Little Hints Winter is coming to an end

Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Passerines by mark Thursday February 26, 2009

There’s NO ignoring it, little slight things are happening dropping hints the season is in change…………….

I suppose though, after being here 13 years, I am more tuned to the little things that are telling me winter’s about over than I was when we arrived in ’96.

*Robins are in the yard.
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*Male Robins are calling at dusk already setting up territory.

*A band-tailed pigeon was at the feeder Tuesday.

*The first Mourning Dove came in the same day.

*More Anna’s Hummingbirds are showing up at feeders.
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*A flock of bushtits covered the suet log last weekend….first time since fall.

*The Black Capped Chickadee family(s?) are still intact and flying in as a group to dine.
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*The Nuthatches are showing up more and more too. I know they’re here all winter, but seems there’s more of them now:
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*The towhees are here year round as well, but they are now pairing off. We watched a beautiful pair of these birds flirting in the bushes, flying off in tandem, returning to play just on the deck:
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*The first House Finch flew into the deck feeder…… a male scouting for a place to begin singing?

*All the woodpeckers are returning to the suet: Northern Flickers, Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers. We still see or at least hear the big Pileated when we walk near his bird feeing stump….an old cedar still standing about 70 ft tall.
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*Saw the first Red Breasted Sapsucker flying around the yard trees looking for little bugs.
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*Northern Flickers….seems we have more than 2 visit daily now…..getting ready to set up house?
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*Seems that more Stellar’s Jays are showing up uninvited wanting to gobble up enough for storing somewhere.
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*I saw my first Yellow-Rumped Warbler of the year
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*The Great Horned Owls have already concluded mate calling at night and are no doubt waiting for hatchlings soon, or already feeding young
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*We both saw a Bald Eagle land on a big branch and enjoy his meal.
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*The Lawn doesn’t look happy, but it no longer looks dead.

*Canadian Geese are just barely beginning to show up flying over the hilltop on their way to Sauvie Island……..for a short rest before moving on north.

*Sandhill Cranes! On a dog walk, I heard the unmistakable calls of a flock of these magnificent birds flying north over the hilltop! We MUST go to Sauvie Island this w/e and see all the buzz of spring there and not miss the Tundra Swans & Snow Geese before they leave again for the arctic.
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*House sparrows are beginning calling spring songs.

*Oregon Birders On Line...the daily digest is reporting sightings of Rufous Hummingbirds from Astoria down to Waldport over the weekend. They’re on the way.

*Select early deciduous bushes and trees show buds reaching out on stems.

*Pussy willow branches are getting that “look”. Reminder, Mark: The Big Curly Trees have branches split in the ice storm, and MUST be CUT OFF. WHO wants a huge arrangement of fresh curly willow you can sprout in the house? They look terrific.

*The varied Thrushes seem bent on feeding. They’ll be leaving for the north in a couple weeks.

*The thick insulated underwear, heaviest sweatshirts are sitting idle more and more.

*Night temperatures are moderating just a bit.

*Moles! Damn Moles! They’re coming up, digging new tunnels, pushing up peaks of dirt that becomes mud.

*The Columbia River is no longer so muddy. MAC has begun getting his swims again!

*Cooking moods are moving away from heavy casserole dishes to lighter bean soups, and sandwiches are in the loop.

*———–*
A few of the birds mentioned winter here, a few are year round, but some are being seen for the first time since last fall. They are the fore-runners of the northern migration that will pass through OUR little place, or maybe some of the few that stay with our little corner for a few months every year. The beautiful songbirds, now that the House Finch has arrived will slowly filter in. By April 1, the trees around this little house will be LOUD in song morning and evening for 4 months. A BIG cheerful noise.
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And another fun note, our NEW favorite dog at this year’s Westminster show was the GLEN of IMAAL Irish Terrier. Doesn’t look like we’ll get one though since they start around $1500…….. but hey sure are cute:
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***Disclaimer: On THIS post, I took NONE of the pictures. I grabbed them off the web since weather conditions haven’t been permitting the best camera poses.

Rufous: First one Seen

Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Pacific Northwest,Portland by mark Thursday February 26, 2009

While answering some e-mail correspondence just NOW……………………..

The first Rufus Hummingibrd (female…..) came to the feeder at this office window. Interesting because when we started this, we never even looked for them until first weeks of March….and last three years, the first sitings were around March 8 – 12. Doesn’t mean they weren’t here, but probably we weren’t tuned to it so much. I HAVE had feeders out this early before, but hadn’t ever paid as much attention as we have this year since the Anna’s have been here all winter. THIS is my big marker that spring is on the move.humdinger06

Must go over to OBOL and register my bird find!

Dustin Lance Black – A Beautiful Speech.

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Gay,General Home Life,Mormons by mark Monday February 23, 2009

Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech at last night’s Oscar Awards became personal for thousands of Mormon gay kids who live under perpetual treatment by their Church as unworthy, immoral people. This brought me to tears partly bringing memories of my own:

Hurray to Mr. Black !!! (and his Mom).

Oscar Night

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Sunday February 22, 2009

We missed the Towncar and driver that should have taken us to the private charter Jet for our escorted path to the front row center oscar night table we should be sitting at.
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We have e-mailed Hugh J. asking that he will accept graciously on our behalf, any kind of award that we might be given although I didn’t find our name on any nomination list, I wasn’t sure, you know, that we weren’t to be surprised with some perhaps, ah, Lifetime Achievement recognition. Oh well, we are too late to be there in person now……….

At least we know “who” we’re wearing tonight. To start with part of our ensemble will be a beautiful Heavy wearing pant from Mr. Strauss in San Francisco, the “Original 501″ version with those fine big brass buttons in the front. I still haven’t decided on who’s “top” piece I’ll put on for the show, but the mood will hit shortly, I hope, in time for that walk on the carpet…..a green one here for us………. we don’t have any red.

The Oscar Buffet! We have a Buffalo Steak awaiting some marinade in the fridge and roasted spring asparagus, a luscious salad of organic mixed greens, young sweet-one-hundred cherry tomatoes, with a lovely drizzle of Key Lime Dressing on top. The dessert inspiration? still undecided. With the chef somehow appearing to feel quite lazy today, not sure the dessert will be up to par.

That being said, despite the fact that we saw so FEW movies this year, WE are TRULY looking forward to the 2009 oscar show more than in the past few years. It is truly a new year of hope, and some of these movies reflect that.

WHO will YOU be wearing?
WHAT will your staff be serving you for the after-Oscar Party you’re hosting?
What did you get in your bling bag from those Hollywood producers?

The NEW Sony Hi Tech thingy we all must run out and buy

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Saturday February 21, 2009

Thanks to Nancy G, I laughed through this why? Maybe I completely understand this news article….I KNOW some of these consumers:


And thanks to the Onion…………..

Europa, Italia, and Espana

Bloged in TRAVEL by mark Thursday February 19, 2009

With a little leap of faith, and the smooth incredibly helpful Jennifer from Lufthansa Call Desk, we committed to making that trip early this summer to Europe. We had been invited by friends Emilio and Elena to go because they always spend a month at “home” in Italy each June so would be our hosts and tour guides in Northern Italy, the Piedmont Region, Turin, and, and…….IF we could put a “package” together, a few days in the Catalonia province of Spain, read, Barcelona and Reus since Elena would be there at a scientific conference anyway.

Two hours on web sites for air travel led to discouragement …. the cheaper rates involved via this via that, and high costs without any side trip to Spain. It was just on a whim I called Lufthansa and lucked out to connect with experienced agent Jennifer. She explained that often a direct call to them provides information NO web site can offer because Rules, restrictions, options for flying are SO different in each country. She said IF we booked a flight TO Milan via/Barcelona as a one-ticket round trip, we’d likely pay double what a seperate-ticket-for-each-stop would be. I already KNEW what the ROUND trip option would cost so was happy to say, “Yes, I’ll wait” while she explored a couple of other options.

This Lufthansa angel came back offering the Portland-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Barcelona, Barcelona-Milan, Milan-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-Portland trip at HALF the cost I could find at any other place including Expedia, Travelocity, etc. With that positive feedback, we booked.

Looks like we ARE going to go to Barcelona for 5 days of visiting the fabulous Gaudi architecture, the cathedrals, galleries, a visit to Reus, followed by another week plus in Turin Italy near the Alps. Whew! Going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip I think as we won’t have to be staying in a commercial hotel, but with friends in their 200 year old home. I AM excited.

This is not something I’d ever expected to do……………………………and Italy isn’t EVER where I’d thought I’d visit in Europe. Maybe that makes it more exciting, eh?

Here we go……………. got to learn some new words………….and figure out Euros, etc. Where’s the camera?

Mormons: Continue to snuff Gay Rights in Utah

Bloged in ex-Mormon,Gay,General Home Life,Mormons,Religion by mark Wednesday February 18, 2009

The Mormon owned SALT LAKE TRIBUNE today reports that Utah HB 160, a state House Bill was defeated………… it’s purpose? SIMPLY to give GAY COUPLES rights to inheritance and the right to make medical decisions for each other.
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Now that it’s also coming out that the official CHURCH itself DID give some money to causes that were propping up Prop 8 in California (the marriage bill), then to follow that with defeating THIS simple legislation? IF I WERE gay in UTAH………..I’d be fighting like hell for some rights, OR………I’d be getting out. If you’re curious you can go to this EQUALITY UTAH page and read exactly what was in this mild bill simply asking for a bit of recognition.

I feel for those Gay couples living under this kind of condemnation…….. By the way, the Church should lose its Tax exempt status…….it truly has, with a heavy hand, entered the political arena.

Yet another interesting evening in St Johns

Bloged in Portland,Scuff Boys by mark Saturday February 14, 2009

ONCE again, we motored down to those social haunts closest to us….those in the little blue-collar corner of North Portland called St Johns. On occasion, we’ve joined up with the young kids moving in here for “Funtastic Fridays”, but the last two Fridays, it was just us wanting an hour or two out of the house.

Last Friday night we met a Professor at the very Catholic University of Portland just a couple miles from St Johns, Ken Laundra..
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Ken had an interesting tale……he grew up in Michigan, ended up going to school in Logan, Ut at Utah State, then Taught in Utah at conservative town Cedar City then St George where the Mormon ruling tenured administrators we’re always trying to get rid of him because he wanted to teach kids about the world, not JUST about the Mormon world. So, he ended up here. WE really enjoyed his thoughts about a lot of things….he’s preparing to write a book about REDNECKS……and THAT was our 90 minute interchange when I began to realize defining a redneck isn’t as simple as a one sentence meaning. Take Ken’s Web Survey if you want to help out his current project…..writing ABOUT Rednecks………. ***SURVEY***.

So LAST Friday was a fun evening…..

LAST NIGHT, in the same spot along the counter at Anna Banana’s Coffee Shop we met Neal Fegan, artist and recent transplant here from Big Sky, Montana. After a little chat, we learned his Dad was an engineer and Mom an Artist. Neal, then IS an artist but also a sculptor. He builds “Velocipedes” or what is a low long bicycle. This guy was fascinating, and we learned a lot.

Here’s what he builds………in his studio that sits nearly under our beloved St Johns Bridge (our path home)…he’ll be the guy dressed in black:


Cool, eh?

We discovered neighbor Dave down here too when we passed through Proper Eats, the little Vegan Hippy Diner, so had a fabulous night enjoying our weird little St Johns neighborhood and making new friends. When you come visit, make us take you to that weirdest little coffee shop we’re finding amazing people in.

WP Upgraded! Snow day brings luck

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Wednesday February 11, 2009

I have been feeling like the guy looking here in the window at SMALLVILLE…… trying to figure out the 200 commands it took to upgrade my primitive WordPress version to the latest one, and make sure future upgrades would be handled automatically:
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I have dreaded upgrading WP 2.0 to 2.71 why? I’m not an I.T. guy,and haven’t worked with software in business for a few years. IF this Word Press diary had been hosted on WP, I might have had a little more idea what to do, but it isn’t.

BLUEHOST.com has been hosting our domain for a while. They were absolutely fantastic in their support at first, but now are hosting over 1 million customers, and as their support crew got bigger, the knowledge base they had grew smaller. I had a sales rep today tell me “our support staff no longer has time to help with every blog software out there………….. so they need to refer you to the blog software source itself.” I told her, well, I guess it’s time to go to a new hosting service………since WordPress says the opposite, i.e., “IF your Blog is NOT hosted by WordPress, we can’t give you support, you have to go to your hosting provider.” Gee, Catch 22.

Anyway, I lucked out with my last call and KEVIN, was the guy I needed. He answered my 4 big questions immediately, and stayed with me on the phone until things all worked. Hurray.

OKAY. Not we can go onto something that matters, i.e., do I have ANYTHING of value to say? Anything even remotely funny? Well, life can begin again now that I have once again beaten this PC into submission, and starting with our going to “The Seafarer” at the theater tonight………I just may be inspired soon.

Okay, MAC, let’s go outside and throw a ball for you…….it’s YOUR turn for a romp. Yes, I’ll take a towel with me…………it’s a bit wet.

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