30 December 2014


A cold winter's night with a half moon riding high.  Somewhere near the garages I hear the call of an owl; I have seldom heard that sound as a lifelong Portland resident!  A second chimed in briefly but they soon went quiet (or elsewhere).

Lórien heard it too and recognized that call from her family home near Anacortes.  Checking our bird-call book, we believe it was a Western Screech-Owl we were hearing; we both thought the call somewhat resembled a dove cooing at times, not a 'screech' per se.  So what's in a name?

In any case: Very cool.

28 December 2014

wet days

This Christmas season has seen several good wet storms arrive at our address, shipped from as far away as China!  Well one tropical tap could be traced to the South China Sea, so that counts.  Portland has not been in line like we have; their official total sits at just under 6", while our register is just shy of nine.  A cold snap arrives later tomorrow - and possibly a few flakes! - so it's a good thing the wood-pile is holding up nicely.

21 December 2014


Our storm totaled 2.7" of rain before slacking off at last.  Portland checked in with just over an inch.  We had wet storms of this amount in town, but very few!  Definitely an impressive storm total given the extra elevation and fewer tall, storm-blocking hills aligned between us and the ocean.

Tonight is the winter solstice, longest night of the year.  The specific time of solstice was just past 3pm.  Wonder if that is why the neighbors are detonating explosives/ firecrackers and lofting fireworks into very low damp clouds?  We're still getting used to the frequent munitions in the valley, apparently a shooting range - but these were window-rattlingly close.  Oh what fun?

18 December 2014

our DLF (deer little friends)

Soon after we arrived at the New Place we encountered a pair of young deer.  First they were camped out under the local apple tree for easy meals, now they often wander the 2024 Christmas-tree farm.  Every few days though, the two are nearby.  I finally started to carry the camera even on short walks and drives, just in case.. and here they are again.

Another fun couple was the Stellar's Jays that laid waste to our suet brick.  For the first few days I saw no critters, just an increasingly untidy table on our deck.  At last I caught sight of them and clicked away from inside the warm house.  I had never noticed the light eyebrows on these birds before!

Weather has been cool and moist, but heavy rains are in the forecast - we shall see.  [Here's a link to our Portland reasoning.]  So far this month we're just under three inches in the gage.  That amount is supposed to double by Sunday evening the 21st!  An 'atmospheric river' (scientifically more precise than a Pineapple Express) setup is coming with its subtropical moisture squeezed at us like a huge fire-hose.  Many of those in recent years have visited northwest Washington, destroying Mt. Rainier's Wonderland Trail and erasing Kennedy Hot Springs (formerly near Glacier Peak) - but this one seems to have our area in mind instead.  Time to check what needs checking before the deluge (possibly) strikes!

It turns out that I missed cleaning out a particularly important stretch of gutters; the former owner added a bit of roof to cover the passage between home and garage, which then pours back to the garage gutter beneath the overhanging new roof.  It's important because that's where all the firewood is stored!  A tarp and some careful rearranging of wood should help, but better yet perhaps I can get those gutters scooped out soon.  Trouble is that overhanging roof limits how well I can get above to examine and scoop... so the tarp is the easy answer.  That whole area needs to be reexamined for a better way to play.

08 December 2014

"mind the bugs"

I need to make a sign like that for the wood-pile.  Over the weekend I disturbed a large brown spider - maybe not a Brown Recluse, but worth the precaution in any case.  Today I brought in some wood and a very groggy wasp crawled across the brick-work; I've been bitten by late-season wasps and it hurts at least as much as one in summer, perhaps more so for mere shock value.

So I need to remember to shake and inspect the wood before it comes inside - make a sign if I must!

02 December 2014

Cold Wind

The Cold Wind has arrived.  Not only does it feel different, it sounds different - a soft whoosh through the evergreens, with no leaves to add their rustling.  The sun no longer hits much of the home or yard, but sunlight on the trees and neighborhood is still nice!

We had a visit this morning from two squirrels and three western Meadowlarks.  Like our noisier visit from the Stellar's Jays last month, the birds flipped over leaves in the yard to see what was hiding from the cold air.  Very funny to watch, almost like a yard fight among children but one leaf at a time.  Sad to see the Meadow-Lark here in a way, Oregon's state bird is very rare in the north Willamette Valley as their habitat is gone.  Nearly all I've seen in the past several years have been in Washington, where the Gold-Finch takes the state title.  I've seen them too, so that's comforting - though I wonder if Seattle/Tacoma residents see many of them.  Perhaps they can tolerate more than the Meadow-Lark though, as meadows or fields are required for Oregon's bird to thrive.

I thought I'd see fewer crows in this rural area as they seem to really like the Portland area.  However we have a murder or two up here, yelling at each other - and at the ravens who seem to reside with the neighbors to our northwest.  I often hear that deeper, raspier shout from their trees and occasionally see them cruising the area.  Higher up we've seen many vultures, though they seem to have chosen another flight pattern now, during the Cold-Wind season.

We ended November with just under 6" in the rain bucket.  As noted earlier that began working just after mid-month, so it's a nice high number that does not fully represent our November total.  Experts say a rather wimpy El Niño is upon us, so wet and dry spells may be common this year.  Our shaded driveway has only been unfrosted when it's been raining, so that is part of the story so far.

24 November 2014

an atypical Sunday

Yesterday's Sunday showed no sun but plenty of rain - and morning thunder!  Several nearby strikes and a half-hour power outage made for interesting and unusual morning; any day with thunderstorms before noon is rare around here.

The freshly functioning weather station shows about two inches of rain in 2+ days.. and the next storm is again pointed at SW Washington = us!  The gutter nearest the woodpile overflowed a bit yesterday, I knew I had missed a few spots after the leaves had mostly come down :-o

21 November 2014

back to typical late-autumn weather

After several days where the low-angled sun did not reach our frost-bitten driveway we are now back to temps in the 40s and light rain.  The frozen windshield did prompt me to open more space in the large 'garage' so the car now fits indoors when conditions require it.  Both garages are a fair walk from the house so I chose the one with an opener over the nearer one with the heavy door that must be opened manually!

After discovering Reset buttons on some of the equipment, I have a fully-functioning weather system on the property.  The wind gage was not working during the strongest easterly winds but now it's up and spinning data to the base, and the replacement rain gage now works for the first time ever.  Here's a drippy shot of the anemometer with winds at zero and thick drizzle..

Now to learn if I can get any of it published to my website!  And where to stick a weather cam around here.

12 November 2014

taste of winter #1

Worse in Portland - but this will do!  Winter Storm Watch for a bunch of us.


The east wind has been filling the area with cold dry air, step one in the process.  I now have the wind gage working on our weather station thanks to a base-receiver reboot.  I do wish I had thought of that earlier...

********** Snowstorm Update!! ***********
Nothing - just a few flurries and snow pellets.  No ground covered, no big deal at home.  Still not a great day to drive with nervous folks all around, but the storm did not come as far north as expected.  One of the weather models did get this right with its more southern landfall, and it was not the ECMWF this time!

10 November 2014

NWS weather spotter

I took the online weather-spotter 'webinar' recently and now have an ID.  I can now send in extreme-weather data to the Weather Service and be seen in the LSRPQR reports!  Sounds exciting but let's be honest: this is a rare deal that attributes nothing to me personally.  LSR is a local storm report, PQR means it's in the Portland office.  Maybe some day I will see a load of snow, a load of rain or a funnel cloud and check  in, but they don't want to hear reports of 'yup another quarter inch of rain' in November.

Cheap thrills but not insignificant, as such reports point out possible model errors and improve forecasts in the long run.  Everybody wins!

a good day's work

Enough leaves finally dropped last week for me to step out on a now-rare dry day to rake them up.  After about 20 minutes of work I took the Q out for an interval-movie of me raking the yard.  Forty-five minutes, 45 frames.  First the beer died, then the rake - the camera expired next then the leaves, leaving me the last one standing.  Victory is mine!

The muscles expired soon after.. and ten days later a fresh coating of the last local leaves waited their turn.

09 November 2014


We've been in our new home for over three months, and it feels like notes about it deserve their own 'blog -- so here it is!  General home commentary and weather 'reports' will be featured; for camera commentary visit  granitix.blogspot.com, while more ethereal musings can be seen at lifenotes-jr.blogspot.com -- that's all the blogsites I have, for now!

Moving to a new place has its many stresses, and some do not end when the moving truck/container leaves.  We bought this home in midsummer when trees were green and the sun shone on the deck every morning.  Now it's deep autumn, and the leaves are mostly in a large pile on the driveway (the last bunch are now cluttering the yard for a final farewell), and the deck receives a bit of sunshine if you are willing to stand up!  No stress at this point, just anticipation - but if snow piles deep or roads fall into creeks?  Those weren't issues in the Big City, but here it needs to be considered!

Many items are still seeking a location here, but the garage(s) are less full and a bit more organized.  this is a damp location so mildew is a concern, so clothes and paperwork have priority admission into the home,  The wood stove has been pretty  busy in November, I can imagine  that by February the donated woodpile that came with the home will be looking mighty thin.  We have a fine electric furnace insead of gas, so winter bills will be fewer but it will look larger to have light and heat on the same page.

Well that's enough for the commencement post.  We have many dreams of improvements here, but other expenses must be brought into line first.  Many of those dreams are outdoor ones - so for now it's spectator time!