Spent a week in the Portland Oregon area. Visited good friends. Did some research. Experienced the joy of driving twisty, winding roads. Really twisty. And winding. After a drive, my right leg ached from tension and brake-hitting.
This time, I actually visited scenic vistas.
Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park:
A view of Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park
NB: Haystack Rock is that vaguely conical rock way in the back, on the far right of the photo. The other haystack-looking rocks are mere impostors.
The Columbia River Gorge (view from Crown Point Vista House):
View of the Columbia from the Crown Point Vista House
Came home yesterday–saw the Great Plains snowfall from the plane, and found 2.5 inches of wet stuff in the backyard rain gauge. Also found a very clean deck–the deck guy had powerwashed it on Monday. Tomorrow, he repairs what needs repairing. He thinks he’ll be able to coat/seal on Friday.
Also tomorrow, plumber installs new water heater. Meanwhile, I am planning the decluttering. It’s going to be All House All The Time for the foreseeable future.
Before I left, I picked the last of the tomatoes. Most were pretty green, so I bagged them and stuck them in the closet to ripen. Checked the bags yesterday and found about half were ready to go, so today I roasted them with garlic and balsamic vinegar. Had some for lunch with rigatoni, goat cheese and arugula. So. Good.
Took a short trip to Madison with fellow writer Jen Stevenson. Talked over plot problems with current wips. Hiked up and down State Street. Ate really good Japanese. Enjoyed glorious weather. Walked the trail along Lake Mendota and discussed crow lore. A restorative 24 hours.
Spent a chilly, irritating, slightly dampened hour bringing in the garden hoses for the winter.
Hoses are one of my pet irritations. Universal connections leak no matter how hard I tighten or how much teflon tape I use. Even the more expensive kink-resistant models kink a treat when they’re not twisting in such a way that I have to unfurl the entire damn length and slowly, carefully rewind. Once temps cool to the 50s, they stiffen up so that all the kinks and twists set, and even when I know I’ve drained them they manage to retain just enough water to leak on my shoes.
I’ve gone through all varieties of garden hose containers/reels over the years. The plastic crank-a-reels prove too flimsy, breaking after a year or two. I am currently using simple cast iron holders, one free-standing for the front yard hose and one attached to the house for the backyard hose. They’re okay, but winding is still an adventure. I sometimes lug watering cans back and forth just to avoid dealing with the hoses.
As much as I would like a dream house with a large garden, I sometimes think that I would be quite happy to take up residence in a studio apartment and let building management worry about the bloody hoses.
I love stories like this. The reality that there are tiny, tiny corners of the world that contain plants or animals that exist nowhere else.
This story begins with a cliff-hanger. On the Spanish side of the Pyrenees mountains, around 850 metres above sea level, two adjacent cliff faces hold the entire population of Borderea chouardii – one of the world’s rarest plants. It’s a small herb that grows into crevices in the rock. Its leaves are heart-shaped and its flowers green and unassuming. There are around 10,000 individuals here, all growing on a square kilometre of vertical rock.
In 1973, I visited London for the first and, to this point, only time**. During that visit, I took a bus tour of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.
Our very voluble guide took care to point out unique items, such as the notch in an outer wall–I have forgotten whether it at Hampton or Windsor–that marked the height of Cromwell’s tallest soldier. But there was something else he said that I remember, and I swear I am not misremembering even though I was 15yo at the time and not as engaged in soaking it all in and looking at all the old stuff as I would be, say, today. He said that there was a tree in the garden–again, I don’t recall at which site–that did not grow anywhere else in the world. I recall the phrase “Eden tree,” but *that* could be misremembrance. I have searched online every so often for information about the gardens, but have yet to find any reference to a unique tree.
**not counting a couple of quick jaunts through Heathrow on the way to and from connecting flights to Glasgow/Intersection ’95.
In 1997 physicist Francis Slakey set out to climb the highest mountain on every continent and surf every ocean – he dubbed it the first “global surf-and-turf.” In his recently published memoir, To the Last Breath: A Journey of Going to Extremes, he describes the geophysics of waves, the body’s physiological breakdown at high-altitude, and the technology of climbing, as well as the people he encounters and the challenges he endures on his 12-year journey.
As I made my way down the southeast ridge of Everest, with Ang Nima and Jim Williams now a few hundred feet above me, I saw a climber from our team, Bob Clemey, on his knees, gloves at his side, with his bare hands delicately gliding over the surface of the snow.
Depleted and needing warmth, Clemey saw with absolute clarity that a rock protruding from the snow was glowing red hot. He realized that lava from the very core of the earth was lifted up to the surface of Everest and was heating that rock. So he stripped off his gloves and began warming his hands over the rock like it was a campfire.
In reality, there was no glowing red rock, no lava. There was just a climber with bare hands frozen as solid as clubs, fingers gripping snow in a twenty-below-zero blizzard.
Clemey’s oxygen tanks were drained. There was no way of knowing how long he had been there or when he had run out of oxygen.
Our second crisis had begun.
The first crisis is described earlier in the section.
Sunny. Hot. It’s rained twice in the last two weeks. The lawn has browned except for the shaded spots, and every-other-day watering of the flowering shrubs and veggies is the norm. Most of the tomatoes have at least one greenie. The Black Cherry is a laggard–it took a pounding from the caterpillars–but it has a lot of buds so I think it should catch up eventually.
Spotted the first Japanese beetles of the season this morning, so I got hold of the organic bug spray and covered the hardy hibiscus and the Rose of Sharon, which are all covered with sweet, juicy buds. The spray is interesting stuff by a company called EcoSmart, a mix of herb oils (thyme, rosemary, clove). It worked last year on the beetles, and took care of the caterpillars once I realized the little buggers were there. But if it falls off this year, I have an insecticidal soap solution from Gardens Alive for backup. I like these products because I can spray them on veggies up to the day of harvest without worry. Just a quick scrub, and they’re gone.
As I cleaned out some of the kitchen cupboards, I came upon some baking mixes that I forgot I had. Some of them weren’t worth saving, but there was a whole grain pancake mix that I decided to try and salvage. So this morning was a pancake morning, the first one in years. Covered them with sliced fresh strawberries and bananas. Good maple syrup. They came out good. I need to have them more often. Maybe with bacon.
Jefferson. Hood. Adams. Mount St Helens. Saw them all yesterday. Couldn’t see Rainier–too much distant haze.
But that was yesterday. Today I awoke to the sound of steady rain. It’s still cloudy, but the sun breaks through on occasion. Chilly. Had a late lunch at the Reedville Inn. Back at the house. Hosts off doing their own thing. I’m surrounded by kitties and pups and watching life on the other side of the glass.
In Oregon. The Portland area. My friends’ house in the hills. I can see Mt Adams from the back window.
It’s gorgeous here. Rained off and on over the weekend, but today is sunny with high cloud. Could hit the low 60s.
Saturday was a veeeerrrrrry long day. Up at the crack of dawn. Airport. Uneventful flight. Land in Seattle on time. Then. An hour and a half to get luggage and rental car, in large part because rental car company in question had *1* person on duty on a Saturday afternoon when all the others had 2-3. Landed at 12:25 PST, but didn’t get on the road until after 2. Head pounding by this time.
I don’t think the traffic ever lets up on I-5, but the drive south was lovely and the headache gradually eased. It did rain off and on, but the sun broke through half the time and there were even a few moments when I really wished I had brought sunglasses. Had a few moments of panic as the battery for the GPS unit (brought from home) ran low and the unit conked out and I had to pull of the road and figure out where in the hell was the charger socket in a 2010 Nissan Versa. Hunted all over dash. Under dash. Finally found the socket in the space between the seats. Revived GPS, and continued on to friends’ house, which is located near the top of the twistiest, windiest road I have ever negotiated in my entire life.
Did I mention that it’s gorgeous up here? Pine forests sloping down to the Willamette valley and the Cascades in the distance. Delicious Japanese food last night at a place in nearby Hillsboro called Syun Izakaya. I had okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with shrimp and scallops. Salmon rolls. An Earl Grey pudding for dessert.
Will try to work a little and wake up. Sightseeing may be on tap for the afternoon. Coffee’s brewing, and I am sitting by a set of glass doors overlooking the deck and the forest beyond. And the valley. And the mountains.