Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The cats have not been happy campers the past few days. Summer arrived with
a vengeance this weekend. Overnight it was twenty degrees or so above the
temperatures we've been having. Note: we do not have air conditioning. We
live on the east side of a hill so we're out of the sun by five or so in the
evenings. The judicious use of shades and fans keeps things "reasonably"
comfortable most of the time. We have maybe four or five weeks all together
where it's really hot so air conditioning just isn't worth it for us. The
heat broke last night and it looks like we'll have low to mid eighties for a
week or so until the next wave.

Bandit would come looking for the feathers, jump around a couple of times
and head for the back room where the fans are blowing cooler air in.



Misty AKA "Cuddles" hasn't been getting her daily minimum dose of vitamin H (hugs)
and has been cranky as all get out.  She's just plain pissie and I can't say
that I blame her.



 Lucky has put two and two together and likes a spot on the
floor next to the fan in the livingroom. There's a bit of the draft and
wood floors are pretty cool.



The two older cats have their "own" room in the enclosed deck and garage.
Lots of soft places to hang out. That's where the food is and they sleep out
there. Bandit was an in/out for a couple of months before she became a full
time innie. She still gets to stay in the house to sleep. Most of the time
she hangs out with mom.

It cooled off last night big time. As in "what the heck is going on, it's
freezing in here" relatively speaking. When I was up about three for a
bathroom run Bandit wall all  "it's cool, it's cool, I want to play, let's
play mom." I think my reply was along the lines of "Yes, I'm vertical and
moving, but I'm not awake, I don't want to be awake, go chase your tail or
something." I think I may have hurt her feelings. She was waiting under the
bed to attack my toes while I was dressing this morning. "It's the toe
monster, Attack."

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Just playing around with Photoshop. Ok, I finally figured out how to do what I want with the pictures and I'be gone a little overboad, So sue me. LOL


Lily trio

Blue hidcote lavender, lithadora ground cover, and the beginnings of purple lupins at the rear. I didn't realize until this year how light sensitive lavender can be. This bed goes into the shade far sooner than the rest of the yard, so the lavender "reaches" towards the sun. There's a tall white lavender on the south end of the bed that goes into the shade frme the butterfly bush while the rest of the plants are still in the sun. It's devloped a definite tilt towards the north.


I know this is kind of big, but it's the only way to see the bird. I think, big think here, that this is an immature green heron. The general shape and beak size are right. I'm going to have to start carrying the the 35 mm with the longer lens if this keeps up. Spotted this one down at the park this morning. There were three moving through the trees and this one was kind enough to strike a pose. Lisa, have you seen anything that looks like this.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


There's a park a few blocks from my house with a neat decoration on one of the bridge supports. I think they did this during one of the Filbert Festivals. paintings on the supports remind me of ents.

Left side and

Right side

Rip Van Gnome?

Gnome home. The rainbow was created by kids handprints. Neat, I think. It's been there for several years and hasn't been "tagged" yet. That's a near miracle.


I may have found a way to post pictures in the the journal. I set up a journal where I can upload pictures. If I go into the view larger mode, I can paste the URL to this journal. Seems to be working so far. (all fingers and toes crossed)

This is the yard about July of 2004. The clematis and black eyed susans are just coming up. You can actually see the purple coneflower. It's still there, but this year the lavender is so big, you can't see it yet. I'd hate to move it again. Coneflowers are tall but I think some of the lavender is taller.

A little earlier in 2004. A very small butterfly bush and we hadn't gotten the elderberry yet. The white flowers are feverfew. It's history. The lavender is so small and the day lilies are barely there. That's mom heading for the sidewalk.

This morning. You can't really see the rest of the yard past the butterfly bush and the elderberry. My little personal proof of climate change is the bloomed out rhodie on the corner of the house. A few years ago that sucker didn't bloom until mid June, now it starts in May and is bloomed out by the middle of June.

From the other side of the yard. Huge lavender, daylilies, the works. What a change over two years. And so many different colors. We also have a small lavender called Hidcote. It's blue violet and really pretty, but it's so small that it's hard to get good shots of it. I'll have to see what I can get with a tripod.

Friday, June 23, 2006


We had Bandit (I didn't know I was broken) "fixed" last winter. That's when we found out she's a back sleeper. I can always tell when she's really, really relaxed. Seemed to take forever for her tummy fur to grow back  And doesn't she look absolutely pleased with life. I really envy cats sometimes.

Monday, June 19, 2006



We finished watching the four episodes Jacques Cousteau did on the Danube this weekend. And now I have to start over because you can’t get it all the first time around. The Danube is the only river in Europe that flows from west to east and finally ends in the Black Sea. The problems it has are common to many rivers and aggravated because is flows through the countries that were once part of the Soviet orbit. Problems that we think get ignored because of super capitalism and emphasis on development are even worse in these countries.


The programs were made in the early nineties so some of the worst problems on this river may have been corrected, but I’m not holding my breath.


But we have our own problems stemming from attempts to force the natural world to conform to our vision of what it should be instead of what it is.


A river isn’t just the water in the channel, the part we see and confuse with a meandering blue line on a map. The river is the ocean that gives up it’s moisture to the rains and snows. The river is the winter ice and the summer sun. The river is the snow, rain and hail. The river includes the animals that depend on it for water and forage, the trees that shade its banks and shelter the birds. The river is the disappearing marshes and the migratory birds that nest in the reeds. The canals are the river and so are the drying wetlands that used to hold back the floods. The dams we build are the river and so are the fish blocked from their native spawning grounds. The river is the disappearing fish and the villagers who depend on those fish for a livelihood. The river is the untreated chemical waste from aging industrial plants, sewage from overburdened cities and the radiation leaking from nuclear power plants that saw their better days years ago. And this particular river is children flying kites in the skies to remind us that they will have to live the world that we are building.


Sunday, June 18, 2006


The first of the oriental lilies is blooming. This one starts out kind of cream colored and then gets whiter. The buds have been getting bigger and bigger for about three weeks. And they'll last a long time


It's beginning to look like I imagined it would. We had to replace the red petunias, though. The violets were too close to the pot. Slugs and snails may not eat violets, but they do live in them and they do eat petunia leaves. The originals were reduced to a shadow of themselves. The plants in the pockets are landscape strawberries


Lucky is a big soft kitty who likes big soft things. Only cat I ever met who likes to use a pillow if she can get one. LOL And she gets a little tired of me sticking a camera in her face all the itme.


I've haven't worked up a full entry on this yet. I got my sticky little fingers on another Cousteau series that is an in depth exploration of three or four rivers. We just finished the episodes on the Danuebe. More on that later.

But, something he said at the end of the fourth episode is sticking with me. We're building the world our children, nieces, nephews, and other peoples' children will live in. I guess the question for the develop 'til you drop crowd is "would you want to live in the world you're helping to create?" And how do we add our voices to the other side?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Speaking of crappy covers for paper backs. Science fiction novels seemed to get hit the worst back in the seventies and eighties. The art might be good but you had to wonder if anyone had told the artist what the book was about or where it was set. You know, the space age bimbettes with hardly any clothes who are supposed to be scrambling around in a jungle full of creepers, spiky plants and critters with lots of claws and fangs.

One I really got a kick out of was Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity. It was set on a high grav planet with oceans of liquid methane. Three g's at the equater, much, much higher at the poles. So what was on the cover? Something that looked suspiciously like a taller, skinnier version of Seattle's Space Needle. Go figure.


Has anyone out there read M K Wren's Legacy of the Phoenix trilogy?  (Sword of the Lamb, Shadow of the Swan, and House of the Wolf) Published in the 1980's with absolutely horrible cover art. Probably got ignored by some for that reason. Never done in hard back as far as I know and that's too bad. If I don't surface very often for the next few days, that's where I'll be.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Russ, I think this one is for you. My e-mail on your comment on the last entry started turning into War and Peace.
I've seen rabbits down by the river, but never in the neighborhood. If there are any, I suspect the cats or the dogs get them. All the birds in the area are tree nesters. And the ground feeders seldom come off the hill. I'm hoping that as the yard develops there will be enough cover to tempt them down where we can see them. I have seen towees in the blueberries. They do like blueberries. The squirrels are incredibly cheeky and use the fences like highways.
I hear pheasants in the spring but they don't nest around here, they head for the greenway park along the river or the islands in the river, fewer cats. Our three are "innies" and the only feathers they get are at the end of little plastic sticks. :-)
We are lucky though. There's a large refuge south of town that hosts a lot of different birds and since most of the farmland around here is pasture or grows grass seed there are plenty of places to hang out. There's even some small flocks of Canada geese that seem to have decided that migrating is for the birds and stick around full time.There are times during early spring and late fall when my drive to work comes at the some time the ducks and geese are shifting from their night roosts to feeding areas. I've seen at least a dozen flocks on the wing at once.
This link will take you to a relief map of Oregon. The lowest and flattest land in the state is that sort of figure eight shaped piece between the mountains. There's a little on the coast. Oh, and most of the coastal stuff is just low, it's still hilly. And my sister lives close to the east end of that little green patch along the Columbia. That's it boys and girls. Most of Eastern Oregon is a three or four thousand feet above sea level palteau with almost no water. The lakes depend on either rainfall or snow melt and can get pretty small during very dry years.
If you have time and are really curious take the web address for the map and substitute your zip code abbreviation where the or is. It should get you your state map. The comparison is interesting to say the least. For example, put the ksfor Kansas where the or is and the map of Kansas should come up, or tx for Texas. There is an actual website that has all of these plus a key for elevation. But I haven't been able to locate it thins morning. But, that pretty grass green is the lowest, below one thousand feet, through the dry grass green. By the time you get to the light blue you're above five thousand feet and climbing.
That lower quarter of the state is mainly scrub grass, trees that are bushes with delusions of grandeur, jack rabbits and cow country. It's beautiful but for a gal who grew up in a little valley about three miles long and about half that wide it looks awfully barren. Birds to big sky country, what a morning trip.

Friday, June 9, 2006


I drive through a rural stretch on my way to work. There's a small pond by the highway that's kept well stocked with fish and is very popular with the ground bound fish lovers.

I saw a winged fisher catcher this morning. An osprey flew over my car, breakfast clutched in its talons. Looked like a good eight to ten inches. The fish that is. Looked like the bird was headed for the small trees on the other sides of the road. Didn't have my camera and couldn't have gotten the shot anyway. :-)

Tuesday, June 6, 2006


I can’t help wondering what universe the extreme religious right lives in. Whether or not gays can get married or celebrate a civil union is the most important item on the country’s agenda? You have heard of the war in Iraq, right? The economy? The uninsured? Folks who can't afford prescriptions and food or rent at the same time? Oh, I forgot this works in with your "end time prophecies." I don't you folks want to be around if we have Armegeddon without the benefit of the Rapture. Incidentally, I think this is just about the most repugnant belief any person of faith can articulate.


I know it’s about control and power. Who decides who is a full member of our society? Obviously they want to be the gatekeepers.


I wonder what would happen in the Republicans were to say to these would be John Calvins and Savonarolas “I’m going to reach out the voters who are concerned about fate of the entire country, you can join the party or you can stagnate. You’re one leg on the dog, not the whole dog. You have a right to be heard, but so does everyone else.” I’m not holding my breath. I expect I’d turn blue before this happens. John Calvin died in his bed, but Geneva eventually overthrew the theocracy he inspired. Savonarola did not die in his bed.


I haven’t seen Elmer Gantry on the tube for just ages. Too bad.

Monday, June 5, 2006


Headline in the local paper this morning was no real surprise. The insurgency in Iraq is being replaced by ethnic cleansing and anarchy. The headline read something like Anarchy replacing liberty, something like that. Duh! I’ve blogged on this before.


Liberty, freedom, and democracy are not stored in jars on a shelf in a store. You can’t go to the market down the street and order it by the pound. The American Revolution didn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s too bad that more English history isn’t taught in American schools because I believe that the revolution this side of the water was a logical outcome of the Civil War in England that helped establish Parliament as an equal to the Monarchy and the so called Glorious Revolution in the 1680’s that basically made Parliament the senior member in the Parliament/Monarchy partnership.


I love the movie 1776, but I think the writers have the history just a little bit wrong. The actual taxes Parliament tried to impose were only part of the problem. The big part of the problem was that the taxes were imposed without the colonies having a chance to send representatives to Parliament to tell their side of story and add their votes to the other members. Parliament said “you’re colonies, you don’t get a vote.” The colonists said “we’re Englishmen/women, yes we do.”


Add in “yeah, we know the French and the Spanish are the bad guys to you, but they want to buy what we want to sell without sending it to England first so it isn’t exactly smuggling” and “we can make our own shovels and horseshoes, we don’t need to order them and wait at least three months to get them, thank you very much,” and “we’ve been looking after our local business pretty well, in our opinion, for over a century, butt out” to the fuel under the kettle and it was bound to boil over.


Our revolution was the outcome of several hundred years of politicking, arguing, shouting and fighting between people, monarchy and parliament. And we sure as heck haven’t perfected it yet. At the moment we’re watching out liberties erode little by little because too many of us are scared to death that something bad might happen. Well, something bad will happen if we end up with the thought police knocking on the door wanting to check out your library or your computer. We’re a hell of a lot safer than the average Iraqi. We’re in no position to tell men, women and children that are in a war zone to trust the system and it’ll all work out.


I sincerely hope that it doesn’t take Iraq as long as it’s taking us. There’s no rule that says how long it takes for a country to learn how to handle a representative government. And there’s no rule that says only Europeans are smart enough or have the background to make it work. But you can’t do it when your citizens are scared shitless to vote, stand for election, join the army, join the police, or even walk down the street. That so many of them find the courage to participate is a credit to their courage, not ours.


When parents don’t know how they’re going to put food on the table democracy is going to come a distant second. If students have to take the city bus to school for exams, they aren’t going to go if they’re afraid gunmen from the other side are going to show up and basically say “Shiites to the left, Sunnis to the right.” (or vice versa) Democracy is going to be the farthest thing from their minds. When your kids are dying, all most people want if for it to stop and they'll follow who ever promises to make it stop. And they won't stop to ask whether it's ok with the US first.


Yeah, I know we broke it, we have to help fix it. Frankly, I have absolutely no idea how we’re going to get out of this mess. And I haven't heard anyone who is up for election this fall with any good ideas either

Sunday, June 4, 2006


It's getting kind of scary when the people that are known as entertainers make more sense on political problems than the politicians. Percival Press, a small independent publisher founded by photographer, free form poet, artist and actor Viggo Mortensen has a home page that reprints and links to articles in mid stream to liberal newspapers, magazines and websites. Mortensen enters an occaisional essay himself, tagged with a inobtrusve lower case v.m. The man is articulate and the entries are usually well written. Tom Cruise aside, there's a wealth of people out there trying to make a difference. Following is Mortensen's essay on the health care crisis in this country. Now if we could just get the politicians to speak as clearly.

According to the journal Health Affairs, the U.S. spent two and a half times more per capita on health care for its citizens than the average industrialized country did in 2003, and it lagged at least a dozen years behind all other industrialized countries in adopting electronic health records.* Just a couple of weeks ago, a study in the journal of the American Medical Association reported that, although our per-person health care cost is nearly double that of England, Americans, regardless of income, have more diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems and many other diseases than do the English. The fact that millions of Americans cannot afford health care insurance and therefore do not seek regular necessary medical attention surely is partly to blame. If you try to save money in the short term by not regularly servicing your car, you will find that it won't function very well in the long term, and that you will incur great expense trying to fix the situation. The same goes for your body.

Lack of political will and leadership is the reason our health care system has not evolved and kept apace of those of other industrialized countries - not logistics particular to the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />United States, as many politicians and health care industry lobbyists would have you believe. A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 80 percent of Americans regard universal health care as more important than holding down taxes.* You don't hear this reflected much in political discourse on Capitol Hill or by the health care industry, because the political and corporate elite see little chance of preserving a flawed system that is highly profitable for them -- regardless of the fact that it severely handicaps the vast majority of Americans -- if an honest discussion about making that system fair and efficient is allowed. Enormous profits go to drug companies, private medical administration businesses and insurance companies in the U.S.A., from overpriced drugs, superfluous bureaucracy and other inefficiencies.

Among the most revered of teachings in any religion or spiritual code of ethics, including those attributed to Jesus Christ, is the admonition to care for the least fortunate among us. This lesson seems to have gone unheeded by any in the health care and insurance business, and, most tellingly, by the politicians who do their often uncharitable and obstructionist bidding. This is especially galling in light of how many of these same politicians regularly trumpet their avowed Christian values as badges of honor and electibility.

People cannot be mentally focused, positive and actively engaged citizens if they are constantly worried that the only thing keeping them from financial ruin is to dangerously delay seeking or altogether deny themselves and their dependents necessary medical attention. It seems that many in the political arena seem content to have citizens not able to focus too much on monitoring the government's operation and ethical conduct. It is certainly easier for political and corporate operators to steer the average citizen's attention, through costly public relations stunts, away from truly pressing issues (like health care) when that citizen is preoccupied with scrambling financially to cope with illness and the natural consequences of physical and mental aging in his or her family. Daily concern about health care costs is, unfortunately, a significant problem for most people in the United States. Additionally, the debilitating distraction of worrying that one literally cannot afford to become seriously ill undoubtedly adds stress that can increase one's chances of becoming ill -- a vicious cycle indeed.

When disease and decay that sooner or later have to be faced by every one of us become one more unaffordable risk, something is seriously wrong. Doctors are also constantly put in awkward positions by this state of affairs. They cannot be expected, through occasional acts of individual charity to patients who cannot afford needed care, and in spite of suffocating amounts of unnecessary paperwork, to make up for the serious shortcomings of our antiquated and, for most Americans, prohibitively expensive health care system. These are not signs of a modern, democratic society. The present situation, however, is as avoidable as it is barbaric. The remedies are willpower and integrity. If we do not demand a serious effort from our political representatives, nothing much will change anytime soon. It is up to us, as always, to make government responsive to our needs and rights as citizens. You know the drill: Inform yourself, and join with others in your home, your town, and on the street in making your feelings and ideas known. Regularly write, call, and email your representatives. Above all, VOTE, and encourage your friends and family to vote for responsible candidates. There is no other way within the system we have, boring as that may sound to some. - v.m.

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /> I especially love the last sentence. I can't say this lound enough, Vote, vote vote. As least it earns you bitching rights.



Views from the cemetery. It's only about thrty miles from down town Portland. Lots of little vallies, not much flat land. Actually, the City of Portland is pretty hilly. Heading west through the Terwilliger curves is an adventure in itself.


It's been a warm and kind of muggy (For Oregon in early June. I know our idea of muggy wouldn't even trip the wire in most parts of the country) this weekend and it just finished POURING after raining most of the night.

We made it up to visit dad's grave yesterday. The cemetery is kind of unusual. It's an unusually large pioneer cememtery. It's called Mountainside becuase it is literally on the side of the mountain. When the weather is clear and you can a view around the pine trees you can see Mount Hood. There's a berry farm next door and the property where they lived when dad was a baby is just two or three miles up the road. It's fun to walk through the old part of the property because I recognize a lot of the names from stories dad told when I was a kid.

It's nice to see that there must still be some one from a lot of these families still living in the area, becuase there were a lot of flowers, even in the old part of the property.

My grandparents and a couple of other relatives are resting to the left of the monument and the whole rest of the line to right (about a dozen plots) are to the right. Great grand dad helped found the cemetery, it's still being used and the local association meets yearly in the little local church the family attended.

And a story played out that we'll probably never know the end of. The road over Chehalem mountain is in good shape but it's narrow, twisty and has a lot of switchbacks. A couple of hot dogging motorcyclists roared past while we were doing our flower thing. They were going way too fast and passing everything in sight. It might be a coincidence but a few minutes later a rural size firetruck, and a police car went screaming past. Police cars don't usually respond to home type medical emergencies. A few minutes later two paramedic units followed. Traffic on the road wasn't that heavy, but I don't remember seeing any cars coming down the mountain. I just hope those hot doggers didn't take anyone with them, if it was them.

So, instead of heading back the way we came and hitting the Heirloom roses nursery on the way back we went home the long way. Oh well another weekend. Follow this link to see where we almost went. It's a fantastic nursery, they have great roses of just about every kind and they do mail order.


Used the feather cat toy to get Lucky to finally look at the camera, sort of. She was not amused. Good shot of a jade green eye and her magnificent whiskers. Lucks is a lot happier since we had three abcessed teeth removed. Someday I might be able to get a shot of her lop sided yawn. One of the teeth was an upper canine. Lucky's about ten, and is definitely the top cat in the house.