Up To


I started running again, in the mornings before work. Here's downtown Portland at my favourite time of day.
I started running again, in the mornings before work. Here’s a marina in Portland at my favourite time of day. I work in one of those tall buildings.

My blogger friend Marlene (insearchofitall) asked in her post: “What are you up to?” All the usual little bits of life are going on at breakneck speed.

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”                         ~ Lewis Carroll

Tara voted for the first time in the Oregon primaries. This is a photo of Tara volunteering to get other college students registered to vote.
Tara voted for the first time in the Oregon primaries. This is a photo of Tara volunteering to get other college students registered to vote.

Interesting bit of news: my father is moving to Romania. A modern romance is behind it, of course. He met his wife online because they both play the same computer game. They have interacted for years, flirted and fell in love for a year, then last summer my Pa flew to Romania and married her. The plan originally was to bring her to the U.S., but the paperwork is proving too much of a challenge for two intelligent humans to overcome, so Pa has given up and will move to Romania. He expects to be gone in less than a month. Hopefully together at last in time for their one-year anniversary.

Last month I made an emergency trip to his place on the Snake River, south of Boise, Idaho, to help him pack up the giant house. That was after two of his sisters and a nephew-in-law showed up to host a yard sale for him and start the packing. This week a sister and a niece will arrive to do more of the same: haul things to the donation store, maybe hold another yard sale, pack more stuff. It was good to see my Pa, and I made a bonus stop at a fave winery just up the road from his place and accidentally bought two cases of Ste. Chapelle wine.

One of my dearest friends moved from Honolulu after 16 years and now lives right here, almost beneath the St. John's Bridge!
One of my dearest friends moved from Honolulu after 16 years and now lives right here, almost beneath the St. John’s Bridge!

I have been asked to take two of his four cats. Yes, my Pa is the Crazy Old Cat Man. Thomas and Yeowler won’t be going to Romania and need homes. Racecar is going to hate life for awhile, as she doesn’t get along with any other cat – ever – for as long as they live together (I know this through painful experience). I may get in touch with my grumpy side too, if this cat interaction goes like the last attempt did. My hope is that, since all of them are older cats, and since the boys have group skills they could teach to my princess, maybe it will be ok. I am also hoping that I can keep the two cats alive. They aren’t mine and I’m feeling extra pressure  to keep them well. Anyway, cross your fingers for us.

It took around two months, but the chicken pen is done. The chicken pen man is also my wood delivery man. He is getting married in a week, and getting ready for the wedding has taken precedence over the chicken pen, which I can certainly forgive. Also, we had a few setbacks, the biggest being when we discovered that only 10 inches down is an enormous slab of rock underground, so he couldn’t bury half the 12-foot 4x4s into the dirt for stability. Instead, he had to buy concrete and set them that way. Not to mention having to saw the tops off half the 4x4s so they would be the same height as the ones buried two feet into the dirt.

Hen fence under construction.
Hen fence under construction.
Jailed hens
Jailed hens
I used Paint Shop Pro to lighten this up from a dark morning shot.
I used Paint Shop Pro to lighten this up from a dark morning shot.
Chainsaw carving inside the lawnmower repair store.
Chainsaw carving inside the lawnmower repair store.

The three remaining hens (because Lacey got hit by a car): Tawny and the twins: Jamie & Phil are now behind wire. So far, no escapees. I suspected a higher wall would do the trick. It has no top, but chickens aren’t the best fliers, so I believe this will be sufficient as long as winged predators don’t find them. As I told Marlene, they get distressed when they see me at a distance and can’t come running like they do (omigosh it’s the sweetest thing ever to have fat, saucy chickens running to you at the moment they hear your voice). But, like goldfish, they soon forget they are in a pen, and get happy again for a couple hours, till they remember again that they are penned up. I will get new chicks, but not this year, as I simply don’t have the bandwidth to add babies to my list of chores.

I mowed the huge lawn one time, and noticed the riding lawnmower was not running well. My neighbor borrowed it and when he brought it back he said the same thing. So I called and asked about repair time. They said it would be about 10 days, and I figured that was fair, so with the help of my neighbors and their trailer, I got the tractor to the shop. When I dropped it off he told me, “Better plan on two weeks, to be safe.” Thirty-five days later I finally got it back. I need to remember it’s the country, and country schedules are not the same as city schedules. Besides which, it’s probably the worst time of year to take in a lawnmower, since everyone else in the county has also just discovered their machine isn’t working at its best.

My best friend's son feeding chickens.
My best friend’s son & chickens
Neighbor girl: chicken wrangler
Neighbor girl: chicken wrangler

The grass got deeper and deeper, so I called a professional lawnmower, who was going to stop by and look at the place and give me an estimate. But he threw out his back. A week later he called me up, and since my tractor was still not home, I said I was still interested. We agreed on a time to mow. That morning he contacted me once more to say his tractor had to go into the shop (the same place mine went to). He figured it would be back in a couple days, and said he could mow my lawn the following week. I told him nevermind.

We've had a couple bonfires to burn up the branches collected over the winter.
We’ve had a couple bonfires to burn up the branches collected over the winter.
Light blue irises from the Morrison House, and purple Irises from Mom.
Light blue irises from the Morrison House, and purple Irises from Mom.

I began my jungle mowing project last night in the rain, and some of the grass is chest high. It is slow going. Grass that high mostly just lays down when a mower goes over it, rather than acquiesce to a haircut. I anticipate a multi-week project to get it under control again. If you remember my story from the first time around, this one will be worse. Plus side: the riding lawn mower has a drink holder. Turns out, Ste. Chapelle in a tumbler fits nicely.

Irises are in bloom and when the first one put up a bud, I cried. My mother brought me several plants down from her north Idaho mountaintop when she was alive and visited us every year in Portland. She also brought lavender and peony which I still have. Anyway, the flower blooming was like having my mother here, and that’s what made me cry. I miss her so much. She brought the flowers when I was living on Morrison Street, and we called our house the Morrison House. I always name my houses – strange that I haven’t named the current one yet. Then we moved to the Blue House, where I lived when most of you got to know me. The irises have come along. Amazingly, the light blue ones bloomed this year, when they never bloomed at the Blue House. The blue ones are from the Morrison House, and I thought those were all lost. But now I have a little piece of that home too, and it is good for my soul. I’m sentimental that way.

The view from my office.
The view from my office.
Vulture in the forest.
Vulture in the forest.
Evening Grosbeaks
Evening Grosbeaks
Blackheaded Grosbeak
Blackheaded Grosbeak

I installed the first of several bird feeders outside my office window. It took a week for the birds to discover it, and now they are there all the time. Most beautiful so far is probably the Evening Grosbeak. One of the many Blackheaded Grosbeaks flew into a window one day, and did not recover. So far, no new and exciting birds from what I’ve already seen out here, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time and season before word of the feeder spreads.

Speaking of exciting birds, vultures have been perching outside my window. Not sure what it is about this particular spot, but I’ve seen four at a time up there in the trees. Typically they are deep in the foliage, and disappear as soon as I go outside. I did manage to get a shot of one on a stump, through the window.

…and so that’s what I’ve been up to. Oh yeah, there is my job which makes it all possible and yet keeps me too busy to ever really enjoy my place. I put in about 60 hours a week at my job, including commuting. If you add up all the hours when I sleep, it really doesn’t leave much left. Somehow, I manage to mow the damned lawn, wash dishes, do  laundry, see my boyfriend, help my dad, camp with my kid, volunteer for the Cherokees, and update facebook! ha ha! Life is a giant puzzle and I find such delight in discovering pieces that fit.

16 thoughts on “Up To

  1. Not a lot, then Crystal 🙂 I’m full of admiration. Your task is so daunting – which of course, you wouldn’t know about. The irises may bring tears, but they must always be a good reminder. I guess you will have long grass for a while. Perhaps your exciting wildlife will enjoy it. On the other hand a New Forest pony or two might manage it for you.

    1. Daunting…daunting…. I’m sure I’ve heard that word somewhere. Thanks for your vote of confidence, my friend. I’ve been working on my garden too. I haven’t really shaped it, but I have put things in the ground that will get larger, and I have cleared and cleared and cleared out brush…which you know is a big first step. Dare I say it’s daunting?

      Yes, I’m glad you read between the lines about the flowers. The peonies (which didn’t bloom this year) and the lavender and the irises will always remind me of the best side of my mother. She loved nature and loved cultivating gardens. It was her true joy in life.

      A pony!! Oh good heavens what a great idea! There is plenty of room for a pony. All I would have to do is train them to eat just the things I want them to eat, and to only leave their waste in low traffic areas. 😉

  2. Oh goodness cousin, I’m exhausted reading this. I have no idea where you find your energy. I do enjoy reading the updates.

    I’m a little concerned about your Hawaii transplant friend. Does he always live in bushes? 😉

    Say hello to the girls for me and give them an extra praise when you have a nice breakfast courtesy of their efforts. The little lovelies.


    1. Ha ha, I will pass on your love to the ladies. I’ve been eating many delicious breakfasts lately, and I never buy eggs anymore. That’s a savings, because I do eat a lot of eggs. Now I invent recipes to use them up.

      Thanks for going to help my Pa Bear last week, and your momma too. You guys are just wonderful and always available when a family member needs you. Love love love. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. I miss you bunches. ❤

  3. You are a girl after my own heart. Always more to do then hours in the day. It doesn’t appear as though you get to use that office window too many days. I would have a hard time getting work done with that view. You had that Grosbeak in your hand!!!! Wow! Hopefully, a 3 day weekend coming up will help you get some much needed rest and a little time to visit the hussies. 🙂 I wonder if the vulture is looking at them for breakfast too? Love the deer you get to see. Don’t have that here. As for lawnmower repair, you have to physically stand there to make them work on your mower. As soon as you stop bugging them, they stop working. Independent cusses those guys are. 😦 Giant hugs.

    1. Marlene, I learned too late that the lawnmower repairmen needed more “encouragement.” I began calling them every two days for updates, and that’s when things finally started moving. Yeesh.

      More news on the schedule! I’m more comfortable and more proficient at my job, so I feel like I can shake things up a little. I have just received permission to switch to four 10-hour days, which is what I have worked for the past 8 years, up until I got the new job. I like to take Wednesdays off, which gives me a break during the week, and is very handy for going to appointments and calling businesses. My real reason is to try and get a handle on my personal life, like cleaning the house and reading blogs and stuff. Weekends are just too full. Hardly anyone demands my time on a Wednesday, so I’m hoping it will help.

      For my three-day weekend, I drove to Boise again to help my dad by picking up the cats. It was a good trip and so sad at the end because I had to say goodbye. I usually only see him once a year anyway, so the frequency is not the thing, but the idea that he will be in Romania is going to be hard. And now I have three cats… heh heh

      1. Sounds like a lot of good news, Crystal. Except for losing your dad to Romania. Maybe they will make it back here with time. I don’t think I could handle more than one cat, if that many. I’m glad you are going to get an extra day off and things are coming together. Things are coming together here too. Will be better when this heat breaks. Too much for me. Hugs.

  4. It feels as though we’ve just had a long, newsy chat, Crystal.
    I had to chuckle (easy for me to do so) when your local lawn guy had to put his mower in the shop, too. Since I’m just now visiting over a week later, I’m hoping the lawn is finally mowed.
    The story about your father is fascinating and frustrating! I’ve had patients who have struggled to get their foreign born husband’s to the US.
    The new chicken pen looks great and I’m sure the hussies will be happy. I toured a friend’s new coop the other day, and was impressed with her husband’s creativity.
    Life is full and never dull, for sure! I’m glad to hear that, while busy, all is well.

    1. My dad found out, after he was already married, that it’s apparently easier to get a fiance visa than a spouse visa. Weird. I found the same thing recently when trying to help a blogger friend come visit me from Ghana. The only story the embassy interviewer would accept is if he was visiting to get married. When my friend insisted we were not getting married, the interviewer ended the interview and denied his visa. But if you get the chance to tell someone that information, hopefully my father’s story will help someone else. This story is especially sad because our family is not a family that does any international travel. Just me. So he is leaving everyone to go be with his wife. And, of course he would, but…so sad. He mentioned at least three times in the past six months that he’s counting on me to visit. I think he knows I would be the only one to make the trip. I am actually very excited to make a trip to Romania to visit him and meet his wife. I’ll post it all when it happens!

  5. Dear Crystal,

    Reading your posts, I am learning so much about the people, culture and land on the other side of the globe 🙂

    Also, I could clearly see that, there are far more similarities than differences among we human beings, where ever we are in this beautiful planet…

    Thank you so much for sharing and hope you are doing great 🙂

    1. Sreejith, I am glad to illuminate the common life of a country girl in Oregon. 🙂 I am also pleased to hear that we have things in common: possibly, chickens, guys who build chicken pens but get married first, repairmen who take twice as long to finish a project as they say initially, parents who move and give you their pets, and children who grow up and start doing grown up things, friends who move from far away to close.

      My life is good. I miss my blogger friends and yearn to get back into this world after a two-month hiatus.

      1. Welcome back, Crystal 🙂

        It’s Monsoon season here in India and Kerala is covered with a green carpet now 🙂

        Hope you get to explore this beautiful land once 🙂

      2. I am eager to see your country one day. I follow a blogger who goes camping in India…and that way I can see more of the countryside through her photos. It will happen one day. 🙂

      3. So good to hear that, Crystal 🙂

        It’s vast and incredibly diverse, both geographically and culturally…

        I am really enjoying my travels and learning quite a lot about my own country and it’s people 🙂

        Have a beautiful day 🙂

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