Tuesday, December 10, 2013


We're in the middle of an unusual cold-snap here in Portland with a string of sub-freezing-temperatured days. Luckily, there has been little to no moisture in the air, disappointing school-children and the young-at-heart the whole city over. One perk of the unusual weather has been a swarm of hungry birds at my feeders. The first Townsend's Warbler of the season arrived this week, so there's no more denying December is fully upon us.

Townsend's Warbler

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Northern Flicker, male

Bushtit, female

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet my new neighbor

White-Breasted Nuthatch
This guy moved into my neighborhood during the past couple of weeks. He's not as interested in getting to know me as his Red-breasted cousins, but doesn't seem to mind too much if I spy on him through the blinds.I wonder how he got his name...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

BYU Bound!

 My oldest nephew, Tanner, left for college this weekend. He'll be attending BYU, with classes starting on Monday. Being the sentimental person I am, goodbyes are never easy for me, even though I know they're seldom final. Tanner is one of the most kind-hearted, conscientious kids I've ever known and I know that he's going to do great. I just know that college was hard for me and I struggled. Sure, I did have some fantastic experiences and I made friendships that have lasted to this day. But I was also extremely depressed and many days it was all I could to do to get out of bed let alone succeed in my courses. So when hugging Tanner goodbye, I found myself overcome with all the things I wish for him: that he'll make friends, that he'll enjoy his classes, that his homesickness will me minor, that he'll find his niche, that he'll enjoy his new freedoms responsibly, that he'll be happy, that he will face his future with confidence and with excitement. Oh, to be 18 again! With all the possibilities in the world ahead of you. 

Also, I could have used that trailer when going to college. It sure beats a car trunk!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buck Lake

We had one of those crazy-hot weekends here in Portland. The three-digit kind that we Pacific Northwesterners are just not accustomed to. To get some relief from the heat, Brett, Abby, and I headed east to a little gem of a lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest called Buck Lake. It was written up in the most recent issue of Portland Weekly as part of an area swimming holes article. The drive up there was beautiful. I'm fortunate to live in such a beautiful state. The only way to get in to the lake is park your car on a forest service road and hike the final 3/4 of a mile in on foot. We obviously weren't the only ones who read the article as there was quite a bit of activity at the lake, more than usual according to some "regulars" we met there.

As you can see, the lake was gorgeous. There was no real gradual approach to the water. Rather, we kind of had to scramble our way over rocks and boulders of varying sizes until we found a spot that wasn't already claimed. Abby wasn't too sure about getting in the water. I think she would have been more comfortable with an easier way in and out. At one point, I was standing about waist-deep on a rock in the water and Abby was perched on a rock at about shoulder level with me. There was a much taller rock to our side that came to a peak at the top. Abby, in an attempt to get a better look at Brett who was out back-floating about fifteen feet away from us, jumped onto this taller rock, not realizing there was no place for her to stand. Instead, she ended up kind of running across the slope of the rock and then leaped into the water. Poor girl. Despite the loud claps and whoops from the people around us, she was so panicked at the surprise cannonball she could not get out of the water fast enough. She swam to me and tried to climb up my back before I was finally about to get one hand under her belly and the other hand on her collar and help haul all 70 pounds of her out the water. I'm not sure why she was so spooked because we've taken her swimming before and I know she can do it. After that, she was content to sunbathe on the warm rocks and chase chipmunks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Part 2

I'm back to see if today's post goes a little smoother for me than my last attempt. I get so frustrated when something does not work as logically as I expect it to. Patience has never been my strong suit. Anyway, here are some more pictures from my afternoon at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Now that the breeding season is over for most of the migratory waterfowl, and the wetlands have reverted to grasslands, the walking trails throughout the refuge are now all open so I was able to explore quite a bit of space while I was there.

There were lots and lots of swallows flitting about, especially once the sun started to set. Trying to get a picture of one in flight was near impossible, so it was nice of this Tree Swallow to pose for me. Apparently the rules do not apply to refuge residents. The colors on this bird are so striking! It was really great to see him so close.

At one point, I was attempting to get close to a water canal to see some red-winged blackbird fledglings and very nearly stepped on this guy and his - her? - friend. I honestly don't know who was more surprised, me or them. I jumped about two feet and they slithered off before the braver of the two decided the warm metal was too nice to stay away from and he came back out. I'm fairly certain I've identified him correctly as a harmless Northwestern Garter Snake. Such pretty markings!

Bushtits are fairly common around here, at least I get them on my suet feeder regularly. Usually they arrive en masse, but are so little there can be up to twenty on the feeder at one time. They remind me of little, furry ping pong balls and never fail to put a smile on my face. Did you know the easiest way to differentiate the sexes of Bushtits is to look at their eyes? The females have a light eye, whereas the males have dark eyes. I took a picture of both, so you can see for yourself.

This picture is a bit of a Where's Waldo. Do you see the two Great Blue Herons and the single Great Egret? If you click on the image, a larger version will open up. The same goes for all the other pictures.

Most of the migratory waterfowl have moved on, but the residents were still out and about. This group of juvenile mallards were still very into following mom in a neat little line. And I love the look of geese in flight.

Things I saw that are not included here: Bald Eagles, Red-Tailed Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Capped Chickadees, Red-Winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, Cedar Waxwing, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Spotted Towhee, American Robin, Warbling Vireo (heard, did not see), skunk remnants, and two dead moles. I did not share pictures of the carcasses, though I admit to having taken them. You're welcome. I'll end with a picture of a Great Egret preening and a scenic look at part of the refuge. It's really a gem and I can't wait to see what I find next time I visit.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Two Additions to my Bird List

Common Yellowthroat (not so common-looking if you ask me)

Lazuli Bunting

Yesterday I spent some time at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge and added two birds to my life list! The Lazuli Bunting and the Common Yellowthroat were both kind of enough to show themselves. I also saw a number other birds while there. However, Blogger is being especially difficult tonight and I have already sat here long enough trying to get it to format correctly. So watch for another post soon with more bird pictures. I don't own a zoom lens, so the subjects aren't as close as I'd like. Someday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strawberry-Rhubarb Preserves

It's that perfect time in the garden when the rhubarb is still producing and the strawberry patch is ripening. We've really gotten our use out of the rhubarb this year. 
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Western Screech Owl

It's important to keep your eyes peeled when out and about. You never know what you'll see!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Garden update

I don't have much to show by way of vegetables just yet. What I have planted is growing along just fine, but the flowers right now are more picture ready. Aren't they pretty? This particular bed is one of my favorites because it has so many textures and colors and is such a draw for pollinators and I really love the way everything is filling in. I feel like I'm doing something good for the earth when I look at it. Does that make me a hippie?


Brett helps when he can.

This is what Abby likes to do while we're tending the garden.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Things I've (re)learned over the past week:
  • I am old
  • I am blessed to have old friends that knew me when and don't hold it against me
  • There is always something to be grateful for
  • It's possible to experience heartache and joy in the same day - sometimes the same hour
  • Being chronically late can come in handy when vendors at the farmer's market are willing to cut you an end-of-the-day deal
  • Rain isn't always unwelcome
  • It might be too late to recondition myself to be a "morning person"