Catch Up

Lots of things going on and it’s time for catching up!

In March I saw the best concert yet by Black Violin. The audience energy and the exchange of love between the stage and seats was incredible. I am fortunate to have been there. I took many great photos and maybe will do a post just for them one of these days. Also that month I wrapped up my first term of Spanish lessons. I’m hoping to learn the language, and with Pedro’s help, will be able to talk to him and his family in their first language one day. I finished with an A in the class and my professor asked me to tutor at the college. I thought she was mad.

After some thought, I agreed to do it. Mi profesora explained that she recommended me because I was a good student, not because I was fluent. My main reason for taking the class is because I am very motivated to learn the language, and I think teaching others will help me learn it better. It’s 20 minutes from my house and quite convenient. It’s a paid part-time job, and a few extra bucks will help pay for the gas to get there. Anyway, by the end of March I was officially employed by Lower Columbia College in Longview, Washington.

The weather tricked me and warmed up and dried out and Pedro and I tried to start up our weekly date hikes. We live an hour apart, and last year met often beside the highway between our two homes, after he got off work. There is room to park at the trailhead for a nasty steep hike that climbs up, up, up a mountainside with awesome views of the seaport near St. Johns, Oregon. It’s a loop that we can finish in an hour, and come right back to our cars again. At the end of the hike we often share a beer in the backseat of one of the cars and chat till it’s gone, then go to our respective homes.

A photo from last June, because I don’t have a current one.

In the photo above, you see the Willamette River and a huge industrial area of a west Portland suburb in the foreground, the Columbia River in the background. In the mountains to the far left is Mt. Rainier, also on the left is Mt. St. Helens, and on the right is Mt. Adams. All three volcanoes are in the U.S. state of Washington.

Anyway, before the stupid huge snowstorm, there were wildflowers everywhere. That day the temperature hit 80 degrees (26.6 C) and the hike was splendid. A nearby blogger said about Portland weather that it was third winter right now (because there will be severe thunderstorms with a slight chance of tornadoes today…tornadoes! In Oregon!), but we will see second spring soon. Too funny.

After our hike we were still enjoying each other’s company and didn’t want to go to our separate homes quite yet. I suggested a charity night at a brand new taproom in the town of St. Helens, called Crooked Creek Brewery. They were donating $2 per pint to the Food Pantry I recently supported in a race. The place was packed with people who wanted to help and just because we care so much about feeding the hungry, we had a second pint each. We talked late into the night till we finally had to hug goodbye and go home. When the mud dries out once more, we will head back to the trail. It’s a great workout.

I am delighted that the last bits of COVID restrictions are being disassembled. Occasional businesses here and there still wear masks and ask for proof of vaccination, and I am content to follow those guidelines if the world can open up again. The members of my Mt. Hood Cherokees group in Portland have resisted meeting in person because so many of us are elders, and particularly vulnerable. Finally, the April meeting was in person. Prior to the pandemic, the Cherokees met in a multipurpose room at the church. At this first meeting post-pandemic, we shifted our location to the main hall of the church, so that we could have the meeting virtually as well, for people still uneasy with in-person attendance.

Despite the newness of this format, and the challenges of live+virtual, our meeting was a success!

I still volunteer as the newsletter editor for both the Mt. Hood Cherokees, and also for the Great Spirit Church (a Native American Methodist church, which I think is a pretty cool thing) that we rent the meeting space from. I am not a person of faith, but the church appreciates my services anyway, and I am happy to help.

To earn some money for our relay racing team, the Belle Brigade, some of us agreed to volunteer to work at a race in Portland called Bridge to Brews. Racers cross a few Portland bridges along the route, then get a free beer cupon to use after the race. I rode in with fellow Belle, my friend Erin, and we were greeted by two other ladies. Event organizers paid us each $30 because we joined as a group. We will use the money to help cover expenses when we do the big Hood to Coast race in August. It was the first time I was ever a course monitor, and it was an adventure I have to admit. I found out that when you wear a bright orange vest, people think you are a person of authority, ha ha! I walked right in the front doors of the fancy Hampton Inn and asked for restrooms and they quickly pointed the way although I clearly did not belong in that posh place. Without the vest I’m sure they would have expressed their regrets and sent me on my way.

Me and Erin, freezing and a little sleepy at 7 a.m. at the Waterfront Park in Portland

My Tara is 24 and living and working in nearby Albany, Oregon, with their partner Cameron. They recently stayed the weekend with my brother in Seattle, so they could attend an anime convention called Sakuracon. Tara and Cameron have been engaging in cosplay at animecons since high school and I’m happy to see them still at it. Tara has become very good at sewing, and that helps with the costume making. The costume this year was purchased, however. Because they would be crammed into a convention center with thousands of other cosplayers, Tara made matching masks for them both to wear.

Tara cosplaying Yae Miko in Genshin Impact, a computer game.

Last year this time I had EIGHT SASSY HENs and as you know, I delighted in them. I’ve been a chicken momma for a long time and my adoration of the ridiculous birds has earned me a reputation. The first group was such a cast of characters that I named them The Hussies, and each new group seems to suit the name. I live in the woods with predators, so I keep losing my hens and replacing them over the years. In 2021 I lost five of them due to neighborhood dogs, racoons, and one bold coyote that chomped a chicken who stood between us as I ran toward him, hollering. The coy dog then ran off across the creek with the Buff Brawny in its mouth. My yelling did not save my girl. One chicken simply died one night in her nest. Not sure why.

Anyway…. it’s time to rebuild the flock. I have four babies right now, living in the house with me because it is too cold and wet outside for babies who don’t quite have all their feathers yet.

Until we get second Spring, these girls have to live in the house with me and Racecar. None of us believes it is an ideal arrangement.
Mathilda warms her bum.
Racecar was interested, but soon got bored with them.

On the day I got back from Arizona, I stopped at the feed store and picked up two black speckled Barred Rock hens, and two Lavender Wyandottes. The lavenders are actually dove grey, but when seen in the right light actually do seem a little lavenderish. My cat, Racecar, is an old lady cat, and her hunting days are over. She was curious about the wiggly, peeping, bite-sized morsels, but then hissed at them and skulked away. She must have known my attention would be divided until they were big enough to live on their own. She was prepared to detest them right away.

One day, during First Spring, I took them outside
I spend a lot of time hanging out with them, and as soon as I settle myself, all four of them jump up on my legs and arms.

The Barred Rocks are larger hens, as you can see. Although famous for being a docile breed, one of my Barred Rocks is a violent, aggressive bully. The moment she begins to get bored, she starts terrorizing the others, pecking them, chasing them, and pulling out feathers. I named her Mathilda the Hun. Despite the chaos around her from all the new sights and sounds of our home, and the unwanted attention from Mathilda, the smallest Wyandotte will just find a perch and slowly close her eyes. She is super chill, finding her zen and building a little peace bubble around herself. I named her Chick Nhat Hahn. They are the two that get the most attention, and thus they have bonded with me the most. Pedro mentioned that they are like Yin and Yang to each other, and I realized those are the perfect names for the remaining light and dark hens. So I have Mathilda, Chick, Yin, and Yang.

This is Chick and Mathilda sitting on my hand.

I have simply had it with the hens. They are noisy and messy and I am dying for them to go outside. They, for their part, are dying to get out of their pen. They see me and their big sister Racecar walking around freely, and they go friggin bonkers when we get close. I have watched both Chick and Mathilda fly almost to the top of their four foot cage, trying to get out. In a week or two, I think they will be strong enough to do it, then Heaven help us.

Pedro and I built an outside pen for them to grow up in, until they’re big enough to join the other hens. However, every single night it still drops to freezing or near freezing, and it rains nearly every day. I had them outside yesterday, but they were so cold they just huddled in their box and fluffed up to try to stay warm. I had to bring them in after a couple hours. The forecast is for no change at all in the next ten days. *sigh*

Small Hens in the house.
Me and the Small Hens in their new pen outside yesterday. So how fluffed up they are?

16 thoughts on “Catch Up

    1. Oh thanks, hon! That is a real compliment. I have a tendency to write as though I were having a conversation with someone. And since I’m a real talker – as you know – I just blabber away in my blog in the same manner. It’s good to know you’ve been entertained. 🙂

  1. Oh my, what a full and wonderful catch up! You have your self engaged in some really cool stuff. In fact, you wear me out a little just reading! I did not realize (or remember hearing) that Pedro lives so far away. I’m even more impressed by your hiking adventures now ! A weekly hike date sounds lovely ♡

    1. Sometimes it seems far away, but mostly we are glad about how close we are to each other. We met online. I had been meeting men from all over the country and around the world: Peru, Belize, and Austria I recall were some of the recents. So to really click with a guy who lives an hour away seems like a gift! ha ha. He is a very outdoorsy person, and had been wanting to get onto trails more, but hadn’t had anyone introduce him to hiking and had only been on a few simple trails. I barely got the words out, “Do you ever want to…” before he let me know he was eager to hike with me. Another point for compatibility. ❤

    1. Oh thank you, Derrick! I am intimidated to be at the campus. My fellow tutors are all so awesome and mostly in their 20s and my boss is about 30. One of the main tutors is still in high school, but is taking college courses so that qualifies her to tutor. I’m still training and learning and haven’t had the opportunity to meet with anyone learning Spanish yet. I think the whole experience will be good and I simply love the energy of the young people around me. Yes, meeting with my Cherokee family was good. It was awkward and a little strange, but we need to go through that till we can all feel comfortable together again.

  2. Glad to see you are keeping happily engaged Crystal. Between Pedro, the chickens, running, teaching, writing newsletters, etc, I’m surprised you have any time for blogging. Peggy and I finally wrapped up our moving/ house selling responsibilities. Boy was that a chore. We will miss you little house in the woods but are quite happy to be on the road full time again. Right now we are in Las Vegas after spending time in Death Valley. On Saturday we head for Zion Canyon. Iorek, the Xmas tree ornament has now joined us in our travels, along with Eeyore and Goofy. They make quite a menagerie. –Curt

    1. Hi Curt!! It’s good to hear from you and thanks for stopping by to leave a note. I am glad you are now done with all the work of shifting to your new life and can really settle in with the enjoyment part. I think being in the desert southwest is a perfect place to be this time of year. Happy that your little menagerie is there to keep you company on the road. Though they are taking up valuable space, I hope the exchange in traveling with friends is worth it. Thanks for the validation in blogging despite it all. What I have done is an egregious lapse in keeping up with others’ blogs, but I do try to post on mine when I can, because it is a stand in for a journal.

      1. Hi Chrystal,
        Other than Eeyore, our traveling companions are all small. And being a jackass, he is small as well. Unlike having a chicken or cat as a pet, these guys don’t need to be fed, nor do they poop. Picture living with four chickens in our trailer. 🙂 I laughed at your experience of living with your chicks. Been really beautiful here. Windy, however, as deserts tend to be. Tomorrow, we head for Zion. I agree with the journal bit to blogging, although I also keep a journal. No pictures, however. –Curt

  3. What a great update! Muy ocupada!!! The extent of my Espanol is via the app Duolingo which I’ve been faithful in keeping a streak on for the last couple of months. Perhaps after I finish all those lessons, I’ll follow your example and take a “real” class. Take care and have a great day!

    1. Good for you!! I enjoy learning languages, though I’m not that good at it and forget everything as soon as I stop using it. As for taking a real “class,” I would wait a little longer to be sure it’ll be in person, which would be the best reason to take a class. Mine is still 100% online, which makes me worry about the efficacy, but thank goodness for Pedro.

  4. This is amazing, Crystal! How you named them and how their personalities show up. So tender! 🙂 You’re a true mamma. By now they are out already, I’m sure. I hope they got used to the outside quickly. It’s also most excellent to read of your meetings in the middle and the hikes and the free beer. And that campus looks lovely and I’m glad you’re doing your Spanish course teaching it.

    1. I’m glad you liked their names. I give myself a giggle each time I think of the names, heh heh. You are correct! The girls are outside. The rain hasn’t stopped yet, and it’s still cool, but about a week after I wrote this, we consistently stayed above freezing at night, and out they went. They adjusted very quickly, I think because they loved being out there so much. It has been cold enough to freeze a couple times since then, but they are adjusted to the weather now and are doing great. I’m enjoying the college campus and my teenage co-workers! It’s a lot of fun to work with young people in such a beautiful environment.

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