Monday, April 17, 2017

Battle Osprey vs. Eagle


Brian Davies does it again! There are not enough words to describe the photo envy I have when it comes to this man. This is a tweet from this morning. More photos here in Tuesday newspaper.

Bald eagle chasing an osprey 'over Eugene', determined to snatch the [very small] salmon from its talons. According to the newspaper article, the eagle eventually won.. But the photo is just awesome.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Osprey nest


Went for a walk down to the ponds yesterday and for the first time, noticed this platform on the side of the main road that holds an osprey nest. Not an unusual sight around here -- there are others along the river, including one that's close-by. I am curious, however, why I never noticed this one. I'm sure it's been here. I have a tendency to look down, rather than up, when I walk.  This time of year I find myself looking up, trying to spot nests for the eagles that I see flying about, as well as the herons and yes -- this platform that I initially saw from a distance, looking up.

I don't know if there are chicks in there, but when I walked past it I did hear a rather loud, rather insistent noise that sounded like a hungry raptor chick. Mom and dad were flying in and out of the nest from the river direction, presumably bringing fish to hungry gullets. I tried to get a cool photo of one of them taking off or landing, but the only opportunity I got came up so suddenly I didn't have time to react. I got this one:


Not the cool shot I wanted, but the best they were willing to offer while I waited on the sidewalk. This was just coming in for a landing.

I know where the herons nest, of course, and have heard that the eagles nest along the river, though I haven't seen them personally. Maybe it's time to go for another walk on the river path, see what I can see. They fly over the house, headed east for a short distance, though I'm not sure what's over there that draws them. The far end of the ponds? Grassland? Some of both over there. Nice to look out and catch that flash of white head and tail, the graceful flight, even for a few seconds.


The ponds were quiet and a bit dreary yesterday. I haven't been back to the gym yet, so felt a need to just get out for a short time and walk, regardless of weather.  It wasn't raining, just dreary.


Lots of mushrooms flourishing out there, too. Saw numerous patches like this one. Exciting, right?


A few wildflowers popping out, sun or no sun. But things are indeed getting green, and that's nice.

So, that's the excitement around here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Springtime in Eugene

Brian Davies wins the best photo of the day award again. Springtime in Eugene!

Storms blowing through, high wind gusts, downpours, with a lengthy sunshine break in between. And that was all this morning. During that break, he found this. Note all the little daffodils reflected in the raindrops. Guy's a genius with a camera.

Just after daylight this morning, during a period of strong winds, I began to wonder how the fabric 'wrapping' on my garden bed was holding up. The weather has been warm enough that while I've been putting the 'skirts' down every evening, I've done it loosely. So I went outside and sure enough, all the skirts were undone and the whole thing was blowing in the wind, attached to the tops of hoops by only a few clothespins. When I reached the garden, I could see that all the corner stakes had blown out, and that the bamboo hoops that are the framework were also bending badly and ready to follow the corner stakes.

So, with the wind still pretty strong, I started trying to bring some order to the chaos. It wasn't easy. Hard to even hold down one piece of it long enough to pin it down. But eventually I won, bit by bit, using all the extra clothespins I had out there, and all the hoop stakes along the sides. I still wasn't sure it was enough, so I decided to go back inside and get the rest of my clothespins.

While I was standing there contemplating this, I heard a loud crack and, knowing what it was, started toward the parking lot. A quick look told me that the tree was falling away from me, onto the roof of the apartment building on the other side of the fence. I think that's the 3rd one that's fallen into one of their buildings this spring. It didn't crash against the building, though, just rested gently. I went back inside, got the rest of the clothespins, made it all as secure as I could, and hustled back inside. There were no more trees within striking distance of me, but I was spooked enough not to want to take the chance. I was out there again a short while ago, and the skirts are all still tied down nicely and the sun is shining once more. Maybe we'll escape further harm around here, and power outages!

I spent all of yesterday cooking, which is of course fun, for me. Went back to baguette shapes for this batch of sourdough, but neglected to score the dough deeply enough to do the job. Those slits give the dough a place to expand as it rises. Two of them blew out the side at or near the seam, solving the problem for themselves.

This one was, I think, one-quarter whole wheat and while it's healthier and all that, I think I'm gonna go back to plain old unbleached white flour again. Because I want to taste the sour without having it clouded by tasting the whole grain.

Still, I was happy with the way the dough expanded nicely and how the loaves had a nice round shape, rather than the flatter ones I've tended to get in the past. I'm figuring this thing out, one batch of dough at a time.

I also made a wonderful Spanish paella yesterday, which I neglected to take a photo of. That's too bad, because it looked pretty good and I'll probably never make it again. Or, maybe I will, who knows! It was delicious, but a lot of work. However, if I left off the mussels and shrimp and just had chicken and some good Spanish chorizo in it, probably wouldn't be quite so bad. If I'm going to spend that much time cooking something at this stage in life, I want it to be something different -- not something I've done before.

I hurt my back in the gym last Friday, and though I rested some, I also have been following my usual treadmill schedule all week, which I think was not a good idea. Standing on my feet most of yesterday didn't help, either. So, with some wisdom and insight into the idea that I'm not as young as I like to think I am, I've opted to rest until the damn thing has time to heal.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Springtime in the garden

Not exactly my garden, but this is what it's like on the Oregon Coast today, in Newport. Alas! I really need to get over there soon, on a sunny day preferably.

The scene outside my living room window, reflections and all. The beautiful white clematis and the weeping cherry tree. Not bad -- especially with a little sunshine.

Took this of the clematis a couple of days ago, on a less-sunny day. Really pretty!

My little garden plot, real time. The sun is shining and I've raised the 'skirts' to let the sunshine and fresh air reach the plants. May well leave it this way all week, since we supposedly have a dry spell on tap.













I couldn't decide which of these to photos I liked best, so you get both. Clockwise from bottom center: sugar snap peas, radishes, romaine lettuce, swiss chard, rosemary, parsley, thyme. Tiny carrot sprouts in the center, little daikon radish transplants scattered around the parsley. Put those out yesterday from a pot of sprouts I bought to eat, was curious to see if they would grow. So far, they look  pretty good.

Below, a slightly different view that shows the tiny carrot sprouts a bit better, and the radishes, which are growing like crazy. The romaine is doing well, too. Much better than the chard. Pests got a couple of the seedlings, but that's ok.



Seedlings just in the ground, radishes already sprouting, March 1st. They've come a long way in a month!

So, that's what we have right now in the way of spring. Oh, there are flowers and fruit trees blooming all around, and there's a tinge of green showing in the hardwood trees here and there. But this may be the first day it really feels like spring to me. Funny how warm sunshine will do that!

Friday, March 24, 2017

An Oregon thing

Cutest thing outside my window late afternoon yesterday. A pair of Canadian geese calmly approached the curb on the other side of the street, near the crosswalk, and stepped out onto the pavement. At that point, the road has the equivalent of 4 traffic lanes and 2 bicycle lanes and is normally heavily traveled. But things were kind of quiet and as I watched, I hoped.

First car that came along stopped immediately, as the birds continued calmly walking. Then the first car traveling in the opposite direction stopped and then everything came to a standstill until the birds were safely out of reach of a car, and on the curb on this side of the street. I like that about Oregon.

This morning, I see one of them sitting calmly in the middle of the lawn as if nesting. For their sake, I hope that's not the case, because I don't think our lawn maintenance people would be inclined to work around them. And I don't like to think of them crossing that street, especially with babies following along, too often.

Other than that -- Oregon's men's basketball is headed for the Elite Eight. The women are playing their Sweet Sixteen on Saturday. Our men are good, but my casual observance from watching only the last couple of women's games is that the women are better. Maybe not better when all of our men are playing to their potential, but I don't think that's the case right now. I wish them all luck, anyway.

We've had a good amount of sunshine this week. More than predicted or expected. Raining again, but that's ok. It's Oregon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Italian comfort food -- my way

Oh, yum!

It is as good as it looks, probably better than it looks.

My Italian-based take on shrimp and grits: chicken and polenta. We made a version of this back in the day when I was cooking Italian food for a living. As I recall, that version used heavy cream. Not exactly diet food. Not that this is truly diet food, I don't suppose, but really, it's not all that bad. Within my calorie goals for the day, and healthy. Mostly.

I started with a shrimp and grits recipe from Bobby Flay, just substituted chicken for the shrimp and added mushrooms, omitted the cheese. I made myself be patient and allow the polenta to cook long enough to be really thick and creamy. Rendered a small amount of bacon, cooked the chicken (one boneless/skinless thigh) in the fat, added mushrooms, garlic, scallions and lemon juice to finish cooking. Added the crisp bacon back in. Topped with fresh parsley from the garden.  Again, yum!

It's not perfect, but it's damned good and I'm not sure quite what I'd change to make it 'better'. For me, polenta has become a real comfort food. I normally eat it on its own -- nothing added but salt and butter. I could eat tons of it -- these days, I need all the comfort I can find.

Our day here has turned sunny. At the moment. Not likely to last, but we'll happily take whatever sunshine we can get.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Healthy breakfast cake

Inspired by an article I read somewhere this morning -- either the local paper or the NYT, I decided to try making a 'healthy' breakfast cake instead of the usual smoothie.

Aside from the 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour, and leavenings, everything else in here would have gone into the smoothie, in the same quantities. A small banana, 3 lg strawberries, coconut oil, a raw egg (not always in smoothie, but sometimes), cinnamon, a drizzle of honey (maybe a teaspoon). That's it.



The flour added an extra 147 calories to my day, but I can easily work around that for the rest of the day's food.

The cake is light, and extremely moist because I used as little flour as possible, just enough to bind the other ingredients together. But it tastes wonderful and is a far, far more soul-satisfying addition to the day than a smoothie will ever be!

I can see that this will become a staple around here. Not daily, but often enough. And no guilt involved.


Brat Kat was posing ever so nicely yesterday, so I couldn't resist taking her portrait. Lighting not good, thus a little shaky on the focus end, but better than with the flash and I know that if I'd moved around too much to turn various lights on, she'd have moved.

She is still utterly spoiled, but also still very sweet and loving. Has taken to waking me up in the mornings if I manage to sleep past the time her internal clock says is the time I generally wake up. Does it sweetly, of course, but I'm still awake.

Due for a non-rainy day here, which is something of a rarity these days. Don't know about sunny, just not rainy. And most of us waterlogged Oregonians will be happy to see it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Heron -- and total photo envy!


Nope -- I did NOT take this one, though I wish I could say I did. Another beauty from our local newspaper photog, Brian Davies. Damn! Looks like the ponds down the street, too.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Another day, another lettuce wrap, a little snow

I had some fresh hummus leftover that I needed to use, and a hankering for some ground beef (normally enjoyed as a taco inside a tortilla with sauteed onions and red bell peppers).

But I'm still on this wrap gig, so I did a little perusing of other wrap recipes and ended up with my own version.

Mixed half an avocado with some of the hummus and spread it on three lettuce leaves, topped with little meatballs made with an easy, luscious Asian sauce.

Then I topped that with a mixture of raw veggies and mango tossed with lime juice. Topped it all off with a drizzle of sweet Thai chili sauce. Didn't really taste this much in the end product, so I should have used more but it's a new product to me and I didn't want to go overboard.

Gotta say, it was delicious. The Asian sauce was a mix of equal quantities of honey, fish sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil, added to the skillet about a minute before balls were ready to eat, then let the sauce form a glaze during that last minute.

Really nice, all in all, though I have to admit that while it looks like a lot of food, I do not feel full after eating it for some reason. Probably because I'm used to more filling, heavier foods. Still, there was a quarter pound of beef in there, plus the hummus and avocado and various veggies. An hour later, I'm still hungry. Of course, that could be because I spent 45 minutes on the cycle machine at the gym earlier and then went for a brisk 35 minute walk right after lunch. You think? Burning a lot of calories.

I took that walk because I wanted to get some photos of all the snow on the hills around here, and thought the bike bridge would be the best place to get them, since it's the highest point in these parts. Earlier, when I went to the gym around 8:30, the skies were clear enough that I could see the hills all around. By the time the sun began to shine, around noon when I headed out, the hills were mostly all clouded in. Bummer!

I took this photo because of the Frank Lloyd Wright quote: Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Every sign has a quote on it, sometimes from people who surprise me.

At any rate. I've lived in Oregon for the better part of 15 years, all in all, so you'd think I'd know not to head out of the house in weather like this without a jacket or umbrella, but like a rookie I was fooled by a little sunshine. It was brisk, too, but I was more concerned about rain on my camera.


Wasn't long before I realized the mistake, but of course I wouldn't turn back. Just hustled down to the bridge.

Heavy use of telephoto over the top of car dealership. This is the southside, near where I lived for awhile.

It looked much better this morning, when it was clear and every rooftop stood out bright and white. But since I'd walked all the way down here.....





Looking back towards home, from the bridge. You can't see where I live from here, but it's around a couple more bends in the road right about where those apartment buildings on the right meet the road.

Notice the lowering, black clouds coming in.








Far in the distance, show on the Coburg hills. Yesterday when I drove to the gym, these hills were white from top to bottom, and of course, quite clearly so. Funny how that so rarely happens when I have the camera handy.

I made it about halfway home before the first wet stuff started coming down, but it only lasted a moment and by then I'd put the camera under my sweatshirt. I was also mentally making a list of the various shelters between there and home. A bus stop, the parking lot for pond viewing closest to home. But, though the rain was coming down it wasn't heavy and I didn't get soaked.


Friday, March 3, 2017

A new, healthy, obsession


I've been observing with interest the various lettuce wraps I see on various cooking/food shows I watch. I watch them a lot. I've watched people in this country as well as Asia fill them with all kinds of things, all fresh, all delicious looking. I've also been looking for better ways to keep my weight in check, as my 'same old foods' get pretty boring.

A couple of nights ago on one of my favorite shows, Chopped, 4 health-oriented chefs competed with basket ingredients with the charge to prepare something light, but delicious. In the chefs' interviews some spoke of the value of wraps like this, and other ways of producing light and healthy foods, while the judges talked among themselves about how the current feeling when it comes to dieting is not actually dieting, it's all about lifestyle changes and eating lighter, fresher, healthier foods that are still delicious. All the time. I've heard similar things before, but somehow, this time it clicked with me so yesterday I bought some ingredients to give it a fair try.

I have stuff for Mexican-style, simple grill style, Thai/Asian style, and the above, which is simply a filet of fresh snapper from the Oregon coast cut into strips and quickly sauteed in a bit of coconut oil, and a bunch of fresh veggies. Next time I think I'll put the fish down first, then top it with the veggies. I'll also prepare more of the veggies. There is carrot, radish, sugar peas, green onion, asparagus and probably things I've forgotten, all cut into edible size pieces and tossed in a citrusy dressing I made. I have to admit, it was really delicious! I was wishing I had more but that was just gluttony speaking, my taste buds wanting more stimulation.

I found the citrus dressing recipe online from a Napa Valley chef, and it was supposed to be thick -- but not thick enough for my taste, and frankly, a bit bland. I grated some garlic and ginger into it and found it much more palatable, but still a tad thin. It tasted great with the fish and veggies, but tended to run out of the lettuce and all over my hands. I may need to give up and buy a jar of some addictive sauce from our local Cafe Yumm vegetarian restaurant -- then, I'll use their ingredient list to try and make my own afterwards.

I've also bought some jarred peanut sauce with lots of good Thai flavors (coconut milk, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, peanuts, and more). I could certainly make this on my own, but I cannot be trusted with a  jar of peanut butter in the house because I will literally eat enough at one sitting to make myself sick. Also have some other Asian sauces, and will buy more next week when I visit my favorite Asian food store.

I'm thinking that butter lettuce might work better than the red leaf lettuce, because its leaves form natural bowls. But the red leafs are large and flexible and easy enough to use. I may need to find room in my garden for some of this!

So, stay tuned. Perhaps some more photos and suggestions next time around.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spring's getting closer

The weather today seems to really want to be sunny, but can't quite make it. There were a few sunny moments while I was out, but none while I had something to aim the camera at.

Still -- the ducks and geese are happy, and the temp is relatively mild, so not much to complain about. Supposedly, we'll have a respite from rain for another day or so.

There are a few crocus open in the garden area, and a few daffodils open here and there around town. Soon!


Note the patches of snow on the distant hills. Probably left over from the weekend, when snow was forecast but never quite materialized down here at street level. Thank goodness!

Actually, a man on the treadmill next to me at the gym on Sunday pointed out the big white flakes that were obvious through the windows. Just flurries, not much of it and it didn't stick, so it was a novelty.





Progress inside the big white tent that covers my little garden bed. A bamboo tepee for the peas to grow on; radishes sprouting top left; romaine lettuce top; swiss chard seedlings, right.

The red container is excess chard seedlings that I can't find a home for but hate to toss.

The big empty spot in the middle is where the carrots are planted. I had to look it up -- planted February 11, which I believe is 2.5 weeks ago. Seems much longer than that, and I know they take awhile to germinate so there's still hope.

Compare to previous photo, from planting day. The peas have actually grown!

Spotted a little beagle dog hiding behind the big transmission tower at the ponds today, and when I walked on back to the platform to take the above photo, he'd already arrived there, but ran when I approached. Lost and scared, is my guess. I called our wonderful animal welfare people (same call center as 911, which is a little weird) and they'll send somebody out to find it. Hopefully, find it's owners or at the very least a new family.

Other than that -- hit the treadmill hard again this morning for 45 mins. Almost doubled that time with the after-lunch walk, which is good. Had thoughts this morning of taking the bike out after lunch, but somehow that amount of excess energy depleted after the treadmill session, so the lazy walk had to do.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Is it spring yet?

The sunshine outside looks warm, but looks are deceiving! I just went out to put some seedlings in the ground, and the wind has a nasty bite to it. Temp's around 45F, so not really warm at all.

But, I got my romaine seedlings (purchased yesterday) into the soil and watered everything. You'd think that with all the rain we've had the soil would be soaked, but it felt only moist when I transplanted the seedlings so I watered the individual plants just to be safe, and made sure the square where the carrots are planted was good and moist. The seed packet warned to keep it moist at all times until they sprout. I'm not sure how much rain actually penetrates through that woven fabric, although some certainly does.

So for now, I guess the garden is complete. Unless the carrots don't sprout, then I'll have an extra square. And once the radishes are gone that'll be one square ready for summer crops.

Made some good old southern-style buttermilk cornbread and pinto beans for lunch. Actually had it around 10:30, as I hadn't had breakfast other than a little kefir and I was hungry. I can have more later, although the cornbread is as good as I remember that recipe being in a really long time. Yum.

Other than that -- an Oregon basketball game this afternoon and plenty of chilling out. Haven't slept well the last couple of nights. Rain is back tomorrow and for the next week or so. Soon. Surely, soon we will see real signs of spring!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hibernation season

In Oregon, this is kind of hibernation season. January is the worst -- cold and wet, not conducive to much of anything other than staying inside where it's warm and dry. But still, February is not always a lot better so while people are stirring now and then on balmy days that promise springtime around the corner, it's still easier to just stay inside. Which is why I go to the gym most days, rather than walking outside. I also get better workouts there, using the treadmill at a good incline, or the good cycle machine that is hopefully getting the body into condition for some good, long rides when weather improves. It's been a long time since I've ridden my bike much, and it's a slow process to wake those muscles up and build some staying power. But it's happening. I can see improvements each time I climb on it.

In the garden, though, under the white canopy, the plants seem very happy. I built a little bamboo tepee the other day for the peas to climb on, and need to get some twine to make ladders up the tepee. I also need to get some romaine seedlings this week, when they arrive in the stores. I checked inside the tent this morning and the radishes are up! No sign of the carrots yet, but hopefully they will sprout soon. Growth is slow out there -- not much sunshine, not much warmth, and it supposedly going to drop below freezing for the next few nights with even some snow flurries. All the plants are winter hardy, but I like knowing that the tent gives them just a tad more protection.

The Kat trials continue. She is still sweet and lovable, but has taken to having energy fits during hours when I'm trying to sleep, and I'm not crazy about that. Hopefully, it's just a phase that will pass soon. Last night I found myself wondering if I really wanted this crazy cat in my life, but of course, I do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Nesting herons

So -- a sure sign of spring is the sight of herons nesting in trees down in the pond area. There are lots of nests in two different groups of trees, but today I only saw two pair of them actually working on nests.

These trees are on an island in the middle of the ponds, not accessible by any of the paths or trails and a long shot (literally!) for my camera. Even with a 24x zoom lens, the images were still pretty small.

Then! I discovered something new, which was the ability to zoom in on Windows photo viewer then open in Paint, and crop. That's how I got these closer views.


Actually, I have to say that this little camera surprised me with the detail it captured from so far away with full zoom, hand-held, and the extreme amount of enlargement from there that enabled me to get these views. Always love it when I discover something new like this.

Other than that, I seem to be feeling better today, finally. Don't want to jinx anything, but so far, so good. Not tons of energy, but enough to walk around to the other side of the ponds to get these photos. And more.

A few sun breaks today, but mostly cloudy. BUT  -- it's not raining, so no complaints.

Yesterday I drove downtown and picked up some swiss chard seedlings, and today I planted them in the garden. No signs of radish or carrot seeds coming up, but it's only been a week and I think they both take longer than that.  The little peas I planted a week ago are doing great. I got some 35" bamboo stakes to use to make a little cage for them to grow on, but don't think it'll happen today. No rush. Maybe next rain-free day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wahhhhhhh

So -- I've been a bit under the weather for almost a week now. Last Friday I woke up and felt normal, but then after breakfast, after food hit the tummy, everything hit the fan. Nausea, diarrhea, a general feeling of malaise. Yuk! Pretty unusual for me, and I blamed it on the pickled eggs I'd had for lunch the previous day.

People here suggested I had the flu, since it's been going around the building, but I didn't think so. I work hard at keeping my immune system strong, and I'm rarely bothered by anything that's 'going around'. The symptoms were short-lived and by Saturday I felt fine, if still lacking a certain amount of energy and my tummy was still queasy. Since then, I've been mostly ok most of the time. Just a bit of queasiness here and there, but sleeping a lot, including daytime naps.

On the other hand, I've still been going to the gym most days, or walking in the sunshine when there is any. Yesterday, and again today, the lack of energy is the biggest issue. All I want to do is sleep! And last night, my tummy was unhappy. But that was probably because I bombarded it with things that no sane person would consider to be sensible food for an unhappy tummy. When I'm sick, I tend to indulge in foods I like, forgetting the diet and not caring what the tummy is going to think until afterwards.

So, I kinda gave in. Maybe it is a touch of the flu -- a very light touch, if that's what it is -- and maybe I'd better give the tummy at least one day of proper food. I took a container of luscious chicken stock I made a couple of weeks ago out of the freezer last night, since real chicken soup (as opposed to the canned or boxed variety) is one of the best immune system boosts there is. That old wives tale has been proven correct by modern science.

This morning, breakfast (after the requisite kefir) was a bowl of egg flower soup, minus any spices. Just chicken stock, salt, and a beaten egg drizzled into it once it reached a boil. Yummy, and healthy. Lunch will be similar, though more substantial. I love to make Asian-style noodle bowls using chicken stock to make it into soup.

So -- I have a 9am appointment, but until then I think I'm gonna chill, rest, and see if this damned thing will go away! I don't like being sick.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Finally!

A sunny day! Word was that my fav garden store would have plenty of veggie starts delivered in the last couple of days, but once I got over there this morning I was disappointed to find that mostly they just had peas, and things I can't use like asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, etc. So I bought some sugar snap peas and parsley, and some seed.

Earlier, I'd picked up a couple of big bags of veggie boost soil amendment to top off the bed with, so it was ready to plant when I got home with the plants and seeds.


Yes, a wiser person would have taken photos before the tent went up, but since I'm not that wise, I took these through a hole in the fabric, rather than take it apart. These are the little  peas -- or the part of them that shows, anyway. They will grow. And with the lack of rain due for the next few days, hopefully they will grow fast.

French breakfast radishes and rainbow carrots are underneath some of the lovely soil.





This is the rosemary plant from the big pot I had out here. The pot was so rootbound that I'm really not sure there's enough roots to make it thrive, but we'll see. If not, small plants are cheap enough. There's parsley on the bottom and, out of reach of the hole, thyme out of the same big pot.

I need more space! But, I'll figure out a way to make what I have work. In retrospect, I could have done without the peas, but I've got 'em, and they'll taste good. But I think they'll outgrow the tent and need support and all that, and I'm not sure I think they are worth it.

So that's it. Feels lovely to have some sunshine, even if it's not overly warm out there (or, wasn't early this morning when I was out there working).

I'm told that leafy greens, which I want, will be in stock later in the coming week, so I'll make another trip and fill up more of that space.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Spring is around the corner


My meditation cushion has become her sleeping spot of choice. It's cushy, but I wonder if she can sense the peace and such that's left in the area, and perhaps on the cushions, from the hours of meditation? Cats are pretty sensitive to such things, so it's possible. We do have a bit of a conflict in the mornings when we both want to use it, but of course, I win because I'm bigger. I lose peace and an atmosphere conducive to concentration, however, because she tells me all about it for awhile, talking and pawing, even nipping, until she gives up and finds another place on the cushion to sleep/groom herself. There is plenty of room there for both of us. Photo shows that the cushion needs to be de-cat-haired, certainly.


Not sure just when I took this photo -- found some on the camera when I downloaded the cat photo. I remember taking them, one sunny day in the last week or two. Rare sunny day, I might add, though more are forecast starting Saturday. But rain or shine, spring is definitely in the air around here! Bulbs are poking their spikes above ground, robins are everywhere, and there are tiny buds on the trees outside my windows.

That springtime urge is also clearly evident in me and in another of the avid gardeners here. The first shipment of veggie starts is due in today, so tomorrow we will head down there and get the stuff we want, get them in the ground. I also need a couple of bags of soil and manure to top my bed up from settling. Looking forward to getting my fingers in the dirt and building my protective tent around the bed until after after frost date.

Not much else is new, really. Got tired of walking in the rain over familiar paths, so I've started going to the nearby gym again. At least for now. I like being able to read while I walk the treadmill, or ride a bike. Both are part of being ready for warmer weather and longer walks and bike rides in the sunshine.

Friday, February 3, 2017

New cat toy

So --- I am remiss again. But peeps, there's really nothing to write about. I'm walking a lot, but in the same old places with the same old river and ponds and such. Nothing photo-worthy. The rain has started again today, after a week or so of respite. Just rain, which is fine. No ice, no snow. We should be grateful, and I am, because Portland is getting slammed with ice. Sheets of ice, everywhere.

The cat continues to amuse, thank goodness. I bought her a new wand toy yesterday, with feathers at the end of it, and she went wild! Will chase that thing all over the house, showing some pretty darned good acrobatic maneuvers in the process. Mid-air twists, leaps with so much force that she rams into things. I try to keep them to small leaps when near furniture or such, or at least near soft furniture such as the sofa or bed. But this morning she threw herself right into the corner of a wall, with a resounding bang. Didn't seem to bother her. With all those leaps, though, she does get physically tired and ready to chill easily enough. Lots of energy being expended! I can't leave this one on the floor because when I do, she will chew on it and it's life will be significantly shortened. So I hide it in a closet and she will beg for it until I relent. It's fun for me, too. Makes me laugh. She was tired of the old one and thus I also bored with it quickly.

So -- that's it. Maybe something more exciting will come along.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hi Peeps!

Yeah, it's been awhile. Lazy and not much to say. Too wrapped up in little things to find something to write here.

Nothing to write today, either, just allaying the minds of some of you who would wonder. Had a doc appointment this morning, got zapped good with the liquid nitrogen gun. Maybe 15 spots removed.

Also been cleaning house, because the building is having its annual inspection, where the management comes into the apartment and makes sure things are clean, safe, all rules being abided by, healthy, blah, blah. Remove everything from under the sinks so they can check for leaks. Turn the bedding at top and bottom of bed down to expose mattress so they can check for bedbugs. Kind of a pain, particularly the latter. Haven't done it yet -- if they get here before tomorrow, I can do it for them.

Lots of sunshine today in forecast for the next couple of weeks. Brisk, but in the 50s. Feels wonderful. Nobody cares if it rains anymore, as long as there's no more ice and snow. Saw a bunch of daffodils coming up today when I went for a walk after lunch. The river is beautiful -- full, flowing, more blue than muddy.  Everything is lovely out there today.

See? Nothing interesting. Won't bore you any longer, but I'm alive and well.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Brrrrrr

We haven't seen temps over freezing for a week or more, other than an occasional hour here and there. With temps hovering in the 20s, it's been brutal for us who are not used to such things, and it's kept me inside far too much.

But this morning, the need to escape the house and the body's need for movement drove me out there anyway. Big 25F! I was well-dressed for it, a rare occasion to use a balaclava I've had for decades. It does the job. Theoretically, it's supposed to warm up for a few days but really, as long as there is no more snow or ice I can live with cold.

Restlessness and frustration are another thing, though. Eased by meditation, but anxiety builds daily and depression -- real depression -- is trying very hard to follow right along with it. That's the one I fight. Don't want to go back to that dark abyss again.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Really, little brat?


So, this happened while I was in the shower this morning. Heard a clatter, peeked out the shower curtain, and there she was. Not much I could do about it so I finished my shower. She was still prowling the scene of the crime, mostly eating bits of food from the floor.  What you can't see is the water all over the floor. Sweet little feline.

I'd love to know how she did it, though. That frame that landed upside down is around 5 feet from the place it usually sits, against the far wall. She's done a smaller version of this before. My guess in watching her once is that she's trying to reach one little tidbit of food under the plates, even though her food dish is full. Paws are very busy.

Yes, other things happen in my life aside from the cat, but the cat is the only thing that is actually positive, that makes me smile and lightens the anxiety a bit, so it's the most important thing. As someone who lives on Social Security and uses Medicare (albeit very little), life is something of a roller coaster right now, not knowing how long either will be in place. Not knowing how I will live when (not if) things change with the new politicians coming into office. And then there are the limitations of Medicare, which even now make it almost useless for me, even with a supplement. My only claim from last year was denied because the provider used the wrong code, and won't change it. I have no trust that this won't happen again in the future, though it's never happened before. Ever. And there's more, but you get the gist. The cat is the only thing that brings joy.

It's hard to be alone, old and poor.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Boss cat and snow woes

I  have created a monster. A very sweet monster, to be sure, but a monster nevertheless. Can you say, spoiled?

In other words she has, in her inimitable cat way, trained me very well. I am her servant, here to follow her every whim and demand.

As you can see, she has recently taken to sleeping on my meditation cushion. I don't mind this, since I only use it for an hour a day. Sometimes she wants to use it at the same time, but she finds room to cuddle up next to me somewhere and I like having her there.

So what's the problem, you ask? That little wand toy with the fuzzy orange ball is a big part of the problem. She is totally addicted to it, wants to play with it during all waking hours, and knows quite clearly that she can't make it move around without me.

She will follow me, whine and talk to me, lead me towards it until I relent and move that little orange ball around the house until she's ready to rest again.

I've never seen a cat be this demanding over anything other than its food dish, so this is new to me.

She's also in love with this new toy, the curvy scratching 'post'. I spent a whole dollar to bid for it at a raffle here last Saturday. Best buck I've ever spent.

At first, she turned her nose up at it, but then I made the orange ball go all over it, under it, around it and she followed. First time she landed on it she noticed the rough texture and stopped playing to sharpen her claws. She's sniffed it, rubbed against it all around to make it 'hers'.

Now, it's her second largest addiction. She rests on it, is a prolific claw-sharpener, and will play all around it by herself with the little mouse toys I hide under the arch. This takes a little pressure off me to play all the time.

She will crawl through it, right side up or upside down. And as you can see, she really wants to make that orange ball move but can't, because it's too heavy for her to bat around like she does with small toys.

Sometimes, she'll grab hold of it and tow the whole thing, wand and all, around the house. Never know where I'll find it.

Gotta love her, though. She is equally demanding when she wants to cuddle. For serious sleeping, it's either her bed under my bed or lately, the meditation cushion.

But there are times -- lots of them -- where she wants company and she'll come jump up wherever I am, settle down on my lap or chest or whatever is handy and go to sleep, sometimes fully expecting that I'll put my arm as a 'shelf' so she can sleep on what might otherwise be a rather vertical surface.

She's been known to even jump up my leg and dig in. Thank goodness for thick sweats, though that's something I discourage with her.

So, a very sweet little monster.  She fully (at least 90%, I have some dignity left) rules this house, but also knows that I'm her person and is really affectionate. And for the most part, she doesn't object when I feel the need to pick her up and cuddle for a moment.

We have still been caught up in snow and ice. A new layer of snow on top of ice came down on Saturday. Weather eventually warmed a bit and by yesterday morning the temp was well above freezing and had been all night, the road in front of the house looked fine. Snow/ice piled in the center and sides, but traffic lanes clear. So, I opted to head to the grocery early in the day just to get out.

Bad idea! Barely got out of our parking lot, and the side street that takes me to the main street was mostly ice.  Off I went anyway, soon found that there were plenty of large patches of ice on the road, and of course the freeway overpass bridge I had to cross was iced up. I was committed at this point, few ways to turn back, so off I went onto the freeway onramp. More ice. Ice on the freeway, though less of it and thankfully, traffic was lower than normal. Back on surface streets near the shopping center, that heavily traveled road was super icy. Turned into the parking lot, more ice, everywhere. The driving lanes were somewhat slushy and driveable, but the parking spaces were badly icy. I found one where I could leave my front wheels on bare pavement, to be sure I could get out. Ice next to the car was really slippery and after I'd gotten in and out of the store I actually slipped on it. Thankfully, I had my hand on the car door handle and managed (rather inelegantly) to keep from falling.

The biggest challenge, it turned out, was getting back into the parking lot at home. I opted to take a chance and go in the back way rather than retracing my steps. Mostly ice, thick, with a slight uphill rise that I wasn't sure the car was going to manage. But it did, and it managed the long length of the parking lot and ice to reach my parking space. Whew! This is the first time I've ever had that car on ice/snow, since I typically avoid such things like the plague, and I was pleased with the way it reacted. Never felt unsafe, although very uncomfortable.

Rain and above-freezing temps all day yesterday and all night have hopefully helped. I need to go out again, but will wait until afternoon and give everything a better chance to thaw.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

More snow!


We've had some serious snowfall in the last hour or so, as well as earlier today. Huge, fat flakes and lots of them. Naturally, by the time I decided to try taking a photo out my window, it had slowed down and none of them actually show here. Bummer! But it's nice to know that my camera will take a photo through window glass without focusing on the glass (or dust or smears on the glass).

I'd love to go for a walk out there, but underneath all that soft snow is a nasty layer of ice, so I'm not even thinking of going out. Not worth it. Sometime tonight it's all supposed to turn to just rain, with warmer temps. But that means little, really.  What matters is what actually happens, not what somebody thinks is going to happen. True in life as well as weather. For the moment, at just after noon, the temp has gone down, rather than up. That doesn't bode well.

People are a little tired of being trapped at home -- me included. I got out to the doc yesterday, but that's all I did. Fortunately, the roads were clear enough that I felt comfortable driving.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Snow Day!

As often happens, the weather forecast was a bit off. Snow, but less than an inch. We're probably up to at least 3 inches in this neighborhood, and it has stopped, for the moment. Of course, I had to go and see. Went out at 8am and my camera battery died after one photo. I still walked my loop and marveled at how beautiful the river scenery was. After lunch, battery charged and antsy, I walked another river loop to see some of the ponds and different scenery. It was too dicey to cross the busy street to get to the ponds I like best. Not much traffic, but enough to make it pretty icy. The snow was powdery and easily walkable with my good hiking boots. Photo trip!














It was snowing for most of this trip, though the temp had risen slightly above freezing. The street in front is being plowed a bit and maybe sanded a bit later, but is still pretty dicey and won't get better after an overnight freeze.  I brushed the snow off my car windows when I returned to our parking lot. So much easier when it's powder than once it turns to ice!