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Lacey wants me to hold still so she can find out whether the large black round thing on my face is edible.

The Chicken Hussies, I’ve been calling them. They are saucy and misbehaved. They are rarely home, running around the neighborhood bringing dishonor upon this house. They don’t come when I call them and I dont know where they are half the time. When they do show up, they run to me at first with joy of recognition. That turns into clucking complaints, demands, unceasing inquiries about the availability of grain. They peck my hands and my shoes, and mutter that the feed I give them is tiresome and they would prefer leftover oatmeal. “Remember that time when you fed us oatmeal?”

These hens leave their, shall we say, “fertilizer” all over the deck and the front porch, and in the equipment shed on the side of the house where they sleep. It’s a sure sign that they know where they belong. And yet do they stay here like proper ladies? Never.

I fear their reputations are ruined.

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“Oh, it’s a camera? Well, here, I think this side of my head is more photogenic.”

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In back, left to right, Lacey, Jamie, Phil. The red one is Tawny.

The once sensitive topic of reciprocity has become more of a common theme. Admittedly, I am the one who brings it up. I explain about the cost of hay, feed, fencing. I explain about having a full time job and getting phone calls from irritated neighbors who wish for me to spend my off time collecting chickens from their properties. I tell the Hussies I’ve resorted to forcing my evening visitors into chicken-wrangling, in which I throw a tarp over the sleeping group and together we haul them down the hill and put them back into their perfectly darling chicken house filled with dry fluffy hay. They reply, “We were wondering what that was all about.”

Then I cautiously bring up the topic of eggs. THE POINT OF ALL THIS.

They pretend not to understand. “What are these ‘eggs’ of which you speak? Forgive us, we are dumb chickens. Ooh! Over there, is that a spider?”

One morning after a successful chicken wrangling, I was out on my deck with a cup of coffee. I looked with satisfaction and pleasure, down the hill at my lovely ladies: Tawny, Lacey, and the twins Jamie and Phil. They were safely inside their fence, clucking contentedly, eating grass, scratching for spiders. I was filled with such love for them, I called down “Good morning my chickies!!”

All four froze and turned to see me for the first time, squawking “Mom!” in unison. As you would expect if there were four Harrier jets ready for a mission, the ladies rose into the air and shot toward me. One after another, they lifted straight up and over their four-foot fence, then rocketed through the air up the hill in military formation, directly to me standing on the deck. I’ve never seen chickens fly like that. I thought the appropriate response would have been to scold them to teach a lesson, but instead I was flattered.

Still no eggs. I looked up “hussy” in Urban Dictionary and one of the definitions was “chicken.” So I had to look up chicken, and one of the definitions is a female with attractive breasts and thighs. Do you think it’s time to remind them of what happens to chickens who don’t lay?

This morning a new kind of fowl caught my attention.

Something pure white in the pond caught my eye from the kitchen window. I stared and had mostly convinced myself it was a duck. Multiple ducks, from the appearance of movement. I got out the camera and used the zoom lens to confirm. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen ducks on the pond.

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Male and female Hooded Merganser moved to the far side of the pond when they saw me sneaking down the hill toward them.

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The group of six female mergansers also decided to scoot away when I showed up. Here I captured only one straggler.

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I think it looks like a proper pond for the first time. Ducks are an excellent accessory.

In the past I have accidentally startled a lone goose, who exploded skyward as soon as I was spotted. I would love to have some long term pond-dwellers. I crept slowly down the hill, hoping not to frighten them, I hid behind trees, and crept as close as I dared. I watched them dive for goodies underwater, then pop back up onto the surface.

If they decide to stay, I hope they don’t talk to the Hussies, or I’ll likely find myself building another ineffective pen and buying more pellets for ungrateful birds.

A view of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden from the entrance.

A view of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden from the entrance.

On Wednesday, my regular day off, I wrapped up a draft of the Mt. Hood Cherokee quarterly newsletter much earlier than I expected to. I sent it off for review by another Cherokee in my group, and then I had a whole day in front of me.

It would have been a good time to vote. I’ve got the ballot sitting on the table, and it must be received in Tahlequah by June 27, 2105. I know exactly who I want for Chief, and I’ve known for at least a year. I know who I want for Deputy Chief. The holdup is because there is also an At-Large Councilor position open, and ten candidates for it.

The Cherokee Tribal Council includes 15 members representing citizens in local districts (local being the northeast corner of Oklahoma), and two additional representatives representing Cherokees who live elsewhere. You guessed it, I’m one of those “elsewhere” Cherokees, so electing the At Large Councilor is actually something I really care about. We are rather excluded way out here, and I’d like to have a representative who keeps us in the loop.

The Cherokee Phoenix has posted interviews with all the candidates online. I have resolved to read every one of them before I make my choice. I’m saving it for another day, however, because for the first time in weeks I had a break to go do something unproductive, and I wasn’t in the mood to stay indoors and study election interviews.

One of the few new blossoms

One of the few new blossoms

The woman at the ticket counter came outside to feed "her pets," as she called them. See the rhodie behind them? That is what most of the flowers looked like this day: brown and wilted.

The woman at the ticket counter came outside to feed “her pets,” as she called them. See the rhodie behind them? That is what most of the flowers looked like this day: brown and wilted.

Flowers hover above us.

Flowers hover above us.

A friend of mine was free to join me, but only for 2 hours, so I pulled up a map of Portland and scanned for nearby city parks I haven’t explored yet. I found something I had never before seen in Portland: a rhododendron garden. It was meant to be, since I had just been raving at the photos from a rhododendron garden posted by my former University Advisor who lives in Boston. It’s late in the season here, but I thought it might be worth a try, in hopes of finding late bloomers.

The garden is also named after me, so that is another reason to go! Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is next to the Willamette River on the east side, where I am. It was only a 20 minute drive. It had been raining all morning and we practically had the park to ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I was reminded of when M and I visited The Butchart Gardens.

You will almost certainly have seen rhododendrons because they grow all over the world, in different habitats and elevations. I grew up thinking it was an Oregon native, since it grows wild and profusely in the forests here. This showy plant is indigenous to Asia, and is the Nepal national flower. It likes mild climates and lots of rain – hello UK!

Most of the flowers at the garden had browned, wilted, and dropped, because of the season. But as the photos show, there remained plenty of colour to gaze at. We were also distracted by the many ducks and geese. The woman who sold us tickets to enter (only $4) said that people in the neighborhoods drop off their domestic ducks when they get tired of them. (I have heard that people also do this in Laurelhurst Park, in another part of town.)

Towering flowers

Towering flowers

one of the waterfalls

one of the waterfalls

 

 

 

 

Dogwoods were blooming too!

Dogwoods were blooming too!

The pink is lovely against the tree trunk.

The pink is lovely against the tree trunk.

Purple!

Purple!

Water droplets make the salmon blossoms seem even more succulent.

Water droplets on salmon blossoms.

This shade of pink seems to be the most common, and is the colour I most frequently find in the wild.

This shade of pink seems to be the most common, and is the colour I most frequently find in the wild.

This lawn is used for events such as weddings.

Events, such as weddings, are held in this space.

I know this photo doesn't look like much, but they were otters! I am excited to show you a pair of otters.(You'll have to trust me.)

I know this photo doesn’t look like much, but they were otters! I am excited to show you a pair of otters.(You’ll have to trust me.)

It was raining when we left the car, but the weather slowly changed as we walked the grounds, turning warm and muggy – but no longer wet. Is that better weather? I’m not sure.

It was a nice stroll. We didn’t get very wet, and there were a surprising number of rhodies still blooming. Then I returned home and filled a couple more boxes with stuff, getting ready for my move.

Tara came home from their last day of school. Last day of high school and last day of that chapter of life. In celebration we went out to eat and properly stuffed ourselves at Olive Garden.

A wood duck tucks his bill into his feathers.

A wood duck tucks his bill into his feathers.

A Mallard copies the pose of the wood duck.

A Mallard copies the pose of the wood duck.

I love this photo. He seems so curious and open.

I love this photo. He seems so curious and open.

I am not familiar with this duck and will have to look it up.

I am not familiar with this duck and will have to look it up.

This one must be domestic. What a pretty brown colour.

This one must be domestic. What a pretty brown colour.

Babies!! They came bobbling after us, hoping for treats. Mom and dad Mallard hovered nearby.

Babies!! They came bobbling after us, hoping for treats. Mom and dad Mallard hovered nearby.

Here, it's so damp that even the tree trunks grow moss.

Here, it’s so damp that even the tree trunks grow moss.

On of the funnest things about rhododendrons is that they can grow into tree-sized bushes. I like the effect of flowers over my head.

On of the funnest things about rhododendrons is that they can grow into tree-sized bushes. I like the effect of flowers over my head.

One of the bridges in the garden.

One of the bridges in the garden.

The ostentatious blossoms are individually gorgeous, and when grown in bunches, inspiring.

The ostentatious blossoms are individually gorgeous, and typically in bunches, so multiple beauties packed together.

This scene reminds me of turn of the century landscape paintings

This scene reminds me of turn of the century landscape paintings

Fabulous blue headed male Mallard duck

Fabulous blue headed male Mallard duck

Typical green-headed Mallard duck

Typical green-headed Mallard duck

Birds at THE park. Let’s see if you can guess which one.

The Brady Bunch has been gone all week for Spring Break. Typically we head to the mountains with our tents and propane stoves, right? This one turned out totally different. I have a lot of photos to sort through, and it’s a bit overwhelming. So let me begin with the birds and a few of the flowers. Lately I’ve been taking many bird photos from my home office and I’ve developed a habit of noticing birds. So it’s no surprise that when I’m on vacation, I notice the birds there too.

Lucious

Luscious purple clusters

Unfurling into lovliness

Unfurling into lovliness

Lovely yellow petals

Lovely yellow petals

My bird photos were often an after-thought amid the cacophony of colours and sounds and activity bursting around us in calculated displays of amazingness at all times of the day (clue #1). So only a few photos are in focus. I include them all because one fun thing about my week was discovering the variety of birds in a place I did not expect to find so many birds.

Female Mallard duck

Female Mallard duck

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Seagull

Gull

 

Black Crowned Night Heron, I believe. Isn't this one beautiful?!

Black Crowned Night Heron, I believe. Isn’t this one beautiful?!

 

Sparrow

Sparrow

delicate drops of flowers

delicate drops of flowers

 

You want more clues now, don’t you? I can give photo clues.  The following photos will definitely give it away. What do you think?

Sparrow resting on a sign in the shape of a caterpillar with a name and a ridiculous fake German accent.

Sparrow resting on a sign in the shape of a talking caterpillar with a ridiculous fake German accent. (Clue #2)

An American Coot glides through the water (clue #3).

An American Coot glides through the water. (clue #3) Look at the reflection.

 

Sparrow munches popcorn. (Clue #4)

Sparrow munches popcorn. (Clue #4)

The Ladies of the Tiki Room sing us a song. (Clue #4)

The Ladies of the Tiki Room sing us a song. (Clue #5) Quick, who can name them? Collette, Fifi, Gigi, Josephine, Mimi, and Suzette

Yep, you know it. We were in Disneyland all week. It was crammed full of people, cold & windy except for the very last day, incomprehensibly expensive, and yet….magical in so many ways. It was my very first visit to a Disney park in my whole life.  My faery girl heart was so happy to discover the wonder – the pure Disney perfection of wonder – that was there to be discovered around every single corner.

I can’t wait to show you. Tune back in later!

Island in a lake at Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Oregon

Island in a lake at Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Oregon

On a lovely day in early October, Arno and I had a free morning and went to Laurelhurst Park, in Portland’s trendy Southeast section. The park is an easy walk from the famous Hawthorne Street, and even closer to Belmont Street. It’s a long walk from my house, but a 15 minute drive, so we took the quicker option.

I had my photography lesson the day before, and I practiced a little. I don’t notice any great improvement in the quality of my photos, but I did practice adjusting aperture and shutter speed. I still haven’t really figured out iso. But the great thing is: I went out snapping photos, and did not rely on my auto settings. This is a first for me, and I’m proud of myself for taking the plunge.

Ducks left us when they realized we had no food.

Ducks left us when they realized we had no food.

We came across these happy ducks who found children with bags of grain.

We came across these happy ducks who found children with bags of grain.

Laurelhurst sits on a divide between the grittier hipsters of the SE, and the wealthy Laurelhurst neighborhood of gigantic homes like castles that vie for attention along hilly streets that curve from view beneath enormous trees. When I first moved to Portland I fantasized about living in one of those homes, and being able to walk from my front porch to the spacious and stunning park.

The day was sunny. The lake sparkling. The ducks eager. Dogs and children barking and squealing. Strollers being pushed, lovers hand in hand, joggers, skaters, readers, chess players, photographers. All in all, a perfect day for the park.

I enjoyed experimenting with the reflections in the lake.

I enjoyed experimenting with the reflections in the lake.

The algae gives a strong colour to the lake

Algae gives a strong colour to the lake

I did not expect newly blossomed flowers in October!

I did not expect newly blossomed flowers in October!

Laurelhurst Park has some truly remarkable trees

Laurelhurst Park has some truly remarkable trees

Aren't the branches fascinating?

Aren’t the branches fascinating?

Hello friend!

Hello friend!

One of my many guises

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