Sunday, March 30, 2008


Nephew number three spent a couple days of his spring break down here helping with some of the heavier yard work. A tank of gas, several bucks an hour and all the grandma style cooking he could eat. The other grandmother lives all of four blocks away so we had our own little spaghetti feed Friday night.

Please, please, please just look at the trellises. Don't look any further. It's a Goddess awful mess back there and due for a complete redo..........soon, very soon. Very, very soon. We start next weekend. But he did do a fantastic job of getting them up. And when I gave the old fence post a shove to see if it had been sunk in concrete, we found out it wasn't. And pressure treated wood or not, all it took was some really enthusiastic shoving to get it out of the way. I guess that's why is was tilting in the first place.

One of these decades we want to put in a real path with stepping stones and everything. For now bark chunks work really well. The winter pansies came through very well. The spiky plants are Pacific Iris. We've also got Canterbury bells and bergenia. The bergenia is the one with the little pink flowers and the very big leaves. What can I say, it came from my grandmothers yard and it blooms early. We need all the help we can get.

Now if we could just get the rest of the yard to look like this little corner. Anyway the kid did a great job and helped us get off to a good start. Look out mud, here we come.



 Near as I can tell, based on my old copy of Audabon's and a local field guide, these little guys have been flitting in and out of the yard. We've got the year round residents and the migrants coming in for spring. It's been a zoo.

Black capped chickadee

Mountain chickadee

Chestnut backed chickadee


Dark eyed or Oregon junco

Scrub jay

Stellar’s jay

Pine siskin

Golden crowned kinglet (maybe) The ones I’ve seen look most like this variety.

Varied thrush

Black throated grey warbler

Hummingbird-probably an Anna's hummingbird

Townsend’s warbler

Spotted towhee

Lesser goldfinch (maybe)

Song sparrow (maybe) See above.


There are three that, well the pictures in the books are closest to what they look like. The best shots I get are through the front window and some of these little guys are really little. Saw the hummer three times today. Once perching on the shepherd's crook with the new feeder and twice flitting through. I think it was checking out the action in the yard. I was almost as bad as the cats this afternoon. Kept checking out the action while I was doing things in the kitchen.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008


I haven’t really written much about the family besides mom and the cats. And not much about mom.


Dad’s gone. Physically at least. He passed away in early ’95. Really, I don’t think he’s gone very far. I sense a very definite presence, especially when we’re working on outdoor projects. He’s still supervising. Mom says the same thing.


Mom, well mom is mom. She just turned eighty two. And if she keeps up with the rest of her family she should make it into her nineties. She was a housewife and went to work when dad was disabled. Cooked, gardened, canned, sewed and kept us busy. Frankly, I don’t remember when I learned to snip beans and the like. I suspect it learned as soon as I showed an interest in what she was doing so she could keep an eye on me. LOL She’s interested in computers, but give her choice between virtual reality and garden dirt and the dirt will win every time.


There’s S1 (sister number one) she’s nine years younger and S2 (sister number 2) fourteen years younger. My poor folks, it was like raising three only children and I’m not sure if they saw me as a sister or a second mom. Of course where you’ll find S1 and S2, you will find BIL (brother in law) 1 and 2. S1 has N (nephews) 1 and 3. The other family has 2, 4, and 5. Are we lost yet?


S1 lives in eastern Oregon and teaches middle school English. Her husband teaches high school American History, career education and coaches track and cross country. The oldest should graduate from Oregon State this spring and wants to teach. He also helps dad coach track. At the high school he graduated from. His younger brother is a freshman up in Portland and throws the javelin.


S2 lives in the Portland area. She currently works for the local school district coordinating the substitute teachers. Her day starts early, but that way she’s pretty much done when the kids come home. Her husband works for a large delivery company.He spent years driving trucks and now he trains new drivers.


Their oldest is the football player and he will also graduate this spring. He has another year of eligibility, so he’s planning to take more classes in the fall and play another season. He also plays drums with the band at the church he attends.


Nephew 4 is a junior and also plays football. He’s at least 6’ 3.” The kid was a cube when he was born and now he’s a string bean. Good student just like his big brother and his cousins. With luck he’ll be good enough to at least have shot at playing college ball too.


Number 5 is a high school freshman. He’s bright but he’s had something of a problem with keeping his attention where it belongs. But, he discovered golf last year, he’s good at it and if he wants to play on the team, he has to keep his grades up. So far it’s working. Heck, a lot of colleges have golf teams, including the U of O, so with luck……?


Oh, and I forgot to mention the honorary nieces and nephews. S1’s family has three Labrador retrievers. There’s mom, dad and the full grown bigger than his folks pup. S2’s family has four, count them four, boxers. Mom, dad, and two pups. They are very busy families.


One of the reasons for losing the grass and planting shrubs and grasses was the hope of enticing the birds and other critters to eat the fruit and seeds. So far, we've had minimal luck. Today we finally got a nibble so to speak.

This is a Pieris or Andromeda.


And this is what the clusters look like up close. I took this shot last spring. The blossoms have seeds and they may have a little nectar. I couldn't get a picture from this window this afternoon but one of the little goldfinch types was working over a cluster at the top. I assume searching for seeds.

And here's the best part, we saw the first hummer of the season. It was working over the lower clusters. I'll go shopping tomorrow for a new hummingbird feeder and a small shepherds crook to put near the bush. We had hummers in the back last year workiing over the fuschias so we'll see if I can entice them out front. I think it must have decided to take a rest on the lavender because one of neighborhood cats made a rush. No luck, hummer did the hover routine out in the street. Probably going "neener, neener, neener."

And it literally did EVERYTHING today. We had frost, snow, rain, wind and sunshine. Altogether weird weather for the end of March. Supposedly it's going to get up to sixty next week. I will believe it when I see it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Now, I have to admit that I have moved to the edges of the Christian community and of the books I’ve got going right now, one is on paganism and the other is on Celtic shamanism. Actually I think I'm on the edge of the cliff ready to dive off, but this left even me shaking my head.

Saw something Saturday that I’m still kind of trying to make sense of. In some ways, I think it’s evidence that many groups who call themselves Christians don’t really have a clue what they’re doing or how they got there.

There’s an Open Bible Standard church on Centennial. It’s one of those charismatic, Pentecostal denominations. It’s Saturday right? Smack dab between Good Friday and Easter, right?

You know, Good Friday; the day Jesus found himself rejected by the temple establishment and condemned by the Romans? Yeah, that day. Then comes the day after when his followers were scared, grieving or hiding; probably all three. If I had been one of them, I don’t think fun and games would have been anywhere near the top of my list of things to do that day. 

I might have been trying to figure out how to get out of Jerusalem without being arrested for consorting with a condemned traitor, maybe crying my eyes out because a friend and teacher had been executed in one of the more brutal methods the occupying government had at its disposal, or perhaps just numb.

That said, what do I see outside this building? A shitload of cars and a big, pretty sign advertising their Easter carnival.

Granted, lapsed Methodist that I am, I never even heard of Lent until I was mid college and exploring everything under the sun except being a Methodist. But, we’ve got a theoretically conservative, Bible believing, fundamentalist congregation having a carnival on the saddest day of the Christian calendar. Am I missing something here?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Half way decent shot of a white crowned swallow checking out the seed scattered below the feeders. I swear they know when I show up at the window with the camera. Maybe they hear me or perhaps they see movement at the window and figure. "I don't know what it is and I'm not waiting to find out."

A couple of shots of a rufous sided towhee at the feeder. They don't come out front very often, and I've never seen one on the feeder until today. They are usually ground feeders and usually scurry around the bushes and day lilies keeping to the cover. I haven't had much luck getting pictues. They blend in too well on the ground to get good shots.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Do you remember?

There was nothing and then there was….everything. In an instant a universe was born. The light faded and elemental particles came together. Hydrogen, gravity and time. The hydrogen pooled together and pooled again. Gas clouds whirled and swirled in the dark. Whirled, swirled, danced and grew again. A threshold was passed, hydrogen became helium and light returned to the universe. Pinpoints of light became glowing beacons in the night.


You danced in the starlight. Blue white giants were born, filled the universe with light and gave their lives in blazes of light and gas greater than a million stars. You watched as star seeds of iron, carbon, oxygen and all the other elements were born. You danced again as the newborn planet seeds swirled together, grew larger and larger still. 


The next generation of stars began to shine, but instead of lonely splendor, their light reflected off growing worlds. Some were too far away; you could barely see their parent star through the misty, swirling gases. There were great gas giants; more failed star than planet. Some worlds formed too close to the star fire and were blasted, bare rock before they were barely born. A few were too small; their atmospheres were lost to the cold of space leaving deserts behind.


You danced again in the solar winds. In a forgotten corner in one of the great, glowing spiral arms of a galaxy you found a miracle.

Picture taken on one of the Apollo missions.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


What’s your favorite season?


I love them all for a lot of reasons. Western Oregon winters are fairly mild, most of the time.(that said we did get ten years worth of snow this winter.) There isn’t a lot but it’s there. There’s maybe six weeks from the first of December to mid January that’s the darkest. We often have crocuses peeking through by the end of January. The Lady Scarlet day lily never really went down this winter. All of the day lilies are up. I guess they have to get going because they start blooming in May. The willows are turning green, the daffodils and forsythias are coming up. It’s the beginning time.


Summer, ah summer. Everything bursts into exuberant color and abundance. There are so many shades of green this time of year. The garden is growing. You can see the fruits and vegetables coming on. There is nothing like a fresh, northwest strawberry, eastern Oregon and Washington apples or peaches. And don’t forget those Hermiston watermelons.  It’s the full, rich time. And we have short winters and really we have short summers. We do have long springs and falls.


Fall comes on. It’s time to can vegetables and hit the local produce suppliers every couple of weeks or so. We get fall color but it doesn’t come all at once. The colors go in about the same order as the leaves come out. Willows and dogwoods turn first and the maples are usually the last.


The gardens get tucked in and mulched. It’s quieter now. Cooler, damper, the winding down time. A time to remember the year that’s past and start looking for sprouting crocuses.  


We don't have a lot of yellow daffodils yet this year. These are in the backyard.

The other dafs in the front yard. There will be tulips blooming in the back a little later. And some volunteer lavenders hiding down there. The bare branches are potentilla. They are getting greener, but it's hard to see because the leaves are small, even when they are out. :-)

It rained so hard at times yesterday. The yard was floating at times. Didn't slow the critters down very much though.

And got this shot out the window this morning.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


the face of the earth. But it kind of feels that way. It's weird. I have a stretch of intense creativity and poof, it dries up. Dry as a bone. Can't string three words together to save my life. Can't even come up with a subject much write about it.

Add sticking my nose in a book, working, drawing little diagrams of the back yard and a knitting project I wanted to get done really, really bad and Helloooooo, two weeks have gone by. I can surf and knit, I can read a computer screen and knit, I can't type and knit. And it was something I was doing for a friend of my mom's; I was going knit three, pearl three in my dreams.

About work, I access and use an incredible amount of paper. I know where it is, trouble is nobody else knows where it is. That may be job security, but it's driving ME crazy. I may have to camp in from the copier with it set to scan for the next year, but that information is going on the network and 95 percent of that paper is going in boxes in a nice safe storeroom until it's time to go to shredder. Paperless society? I haven't found it yet. Frankly, I keep waiting for the implosion as the entire dealership disappears over the paper event horizon into a black hole never to be seen or heard from again.

Oh, and here's a shot of the Bandit. In a pose that's just about as undigified as it gets.  I love to watch her in that position, half asleep and washing her face. Just sort of dreamily going at it. Not a care in the world.

And just a thought for the day. Cats may not build cathedrals, but they don't blow them up, either.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I ask blessing for this garden.


Late winter sun warming the soil;

Soil, rich and life giving;

Life, in the buds on the tree branches;

Branches, meeting the changing sky;

Sky, brilliant blue then black with clouds;

Clouds, chill and heavy with rain;

Rain, droplets caught on the early blossoms;

Blossoms, turning to the sudden sunshine.


We stand on sacred ground.


Well, it’s the beginning of March in Western Oregon. It did everything yesterday except snow. And for all I know, it did snow higher up. We had clouds, sun, showers, sun, pouring rain, sun and hail. The hail and the downpours did hold off until we got the two new roses planted. Heirloom Roses carries what are known as bare root roses. These have not been grafted. And they are so little. Just little baby roses. Thing is, if you want the baby to be happy ten years or so down the road, you need a hole about two feet wide and two feet deep. Enter the apprentice gardener. Darn, it’s muddy outthere.


Anyway after we refilled the hole with dirt, compost, bone meal, a couple kinds of fertilizer and watered it down some to get rid of the air holes the kids were introduced to their new homes. Mom dug out a couple of tomato cages for protection. They do look awfully small out there right now. Give them a year or so and they’ll be standing tall with the best of them.


It didn’t quite take as long to clean the mud off the tools and clogs as it did to get them dirty, but it sure felt like it. Now they’re in we can start getting other things moved around. Is there a sign out there that’s a variation on WIP (work in progress)? Only mine would be GIP (garden in progress). Come on in, we’ve got a few weeds with your name on them. LOL I’m definitely getting the gardening bug. I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but she found the cutest shovel. Standard handle, half width blade; great for close in work or really muddy soil.


Do I have it bad, or what?


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Like most cats, Lucky loves to sleep in the sun. She also likes soft things, such as stuffed animals. This spot is on top of the sewing machine. If those stuffed critters are also where they can be used for pillows, ahhhhhhh, paradise.