Category Archives: Skyline Hamlet


No…not really…the rain returns on Sunday. But TODAY…today was the most spectacular day we’ve had since October!

I left work mid-day thinking I’d so some work in the yard and pot a few plants on the deck. Once home I grabbed a bite, changed into a t-shirt (really) and sandals (not kidding!), ventured into the sun to put the cushions on the patio chairs and…

…SCREW the yardwork!

Sometimes you just have to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Waste a little time. RELAX! After all, this is only the second 60+ degree day we’ve had up here since early December!

I put some classic Grateful Dead on the stereo, popped a beer and lay back in my chair to catch some rays. OH BOY!!!

The birds were everywhere…hairy and downy woodpeckers, goldfinches in full mating color, white crowned sparrows, towhees, chickadees, juncos, house and purple finches, nuthatches and even a coopers hawk. Better yet..NO INSECTS! Nope…still too cold for them little buggers.


I tried to take a picture…

…as you can see, my skin is so white the reflected light just kills all detail. Better than a face lift!

And that’s Spring in the Pacific Northwest!

Northern Flicker

My favorite woodpecker, the Northern Flicker, makes regular visits to the suet feeder on the deck. I only wish I could catch a shot of him with his wings spread. They are a brilliant orange which you see hints of in his tail feathers.

Gettin’ Dirty

Finally, a chance to play in the dirt. A couple weeks ago we had a nice dry day and I decided to rototill the vegetable garden. I pulled out the tiller, filled it with gas, checked the oil, primed the carburetor and with one quick motion, snapped the pull-cord off the flywheel. So much for that idea.

Let’s see what I need to take the flywheel cover off and reattach the pull-cord. Hmmm…rivets? Yep…rivets! So, how do you get to the flywheel? You have to take the entire engine housing off, which requires you to remove the freshly filled gas tank. Brilliant! I’m not going there…I’ll take it to the shop.

I pulled out the little tiller and spent the next three hours turning over the top 4 inches of dirt in the 20 x 30 foot garden six inches at a time. Yep, that’s right, the little tiller is truly little. So, it may have taken a while but I did get all the leaves and grass and compost worked into the soil fairly well and when the big boy comes back from the shop it will make the work a bit easier.

Last night, the sun was out and the air was warm when I got home so I decided to divide some Crocosmia and Hostas that are getting a little out of control. That was done pretty quickly so I went to get the flower pots out of the shed so they’ll be ready to fill next nice day we get. Of course, once they were on the deck I couldn’t just let them sit there all empty so I started filling them. I didn’t get very far before dark but hey…I’m on my way to deck beautiful once again.

And…it just felt so damn good to work outside in shorts and a t-shirt and just get dirty.


Ah, another Monday, another few hours of solitude. I love Mark, but I also love these few hours each week where I can be alone and pick my nose. Okay…so I don’t pick my nose, much, but I can sit here and read, watch a movie, take a run, a walk, water the garden or just pick my nose. It’s a welcome break and nice to spend a bit of time alone.

Tonight’s drink; a nice Italian red, Barbera d’Alba, 2004 La Loggia, a gift from Elena and Emilio who recently arrived here from Torino. Emilio grew up in Alba and has shared a number of their wines with me over that past few months. Thanks Emilio, cheers!

I’ve paired tonight’s wine with an ancient recording by a distant family member: Pat Metheny. Having Southern roots, virtually everyone is considered a distant cousin but this one is well documented and I don’t mind being his distant publicist. If you don’t know his music, I highly recommend this album. If you like your jazz a bit less tame, I recommend “Off Ramp”. Oh…and while I’m promotin’…I suggest you take a listen to Lyle Mays, Pat’s on again, off again, keyboard player. Neither would have become who they are without the other…IMHO.

Now, I want to tell you of my unusual trip home from work.

The road I drive is a winding rural drive along the ridge of the West Hills of Portland. The area is not heavily populated but there are many hidden houses and virtually invisible driveways. Although I drive this road twice a day, five or more times a week, I still drive cautiously. Aside from the bicyclists, runners and domestic animals: deer, raccoons, skunks, opossums and elk are not uncommon along the road. Bear sightings are not unusual here but it’s the occasional report of kangaroos that fall more in line with what I experienced tonight.

Driving home from work I rounded a nearly blind curve and saw a huge bird jump into the road from a row of sempervirens. Not fly…jump! I hit the brakes and came to a stop within a foot of a peacock. Yep…that’s right…a big, green, three foot tall peafowl!

I’m familiar with peacocks, having family who use them as “watchdogs” on their farms in California. Peacocks are not the friendliest of birds and this pecker immediately began attacking my truck, and not in a good way. This peafowl was literally jumping into the air and dropping his heavy beak onto my hood and grill. I was furious and deservedly so considering I’d just had my hood replaced a month ago! I wanted to get out and wring the fucker’s neck but I knew better, I wasn’t going anywhere near that bastard’s beak. I’ve been pecked by a peacock before and it’s far worse than getting gang-pecked by a flock of geese on a golf course, but that’s another story.

My response was to hit my horn hoping to chase the bird away but he wasn’t budging, he was on a mission. In fact, the horn seemed to excite his rage. I started to back up but another car quickly rounded the curve behind me and stopped just short of my rear bumper putting an end to my escape route. I was trapped. The driver behind me couldn’t see the bird working over the front of my truck like a prizefighter with his opponent against the ropes and began honking his horn. This only excited the bird’s frenzy. A few seconds later a car approached from the opposite direction and saw the peacock pounding my grill. The car slowed to pass carefully and the peacock turned on his car.

Now, with the bird distracted I tried to open my door thinking I could run and alert the owner but the damn bird saw the door open and turned back to attack my car. I retreated and decided to wait it out when a woman suddenly appeared from the driveway adjacent to my passenger door. Her appearance pulled the driver behind me off his horn and I could here her sweet, lilting voice calling ”Petey…oh Petey…come on in now!” With that, the peacock stopped his attack, raised his head and peered over the hood of my truck then pranced regally past the passenger door, toward the woman, and down the driveway. Once he was out of site, the woman caught my eye through the side window and said, “I’m so sorry, Petey was startled by the lawnmower, I hope he wasn’t too much of a problem.” Then she disappeared down the driveway behind the bird.

I drove home not thinking about the potential damage to my truck but that the people I live among are beautifully eccentric and how even the kangaroo story doesn’t seem so unusual now. I still have a smile on my face and only wish every day could be as oddly entertaining.


I‘m terribly rude! I give my blog a face-lift and then run off and neglect it for a week as though I didn’t want to see all the bruising. Well, that’s really not the case. The fact is that I took a couple days off after the holiday and with all this beautiful weather we’ve had I just couldn’t sit still long enough to post. I didn’t even keep up with my buds by reading their blogs and that’s ultimate ruditity. Okay…ruditity isn’t a word, but if Ginormous can be included in the new Webster’s then ruditity won’t be far behind. Mark my (new) word.

So, friends, I did actually drop in on a few of you over this past week but only briefly as I searched online for trailheads on the wild Wilson River or fireworks stands whose sales support the larger, threatened shows. After all…it just isn’t The Fourth if you can’t take all your youngsters out to the local lake, river or historic site for a family picnic, followed by a massive fire fest with a finale accompanied by a live performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with real cannons…right?

Not having youngsters of my own, I prefer to avoid overcrowded fields full of obnoxious drunks fighting over blanket space and whose child accidentally kicked over their beer. Yeah, I prefer to stay home with my illegal fireworks, and dear neighbors, and discuss the appropriate age for children to move up from sparkler, to Roman Candle, to lighting mortars that rival those large blooms found at the public displays.

Silvery Blast.JPG

Of course, once I convince the parent that their child is old enough…and said parent agrees…I cannot be held liable for any mishap.

But I digress.

The Annual Skyline Hamlet Potluck and Fireworks Extravaganza went off without a hitch. The food was fabulously standard American Independence Day fare with a few non-traditional gems thrown in to keep this eclectic group sated. The crowd, a jovial mix of locals, friends, family and children reminded me how the adults become more childlike on this particular holiday. Once our host, Baird, pulled out his infamous home-made, Steel-Wool-Ring-O-Fire…

Baird Steel Wool.JPG
(Baird shows how it’s done)

…all the adults were clamoring to be the next to give it a whirl. Women and men alike! Meanwhile, the kids, well taught about the danger of fire, wanted nothing to do with that fierce ball of molten metal.

Joy Steel Wool.JPG
(Joy spins some serious heat!)

The next few days were spent trekking to the coast and a couple rivers….

Wilson River.JPG

…with the dog…

Mac retrieving.JPG

…and working in the yard. You see, when you get good weather in Oregon, you take full advantage and neglect all other calls to duty; my father called a week ago and I still haven’t returned his call. Am I an asshole? No. I’m an Oregonian! (okay…transplanted but acclimated!)

We only have this weather for 3 short months, and during those months we’ll even get a few days of rain. Not hot, sunny, tropical rain but cool, overcast skies rain. Therefore, we must enjoy the weather above all else…or be forever depressed!

Sorry dad.

So, tonight I blog and hopefully catch up on my reading. Tonight, with temps finally dropping from 100 (that’s another story) to a comfortable, breezy 84, I can sit here in my favorite spot on the deck and toast the WiFi Gods for allowing me this opportunity. I’m watching the Goldfinches and Chickadees feed their young as I type. The squirrels and chipmunks come in occasionally to chase off the young birds and later, the flying squirrels will drop in for breakfast. The bats will swing by for their early meal as well and not long after…the owls.

On that note…I’m off to make a late, light dinner and then return here to catch up with my friends, before heading off to sleep under the heady perfume of the Catalpa Tree.