Friday, May 23, 2014

Suspended. . . .

Service Berries in bloom, Bend, Oregon
Between Portland and Bend, Oregon, the main focus of Things I get to do today is to remember to breathe. It's been months since this blog has chronicled any of the details of daily life that fuel the body, the mind or the soul. During that time, we've slowly released the roots that keep us in Portland, while we extend our energy into the new land of Central Oregon. It feels like a very good move.

But today the house goes on the market, and the scurrying about to collect, pack and dispense of possessions begins for real. Life is no longer marked by the usual routines. For several weeks there is no tossing the toothbrush on the counter in the morning after brushing. The house must look very close to not-lived-in.

This blog, which has been silent for months, is suspended as well as my Handy Andy skills are put into full swing to make the move and the settling into a new space. When we reemerge in a couple of months, writing will be part of the things I get to do everyday, and the blog will resurface as "Life in a New Land."  I'm looking forward to seeing you there.  Blessings to you all!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fortress Refortified

Hens eat the whole seed.  Two hens can clean
a dish is one minute!  They don't have time or
need to select only the tender inside seed.

The fortress has fallen.  The evidence has been toying with me for several weeks:  sunflower seed hulls.  That's it--the grey, split, empty half-shells.

Here's the deal.  Every evening when the Lovely Ladies go to bed, they get a generous cup of sunflower seeds for a bedtime snack.  If they don't eat all of it, the remaining seeds are there for them when they hop down from the roost in the morning.  By the time the coop is opened the next morning, the dishes are empty, until recently.  That's when the hulls appeared, and I knew that rats were coming in in the night and slicking up the treats.

Rats were coming in under the door.  It has just now
been reinforced with ½" hardware cloth.  

Hardware "cloth" and plywood make up the walls of the chicken coop.  All the eaves are sealed. The floor is made of 12" concrete stepping stones.  It is indeed a fortress.  Finding the weak spot has been niggling into the Things I get to do today for some time.

New screen over the big hole the rats carved in the door sill.
Tonight's feast is canceled.

This morning I stumbled upon it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Plant Promises

The gusting wind woke me and kept me from sleep.  It was well below freezing, and I, right there in the middle of the night,  promised my Daphne that I would cover them from the harsh wind first of the Things I get to do today come morning.  Their tender little flower buds were already fat and pink, the fragrance still concealed tightly inside.

But when morning came, the flower buds looks browned and "burnt" from the cold and low humidity. It seemed too late. I thanked them for trying.  There would be other flowers.  There would be other years with less harsh winters.

But now this morning, two weeks later, the snows and ices all melted, the smallest flash of a flower caught my eye over breakfast. Was it really possible that the Daphne kept its promise of blossoms and fragrance and bliss though it was too late for me to keep mine?

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I'm skidding in with this last of Things I get to do today.  One more day of crowding it out and I'll be too late to write a January blog! Monday I sweat on my walk, and I don't usually sweat unless I'm really working hard.Jacket was tied around my waist, sleeves were pushed up as I summited Pilot Butte. The sun was summer-warm on the south side of this hill in Bend.  Snow and ice hunkered in the shadows on the north slopes.

The next morning freezing fog crafted ice thorns on the north side of the shrubs out front.  A casual bystander commented to my husband who was skiing in 48-degree sunshine high up on Mt. Bachelor a few miles away, "Welcome to Junuary!"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nina, Weak-Knees, Simone Chicken

Nina Simone Chicken at two and a half weeks

My tiny little Peepers were gone!  I was away only half an hour, and upon my return the search for the two baby chicks was fruitless.  About an hour later, Nina came peeping, peeping, peeping along the path next to our property.  Wherever she had been, she had found her way home, alone.

Nina as a gawky teenager nearly ready to lay

Perhaps she could be called Nina-Nine-Lives.  At least three times in her two and three quarter years she has looked very ill and still for a hen.  Garlic water brought her around in less than a day, and she had another go at pecking and scratching and laying.

But now being vigilant is part of the Things I get to do today as I keep a chicken's eye on her movements and behavior.  She seems weak in the knees.  Whole days will go by with Nina able to stand and walk a bit, but then she'll immediately settle to the ground to rest.  Then a day later she is up on her feet, eager to hunt and peck the hen yard.
Nine on the right, settled to the ground instead of foraging for
the usual morning treats

These odd times seem more frequent lately.  Each recovery is a bit less sure and not as strong.  We will see how it all plays out in the hen world.  I've told all the hens that they get to work out their own departure from this physical body.  I will not be intervening, but will provide good food, warm water and cozy shelter.  The rest is for them to figure out.
 I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Path to Progress

The path to progress and good intentions walked
into reality.
I bought the boots.  They're actually just a sturdy hiking shoe.  They're made for walkin'.  And we are certainly do that.

When people ask what Handy Andy has been doing lately, my reply wants to be a monosyllabic "walk."  It really seems like that all that gets done.  My moderately busy body has gone from logging, at best, six miles a week to pounding out 25 to 30.  And it takes time to cover six or seven miles in an afternoon.  My previously unused muscles are so grateful to head back home, in the front door and sit while I pull off the hiking shoes and blow my nose one more time as it leaks from the chill air.

But this I know for sure as I begin my fourth week of hiking on purpose around my neighborhood, that though this may fill up a significant portion of the Things I get to do today, and though the muscles are really tired on the long-walk days, now is the best time to build a stronger body.  All the paths walked are progress.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Blog on the Page Is Worth Ten in the Head

If it's not published, you can't read it.  Goes without saying, but I said it anyway.  In the great gap that was this last December, dozens of Things I get to do today formed into thoughts.  Phrases, clever and some not so much so, shaped ideas about what my hands were doing as a busy Handy Andy.  Creativity pulsed through to become objects. Some of those objects were amazing: the door mat made out of recycled 2x4 concrete forms, cut into ⅜" strips, drilled with holes, cut to length and then threaded with manila rope.  But no picture, no writing, no blog.  It was all stuffed away in the darkness of my head.

Being too busy (or to careless) to write starts a long list of troubles: not being mindful each moment to seek out the bliss waiting to reveal itself, not keeping promises to take time to write tomorrow, losing the sparkle of creativity in each simple task, forgetting to purposely flavor actions with glorious intent, missing the satisfaction of accurate description and focused inspiration.  And that's just from my side of the blog.

Two readers actually asked where I'd gone.  Another expressed great pleasure and relief when I returned to the screen.  Thank you for waiting.  At the end of the sand details from yesterday's blog, a sunset was painting itself to an end.  It's now out of my head and on the page for you.
Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sand, Wind, Water

That's the basic stuff.

On this beach in Northwest Oregon, on this particular day all the ingredients showed up in the same proportions.  

Things I get to do today took me two miles along the water to the north end of Cannon Beach.  

Texture details in the sand varied wildly.  

What makes the difference?  

The recipe is the same--sand, wind, water. 

Is it the direction it was stirred?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shy But Steady

It's dangerous this time of year.  My local grocery store  has already set out plants--pansies and primroses to brighten ones yard during the rain, fog or storm of winter. Picking up an item for lunch turns Things I get to do today into a mini-war waged in the recesses of my is-it-spring-already brain.  Can one actually leave those brilliant primroses and not be "shelf-thwarted"* by their flashy array?

My very own pretty.  No need this year for hot-house primroses.
Several tiny buds show she'll be less shy soon.
The Gods of Spring Urges shown their light brightly on me.  The day was partly sunny with the thermometer at 55.  This glowing balminess found me doing a bit of front yard tidying, revealing a shy primrose peeking out from under its tattered leaves.

* "Bewildered by the array of products on store shelves to the point that you can't make a choice, or that you buy things you didn't mean to."  from Wordbirds by Liesl Schillinger, Simon and Schuster