at the ticket dispenser for a couple minutes, and of course, with experienced riders looking on, began to push buttons. Didn't work. Another button, and another. Not one person said a word. I finally asked the kid next to me, who replied, "I don't live here, first time on the train. Staying with my buddy, and he gave me a pass to get back to the airport." Hm. Pushed again. No one even smiles. I finally ask a guy walking by me, who quickly says, "Oh yeah, that booth NEVER works. Get on the train and tell the conductor, he'll give you a ticket, and that's how they get these fixed. This needs to be reported." Oh. Okay. Nice, several people watched, and I guess were just running wagers in their silent heads about how long it would take me to give up. Hrumph. The MAXX arrives, weâ€™re aboard, and I head for the conductor's corner. First thing I see? "Do NOT talk to or bother the conductor while train is in motion." I just understood why that booth doesn't get fixed. By the time we cross paths with the "Red" line MAXX that goes to the airport, the out-of-towner gives me his pass....saying I might as well use it. Thanks. It took another â€œirregularâ€ to be helpful. But I had settled into sightseeing mode. It was great not driving. You see things you can NEVER observe driving alongside 10000 others. We move along, and the train begins to empty out as it moves closer to the end of the run. As we approach the library, a humanoid voice announces that to continue west to Hillsboro, one must wait for the "Blue" line train................ I haul out at 10th street and see the library isn't open yet, the handful of homeless awaiting immediate entry. When it does open the intellectual spot a homeless guy needs at 0900: bathroom. HEY, I'm already invigorated. I can ALWAYS come back to the library. I have NEVER been into the Robertson Tunnel. What would keep me from heading West, eh? The "Blue" Line MAXX was enticing. The West Side Light Rail had just begun construction when we moved here in 1996. Connecting to Washington County involved digging a 3 mile tunnel 400 feet under the west hills so the run could be extended out to Beaverton and on to Hillsboro. One stop was built directly under the zoo about 400 feet down. I hopped aboard the blue line and headed west out of Portland. In just a couple minutes we entered the tunnel: How about that! Portland has a stretch of subway. I wasn't aware when in the tunnel, this train would pick up speed but we did. It became an express train for a minute until we purred to a stop the Washington Park Station">Washington Park Station Across from the wall shown, I could clearly see, a fabulous tubed-core of sediment running along the 200 feet wall with a timeline of earth histroy etched into the granite. I needed to SEE this place! BUT.......I stayed on the train.......got up to hi speed again until we smoothly came into the Transit Center at the end of the 3 mile segment. By now, I'd changed my mind about going West! I climbed out of the westbound station, over to the eastbound and was soon headed back to that underground tunnel train stop. Hell. I'm HERE now. I got on the elevator to get up to the ground level because now I'd decided to see the Vietnam Memorial. That was a fabulous experience. I was the only one there on this cold damp morning other than 3 male robins in treetops clearly and loudly and beautiful calling out territory. In just a short walk, one is completely away from any public sighting except these gardens and monuments: ...................................... I walked back and other points of interest were closed: Hoyt Arboretum Oregon Zoo Oh well. Back to the elevator and down...............going down this machine is okay...instead of Floor levels, you watch your elevation drop by 400 feet............... That earth core display was fascinating. Out of the 200 feet length, and millions of years it represented in layers of sediment, fire, flood, the human influence WE are part of is a blip at the end of this core....and just HOW quickly WE have altered earth was shown by marking the times of crucial inventions by man like: Irrigation, Printing, Fire, Advertising, etc. I would have stayed, but this tunnel was surprisingly windy cold...every time a train passed through, it pushed blocks of cold air ahead of it. I LOVED this visit though, what a surprise here in Portland I would NEVER have seen had I not ridden the rail this morning. I returned on my Blue Line to the Library, and enjoyed a couple hours there. I called GerBrock who said the car was just being finished! Heck my adventure was over already? I called Rodger to see if he wanted to do "lunch", but he was having a chaotic day, I went out into the now RAINY day, and waited for my 'Yellow' line connection. I was soon headed north, disboarded at K-worth, and again soon, was talking to the owner, "Don" who explained some things about dealers vs. his kind of shop much to my liking. The Repair Bill was $120 cheaper than the dealer. So. Now I headed home, and greeted Mac who was at least somebody happy to see me. So. What else did my mind and soul see today? Commuters. Well, kind of "the Usual Suspects" and a few more. ....Some stayed up late, were snoozing..... ....Some looked a bit stoned to be heading into work, but maybe they weren't going to work in that outfit? ....Two or three probaby heading for the airport Red connection with bags in tow. ....Businessmen? I saw NO guy in a suit. Not ONE. Shows we really do NOT have a REAL mass transit system the business community is part of .....yet. You mean all the stiff white collar boys don't want to ride with the commoners? I guess they are all the ones jamming the freeways in their cars....THEY are the ones who can afford the parking fees and high gas costs. Honk that Horn! ....The midnight shift folk heading tiredly home. Sights. Some expected, some unexpected. ....The development along the Willamette's edge in the Alber Mills area....they sure look too close to the water if we had big spring floods again as in 1996. .... Portland is STILL a beautiful city in many ways partly out of lay of sloped hills, partly out of the number of open spaces and parks I hope they keep. ....The 105 year old Train Station. ....The Bridges: St Johns, Steel, Broadway, Burnside, Ross Island, Sellwood. All old, all unique, none are sterile. ....Some landscaping along the side of the rails up in the hills......nice on details. Street watching while waiting: .... The van going by with all those speakers on high, one arm out the window with a big Monkey Puppet dancing frantically to the music, brought howls of laughter from EVERYBODY. .... In this cold wet rain, under an overhang, two scruffy homeless types playing two violins....CLASSICAL Music! .... Moms with babies in strollers. These gals KNEW how to get around, knew the rails, and I liked this young idea they had of using public transportation. .... Some of the absolutely stoned addicts using those overhangs......were a bit unsettling, and ALL of them smoked. I thought what a public cost this is for the Oregon Health Plan. You can't force an adult addict into recovery as I know from personal experience, though. Still, this was sad, since Portland, DOES have some, not enough, but "some" recovery centers around for anyone who asks. Simply put, I saw Portland for the first time today.....in some ways. It was almost a freedom from driving, parking, gassing, consumption, I hadn't experienced. It was exhilarating a bit.................. I certainly won't mind taking the car in to GerBrock next time. Hey. It beat exploring the buried car down the hill..............didn't it?
I thought spring was here. I sent sympathy notes to friends in the Midwest -- some being flooded out, some still shoveling snow. I sort of began eyeing heavy clothes in the front closet that were soon going to the back room for 7 months. We finished off the wood in the garage, I cleaned out the wood stove. Happy to do it considering the number of mornings this winter we woke up to frozen roads and snow falling......but never piling up. Well. Yesterday it came back. Yes, temps are in the 40's by afternoon, but heavy showers are pulling down hail and snow showers not common for the last of March. Forecasts call for snow tonight that will be on the ground when we get up! I hauled wood in again. I gave up today. I put on the heaviest sweatshirt over long-sleeved t-shirts to go out and weed out early dandelions, and a bit of maintenance. The old forecaster said, "In 22 years of forecasting in Portland, I have never seen this kind of pattern this late in the season." Oh well....... 'nuff said.
The following Mormon memory did more to enlighten, confuse, astound, and scare me in one afternoon than most others. After years digesting that it was only, but wonderfully human and completely laughable, I have decided to record it. Every young Mormon boy was expected, at age 19, to fulfill a mission for his Church. If he was assigned to an English speaking country, it would be for 2 years. If a foreign language country, 2 1/2 years since the first few months would be spent in a language training center. Before every boy COULD go, however, he must be found worthy to be elevated from his current teenage position in the "Aaronic", or in other words, little boy Priesthood. For male's only, one's Priesthood callings in life begin at age 12 as a "Deacon". The Deacons sole responsibility was to pass the trays of "sacrament offerings" each Sunday to the congregation row by row. If found worthy, at 14 one would advance to the Priesthood level of "Teacher". Now, you could still pass bread/water trays around, but you would become a home "teacher". Hah. Simply put, one was assigned to do "Home Teaching" monthly with an adult Priesthood holder. Once visits 3-4 families one night a month, listen to the older guy teach a lesson, have a prayer, eat a cookie, and leave. At age 16, as you neared completion of High School, and were beginning to feel the weight of approaching adulthood (in your mind) along with the fear and absolutely magnetic pull of the freedom of leaving home, one was lifted one more level up, and became a "Priest". Wow. Now one could pass the offerings, "do home teaching" & eat a cookie, plus NOW you would "bless the sacrament offerings". Then with condescending eyes, you handed out those bread / water trays to the "little" deacon boys for them for distribution to the congregation. Isn't it ALL just romantic as hell? **Mark Age 16** Now, you're about 17 and have begun college! In the 60's! An entire world is opening up in your consciousness. Well it probably was, unless, that is, you went to BYU in 1964. Yes, Brigham Young University, or as many now call it, "Bringem Young", the Lord's University, where nothing impure enters. Where snitching is encouraged if you even hear about immoral behavior on any level. If you catch your roommate with a dirty magazine, perhaps you should tell his Bishop. Luckily in 1964, they weren't snitching on homosexuals yet. I wasn't aware of what a homosexual was let alone that I was one. I became occasionally aware of stange kind of surreal dream-like fantasy short movies playing in my mind. Whatever was playing in these movies was still not something remotely discussed in public. You had not yet even heard the word the fantasy subject screamed silently until another event interceded........... If one went to BYU, instead of learning fantastic unbelievable things about the world you lived in, your childhood blinders were kept in place. You were taught little about life outside of Utah. You obediently continued attending church meetings, devotionals, other church events. Some college classes actually began with a prayer led by some returned missionary student. Professors we're often simply older versions of these missionaries...........pasty white, innocent, maybe pure. Some were simply robots of their church vision. Some of these professors we'ren't called professor. They were called "Bishop Tolman" or "Sister Smith". Sure, you had a good enough time, but was certainly not near or living with a "cool" crowd. You were place in dormitories named after great Book of Mormon mythical heroes or prophets: Helaman Halls.. You were clueless about the world, about social behaviors, and unable to "discourse" with the other "hall" boys in their evening fake brags or wishes about campus girls. So, it comes to Missionary Time! Because your 19th birthday is approaching, you are kept home in fall of 1965 and you'll be getting your mission "call" soon. Even though YOU have NEVER come close to being "blessed" with a spiritual knock on the head, i.e., a "testimony" of the "Gospel", er, Mormonism, there's NO question whether you will go or not. EVERY kid in small western towns THEN, DID go. In my case, I was the youngest of 4 boys...and 3 had gone already..... Here we were with Dad on the left. ALL had completed missions except me. We were gathered at the funeral of my sister who sadly died of Lymphoma at age 33: Don't we all look like Mormon Missionaries? Here we were just a few years younger at home. We still look like upcoming missionary material: To get Pre-Missionary Mormon looks in OUR family you gotta go to the young boy stage Kodak pictured here going after the daily milk at Mr Nielson's: But back my own story: that late-teen early-adult phase of figuring life out.....inside my little Mormon Worlds: In the once monthly "Fast and Testimony" Meetings I had rarely but occasionally gotten up on my feet as others always did and told the meeting goers that I, too, "had a testimony to the truthfulness of the Church, that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet" etc. Somehow I hoped maybe saying it would bring the spirit into my soul. I WANTED to be certain and sure like all the others seemed to. I wanted to belong. It was not thinkable to me to "shame" my parents in that tiny farm town by telling the truth, that I felt nothing. No, I didn't do that, so I prepared myself to go on my mission. Clothes were purchased, two suits, white shirts, shoes, all the required items the Church sent in their list of "things to bring". Maybe I was growing up. I received my "calling". I would be going to two years to, where? Switzerland? Austria? Brazil? Hawaii? NO. I would be going to Tennesse, Kentucky & West Virginia. What? Are you kidding me? Oh well, I was humble, er, insecure, and of course one wouldn't question where "the Lord called you to go." That God must have a "purpose" in sending me there, right? There must be hillbillies and others waiting for me knock on their door. Anyways once I had the call, date of departure, the "Farewell Testimonial" was set at our local Church: Goodbyes were pretty much done, a week in the mission home was set in Salt Lake City for training. BUT. There was one more VERY important event must occur before I could depart for the East Central States Mission Home in Louisville, Kentucky. I would have to pass a Moral Worthiness Interview not by my local Bishop, but by an area officer, a Stake President so I could be advanced to the first Adult Level of Priesthood, an "Elder". The highlight of that promotion would be going through the Salt Lake Temple at the conclusion of the Missionary Training Week just prior for departure on a 3-day tortuous train ride cross-country. (Note: When your mission training is completed, every missionary enters the sacred Temple in Salt Lake City, and takes out his own "endowments", that promise loyalty to the Church, one learns big "secrets" about Earth's original parents, Adam & Eve, you don your Magic Mormon Underwear for the first time, you make secret "handshakes" with temple "workers" on opposite sides of ceiling to floor hanging drapes that divide temple rooms. It is quite the token rituals performed herein. I have never forgotten at one point the swearing of an oath that "I would rather my throat be slit from ear to ear rather than reveal these truths to the outside world.".... By the time you're outta this temple session, you're not smiling. You're scared to death and completely saying, What have I gotten myself into?" **The blood-letting oath required in 1965, was removed from the ordinances I think in the 90's. Perhaps the temple ordinances weren't then completely 100% God's words then were they? After all, I was always taught that these secret rituals were what God revealed to Joseph Smith about what was conducted in the "ancient" Jewish Temples before Jesus had been thought of.....so one would think the oaths and rituals would stay the same forever. But then you must know that Mormonism has been in the process of being re-written and re-forming and re-arranging since it began in 1830. Since getting THROUGH this Temple Rite was THAT important, I had to schedule my Morality Interview with my "Stake President". Here's our area "High Council" with President D. Erickson seated in the middle, a man I liked very much, probably because he liked me and my being the Stake Organist since I was about 12.................... The interview was set, Sunday Afternoon, in Nyssa at the Stake Center. I would return home in time for evening Sacrament Meeting in Vale. President E greeted me warmly, we got right down to business. A few forgettable questions were asked about tithing, belief, etc., and then the FIRST sex question came up. THIS one, and ONLY this one had I expected and so had rehearsed an answer for. I was SO frightened that he would detect my rehearsed answer, knew I'd told a lie, and deny me my temple reccomend. Then I would be an embarrassment to my parents, and every Mormon in Vale. WHAT WAS that question I somehow KNEW would be asked? Somehow, I KNEW he'd be asking about that "urge" every teenager has, you know, I believe I don't have to mention what it is.................do I? ANYWAY. President E,"So, Mark, have you ever masturbated?" Mark, "Well, I did once, but I repented and haven't done it since." President E, "Okay, so have you ever had Sexual Relations with Women?" Mark, beginning to blush, wondering why a man I thought "inspired" to know the only temptation "I" could have had up to then would be fighting that "urge", would then ask that. My brain speed ratcheted up....churning out, my God, what made him think "I" of all people would be having sex with women, and why would I be here wanting to go on a mission IF I HAD been doing that? I had NO idea he was simply parroting the required questions from his "stake president manual" that every S.P. had. Just following formula. I managed a response, "Well, NO, President, no, I of course I haven't." President E then asked a question my MIND had toyed with, but did NOT know existed, "So, have you EVER had Sexual Relations with Men?" Mark, "WHAT? NO! What? With Men? No.................. uh, NO, uh, WHY are you asking me that?????" ALL the time, my MIND was now going 1000 miles an hour picturing images that had only passed through late at night, alone, in the dark, dreamlike.....my mind asking me and distracting me, "What? They DO that? Men can do that?"....I was asking myself that at least realizing now, the interview was over. Or was it? President E, "Okay, then, (AND HERE IT GOES) how about ANIMALS?" Marks mind sort of imploded. "WHAT? What? WHAT are you TALKING ABOUT? Again, really, What are you asking me? WHY would you ask me that?" ****Little did I know that this was not the most shocking question I would be asked that very day**** President E chuckled, and says, "It's okay, I think I have my answer." The interview was over. The WONDER of that interview wasn't, and the best part of it was yet to come. I drove home all the while with a disturbed mind NOW newly aware of SOMETHING in this world that had caused me loneliness, something I thought UNreal, but was apparently, REAL to someone SOMEWHERE................................. And then, the ANIMALS thing? REALLY! WHAT WAS he asking me THAT for? My MIND was SO clouded I DID worry about my driving attention. I got home, we went to Church, and immediately, same-age pal Mike Marble sat down by me. After high school, Mike had been living a bit of a wild cowboy's life. He grew up on a dairy farm, had gotten into drinking and smoking, but was thinking of "repenting" and going on a mission like me. He aggressively asked, "What'd he ask ya? What'd he ask ya?" I replied, "You won't BELIEVE what he asked me, but as I glanced around the congregation being seated to quiet organ music, and looking so stern in their faces, I whispered, "This is serious, I can't tell you HERE in Church, meet me after Church out in back..................." He sighed, and the evening meeting began. It was a long meeting. So, after Church there we were, in the dark, away from everyone, and he's pressing, "What'd he ask ya?" I began..........I repeated the questions.................... and then I got to "Ever have sex with men?" Mike crinkled up his face, and I could tell he didn't know much more about that than I. He says, "Ooooeeaaahhhhhh!" I said, "that ain't it man, you won't believe it, then he asked me if I'd sex with Animals, can you believe that?" Mike was silent for a minute, then as calmly as a quiet summer summer sunset, said, "Well? What did you tell him?" THERE it was! For the Second time this sabbath day, my mind exploded at my tender 19 years. "What do you MEAN what did I tell him?" WHAT ARE you talking about? Mike says, "Haven't you?" I say, the question NOT sinking in, "Haven't I what?" Mike says, "Had sex with cows?" I say, "NO, and what do you mean? YOU have?" Mike says, "Oh yeah, lots..........when I'm milking the cows and they're tied up in the stanchions, I......................... And then there was one time........................... etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc" I was aghast...................................and spent many nights after that realizing how little I knew about the world. So now, for that 3-4 times in my mission where the blurry world of SEX was hinted at by married men thinking they could seduce someone, but me being completely unaware of their goal, I remained in the dark about this part of my being until the mission was over, and I had returned to God's School, BYU. I thought I was safe there. It was just a few years later how I learned that this kind of teenage sex experience was not at all rare in rural areas. It would ONLY be in those areas this question would be asked by a Stake President or Bishop. In retrospect at 61: So what became of those 4 Huffaker boys who faithfully tried to live the doctrine at least until completion of their Mormon missions? Three have successfully rejected the Mormon claim to absolute divine appointed authority and power, and hence, have given up a proffered "divine" right to Kingdoms, Planets, Wives, Children, without end. We've also given up on answering moral worthiness questions from those appointed to power who might ask us piercing questions taken straight from Church Published Management Manuals from this dogmatic organization. So. What does that mean to me? My "failing" to grasp these doctrinal claims as that young boy ensconced inside that patriarchal American created religion, and finally letting go, IS what allowed me to feel "born again". I do NOT think I would know or feel the powerful beauty of nature and this world had I stayed inside of it. Too bad President Erickson isn't still alive and able to ask me those same questions. I'd have lots to say this time, and do it joyfully. Wow. I somehow feel all cleansed, and can now return to the kind of beauty in this universe I, much like Walt Whitman, can truly love. Even in this simple non-descript picture, I find more beauty and freedom than in all the years of human created philosophy: Oh well. Hope this LONG read wasn't boring. I suppose it's mostly boring, but it's part of what shaped me as an adult. **IF anyone seriously wants to sit and READ long scripts, here is the link to the 1931 Temple Endowment Ceremony Script that was used for me. From that page, you can link to all the versions, as well as other Mormon/Non-Mormon sites. It was updated in 1984 to soften some of the words, and then in 1990, all references to penalty of death were removed. The reasons for removal will be completely different depending on whether you ask a believing Mormon, or an ex-Mormon. **When one completes his endowments, one is "presented" as a "finished" spiritual puritan into the final room, the "Celestial" Room that represents the highest kingdom of heaven. It would look, in any temple, much like this one in Salt Lake:
Someone here in Portland set up this breathtaking memorial to the war dead. Each flag represents 5 killed by the war. The small group of red flags represents Americans killed. The white flags represent the number of Iraqis now dead because George Bush wanted a war. The WHITE flags go on for blocks and blocks. Bush initiated this killing in a land that HAD no Al Quaida in it before he destroyed the country. If we had taken a Trillion dollars and spent it on social programs in THIS country instead, how things would be different for all of us. Bush would have left a legacy of life instead of death and misery that he'll be remembered for.
**sorry sometimes that pictures forcibly reduced 90% to accommodate a web page simply cannot relay the feelings one has seeing something live** We were at Sauvie Island Today. **at the bottom of that web page, a map can be enlarged to see where we were..... We drove out to the end of Reeder Road, and walked part of the way out to the lighthouse. The official beginning of spring for us seems to be called something new every week......................but what has become an annual adventure IS our first trip to Sauvie Island and all the Wetlands at the beginning of the northern migration of all the Geese, Cranes, Ducks, et al. Saturday, March 15, 2008 was no exception. The weather was forecast: occasional heavy showers, possible thunder, possible hail in isolated spots. Well. At 1000, things looked decent enough to venture down, take Mac for a swim, grab a lunch somewhere, and come back... We loaded cameras, raingear, binoculars, towels, and took off. Our first siting was the new Bridge coming along. The new span's in place replacing the old cracked one, and it was needed since in summer, millions of pounds of produce are hauled outta there There is NO limit to scenes of beauty out here as you drive past farms sitting on rich 20 ft deep bottom land that's been washed down the Columbia river for thousands of years: OR.................this lovely wetland, that is simply typical of thousands of acres here: No wonder millions of birds pass through here...............the beauty and rich food sources would be irrestible. OR................the thousands of geese flying all over the skies............often resting overnight, feeding, and sometimes stirred up by a large eagle looking for the weak: We passed THIS nest that we have watched a pair of Bald Eagles raise young in for the last 3 years at least: While we pulled over, we disturbed a young spotted Towhee female, obviously nesting, because she would NOT leave this little spot about 4 foot from the car....she just kept "teeeeeeing....teeeee teeeee" at us until we left, they are beautiful year round birds for us, one of our favorites at home: Along the way, Nesting platforms have been installed in some places, hoping hawks and ospreys will avoid the power lines: This osprey nest, however, is right on top of one of the warning stands for incoming ship traffic: The raptors are EVERYWHERE this time of year. Often, they already are either nesting or have young.....in anticipation of the migration of millions of bird northbound. We DID see osprey, cooper's hawks, kestrels, Bald Eagles...........................EVERY sighting makes you take in your breath. We pulled off road where a platform was built for birders overlooking a large viewing area. As soon as I got out of the car, I knew they were there. I thought they wouldn't be here for a couple of weeks, but there's NO mistaking the piercing call of the fabulous Sandhill Cranes.............I'm not sure if they can be seen in this reduced picture, but they're simply awesome animals: We saw them flying in flocks, in pairs, even singly, massive birds: Both at this same spot and up another few miles, there were at least a couple thousand snow geese, fattening up before they take off for the arctic for nesting. Here were a few scared off by a bald eagle flying by: At the same time, and same spot, the HUGE Tundra Swans aren't scared of a little bald eagle. They too, are fattening up for their same call to the far reaches of the Arctic for summer nesting. We both wished for these guys we had a stronger lens....this pic doesn't not show them in the grandeur they exude by their size of nothing else: Of course, ducks were everywhere..............Coots, pintails, mallards, some beautiful wood ducks, mergansers, etc. Babbling all the time they were. We'd been there long enough to get through a shower, and it looked like we had a bit of time before the next one. Mac lucked out, and got to swim in the river and retrieve. I want to post those pics! I probably will.........he's a beautiful animal when he's doing the work he was born to do........................next post maybe. The final end of this SPRING wonder day? We got something to eat in St Johns, and as we came back across the St Johns bridge............................ (here's a vew of that bridge looking north..........we See volcanoes driving on this bridge......er, at least when we get a clear day): as we came back across that bridge to head up Germantown Road, we passed a car covered in at least an inch of hail! The rain started coming down in buckets, we got about 300 feet up Germantown, and the road turned white. We spent the next few minutes wondering about getting home with the panicked drivers on the road: The temps were nearly 50, but people who stopped ON the road in panic, sometimes spun out because that let the frozen pellets set........... By the time we were at 1000 feet, there was hardly anything left. FUN drive. What a fabulous day today was, and I DO WISH we'd been in a large VAN with all the people we know. THANKS to Nancy Grossenbacher, our dear, Nature Friend, we learned what riches loving birds can add to your life.
I postponed posting a few loving pics of Mac at swim yesterday, because the other post was getting toooo long. Here's a few pics of this companion pal of ours having the time of his life, as he does every time he's in water. He's in fantastic shape, athletic as can be, and I know he wants to move closer to water: And as the hour wears on..................he shows he's been working: And I loved this look, he is tired. Yes Rodger captured all these pictures. I think Rodger's becoming quite the photographer: Ah, Mac! Good Boy! Let's go home and have a snack!
I know it's cheezzzzy. Thanks Dave Eagy, I couldn't resist...... Can you find the hidden bird in this picture? BUT.............yesterday afternoon there was fairly constant traffic at feeders by RUFOUS hummingbirds..................and was I thrilled! In Spring, I see lots of people excitedly pop in pics of daffodils....they are a major sign of spring, yes. In our rain forest woods, there is an Oregon native flower (sure, there are domestic varieties too) that takes a few years to get to the bloom stage, it is protected by law in the forests. It is OUR SURE sign that serious spring is about to begin. I say about to because it may still freeze here, and it is cool and wet, but this hardy little 3-leafed flower is quite beautiful when it blooms not in clusters, because you can glance at a green forest hillside and not see them at all. But if you see one, and you STOP....slowly look at that hillside you'll see that there are dozens of them spread around. The Trilliums are beginning to bloom: And for the daffy lovers, we'll add one and double your bloom, I LOVE these double Daffodils: These grow on the far back side of the old house next door....untended, but they're beautiful. I believe I'll be moving some of the doubles this summer over to our berm, eh? I say that every year, but never mark 'em, so by June I have NO idea which ones are those select dubs....Today, I flag 'em. Found the hidden bird yet?
I have NOT been faithful about finishing up notes about our Ripon trip in February.....I hesitate to write about Ripon because I still think Rodger will want to share his pics and ideas about it. But after we left Alameda Feb 20, we went directly to....... "The Cowboy Capitol of the World!", yes, Oakdale, CA for an evening with cousin Karen at the somewhat infamous, or maybe just flaming fabulous 5 star BBB, er, uh, "Bed, Breakfast, and Beyond". We will always remember when Karen visits us....it will always include a trip to a mammoth fabric store. This is the fabric she considered last visit: What I'll never forget for this year was a beautiful supper being prepared as we arrived. We were soon joined by daughters Lori & Jennifer, and later Paula would join in. Last to arrive after teaching music lessons to one of 53 pupils, was Jennifer's partner, Aaron. Sadly, Lori's husband Jeremy, was, as often is, on duty as a Fireman!!! Yes, Jeremy can cook!!!. There was a serious plan. Karen created an entire supper from Ina Garten's, Barefoot Contessa, repertoire. The menu selection? (The LINKS below take one directly to Ina Garten's TV Show pages for the recipe......IF anyone happening to read this would just like an e-mail copy of it sent to them, let me know): 1. Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken 2. Gravy - From Roasted vegetables **can make a day or two ahead of time** **can make a day ahead of time** 3. Buttermilk mashed Potatoes **can make a day ahead of time** 4. Roasted fresh Asparagus 5. **Coconut Cake** **can make a day or two ahead of time** EVERTHING in this meal was fabulous! Delectable tastes and flavors. THANKS, KAREN! We ended up the evening in a musicale, i.e., Jennifer, Aaron, and Mark being silly around the piano, but we had a lot of fun. We love Karen's BBBB&B. So, yes, our first night was as good as seeing family can be.