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Weekend Photos

I spent an hour on my front steps, trying to coax the camera-shy hummers out of the rhododendron. I’d put the camera down, and they’d come out, chirping madly at me and buzzing my head and back. Bring the camera up to take a photo…zoom! They were off.

The result is: no hummer photos from the weekend.

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But there was this fungus…

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It was a very interesting jelly fungus.

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Cactus, wire, and a rusty hoe.

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Last year’s yucca canes.

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A baby spider on the foxglove.

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Dermestidae beetle (varied carpet beetle) on the peony.

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My licorice ferns

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And a strange u-turn in the skies.

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The airplane was at such an altitude that it had to be coming south from Seattle and was turning back north to Seattle.

Interesting.

 

I got sunburned. 020But I also got this whipped into shape for the summer, and the sunburn was worth it. No, not Murphy – I’ll never get Murphy “whipped into shape. He was just doing a trot by when I took a photo of the island. Handsome guy, Murphy, but it’s the flower bed I am proud of. It’s just about the last of the existing flower beds to get weeded and trimmed before I start on the new flower beds. It is also where I was working when I conveniently forgot that sunblock exists. OOPS.

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There’s a story behind this corner. We have a brown rat that has taken up residence under the house. I hate rats. Brown rats are somewhat less obnoxious than Norway rats (in that brown rats are a native species), but they are still a pestilence. This particular rat had an escape hole dug into the corner of the yard here. I buried it today. We’ll see how long before the rat digs itself out. Next weekend, I buy hardware cloth and bury it in the corner.

I dug up my (fuschia vulcanica?)(rubra grandiflora?) trumpet fuschia. I can’t kill it, so why not? I’ve grown to hate it. The hummingbirds love it. If it survives this location, it can stay. It grows 3-4′ in height, is very woody, dies back every winter. I have to dead-head all the old wood stems. It takes up a minimum space of 3-4′ wide. We will see who wins: me or the bush.

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I just had to take his portrait. He comes to the bird feeder by himself every evening. One lone, lonely, band-tailed pigeon.

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My husband bought the squirrel feeder for me two years ago. I figured out how to hang it to the tree this year (I took apart an old hanging planter, used cup hooks on the feeder and the chain from the planter, plus an existing nail in our dying pine tree. Squirrel (and jays) love it.

013I redid the black-cap border with a bamboo trellis. This year’s berries will be on the vines pointing eastward (the green). I will train this year’s vines to grow onto the bamboo & next year’s berries will be harvested there. Black-caps are native berries and my go-to favorite for standing and eating by the hands-full. I will be a little piggy if the blossoms all turn to berries. YUM!

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This just amazes me. This year, I purchased seeds and will expand the small spring patch of “poached-egg” flowers. Sadly, they are a spring-only plant and even the green dies back after the blooms fade. But: oh-my-gosh when they are blooming! Love, love, love! limnanthes douglasii010

Starflower. Trientalis borealis. It came as a surprise bonus plant with a maple my husband procured from the wild. This is the first year that it has bloomed in such profusion. I love native flowers.

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When my mother died, my father dug up all of her irises. He had relegated them to a gravelled spot in the shade behind his motor home. He hated irises; my mother loved them. I inherited them via the US Mail. This is my favorite.

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This is a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. I can’t have a horse, but I still have my WARNING! sign. I paid a pretty penny for that sign. It guards my Russian sage. The chair provides a support for the sage (of sorts – the sage usually outgrows the chair by summer’s end. I have a love/hate relationship with the sage, but the bees love it and it isn’t too invasive. Like the fuschia, it dies completely back every year and I have to cut all the woody stems back completely before the new growth comes on.

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Can you say WOW? These are my two favorite rhododendrons. The fuschia one is a bush I have another love/hate relationship with: it’s placed directly in front of our front door & the steps. It is too large for the location and covers up the house number. I end up hacking it back every 5 years or so. It is a relatively new rhodie, maybe 20-25 years old? Just very poorly placed, but a stunner when in bloom.

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This rohododendron is as old as the house, I think. It’s 20′ tall, thick, healthy. The bumblebees – all of them, but especially the great big ones – love it. You can stand next to it when it is in bloom and all you can hear is the buzzing of bees. I hated rhodies in general until I met this bush/tree. This one changed my mind and heart.

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My baby hostas! I planted them … four years ago? Five? This year, I placed the mushrooms strategically: I can put slug bait under the homemade mushrooms (two flower pots) and not worry about poisoning birds and other critters. The slugs buy into it and leave my hostas alone (mostly).

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11 years ago, I planted a few day lilies in the grass out front. It’s city right-of-way, but not in danger of ever being paved. If you have a spot that you can’t really maintain but you need some color in… Daylilies. They are weeds. We keep these in line with the lawn mower. In return, they give us several weeks of summer blooms and a lot of low maintenance green.

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If you read my last blog post, you know about my crow that thinks he’s a raccoon. We have named him “Bones.” Bones brings a chicken bone by nearly every day and drops it into the front birdbath. It soaks most of the day until it softens enough for Bones to break into it and peck out the marrow. In the evening, I wash everything out of the birdbath so other birds can use it. Bones apparently thinks the birdbath is his own self-serve diner.

Ugh.

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Four years of neglect and my husband finally cleared the veggie garden space. We are going to have a garden again! He put a lot of sweat into this: blackberries and crabgrass had taken over. I’m surprised my rhubarb (center) survived! Very excited to have fresh veggies again.

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So this is my next project. I have all the flower beds in shape & only need to do a touch-up weeding project in them over the summer. This bramble pile, haven of the brown rat, and scourge of our landscaping – this goes. That’s a pile of Himalayan blackberries, noxious nightshade, and invasive English ivy. There’s also a variegated holly stump under there. Maybe a rat nest. I don’t care: the welding gloves will come on and I hope to reduce this to a new flower bed by summer’s end.

Wish me luck. I’m getting old for this kind of radical gardening. I’m starting on it the next nice day we have.

 

 

 

Warning: Gross Factor

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This. I came home to this. Bread floating in the bird feeder, murky water, and a chicken bone with the marrow pecked out.

Pretty darn sure that wasn’t a raccoon’s work. Not that we don’t have raccoons, but…

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This. The culprit. But this is an After photo. I didn’t see it bring the chicken sandwich in. I just cleaned up after it.

And a good thing I did, too.

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Mr. Spotted Towhee was waiting for a clean bath.

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Mr. Towhee apparently walks on water.

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He also falls sideways into the water. He was sober.

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He got very, very wet.

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Then the crow came back with more food to wash.

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I get the “why” when the crow is washing off undigested almonds it found inside a dog turd.

But if it’s going to carry the dog turd that far… couldn’t it just eat it out of my sight? Leave the bird bath for other birds?

And what was it with the chicken bone and the bread?

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Do crows drool?

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This has nothing to do with the post, I just thought it was a funny photo of a crow’s – well, er, um – bum.

Birds and Bees

Aside from the terrible hot, flushed, allergy face – this weekend was very nice. I’m allergic to cottonwood, but it wasn’t terribly overbearing and the grass pollens are only just beginning, so I was able to stay outside for some length of time, pulling up weeds, rearranging fences, and moving things around.

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I love this trio of scrub jay photos. He just hopped from one side to the other and I caught him mid-air. I set my camera on the “sports” setting which shoots at f 5.6 1/1600 ISO 2500. I use this for shooting birds or insect because it invariably captures movement I would not have noticed when aiming the camera.

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Bees, for instance, are constantly on the move. You’re lucky to capture them holding still. The “sports” setting on my D-SLR allows for that.

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Check out this series of goldfinch vs. dandelion fuzz photos.

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The House finches wanted to know what was so interesting about the dandelion.

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At one point, the male and female house finch converged on the goldfinch (below and out of sight in the photo).

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There was this capture, of the male house finch coming in for a landing.

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And this – my favorite – the goldfinch took off, the house finch in mid-air with wings folded back – wow.

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Another house finch vs. goldfinch capture. The house finch is so much larger than the goldfinches.

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This was another drama. The black-headed grosbeak had just settled into the feeder. See the wings on the left?

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A starling comes to rest and chases the grosbeak off.

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“Hey? Where did everyone go?” Starlings always assume they are popular, but everyone hates them.

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Too bad I cut the top starling off. They are striking birds, just they are not native American birds. Highly invasive and a birder’s bane in North America.

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Not sure if this is a starling or Brewer’s Blackbird (they flock together). Probably a starling. But a great capture.

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Bumblebee on the ceanothus.

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Honeybee on the Spanish Lavender.

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Unknown bee on the ceanothus.

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This trio of photos are of the black-headed grosbeaks. The female is less colorful, but not less pretty. The males can be mistaken for orioles. And in the last photo – a female grosbeak in the feeder with a band-tailed pigeon.

I never left home and still had an adventure. I love Oregon.

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Found this beauty hanging out above the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.

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View of the Arch Bridge from the tunnel by the elevator.

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Fish Woman is one of my favorite vases. Today she is sporting mostly blue buds.

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Blue with a dash of yellow and white.

It was a really pretty day out. :)

A Beautiful Day

This is what I woke up to this morning:

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My Oriental Poppy bloomed overnight!

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What beautiful, papery petals! I think my heart stuck in my throat when I beheld it. A perfect flower.

The weather was a perfect blend of sun and warm, and I had an entire weekend to play in the yard. What better way to start out a morning than to to find it graced by such beauty?

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One blood-red peony opened up as well, the first of many peonies to grace the season.

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love peonies? I didn’t think so. The fact that we bought this house because of the peonies in the yard and the claw-foot bathtub in the bathroom probably has never once been mentioned here.

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If only I could remember the name of this ground cover with the striking blue flowers. Don’t you hate that? You plant something with all the intention of remembering what it was that you planted, but the little plastic name tag that came with the plant got lost when the dog used the plant for a bed cushion and…

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I could look it up. Lithodora, “Star”. There you go.

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This little blue flower I know well: Forget-me-not. Lovely when in bloom and a pestilence in dog’s fur when the little hairy seeds form. I love forget-me-nots.

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A random blue hyacinth. I’ve been finding these all over the yard, bird transplants from someone’s garden elsewhere in the neighborhood.

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The first blue Columbine. This isn’t a wild Columbine, but is a cultivar, probably from a packet of seeds I once purchased somewhere. I have several colors, but this is the first to bloom.

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Looking down on the world. Bees love this plant as do hummingbirds.

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These Native bleeding hearts are uninvited guests to my yard. I noticed them only a few years ago, struggling against all odds under the handicap ramp in back. I left them alone and they have taken over the dark, dank area under the ramp. I take care not to plant them elsewhere because they spread… like wildflowers or weeds.

027It is time to cut back the old fronds from all the sword ferns. They look sad and pitiful now, but once the fiddleheads get growing… I’m trying to encourage the ferns to fill in some of the blank shady places in the yard, like this section of Harvey-proof fence.

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This looks funny now, but when the mertensia ciliata or mountain blue bells get to their full height of 3′ to 4′, I’ll be glad I did this to hold them up. This is a Native. I planted it and then discovered how invasive it is. I currently have it confined to two corners. It gets huge – not just in height, but in breadth. It’s in the borage family and the bees love it.

Yes, I used old shelving to hold it upright. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.

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I need to move this Lady Fern. It gets huge, but the fronds are so brittle that any traffic around them wreaks havoc on the beauty of this plant.

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Last beauty of the day – the California Lilac, ceanothus L. This tiny, fragrant, buds are about to burst open all over my bush! I’ll have to open the bedroom window at night so I can breathe their scent in while I sleep.

I spent a lot of today on my knees, pulling up grass and half a dozen other weeds. This year hasn’t been as bad as some years – either I’m winning the battle or the lack of snow and cold has given me a head start on the battle. I’ll take the win. It leaves me more time to enjoy the birds singing.

030Which is precisely what this guy was doing, just three feet from my head. Sorry that he’s back-lit so you can’t make him out, but I can tell you what he is – and share a Youtube video of the song he was singing.

Enjoy!

He did it. He caught one of the moles.

Close-up_of_mole*photo courtesy Wikipedia*

This creatures vs. Harvey. Not exactly a fair fight, but when you consider the mole has been winning for several years, maybe it was a fair fight, after all.

I put a bubble in the photos so as to not offend more sensitive souls.

It’s just Harvey was so ecstatic.

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Oh. Hi, Mom. You’re not going to try to take my friend away from me, are you? Because I think he still wants to play.

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I’m pretty sure he was past playing.

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That was hard work. Now I am just going to take a nap with my new playmate.

Postscript – I gave the mole a funeral as soon as I could separate the Hunter from the Hunted. I even felt a little sad about the poor thing, until I thought about how many more of them must be living under the grass in my lawn.

I’m still somewhat in shock that Harvey actually caught one.

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