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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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*