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The costume trunk is packed until Hallowe’en. The glitter has been washed off of my face. My sparkly elf-ears are store in their earring box. I have moistened my sunburned shoulders and back several times today, and my leg muscles hurt from all the walking we did at Faerieworlds 2014. This was the last year at this venue at Mount Pisgah near Eugene, Oregon, and it should have had the resonance of a huge celebration of all that is, and has been, the magical realm of the fae brought to us by Brian Froud.

I snapped over 60 photos, so it was not all a loss: there were beautiful costumes and interesting sights, but the magick – the magick was not the same as previous years.

The first hint was when we pulled around the corner of Frank Parrish Road and met the first of the volunteers directing traffic. No satyrs, fauns, or Elven maidens met us: only workers in blue tee-shirts and blue jeans. Their faces were not painted in glitter, they wore no crownlets of leaves and branches: they wore a necklace with an ID tag and they waved us along the way as if we were new to the venue. Always before, there has been a genial wave, a cheer of “good fairy” wishes, and magical creatures along the way to guide us.

It was the same at Will-Call, for the most part. I was glad to be greeted by a fellow actress in full fairy garb, hailed and hugged as an old friend – but the fairies behind the tables were clad in that awful human tee shirt of blue!

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Faeries here and there still posed for photos, but many frowned upon having their picture taken and I was left to photograph them from behind, covertly.

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From behind was not always flattering! I’m used to seeing this sort of fairy fashion faux pas, and Saturday was Bad Fairy Day! (Those are tasteless leggings, by the way, not a nude bottom.)

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Mechanical wings! Where in the magic kingdom could they come up with such a clever (and non-natural) invention?!

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Someone forgot to tell some of the visitors that this is the Kingdom of the Fae, not a Steampunk Con – but I suppose the non-fae have to create wings somehow!

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A more masculine set of real faerie wings – and faux fox tails. Or maybe they are real coyote tails. I didn’t ask.

 

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I am forever fascinated by the elegance of some wings! This faerie was more elegant from the side!

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One of the few veteran actors we saw. This year, there were no trolls or goblins, and precious few actors and actresses making their way around the venue! But always the genial prankster, this Green Man made little kissing sounds at all who passed or gave him compliment!

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I snapped the phooto of the Dryad and then learned she was at the Faire to promote someone’s book. She was one of the few silent creatures who played the part and walked the walk. I have the bookmark and will most likely download the book onto my Kindle. Yes, I have forgotten the title of it – I’ll add it to the comments on the morrow.

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Yes! Not a faun nor a satyr, but a horned woodland creature. I saw him later with his lady.

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The lady was elegant in silver and wings.

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This fae had no wings, but was a snake charmer with her three year old ball python adorning her neck. I love snakes. Some folks cringe, but I find snakes to be mysterious and lovely – this one was perhaps quite happy in the heat of the moment, curling around its mistress’ neck.

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The jovial bouncer at Oberon’s Tavern – Chrystal said he reminded her of one of the bats from “Fern Gully”. We decided he would not appreciate it and – since we liked him – we wouldn’t tell him.

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Only a few times could we coax a group of faeries to pose for us. The antlers lit up after dark.

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Three very beautiful faeries!

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Many of my photos are stolen moments of faeries pausing in the heat, watching the people, resting their feet…

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Posing for other photographers…

(why do faeries slouch?)

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Did I mention resting their feet?

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This actress may not like our review of her performance. She was unfriendly. Her griffon was adorable and active, well-mannered, and clever. But the lady? She hardly spoke to us, seemed a bit put-off when I approached and spoke directly to the griffon, and deigned to tell us a story about him.

This is not what we have come to expect. You are an actor in a play. My friend, Mary (she of last week’s Ren Faire), often attends events like this with a puppet-friend who will talk your ear off. If not the puppet-friend, then Mary, who will tell you the history, the ecology, and the biology of her friend. No griffon would be left without a name and without a history of existence!

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The headdress!!

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The royal wings! (Or is that Wizardly?)

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The raven-ness!

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The feathery-ness!

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Oh my gosh! The sugar-plum fairy came out at dusk! Tell me that you do not want to hug that bundle of cuteness??!!

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I have seen the jellyfish before – usually, there are several around the faire, but this year, only the one came out, and s/he came out at dusk. It was just as hot last year, so I do not understand the reluctance to engage during the daylight hours, even for an hour.

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This is what I love best about Faerieworlds – that anyone can be transformed by their imagination into something else. Another photographer filmed her dancing in her wheelchair, and I have to tell you that it was beautiful.

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This was simply annoying. I waved the first time it droned past. It was obnoxious, filming everything and everyone. Granted, when you walk into a venue such as this, changed into another ego, you expect to be photographed and filmed.

That, of course, was another of our criticisms to this year’s event: so many creatures seemed reluctant to be photographed, and even seemed somewhat hostile.

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Not hostile like this – but hostile to the idea that you might take their photo and put it up on a blog somewhere, complete with comments.

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He was, by the way, a very good drummer.

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She hissed at me, but it wasn’t out of character.

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She gladly posed, but so many others…

Love the headdress, by the way. Looks heavy and HOT!

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CUPID!

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More Steampunk madness in the world of the fae.

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Gourd heads!

We were disappointed in the vendors. So many of the local, hand-made, and art print vendors were gone, replaced by more commercial vendors. We met one man who was selling hand-crafted items from Mexico, but it was not for a charity. He told us about the women who made the items, but didn’t offer to tell us that the proceeds of his sales would go to help them rise above their living standards.

There were numerous rock-and-gem vendors, but since I frequent rock-and-gem shows, their prices didn’t enthrall me (except one – there was one I really liked who had real prices on her wares).

The macrame vendor intrigued me solely because I saw her working her macrame loom and I understood those were hand-made items – by the artist in the booth. Same for the wool fairy slippers (I took a business card so I can ask for a pair for Christmas)! There was a vendor of small vials that was fascinating, and the seller of mummified fairies.

But so many of the fairy booths of the past were gone: the fairy houses, the intricate masks, the fairy ears and animal horns… A few here and there, but almost a sideline to the ouija boards and tarot card readers. It was as if Hobbiton had been taken over by the Dark Lord. The innocence of the past – of satyrs and fauns, woodland fae, and belly dancers – was replaced with commercialism. Gone were fairy toes and leather-bound handmade books, replaced with – what?

I don’t know. It just didn’t have the ring of innocence of the past. Or maybe that is my daughter’s voice ringing in my ears. She attended several years ago and returned this year, and she said it no longer had that “magical” feel to it. There were just as many drunks (one hit on her many moons ago), but fewer innocents. The Frouds were long gone and the security guards now wear human clothes in the form of blue tee shirts and jeans.

Still, we had a smashing (and I do not mean Wotan the Fairy Smasher) time.

 

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This is a post that, unfortunately, has to be posted. Despite the media attention given to this subject, memes on Facebook warning about this, news articles (online and in print), and the general common sense that one should be born (or raised) with, this scenario continues to happen.

We attended Faerieworlds this weekend: my youngest daughter, her beau, and myself. Temps were predicted to reach the mid-eighties, but they soared into the low nineties under clear skies. I brought home a bit of a sunburn on my shoulders and down my back. We did not drink enough fluids, despite the several lemonades we downed, and our poor feet cramped by the time the sun dropped below the oak trees to give us shade.

Sometime around 3:00, we all trudged back to the car for a costume change. Chrystal found a lighter outfit to wear and needed to change and I needed something from my car. We were parked a good half-mile from the entrance (the earlier you arrive, the further you are parked from the entrance. It’s the reverse logic of the planning staff top park the late comers closer to the gate, perhaps because the latecomers will be leaving later than the early comers). The car was an oven and we opened all the doors to vent it while we primped. We were there a good fifteen to twenty minutes.

Brian and I watched a security guard who was busy trying to break into a camper or small RV. He was being overt, not attempting to hide what he was doing, and he was being careful with all of the closed windows and even the closed top vent. Around and around he went. We exchanged theories: he wasn’t trying to break in and steal – he was too obvious and he was a security guard with a little motorized golf cart. My theory was that there was a dog inside the unvented camper.

The guard had given up by the time we were walking the half mile back to the gate in the baking sun. He was on his two-way radio, speaking to someone inside the venue. The air was full of live music from the main stage, but a break came as we headed out and we could hear the announcement from the parking lot:

Unless you want a broken window in your RV, get out to the parking lot! The announcer went on to make some comments on the intelligence or people who leave dogs inside hot vehicles.

We met a few faire goers on their way out of the faire, but most were in that lazy heat-induced, tired, stroll of weary fey. None looked overly concerned. This led us to make some guesses as to the whereabouts of the owner of the vehicle and how long the security guard would wait before taking a crow bar to a locked window. We estimated we had been out there for 15-20 minutes and it would take us 10 minutes to get back to the main gate. The guard would probably wait for ten minutes to allow someone to contact the faire staff that they were on their way or to show up to rescue the pup. That puts the dog inside the RV for 25-30 minutes, minimum. No doubt it had been inside the RV for some time before the guard was summoned and he began his systematic attack on the security of the vehicle, so let’s say – ten minutes for someone to hear the pooch, walk to security & notify them, and another three or four for security to get out to the RV. Now, we’re up to a minimum of 45 minutes for the dog.

We did not hear the end of the tale. We can speculate, but we were not there when the owners arrived. What we do know was displayed on the grass when we returned to the car later in the afternoon for another break in our walk.

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Safety glass in the grass where the camper/RV had been parked. The RV was long gone.

I don’t expect the security guard was too civil when the owner of the vehicle arrived and sound the glass in the grass and their dog lapping water from a stranger’s water bottle.

PLEASE – DON’T LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS IN HOT VEHICLES!

 

 

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I promised my dear friend, Mary (Beyond Mirays), that I would help her at the Canterbury Renaissance Faire near Silverton, Oregon, this summer. It seemed simple enough: a Saturday and a Sunday helping sell the fine artwork my friend creates.

This was not a strict SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event, so there was a lot of leeway on the costumes. I’m not certain how I feel about that. yet: certainly people took advantage of the lack of guidelines, and the fact that this event is sandwiched between The Oregon Country Fair and Faerieworlds meant that it attracted a lot of, um, er – creative costumes. Faeries abounded.

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The Queen made her rounds. She rode her horse through the camp on Saturday morning, visited each vendor during the afternoon, and ended the Faire with a final walk-through. I liked the fact that we had royalty on the grounds for the re-enactment as it made up for the lack of true participation among some of the vendors and many of the visitors.

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It was all so – royal. I’m still not used to the shouts of “God Save the Queen”, but I know that if I put my heart into the character played, it would seem quite natural.

This first weekend was my Dress Rehearsal for future events. I do not plan on going to another Ren Faire event this year, but I could hone my dress and acting skills for next year.

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Mistress Mary was adept at drawing in prospective buyers and it seemed we always had at least a pair of fair maidens perusing the adornments.

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The biggest draw at her booth was the Turret. For a dollar, a child could stick his or her hand into the darkness of the castle and feel around for “treasure” – or rats! The rats were gummy rats or cinnamon-flavored rats on a stick; the treasure was hand-made jewelry for boys or girls. Mary’s ten year old grandson made all the jewelry. It was so much fun to draw the kids in, entice them with visions of treasure, and congratulate them on their prizes (and most were just as pleased with rats as they were with the chap trinkets).

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Right in front of Mary’s booth was this diseased alder tree.

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It didn’t take me long to develop a story about the fairies who lived there and grabbed at passerby. The tree attracted a lot of male attention – and a few chuckles when I espoused my fairy tree theory. For me, the photos are inspiration for future projects.

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This pony was a patient sort and was very much needed on Saturday when the temps rose higher than predicted! It reached the low 90′s on Saturday.

There was jousting, but I did not attend the events. Music, jesters, plays – I felt a responsibility at the booth (when you tell someone you’re going to help out, that’s what you do). We were not far from the main stage and music drifted over us all the time, so I do not feel as if I missed a single thing. The jousting was really for the pleasure of the Time Travelers who came to visit – and it provided a much needed break in the activity of hawking and selling for the vendors. Our feet really needed those breaks!

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The fellow with the pet rooster (a Silver Phoenix from Japan) was discussing feathers with a former client of his (whose hat sports the breast and tail feathers of a Silver Phoenix rooster). I liked the irony of the living, breathing pet and the plumage of a former rooster on the hat.

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The rooster was a hit among Faire-goers, whether they were of the time period of from the future.

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The Queen’s handmaidens were always wandering about, as were the Knights.

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The wizard-like character was selling Goblin Ear purses. He was a hoot. He never left character. I talked him out of a business card, so I guess I should purchase a goblin ear from him in the near future. I can use it for other costumes.

Oh, I had so much fun. I can hardly write about that – there’s simply no way to put into words how much enjoyment I derived from the characters, the smells, the vendors, the sounds – and a few of the smiles on children’s faces. There were visitors to the faire that did not understand that they were walking into a play, but they viewed it as a market of sorts (“a flea market” my friend said). They would not engage with the actors (vendors), but walked through as if their sole purpose was to pass from one end to the other as quickly and as cheaply as possible.

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They have forgotten how to view the world from the eyes of a child – if ever they knew. You can’t walk into a venue like this and leave your imagination and wonder back inside the television at home. You have to come in, wide-eyed and expectant. The world is all new at a faire: you are in the middle of a play and you are one of the actors!

I did peruse some of the other vendors when Mary and I allowed ourselves breaks from the action. There were some great artists showcasing their merchandise – and there were also a few reselling something mass-produced from somewhere else (yawn). Most everyone was having fun with the play.

Sunday was much cooler. Throughout the day, we could hear hawks overhead but it was not until the later afternoon that I spied them. I walked over to where a small group of knights were staring up into the trees, counting the birds. There were six. I peered up and suggested we were looking at sharp-shinned hawks (or, rather, queried if that was the case). No, those are peregrine falcons.

Of course, I snapped as many rough photos as I could (I was without my 300mm lens on Sunday). I hoped to get at least one identifiable photo out of the bunch to see if I could identify the birds.

This is a link to the Peregrine Falcon. Note the tail – this is important. Also – listen to the bird.

This is the Sharp-Shinned Hawk. See above: note the tail and listen.

The latter bird is the one I heard all day.

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This was my best photo. You can see from the links above that it is *not* a Pergrine Falcon. I did look at the Cooper’s Hawk as well, but the song is all wrong. We were looking at Sharp-Shinned Hawks.

Identifying the hawks was a private moment of glory – I really was more interested in the transcendent moment of watching them and feeling the beauty of God’s glory in their awful creation. They were dining on small creatures and I overheard someone say they found a dead Heron chick under the hawks’ nest. Nature is nothing short of brutal in its beauty – and honest.

I love playing “dress-up” and have one more fair slated for this summer – the last Faerieworlds at the current venue (Mt. Pisgah by Eugene, Oregon).

 

I need to write, but there is so much I cannot write about at the moment. Life is quite complex. I can blog about Harvey, the Wonder Setter.

Harvey has been a really wonderful dog of late. A surprising dog.

He is not our Alpha dog – that title belongs to Murphy, but every once in awhile, Harvey does something that trumps the pecking order and surprises the humans. Once, he nailed Murphy in a spat over some left-over gravy. I guess you don’t get between Harvey and gravy. He has the waist-line to prove it. (Do dogs have waist-lines?)

We have recently been spotting rats in and around the crawl space of our home. These are the common brown rats, not the big Norway rats that freak me out. We’ve lived in homes where the big Norway rats have come in. Rats are a common problem in the Portland metro area, so close to major shipping lines and major rivers. I even quit feeding the birds so as to not be also feeding the rats.

July 4th, both dogs were on high alert and it was not due to the fireworks. Murphy charged the fence line a couple of times, but there was never anything there. Harvey was always close on Murphy’s heels. We suspected they were bird-watching (there’s always a number of fledglings around and about). They calmed down and took up positions on the edge of the lawn, with a view of the greater portion of the yard, heads up, ears perked forward. Then -they both leapt up and ran toward the shed.

Murphy caught it – a rat. Harvey bulled right in and snatched the rat from Murphy’s teeth. He gave it several fatal neck-breaking tosses before dropping it onto the lawn. He stood guard over it, not permitting Murphy close. Harvey pulled the Alpha Dog card on the rat-catching debut.

Hopefully, that was the one and only rat we have to deal with.

Two nights ago, Harvey took a sudden dive through the little wire decorative fence I have around the island garden (specifically to keep dogs out). I mean: he dove. His whole fat body snaked through the widest opening in the wire (and nearly pulled it down in the process). He snaked – literally – into my big aster, under the wire cage that holds up the faded peonies, under the cage for the aster, and under the low limbs of the tree peony. I was flabbergasted. WHAT THE HECK!

Only moment earlier, a Spotted Towhee had hopped through there and a Song Sparrow had eyed the bird bath. Now, my ninety-pound English Setter was making like a Dachshund without directions. He carved a cave of dying peony branches and aster branches before coming out on the other side.

I yelled at him. My FLOWERS! Granted, they’re not blooming right now, but those asters are my entire September’s worth of bloom!

He heeled and lay down by my feet, but he remained on high alert.

I saw it then: a flash of mouse-brown fur. Rat? or Mouse? Harvey tensed, but he knew he was In Trouble. Hanta Virus tip-toed carefully out into full view, big brown eyes and soft mouse ears on the Big White Dog. Harvey trembled, but he was In Trouble. And Hanta Virus sensed it. She boldly pranced toward our deck stairs.

Harvey couldn’t stand it anymore and broke his hold, dashing in for the – miss! Hanta Virus made it to the safety of the underside of the decking.

Darn! I shouldn’t have yelled at the dog.

Good dog.

Another thing I can blog on: the weather, We’ve been having what I call “Real Summer”. That means, temps above 84 degrees Farenheit. All of Portland is sweltering and complaining (including my Dear Husband). I took my sweater off after lunch today.

It’s too hot to sit upstairs at my computer when we have lovely summer conditions in the metro area. I’d rather be sitting outside in the shade, swatting mosquitoes, than to be sitting up here. If you’re going to have summer, have it OUTSIDE. Therefore, while the rest of the city hides in air-conditioned places (or, in my husband’s case, up in the cool woods) – I am sitting outside in the sun, wishing I was ten, again, and that the Winnemucca Municipal Swim Pool was open. (We’d buy maple bars at Hooft’s Bakery after swimming, and then walk home on the 110-degree pavement. Barefoot, of course. If it got too hot, you walked in the gutters because the concrete was cooler there. You ran across the railroad tracks because the creosote heated up hotter than asphalt.)

Yet another thing I can blog about: my next few weekends are busy, busy, busy. I am going to go help my friend sell her wares at the Canterbury Renaissance Faire in Silverton this weekend (I’ll post links later, when I blog about the faire). I’ve been working on costumes for both days. I should buy a good sewing machine but that would mean I am turning into my mother and I actually like sewing).

The weekend following, is Faerieworlds. My costume this year is very simple. I just want to enjoy the venue and watch my son-in-love with my youngest (they aren’t married, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love this man who loves my girl). It is his first time to Faerieworlds and Chrystal is planning their costumes. Can’t wait!

AND – in August – we are having a yard sale. That should be an epic event.  More on that later.

In the meantime – I miss blogging. Summertime is not a good time to try to write in a stuffy bungalow loft (which is really nothing more than a glorified attic). Can you say “sweaty”?

 

Northern Flicker

I leaned back in the deck chair, tapping my pen on my notepad. Ninety-degrees, slightly humid – the sort of day that make me feel torpid and I have so much to do. List making: things to do in the early morning when it is still cool (how to fit a whole Sunday into the relative cool of the morning?).
We don’t get many days or weeks like this here. I savor it.
I have the water running on the island. I am using one of the old yellow whirly-gig sprinklers I collected from my father’s back yard in 2011. It’s a good sprinkler and covers a good distance, even when I am also running the sprinkler hose on the border flower bed, as I am doing at this moment.
Harvey is somewhere in the back, as far away from the flying water as he can get. He has an adverse reaction to getting wet, even when he is sweltering. He’s hoping to find another rat in the yard (I am hoping he killed the only rat in the yard, back on the 4th of July).
A flutter and a flash of feathers crosses my vision, right to left. The bird swerves toward me, corrects, and gently lights on the island at the edge of the artificial rainfall.
It is a young Northern Flicker. Red-shafted Flicker in my original bird guide, but now lumped with the eastern Yellow-shafted Flicker into one species: Northern Flicker. The western version has red wing shafts.
His feathers are light brown, spotted. There’s a neat red “Vee” at the back of his head, perfectly shaped. His eyes are dark, round, attentive. A “moustache” of red feathers graces his head, back from his long, curved beak: only the males have a “moustache”. He keeps one eye on me and uses the other eye to hunt in the low bushes and flowers for tiny insects. Ants. He is, pardon the pun, making a killing.
He stays away from the rain, working the hazelnut mulch along the edge, not five feet from where I am sitting. I can see him breathing.
The song sparrow alights on the other side of the Hawthorne, in the rain, his tail flipped up like a wren’s tail. He hops boldly forward, notices the larger bird, and flutters up into the safety of the Hawthorne..
The Flicker stays for long minutes,. hunting ants and gnats, drinking water from up-turned hazelnut shells. I slowly move my hand to my drink and he hops into the rain. He holds for a short second and then flies off to the fence, alarmed that I had moved.
He preens and shakes off the water while he sits atop the fence. Then he spies a spider and tops off his dinner.
He is gone before I can think about retrieving my camera for photos.

Close Your Eyes

The sun rises with a vengeance on the Earth, and no clouds intervene. Sun’s rays warm the pavement and the pavement radiates the heat back up into the air. The city swelters. Today was one of those days in the Portland metro area. I am not certain what the “high” of the day was, bit I do know this: the mean temperature is taken at PDX International which rarely represents the rest of the metropolitan area, except on these days when the summer, sun, and Portland collide. The mercury climbed toward the three-digit mark.

It was lovely.

I take my lunch in my car. This can be a freezing situation in the winter, with blankets piled on top of me as I work the Daily Crossword, read a few chapters in whatever book I have on hand, of simply close my eyes and try to nap. Summertime, when the mercury rises, the car heats up. I back it in to the parking spot so the prevailing sun will be on the passenger window, and I install the reflective window shield – not so much to protect the vinyl of my dashboard as to create a shady lunchtime haven. My car is my refuge from work.

We were at 86 degrees (Farenheit) at noon today. A breeze toyed with the radiant heat from the black asphalt. I rolled all the windows down while I ate and worked on the crossword. It was almost too blustery: hot, dry, wind from the east. Still, the car cooled to a liveable 78 degrees (or so – I gauge temperature with my skin, not a thermometer). I finished eating, turned my cell phone alarm on, and then leaned back in the seat with my eyes closed.

Later, someone asked me if I had taken my lunch outside. She was shocked, curious, and concerned. I assured her that I was perfectly fine eating lunch in a hot car. Better than fine, but I didn’t tell her that.

I closed my eyes and imagined myself sitting on a lounge chair under the shade of the cottonwood trees behind the big boulder on Pike Creek, above the Alvord Desert. White dirt, not this red-clay-dark loam soil of the Willamette Valley. White dirt, mixed with alkali dust, reflecting the sun with a brightness that forces the eyes to squint.

Cottonwoods, their dry leaves rattling in the hot breeze. Green towhees meowing. California quail. Chukkar up the canyon calling: chuk-chuk-chuk-chuk-chuk! The hot smell of sagebrush. The trickle of Pike Creek coming down from Steens Mountain: the creek full in the morning and slowly reducing to a trickle by eventide. Mud-daubers and dragonflies. Yellow jackets floating on the tense creek surface: did you know wasps know how to float? Ash-dark lizards peeking over the edge of the rock. Pink rocks. green rocks, Striped rocks. Boulders the size of houses, washed down from the canyon above in some ancient glacial period.

Dust-devils dancing on the playa below.

The soft lowing of cattle down on the fields of the Alvord ranch. Echo of coyotes somewhere. The hoot of pygmy owls peering into the dusky camp. Heat, radiating down, radiating up: Alvord Desert.

Milk shakes at the cafe in Fields, Oregon.

Climbing on top of the house-sized boulders at sunset to watch Fourth of July fireworks down on the playa.

The smell of burnt sagebrush, extending northward to Mann Lake, exposing the boulders: pink, green, striped. The rocks that poured out of Pike Creek are strange and colorful, metamorphic. There are thundereggs up in the narrow mouth of the canyon. Slate and shale make the pathway to the Wilderness entrance. The mine entrance hidden by willows, cottonwoods, rattlesnakes.

Bobcats. Startle Bighorn sheep. Cottontail. Black-eared Jack rabbits playing Kamikaze Jack as the evening sun dips low.

Hot.

Long-horned beetles.

The colors of hot springs: red-yellow-green. Ivory-billed ibis. Flocks of blackbirds. Song of the Western Meadowlark. Basalt rocks spilling out onto the road.

My alarm goes off. I am in Portland. Highway 26 is yards away. MAX runs every fifteen minutes between my car and Highway 26. I have to return to overrated air conditioning and work.

But for thirty minutes or so – I was in Heaven.

I wonder why other people cannot close their eyes and take themselves somewhere beautiful. I wonder why other people hate hot so much. My oldest niece once wrote that she wanted to be a lizard, basking in the sun.

I am a lizard and the sun warms me. The meditation calms me and I return to work, ready for another half day.

On a side note: the Air Conditioning unit broke down for the entire east wing of our building. The building was as warm as 74 degrees and I did not need to wear a sweater to work. It was Heaven.

It probably will be fixed tomorrow when the temps only reach into the 80′s and I will have to wear a sweater. Maybe I will imagine snow falling to make myself feel better. ;-)

 

Today in the Garden

That sounds like the first line to a poem:

Today in the garden

red hummingbird flew -

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The reality is more like this: Today, in the garden, I decided to tackle the overgrown Oregon Grape.

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I also wanted to clear the weeds away from the fence.

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It is hard to see just how unruly the Oregon Grape is. I planted this variety in error: I thought I was getting the native Oregon Grape, which grows close to the ground and scares werewolves away (my father told me that when I was ten, and so it must be true). What I got was this commercial variety that grows over six feet in height, falls over, and is generally unruly.

We’ve never had any werewolf problems, so it probably does repel were wolves as well.

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The weeds and blackberries, on the other hand, serve no purpose except to irritate me and thwart the lawn mower.

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We did have a Spotted Towhee attempt to start a family in the thickest and most upright Oregon Grape, but the sharp, spiny leaves were not enough to hinder the nosy bird dogs, and the Towhees left the nest shortly after laying four pretty spotted eggs in it.

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No matter how I twist and turn with the camera, I can’t get the lens to focus on the eggs. It wants to focus on the nearest detritus: the rim of the nest and old leaves. One egg has exploded, or was broken into by a predator. The others sit there, the same as when we found them a nearly two months ago.

The towhees must have found a safe place to hatch eggs, as we watched them bring their brood of fledglings around the front yard.

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I did not take a before photo because I didn’t set out to eliminate this last Oregon Grape. It will probably regrow. It was very spindly and the branches fell every direction, creating an unsightly mess. The remaining three have stronger bases and tend to grow up, not out.

Then I worked my way down the fence. All was good. I yanked on a good bunch of weeds and they came out, followed by a torrent of yellow jackets.

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My instinct was to get up and run, but I lay back very slowly and allowed the angry wasps to fly over me. Then I slowly rolled over and stood up calmly before walking deliberately back to the house.

Unfortunately, the head of the host had made it to the corner of the house and Murphy got stung because he flips out around wasps. I ushered the dogs into the house and closed the door. Still, I managed to get two of the wasps in the house: one that got lost in the bathroom, and one that must have fixed on my garden gloves when I pulled the weeds out. I didn’t know it was there until I pulled my gloves off and it bit me (yes, bit, not stung).

Poor Murphy! He was so freaked. He wanted to eat it but he had also been stung, so his tail was tucked and he wouldn’t venture any closer to my garden gloves on the kitchen floor. The wasp didn’t associate me with the gloves and was circling them and stinging them, repeatedly.

Between my husband and myself, we managed to get both wasps trapped between the window and the screen, where we left them to die. I waited until the wasps had calmed down before I went back out to pick up my garden tools and I marked the site of their underground lair so I can spray them at dusk (on a windless night: tonight, the wind has come up).

Yes, I will spray them. I dislike chemicals and insect sprays, but yellow jackets nesting in the ground in the yard get sprayed. Murphy is allergic to them. I need to weed and tend to my flowers. They get aggressive and mean in August and September, and they argue with picnickers for bites of protein or sweets. I can live with them most of the time, but not when there is an entire nest of them.

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That photo was an accident. I was trying to force my digital camera to focus on the hive hole, which is at the base of the fence post. I did not know I caught this drone hovering on his way in for a landing.

 

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