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.