July summer…clocks ticking no matter what it seems

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Monday July 25, 2011

No MATTER that summer failed to arrive in OUR own eyes before July….things ARE happening…. For my diary to reference NEXT year (and I often do check prior years season observations)……here’s the happenings now in this little rainforest yard:
I thought of Rufous Hummingbirds as I finished today’s cookup:

1). HUMMINGBIRDS. I guess I need to call Audobon….maybe find out just WHY the Rufous migration THIS year didn’t seem successful. Peak feeding volume this summer in June prior to the males leaving hit 2.5 quarts daily and held steady about 4 weeks that way. I observed the males suddenly vanish…..gone! Finally, I’ve seen most adult female Rufous to be gone….Feeding volume is down to 1.4 quarts a day, and will VERY soon drop more as the juvies all leave together, migrating back to Mexico EXACTLY on the SAME Calendar time they leave EVERY YEAR even THOUGH…..the migration ARRIVED here this year 3 weeks late, and small in number. I suspect the stormy blustery coast weather in California this spring hurt their survival rates on the way up…….and NOW, their nesting season seems to have been only ONE group of babies instead of the 2 they can raise in a good summer. Here I’m ready to make more hummer food, but….am also putting away the LARGE quart feeders as they empty…..we’re back to the 2 cup size now….. SIGH. These little guys add a lot of life to our yard, and they’re loved while they’re here, missed for 8 months while they’re gone:

2) The elderberries out front are LOADED with fruit and NEVER since we started them about 10 years ago have they been loaded with birds in the mornings….now it seems grosbeaks, pigeons, finches, and yes, finally, a TANAGER are out there eating…I MUST learn how to get out there hidden and see how this is working.

3) A CROW family roosted in this neighborhood this year, first time we’ve noticed that happening. It IS FUNNY to listen to the parents constantly “caw caw caw cawing” to this kid, and then you’ll hear a blustery throated “caw” back, but it continues until the kid flys closer to them, then they fly off further and start it all up again…. THIS is something NEW to see for me… I KNOW these crows are smart birds, and this training’s like NO other bird we’ve seen.

4) EVENING GROSBEAKS! Successfully finished the 2nd nests, 2nd families, and have finally GONE! Sigh. We won’t see them again until next April likely, and will miss their cheerful whistle calls….

5) The back yard is now FULL of birds in the mornings: American & Lesser Goldfinches, Black headed grosbeaks, doves, misc sparrows, robins bathing, nuthatches, chickadees, towhees, ALL it seems with families……..It’s HARD to believe it has peaked already and that MOST of the songbirds will be GONE in about 3 weeks……. as OUR summer just begins to PEAK in August. I know…they have a long trip ahead of them. Whew

6) BERRY SEASON in OREGON is PEAKING. OFF tomorrow for the beginning of some jammin’. Tomorrow likely some Sylvan Blackberries, a bit more Cascade Delight Raspberry, and later this week, the new crop of Boysenberries. Next week some mixed jams with the Bluberries….ya know, the gay ones: “Black and Blue”, Blue-Mari, etc….. yep, it’s started.

7) GARDEN NEWS! We have a few PINK tomatoes. EVERYTHING out there has literally exploded in growth the last 2 weeks…… WHAT a relief! Slugs GONE! We’ll be eating corn early September, heirloom tomatoes in 2 weeks… my favorite time of year.

8) In Forest Park, ONE native plant is always watched for carefully, and with this strange damp prolonged spring, they grew, budded, and just SAT THERE for WEEKS. They sat there SO long, that when they finally bloomed, seems they were gone in a week instead of the usual 3. We LOVE these little miniature TIGER LILIES, native to the NW Rain Forest:

9) GUESTS! We had some company! Jeff is 1st cousin to one of my oldest dearest friends I’ve known for 40 years…we met through a mutual friend in Salt Lake back in 1970, BUT…. had quite a common thread. I ended my Mormn Mission as Mission Secretary and Secretary to the Mission President…. Jim T arrived in the field after I’d left, had heard of me, but strangely, ended his OWN mission in those same jobs I had performed….. we had lots to talk about over that little mission time in Louisville, KY. Anyways. NOW, because of that history (and continuing friendship), we met his cousin JEFF and partner Britt who’d been out to Alaska on a cruise and elected to pop into Portland for a mini-tour at the end of their journey. We had a fabulous time with them, and are hopeful, this new friendship blossoms over time:
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Yes, of COURSE, we had a day in the gorge. Appears it was a romantic spot to be:

**at Crown Point**

I DO want to see them at their home…..they are proud parents of an African Gray Parrot named Superstar who’s about 2-3. To this day, I think of our dear departed JOCKO in very FOND terms and hear him chattering away in my head often:

**I STILL miss him getting himself down the cage stand, strutting across the floor and calling to us on barstools, “HELLO…”…he’d be picked up, put on the island, and soon be laughing every time WE laughed, which made the laughing louder and longer….He was a joy to know.

And I gots to run………..summer is not forgiving about the “to-do” list.

A year in the life…..

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday July 14, 2011


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.Filmed in Glacier Park. Get this set to “full Screen”…… if this doesn’t make you a lover of our natural world, I don’t know what could.

Seen on the Wildwood Trail July 7 2011. nature at work

Bloged in General Home Life,Nature,Pacific Northwest,Portland by mark Wednesday July 13, 2011

* As we came back out of the park on the way home………. Right in the parking lot, OWL MAN (a scientist, who’s been studying the progress of owl growth inside the park for some time, was lecturing to a group. **Mark’s history with Owl Man:
One morning OUR little walk-group was hearing OWL Hoots as we descended Newton Rd to get to the trails. I, being SO famous for making owl hoots, hah, began answering back to see what the owl would respond with……. Hoots came back, and I kept answering, MOST coollll……. As we neared the lot, I saw a guy nearing the lot also with packs, etc. I asked him if he’d “heard” the OWL calls in an excited birding guy way, to which he responded that he WAS the Owl Scientist, and those were HIS calls to a Pygmy Owl he’d been listening to, and that MY sad imitations, my “karaoke” of owl hoots wasn’t fooling anybody, in fact, his Pygmy Owl was NOT amused……. THAT was how I met Owl Man…..

Nonetheless, I continue to walk in the park, and today, took a few cheap shots of a few nature items I noticed this day in july……they’re posted in random order….. (and, most can be enlarged w/a click…..I felt a larger pic on some view points was worth it)……

The kids and dogs await for me to catch up (embiggen this picture for a better feel:)

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Another corner, one of many on the hike……

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There’s always a few winter trees w/stumps down that get lost during our WET winters: This tree will take years to finally decay:

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Here’s very last remains of a tree whose little bottom shell remains standing……all the rest now forest compost. Of course, one could only guess how many years ago the top fell over:

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A favorite early summer week….the small native tiger lilies bloom, and this year, there’s lots of em:

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If you’re starving, the salmonberries are beginning to ripen….make sure you let ‘em get soft/bright….they can be bitter:
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One of many scenic little ravines, and in winter, every one has a little stream in it:

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Here’s a tree that began its life growing out of a decaying old log….that old “nurse” log still giving some support…..

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Another old nurse log….this one LONG gone, and a lot of weight now on those roots:
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Love the old growth trees that get enough just-right setting to grow moss:

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There ARE a FEW old growth trees still in the park….most lost to logging just before the place was established as a park 70 years ago:

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and here, as in many corner turns/ravines of the trail….an offshoot little trail goes UP the ravine….and is probably used by many animals at night….. for…. ??

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The Vine Maples grow well in the shade, hence: they develop moss that is there all year, just gets a little dried out during the summer. It’s STILL nice stuff:

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Nice Wildwood Trail markers? Ev 1/4 – 1/2 mile ……a tree tells you just how far you are from City Center, er, rather, the START of the Wildwood near downtown:

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Here’s a clump of Maple trees…obviously started when the old one died out….now as they mature, lucky they’re all alive as they compete below and above ground for space, light, soil, water:

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As Mac and I head home, ev day, we’re kinda happy to reach this point…..we’re only about 3 blocks from home now, and some water, or breakfast maybe:

And summer is on……………..The BIRD CALLING is strong now…..I can tell OTHER birds are fledging young besides robins.
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What the Garden is Up to July 8, 2011. Seen today …….

Bloged in garden,General Home Life,Pacific Northwest by mark Friday July 8, 2011

If I’d been asked a month ago whether our little hobby 2011 garden would be doing what it’s doing NOW, I’d have laughed. It was SO wet, cool, dark, I thought things we’re gonna just slowly rot. NOT so. The LAST two weeks of June things TRULY dried up, and slowly began to warm. THIS week we had 3 days in a row over 80! NOTE: IF…….you’ve done your wet/dark garden preps carefully over the last month leading up to this drying period, things simply “explode” in spring out there. It appears that’s happening again…..Hurrah!

Those shivering skeered little Russian Stupice Tomatoes hiding in those water walls? They’re between 3 1/2 to 4 ft tall now, blooming, and I’m excited…. The ripe garden picked tomato? Nothing in life better than those:

As a group, you can see…with any luck, we’ll be roasting, canning by Sept 1:

The corn? Portland’s corn calendar calls for calf high corn by July 5…….that’s exactly where we’re at:

The end herb row is doing well….that blind spot at the end? baby carrots sprouting for MAC:

The shallots we planted early? Already drooping tops means….harvest in a couple weeks:

**and I have MORE shallots in the kitchen that sat here too long to eat, but will sprout out there…….gonna try it.

Looking toward the tomato side…you CAN see in here squash, potatoes, tomatoes, end of the corn row, cucumber:

Here’s the 2nd round of lettuce READY to harvest (a nice Michigan leaf lettuce, and red romaine):

Here’s the 4th crop (3rd is about 2 inches tall)…..just sprouting along with cilantro, and even MORE carrots):

The two rhubarb plants will deliver their second harvest in a couple weeks it looks like:

****NOW. For the Future…………………… The weather, just today, took a downward spin on temps…..and OUR plants need HEAT. Today’s high up here? 58. …..tomorrow? 65….. and the outlook is for more of the same……. We’ll see………….

What’s Happening in the Yard JULY 2011. Noticed today……

Bloged in garden,General Home Life,Pacific Northwest,Portland by mark Thursday July 7, 2011

Flowering plants everywhere in the NW have been about 2 weeks late, just like the arrival of Songbirds this year. That’s NO different here at 1000′ elevation near the Columbia Gorge…. MOST Portlanders reside near 100′ elevation, so they not only have better trigger weather for jump-starting plant growth WHEN things warm up, they also have…… our Topsoil after these millions of years of landslides and rain! But that’s a story for another time. ha.

The miracle began happening about mid-June. Yes, temps remained cool, but began to seriously get dryer, and lighter. They passed the 60 mark, and warmer at night. Plants began to “believe” they’d live. They began to fight OFF the slugs (Hey, I’m talkin’ to YOU: Dahlias!). In the 3 weeks since, even Rodger recovered from his S. A. D., and in the last WEEK, as temps rose into the high 70′s, he began to organize the deck plants.

I peaked around the yard this morning with the little “free-gift” camera, so see just “where” things are……..(where the veg garden is, will be a post tomorrow)……and REALIZED…..things are doing very nicely. SOME places like the berm we began a few years ago are beginning to look “nice” if I may claim that term…… when it started, it was piles of CLAY SOIL….. oh well, it’s now very much alive.

I decided to do my amateur pic shoot after we sat yesterday evening on the deck in 85 degree air, as birds/squirrels came in to feed…. and decided I really loved where I lived……….

From this end of the deck, you’re looking toward what would be downtown Portland if you could see that far…. the TALL tree stumps have been discussed many times, but are finally paying off….a very large beautiful Pileated Woodpecker is regularly visiting the yard dining on several old stumps we have and on these tall maples left standing, “Thanks, Nancy for the lesson.” at least 10 years ago:

Looking straight out from my chair, my buddy, Mr. Douglas Squirrel was happily enjoying dinner….. ALL the Flower Pots look beautiful, RODGER……

Rodger always gives this little Mr Crazy-Pot a wig in the summer:

I have always love the glass head too………it can fit anywhere…….

If I walk OUT the family room onto the deck, just to the right you pass this wonderful hanging basket, the double Fucshia (note my dear hummer feeder behind it, one of 8 in the yard):

walking further out, there’s the one LAST lovely Iris blooming, and I love it more than any other…the DEEP Purple bloom is pretty elegant (sorry about the focus):

Just inside the woodshed, you can see a project DUE UP soon will be to get or cut wood and get it stacked in here for next winter. But in the meantime, I have BAY LEAVES drying here….just trimmed from the plant in the garden:

Moving toward the driveway, the BERM growth is taking off….the vinca variety has been SLOW to get started but now even covering my “dead looking” grass I really like….but in total, it finally looks all alive:

And from the south side, it looks even better (lots of different things were planted here as experiments just to see if they “would” or “could” grow up here, most have survived):

Showing off is the peony, it must have LOVED this cold wet spring (I still hate that they last such a short time):

On down by the road, a nice smoky Tree Rose (thanks, Nancy…….. many things in this yard we owe to her sharing from her place) is blooming…the tiny pale blooms aren’t fancy, no, but they’re hardy, and nicely balance the smoky/dusky leaves:

If you moved along the front by the road, it’s nice to see most of my little fir trees still struggling along, they always seem SO slow to grow the first ten years…… but we’ll be able to get rid of filberts in 3-5 years….I can see it coming…….. at LEAST the Elderberries are ripening, so MORE fun birds will be dining here we don’t get to see too often: Tanagers, Waxwings, etc….I saw a grosbeak dining here yesterday:

Back at the house, our roses have suffered in the cold/wet, but a few are beginning to bloom, I like this yellow one:

The Clematis is always dramatic, and they’re now about 3 weeks old:

If you run out of things to do, ha, you can always “de-flower” ha, the rhodies…..it encourages growth…….

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